Lib Dems launch charter to create more rural jobs
By Alan Bullion
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg wants to create 300,000 jobs in rural areas if the party is in power after the general election, in a policy pledge that could benefit many Sevenoaks constituents.
Launching the party's charter, Clegg said he also wanted to "close the gap" between urban and rural areas in the provision of high-speed broadband, ensuring that 99.9% of households were covered.
Clegg said the rural economy was worth £210bn and was crucial to the UK.
He added: "The Liberal Democrats want to unlock this potential so rural areas and the rest of the UK can thrive.
"In order to prosper, rural areas need good local services, appropriate infrastructure and more affordable housing.
"Only the Liberal Democrats will create a stronger economy and fairer society where everyone and every part of the UK can reach its full potential."
The charter will also aim to support fishing communities and make rural settlements safer by creating "retained" police officers, who would be fully trained and on-call to respond quickly where needed.
Other measures include help for farming, strengthening the powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure farmers are paid fairly, publishing a national food strategy, and developing an animal disease strategy to lessen the risks and costs of animal disease.
Sevenoaks Parliamentary Candidate Alan Bullion welcomed this pledge to boost the rural economy. "We must also ensure our village pubs and local GP services are also protected," he added.