The government’s rural advocate reports.

Stuart Burgess, the government’s rural advocate, has very strongly emphasised in his report the urgent need for major changes in the countryside. The economic downturn is already causing huge challenges in rural areas, where by June 2009 40% of rural 16- to 24-year-olds were unemployed or economically active.

Young people are the key to a healthy future for rural communities and their economies.

Housing, work, transport, training, social opportunities, broadband and mobile phone coverage are all vital for future rural development. These are exactly the sort of things that I have advocated from the start of the campaign.

Rural areas, like Hexham, can be the future hot spots in the economy, as we grow our own food, energy and industrial raw materials. All we need is effective action in Westminster and, as has been shown by IPPR and Policy Exchange, amongst others, the Conservatives have set their face against the North.

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