Think of countryside call

Rural campaigners last night urged the government not to let the region become the silent vic-tim of far-reaching spending cuts.As deputy prime minister Nick Clegg warned that the “age of plenty” was over and the coalition prepares to unveil �6bn of spending cuts today, rural community leaders in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire asked the government not to underestimate the greater cost of providing vital services such as village schools, transport and healthcare in the countryside.

Rural campaigners last night urged the government not to let the region become the silent vic-tim of far-reaching spending cuts.

As deputy prime minister Nick Clegg warned that the “age of plenty” was over and the coalition prepares to unveil �6bn of spending cuts today, rural community leaders in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire asked the government not to underestimate the greater cost of providing vital services such as village schools, transport and healthcare in the countryside.

It comes as the Rural Services Network (RSN) - a group of more than 200 service providers and local authorities - warned prime minister David Cameron the countryside was already “ill-served” by the way central government allocates funding.

RSN chief executive Graham Biggs said everything from council services to healthcare cost more to deliver in rural areas than in their urban counterparts.


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North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said greater travel distances, fuel costs, poor infrastructure as well as smaller schools all accounted for the increased cost of services in rural areas.

Regional director of the Country Land and Business Association Nicola Currie said village amenities such as schools, shops and pubs should be protected.

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Coalition MPs backed the call, with one MP urging Norfolk and other counties not to allow Whitehall to take advantage of their culture of self-help.

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