Championing Rural Issues

Cheshire Community Action is funded by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) along with the rest of the ACRE Network to collect local intelligence on, and champion rural issues to local and national Government. CCA uses this intelligence at a local level to help ensure rural communities get their fair share of service provision and spending, while ACRE does this at national level with Defra and other Government Departments.

See the tabs below for information about the rural issues CCA researches and champions to Cheshire Authorities and Defra. 

If you would like more information about our intelligence gathering or have a related issue that we can raise with Defra, please contact:

John Heselwood by using the contact form.

Championing Rural Issues
In Macclesfield Forest

Housing

CCA has been promoting the importance of rural housing in consultations and other strategic forums helping ensure recognition of the need for rural housing to be a specific element in Local Plans in Cheshire West and Cheshire East. Through this work CCA also secured funding to deliver the Cheshire Community Land Trusts Project which enables to communities to develop their own housing for the benefit of local people. Click here to find more about this project.

Neighbourhood and Community-Led Planning

Nationally the ACRE Network has supported over 4,000 community-led plans over a decade of grassroots level support. As a collective the network has worked closely with Defra and DCLG (Dept for Communities and Local Government) to inform the newNeighbourhood Planning process to help take the years of development and learning gained from supporting community-led plans.

CCA has also been able to influence Local Plans that are in the process of review to ensure they incorporate a suitable set of policies for smaller rural settlements. This is to ensure that they are not condemned as ‘unsustainable’ from a planning perspective if they do not possess a full range of services such as shops, pubs, schools.

Transport

CCA has provided a volunteer car scheme in the Chester area for over ten years but the demand on community transport is higher now than it has ever been at a time when funding is being reduced. ACRE our national umbrella body has collected local intelligence from CCA and the other 37 member Rural Community Councils in the national network on how demand on community transport has increased with the reduction of public transport subsidy from Department of Transport and the increase in demand for transport to health appointments. CCA has been working to build relationships with local health bodies to gain some contribution the community transport services we deliver.

Services, Facilities and Community-Owned Assets

CCA has collected information on how local services are changing and how this is affecting rural areas. For example, relating to transport in Cheshire West and Chester, up to 20% of hospital appointments are missed at the Countess of Chester Hospital due to lack of transport (Source: Strategic Partnerships Consultancy). The closure of an outpatient ward in Knutsford has had a knock on effect for hospitals visitors in the north part of Cheshire East and CCA is working with the Macclesfield NHS Trust to find a solution.

CCA also continues to deliver its unique information, advice, training and support service to volunteers managing the hundreds of village halls and similar community buildings across the county. 

Fuel Poverty

CCA has become more and more active in the fuel poverty agenda. Raising awareness amongst statutory and third sector partners that deliver services to the frontline in rural areas has been a key focus for us. Providing accessible training for any frontline volunteer or paid worker has really helped increase awareness about the problems fuel poverty can bring and how to tackle them.

Rural communities have a higher proportion of fuel poverty per head of population with less energy efficient housing and combined with ongoing fuel price rises means that there is still a lot of work to be done tackle this problem. 

Broadband

CCA has been actively helping to stimulate demand for the new superfast broadband roll-out in rural areas. As the private market has failed to deliver effective broadband to all of the UK with rural areas being worst off, the public sector has had to step in to plug the gap in the digital divide between urban and rural.

The Connecting Cheshire Partnership includes the Unitary Authorities of Cheshire East, Cheshire West, Halton and Warrington, the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership and Marketing Cheshire. CCA has supported this partnership to engage with rural areas to build the case for rural broadband roll-out and reported this good practice to Defra. It is hoped that the new communications infrastructure will be up and running by early 2016.

Rural Economy

Increasingly CCA and our national network of Rural Community Councils are being asked to gather evidence for Government on the rural economy. We also have a key role to play in helping to ensure that the rural voice is heard on the Local Enterprise Partnership where hold a seat on the ‘Infrastructure and Connectivity Group’. We have worked for many years with communities to look at how local businesses can raise their profile locally and better connect with other businesses and potential customers.