Britain’s Leading Edge, the advocacy group of peripheral local authorities in which Cornwall Council plays a key role, is launching its 2023 manifesto.
The group, which was founded in 2019, works with partners to improve the quality of life for the 6 million people living in peripheral rural regions. It also aims to contribute to powering renewable energy, sustainable food and economic growth for the whole of the UK.
Its new manifesto was launched this week with a webinar hosted by the think-tank Localis, including a panel discussion on issues raised by the manifesto. Senior council leaders and experts took part, including;
- Cllr Linda Taylor, leader, Cornwall Council
- Cllr Kevin Bentley, leader Essex County Council and chair of the Local Government Association’s People and Places Board
- Kerry Booth, chief executive designate, Rural Services Network
The 11 authorities involved in the work are Cornwall Council, Cumbria County Council, Dorset Council, Durham County Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Herefordshire Council, Isle of Wight Council, Council of the Isles of Scilly, North Yorkshire County Council, Rutland County Council, and Shropshire Council.
The new manifesto sets out the group’s current ambitions and pledges:
- Continuing to advocate for moving focus and investment beyond the policy corridor, which still affects so much of central Government policy.
- Pressing for all parts of the UK to be truly levelled up, so that rural areas perform as well as metropolitan areas do with reference to the 12 Levelling Up Missions.
- Helping Government deliver on its promise that the UK will be net carbon zero by 2050. Britain’s Leading Edge regions contain the clean energy capacity which will power this commitment.
- Building UK energy and food resilience, particularly in the light of ongoing geo-political developments.
- Advocating for fairer Government investment in research, development and the vital connectivity infrastructure that peripheral areas need to unlock our potential for growth – particularly in food production, clean energy, sustainable transport and digital.
- Championing Government recognition for the extra costs involved in providing reliable, high-quality public services in peripheral areas, and pressing for fair funding to drive innovation in service delivery.
Cllr Linda Taylor, leader of Cornwall Council, said: “I am delighted Cornwall Council is playing a leading role in Britain’s Leading Edge, it is vital we unlock the potential of these rural areas which have traditionally struggled to compete with our urban counterparts.
“This is an exciting manifesto, which will help improve the lives of our residents, and I look forward to us working to together to ensure its success.”
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Leader of Essex County Council and Chair of the Local Government Association’s People and Places Board, said: “This important piece of work lays out a blueprint for how to improve the quality of life for the millions of people living in peripheral regions, whilst setting out how these areas can contribute to a green, sustainable and thriving national economy.
“I fully back the manifesto’s aims and was pleased to speak in support at the launch.”
Kerry Booth, chief executive designate at the Rural Services Network, said: “I fully support the aims and commitments within the manifesto, we must secure fair funding for rural areas that recognises the additional costs in delivering services.
“For too long, successive governments have underfunded rural services and developed policies which fail to recognise the circumstances of rural areas. To enable rural communities to fulfil their full potential, their needs and circumstances, and the costs of meeting those needs, must be fully recognised.”