DEFRA HAS congratulated itself after research by pollsters NOP World concluded that users of rural transport were satisfied it was on a par with those in urban areas.

But the survey, conducted at DEFRA‘s request, suggested that while a majority are happy with the services offered they are asked to pay too much.

The survey questioned more than 6,000 households and 2,000 business managers.

Respondents were asked about their awareness of, satisfaction with, and how often they used six key services: public transport, health care, education and childcare, employment services, cash dispensing, and provision of public information on the Internet.

But the survey made no mention of satisfaction among rural people of rural policing and efforts to curb rural crime.

In the case of public transport, less than 10% were dissatisfied with the location of bus stops or train stations, but 25% were dissatisfied with the routes offered and another 25% were dissatisfied with frequency and cost of such services.

11% had experienced difficulties with primary health care and 4% were dissatisfied with the service provided.

8.5% of rural businesses were dissatisfied with the quality, range and accessibility of business advice and with the options available for recruiting staff.

Alun Michael, the rural affairs minister, welcomed the findings of the report but said the government was not getting complacent and there was hard work that remained to be done.

“While a majority of people are happy with the options available to them, there is an important minority who find it difficult to access services. 

“We must continue to concentrate our efforts in this area,” said Mr Michael.