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Country News - 2002

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Countryside "disadvantaged" too
Thursday 07 November 2002

FOLLOWING a promise from Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide funds for the foundation of new businesses in "disadvantaged" urban areas, countryside leaders have responded by pointing out that rural areas can be disadvantaged too.

In fact, says the Country Land and Business Association, it is often harder to start up a new business in the countryside than in the town.

The Chancellor made his promise in an after-dinners speech following the so-called "Urban Summit" in Birmingham and says he will reveal his plans for inner city business in his autumn pre-budget statement.

But the CLA believes that, if extra funds are to be made available, they should also be shared with disadvantaged rural areas.

Says Douglas Chalmers, NW Regional Director of the CLA: "The Chancellor's comments are worthy and reflect what we have been saying for years. The problem as usual is that he has applied them to urban areas.

"It can be harder to start a business in the countryside than in an inner-city area. The countryside can have the same social and economic deprivation of the inner cities, but we are also deprived of commercial opportunities.

"Businesses need technology and people to succeed. Yet unlike inner cities many rural areas cannot access affordable broadband, or in some cases even a mobile phone signal. This alone can prevent rural business start-ups."

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