Mel Stride

    BOOSTING THE RURAL ECONOMY through increased productivity, helping businesses grow and improving access to further education, training and apprenticeships were just some of the ideas discussed at Dartmoor National Park HQ in Bovey Tracey today (14/09/18). 

    Among the attendees at a brainstorming session were Central Devon MP Mel Stride, DNP Chief Executive Kevin Bishop, the Leader of Devon County Council John Hart, the Leader of Teignbridge District Council Jeremy Christophers, Sue Wilkinson from the Federation of Small Businesses, Alex Stephens from the National Farmers Union, and Stuart Rogers from the National Federation of Sub-postmasters.

    The House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy has welcomed input from a local level on this issue and Mr Stride organised the meeting so ideas could be fed back. He explained:

    “The success of the rural economy depends on so many inter-connected factors – transport connections, digital infrastructure, the availability of skilled labour, access to superfast broadband, housing and its affordability for young people. Some big steps forward have been and still are being made, not least the progress in bringing a regular rail service back between Okehampton and Exeter via Crediton, bringing tens of thousands of residents closer to a rail station and providing a major boost to local businesses. A lot more needs to be done though, and there were some very interesting and positive ideas discussed.”

    Cllr. Christophers added:

    “The role that local authorities can play in boosting the rural economy is huge. To me, one of the top priorities is the availability of housing, including affordable housing, which helps young people stay in the communities they have grown up in. At Teignbridge we are delivering record numbers of affordable homes and have a twenty-year plan in place to build the homes we need as a district.”