EU funding for Oxon – speak up for rural issues


10th December 2013

The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is currently consulting on how best to spend £16m of EU Structural Investment Fund money in the county between now and 2020.  It’s good news, but we need your help to give rural issues more of a say.

More money for the county is welcome news, and this is specifically aimed at supporting innovation and business, social inclusion and skills development. Proposals must be relevant for urban and rural areas.  There is also a specific pot of money entirely dedicated to rural areas.  

The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been asked by the Government to come up with a strategy of how to spend the funds and we are pleased that their draft proposals are now open for public consultation.  However, despite the fact that Oxfordshire is the most rural county in the South East, this doesn’t seem to be reflected in their current plans.  


EU Structural Investment Fund draft strategy

Respond to the consultation – by Tues 7 January.


Here are some of the questions CPRE Oxfordshire will be raising, which you may wish consider in your own response…

Why is there no allocation of funding to improve broadband in rural areas?   (Thematic Objective 2 – Enhancing accessibility to and use and quality of information and communication technologies (ICT) is given medium/low priority).   We believe that LEPs elsewhere have made this much more of a focus.   Even the comparatively limited sums of money involved could make a signficant difference to rural areas.   

Why is there little to no recognition of the benefits of rural tourism and our high quality natural environment?   The Cotswolds, the Chilterns, the Ridgeway, the River Thames and the Oxford Green Belt are just some of our natural assets that contribute enormously to our local economy and should feature in any investment plan.  

Why are promoting climage change adaptation, protecting the environment and promoting the sustainable use of resources all considered medium/low priorities?   

– Why is sustainable transport considered a low priority and ‘inappropriate for Oxfordshire’?

Why is there an assumption that the issues affecting rural businesses are the same as those affecting urban businesses?   What evidence does the LEP have to suggest this is the case?  It is great to have the consultation now, but it does rather feel like the core strategic elements are already in place, with ‘we’ll do this in rural areas too’ being added on to the end of sections focusing on urban issues.   


 Please help give rural Oxfordshire a voice and respond to the consultation by 7 January.  Thank you!