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Page last updated at 21:06 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 22:06 UK

An interview with Ann Widdecombe

By Craig Wharton
The Politics Show, BBC South East

Ann Widdecombe

Ann Widdecombe gives an exclusive interview to the Politics Show South East.

We all know Ann Widdecombe MP, one of politics biggest personalities.

Conservative MP for Maidstone & The Weald since 1987, she is a supporter of rural life and traditional family values.

Over the last decade there has been increasing concern and talk about the decline in rural communities.

When asked to pick one of her favourite places in the South East Ann chose East Farleigh, a traditional village just outside of Maidstone.

It has got fewer amenities than it used too and Ann is keen it holds onto the rest.

"A station is essential to rural communities, you don't have to have a station in every village but you have to have a station within easy reach… cut off from communications and they're going to go where the work is."

School closures

East Farleigh has a thriving Primary School but across the UK rural schools are being closed at a rate of one a month, the most in over a decade.

The church is very often the centre of fundraising activities….it has a tremendous social impact.
Ann Widdecombe MP

"It's vital that as many villages as possible have their own school because that's what keeps families there…. The buildings themselves can be used by the community.

"It's very essential the village school is not an optional extra."

Ann is a regular church goer and values the role of the church in rural life, but this is not just for religious reasons.

"You find a lot of people rely on volunteers from the church to take old folk to shops, hairdressers, doctors…… the church is very often the centre of fundraising activities….it has a tremendous social impact."

The English country pub

Britain is currently losing 52 a week.

No trip to an English country village is complete without a trip to an English country pub and Ann says she prefers country pubs to those of big towns:

Pint of bitter
Ann prefers country pubs to those of big towns

"It is impossible to imagine an English village without a pub."

Until very recently Ann had a constituency home in the village of Sutton Valence in Kent, until she decided to retire at the next general election.

She has recently purchased a house in Devon where she plans to spend her time when she stands down from Parliament next year.

She says she is very much looking forward to her retirement:

"I shall miss the people and I wouldn't have done any other job, but I've done it for long enough and I don't think I'm going to miss it now."

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