The National Assembly for Wales Elections took place on 5 May. Ahead of the vote the Countryside Alliance launched its manifesto listing several key issues we would like to see addressed in the next assembly. Headline subjects are digital communications, food and farming, rural services, rural communities and countryside management – each with three calls for action and all vital for a vibrant, thriving countryside.
Access to high speed and reliable broadband connectivity varies widely across Wales but it is vital to our increasingly online lives. Our nation has become obsessed with food, cooking and eating home grown foods with low food miles but procurement of Welsh produce is sporadic and more needs to be done to encourage a consistent take up.
Rural services hold communities together but many residents of rural towns and villages across Wales do not have access to basic services and goods, which affects quality of life and deters enterprise and potential jobs growth. Of course, as our rural services dwindle so do our communities and we call for the rural proofing of all government policies to prevent the increasing isolation of villages and market towns.
We ask a great deal from our natural resources. Our countryside underpins our tourism sector, is a place of recreation, a larder and, as importantly, a place of work. Our landscape has been shaped by man over many centuries and our countryside and wildlife need on-going management.