Welcome to this final report for the Lancashire Rural Pathfinder. The report seeks to capture the outcomes of two years of partnership work in the rural North West.
It contains the key findings and conclusions from the Lancashire Rural Delivery Pathfinder, an initiative designed and supported by DEFRA.
This work has been focused in Lancashire, but has been carried out on behalf of partners across the North West This report is written for, and addressed to public policy and decision makers (at national, regional and local level), and those with an interest in rural policy for England.
We have designed the report in this way so that you can have immediate access to:
1. The manifesto - our key findings and recommendations
2. The work of the thematic groups which cover:
3. A comprehensive evidence base, which lists all the documents and research, reports which have been used throughout the Pathfinder.
4. Finally we have included a section on ‘Our experience as a Pathfinder’ - we thought this might be useful for anyone embarking on such a journey.
Pathfinder has enabled us to develop a real sense of understanding of the issues facing rural communities, and the inherent challenges in achieving the strong and prosperous communities, which are at the heart of Government policy objectives.
Through Pathfinder we have come to believe that strong and prosperous rural communities are those, which balance competing interests in order to provide equity of choice and opportunity to all.
We have found that to achieve this balance requires both cultural and organisational change at national, regional and local levels in order to remove silos of operation and join up public sector intervention both vertically and horizontally.
It requires process changes in a variety of areas, especially engagement with the planning process and funding mechanisms, a greater engagement and two way dialogue at local level, and enhanced reality checks of local service planning (i.e. through Local Area Agreements).
To achieve this balance requires a greater, more proactive knowledge and understanding of structural and short-term issues to address the rapidly changing nature of both rurality and locality.
Our headline recommendations have been developed as a result of what we have learned during Pathfinder and the opportunity to think through these issues as a cohesive and integrated partnership.
To read further about these headline recommendations go to the Manifesto, where you will find the recommendations and more detail about the application of what we have learned to the wider rural policy debate.
Chair Lancashire Rural Delivery Pathfinder Task Group