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18Apr

South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s new Rural Productivity Commission calls for evidence from rural businesses and stakeholders

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.

Today launches the open call for written evidence with the deadline of 19 May, 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 19 May, 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 the 19 May.

More information about the scope of the commission and key lines of enquiry can be found at here

Those wishing to present evidence in person at the evidence hearings are asked to complete this short on-line expression of interest form.

Steve Hindley CBE DL, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Building on our distinctive assets and valuing the rural economy as a driver for growth is key to the Heart of the South West’s Strategic Economic Plan. As we define our new Productivity Plan over the coming months, we need to gather evidence from rural communities to ensure that our future plans fully recognise the opportunities in this sector.

“I urge businesses and organisations involved in the rural economy to take part in the South West Rural Productivity Commission’s call for evidence.”

Mark Duddridge, Chair of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly LEP said: “The rural economy is extremely important to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and we value our natural assets which contribute to the area’s success as a leading tourism destination.

“Our local businesses create an economy that balances growth with the preservation of the landscape alongside development of our natural capital, and I hope that many of them will take part in this review so that our joint LEP partnership can address the real issues and opportunities that these businesses face.”

Gordon Page, Chair of Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Rural enterprise makes a significant contribution to the Dorset economy both in specific localities and to the county as a whole. A key part of our vision is for strong growth across rural Dorset therefore it is important for us to be alert to opportunity, need and aspiration as well as some of the barriers to growth. 

“By providing evidence, rural businesses can help us to better understand and address some of the issues around rural productivity across the south west region.”

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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Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, PO Box 723, Pydar House, Pydar Street, Truro, TR1 1XU

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