The Rural Shops Alliance (RSA) is to ask the government to come up with a long-term strategy for supporting rural retailers in a series of meetings starting this week.

RSA personnel will make presentations to civil servants and Lord Cameron, the former chairman of the Countryside Agency and now government rural affairs spokesman in the Lords, culminating in a meeting with rural affairs minister Jim Knight MP at Westminster on February 8.

The RSA recently held two open forums, one in London and one in York, whereby retailers and representatives from the Post Office, Business Link and other interested parties put forward their views about what needs to be done to support rural retailers. RSA chief executive Sean Carter will now present the consensus of these opinions to government ministers and officials.

He said: “The object is to come up with some joined-up thinking to move the cause of rural retailing forward. We will place particular focus on the role of market towns - which are no longer the major employment centres they once used to be - and the need for government to streamline its various organisations as there is currently a lack of co-ordination as to who is doing what for rural retailers.”

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