8 March 1996

Labour says rebuild the rural economy

LABOUR have set out their policy for rural communities in the Con-servative heartlands of the south and west by calling for a rebuilding of the countryside economy.

Shadow farm minister Gavin Strang attacked Conservative attempts to privatise the Post Office, Forestry Comm-ission and railways, and its plan to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board.

Dr Strang said it was vital the countryside did not become either a theme park or a working museum. "This regions beautiful and diverse countryside is a great national asset which we hold in trust for future generations."

Among Mr Strangs key points to develop a better partnership between government, agriculture and horticulture were:

lA national minimum wage.

lA moratorium on new roads and bridges pending a review.

lBoosts to low input farming, including organic, through reform of the CAP.

lMoves to extend sites of special scientific interest to become sites of national importance with stronger protection.

lA right to roam coupled with a duty of care for the countryside.

lA free vote to ban hunting with hounds. &#42