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Grass e-route - 17th November 2011

Welcome to the grass e-route for 17th November 2011. This week we speak up for British producers, talk about fuel duty and introduce the 2011 Countryside Alliance Awards regional finalists.    

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Speaking up for British producers

One of the key aims of our sister charity - The Countryside Alliance Foundation (TCAF) - is speaking up for British producers and local suppliers. From our popular Game-to-Eat campaign to our recent victory on meat labelling, TCAF is striving to get a fairer deal for great British food and the hard-working people that produce it.

This week we launched the latest part of this campaign when we released a report looking at the amount Local Education Authorities (LEAs) in Britain – the bodies responsible for schools in each council – are investing in local produce. Our research found that just 35 per cent of schools knew the origins of the food they are serving to their pupils. Of those that did keep track, the amount they spent on British produce varied across the country, with some councils spending all their budget on local producers and others just a quarter.

When times are tough, too often the public sector turns to foreign suppliers for cheap goods. But if more schools looked to local producers to fill their food needs they would be investing in higher quality meals for pupils, which would help keep their children healthy and improve concentration, and put a little taxpayers’ money back into the local economy – helping to sustain rural Britain's vibrant and essential farmers and producers.

The Countryside Alliance Foundation is urging the Government to extend their buying standards guidance to schools to ensure parents, pupils, producers and taxpayers are getting the best possible deal from their Local Education Authority.

This report was another smash-hit in the media, with features in the Independent on Sunday , Yorkshire Post and Western Morning Newsamong others; as well as the author – Jenny Dunn – being interviewed for Farming Today.
Alice Barnard
Chief Executive 




 


Alice Barnard

Alice Barnard has today announced that she is to stand down from her position as Chief Executive of the Alliance and The Countryside Alliance Foundation, to take up a new role as the Chief Executive of a leading Education charity.

Alice, who has been at the Countryside Alliance for five years – the last fourteen months as Chief Executive, will be working a period of notice which will enable the Alliance to continue activities as usual, keeping the organisation on a firm footing, and smoothing the transition to the new Chief Executive – more details of which will be announced in due course.

Alice said:

“It is with great regret that I announce my decision to stand down as Chief Executive of the Alliance and The Countryside Alliance Foundation. My five years at the Alliance have been some of the best years of my life, and I would not leave the organisation if I didn’t feel that the opportunity that presented itself to me was not one that I could miss out on.

“I would like to thank the Chairman, Kate Hoey, the Chairman of TCAF, Jeremy Quin and the Board for their support during the last year. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the dedicated staff who continue to work tirelessly for the cause. Our organisation is nothing without the members, supporters and volunteers and I would like to acknowledge their contribution, support and assistance during my five years at the Alliance. I am confident that the organisation will go from strength to strength and I will continue to be a vocal supporter of the Alliance and its aims.”

Kate Hoey, Chairman of the Countryside Alliance, said:

“The whole of the Countryside Alliance board are very sorry to see Alice leave and we wish her well in the exciting opportunity that she is taking up. Under her leadership, the Countryside Alliance has been reinvigorated and resourced to continue to push the positive case for the countryside and to fight its many threats. Alice leaves the organisation in great shape to continue that fight with a growing membership, a growing strength and a growing conviction. The Board wishes Alice every success with her future endeavours.”




 


Fuel duty hits the countryside hardest

Many of you will have seen that this week there was a backbench debate in the House of Commons on the rising costs of motoring fuel.

The soaring price of fuel is an issue of national concern, but it is one that is most keenly felt in the countryside. Those who live in or close to urban areas benefit from access to a wide variety of public transport options and proximity to public amenities. However, paying for fuel alone can absorb over a fifth of the income of a poor rural household, and countryside communities have to travel up to 43 per cent more than urban areas to access essential services.

With rural householders and businesses struggling in the current economic climate, the high costs of motoring threaten to do genuine and long-term damage to the sustainability of the rural economy.

That is why we believe the time has come for the Government to step in and help ease the burden on those living in the countryside by scrapping the proposed rises in fuel duty and introducing a price stabilisation mechanism that accounts for fluctuations in the pump price.

If you agree with us, we would like to suggest you sign the e-petition set up by FairFuelUK and Robert Halfon MP that prompted the Parliamentary debate, and them help keep the momentum going.

You can read more on this here




 


Regional finalists in the ‘Rural Oscars’ revealed

The 2011 Regional finalists in the Countryside Alliance Awards have now been announced, and we are delighted by the calibre and diversity of this year's crop.

Judging will now take place and Regional winners will be announced in January 2012. To find out who has made the cut this year please read on!

As in previous years the standard is high, the nominations were passionate and the finalists provide the best possible shop window for rural enterprise and communities. The Awards run across four main categories of Local Food, Village Shop/ Post Office, Enterprise and Butcher. Please click on your region to meet your finalists, with contact numbers and websites (where possible). Congratulations to our finalists, we are proud to support you.




 


Cheltenham success, Doncaster in prospect

Cheltenham Countryside Race Day was a huge success last Friday with the gate up 1,000 on 2010. The Countryside Alliance and Equestrian Team GBR both benefited from a windswept but packed event, with the undoubted highlight being Huntsmen from 20 Hunts and members of Equestrian Team GBR following the Cotswold Hounds down the home straight to rousing cheers.

The Countryside Alliance Morgan draw took place and was won by Lt Colonel Sowden from Bude in Cornwall. We were gratified and pleased to hear that Lt Col Sowden first joined the BFSS in 1962, has been a member of the BFSS/ CA ever since and has bought Morgan tickets every year we have run it! In total the draw raised over £80,000 for the Alliance’s vital campaigning work and we are grateful to all who bought a ticket.

Hoping to emulate Cheltenham Race Day’s success is our forthcoming Doncaster Countryside Race Day, which will be held on 25th November. The Race Day will include a Race for Repeal featuring local hunting supporters who would appreciate your support. Click here to read more about the Race Day, the jockeys and how to support their efforts. 




 


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