Wiltshire named as one of the top counties to start a rural business
Wiltshire has been named as one of the top 10 counties in England for running a rural business.
The County Land and Business Association, which represents many thousands of landowners in England and Wales, has announced its list which compares ceremonial counties in England but excludes the most urban areas such as Greater London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.
Along with Gloucestershire, Wiltshire is one of only two authorities in the South West in the top 10 list, which the CLA produced by looking at the estimated number of rural start-ups per 10,000 people in each county as well as connectivity, planning, local skills and innovation.
It was ranked 10th out of 39 rural counties, when scored against its record on creating new rural businesses, superfast broadband coverage, 3G mobile coverage, the existence of a Local Plan, a positive attitude to planning, access to colleges and R&D facilities, preference, and usage.
More than 60,000 homes and businesses in the county now have access to fibre optic broadband thanks to the Wiltshire Online project in partnership with BT.
More than 300 new roadside fibre broadband cabinets have so far been installed across Wiltshire as part of the partnership with additional funding from the UK Government’s Superfast Britain programme, which will make broadband speeds of more than 24Mbps available to 91 per cent of premises in Wiltshire by March 2016.
Wiltshire Council gives communities control over development in their areas through a growing raft of neighbourhood plans; the authority nurtures new and growing small and micro businesses within rural communities through the Enterprise Network initiative, and is working with partner organisation the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) on innovative large scale projects such as the Digital Corsham development and the Porton Science Park.
Fleur de Rhe-Philipe, Wiltshire Council cabinet member with responsibility for economic development and skills, said: “We are delighted that the county’s success has been recognised in this way.
“Wiltshire is one of the best locations in the UK to do business. It is a destination of choice for new businesses and a place where small and medium businesses can access the support they need to expand.”
John Thomson, Wiltshire Council deputy leader and cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, said: “I am pleased our broadband project has helped us become one of the top rural counties to start a rural business in.
“Having spoken to local business owners I know what a difference a faster broadband connection can make. The service gives local businesses the chance to expand and grow and offers fantastic opportunities to those looking to re-locate into the county.
“We’re rolling the service out to as many businesses premises as we can and we hope it will contribute to their future success.”
CLA president Henry Robinson said: “Across the country rural businesses are starting up, making investments and creating jobs. Operating in a rural area brings opportunities but also challenges and there is much that can be done to help them to succeed. In this table we shine a light on some of the main factors that can help a business succeed. The areas that top our list have rated most consistently across a range of factors.
“Top of the list is connectivity, almost any type of business can operate from a rural area if they have good quality mobile and internet connection. Unfortunately getting the coverage that a business needs remains a postcode lottery and too many businesses are losing out. We need government, councils and network providers to focus on delivery especially in our most remote areas.
“A growing business often needs space or to update existing buildings and facilities. This can be frustrated by poorly managed planning systems. Our table rates the performance of planning authorities on whether they have Local Plans in place and whether they are permitting or refusing applications to convert and change buildings.”
“It is high time that rural businesses in all parts of the country are valued and encouraged to grow.”