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Table of contents of this page
February 2014   
January 2014   
December 2013   
THE IMPORTANCE OF SMALL TOWNS   
Study on Small Towns in the Lower Oder area and West-Pomerania   
"'September 2013"'   
August 2013   
"May 2013"   
February 2013   
January 2013   
ECOVAST NEWS December 2012   
European Council support for territorial development   
Community-led local development : is this the tool for Rural Renaissance ?   
CAP toward 2020 - Shift of Rural Paradigm?   
'Rural/Urban small towns. Conference in Berlin'   
Rural Development and the urban/rural links.   
'ASSET PAPERS'   
NEWS   
June 2012. RURAL SERVICES ONLINE UK reports on Action for Market Towns   
February 2012 ECOVAST GROUPLY SITE CLOSES   
January 2012   
November 2011   
September 2011: Paper to be given in Croatia    
July 2011   
May 2011   
April 2011   
December 2010   
Short Report of Potsdam Seminar   
Full report on the Potsdam Seminar   
ECOVAST position statement related to the New Wittstock Declaration 2008   
About ASSET   
March 2010   
January 2008 version    
Samobor Declaration   
ASSET (Action to Strengthen Small European Towns)   
INTRODUCTION   
Background   
Addressing The Need   
AIMS OF THE PROJECT   
IMPLEMENTATION   
Scope and Definitions   
Method and Management   
Actions and Timing   
Finance   

February 2014    

'''FINAL MEETING OF RURBAN, BRUSSELS Sustainable rural-urban partnerships: Tuesday 28 January 2014'''

Report by Valerie Carter, President ECOVAST

The purpose of the meeting:

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the involvement of the regional and local stakeholders in the RURBAN Network and the role of future cohesion policy in stimulating future rural-urban partnerships.

There were two panels of RURBAN members invited to respond on the network had meant to them and how it would influence their future work, through answering three questions.

I was a member of the first panel.

Question 1: Why am I here ?

On the RURBAN NETWORK I have represented two rural networks: The PREPARE partnership for rural Europe which is a network of national rural networks in several member states and two from other states.

They are an international NGO and do get some funding from the Motte Foundation.

They have an office and employ a co-ordinator.

The European Council for the Village and Small Town (ECOVAST) which is an international NGO – a membership organisation… W e are entirely a voluntary organisation and are not supported by any funding from organisations but rely solely on our membership funds.

ECOVAST has been involved in rural development since 1984 and have been concentrating on small towns over the last few years carrying our research on how many small towns are there in Europe and how many people live in them, carrying out opinion surveys and an in depth look at more than 150 small towns in south-east England.

I was invited to join the RURBAN network by DG Regio as a result of our work on small towns. I have been involved with OECD – attending their 3 conferences and was a speaker to the final event in Bologna.

Why are small towns important?

Small towns act in the same way as large towns but on a smaller scale

They are essential to their rural hinterlands

Most are a treasure house of history and architecture which has often been lost or degraded in many large towns as they expanded

Small towns are very used to working in partnerships with the rural areas they serve and have a strong history of such experience

There are also many networks of smaller towns in many countries including Croatia, England, Hungary and England

All sectors – the Public Sector; Private Sector and the Voluntary Sector have a high profile in small town

Many regions in Europe are not dominated by one single large town but are polycentric with small towns and medium sized towns and larger towns all playing important parts in the future potential for their regions

My two networks feel very strongly that small towns play an important role in any rural partnership (and they have been part of such partnership in rural areas for many years) but they are the smallest representation of towns (or urban areas) and should form a key link between urban and rural areas.

They could be the jam in the sandwich.

There is clearly a lot of potential for rural urban partnerships but small towns need to be equal partners and not subservient to the larger towns.

Question 2: What will I pick up from the RURBAN results for my work in PREPARE and ECOVAST

Both the ECOVAST and PREPARE networks meet at least twice a year in different parts of Europe to discuss emerging issues that will impact on rural areas and this will include the potential for rural/urban partnerships.

My answers below concentrate on the potential role of small towns in emerging partnerships.

It was clear from the debates, particularly at the three conferences, that small municipalities are regarded as being a very important component of any future rural-urban partnerships.

The ECOVAST formal position paper called ‘Importance of Small Towns’ finalised at the end of October 2013 has already taken on board the potential of future rural-urban partnerships and is now referred to in the text of the report.

It promotes the statement that small towns need to play a critical role in the formation of new rural-urban partnerships.

Our report is being circulated widely and promoted by our sections in different countries and has already been submitted to the Council of Europe and the European Union – both DG Regio and DG Agri.

We will also be converting our report into a more glossy publication for local authorities across Europe (should be completed by end of 2014).

All members of the PREPARE Network will get a copy of this report asking for the potential for rural/urban partnerships be considered by their individual country networks.

However, some other issues arose about potential partnerships.

The concept of a rural/urban partnership is about function and the relationship between the component rural and urban parts.

It is not about administrative areas and local authority boundaries.

This can create difficulties in getting really good co-operation from public sector bodies which cross boundaries of political responsibilities.

Any partnership will need political support.

Question 3: How could ESIF funds contribute to what ECOVAST and PREPARE are doing?

The individual national rural networks or national sections will be asked to be on the look-out for opportunities in the future to get involved with rural urban partnerships if funding opportunities are promoted.

As many of the networks are entirely voluntary it seems difficult to envisage how EU funds can apply themselves or become partners as they would find it difficult to find match funding.

However publishing our findings and highlighting the potential for small towns in rural-urban partnerships is considered a critical role for us.

Small towns need to have their potential; realised and understood. We would like to hold a series of conferences in west, east, north and south Europe to launch the document and meet different countries to discuss small towns issues where we will explore any potential EU funding sources.

Valerie Carter

January 2014    

Valerie Carter, President of ECOVAST International has for many years been a member of the Association of the European Rural Universities.

A presentation on behalf of ECOVAST entitled "Rural territories, innovation spaces and future for Europe - The role that small towns can play" 
was given at the 11th European Rural University, held between the 7-9 November, 2013, in Périgueux, Dordogne (France). http://www.ure-apure.org/Base-UK/Base-UK.htm

A Powerpoint may be downloaded from the ECOVAST International website

http://www.ecovast.org/english/asset_e.htm http://www.ecovast.org/deutsch/asset_d.htm http://www.ecovast.org/francais/asset_f.htm

December 2013    

ECOVAST REPORT 55 December 2013

A PDF of this newsletter can be accessed at:

  http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/ecovastnews55.pdf

and, using a search engine, can be translated into your own language.

Contents of this edition of the Newsletter

Editorial

Report of the President

European Agricultural Policy

European Rural Parliament

News from the Sections

Partner organisations

Action to Strengthen Small European Towns

Feature. A visit to Montenegro

Remembering Andras Roman

Details of events notified to the Editor

Editor: Phil Turner 46 Hatherley Road, Winchester, Hampshire UK SO22 6RR E mail : p.turner@semantise.com

website http://www.ECOVAST.org

UK Section. Discussion site : http://ECOVAST.webs.com/

THE IMPORTANCE OF SMALL TOWNS    

A Position Paper by the European Council for the Village and Small Town (ECOVAST)

The Purpose of this Paper is to raise the profile of small towns across Europe – as opposed to large urban towns – and to try to influence future thinking and policy development in the Council of Europe and the European Union, particularly the Director General for the Regions and Urban Policy and the Director General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

All the national sections of ECOVAST are encouraged to use the documents to promote small towns in their own countries.

(The paper was sent out in October 2013.) It can be downloaded from:

http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/ECOVASTImportanceofSmalltownsPositionPaper.pdf

Study on Small Towns in the Lower Oder area and West-Pomerania    

Ralf Bokermann has written a paper on the subject of Small Towns in peripheral regions, which is available at: http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/Smalltowns1.pdf

The introduction states: Over the last few years the significance of small towns for the rural area has been a topic for research, conferences and various papers. A far-reaching agreement was worked out that small towns, as a focus network, shape the structure of the rural area. The range of functions established here goes beyond almost all spheres of life and fields of work. Small towns are locations for schools, purchasing, local and regional administration, medical supply, culture and offers of entertainment and not least centres of employment and creation of added value in rural spaces.

The significance of small towns in various rural regions has as yet not been pursued that much. Earlier surveys give rise to the conclusion that functions of small towns are the more important to the surrounding area, the more sparsely the current regions are populated and the more distinctive the peripheral situation is. The further the next metropolitan region is and therefore more difficult to reach, the more important the functions of the smaller centres become for the residents.

A peripheral situation applies quite obviously to the area in Germany along the eastern national border along the lower Oder and the Stettiner Haff (Haff = lagoon). A confirmation of the theory of an increased function of the small towns there would be bound to surveys on the spot and their evaluation. However up to now, only short surveys have been possible on general regional conditions and visible urban development aspects. These are summarised as an outline. Due to the roughly sketched basis, judgements and valuations remain largely incomplete.

The small towns of Angermünde, Prenzlau, Pasewalk, Ueckermünde, Anklam, Wolgast, and Templin are described in the paper.

Ralf Bokermann

"'September 2013"'    

Small Towns Initiative Findings

http://www.befs.org.uk/small-towns-2

On Wednesday the 4th September 2013 the Built Environment Forum Scotland launched a report on the findings of the Small Towns Initiative at an event in Helensburgh.

The main findings are: The historic environment is a vital part of small towns’ character, but is under threat.

Conservation projects focused on the historic environment are playing an important part in small town regeneration.

The town centres are struggling – innovative uses are needed.

Property ownership and rateable values are part of the problem in town centres.

Small towns are important to Scotland’s economy – there is local innovation and global connections.

Public services are key providers of professional job opportunities, especially for women, and are important for community sustainability.

Education opportunities are crucial to attracting families and retaining young people.

Community / cultural activities and a safe, attractive environment can be an important part of a development strategy.

Scotland’s small towns need better branding and visibility on the internet.

Joined up action by the public sector needs to be supported by local residents and businesses.

Key recommendations are:   More research is needed on the economic significance of Scotland’s small towns to underpin a small towns policy sitting alongside urban policy and rural policy.

The Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme and the Town Centre Regeneration programme have helped to provide investment to conserve and enhance the centres of small towns.

Such investment will continue to be needed, but the CARS programme should include powers for compulsory purchase.

Means should be explored to enable temporary use by not-for-profit organisations of commercial premises that have been vacant for 6 months. 

Small towns need an integrated, place-based approach.

Community planning partnerships can be a vehicle for this if they are focused on place rather than services.

Schools have a key part to play in sustaining small towns. They are important in attracting and retaining families, sources of employment and spending and part of a town’s identity. Their full potential for developing entrepreneurship, building links with local businesses and involving young people in the future of their town should be explored and exploited.

Use innovative local firms to spread innovation locally and through sub-regional networks and clusters.

Work together, learn from each other.

Use and adapt the BEFS small town health check to promote interest and build partnerships in your town.

August 2013    

ECOVAST NEWSLETTER

 Report 54 August 2013 is available to download from

http://dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/ECOVASTreportnewsletter54August2013.pdf

Phil

"May 2013"    

Ralf Bokermann, ECOVAST Germany, has issued announced his book on Small towns as anchor rural development - Concise results of the project / book "Small towns in rural areas"

{{ http://www.ralf-bokermann.de/pages/kleinstaedte.php}}

Use GOOGLE translate to see the summary in English

February 2013    

The latest copy of ECOVAST's Newsletter may be downloaded here:

http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/ECOVASTNEWS53FEB2013.pdf

Contents

Editorial

Report of the President

European Agricultural Policy

News from the Sections

Action to Strengthen Small European Towns

Towns and villages that are energy self-sufficient

Landscape Character

Details of events notified to the Editor

January 2013    

Hannes Lorenzen, Chairman of PREPARE Networks sent this message on 10 January:

Dear friends,

please find a recent report on rural development in the EU with important trends and statistics at the website of DG Agri

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/statistics/rural-development/2012/full-text_en.pdf

Kind regards

Hannes

The document is 10 MB

Table of contents

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 11

1.1. RURAL DEVELOPMENT POLICY IN THE EU 11

1.2. ABOUT THIS REPORT 13

1.3. SELECTION OF INDICATORS 13

1.4. DATA SOURCES AND ISSUES 14

LIMITED DATA AVAILABILITY 14 1.4.1.

DEFINITION OF RURAL AREAS 15 1.4.2.

FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS FUNDING EU RURAL DEVELOPMENT POLICY FROM 2000 TO 2013 16 1.4.3.

CHAPTER 2. ANALYTICAL HIGHLIGHTS 2012 17

2.1. WHAT'S NEW IN FARM STRUCTURES AND AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION METHODS? 18

2.2. THE AGRICULTURAL LABOUR FORCE – WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WORKING IN AGRICULTURE? 22

2.3. AGRI-ENVIRONMENTAL INDICATORS 30

CHAPTER 3. STATISTICAL DESCRIPTION OF RURAL AREAS 41

3.1. IMPORTANCE OF RURAL AREAS 46

CONTEXT INDICATOR 1: DESIGNATION OF RURAL AREAS 46 3.1.1.

CONTEXT INDICATOR 2: IMPORTANCE OF RURAL AREAS 49 3.1.2.

3.2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SITUATION OF RURAL AREAS 54

CONTEXT INDICATOR 17: POPULATION DENSITY 54 3.2.1.

CONTEXT INDICATOR 18: AGE STRUCTURE 57 3.2.2.

OBJECTIVE INDICATOR 1: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 63 3.2.3.

CONTEXT INDICATOR 19: STRUCTURE OF THE ECONOMY 68 3.2.4.

CONTEXT INDICATOR 20: STRUCTURE OF EMPLOYMENT 72 3.2.5.

ECOVAST NEWS December 2012    

A PDF version with some pictures is now available

ECOVAST REPORT 52 December 2012

Editor: Phil Turner 46 Hatherley Road, Winchester, Hampshire UK SO22 6RR E mail : p.turner@semantise.com

website http://www.ecovast.org

Discussion sites : http://ecovast.webs.com/ http://www.dorfwiki.org/wiki.cgi?PhilTurner http://www.dorfwiki.org/wiki.cgi?SmallTowns

Contents of this edition of the Newsletter

Editorial

Report of the President

The Biennial Assembly, October 2012

News from the Sections

ASSET – Action to Strengthen Small European Towns

Details of events notified to the Editor

EDITORIAL

Welcome to our third Newsletter of 2012, and the first to be edited by me.

Please send copy for the first 2013 Newsletter to me, at p.turner@semantise.com by 14 February 2013.

May I urge everyone to influence the government departments in their Member States to support the proposed Common Strategic Framework and Community Led Local Development. (see the item on ASSET)

Phil Turner

http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/picsecovastnews52.pdf

European Council support for territorial development    

ARC 2020 on 21 November 2012 warmly welcomed the news that the Council of Ministers has reached agreement on the regulations related to Territorial Development.

These regulations, which also have support in the European Parliament, provide a basis for achieving, throughout Europe from 2014 onwards, a far more integrated approach to local development than has been possible under the present regime of fragmented action under the different EU funds.

The essence of the proposal is that Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) should be adopted as a widespread means of delivery of all the major development funds – Regional, Cohesion, Social, Rural and Fisheries.

CLLD builds on the experience of LEADER in the rural development field, but should enable Local Action Groups to operate more flexibly than now and to call down funds not only from the Rural budget but also, where appropriate, from the other major funds.

This is part of a larger policy change proposed by the Commission, which will see the production at EU level of a Common Strategic Framework for the five major funds; the preparation by each Member State of a national Partnership Agreement, to show how the common strategic framework will operate within that country; and the reflection of that partnership agreement in the Operational Programmes related to each major Fund.

Opportunity for Rural Renaissance.

The European Council’s vision of territorial development may contribute powerfully to the renaissance of rural areas which ARC has been advocating as a key element in Europe’s recovery.

It may lead to what we have been calling for, namely the creation, in all the rural sub-regions of Europe which need integrated local development, of a family of Local Action Groups or sub-regional development agencies which are able to deliver all relevant measures and resources within the Rural Fund and other EU and national funds, and which are not constrained by boundaries between urban and rural areas.

This is ARC’s vision. It is not a certainty.

Only the Rural Fund obliges member states to commit a minimum of 5% of funding to CLLD, but even here there is as yet no guidance on the scope of the measures that may be delivered by sub-regional partnerships. In the other major funds, CLLD is simply an option which member states may or may not choose.

We call upon Member States to grasp the true potential of integration between major funds and of multi-funded sub-regional partnerships and strategies. We urge the Commission to bring forward soon the crucial guidance on the transition from LEADER groups to CLLD partnerships. We look to our own wide range of partner organisations to prepare themselves to play a full part in those future partnerships.

CLLD- ARC reaction to EC decision 211112

'''Community-led local development : is this the tool for Rural Renaissance ?    

Michael Dower reported to ARC 2020 in October 2012:

In its proposals last year for the future of the European Union’s major development funds, the European Commission suggested that Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) should be adopted as a widespread means of delivery of these funds. It would involve a focus on sub-regional territories, the creation of multi-sectoral partnerships in each such territory, the production by those partnerships of integrated local development strategies, and (where appropriate) the application of money from each of the major funds – Regional, Cohesion, Social, Rural and Fisheries.

The new generation of CLLD partnerships would build upon the experience of the LEADER programme, as applied in a growing number of rural regions since 1991; on the similar programme in Fisheries since 2007; and on urban parallels through URBACT, Living Labs, Agenda 21 etc.

This wider and more integrated approach to local development is part of a larger policy change proposed by the Commission, which will see the production at EU level of a Common Strategic Framework for the five major funds; the preparation by each Member State of a national Partnership Agreement, to show how the common strategic framework will operate within that country; and the reflection of that partnership agreement in the Operational Programmes related to each major Fund.

Open Days. The intense interest generated by the CLLD proposal was shown by the strong attendance and lively debate at 16 different workshops on the CLLD theme during the four days of this year’s Open Days, organized in Brussels by the Committee of the Regions and CEMR. I attended five of these workshops on behalf of ARC 2020.

Speakers from the European institutions, led by the President of the Council, set the context by referring to the EU 2020 aim of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and to the commitment under the Lisbon Treaty to territorial cohesion. They stressed the vital need for development in the context of the present European crisis of demographic change, economic recovery, high unemployment, social inclusion and climate change.

Debate at the workshops showed that there is a broad acceptance among governments, the European Parliament and regional and local authorities of the principle of greater integration between funds, the common strategic framework and the national partnership agreements.

Already, even before the future EU budget or the Regulations have been agreed, member states are working on first drafts of their Partnership Agreements. Regional and local authorities, and their associations at national and European level, are pressing to be fully involved in preparing those agreements, because they know that European funding will be crucial to their own work as a time of stringency on public funds.

What does this early consensus imply for CLLD ?

From the time of its ‘Communication to the European Institutions’ in July 2011, ARC 2020 has advocated a renaissance of rural areas as a key element in Europe’s recovery. We believe that that renaissance depends upon stimulating and harnessing the energy and resources of the public, private and civil sectors, and upon gaining the true ‘ownership’ of the development process by the rural communities themselves. The LEADER approach, which has evolved since 1991 to embrace now a total of over 2,400 Local Action Groups in all the member states, has contributed powerfully to this energising drive.

Looking ahead, ARC has strongly welcomed the Commission’s proposals. We wish to see the creation, in all the rural sub-regions of Europe which need integrated local development, of a family of Local Action Groups or sub-regional development agencies which are :

	Enabled to operate flexibly as local development agencies
	Able to deliver all relevant measures within EAFRD and relevant measures and resources from other EU and national funds. 
	Not constrained by boundaries between urban and rural areas 
	Operating within approved local development strategies
	Subject to effective monitoring and evaluation, but …
	Largely freed from day-to-day intervention by Managing Authorities 
	Active in inter-regional and transnational exchanges, and in national and European rural networks
	Staffed by skilled teams of local animators
	Capable of, and committed to, a lifespan longer than any EU programme period, and to action that does not depend solely on EU and national funding.

Debate at the workshops made clear that there is, as yet, no emerging consensus on such a vision, even within the Commission. Only the Rural Fund obliges member states to commit a minimum of 5% of funding to CLLD, but even here there is as yet no guidance on the scope of the measures that may be delivered by sub-regional partnerships. In the other major funds, CLLD is simply an option which member states may or may not choose. The Regional Fund – deployed by the newly-renamed Regional Development and Urban Policy Directorate – is likely to be strongly focused on cities and larger-scale developments. The Social Fund is likely to be more thematic and territorial. Within the member states, many Ministries tend to be strongly focused on administering their specific Fund, with limited interest in cross-sector activity.

This scenario is clearly of high concern to those, including ARC and the wide family of LEADER action groups, who wish to see a more dynamic approach, cutting through the constraints which now affect many of those groups, and truly harnessing to the development effort not only the energy of all sectors at local level but all relevant European, national and regional funds.

Action now.

The proposal for a new era of community-led local development, set within the wider context of an integrated approach to major EU funds, offers an exciting opportunity to rural communities throughout Europe … but also a major challenge of adapting to a new pattern of funding and of partnership.

We in the civil sector must now sustain the pressure upon the European Council, the European Parliament and individual member states to grasp the true potential of integration between major funds and of multi-funded sub-regional partnerships and strategies.

We should seek to contribute to the drafting of national Partnership Agreements. We should press the Commission to bring forward soon the crucial guidance on the transition from LEADER groups to CLLD partnerships.

We should also be preparing ourselves to play a full part in those future partnerships.

Many LEADER groups do not yet have the legal status, or the organisational capability, to act in the most sustained and ambitious way that is implied by the CLLD concept.

Many civil organisations have not yet ‘put their shoulders to the wheel’ of dynamic local development.

Now is the time to prepare for a new and more dynamic era of action, to be launched in 2014.

CLLD – report to ARC 121012

CAP toward 2020 - Shift of Rural Paradigm?    

Goran Šoster, Coordinator of the PREPARE Network, commented on 13 July in a presentation in Brussels at the conference CAP toward 2020, organized by Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, DG Agri.

CAP Reform and Civil Society

PREPARE’s mission is to build the bridge between civil society and governments. Special focus is given to the new MS, accession countries and EU neighbours. In recent years a lot of attention also to the old MS with broadening the idea of Rural Parliaments as important option of participative democracy.

CAP reform made good example how civil society should be involved in the planning process of the future policies. National governments and so called “young democracies” can learn from that case.

Civil society was not involved in the reform processes in such extent before and in the other sectors authorities should follow the example of DG Agri – but: does the involvement of civil society mean that its interests are included in the CAP 2020?

Expectations from CAP reform by PREPARE at the CAP conference 2010:

PLEA FOR INTEGRATED APPROACH

'Environment'

Multisectoral responsibility for public goods

Contribution of other sectors for stronger second pillar

'Economy'

From large to small scale food systems

Looking for alternatives: Coordination and Support Actions

Local food chains

'Society'

Simplification and extension of the LEADER

Care for vulnerable territories and groups

Expectations from CAP reform by PREPARE, expressed at the CAP conference 2010:

'CALL FOR THE CHANGE OF RURAL PARADIGM'

- Balance between environmental, economical and social measures, for the long term life quality in rural areas - differences by countries

- Fair sharing of added-value between farmers, processors, traders and consumers Territorial cohesion through flexibility and simplification

- Stronger involvement of civil society organisations in rural development

- Integrated rural development based on the sub – regional strategies, steered by local partnerships (LEADER)

- Complementarity between funds and measures for efficient territorial cohesion

'Change of the Rural Paradigm by CAP - illusion or reality?'

OECD: Main characteristics of the new rural paradigm are a focus on places rather than sectors and an emphasis on investments rather than subsidies

PREPARE: In disadvantaged areas, the sustaining of environmental and social public goods may demand continuance of traditional farming and forestry systems, supplemented by new economic activity. An integrated approach at local level is essential in order to prevent a vicious cycle of out-migration, depopulation, further loss of services, decline in ecosystems and landscapes, and adverse impact upon the cities through mass migration from rural to urban areas

ARC2020 (Agricutural and Rural Convention) called for a Paradigm Shift in Agriculture and a Rural Renaissance: previous system of general subsidies to the farming industry, only marginally related to sustainable farming systems or public goods, was neither politically justified nor socially legitimate. Financial support to farmers and rural communities should relate to outcomes that the EU needs and which cannot be achieved by market forces alone

'Three conflicts in the proposed Change of Rural Paradigm'

Negotiation process (COMPLEXITY OF THE CONFLICT INTERESTS)

Agriculture vs. Rural development

Market oriented agriculture vs. Public goods

Food as public good vs. Environmental public goods and services

1st pillar vs. 2nd pillar

Priorities from 1-5 vs. weak 6th priority

Industrial agriculture vs. Small farming

Fair prices: all (processing) vs. All (producing)

Economy vs. Ecology and social security

'STAKEHOLDERS PROTECTING THE NARROW SECTOR’s INTEREST (on the left side) ARE SIMPLY STRONGER, AUTHORITIES RESPECT THIS INTEREST! '

Does the public of Europe agree with this narrow interest?

National priorities and specifics – depends on country

Decisions of EU Parliament and Council – depends on outcome

Three good things proposed for CAP toward 2020

'A'. Measures to protect environment, biodiversity and resources

1. 7% for Ecological focus areas - depends on how to be applied: valid for the farm level and NOT as the national average!

2. Crop rotation still too less ambitious; soil fertility to become the condition/standard by law Measures for Natura 2000 areas could contribute to the territorial balance significantly

3. Measures for HNV areas preventing depopulation of marginalized areas

4. Protection of biodiversity, soil and water needs continuous attention by all sectors

'B'. Supporting the local economies

1. 5% ring - fencing for LEADER

2. Measures for short food supply chains

3. Supporting small farmers

'C'. Inclusive approach of CAP reform

1. Involving other sectors and broad range of stakeholders

2. CSF – Common Strategic Framework

3. CLLD - Community Led Local Development - supported by/beyond LEADER and by/beyond EAFRD

'Importance of the local economies in the EU 2020'

- EU is not dealing well with the global crisis. European institutions and national governments are focusing mainly on the global factors of the crisis, assisting to the global organisations, regardless to the fact, that these global players caused the crisis

- Values in the modern society are changing and challenging the wealth distribution and common world order

- Growing importance of the local food in rural and in urban areas

- Negative effects of global interdependence could be minimized by the local sufficiency

- Emergence of human economy in various manifestations

Local economies should become the focus of the CAP toward 2020 and beyond, because:

Local economies can deal with long term resilience and sustainability

Local economies are better in finding the balance between economy, ecology and social security than global economies, including the industrial food production

Local economies are inventive, inclusive and efficient Local economies are simple and transparent

Local economies are made upon the people’s needs

'Recommendations to decision makers:'

Insist on the three good things (A B C above) which civil society gave to the CAP reform, avoid the conflicts

Be aware of importance of ring - fencing 5% for LEADER !

Modulation: from 1st to 2nd – YES; from 2nd to 1st pillar – NO !

- Higher amount of EAFRD fund for the 2. pillar is needed to assure balanced territorial development of the European rural area – minimum 20% of the 2. pillar should be allocated for the priority VI. !

- Beside simplified flat-rate payments to small farmers, we need the measures to assist the long-term viability of those areas, which now depend upon subsistence and semi-subsistence farming !

- Begin now with the long term process of achieving equity in levels of payments between farmers in different EU member states !

'General conclusions'

Civil society is becoming important part(ner) of the modern state. Growing influence and competences of civil society are the resources which should be utilized to overcome the challenges of the common civilisation.

Local economies will play substantial role in the near future. EAFRD should become important ally of the emerging economic alternatives in endogenous development. The change of the rural paradigm is the matter of time. As sooner we make it, that better the outcomes for the Europe and its citizens.

                                                             Adapted from a powerpoint by     Goran Šoster


'Rural/Urban small towns. Conference in Berlin'    

On behalf of ECOVAST’s ASSET Project, I attended the conference on “Urban. Rural. Europe. Strengthening Partnerships” held at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development in Berlin on 19 June 2012.

Angus Fowler and Irmelin Küttner of ECOVAST German Section were there with me.

Urban/rural partnerships were featured strongly and the programme included:

- An impetus for urban and rural areas – national spatial development in a European context. Dr Peter Ramsauer, Member of the German Bundestag, Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development.

- Urban and rural areas – positions of the Danish Council Presidency. Carsten Hansen, Danish Minister of housing, Urban and Rural Affairs.

- Urban-rural partnerships – a topic for European regional policy? Erich Unterwurzacher, Director, Directorate-General Regional Policy, European Commission

- “RURBAN cooperation” from the European Parliament’s perspective. Dr Jan Olbrycht MEP.

Regional development and urban-rural partnerships – an OECD perspective. Joaquim Oliviera Martins.

- Partnership cooperation in a region with rural character. Rolf Oldejans, City of Enschede, Netherlands.

There were also presentations on the Hamburg region and Lille Metropole.

Papers can be downloaded from:

http://www.stadt-land-europa.de/programm/

The panel discussion included Wladyslaw Piskorz of DG Regio and Jean-Michel Courades of DG Agri.

Integrated territorial Investment (ITT), using the several funds of the Common Strategic Framework (CSF) needs to be managed. By which ministry in which country?

Urban/Rural partnerships do not yet appear in the European Regulations. Some member states are not promoting Community Led Local Development (CLLD) or Urban/Rural.

The main conclusion was that it is important for organisations in each member state to influence their ministries - on the partnership agreements being drawn up for each country and the operational programmes.

