Monday, 7 February 2011

Defra release public forest estate consultation
The Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has released a consultation about the future ownership and management of the public forest estate in England, land currently managed by the Forestry Commission on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The consultation sets out the rationale for a move away from the Government owning and managing significant areas of woodlands in England and the principles which will guide the Government in deciding the way forward. The consultation proposes a mixed model approach to reforming the ownership and management of the public forest estate to create a far greater role for civil society, businesses and individuals.

NALC publish Continuing Effective Engagement for Town and Parish Councils
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC), in association with the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has published a new suite of good practice guidance for local councils. The materials cover four specific areas, relating to the work of local councils which include guidance and case studies for new local councils, case studies on principal local authorities delegating services to local councils, guidance on double-taxation for local councils and advice for smaller local councils. Also published is an additional discussion paper which looks briefly at the costs of local council elections and what can be done to reduce them.
To view the suite of guidance papers, please visit the NALC website.

Community-owned shops show the way to build the Big Society
A survey into the health of the community-owned shop sector has had its results made public this week by the Plunkett Foundation. The report, which draws on information from community-owned shops across the UK, assesses the health and wealth of the sector today and provides an in-depth analysis into its profitability and contribution to the local economy. Community-owned shops have been one of the leading success stories of the social enterprise movement in the UK to date. At the beginning of 2011 there were 251 community-owned shops, with new ones opening at an unprecedented rate each month. With the growth of the sector showing no sign of slowing down, details of the valuable contribution community shops make not only to the local economy but to individuals and society as a whole is, for the first time, to be made public.
To view the report, please visit the Plunkett Foundation website.

OECD release Rural Policy Reviews report
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released a rural policy review into rural England. The report opens by explaining that by the OECD’s standards, England isn’t particularly rural at all. None of England’s regions qualify as Predominantly Rural using the OECD definition which requires that more than 50% of the population live in rural communities. Key findings in the report show that England has a highly centralised governance structure, lower levels of government have no independent statutory authority or funding structure and the national planning system sets broad directions that tend to become hard targets at the local level.
Here is a link to the introductory page on the OECD website:,3746,en_2649_37429_46917398_1_1_1_37429,00.html

Stay up to date with the 'Rural Church and Community Matters' blog: