THERE was good news for villages across the Midhurst and Petworth area when the government announced continued funding for England’s network of rural community councils.
After rejecting proposals that could have seen funding withdrawn, Defra has said it would maintain its investment of £2.3m in the charity Action With Communities in Rural England (ACRE) network this year.
The decision came after more than 13,000 people signed a petition calling for funding to be maintained. At the height of the campaign, the petition was being signed by more than 1,000 people every day.
Chairman of Rogate Parish Council Elizabeth Brown said: “This financial support is really necessary, especially to help the most vulnerable in rural communities.”
The e-petition was started by ACRE, which acts as the umbrella organisation for 38 community councils across England.
“The network of rural community councils carries out crucial work to help our communities thrive,” said the petition.
Speaking after Defra confirmed funding would continue, ACRE chief executive Janice Banks said: “This is good news for ACRE and its nationwide network of rural community councils. We would like to thank everyone who showed their support.”
Community councils tackle a range of issues – from the lack of affordable homes, broadband or public transport to supporting the young, the elderly and the vulnerable.
It also provides advice to the 80,000 volunteers who keep England’s 10,000 village halls alive.
Without the support, ACRE said rural communities would be less resilient, services would be lost and more people would become lonely and isolated.