Phil Turner


Rural Development and the urban/rural links.    

'The Common Strategic Framework', proposed by the European Commission for post 2013, would cover several funding sources - Cohesion / Regional Development / Rural Development / Maritime.   It has the opportunity to make urban/rural linkages (and coastal) so that towns and rural areas may be considered together. For urban actions, DG REGIO proposes a bottom-up governance process, similar to LEADER, with integrated local strategies.  

ECOVAST (European Council for the Village and Small Town) and PREPARE learned of this in 2011 at the DG AGRI Rural Development Committee. It would allow small towns to relate to their rural hinterland. That has been a focus of the ASSET Project of ECOVAST - Action to Strengthen the Small European Town. http://www.ecovast.org/english/asset_e.htm

An integrated approach to sub-regional strategy, civil society involvement, urban and rural - all seem to fit well with ECOVAST’s Strategy: http://www.ecovast.org/english/strategy_e.htm

'Community Led Local Development' (CLLD) in the Cohesion Policy has been announced: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/informat/2014/community_en.pdf

If you only use one link from this article, that one is the most important. It is available in many languages from: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/information/brochures/index_en.cfm#1

I draw your attention to information available at: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/what/future/index_en.cfm

A detailed explanation is available in two ‘staff working documents’ : csf_part1_en.pdf and csf_part2_en.pdf   use these links to download the documents.

Unfortunately those documents may only be available in English language.

On behalf of ECOVAST international, on 2 June 2012, I sent comments on the Common Strategic Framework  (CSF) to the European Commission DG Regio by e-mail.

'Summary of comments made by ECOVAST'

For the full text download from:

Upload:PhilTurner/ECOVASTcommentsCSF.pdf

ECOVAST supports the Common Strategic Framework. This accords with ECOVAST’s Strategy for Rural Europe.

There are certain Common Strategic Framework objectives which might be more suited to thematic, ‘issue-based’ programmes.

Mechanisms would be required to ensure sufficient local flexibility and involvement in decision-making and strategic guidance.  ECOVAST is strongly in favour of INTEGRATED STRATEGIES.  City region strategies should embrace the smaller towns and rural hinterland.  That is because very often, almost as a norm, there are strong, mostly historic based links between the small (historic) towns and the big cities that should be strengthened or revived.  The multitude of historic small towns and their character is an essential part of European and regional identity.


ECOVAST welcomes the possibility for delegation of management of Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI) to NGOs as well as local authorities.  We believe that this could be effective at a very local level, within the areas of wider partnerships.

There are opportunities for more localised place-based programmes or projects within programmes and for which Funds or combination of Funds.

There is a need need to change in the way the Funds are currently used in order to reduce the administrative burden involved, whilst conforming to EU management control requirements.

Specific combinations of Funds, or elements of Funds, can lend themselves to operating in joined-up programme arrangements. Combining EAFRD and  LEADER funding with EMFF would enable rural projects to be related to those for coasts and ports. ERDF and ESF linked to EAFRD (and EMFF for maritime places) would give opportunities for small towns and their hinterlands.

ECOVAST welcomes opportunities for using some of the options proposed by the Commission to promote more localised and co-ordinated programming, such as Joint Action Plans, Integrated territorial Investments and Community-Led Local Development.

ECOVAST is VERY STRONGLY in favour of INTEGRATED joint action plans, and welcomes the opportunity to bring the four funds together for very local and for ‘larger than local’ programmes.

Community Led Local Development (CLLD) has been an objective of ECOVAST International from founding in 1984, so we are STRONGLY IN FAVOUR.

Preserving the Heritage of Rural Spaces. The heritage is the base of economical enterprises like cultural tourism and of the identification of rural people with the distinctive character of their region.


To influence European politicians to SUPPORT COMMUNITY-LED LOCAL DEVELOPMENT please consider using this wording from our partner organisation, PREPARE.

For the whole document, explaining CLLD, download from: Upload:PhilTurner/PREPAREsupportCLLD.pdf

A call on the members of the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament to:

 accord priority to CLLD in their inter-institutional negotiations;

 embrace CLLD as an institutional innovation rather than a transient footnote on mainstream structural fund policies and programmes;

 ensure that the same or equivalent basic requirements regarding CLLD are included in all four of the CSF Funds;

 establish early deadlines for the selection and approval of local strategies and local action groups (earlier than 31/12/2015 for the 1st selection round to avoid a funding gap for existing groups, and not later than 31/12/2016 for the 2nd round so as not to disadvantage newcomers and allow sufficient time for implementation).

We specifically call on the European Commission to:

 establish a CLLD implementation scheme, which fully respects and facilitates the application of all main components of CLLD and a streamlined use of combined funds;

 ensure that specific provisions for CLLD, in line with the above, are included in all Partnership Agreements and accompanying detailed agreements between national and regional/local partners;

 ensure also that multi-funding is not used in order to diminish the volume of financial support that has previously been provided for CLLD type operations by a particular fund, such as EARDF funding for LEADER;

 embark without delay in a broad information campaign aimed at national, regional and local policy makers, administrations, the civil society and other stakeholders on the scope and potential of CLLD.

We specifically call on the Member States governments and administrations to:

 work closely with the European Commission in preparing the Partnership Agreements on the lines suggested above and, specifically, define a clear strategy and budget for CLLD;

 activate without delay, jointly with local stakeholders, preparatory support on the application of CLLD in a variety of environments - urban, rural, urban-rural, fisheries-dependent, cross-border ? using technical assistance funding from the current period; and encourage local stakeholders to make use of CLLD in a creative way to address a wide range of issues;

 pursue actively a simplification of procedures and reduction of bureaucracy for beneficiaries and local partnerships (LAGs), combined with increased autonomy of the LAGs, by inter alia making separate provisions for CLLD within the relevant operational programmes and by adopting the Commission?s CLLD implementation scheme (above).

PREPARE partnerships (of which ECOVAST is a member)


'ASSET PAPERS'    

STUDY OF SMALLER TOWNS 
Their size and potential importance in Europe

Research by Valerie Carter, President of ECOVAST December 2011

This study of the size of small towns is the second piece of research by the ECOVAST project ASSET - Action to Strengthen Small European Towns

Common problems identified by the ASSET project include:

- loss of functions to larger cities, as part of the process of globalization or centralization

- commercial centres losing vitality because of the creation of out-of-town shopping and service centres

- streets and public spaces often suffer from excess traffic or car parking in some areas, small towns are overwhelmed by modern development or absorbed by nearby cities

Previous research, carried out over three years by Pam Moore, Secretary General of ECOVAST, on behalf of ASSET, was a survey of all the countries in Europe, to obtain information about these problems. The work covered two phases: the first about the definition they used for a ‘small town’, what specific issues were of concern to them, what kind of support they received and if they had any specific ‘good practice’ that could be useful to others. The second phase focused on the impact of the recent financial problems on their small towns.

Introduction to the proposal

This study is to find out how many people in Europe live in smaller towns by looking at the range of population level of larger and smaller towns/cities across Europe. It is often said that more than 50% of the world’s population now lives in ‘towns and cities’. Is this true in Europe ?

It sets out to define a ‘smaller town’. There is a great deal of difference between larger towns and smaller towns in the types of services and facilities that they provide. For example in the south east of England Milton Keynes with population of 250,000 has applied for city status and Petersfield, Hampshire with a population of only 11,000 are both ‘towns’ but are very different.

It hopes to establish how important are these smaller towns and what kind of effective voice could they have in Europe. Research by ASSET referred to above and by Action for Market Towns shows that:

-  they are likely to have a common set of assets - they may suffer from a common set of problems

In total there are 78 million (13%) people living in 4,580 towns/cities with populations of less than 30,000. This is larger than the population of any country in Europe except Germany. Many are run by strong municipalities which should enable them to have a much stronger voice in Europe to help shape future policy and avoid a total dominance of an urban based approach.

The full paper, without the photographs of the cover page. may be found here:

http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/“ECOVASTStudyofSmallerTownsTheFinalVersionDec11wit”copy.pdf

England UK

'SMALL RURAL TOWNS IN THE SOUTH EAST' Tables are available to download at:

http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/SMALLRURALTOWNSINTHESOUTHEASTTablesinWord.pdf

'SMALL RURAL TOWNS IN THE SOUTH EAST: Typology Study 2010 ADDENDUM 2011: Analysis of size and functions'

http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/TypologyStudySERuralTowns2010Addendum2011Sizeandf.pdf

This latest analysis was carried out by Valerie Carter, President of Ecovast during 2011. It forms part of the research work of Ecovast’s ASSET project (Action to Strengthen Small European Towns). It updated some of the data published in 2010.

The original work (also carried out by Valerie Carter when working for SEEDA) was carried out during 2003-05 but was fully updated and published in 2010.

Purpose

The purpose of this further analysis is to look in more depth at the relationship between population size and functions.

The work involved looking at the retail functions found in small towns in the south east, the number of businesses and the occurrence of secondary schools.

The study looked at small towns in three size bands:
an upper band of towns with a population of 10,000 up to 20,000 a middle band of towns with populations between 5,000 and 9,999 a lower band of towns with populations of less than 5,000

Conclusions

The larger the size of town the more retail units and businesses and other services that it has.

An increase in twice the population appears to give a lot more than twice the number of retail assets. The number of magnet traders, major supermarkets and street markets/farmers market are treble the size of the assets in the middle sized small towns.

However the number/ration of businesses and secondary schools increased approximately in line with the population between the middle and upper population bands.

The towns of the upper band – between 10,000 and 20,000 populations – have the best assets and probably have the best potential for their residents and businesses.

'SMALL RURAL TOWNS IN THE SOUTH EAST A typology & their value to the local economy'

http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/TypologyStudyofSouthEastTownsJuly2010noTablesFINA.pdf

This study was carried out by Valerie Carter, Rural Director at SEEDA 1999- 2010. The original work was carried out during 2003-05 but has been fully updated in 2010

Purpose

To look at the value of small rural towns to the region and its local economy

To examine the functions of each town and give it a ranking

To formulate a typology for these towns in terms of population size, ranking

position, communications and remoteness from major urban and medium sized towns.

To identify the assets a town for attracting visitors 1.5  To provide evidence that could be used to influence future policy

Conclusions

The towns with the best functions are ones where nearly all have a population 10,000.
8 of 9 (88.9%) top ranked towns have a population above 10,000
18 of the 21 (85.7%) upper ranked towns have a population above 10,000.

12 out of the 53 (22.6%) middle ranking towns have a population over 10,000. but there only 3 of the 83 (3.6%) lower ranking towns have a population over 10,000 More than half of the lower ranking towns - 43 towns out of 83 - have a population below 5,000.

The towns in the top two rankings demonstrate more sustainability criteria by providing a good range of convenience shopping and local employment for both themselves and their immediate hinterland of villages and hamlets where travel journeys are quite short.

There are a considerable number of towns that are over 10 miles (or 16 kilometres) away from the centre of major or medium sized urban towns and more remote from their urban dominance. 17 of the top ranking towns fall into this category (4 or 44.4% of the 9 top towns and 13 or 61.9% of the 21 upper towns).

These more remote towns – particularly the two rankings which have a good or very good range of services are vital to the well-being of their hinterland of surrounding villages and countryside. These towns should be supported by policies which will maintain their important role as rural service centres and enable them to remain more sustainable rural settlements.

'SMALL RURAL TOWNS IN THE SOUTH EAST Heritage assets & their value to rural tourism'

European Council for the Village and Small Town (ECOVAST) 2012

http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/SESmallTownsHeritageAssetsandtheirvaluetoRuralTou.pdf

The study has been carried out by Valerie Carter, President of ECOVAST in 2012.
It adds to the evidence data that has already been collected on small towns and is included on the ECOVAST website.
www.ecovast.org

Purpose of Study

To look at the value of small rural towns to tourism, concentrating on heritage tourism rather than any other specialised interests such as golf, wildlife / bird watching or fishing.

To examine their individual heritage assets and rank them.

To discuss how heritage tourism could be of value to the local economy and benefit other businesses too.

To provide evidence that could be used to influence future policies on tourism.

To look at some best practice examples that might be able to be replicated elsewhere.

-To highlight other similar work that is being undertaken

Conclusions

It is clear from this research that 77% of the small towns in South East England can lay claim to a historic heritage with 56% having a good or very good quality of heritage. They still maintain a distinctiveness which reflects local building materials and architectural styles from different periods of history.

If these percentages were applied to the whole of Europe it would equate to 2,457 (77%) of small towns with a historic heritage and 1,787 (56%) of them having a good or very good quality of heritage, even though the data sets available would be different to those in the United Kingdom.

This gives clear support to the argument that small towns could be centres of rural heritage tourism. Many of them already will be performing this role but many others could follow their example. They provide good places to visit and become local or regional centres of rural tourism based on their attractiveness.

It is clear from the research of the small rural towns in South East England just how good their heritage assets are, which could be used to be the basis for campaigns to attract visitors who are interested in looking at towns which have good historic and architectural buildings, and set in quality landscapes. Some also have nationally or even internationally famous buildings which have a world wide appeal.

These small rural towns are the backbone of rural areas, serving a hinterland of villages, hamlets and countryside. Heritage tourism in these small towns can also advertise other local attractions in the surrounding rural areas.

Towns with good quality heritage if promoted well could attract new private sector investment and attract new businesses to set up in their town.

Quality hotels are critical for staying visitors. Quality eating places of different types are also critical – restaurants, pubs, bistros, tea shops.

As they are hubs of public transport they could also promote sustainable ways of accessing them – 50% of them still have a railway station.

Visitors also require good car parks, easy signposting, good quality pavements but these difficult times of public spending means that it will be difficult to improve existing facilities.

It must be recognised that tourists need to be welcomed to the places they visit. The introduction has already identified that some town residents do not want tourist at all and a proper strategy for how the town will cope with them will be needed.

'SMALL RURAL TOWNS IN THE SOUTH EAST Community Service Assets'

European Council for the Village and Small Town (ECOVAST) May 2012

http://www.dorfwiki.org/upload/PhilTurner/SESmallTownsServiceAssetsMarch2012.pdf

The study has been carried out by Valerie Carter, President of ECOVAST.
It adds to the evidence data that has already been collected on small towns and is included on the ECOVAST website.
www.ecovast.org

Purpose of Study

To provide additional evidence on small towns in South East England adding to the research in two earlier studies which looked at economic and heritage assets.

This study looks at the range of community services found in these small towns, and then ranked them.

To discuss the potential opportunities and threats to community services. To highlight other similar work that is being undertaken.

Conclusions

It is clear from this research that the small towns in South East England have a good range of community services. The top and upper towns have an excellent level of community services – some of them have a perfect score. The middle ranked had reasonable community services. Even the lower ranked towns had a number of community services.

