Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Question to the candidates: David Williams on rural affairs

Crewe and Nantwich constituency had a much larger rural patch when I worked for our former MP, the late Gwyneth Dunwoody, and I used to assist her with monthly Saturday afternoon surgeries, touring the villages.

Some of the most pressing concerns for rural communities are often shared with those living in towns. People in rural areas are equally worried about employment opportunities, income, affordable housing, public transport, etc. But living in the countryside can make overcoming these difficulties more problematic.

Many people benefited from the selling of council houses. However, I doubt Mrs Thatcher foresaw the impact on rural families, making it very difficult for sons and daughters to find affordable housing, forced to move into town when they leave home. This break up of countryside communities adversely affected the viability of businesses like shops and pubs. Labour is helping small businesses in the recession, the Tories would leave them to sink or swim.

The Tories’ bus deregulation made routes to villages unattractive to private operators. They became reliant on public subsidy, which successive Tory-led councils have cut back on.

Labour helps rural and urban communities. The Government has provided additional funds to build affordable housing, yet Cheshire East Tories fail to make land available. The National Minimum Wage and Tax Credits are making work pay for agricultural, food manufacturing, retail and tourism workers who were abandoned on poverty pay when the Tories abolished the wages councils.

The Conservatives have consistently let down people in the countryside, as they take their votes for granted. Despite these issues the Tories’ key countryside priority is to repeal the hunting ban, a policy I and most rural dwellers oppose.

If elected I promise to stand up for everyone across the whole of Crewe and Nantwich.

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