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Farron criticises 'unhelpful' timing of CRC announcement

June 29, 2010 12:00 AM

South Lakeland MP Tim Farron has criticised the "unhelpful" timing of the decision by Defra Secretary, Caroline Spelman, to abolish the Commission for Rural Communities, with the announcement coming on the same day that the CRC formally reports back on its major inquiry into Britain's uplands.

In her announcement issued today in a written ministerial statement to the House of Commons, Mrs Spelman confirmed that the CRC would be replaced with a Rural Communities Policy Unit, which will work across Government to ensure that the interests of rural communities are fully reflected in policies and programmes.

Mr Farron, who is also the Chair of the Hill Farming All Party Parliamentary Group, has expressed his concern that today's announcement will overshadow the findings of the uplands inquiry, which highlights the massive value that hill farmers provide to the nation.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"The Government is right to look at the value for money being provided by their arms-length bodies, but it should also be remembered that the Commission for Rural Communities was the only body ensuring that the interests of rural communities were truly reflected.

"The timing of the announcement is also extremely unhelpful, given that the CRC will today officially launch the findings of their year-long inquiry into the uplands.

"The inquiry has been the perfect opportunity to impress upon the public the need to reward upland farmers for the goods they produce or else run the risk of watching the industry decline even further.

"It's therefore crucial that today's announcement doesn't overshadow the report's findings and that the public is made aware of the threat to the future of the British countryside as a result of the dwindling numbers of hill farmers."