There is a correlation between the rankings for community services and economic rankings defined in the 2010 Typology Study although the community services rankings are often a level higher than the economic functional rankings. All the Top and Upper Ranked Towns for Economic Functions are also Top or Upper Ranked Towns for Community Services. All the Lower Ranked Towns for Community Services are also Lower Ranked Towns for Economic Function.

However, although this picture looks rosy, there remains the threat of losing some of these services to further centralisation or removal of some services through declining local authority budgets where difficult decisions are needed to balance budgets when faced with major budget cuts. Six of the 10 services looked at are dependent upon public sector funding.

If small towns are to remain or become more sustainable then the level of community services provided at local level is a critical factor.


NEWS    

June 2012. RURAL SERVICES ONLINE UK reports on Action for Market Towns    

SMALL towns are at the centre of a rural revival, local councillors have been told. Chris Wade, chief executive of Action for Market Towns, addressed the Local Government Association's Rural Policy Review Group on Wednesday (20 June 2012).

The last 10 years had seen an evolution of English government policy in relation to the regeneration of market and other small towns, he said.

This was due largely to a changing political, institutional and financial context, said Mr Wade.

These changes could be broadly characterised by a change from national to regional to local and switch from a focus on towns 'in need' to a stronger emphasis on those offering opportunities for economic growth.

Mr Wade said where the successful revival of small towns had worked well, it had been driven by strong local leadership and a spirit of self-reliance and enterprise by town councils, community partnerships and business forums.

A balancing act of supporting the devolution of selected services to the local level, combined with strategic support and a need for consistent standards, is the big issue facing local authority councillors and managers in delivering a localist agenda.

There were a number of key lessons from the last decade about how to unlock such effective local leadership, said Mr Wade.

These included lessons regarding strengthening local leadership and capacity; joining-up settlements and policies; and managing change through community-led planning When it came to self-reliant practices, it was necessary to understand town economies beyond the high street and recognise the need for affordable housing.

Many isolated towns have seen a reduction in services and often are no longer equipped to serve their residents or the needs of surrounding villages, said Mr Wade. In a time of recession and public spending cuts, the need to identify innovative ways to safeguard local services, and to deliver an agenda for change, was paramount.

This included exploring the way services are run and finding more efficient ways to deliver core services such as 'one-stop' shops where a collection of services are delivered.

Above all it was important to maintain the importance of community leadership in influencing and delivering appropriate local services.

The full presentation, Small towns at the centre of a rural revival, can be seen at:

http://towns.org.uk/2012/06/20/amt-address-local-government-associations-rural-policy-review-group/

February 2012 ECOVAST GROUPLY SITE CLOSES    

The GROUPLY server ceased to operate on 24 February 2012. That means the closure of ECOVAST International discussion at http://ecovastdiscussion.grouply.com/

Files, especially PDFs that were available for download are now obtainable directly from me

Phil Turner

I will amend Hyperlinks to the former GROUPLY site on www.ecovast.org

and

http://www.dorfwiki.org/wiki.cgi?SmallTowns/The_ASSET_Project/Papers

Phil

Thanks and goodbye to our sponsors.

SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency, and Yorkshire Forward are among the English Regional Development Agencies abolished by the UK government.

The government announced that SEEDA is due to close by March 31st 2012, along with the other RDAs (Regional Development Agencies).

According to SEEDA's website "Responsibility for economic development and regeneration in England is being passed onto successor bodies, including Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and central Government departments".

The SEEDA website is now not available. Yorkshire Forward's website says:

"Yorkshire Forward Closure. Yorkshire Forward is the Regional Development Agency (RDA) for Yorkshire and Humber.

As one of nine RDAs in England, we were established in 1999 to transform the English regions through sustainable economic development.

Following the Government's decision to abolish Regional Development Agencies by April 2012, we have worked closely with public and private sector bodies in region to manage the transition of our responsibilities, prior to our closure."

ECOVAST thanks the former RDA staff and board members for their financial support to the ASSET project

Phil Turner

January 2012    

A view from Europe (and Hampshire!)

Phil Turner, Past President, ECOVAST (European Council for the Village and Small Town) and Planning Aid volunteer, offers his thoughts on small towns from European perspectives and his experiences in Hampshire.

His insights make reference to a paper by Action for Market Towns Chief Executive, Chris Wade, The Next Ten Years: A Market Town Renaissance:The Next Ten Years. Supporting Self-reliance in Communities

http://www.smalltownsfortomorrow.org/

November 2011    

ENCOURAGING ECONOMIC SUCCESS IN SMALL TOWNS Valerie J Carter: BSc MRTPI FRGS President ECOVAST...more presented in Croatia 11 NOV 2011

September 2011: Paper to be given in Croatia     

Encouraging Economic Success in Historic Small Towns

Paper to be given in Croatia November 2011

Valerie J Carter

The illustrations are available from the author or from p.turner@semantise.com

Author:

Valerie J Carter: B.Sc (Hons); Member of Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI); Fellow of Royal Geographical Society (FRGS). President of the European Council for the Village and Small Town (Ecovast). Ecovast General Secretary: 59 Bodycoats Road, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO53 2HA, England. Home address: Sherborne, Ingleden Park Road, Tenterden, Kent, England TN30 6NS; 0044 5810 752379 carter73@btinternet.com

Key words:

Programme: function: health- check: partnerships: leverage: catalyst for future action

Executive Summary

A programme to support small towns (population up to 20,000) in SE England spread over 2000-2011. The criteria agreed to define a ‘small town’ was based on the function as centres for a rural hinterland. Most of the 179 towns identified were historic in terms of historic plan and buildings but several more towns from more modern times were included. The programme supported more than 70 towns in 2 phases. A ‘health check’ for each town appraised each town’s assets (business / retail/ tourism/ community) before any town was accepted onto the programme. It also ensured that all sectors and groups of people in the town were involved. The programme has encouraged towns to lead their own future based on community agreement. Community leaders have emerged to establish partnerships and galvanise activity. The programme money has had significant leverage - regional public money (UK Government) levered in local authority public money and private funding. The programme money has acted as a catalyst for future action. The town partnerships and projects still continued after the programme funding ended. They and their projects look now for new sources of funding or are self-financing. Community leaders are still active and success is being recognised with awards and support.

Main Text

1 Introduction

1.1: What is a ‘town’:

The study in South East England looked at small towns where the population was less than 20,000. It was based on a hierarchy of settlements based on the services that the settlement provided for itself and for a wider hinterland. The definition of ‘town’ in this context is based on function not on size or historic origins of the settlement. A ‘town’ provides services at a higher level than that of a village – with functions serving both itself and its rural hinterland of villages, hamlets and countryside. There were 179 small towns identified which formed the basis of the programme. The results of the analysis showed that it is towns of around 10,000 population that provide the best range of functions for a rural hinterland, although those smaller than this provide some functions. The study put forward a typology for towns with upper, middle and lower categories based on the number of functions that they provide.

1.2: What is ‘historic’ in UK context:

The majority, but not all, the small town settlements today in South East England are historic, mostly dating back to the Middle Ages. There are 18 small historic ports / settlements on the coast and 6 more modern small seaside towns. There are two small modern mining towns and two small modern army/airforce towns. Not all of the ‘historic’ small towns would have had historic Town Charters and not all those that originally had Charters now function as towns and are now regarded as villages.

• Map of Oxfordshire showing in ‘orange’ those historic Charter Towns which are now regarded as villages

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) produced a list of the best historic towns in the United Kingdom in 1964 based on well preserved historic town plans; the presence of waterfront, walls, castles and major ecclesiastical sites and many buildings worthy of preservation (Medieval, Georgian, Regency or Victorian buildings). There were 324 towns listed for England and 51 of these were identified as the best in the country. Unfortunately the CBA study was limited to looking at towns which had been administrative centres (Borough Councils or Urban District). They did not look at Rural Districts which had many towns that were not administrative capitals. Of the 179 small towns identified in the South East programme, only 39 were administrative centres with 18 of these listed in the top 324 CBA towns and 3 of these in the best 51. Very many more would meet the criteria of ‘historic town’ if towns in Rural District towns had been looked at by the CBA. The programme referred to in this paper is therefore not just limited to ‘historic towns’.

1.3: Size of towns:

Research has been carried out by Ecovast to look at just how many ‘small towns’ there are in Europe, not just the European union.

All city/town settlements in Europe were looked at and grouped into different size bands.

What defines a ‘small town’ evokes much debate across Europe and countries have different opinions of what constitutes a small town.

An Ecovast questionnaire asked for both lower and upper size limits for a small town.

The graph below lists the top level for a small town for several countries who responded. Finally Ecovast arrived at a consensus that defined a ‘small town’ as being those with less than a 30,000 population – higher than upper limit as the South East England study.

Lower levels also varied as many countries used historic charters as the basis for a town – but a lower level of 10,000 population was chosen reflecting the findings from the South East study which was based on functions.

It is accepted that there are very many ‘small towns’ below this but more research is needed before the functions of such settlements can be determined.

• Graph of opinions of upper limits of population for a ‘small town’

The results of the European Study revealed just how many small towns there are in Europe.

It found 4,459 small towns – with populations between 10,000 and 30,000 - with a total population of 77 million people living in them – bigger than the population of all European countries apart from Germany.

They are therefore very important to the economy of Europe as well as their own countries and should be able to make their views heard in the European arena, and influence European policy much more than they do now.

• Graph showing number of towns by size band

• Pie Chart of percentages of populations by size bands

1.4: Why are small towns important:

The studies referred to above show that there are large numbers of people living in small towns.

These small towns have rural hinterlands often with many villages and hamlets.

The small towns alone make up large percentages of their local administrative areas - the population living in them in South East England was 1.3 million making up a substantial proportion of the 2 million population living in the rural areas, which in turn was a quarter of the 8 million population of the whole region.

These small towns are therefore important to regional and local economies. Vibrant small towns are essential to vibrant rural areas.

There are no specific policies in Europe or the UK which relate to small towns.

Urban policies are dominant and there are also significant rural policies – although much is devoted to agriculture and food production rather than rural settlements.

The sheer volume of people living in small rural towns should enable a much stronger voice to develop policies to reinforce their contributions to local economies.

2.The South East Small Towns Programme

2.1 How did it start:

Small towns were supported by a national government body known as the Rural Development Commission from the early 1990’s. They helped set up a new national body ‘Action for Market Towns’ (AMT) to carry out research on aspects of town problems and promote best practice and attract membership from towns themselves.

In 1999 the Rural Development Commission was wound up (after 99 years) and replaced with eight newly created Regional Development Agencies (RDA’s) and a new national body called the Countryside Agency.

Both had a responsibility for small towns although most funding was provided through the RDAs who have provided many millions of £s between 1999 until 2011

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) developed a regeneration programme to revitalize their small rural towns. The programme, agreed in 2000 has been delivered in two phases – 2000 to 2004 and 2004 to 2012. It was limited to small towns that were under 20,000 population.

The Regional Development Agencies have been disbanded by the new Coalition Government in the UK, together with all regional bodies but the programme is in its final phase with all projects underway and finishing by end March 2012.

• Map of 179 small towns in the South East study

2.2 What funding was provided:

In total £10 million (Euros 11 million) of UK Government money has been spent on the South East programme.

The first phase provided nearly £3 million and the second phase provided £7.2 million.

The programme also had to be match-funded by others from other public or private sources. It was specifically for larger scale projects which were at least £80,000 (£88,000 Euros) per project with half of that funding provided by the programme and half from match funding.

2.3 Programme focus:

the focus for any support was on ‘economic regeneration, improving business, employment and skills in the town or other activities that in the long term would contribute to the local economy – such as town improvements which would make them more attractive for trading or tourism or community activity which would encourage residents to use their own town rather than go elsewhere.

2.4 Towns had to be assessed for functional eligibility:

The towns that were eligible for funding had to meet specific functional criteria which identified them as a ‘town’. Extensive consultation with local authorities identified 179 ‘eligible’ towns and it was expected that around 60 would take part.

South East England has always been a highly populated region with major trade links by road and ports to the rest of the continent of Europe.

Map of towns in South East England taking part in the programme Several functional criteria were looked at.

The first functional criteria was that the towns must serve a hinterland.

Although the population of the small town had to be less than 20,000 the population of the hinterlands are often considerable.

The map below demonstrates the small town of Tenterden in Kent which has a population of 7,000 with its hinterland of 10 villages which together have an additional population of 8,800.

(Map of Tenterden, Kent and hinterland of villages)

Secondly all towns must have a good range of shops.

As well as these two functional criteria they must have had at least one of the following: a magnet trader (Woolworths, WH Smiths or Boots); a branch of one of the top 7 supermarkets; a secondary school (providing education up to 16 years old). Encouraging business and supporting new business creation and employment was critical. All businesses need to be involved in the town’s future not just retail businesses in the town centre. Small towns are ideal places to do business; offering the resident population in the town and its hinterland to create jobs and wealth within the community.

Workers spend in the town they work in and businesses working together can create new opportunities for improved trade. Most small towns have small business estates or clusters.

2.5 The Health-check:

The activity to be supported had to have involved all sectors in the community and be based on an in- depth ‘health check’. The people in the town formed a local town partnership which was responsible for carrying out an assessment of the town’s assets and problems and developing an Action Plan on what needed to be done.

The local town partnership was then responsible for seeing that the agreed actions are carried out. Some towns already had Chambers of Trade for their town but many did not or it was fairly moribund.

The essence of the programme was that local decisions were made by local people based on local assessments of need with the involvement of all sectors of the community.

2.6 Support structures:

The programme supported county-based local co-ordinators who would help all the town partnerships emerging in their area. They met regularly with each other across the region and helped to iron out any problems along the way.

They were based with the local county authority of their area and were a great help in securing public match funding.

A regional Board known as the South East Rural Towns Partnership Board was set up to have overall management of the programme.

3.Achievements

3.1 The First Phase:

The first phase of the South East programme established that all the outputs anticipated for the first 11 towns supported between 2000 and 2004 and the match funding had been well met. One of the most outstanding achievements was the fact that the programme had found community leaders who were prepared to spend considerable time during and beyond the programme support.

These leaders had generated enthusiasm and commitment for other volunteers in their town partnerships who are continuing to work in their towns to develop solutions to the problems identified in their Town Action Plan.

3.2 The Second Phase:

The second phase of the South East programme was appraised by the Rural Consultancy as follows:

3.2.1 Health-checks:

106 towns have already completed the formal health-check with a further 14 in the process – far more than have submitted actual projects for funding but indicating that local town partnerships have been established and volunteers established to work on the future of their towns.

3.2.2 Projects:

Projects have been supported in all nine counties of South East England.

Sixty two projects have been approved and nearly all of them are now nearing completion – and will be finished by March 2012.

The total cost of all these projects is £16,798,938 with an average project cost of £270,950 and average programme grant of £92,276 - meeting the intention of only supporting major projects in towns.

