As a nation we ask a lot of the countryside. It must feed us, attract tourists, be accessible for recreation and exercise, generate energy and store carbon. At the same time it must clean the air, provide an escape and inspiration, manage flood water, provide habitats for flora and fauna, and be a good place to live and work for rural communities. We ask all this and much more.
The CLA is exploring how countryside communities can leap ahead and achieve the ultrafast connections that will genuinely set rural businesses up for the future. Only when Government and industry show that they are looking to that horizon alongside us will they genuinely deserve the credit they crave.
A simple stat for you to start: there are four mentions of 'rural' in the Budget document released by the Treasury today (available here) and 13 for 'cities'.
To Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, for my first experience of the CLA Game Fair - Europe's largest countryside event. For those who have never been, the Fair is affectionately known as the "Glastonbury" for lovers of all things rural; an epithet that barely does justice to the scale or significance of the event.