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England's 2000 Rural White Paper: Town council activities and a survey of town clerks

Gordon's research was prompted by his interest in the roles of England’s small country (“market”) towns.  His paper has two aims: first, to discover the extent to which the work programmes announced in the British government’s Rural White Paper of 2000 are recognised by town clerks; and second, to find out what town councils are doing, either on their own, or with others, and then to gauge the potential and desire they have for a greater degree of autonomy. In both cases the data were gathered from an online questionnaire sent to town clerks.

This paper discusses the results of the online survey (200 responded out of the approximately 500 surveyed) which was designed to discover the extent to which the programmes are remembered/continue, and the nature of any work now being done.  The results suggest that institutional memories are short.  Work is, of course, being done by town councils, but the degree to which this work was influenced by the programmes is, with some exceptions, unclear. 

One question, unrelated to the rural white paper, but included for interest, asked about food banks.  According to the respondents there were none in the towns surveyed five and ten years ago.  Today, more than 100 towns have one, or are establishing one.  

You can download the paper here

29 July 2014