3.2.3 Outputs:

A very impressive number of recorded outputs achieved so far have been: 214 jobs created or safeguarded; 1,055 individual businesses supported; 76 training opportunities; 237 people helped into employment; 23 new community facilities built; 59 community facilities improved; 3 new community services provided and 9 community services improved.

3.2.4 Leverage:

The rates of leverage of both public and private sector funding have also been impressive with £2,230,468 from the private sector and £9,401,587 from the public sector – mostly from local authorities demonstrating their strong support for the programme and the small rural towns in their area.

3.2.5 Volunteers:

All the town partnerships rely very heavily on unpaid volunteers, many of whom freely gave many hours of their time. More than 1,200 volunteers have been identified through the survey carried out by the Rural Consultancy, who also estimated that each volunteer carried out 80 hours of work. If a value of £15 per hour was used the impressive voluntary contribution to the programme would be £1,442,400 – additional to actual money.

3.2.6 Project examples:

Set out below are examples of projects that have been carried out to improve the economic performance of towns in the South East. Loyalty scheme in Faversham, Kent: that has improved trade in local shops in the town, and encourages local people to shop in the town rather than going elsewhere Physical regeneration in Cranleigh, Surrey: that has improved the appearance of the town centre leading to the improvement of trade in the town Picture of town centre improvements, Cranleigh Event, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire: a revival of a former hill-climb formerly held in the town. It attracted thousands of visitors and is now self-financing Picture of Princes Risborough Eco Festival in Faringdon, Oxfordshire: a week-long festival in the town attracting many visitors. This project won the Action for Market Town’s national competition for a small town Picture of Faringdon Centre for children in Billingshurst, West Sussex: this provided a day centre for children between 0-5 and a breakfast and afterschool club and enabled women in the town to work longer hours

4.What have been the successes?

4.1 Local Leaders: The programme has acted as the catalyst to establish leaders to emerge from local towns who have demonstrated real and long lasting commitment to the future of their towns and encouraged thousands of volunteer hours. 4.2 Active Town Partnerships: Active town partnerships have been established which continue long after any programme has finished 4.3 Local Needs Analysis: The health-check was the backbone of the programme funding and led to a locally agreed Action Plan that has encouraged the development of many other projects which have been carried out without funding from the programme but which have had an increased impact on the economy and well-being of the town. 4.4 A Place to do Business: The programme encouraged all businesses in a town to become involved in its future not just retail businesses in the town centre. It has proved that small towns are a good place to do business and that maintaining employment land is important as workers will spend money in the town as well as working there 4.5 Attractive to Visitors: Many tourism projects have built on the attractive assets of the town, bringing in visitors to spend money in the towns. Festivals and events have proved so successful that they not only bring in good money to the town but are now self-financing. 4.6 A Place for Education: The presence of secondary schools means that many parents visit and get used to the town and should be encouraged and welcomed to use it as their centre, rather than go elsewhere. 4.7 Improving Community assets: The improvement of community buildings can encourage new services to come into the town, promoting a mixture of uses which will bring in more people from the local community, spending more time in their town than going elsewhere. 4.8 Leverage: The programme has managed to lever out much more than match funding. 4.9 Support Structures: The support structures proved invaluable. The overall smooth running of the programme needed a South East Rural Towns Board and the County Co-ordinators proved essential to nurture and help emerging local partnerships in their areas. 4.9 Ongoing success: Towns in the programme are being recognised for the good work that they have done. Billingshurst in West Sussex and Little Chalfont in Buckinghamshire have both been awarded the prestigious Queens Award for Community. The town partnership in Caterham, Surrey has been fully recognised as a competent body with a secure future and has just been given an old building in the town centre for them to manage as a community centre with the prospect of attracting a £3 million project.

5. The Influence of Outside Factors

5.1 Recession: Like most of Europe and the United Kingdom, South England is undergoing a recession and small towns are suffering as are larger towns. There are empty shops but the biggest blow has been the loss of one of the major ‘magnet traders – Woolworths. Thirty-three small rural towns in South East England have lost a Woolworths. Some have been filled by newcomers but not with the same kind of draw to shoppers as Woolworths had been.

5.2 Planning policies affect all parts of the economy. Development policies favour urban area and towns over villages and rural areas. Small towns have benefited from policies which have seen a growth in population which can help maintain the level of services. Centralization of services generally worked the other way and many small towns have suffered the impact of major retail development of ‘out-of-town’ shopping centres, loss of administrative sub offices etc. Tenterden has benefited from planning policies which designated it as a sub-regional shopping centre - unusual for its size but it has enabled it to maintain a good level of independent shops and attract major supermarkets too.

5.3 Change in Government: A change in Government will bring about major changes in support. New governments like to stamp their authority on any public sector spending and are likely to change government supported bodies.

6. Conclusions

The sheer number of people living in small rural towns should enable a much stronger voice to be developed for the role of small towns and what needs to be done to help them continue and strengthen their contributions to local economies. Small towns provide the backbone to surrounding rural areas and healthy vibrant towns will create healthy rural areas – all contributing to their local economy. The South East England programme has had a much more significant impact than just providing public money. It has been a significant catalyst for action in towns and not just a delivery of projects using programme funding. That catalyst role is continuing long after the funding has been completed giving both short term and long term impacts. Maintaining businesses and encouraging small towns to be ‘a place to do business’ will support a healthy local economy. Maintaining secondary schools ensure that people from the local hinterland get to know and use the town as their base for shopping etc.

7. What support for small towns in England exists today

7.1 Loss of RDA’s and Local Economic Partnerships: The new Government in the UK has now abolished all regional bodies and the loss of Regional Development Agencies (RDA’s) has meant that the support they gave to small towns is no longer available. They have been replaced by more local bodies called Local Economic Partnerships (LEP’s) but they do not cover all areas of England. This type of RDA programme support is not being picked up by the LEPs as they will not be provided with the same type of funding, although efforts are being made to make the new LEP’s aware of the important role that small towns play in local economies – though they are not likely to be grant giving bodies.

7.2 National Forum: The new Government is providing some support through a new National Forum on the Future of Smaller towns. It is basically a think tank to establish and promote the role of smaller towns and their value to the national economy.

7.3 Action for Market Towns (AMT) remains and is a membership organisation and is still partly supported through the public sector. They worked closely with the Regional Development Agencies and staged a national annual competition for the best town project from regional winning entries.

7.4 Localism: The idea of local people making local decisions about their own area has been amply demonstrated by the South East programme but as yet no decisions have been made on how ‘localism’ in England is to be supported.

7.5 Neighbourhood Planning: Some neighbourhood plans are to be supported and the Health-check is very similar to the requirements needed and could be adapted fairly easily.

8. Bibliography

• Study of Small Towns – Their Size and Potential in Europe – June 2010 by Ecovast www.ecovast.org/asset

• Small Rural Towns in the South East: A Typology and Their Value to the Local Economy 2010 by South East England Development Agency www.ecovast.org/asset

• Small Rural Towns in the South East: Typology Study 2010: Addendum 2011: Analysis of Size and Functions by Ecovast www.ecovast.org/asset

• An Evaluation of the South East Small Rural Towns Programme: prepared by The Rural Consultancy: March 2011 www.setowns.org.uk

• Small Towns of the Future, not the Past by the Small Towns for Tomorrow National Forum 2011 www.smalltownsfortomorrow.org

• Action for Market Towns website www.towns.org.uk

Biography Valerie Carter is a qualified chartered Town Planner and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. She worked as a planner for 12 years for Kent County Council and then took a career break to bring up her children. She subsequently worked as a planning/business adviser for the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas (CoSIRA?), later becoming an Economic Development Officer with the Rural Development Commission (RDC); then Area Manager, followed by Regional Manager for the nine counties in the South East.

She transferred in 1999 to the new Regional Development Agency – the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and led their rural work as Rural Director until September 2010, when she retired from full time employment.

She is a member of the South East Rural Towns Board, and of the national Forum for the Future of Small Towns. She has worked with different rural European partnerships for many years.

She is currently the President of the European Council for the Village and Small Town (ECOVAST) and a member of the Council of Administration of the European Rural University (ERU). She is married with three grown up sons and six grandchildren. List of illustrations

• Map of Oxfordshire showing in ‘orange’ those historic Charter Towns which are now regarded as villages

• Graph of the opinions of upper limits of population for a ‘small town’

• Graph showing number of towns by size band

• Pie Chart of percentages of populations by size bands

• Map of Towns in the South East England taking part in the programme

• Map of Tenterden and its hinterland of villages

• Photo of town centre street improvements in Cranleigh, Surrey

• Photos of Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire which revived a historic hill climb event

• Photo of Faringdon, Oxfordshire who won the AMT national town award in 2009

For a copy please email p.turner@semantise.com

July 2011    

BBC series on TOWNS

Posted by ecovast on July 30, 2011 at 7:10 AM

The Open University and BBC television series TOWN presented by Geographer Nicholas Crane

is accompanied by a booklet that can be downloaded or ordered by post from:

http://www.open.ac.uk/openlearn/whats-on/order-your-free-town-booklet

The booklet opens with: "Defining what a town is, however, is perhaps a thankless and indeed a fruitless task.

While it may be easy to assume that such an issue matters little in the UK today,

defining a place as a town or a city in the past was often a matter of strategic political, economic and military importance."

On page 20 it says: "We all have some idea as to what constitutes a town, or what makes a place a town.

Of course such ideas are open to debate, and as we have seen here some towns think that they are cities

and should be viewed as such, and some cities may be little more than ‘big’ towns!

Particular towns or groups of towns may be seen as having a distinctive character, a sense of place and identity;

while in other towns this is less marked.

Some towns may have more autonomy and political leverage to shape their own future in ways that might not be possible in other towns.

In this regard we need to keep questions of power to the fore as we attempt to uncover some of the richness that

towns represent."...

"The study of towns reflects in some ways the study of many of the key social, economic, political and cultural

processes and relations that help to make the UK and Ireland the societies that they are. By focusing on towns,

important and society-wide questions are immediately thrown into sharp focus: issues around sustainability,

equality, social justice, identity, belongings and exclusions."

Phil Turner

European Congress of Rural Communes Warsaw 20 October 2011

http://pl2011.eu/en/content/european-congress-rural-communes

The first day of the Congress will be dedicated to issues connected with the activities of and resolutions to the

problems faced by rural communes from a national perspective.

Discussions will take place during three parallel conferences:

- the Rural Development Programme - experiences and perspectives

(in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development)

- Finance for rural communes - Directions for the development of rural areas - barriers and chances

(development of human resources, modern ICT infrastructure, renewable energy (planned co-organisation with the Office for the Marshal of Masovia).

The result of the conference will be conclusions which will be presented on the second day of the Congress.

A meeting of COTER, EU Committee of the Regions will take place in parallel

(jointly organised with the Office for the Marshal of Masovia)

All events during the first day will take place at the Hotel Gromada Conference Centre.

Number of participants - approx. 500, of which 120 representatives of the Committee of the Regions - COTER Committee.

The main event on the second day of the Congress will be a seminar entitled "Post-2013 Cohesion Policy for Rural Areas"

(co-organised with the COTER Committee - EU Committee of the Regions).

Three topic-specific session are planned:

1st session - Development challenges for the European Union and cohesion policy for rural areas after 2013

2nd session – What development approach is the most beneficial for real and sustained development of rural areas?

3rd session - Experiences of member states in using cohesion policy instruments for the development of rural areas

and lessons learned from this experience.

The seminar will end with the adoption of a "Warsaw Declaration" on the role of cohesion policy in the development of rural areas.

The participation of between 1000 and 1500 delegates is anticipated on the second day,

including approx. 200 representatives of the Committee of the Regions, the European Commission, European Parliament and other

representatives of local government institutions and organisations from European Union countries.

19 October 2011 Conference Centre, Hotel Gromada, ul. 17 Stycznia 32 02-148 Warsaw

20 October 2011 Congress Hall, Palace of Culture and Science, Plac Defilad 1 00-902 Warsaw

May 2011    

Market Towns UK – Abstract of Doctoral Thesis by Gordon Morris

This may be downloaded from:

http://www.setowns.org.uk/?page=LatestNews

Title: People Helping People - an Assessment of the Market Towns and Related Initiatives and the Extent to Which They Addressed Rural Poverty

Author: Morris, Gordon Ralph

Advisor: Winter, MichaelLobley?, Matt

Citation: The Impact of Organizational, Policy and Programme Changes on the Effectiveness of Market Town Partnerships.

Publisher: University of Exeter

Date Issued: 2010-06-03

URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10036/3076

Submitted by Gordon Ralph Morris, MSc (Seale Hayne, University of Plymouth), CertEd?(FE) (University of Greenwich), to the University of Exeter as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Politics, June 2010.

Abstract

This study evaluates, by means of face to face interviews and a postal survey, aspects of the Market Towns Initiative (MTI), the Beacon Towns Programme (BTP), and related programmes of community-led work, the majority of which arose from the British Government’s Rural White Paper of 2000. Particular emphasis is placed on: participants’ experiences, achievements and opinions about the programmes; their understanding of rural poverty; the extent to which they thought that the programmes should have had poverty alleviation as an aim, and to which they believed that the programmes had helped to identify and address rural poverty.

A review of the literature relating to rural policy reveals that political interest (and, therefore, policymakers’ interest) in the functions of England’s country – “market” - towns, and their place in the settlement hierarchy, has waxed and waned since the Second World War. During this period the nature of government, in particular the balance between the various tiers, has tilted in favour of central government. Consequently, the powers available to County and District/Borough Councils, if not Town/Parish Councils, have reduced. Central government has increasingly looked to partnerships formed from public, voluntary, and private sector organizations to implement policy. It is governance, therefore, rather than government, that has grown in importance in recent years. The MTI/BT programmes were both designed for implementation by broad-based partnerships of professionals and volunteers.

The literature also reveals that the post-war period has seen research into poverty become increasingly nuanced and sophisticated, with definitions moving away from the relatively simple to understand (eg lack of money) to more complicated notions of disadvantage, deprivation, and social exclusion. The factors that affect rural poverty have, since the 1970s, been remarkably constant (eg access to services, affordable housing, low income self-employment). The problems of rural poverty have not been solved.

It is argued, based on the results of the data acquired from this research, that community-led development programmes such as the MTI/BTP, have the potential to inform the development of policy and practice relating to community-led development and poverty alleviation, to add to the body of knowledge about rural poverty, and to improve the overall understanding of the functions of England’s small towns. Despite the potential of partnerships to effect change, the important role of local authorities as democratically accountable organizations, and contributors to partnerships’ success and effectiveness, is noted.

