Councillors at LGA Rural Commission Conference

Winchester City Councillor Barry Lipscomb (right) and Dr Ray Ellis, Chairman of Hampshire County Council's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, attended last week's LGA Rural Commission meeting and Annual Conference in Chester. Each represents their Council on the Rural Commission.  

The conference looked at the 'big issues" for local government and how they impact on rural areas. Delegates heard from senior politicians and policy makers and had an opportunity to challenge and rural proof emerging policy. With a white paper expected later this year, Sir Michael Lyons due to publish his final recommendations on the future role and function of local government in December and the city-regions debate already in full swing, the September Commission and Conference was timely and lively.  

Cllr Barry Lipscomb, who is the City Council's Cabinet portfolio holder for planning and transport, said "This was my first experience of the LGA Rural Commission.  While I felt that it was perhaps better at identifying problems than providing solutions, we heard from some excellent speakers and those lucky enough to be called were able to put questions relevant to their community, often with a resonance for others.  

"Much of the work of the Commission is done away from the formal meetings, by the Chairman and three Vice-Chairmen, but we had a very valuable opportunity to network with colleagues and to influence those who will be addressing the very real problems facing the UK's rural communities, from Healthcare provision through agricultural support, gypsies and travellers and transport, to village shops and the rural economy - all crucially important."  

He added "Winchester City has a very large and important rural community which the new Council is determined to support and see flourish and the Chester LGA meetings provided some very useful insights as to how we might do that."