What can be done to regenerate the rural economy?
The rural economy will be helped by Labour’s commitment to cut then freeze local business rates. It is also vital in the internet world that access to decent high speed broadband is continued to be rolled out through initiatives like Connecting Cheshire. I would also Encourage people to buy British food and support helping farmers get a fair price for their produce from the supermarket chains.
How can the character of existing villages be preserved in light of the recent influx of housing developments?
I think that the whole issue of planning and development needs to be revisited.
Local communities, be they urban or rural, need to have more of a say in planning issues in their areas.
The current system which allows for developers to bypass local objections by appealing direct to Whitehall is wrong.
I also would like to see local communities share in the financial benefits of building projects, not just the current custodian of the land.
Dealing with the need for more housing, especially affordable and social housing, whilst being mindful of the impact on existing communities has been, and will continue to be, challenging.
I believe that devolution of more powers to a local level must be part of this process.
How can oversubscription to schools in the rural areas be resolved?
Local authorities need to be able to plan and develop educational needs within their communities.
Currently this is made harder because of the Free Schools system which has led to an oversupply of places in certain areas, whilst others suffer under supply.
Labour will bring free schools back into local education department control so as to ensure resources can be allocated where they are needed.
What would you do to improve access to hospital services for people living in remote rural areas?
I welcome Labour’s plan to bring together health and social care and an emphasis where possible, on delivering care to people at home.
I support the maintenance of local A&E services and the extension of ancillary health service provision through local GP surgeries.
How would you improve transport issues for people living in rural communities?
Labour wants to bring in a London type system of control over public transport.
This will enable vital, but not always profitable, services to be maintained.
Labour will also cap fare increases on all railway journeys, not just on commuter lines.
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