West Midlands Rural Affairs Forum Conference 2008

Man pinning information to a notice boardDelegates gathered at the Holiday Inn in Bromsgrove on 12th November 2008 for the fifth West Midlands Rural Affairs Forum conference.

The Observatory was asked to present at the event and talk about the State of the Region with particular reference to some of the key challenges likely to be faced by the region’s rural communities.

The main challenges facing the rural West Midlands are not new ones—ageing population and housing affordability in particular—nor are the rural parts of the region immune to the effects of the credit crunch but these challenges can often mask opportunities.

As part of our presentation to the conference we felt it important to stress that an ageing population does have implications for service provision but that being 60 in 2027 won’t be the same as being 60 in 1977.

There is far greater health, mobility and affluence in the older population than ever before and canny rural businesses will tap into the opportunities this customer base can bring. The pressure on service delivery won’t just be on health, and so on, but also from the fact that this group will now have high expectations of what the cultural and retail sectors could offer them.

There is no escaping the fact that housing affordability continues to be an issue for rural areas of the West Midlands. Much work has gone into trying to address the problem but as yet real progress is not being made.

On the positive side life expectancy is longer in rural areas with health in general being better than urban areas.

There is also a strong entrepreneurial base in the rural areas, particularly evident in the female population.

The event also included:

Also, over lunch, Advantage West Midlands launched their new Rural Evidence 2008 (PDF, 1.89MB) which synthesises their recent detailed work on the rural evidence base.

Photo used courtesy of the Commission for Rural Communities.

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One Response

  1. The West Midlands Rural Evidence Base 2008 full report (PDF, 1.89MB) is now available from Advantage West Midlands.

    There is also related research on the rural economy (PDF, 0.83MB) and access to services (PDF, 1.62MB).

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