BRITAIN'S small market towns need more "one-stop-shops" so that people in remote rural areas can pick up all the things they need in a short single trip to town, says the Government-funded Countryside Agency.
Launching a new guide to encourage the creation of more such centres yesterday, agency chairman Sir Ewen Cameron commented: "Living in the countryside should not be a luxury for few and a burden for others.
"On-stop-shops are a way of ensuring that everyone living in the countryside has access to the basic services. Creating more in market towns not only benefits people living ion the town and surrounding areas but provides economies of scale for the service providers too."
The agency issued the guide after a detailed study of eight English market towns. It found that someone from a small hamlet travelling into the local town for a routine doctor's appointment, going to the library and visiting the Job Centre could involve a 20-mile round trip and a whole day.
Many of these services, it says, could be concentrated in one centre to save time and travel.
The guide can be downloaded free from www.countryside.gov.uk/publications