Summit spotlight on rural issues

A KEY event to encourage rural enterprise and boost prosperity and the quality of life in Waveney is being held today.

The Beyond Rural Enterprise conference aims to raise awareness of important issues relating to rural business. The rural summit will bring together commercial, voluntary, social enterprise and the public sector.

It will include a series of short presentations and workshops on subjects from the future of broadband and the work of Suffolk Foundation with business and the community.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous will present awards to rural community champions and speak about the coalition government’s policies for the rural economy.

The summit is being organised by Lowestoft-based The Community Forum, Suffolk County Council and Waveney District Council and is being held at the Fisher Theatre in Bungay.

Martyn Burnside, The Community Forum’s chief officer, said the idea for the event came after Suffolk received a ‘red flag’ in an Audit Commission report last year for rural economic inequality and lack of high value jobs; learning and skills outcomes.

The commission found that large areas in Suffolk are economically under developed and there are not enough ‘high value’ jobs.

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Mr Burnside said: “The event aims to bring together the commercial, voluntary, social enterprise and public sector representatives in order to raise their awareness of key topical issues relating to rural business, rural enterprise and community initiatives, and how these key components of the rural economy can work towards a future of rural prosperity and improved quality of life.”

He added: “The idea came from the Audit Commission report last year when Suffolk got a red flag because it was not doing particularly well in terms of rural economy. I got together with Suffolk County Council officers and Waveney District Council and said we ought to do something about this. The idea of holding this meeting was so we could get some good examples of what was happening positively and build on things for the future.”

Workshops will include ideas on how to market your business and how to access Rural Development Programme for England funding. There will also be a workshop by Sustainable Bungay about Transition Towns and a showcase by the Fisher Youth Theatre Group.