The project advisory group recently attended and reviewed the output of the Carno Rural Workshop held in July 2019, which brought together a diverse range of individuals with a wealth of experience in rural development from the public, private, and voluntary sectors.
The workshop presentations from the day, along with follow-up notes, provided Arsyllfa with a good overview of existing local economic successes and examples of good practice.
One of the key messages was the need for rural communities and organisations to work together to amplify their voice and highlight opportunities and challenges, eliminating the perception of rural as merely ‘failed urban’.
The Arsyllfa panel were impressed with the delivery of some creative ideas which harnessed digital technology, including Cardigan Town Partnership’s App, which provides information and advice to visitors. Severn Wye Energy Agency also highlighted the impact that eliminating fuel poverty could have in rural areas and provided examples of how this could be implemented further afield.
Local farmer, Tom Jones, with a lifetime’s experience of representing the rural voice at all levels, considered the importance of emerging European policy on SMART villages, urging Wales to learn the lessons from this work. Agri Academy shared the positive experiences of a new generation of farmers who participated in their Business and Innovation programme.
Participants agreed that a proactive, problem-solving approach, where all individuals and organisations within the local area take responsibility for actively participating in community development and have freedom to experiment, works better than the passive grant programme culture of old.
Strong themes emerged from the workshop, not least the power of working together, the importance of locally based networks, the need to embrace new technology, and a call for a new organisation, independent of government and local councils, to champion the voice of rural Wales at a national level.
To view the full feasibility assessment and accompanying reports see below: