GOVERNMENT plans to hold a ground-breaking conference to discuss countryside affairs have received strong backing from an unusual source - the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
The CLA in the past has been one of the Labour government's sternest critics but is welcoming the countryside conference, to be held at the Harper Adams University College in Shropshire July l9-21.
Dorothy Fairburn, Yorkshire regional director for the CLA says: "Opportunities to debate the priorities and concerns of rural England and Wales are always welcome, particularly at a time when rural economy issues need high quality forums for discussion.
"The CLA is getting in touch with the Government to see if we can make a contribution to the debates. A thriving rural economy and a successful, profitable agricultural industry is vital to ensure communities have a positive future.
"Many issues need to be discussed including affordable housing, employment opportunities, business diversification and the role tourism plays in the countryside. The CLA will be able to discuss all these topics.
"Of course, we would hope that the conference is just not another excuse for a talking shop. It is essential that it form the basis of firm support for the activity that the countryside needs. If the conference leads to positive action on the problems facing rural areas, it will have been a worth-while exercise."