Countryside Agency to overhaul PR roster

LONDON - The Countryside Agency is overhauling its PR agency roster as it seeks to promote the interests of rural Britain.

The Countryside Agency is seeking support in the north-west, Yorkshire and Humberside, the East Midlands, the West Midlands, the south-east and the East of England. The regions form part of an eight-strong roster of regional agencies retained by it.

Those appointed will be given five-year contracts to assist the body in its mandate to enhance enjoyment and conservation of the countryside and promote social and economic opportunities for those living in rural areas.

Their remit will be to provide 'core communications strategy' support to the Agency.

A Countryside Agency spokesman said that those appointed would be expected to target regional decision-makers, policy influencers and its partner organisations: 'They will cover all rural issues, including environmental, social and economic areas.'

Of the existing eight PR agencies supporting the body's work, he added that it included 'a couple of sole traders and a couple of agencies,' refusing to drawn on the names of those already on the roster.

While the five-year review is statutory, the spokesman said that did not necessarily mean existing agencies would be retained: 'We may stay with some of our existing arrangements but we will wait and see what applications we receive.

Last month Countryside Agency published its first report into the implementation of the government's Rural White Paper. This included a pledge to 'proof-read' policies to ensure the needs of the countryside are taken into account.

Eighteen months after that initial pledge was made only half of all government departments had done more than the bare minimum to comply with the promise, the report found.

The measures were designed to counter concerns over access to housing, transport, healthcare and legal facilities in rural areas.

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