Acknowledgements And Dedication

Many people have contributed to this research, and encouraged me in my work. Some, for example those who gave their time to complete the survey forms, or to be interviewed, cannot be named for reasons of anonymity. Others, friends and colleagues, can be named. They helped in numerous, often small, but significant, ways. They encouraged, chivvied, raised their eyebrows, offered suggestions, spotted the all-too obvious typographical errors, asked how things were going, expressed an interest in the topic and my findings, and even, on occasions, reminded me of the many other things in life that needed, and deserved, my attention. These people include, in no particular order, Paul Cook, Claire Nichols, Andrew Wood, Jaki Bayly, Neil Powe, Chris Wynne-Davies, Charles Coffin, Gordon Stokes, Julian Owen, Diane Roberts, Sarah Skinner, Valerie Carter, Chris Wade, Deborah Cassell, Martyn Warren, and Professors Ray Pahl and John Shepherd. To all of them, the anonymous, the named, and the – unintentionally omitted (to whom I apologize) - I owe, and cheerfully give, my thanks.

April 2011    

ASSET PARTNERS – CRC, SEEDA and Yorkshire Forward.

Regional and rural agencies closing down. England out of step with the rest of Europe.

In England, on the 1 April 2011, the government offices of the regions will cease as the highest tier of sub-national governance.

They were created in 1994 by a conservative government. As well as offering an integrated service, representing all English government ministries, they administered European funding.

Those funds will now be handled directly by national government departments, in the case of the European Regional Development Fund it is the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government, with a small number of staff in a contact point at the locations of the previous regional offices.

April 2011 also sees the demise of the Commission for Rural Communities, set up by the previous labour government to monitor, research and advise on policy for rural areas in England.

These functions were taken on from the former Countryside Agency (previously the Countryside Commission and combining parts of the Rural Development Commission).

The chairman of CRC, latterly Dr Stuart Burgess, was also the Rural Advocate, reporting to the Prime Minister of the day.

A small number of staff has been absorbed into the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – DEFRA (the department responsible for agriculture and rural development).

The rural development programme network for England and the RDP network covering devolved administrations of the UK (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) will be handled from a unit in DEFRA.

CRC highlighted rural disadvantage, but also the opportunities and capabilities of rural areas.

A most recent report, in February 2011 is about small towns and points out that ‘Market Towns are the missing link’.

CRC was a member of ECOVAST and a partner in the ASSET project - Action to Strengthen Small European Towns.

Yorkshire Forward and the South East of England Development Agency (SEEDA), also key partners of ASSET, are due to close in 2011, together with all other English Regional Development Agencies (RDAs).

RDA responsibilities for rural development, including the LEADER funding, are transferred to DEFRA.

Economic development will be handled nationally by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

At sub-national level a patchwork of new Local Enterprise Partnerships of business, local authority and higher education, with no core funding, will have an advisory and influencing role.

Spatial planning at regional level ceased with the abolition of the Regional Planning Bodies (Regional Assemblies) in the summer of 2010.

The statutory regional spatial strategies are proposed to be abolished with the passing of the Localism Bill later in 2011.

England has no regions.

Rural issues may be sidelined by economic growth centred upon the cities.

Phil Turner

December 2010    

Seminar in Potsdam, Germany

European Small Towns

16 November 2010 Fachhochschule Potsdam, Pappelallee 8-9/Kiepenheuerallee 5. 14669 Potsdam, Hauptgebäude/Main Building, Gästeraum/Room HG 051

09.00 – 17.00

Action to Strengthen Small European Towns – the ASSET project of ECOVAST.

Organized by ECOVAST (European Council for the Village and Small Town).

At the seminar there was a progress report on the ASSET project of ECOVAST; presentations and discussion on policies for small towns in Europe, member states and regions; and recommendations for a major European Conference on Small Towns in 2011.

The event began at 09.00 with poster displays on the ASSET project and presentations of summary results of the research on European Small Towns.

Some of the presentations may be downloaded here:

Upload:PhilTurner/PhilTurnerMorning.ppt Upload:PhilTurner/ValerieCarterlowMB.ppt Upload:PhilTurner/PamMoorePotsdam.ppt Upload:PhilTurner/RBokermannKLinLR.ppt Upload:PhilTurner/ASpieglerECOVASTlowMB_potsdam_ASSET_16112010.ppt Upload:PhilTurner/ArthurSpiegler_04022011_english_comments_PPP-Potsdam_ECOVAST_AT.pdf Upload:PhilTurner/PhilTurnerafternoon.ppt Upload:PhilTurner/VortragGehrmann16-Nov-2010.pdf Upload:PhilTurner/KathleenBierbasslowMB.ppt

'Papers added 3 July 2012. These were previously on the ECOVAST Grouply website.' Upload:PhilTurner/PhilTurnerpaper1.morningopeningPostdamcopy.doc Upload:PhilTurner/PhilTurnerafter12noonPotsdamcopy.doc Upload:PhilTurner/RalfBokermannENGLISHversionSmalltownsinruralareascopy.doc Upload:PhilTurner/ECOVAST_CroatianSection_ENGL_info_final.doc Upload:PhilTurner/GermanFederalMinistry.Smallercitiesandtownscopy.doc Upload:PhilTurner/JohnShepherdTypologyFinal_vPotsdam2copy.pdf Upload:PhilTurner/L&R091Faschingcopy.pdf Upload:PhilTurner/Maretzkestatscopy.ppt Upload:PhilTurner/MichaelisBeitragkernigeAltmarkcopy.pdf

Phil Turner Past President ECOVAST 46 Hatherley Road Winchester UK SO22 6RR

p.turner@semantise.com

00 44 1962 863657

www.ecovast.org

http://www.ecovast.org/english/asset_e.htm

Short Report of Potsdam Seminar    

Short version - POTSDAM SEMINAR: 16 November 2010

Held at the University of Applied Sciences: Fachhochschule, Potsdam

The day's event was held under the auspices of the ECOVAST Project ‘Action to Strengthen Small European Towns (ASSET).

The event had been organised by Angus Fowler of the German ECOVAST Section and Phil Turner of the UK ECOVAST Section.

The 3 purposes of the seminar:

• To report progress of the ASSET project of ECOVAST

• To discuss policies for small towns in Europe, member states and regions

• To arrive at recommendations for a major European Conference on Small Towns in 2011

There were poster displays on various reports by ECOVAST Sections from Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom, and others.

These included:

• Information on the work of Professor John Shepherd of Birkbeck College, University of London, on the development of a strategic database for small towns in England

• Information from the Federal Institute for research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development and the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development

• From the Brandenburg Ministry of Infrastructure

• Dirk Michaelis displayed information on the region of Altmark, Sachsen-Anhalt

• Activity on small towns by the ECOVAST Croatian Section.

• Copies of the New Wittstock Declaration 2008 by ECOVAST Germany, the Brandenburg Chamber of Architects and the Municipality of Wittstock/Dosse

The morning session was a series of presentations on research that has been carried out by ECOVAST and others.

THE FIRST SESSION - WHAT ARE SMALL TOWNS?

1. Phil Turner introduced the conference and the aims and objectives of the ASSET project and gave an overview of the progress of the work on small European towns in Germany, Croatia and the United Kingdom. He referred to the real policy gap in European policy concerning small towns as the current emphasis is on urban areas and rural area, peripheral areas, mountains and islands.

2. The first presentation was by Valerie Carter, the President of ECOVAST (newly elected in October 2010). Her presentation was about the research that had been carried out in 2010 on the number of people across the whole of Europe (not just the European Union). The research was based on towns with a population above 10,000 as research in the UK showed that it is towns above this level which provide a good range of functions for their surrounding hinterlands.

The study highlighted that more than 77 million people across Europe lived in small towns – between 10,000 and 30,000. This is more than live in any single country except Germany and this evidence should be a lever to persuade Europe to develop policies for smaller towns and small towns should be encouraged to work together to press these arguments.

3. Andrea Weigert (ECOVAST Treasurer) made an intervention on work that had been carried out in Schleswig-Holstein, in Germany 4. Dr Gerhard Fasching from ECOVAST Austria reported on the work that he and Silvia Mayer had undertaken. They have now completed a database of all small towns in Austria and a Small Towns Register has been set up. It lists what assets each town has. This Register can now be used by towns in Austria for a wide range of purposes.

5. Pam Moore (Secretary General of ECOVAST) As part of the research aspect of the ASSET project, in 2006 a questionnaire was devised to gather a wide range of information about Europe's small towns. It addressed such topics as governance, population definitions and the levels of support operative in different states, and also sought to ascertain the principal challenges faced. Further questions included towns' links to their hinterland, and whether other sources of information existed – good practice examples, research papers and websites.

Questionnaire 2 was completed by contacts from more than a dozen countries, and analysis of both questionnaires' results have provided a wealth of information for ASSET. There is now a proposal for a third phase of research, which will commence by early 2011, and which will seek more in depth information on governance, on involvement in community led planning and the role played by local businesses in helping to encourage the vitality of small towns, and the stimulate their role as "hubs".

6. Professor Dr Ralf Bokermann, from ECOVAST Germany, described his published work on German small towns (up to 7000 inhabitants) in different types of rural areas, covering analysis of features and problems as well as implementation of local action areas. Since 1972 (in eastern Germany since 1992) there had been a focus on local government, public and private infrastructure in small towns and surrounding villages. This strengthened rural micro-regions as centre points. Since about 1990, there had been an increasing tendency of migration and massive job losses. Small towns had little in-migration.

7. Dr Arthur Spiegler, of ECOVAST Austria, gave a presentation on the characteristics of historic towns in Austria. The characteristic elements of small towns were illustrated, as handed down from their long lasting history and their current role. They had a part to play in the future of regions and landscapes of Europe. He pointed to the dangers in taking the population of the historic core as a criterion for defining a small town / historic town, giving the example of the historical town of St. Veit in Carinthia. The present municipality counts about 14,000 inhabitants and is as such a small town. But the municipality also includes some of the surrounding small settlements (cadastral). The city itself has about 7,500 inhabitants and in the "historical centre" now live about 1,400 inhabitants. He called for further discussion on the question of how many of today's small towns are "historic small towns" (within the meaning of the above criteria). For Austria, he estimated that might be about 90%.

SECOND SESSION - WORKSHOP

This session was chaired, in turn, by Valerie Carter (President ECOVAST); Phil Turner (ECOVAST UK Section); and Angus Fowler (ECOVAST Germany). The purpose of this session was to look at the programmes and policies in Europe on small towns and what should be the next steps taken after the end of this seminar in Potsdam. 8. Valerie welcomed everyone to this second session. A message was then read out from Prof. Dr.-Ing.Hagen Eyink, Head of rural infrastructure, cultural landscapes at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, Berlin.

9. Phil Turner, Past President ECOVAST and Convenor of ECOVAST's ASSET Project introduced the topic of urban and rural integration and co-operation - What are the policies for small towns in Europe, member states and regions?

Phil pointed to some recent examples, at European, national and sub-national levels, of attempts to address the policy gap which has been obvious for some years. Small towns are rarely featured in policies. Larger cities have policies to support them because they have the strongest economic opportunities, larger numbers of voters within their boundaries and more concentrated social problems.

10. Jörg Gehrmann, Mayor of Wittstock an der Dosse, Brandenburg spoke of the German National Programme for Small and Medium Sized Towns: an appreciation of that programme and its benefits from the point of view of the mayor of a participating town (i.e. bottom-up)

A sound economic structure, with business tax income, is essential for the future of the town and its surrounding settlements. In the global financial crisis the way forward is to keep the companies Wittstock has, rather than attract new ones and to plan for the longer term.

The municipality has a population 15,500, some 5,000 in the core town. A programme for urban development funding is important and there is a need for this to be linked to an integrated rural development strategy for the 25 villages and the urban settlements. In 2005 the ‘middle centre status' had been withdrawn from Wittstock and it now shares functions with other towns. This is having an impact on the services in his town and they are fighting hard to maintain them.

Governance is enhanced by joint working with neighbouring municipalities, notably Pritzwalk, pooling functions to improve delivery, without merging political entities or staffing. Retaining the identity of places is essential. Villages are linked to the ‘metropole' or ‘mother town' - "decentralised concentration".

Afternoon session

11. Ms. Kathleen Bierbaß, from the Working Group "Towns with historic centres" of the State of Brandenburg, spoke about the quality of development in small towns in Brandenburg. Kathleen explained the Federal funding programme "Städtebaulicher Denkmalschutz" (Urban Monument Protection).

This had involved inter-municipal co-operation in Brandenburg, covering the smallest town (Lenzen 2,381 population) to Potsdam (1.5 million population). Her presentation generated discussion on the quality of new building in historic areas.

Hubs and service centres – Discussion: Moderated by Valerie Carter / UK

12. Valerie opened the discussion with the notion that hubs must have a hinterland. Angus Fowler drew attention to the distinction between a hub and a core.

Gerhard L. Fasching, as a geographer, perceived the town and surroundings, the town having a radial impact. Ribbon development was to be avoided, as had been successful in France and Switzerland.

Dirk Michaelis considered that small towns had been ignored, but there had been a focus on villages.

Irmelin Küttner described her recent visit to a Baltic coast town, where there had been successful investment in the seaside promenade and street furniture. A woodland fringe had a cycle path. Large villas had been maintained without changes to their facades. Parking spaces for visitors had been inserted discretely. New hotels and a new colonnade for small retail premises had been created. There was a range of goods and services for people with different financial capacity.

Angus Fowler stressed the importance of a market in towns, and Valerie gave the example of Andover, Hampshire UK, where the priority to attract shoppers had been to make car parks easily accessible, without litter and with clean public lavatories.

There was discussion on the importance of job creation and the support of businesses. Valerie pointed to experience in South East England, where one third of all businesses were based in small towns and rural areas. It had been difficult for business people to find time to engage with other local people in forming a vision for an area.

Frau Menz considered that young companies sometimes found that older buildings in urban areas were limited in space, and a rural environment was favoured. For architects the dream was the right client in the right building in the right area. Clusters of enterprises, such as artists and other creative industries had potential for sharing of support services and joint marketing.

Gerhard urged mutual help amongst neighbours. He saw church buildings as purveyors of culture, and castles and palaces as sub-regional centres – a magnet for identity. In the past the wealthy families had great influence. Who were to be the champions of today? Former Managing Directors? One from an agricultural company in Austria has a grasp of a whole region.

Full report on the Potsdam Seminar    

European Small Towns Seminar 16 November 2010

POTSDAM SEMINAR: 16 November 2010

Held at the University of Applied Sciences: Fachhochschule, Potsdam

The day’s event was held under the auspices of the ECOVAST Project ‘Action to Strengthen Small European Towns (ASSET).

The event had been organised by Angus Fowler of the German ECOVAST Section and Phil Turner of the UK ECOVAST Section.

