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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 11:45 GMT
South: Town V Country
Ian Paul
Politics Show South

Townies jealous of those living in a rural idyll?

The long game of parliamentary ping pong has come to an end with the Parliament Act invoked to ban fox hunting. Just another example of the metropolitan elite imposing its alien values on the rural community?

Certainly that is what many country people have been arguing long and loud for some time now.

But is it actually true? Does the town disdain, disparage and do down the countryside?

Have the city slickers got an overly romanticised view of what life is like outside the great conurbations?

Is there really a yawning chasm of incomprehension between the metros and the rusticos?

The answer is no.

Common problems

A "Campaign to Protect Rural England" survey found that the two communities have more in common than we might suspect.

We all, townies and countryfolk alike, worry about declining services such as post offices, affordable homes, too much traffic and urban sprawl.

Rural communities face many problems, very few of which have anything to do with riding horses over fields.

Even so, many of us who do not, secretly hanker to live there.

In 2002, there was a net movement of more than 100,000 people from the towns to the country. Which can be another source of tension.


Right Reverend David Stancliffe
Bishop of Salisbury: Rural communities too close knit?

The Bishop of Salisbury, The Right Reverend David Stancliffe, has gained an understanding of the relationship between town and country as he represents a deeply rural diocese.

The Bishop said: "Historically country has always meant small, close knit communities where people depend on each other.

"Maybe their lives are too closely engaged for the likes of incomers who do not always want people leaning over their garden wall."

Katie Rogers talks of swapping her stilettos for wellies when she moved from London, in 2003, to live full time in West Dorset.

Katie Rogers
Katie Rogers moved from London to River Cottage

She works with the TV chef Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall on a small holding near Bridport.

Katie says she has adjusted well: "I think the local community's perception is that you come down and are very insular.

"So as long as you do not have that attitude and you do contribute then it is a wonderful world and a wonderful way to live."

According to a survey published this week, many traditional rural crafts are thriving.

All thanks to those supposedly uncaring incomers.

People are abandoning the daily grind of the big city in favour of besom-making and bodging in the countryside.

But is that just another example of the townies' romanticised view of what the countryside is all about?

Politics Show

Join Paul Siegert, at North Waltham, on Politics Show, BBC One, Sunday, 21 November, 2004 at 12.30pm.

Let us know what you think.

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Meet presenter Peter Henley
21 Feb 03 |  Politics Show

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