South West Local Enterprise Partnerships set up Rural Productivity Commission

South West Local Enterprise Partnerships set up Rural Productivity Commission
09 June 2017

South West Rural Productivity Commission – Understanding our rural economy


The South West Rural Productivity Commission will gather evidence and look into issues affecting rural economic growth, productivity and prosperity. It has been established by four Local Enterprise Partnerships in south west England to ensure that their work and policies support rural economic growth. Evidence and experiences are invited from rural stakeholders and businesses.

A call for evidence

The Swindon and Wiltshire LEP encourages you to participate in this new policy development by either:

Providing written evidence to the commission by Friday, 30 June 2017 - Send documents directly to the Commission’s consultant or provide your views on the call for evidence form


By attending and speaking at one of five local hearings being held across the region during June and July. The Swindon and Wiltshire hearing will be held at Lackham House, Wiltshire College at Lackham near Chippenham, on Thursday, 6 July 2017. If you wish to discuss your evidence with the Commission, or simply to attend, please register on this short form

The SW Rural Productivity Commission involves a partnership of Heart of the South West, Dorset, Swindon and Wiltshire, and Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnerships.

About the Commission

The Commission will hear and review evidence from a range of sources with the aim to:

  • Frame the south west response to the Industrial Strategy and forthcoming DEFRA 25 year plans for ‘food, farming and fisheries’ and ‘environment’

  • Draw out the opportunities for the south west and individual LEPs to improve rural productivity

  • Understand the wider economic functioning between rural and urban to identify opportunities for growth across the whole area

  • Secure government support for specific initiatives in the 2017 Autumn Statement

  • Influence national and local policies where appropriate to improve rural productivity

The Commission is seeking evidence in relation to the following research questions:

  1. What does the economy look like in rural areas? (sectors, jobs, innovation, productivity, demography, housing, skills)
  2. What are the opportunities for growth/productivity improvements in rural areas?
  3. What are the barriers to growth/productivity improvements in rural areas?
  4. How does the rural economy interact with the urban economy and how can this be optimised? To what extent are market and coastal town providing a ‘hub’ for their rural hinterlands?
  5. What skills are needed in rural areas, do skills issues differ from urban areas?
  6. How do we ensure skills needs are met?
  7. What are the implications of Brexit for the rural economy?
  8. Is there evidence of innovative clusters in the rural economy? If so, how can these be identified, nurtured and replicated?
  9. Drawing on our experience of delivering rural support programmes in the SW, what sort of interventions have been successful and what sort of interventions proved less effective?
  10. What is the potential for businesses to ‘scale-up’ in the rural economy? How do Local Enterprise Partnerships and government bodies identify these businesses and support them to grow?
  11. Are there specific challenges for deeply rural areas and how can economies be supported in deeply rural areas?
  12. To what extent have rural areas been able to benefit from wider growth initiatives (e.g. Growth Deals, European funds)
  13. Are there any other issues relating to rural growth / productivity you would like to raise?

A Panel has been made up of the following representatives from each of the participating LEP areas:

 - David Fursdon runs a rural business in mid-Devon and was previously a partner in a rural survey firm. He chairs Beeswax Dyson Farming Ltd and the SW Rural and Farming Network and serves on the Board of the National Trust and the Duchy of Cornwall rural committee. 

 - Paul Redmore is the farm manager at Neston Park Estate, a 600Ha mixed organic estate, with numerous commercial ventures including farm shop, restaurant, cheese / ice cream production, joinery and film sets. He has worked on farms in Canada, New Zealand and Australia and as Farm Manager at Bicton College, Devon.

- Cornwall & Isles of Scilly - Catherine Mead is the CEO and owner of Lynher Dairies Ltd, makers of Cornish Yarg cheese. The business exports all over the world and was awarded Regional Manufacturing Company of 2015. Catherine won the Women in Business award in 2011.

 - Luke Rake is the principal and Chief Executive of Kingston Maurward College. An Oxford educated zoologist, Luke has held roles in both schools and colleges including 10 years as Vice Principal of Hartpury College in Gloucestershire.

- Heart of the South West - Sarah Bryan is the Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park.

How it works

If you have submitted evidence and wish to speak and attend a hearing, you can make a short presentation to the panel about the evidence submitted. Or you can simply discuss the evidence with the panel, who may wish to expand on points and discuss and clarify aspects of your evidence.

In particular, the panel are seeking to identify practical steps that government and local agencies can take to stimulate growth in rural areas. Please come prepared to discuss this.

If you have not already provided evidence to the Commission, you may find it helpful to provide the panel with a presentation covering:

  • What your business/organisation does
  • The barriers to growth you’ve experienced in rural areas
  • The opportunities for growth in rural areas
  • Practical steps that government and agencies can take to stimulate growth in rural areas

If you are a business, we are keen to hear real life examples. You may wish to focus your presentation on a particular issue or opportunity and this is welcome, but we encourage all potential witnesses to consider the practical steps that need to be taken?

How will the panel work? We ask that you attend for the 90 minute session that you will be booked into. The panel will take evidence from witnesses individually or ask questions of a small group of witnesses where there is common ground. And you are welcome to stay and observe other sessions if you wish.

Is the process public? Yes, the panel sessions will take place in public and ‘observers’ are welcome at each event. Observers will be asked to remain quiet during the hearings and will not be permitted to ask questions of witnesses.

The sessions will be video-recorded and the recordings may be available to view on-line. 

For detailed questions about the Commission, please contact

If you want to provide the panel with confidential evidence we recommend you submit any confidential evidence in writing and mark it confidential as the hearings will be in public.

Do I have to give evidence in person? No, you can submit evidence on the Call of Evidence form  or by emailing  Please submit evidence by the 30 June 2017.

Can I have my expenses reimbursed? Sorry, we are not able to reimburse any costs associated with presenting evidence to the panel.


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