European Rural Parliament comes to Somerset
by Chris Cowcher,

ACRE is working with two of its members, the Community Council for Somerset (CCS) and West of England Rural Network (WERN), to share learning and best practice with local people, community leaders, local government and academics from across Europe.

"Where better to host a discussion about rural issues than in a rural location?"

The one day event will consider the research project ‘Sustaining rural services and infrastructure’ that ACRE has been leading on behalf of the Rural European Parliament. The research aims to understand how rural services and infrastructure can be sustained by communal action and how local people can get involved in shaping policy and taking action.

“We are holding the event at Shipham Village Hall in Somerset on 6th September 2017, a rural location in a community that provides a range of volunteer led activity for residents including a coffee shop” said Deborah Clarke. “The Village Hall also hosts cinema evenings and is the local centre for the Active Somerset Living programme. Where better to host a discussion about rural issues than in a rural location?”

ACRE, CCS and WERN will welcome Paul Soto of European Network for Rural Development (ENRD), Tom Jones of European & Economic Social Committee (EESC) and Michael Dower from PREPARE together with representatives from the European Rural Parliament. Keeley Rudd from CCS will share insights from the very successful Somerset Village Agents Programme.

Congresbury Community Transport will provide transport for the European delegates to visit local community enterprises including Roxy Cinema in Axminster. There is also a plan to visit a community shop in the area.

The idea of National Rural Parliaments started in Sweden in the 1990s and the European Rural Parliament was launched in 2013. The national rural parliament campaign or movement is growing with the Scottish Rural Parliament holding its 3rd gathering in late September 2017. More rural parliaments are held in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Slovenia. The 3rd European Rural Parliament will be held in the Venhorst, Netherlands in October 2017; information from the Somerset event will be used to inform discussion.

The European Rural Parliament is jointly co-ordinated by three European rural networks, the Europe Rural Community Alliance (ERCA), Prepare Partnership for Rural Europe and European LEADER Association for Rural Development. ACRE is a full member of ERCA.

To register for the day use this link. For more information about the event, the programme can be found ERP Event Programme here or contact Deborah Clarke, at ACRE.