The Rural Shops Alliance (RSA) has had a sympathetic hearing from local government officials as it tries to transform the quality of support services for rural stores.
The Alliance met representatives from eight counties in the South West of England to set up a government-approved pilot scheme to survey the state of rural retailing and to devise a support network, (C-Store, February 24, p5).
Having gained approval in principle, the RSA is now waiting to hear whether the South West's Regional Development Agency would fund such a programme. The RSA was due to present its plan for approval by rural affairs minister Jim Knight at the end of May, but he was moved to the Department of Education and Skills in the recent government reshuffle. RSA chief executive Sean Carter was hopeful that Knight's successor Barry Gardiner will continue the commitment.