Swindon & Wiltshire Business News


Commission will look into state of local rural economy

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John Mortimer of SWLEPJohn Mortimer of SWLEPWiltshire's rural business leaders are being invited to give evidence to a commission, which has been established to to explore the issues around rural productivity and growth.

The South West Rural Productivity Commission has made a call for written evidence, and a series of evidence hearings will take place in June.

The commission, which has been established by four local enterprise partnerships – Swindon & Wiltshire (SWLEP), The Heart of the South West (HotSW LEP), Dorset LEP, and Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly (CIoS LEP) – 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

It will be hoping to establish:

  • What the economy looks like in rural areas
  • What opportunities for growth/productivity improvements exist
  • What the barriers are to growth/productivity improvements
  • What skills are needed in rural areas, and how these skills needs differ from those in rural areas
  • The potential for businesses to ‘scale-up’ in the rural economy

The commission will also look at the implications of Brexit for the rural economy

The commission will be chaired by David Fursdon, chairman of the SW Rural and Farming Network and supported by nominated representatives from each LEP area.

John Mortimer, chairman of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership 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.”

Businesses and interested stakeholders can submit written evidence to the secretariat of the commission, Emma Buckman at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by May 12.

Business leaders 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

For more information about the scope of the commission and key lines of enquiry, visit http://heartofswlep.co.uk/projects/south-west-local-enterprise-partnerships-new-rural-productivity-commission-seeks-views-rural-businesses/