Purpose:

The 3 purposes of the seminar in Potsdam were:

• To report progress of the ASSET project of ECOVAST

• To discuss policies for small towns in Europe, member states and regions

• To arrive at recommendations for a major European Conference on Small Towns in 2011

There were poster displays on various reports by ECOVAST Sections from Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom, and others. These included:

• Information on the work of Professor John Shepherd of Birkbeck College, University of London, on the development of a strategic database for small towns in England

• Information from Steffen Maretzke of the Federal Institute for research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development and the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development

• From the Brandenburg Ministry of Infrastructure

• Dirk Michaelis displayed information on the region of Altmark, Sachsen-Anhalt

• Activity on small towns by the ECOVAST Croatian Section.

• Copies of the New Wittstock Declaration 2008 by ECOVAST Germany, the Brandenburg Chamber of Architects and the Municipality of Wittstock/Dosse

The morning session was a series of presentations on research that has been carried out by ECOVAST and others.

The list of attendees is appended at the end of this report

THE FIRST SESSION - WHAT ARE SMALL TOWNS

1. Phil Turner chaired the first session of the morning. He introduced the conference and the aims and objectives of the ASSET project and gave an overview of the progress of the work on small European towns in Germany, Croatia and the United Kingdom. He referred to the real policy gap in European policy concerning small towns as the current emphasis is on urban areas and rural area, peripheral areas, mountains and islands.

2. The first presentation was by Valerie Carter, the President of ECOVAST (newly elected in October 2010). Her presentation was about the research that had been carried out in 2010 on the number of people across the whole of Europe (not just the European Union). The research was based on towns with a population above 10,000 as research in the UK showed that it is towns above this level which provide a good range of functions for their surrounding hinterlands.

The presentation was not about ‘historic towns’ which had been given charters during the Middle Ages or later, but about the function of ‘town’ settlements that could provide a good range of services. It was recognised that different countries had different interpretations on’ what is a town’. It was clear from recent statistics from Germany that 40% of legally defined towns had less than 10,000 population. However, statistical sources were not available for many countries in this sort of detail which is why the ‘Tageo datasource’ was used by Valerie’s research which had figures for the top 300 cities towns in each country across the world listing more than 2.6 million entries.

The study acknowledged that more research should be done to look at towns below the 10,000 population threshold. German and French sources would be used in a future exercise in 2011 possibly through questionnaires to get some answers.

The study did highlight, however, that more than 77 million people across Europe lived in small towns – between 10,000 and 30,000. This is more than live in any single country except Germany and this evidence should be a lever to persuade Europe to develop policies for smaller towns and small towns should be encouraged to work together to press these arguments.

3. Andrea Weigert (ECOVAST Treasurer) made an intervention on work that had been carried out in Schleswig-Holstein, in Germany. Her research referred to a review that had taken place during 2000 on the smaller municipalities and the level of services they provided – dividing them into ‘upper; middle or lower grade centres’ depending on what services they offered. She acknowledged that many of the towns had lost their administrative status but some towns were now co-operating together, so that everything was not lost.

4. Dr Gerhard Fasching from ECOVAST Austria reported on the work that he and Silvia Mayer had undertaken. They have now completed a database of all small towns in Austria and a Small Towns Register has been set up. It lists what assets each town has. This Register can now be used by towns in Austria for a wide range of purposes.

The audience was very keen to look at this Register and see if it could be replicated in other countries. It was noted that Eurostat based in Luxembourg holds data over the whole the EU (but not all of Europe) and it would be useful to see if this could help other countries take such work forward.

5. Pam Moore (Secretary General of ECOVAST)

As part of the research aspect of the ASSET project, in 2006 a questionnaire was devised to gather a wide range of information about Europe’s small towns. It addressed such topics as governance, population definitions and the levels of support operative in different states, and also sought to ascertain the principal challenges faced. Further questions included towns’ links to their hinterland, and whether other sources of information existed – good practice examples, research papers and websites.

More than twenty responses were obtained from across Europe and early in 2009 the decision was taken to embark on more fact finding, this time on the impact of the economic downturn on the small towns of Europe.

Questionnaire 2 was completed by contacts from more than a dozen countries, and analysis of both questionnaires’ results have provided a wealth of information for ASSET. There is now a proposal for a third phase of research, which will commence by early 2011, and which will seek more in depth information on governance, on involvement in community led planning and the role played by local businesses in helping to encourage the vitality of small towns, and the stimulate their role as “hubs”.

Pam Moore’s presentation charted the progress of the questionnaire based research, offering some preliminary conclusions gained from analysis of the data, and outlining the future work plan.

6. Professor Dr Ralf Bokermann, from ECOVAST Germany, described his published work on German small towns (up to 7000 inhabitants) in different types of rural areas, covering analysis of features and problems as well as implementation of local action areas.

Since 1972 (in eastern Germany since 1992) there had been a focus on local government, public and private infrastructure in small towns and surrounding villages. This strengthened rural micro-regions as centre points. Since about 1990, there had been an increasing tendency of migration and massive job losses. Small towns had little in-migration.

Small rural regions are unique and hard to replace. They are:

- Residence for much of the population (50 - 70%)

- Location of the vast majority of employment / jobs (60 - 80%)

Small towns are:

- Centres for purchase of daily need (retail related)

- Educational centres with all the associated facilities / services

- Centres for health services and care of children, youth and seniors

- Offering culture, entertainment, sport and leisure activities

- Seat of local government and other community facilities

Ralf’s work on small towns in rural areas had investigated:

- Urban development. Despite declining population - identification of sites for new development, or use of existing building areas, remains practical urban policy

- Inter-municipal co-operation: Encouraging common approaches to business parks, supply and disposal facilities, tourism/ city marketing and regional development, with joint participation in funding

 - Conservation and protection of social capital

- Ways of ensuring the functions of small towns and rural small regions.

7. Dr Arthur Spiegler, of ECOVAST Austria, gave a presentation on the characteristics of historic towns in Austria.

The characteristic elements of small towns were illustrated, as handed down from their long lasting history and their current role. They had a part to play in the future of regions and landscapes of Europe.

Since the "Central European Symposium on Small Towns ” in 1998, in Murau, Styria, there has been little recognition of small towns. They still have no lobby. Much research has been applied, but policy has not been developed and there is no special European funding pot. Many towns, especially the small towns, suffer from the economic superiority of city centres.

A simple definition of an historic town was offered: A small town - to about 50,000 residents – which still contains a visible and tangible historic core, with buildings that are visible and tangible.

Although a small town may not be defined solely by the number of its inhabitants, it seems sensible to agree on a plausible upper threshold, for European comparability. Arthur proposed that this threshold be set at 50,000 inhabitants. If further subdivision of this value is desired, one could speak of "small towns" (less than 2,500 inhabitants), "Middle small towns (up to 25,000 inhabitants) and" Great small towns (up to 50.000 inhabitants). Qualitative or architectural criteria of "historic small towns" were important. Workshops and seminars had (so far) found the following criteria for "historic small towns" to be relevant:

- A town centre, which is characterized by a visible historic structures,

- The "central place", for urban social life,

- Dominant, historical facades, at least in front of the houses around the central square,

- A dominant secular building in the centre (e.g. the town hall and / or a prominent building of religious worship),

- The density of the historical, multi-storey buildings in the city centre with the network of small streets,

- A castle (ruin) and / or attachments (e.g. walls) or the visible remains.

A "historic town" should meet, at least the majority of the above criteria. Arthur also pointed to the functional criteria of towns. Including: education centres (colleges), medical care, headquarters of the administration (e.g. district government), cultural sites (e.g. exhibitions, theatre), business centre, density of "higher professions" and a higher density of jobs .

Arthur compared those levels of service with the functions of villages, which relied upon the town.

He pointed to the dangers in taking the population of the historic core as a criterion for defining a small town / historic town, giving the example of the historical town of St. Veit in Carinthia. The present municipality counts about 14,000 inhabitants and is as such a small town. But the municipality also includes some of the surrounding small settlements (cadastral). The city itself has about 7,500 inhabitants and in the "historical centre" now live about 1,400 inhabitants.

He called for further discussion on the question of how many of today's small towns are "historic small towns" (within the meaning of the above criteria). For Austria, he estimated that might be about 90%.

SECOND SESSION - WORKSHOP This session was chaired, in turn, by Valerie Carter (President ECOVAST); Phil Turner (ECOVAST UK Section); and Angus Fowler (ECOVAST Germany).

The purpose of this session was to look at the programmes and policies in Europe on small towns and what should be the next steps taken after the end of this seminar in Potsdam. Valerie welcomed everyone to this second session.

8. A message was then read out from Prof. Dr.-Ing.Hagen Eyink, Head of rural infrastructure, cultural landscapes at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, Berlin.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Unfortunately I cannot be with you and take part personally in the meeting of ECOVAST.

The strengthening of rural areas with their small and medium-sized towns is for the federal government an important task in this legislative session. Particularly in sparsely populated rural areas, the public interest is increasingly threatened in view of demographic trends and the resulting declining use of infrastructures and increasing public expenditure as against mostly declining revenue. The coalition agreement (between CDU/CSU and FDP A.F.) agreed to undertake the particular task of making sure that public services in sparsely populated areas continue. Federal Minister Dr. Ramsauer indicated in his policy statement in November 2009 to start a new initiative for the development of rural areas. Earlier this year, the "Rural Infrastructure Initiative" was launched by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development,

To strengthen the rural areas and to preserve the existing diversity, the initiative focuses on the ideas and experiences of citizens: they should be involved to give their region a new perspective, to secure the quality of life locally and to promote economic strength. This builds on existing regional strengths.

A core element of the initiative is a competition with the working title "People and success - contributions to the protection of infrastructure provision in rural areas“.

The aim is with maximum effective publicity to reward examples of completed projects which strengthen the rural infrastructure and by which through communal and/or voluntary initiatives improvements can be achieved beyond the conventional system of supporting investments. It is important to recognize the work done for local communities and promoting innovative ideas.

More information on the contest can be found online at www.bmvbs.de

Crucial to the success will be the cooperation between the stakeholders and regions under another and the sharing and exchange of experiences. On these aspects in particular projects such as the new program of support for urban building "Small towns and communities – inter- local collaboration and networks" rely greatly.

The program supports in particular active collaboration over and above local boundaries between local authorities. The goal is to organize the necessary infrastructure for municipal services for the necessities of life by a division of tasks.

I welcome the commitment of ECOVAST to work for the interests of rural areas throughout Europe in order to strengthen them. To the participants of the seminar on European small towns, I wish a stimulating conference and a profitable exchange of information.

Prof. Dr.-Ing.Hagen Eyink

Head of rural infrastructure, cultural landscapes

Berlin, in November 2010

The original version in German is available to download at: Upload:PhilTurner/GermanFederalMinistry.Smallercitiesandtownscopy.doc

9. Phil Turner, Past President ECOVAST and Convenor of ECOVAST’s ASSET Project introduced the topic of urban and rural integration and co-operation - What are the policies for small towns in Europe, member states and regions?

Phil pointed to some recent examples, at European, national and sub-national levels, of attempts to address the policy gap which has been obvious for some years. Small towns are rarely featured in policies. Larger cities have policies to support them because they have the strongest economic opportunities, larger numbers of voters within their boundaries and more concentrated social problems.

At the European Commission (DG Agri) Rural Development Advisory Group on 20 March 2010, considering Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), ECOVAST made a plea for small towns within an integrated approach.

As a partner of the Agricultural and Rural Convention - ARC2020 -initiative on Rural Development and CAP reform. ECOVAST supported the recognition of the key role of towns as centres of social, cultural and economic life in many rural regions, and of the need to sustain the range and quality of services in those towns and to ensure effective linkage and mutual support between urban and rural areas. This has clear implications for the links between (on the one hand) sub-regional development programmes and (on the other hand) policies for spatial planning, transport etc.

The economic, social, environmental and spatial aspects of European Policy are all relevant to rural development. The relationship between urban and rural areas has been explored over the past two years at seminars hosted by DG REGIO. The international association RURALITE-ENVIRONNEMENT-DEVELOPPEMENT (R.E.D.) said that “… recognition of rural territories as poles of development, and not merely as areas of open countryside and farmland, is a prerequisite to establishing mutually beneficial exchanges between urban and rural poles and to mobilising urban and rural actors so that they can work together.”

The work of ESPON (European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion) is significant in the future of rural development. For example in the final research report of EDORA, European Development Opportunities for Rural Areas: ”There was much evidence to support the urban-rural narrative, and the associated patterns of migration, although in some regions the role of smaller towns (rather than cities) was highlighted.”

http://www.espon.eu/main/Menu_Projects/Menu_AppliedResearch/edora.html

Other work by ESPON includes:

European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON 1.4.1 “The Role of Small and Medium-Sized Towns (SMESTO)” Final Report 2006)

http://www.espon.eu/main/Menu_Publications/Menu_ESPON2006Publications/

Phil gave examples of policies in favour of small towns in Germany, Scotland and England UK.

10. Jörg Gehrmann, Mayor of Wittstock an der Dosse, Brandenburg spoke of the German National Programme for Small and Medium Sized Towns: an appreciation of that programme and its benefits from the point of view of the mayor of a participating town (i.e. bottom-up)

A sound economic structure, with business tax income, is essential for the future of the town and its surrounding settlements. In the global financial crisis the way forward is to keep the companies Wittstock has, rather than attract new ones and to plan for the longer term.

The municipality has a population 15,500, some 5,000 in the core town.

The ancient walled town supports the surrounding villages. Monuments, in the town and at the archaeological site of Freyenstein, are a source of future prosperity and identity. http://www.park-freyenstein.de/

As well as the conservation of historic buildings, there have been efforts to re-use empty plots and buildings and out of town land.

Freyenstein Archaeological Park has been assisted by funding from the Federal Ministry funding programme ” Reconstruction Fund for Eastern Germany”. From that fund the municipality has received 22 million euro, matching funding by 10 per cent.

Schools are important for culture, education and sport for the whole community. The 199 place secondary school provides a large meeting hall, now that the cinema has closed. A day care centre and former school adjacent have been linked together across a town alley. Young people and families are attracted to Wittstock by a diversity of pre-school provision, including Montessori.

Young people seek jobs in Berlin and Hamburg. The town has a shortage of skilled workers to produce good quality products, so good wages need to be paid.

There is a growing challenge of caring for the health of the 50 – 80 age group, although younger people focus on work and family rather than volunteering. Telemedicine is possible with good broadband links for all villages.

Older people are resistant to change, including the revitalization of the historic core of the town. That made it difficult to put public involvement into practice. There had been objections to the re-siting of trees in the town square and to the demolition of some 150 flats by 2020. Sites and buildings of the former cloth-making industry have been re-used for homes and for municipal offices. Twenty buildings had been renovated and as that programme comes to an end all is well placed for ongoing investment. Funding is needed for village centres.

A programme for urban development funding is important and there is a need for this to be linked to an integrated rural development strategy for the 25 villages and the urban settlements.

In 2005 the ‘middle centre status’ had been withdrawn from Wittstock and it now shares functions with other towns. This is having an impact on the services in his town and they are fighting hard to maintain them.

