Rural issues are ‘lacking in election’

POLITICIANS should be addressing rural issues as they slug it out in the run-up to next week’s General Election, a landowners’ leader has warned.

Speaking in Suffolk, Country Land and Business Association (CLA) president William Worsley called on candidates to get to grips with rural concerns, such as universal broadband access, affordable housing, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Rural Payments Agency.

He told members of the Suffolk branch of the CLA at its annual general meeting at East Bergholt on Thursday that its challenge was to get rural issues on the political agenda.

“We are working very hard to get the rural message across and to be frank the rural message has not been there,” he said.

“Actually the seats with very small majorities are very rural seats, so it’s an opportunity to get across the importance of rural Britain.”

Speaking afterwards, he said the focus of the elections appeared to be on the personalities of the leaders

and because the battle was in the urban areas “the last thing any of them wants” is to be seen with a waterproof jacket in the countryside.

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“They are trying to be all things to all men,” he said.

“I’m not sure I would go as far as (to say they are) distancing themselves, but we have not seen them out in the rural areas with a waterproof jacket on looking at rural issues.”

He added: “Our job is to push rural issues and our job is to make noise and make them sit up and listen to rural people and the rural issues. Agriculture is an enormous industry, particularly in East Anglia.”

For more on William Worsley’s visit, see County Life next Saturday (May 8)