On Tuesday 6th April, the Countryside Alliance virtually travelled to Arundel and South Downs to co-host a Q&A with Andrew Griffith MP and BASC.
The event for Countryside Alliance and BASC members in the West Sussex constituency of Arundel and South Downs discussed some of the most pressing issues facing the countryside including rural crime, dog theft, trespass and the future of country sports.
The answers to a number of the questions asked highlighted the need for those in rural communities to make sure that their voices are heard in parliament and government. Mr Griffith told those attending that as an MP, he sees how some groups, who do not necessarily share the perspectives of those who actually live and work in rural areas, are able to mobilise significant numbers - for example to raise signatures to force a debate in Parliament. It is important that we, as a community, make it known that their support is both wanted and appreciated.
As Mr Griffith says, the countryside is a living and dynamic place and well-regulated country sports can play an important role in conservation, supporting local economies and enhance bio-diversity. He gave the example of the phasing out of lead shot as a welcome and progressive move that has improved the sustainability and reputation of shooting.
There were many questions on rural crime and the focus of the police on urban areas. However, to improve the allocation of resources it is crucial to report every crime. Mr Griffith emphasised that only by ensuring every crime is reported, no matter how small, can police understand and allocate the right resource to rural policing.
Andrew Griffith MP said: “It was a pleasure to join local Countryside Alliance and BASC members on Tuesday evening to address their pressing questions and concerns relating to rural matters. As we emerge from the pandemic, it has never been more important to champion our countryside and ensure it has the facilities and resources it needs to thrive.”
The event overall was a success, and one the Countryside Alliance hopes to repeat not just in Arundel and South Downs but across the country.
Many thanks to Andrew Griffith MP and his team for helping facilitate the event.