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Liberal Democrats

F19: Standing Up For Rural Communities

Submitted by: 10 members.
Mover: Helen Morgan MP (Spokesperson for Housing, Communities and Local Government).
Summation: Richard Foord MP.

Conference notes that:

  1. According to recent polling, half of rural voters think the Conservatives are taking them for granted.
  2. Petrol and diesel across the country have risen significantly in the past year, with many rural areas seeing significantly higher prices than urban areas.
  3. Heating oil, which many homes in rural areas use as their primary source of heating, has more than doubled in price and is not protected by a price cap.
  4. The APPG on Rural Health and Care has concluded that health outcomes are worse for those in rural areas than they are in urban areas.
  5. The Government has made no assessment of the potential impact that closures of community ambulance stations have in rural areas.
  6. Government data has demonstrated that childcare providers in rural areas are closing at a staggering rate compared with those in urban areas.
  7. Farmers' livelihoods are being placed at risk by the Conservatives, who have demonstrated with the Australia trade deal that they are happy to sign trade deals which undermine British standards.
  8. Many people in rural areas see very little visible policing - they experience long delays when they call 999 to report a crime, leaving them feeling unsafe in their own communities.

Conference believes that:

  1. Those in rural areas should no longer be taken for granted - the Liberal Democrats are best placed to help them, as shown by our victories in North Shropshire and Tiverton and Honiton and our successes in taking control of Somerset and Westmorland & Furness councils.
  2. Rural areas are often the last places to benefit from upgraded internet or mobile phone infrastructure.
  3. People in rural areas should be able to easily access local health services.
  4. Everyone should be confident that, no matter where they live, if they ring 999 they will get the emergency treatment they need, when they need it.
  5. Farmers are at the very heart of many of our rural communities and must be supported to protect and enhance our countryside.

Conference reaffirms pledges to:

  1. Set up a £2 billion Rural Services Fund to enable the co-location of services, such as doctors surgeries and schools, in local hubs around existing local infrastructure.
  2. Prioritise a programme of installing hyper-fast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK - with a particular focus on connecting rural areas.
  3. Guarantee that all future trade deals will meet UK standards for animal welfare and ensure that Parliament signs off negotiating mandates and completed trade deals.
  4. Support farmers properly in restoring our peat bogs, creating new natural flood protections and managing land to encourage species recovery, while producing the food for our tables.
  5. Restore proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and focused on preventing and solving crimes.

Conference calls on the Government to:

  1. Introduce a price cap on heating oil and other off-grid fuels, while ensuring that small suppliers are not left out of pocket to protect competition in the market.
  2. Expand the rural fuel duty relief scheme to cover more areas and double the relief to 10p, while also expanding electric vehicle charging points in rural areas.
  3. Protect the rural workforce by protecting rural childcare providers with a package of support.
  4. Make emergency funding available to ambulance trusts to reverse or cancel closures of community ambulance stations, where desirable.
  5. Prioritise the hard-to-reach areas when upgrading mobile phone or broadband infrastructure.

England only; except 1. and 2. and 5., which are Federal.

Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes. For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 9 of the agenda.

The deadline for amendments to this motion , is 13.00 Monday 5 September, see page 12 of the agenda. Those selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Saturday's Conference Daily. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 on Saturday 17 September, see pages 8-9 of the agenda.