Rural groups to aid devolution strategy

Voluntary groups in seven rural regions have been selected to take part in pathfinder partnerships with statutory agencies to develop the Government's plan to devolve decision making and resources to a local level.

The pathfinders are a key part of the Government's Rural Strategy 2004, which was announced in July and aims to improve the delivery of services to rural areas through local partnerships between the statutory and voluntary sectors. They will map the provision of services in their areas and test practical ways of improving delivery. Findings will be used to develop a national programme.

Humber and Wolds Rural Community Council is one of the voluntary groups taking part. The council's chief executive, Mary Cornwell, said: "I understand we will receive about £50,000 to employ someone for two years to look at service delivery."

Other selected pathfinder regions are Dorset, Shropshire, Hampshire, Lancashire and the fenland areas of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk.

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