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County needs a rural lifeline

PUBLISHED: 08:16 03 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:06 03 March 2010

THE future is bleak for many rural communities in Suffolk and Essex which are starved of basic facilities like bus services and shops, it has been warned.

THE future is bleak for many rural communities in Suffolk and Essex which are starved of basic facilities like bus services and shops, it has been warned.

Action has been called for in the wake of a Countryside Agency report into the state of rural areas in East Anglia, published yesterday.

The report claims access to basic services continues to be a problem for some people. Only 7 per cent of rural parishes have a bank, 13pc a doctors' surgery and 50pc a primary school – though the number of general stores is rising.

Last night, Nick Shuttleworth, the chairman of Essex Rural Community Council, said: "It is rather bleak for rural communities at the moment. We have seen some improvements in transport in the frequency and routes, but there is still a long way to go and some communities remain cut off.

"Foot-and-mouth brought a lot of these issues into the spotlight, but they are all on-going and the Government really needs to address them if rural communities are going to survive."

Dr Wil Gibson, chief executive of rural pressure group Suffolk Acre, said it was time for action.

"Problems such as affordable rural housing and lack of public transport have been highlighted many times in the past. It is time these were addressed," he said.

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