South West Local Enterprise Partnerships’ new Rural Productivity Commission seeks views from rural businesses

The South West Rural Productivity Commission has been established as a partnership by four LEPs in the south west of England: The Heart of the South West (HotSW LEP), Dorset LEP, Swindon & Wiltshire (SWLEP), Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly (CIoS LEP) to explore the issues around rural productivity and growth.

The open call for written evidence was launched last week with the deadline of May 12, and for expressions of interest to take part one of a series of evidence hearings in June.

These south west LEPs recognise the importance of rural growth, productivity and prosperity being tackled alongside urban growth, to ensure that improvements impact on all parts of the economy.

The commission is set up to hear and review evidence from a range of sources and stakeholders, and aims to:

–        Frame the south west response to the Industrial Strategy and forthcoming DEFRA 25 year plans for ‘food, farming and fisheries’ and ‘environment’

–        Draw out the opportunities for the south west and individual LEPs to drive rural productivity improvements

–        Understand the wider economic functioning between rural and urban to identify opportunities to drive growth across the whole area

–        Secure Government support for specific initiatives in the 2017 autumn statement

–        Influence national and local policies where appropriate to improve rural productivity

The commission will report to the chairs of the four LEPs that have committed to the process, and it will be chaired by David Fursdon, Chair of the SW Rural and Farming Network and supported by nominated representatives from each LEP area.

The commission will collect and review evidence through the current call for written evidence by May 12, followed by a series of evidence hearings in June across the four LEP areas (which will be open to the public and further announcements will be made on dates and venues) and a final report at the end of July.

Businesses and interested stakeholders can submit written evidence to the secretariat of the commission, Emma Buckman at: Emma.buckman@heartofswlep.co.uk by May 12.

More information about the scope of the commission and key lines of enquiry can be found at the following website http://heartofswlep.co.uk/projects/south-west-local-enterprise-partnerships-new-rural-productivity-commission-seeks-views-rural-businesses/

Those wishing to present evidence in person at the evidence hearings are asked to complete this short on-line expression of interest form: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/EOI-SWRural.

John Mortimer, Chairman of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) said: “Swindon and Wiltshire has a vast rural landscape, with an UNESCO world heritage site and Areas of Natural Beauty that offer a great opportunity for rural business growth. The rural economy is vibrant with businesses in agriculture, tourism, food and drink processing to name a few who create skilled jobs, innovative products and also export abroad.

“Through the South West Rural Productivity Commission’s call for evidence, we look forward to hearing from these businesses on the challenges and opportunities they recognise would shape the future of the rural economy in the area and the South West region.”

 

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