Governance is enhanced by joint working with neighbouring municipalities, notably Pritzwalk, pooling functions to improve delivery, without merging political entities or staffing. Retaining the identity of places is essential. Villages are linked to the ‘metropole’ or ‘mother town’ - “decentralised concentration”.

Afternoon session

11. Ms. Kathleen Bierbaß, from the Working Group “Towns with historic centres” of the State of Brandenburg, spoke about the quality of development in small towns in Brandenburg.

Kathleen explained the Federal funding programme "Städtebaulicher Denkmalschutz" (Urban Monument Protection). This had involved inter-municipal co-operation in Brandenburg, covering the smallest town (Lenzen 2,381 population) to Potsdam (1.5 million population).

Rather than aim for a ‘uniform appearance’ in town streets, ‘legibility’ was favoured.

Interesting features of the work were a ‘Monument of the Month’ campaign and a manual for accessibility in the largest cycle network in Germany.

Her presentation generated discussion on the quality of new building in historic areas.

Hubs and service centres – Discussion:

Moderated by Valerie Carter / UK

12. Valerie opened the discussion with the notion that hubs must have a hinterland. Angus Fowler drew attention to the distinction between a hub and a core.

Gerhard L. Fasching, as a geographer, perceived the town and surroundings, the town having a radial impact. Ribbon development was to be avoided, as had been successful in France and Switzerland.

He commended the Mayor of Wittstock for courage in proposing demolitions and for an overall vision, as well as pointing to the value of creating open space. One obstacle to change could be the loss of local tax income if business premises were converted to residential.

Dirk Michaelis considered that small towns had been ignored, but there had been a focus on villages.

Irmelin Küttner described her recent visit to a Baltic coast town, where there had been successful investment in the seaside promenade and street furniture. A woodland fringe had a cycle path. Large villas had been maintained without changes to their facades. Parking spaces for visitors had been inserted discretely. New hotels and a new colonnade for small retail premises had been created. There was a range of goods and services for people with different financial capacity.

Angus Fowler stressed the importance of a market in towns, and Valerie gave the example of Andover, Hampshire UK, where the priority to attract shoppers had been to make car parks easily accessible, without litter and with clean public lavatories.

There was discussion on the importance of job creation and the support of businesses. Valerie pointed to experience in South East England, where one third of all businesses were based in small towns and rural areas. It had been difficult for business people to find time to engage with other local people in forming a vision for an area.

Angus wondered how willing were businesses to move out of Berlin to towns in Brandenburg. One idea was to use former rural mansions and manor houses as diplomatic residences. Former churches could be used for clubs and theatre activities. He saw potential for retail and residential uses in unused agricultural buildings. Valerie had evidence of 30 per cent of new businesses finding space in farm buildings – not all for rural crafts, with many financial and professional service enterprises. There was interest in that in Southern Sweden.

Frau Menz considered that young companies sometimes found that older buildings in urban areas were limited in space, and a rural environment was favoured. For architects the dream was the right client in the right building in the right area. Clusters of enterprises, such as artists and other creative industries had potential for sharing of support services and joint marketing. Gerhard urged mutual help amongst neighbours. He saw church buildings as purveyors of culture, and castles and palaces as sub-regional centres – a magnet for identity. In the past the wealthy families had great influence. Who were to be the champions of today? Former Managing Directors? One from an agricultural company in Austria has a grasp of a whole region.

Valerie saw schools as a cultural focus, and a whole range of publicly-owned owned assets as real estate owned by the whole community, generating income as community enterprises.

There was discussion on transport hubs.

12. Phil recorded main points of the discussion on a flipchart.

Decentralised concentration.

Character:

Variety, harmony, scale.

Roof pitch / slope

Window openings

Proportions

Dimensions

Hinterland

Retail centre

Business / employment centre

Entrepreneurship

Car parking

Transport hubs

New space – management of real estate

Shared administration premises

Mutual assistance

How can policy be changed and enhanced?

The way ahead and the shape of the Conference to be held in 2011

13. Moderated by Angus Fowler, Chairman, German Section ECOVAST and Past President ECOVAST

Discussion:

Valerie Carter, due to leave the seminar before the closing, outlined three actions for the future work of the ASSET Project:

1. Further research phases of her work and that of Pam Moore.

2. A conference in Brussels, hosted by the EU Committee of the Regions, and involving EC DG Regio. and DG Agri.

3. Involvement in finding international partners for an INTERREG IV project with UK South East Rural Towns Partnership as Lead partner, supported by UK Hampshire County Council.

Phil recorded main points of the discussion on a flipchart.

European Conference 2011 on Policy for Small Towns, at the Committee of the Regions, Brussels.

Ask CofR? what focus they want.

Involve Herr Ferstel of DG Regio

We have contacts in the European Commission but what about the European Parliament? How do we approach them? Perhaps through national representatives.

The parliament is likely to gain in influence.

Invite Members of the European Parliament and influence them beforehand through national sections.

Better understanding of the needs for urban/rural links will help shape policy. Is there an EU role? If so, how can territorial policy be targeted?

Need to get people on board who support us. Also to have facts and figures and to analyse them.

ECOVAST’s international potential should be publicized to EU.

Is public intervention needed? Wittstock example indicated it is, at all levels.

We should “Do things and develop Perspectives”

Have case studies, e.g from Brandenburg, at the conference

A Conference in Berlin 2013, being organized by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban development, with international guests, Angus proposed ECOVAST participation and influence.

A research opportunity:

7th Framework Directive Research programme of the EU.

Seek DIRECTIVES not merely ‘guidance’ for towns with problems

WHO will do this?

Resources

International experience of ECOVAST and ASSET valuable to the EU/EC

What money will be available to towns / municipalities in the period from 2013?

Germany: Federal state to communicate to Ministry

Recruit ECOVAST members within the ministries.

Cultural landscapes research

Publish Lectures Library

Involve Sachsen-Anhalt

ECOVAST Young People’s section?

Recruit among Universities. 10 Euro annual subscription

Could this start with students of the Potsdam Fachhochschule?

Policy themes

Demographic change

Sectoral funding policy critique

Integrated funding

Integrated Strategies

LEADER

INTERREG IV

Consider partner in Brandenburg – Wittstock?

Sustainable protection of historic buildings and other heritage

Energy saving measures can cause damage

Sustainable urban development – focus on energy not sufficient

Whole town function

SURVIVAL of town

Town off grid

Example of he historic town of Güssing, 4,000 people within a municipality of 27,200 inhabitants, in Austria’s Burgenland. In 1988 the municipality had set its goal to replace the over 6 million € spend on the imports of oil, electricity and other fuels, and in 1990 decided to aim for ‘energy autocracy’- “100 per cent phasing out of fossil energy supply, a new energy concept created to cover the whole energy need through the locally available biomass”.

http://www.energyagency.at/service/veranst/elva.htm

http://www.dorfwiki.org/wiki.cgi?action=browse&id=Energy/Examples/Self-Reliance+UseOfLocalResources

Invite Mayor of Güssing to present to Brussels conference 2011


Attendance list: Anwesenheitsliste:

Valerie Carter UK, President ECOVAST

carter73@btinternet.com

Dr Gerhard L. Fasching ECOVAST Austria

Silvia Mayer Austria

Gerhard.Fasching@sbg.ac.at

Pam Moore UK, Secretary General ECOVAST

pam.moore59@ntlword.com

Phil Turner UK, Past President ECOVAST

p.turner@semantise.com

Prof Dr Ralf Bokermann ECOVAST Germany

r.bokermann@t-online.de

Dr Arthur Spiegler ECOVAST Austria

a.spiegler@reflex.at

Ms. Kathleen Bierbaß Working Group “Towns with historic centres” of the State of Brandenburg DE

info@ag-historische-stadtkerne.de

Jörg Gehrmann Mayor of Wittstock

buergerbuero@wittstock.de

Angus Fowler ECOVAST Germany

a.fowler@freenet.de

Dennis Majewski, new member of ECOVAST Germany, assistant to Hessian member of Bundestag

dennis@dennismajewski.de

Irmelin Küttner ECOVAST Germany

kuettner@online.de

Andrea Weigert ECOVAST Germany

andrea.weigert@alr-sh.de

Dirk Michaelis Landkreis Stendal DE

dirk.michaelis@landkreis-stendal.de

Ulrike Kober, former Town Councillor in Marburg, representing Axel Dosch, stadt.land.freunde, new member of ECOVAST Germany

Ulrike-kober@freenet.de

Christa Menz, Vice-President, Brandenburgischer Architektenkammer

fcmenz@rftonline.net

Agnieszka Halemba (head of a Foundation Heritage for Future (Poland) social anthropologist, working at the University of Leipzig)

halemba@rz.uni-leipzig.de

Erwin Karl, new member of ECOVAST Germany

Architekt.Karl@T-Online.de

Karen Falke, Director of Library, Fachhochschule Potsdam

bibliotheksleitung@fh-potsdam.de

Aulee Fritsch, Fachhochschule, Potsdam Assistant to Prof Dr Andreas Kahlow

kahlow@fh-potsdam.de


ECOVAST position statement related to the New Wittstock Declaration 2008    

ECOVAST Position Statement to accompany the New Wittstock Declaration.

Small towns have characteristics (economic, social and environmental) that are also to be found in well functioning neighbourhoods of larger cities and in close-knit villages in the countryside. They suffer less from the disadvantages of congested and stressed larger urban areas and offer access to the resources of the open landscape.

Throughout Europe the spatial relationships between major cities has been recognised (polycentric patterns)1. The interrelationships between urban and rural places, and between small towns and large regional centres are also gaining relevance in regional policy at European level.2 Sub-regional policy and planning is increasingly involving partnerships of municipalities. There is strength through collaboration. This can be affective through networks of small towns and the villages that connect to them.

Municipalities and civil society need to be engaged together in visions and plans for the implementation of development in small towns and rural areas. In addition to significant stakeholders and community actors (including NGOs), the people of the towns and villages should be invited to be involved and attention given to their views, aiming to identify and address conflicting standpoints. Controversial discussion can lead to an understanding of different motivations and lead to consensus and support for future changes as well as for conservation (wise use of valuable resources).

For the communities of people of small towns and rural areas to survive (to be sustained over the longer term) and to build their capacity to be resilient to external threats and changes a local policy focus and local action is required.

Consideration of ‘localness’ (in economic activity, food, fuel and services to inhabitants of the towns and surrounding areas) in the context of global influences (climate change, peak oil, international business and finance) needs to be matched by systems of governance that devolve responsibility to the local level, from nations and regions to sub-regions, from municipalities to community enterprises and voluntary organizations and, ultimately, to strengthen the responsibilities of the people themselves. The European Union concept of ‘subsidiarity’ (taking decisions at the most local level possible) supports devolution (bottom-up rather than top-down; helping people to help themselves).

An open and tolerant dialogue and concerted action, between authorities and the people, between municipalities and regions / states, in a transparent and well communicated way, can support actions to harness positive external influences for investment, for learning and understanding, for use of technology and for management of the townscape and landscape. the people, between municipalities and regions / states, in a transparent and well communicated way, can support actions to harness positive external influences for investment, for learning and understanding, for use of technology and for management of the townscape and landscape.

The connections and relationships between small towns and villages and the networks of small towns require co-operation, setting economic and spatial objectives though partnership working of administrations, politicians and civil society.

A high proportion of European small towns are historic in origin and form. In order to keep this heritage alive, their town centres should be vital and viable, rather than museum pieces.

People who live in, and care for, small towns and villages can gain much knowledge through greater awareness of historical influences upon urban form that can, in turn inform decisions about the future of land, structures and places.

The fabric of small towns, their historic building structures, facades and spaces are characteristics valued as resources for their cultural significance and adaptability. Their retention and enhancement should be encouraged. Traditional building forms harness ecological advantages in energy conservation, including thermal mass and passive solar, and their embedded energy should not be lost through demolition.

New buildings, where added sympathetically to the fabric of towns and villages, should also address energy conservation and the use of ecologically sound methods of construction and materials.

Self-reliance, rather than dependence upon globally resourced energy and food, will become important as fossil fuels, particularly oil and gas, become a scarce resource and increase exponentially in price. The fields, woodland and forest around small towns can offer a local source of energy. Although total self-sufficiency may be unrealistic, a greater degree of local energy production can be achieved.

A particular characteristic of small towns is the viability of small businesses, especially independent retailers, threatened by competition from superstores and urban retail complexes. They perform a social and cultural function in addition to their economic purpose. Attention to the effectiveness and survival of local enterprises is required at all policy levels.

Locally sourced food, with advantages of adding value in the locality and avoiding ’food miles’ in an effort to reduce energy consumption and to minimize carbon footprint, can best be organized at the level of small towns. Retail of the produce and products that originate from the town itself, and from its surrounding fields, forests and woodlands, can generate economic activity in processing and manufacturing in the local area.

The concept of small towns as ‘rural metropoles’, hubs for economic and social activity should become a firm concept in spatial planning. As hubs, they can be laboratories for innovation and enhance the competitiveness of rural enterprises.

Marketing small towns, for tourism as well as products and services, by branding is assisted by the identity and character of each place.

Small towns relate to their landscape and have an identity that, in concert with other towns and landscapes, contributes to the character of the wider subregion and region in which they are set. Throughout Europe, those identities generate attractiveness for cultural tourism and also influence investors and decision makers who seek to locate their businesses in a pleasant setting.

Initiatives can come from citizen involvement in planning for the future, in conservation, in services for the health and care of the elderly and young and disabled, and in non-profit social and community enterprises. For that to flourish, local voluntary organizations require ‘core funding’ as well as project funding, sustained over a period of years (at least five years) that can support the retention and training of volunteers from all age groups. Through achievements, and from recognition by the authorities, the self-esteem of the people can be engendered.

One of the most prominent criteria in determining whether a human settlement functions as a small town is demonstrated by the presence of, and quality of, education, particularly higher secondary education (“grammar schools” / Gymnasien). Retention of such ‘high schools’ and investment in their quality, is essential for each small town and its surrounding catchment. Education is the springboard for innovation, focusing upon the sets of skills that are important to modern enterprise and the future activities of the town, and also to traditional methods of building conservation, of management of the landscape and of food production.

Small towns can play a strong role in ensuring that sectors of the population are not excluded from education, training and quality of life. As hubs for information and communication technology (ICT) and broadband, small towns can support inclusiveness for businesses, families and voluntary organisations. In remote rural areas, services to the community are more expensive to operate. Technology can assist in delivering remote healthcare, for example, as an outreach from small town hubs.

Outwards from the town, services can be delivered through a linked network of education and community buildings. The village schools can be a key point on such a network.

Trends towards uncoupling of the educational system, by closing remote schools on the false grounds of ‘economies of scale’, are damaging to localness and sense of place. The networks of good education are dependent on place, and the identity of places is dependent upon the schools. Small sized classes have a positive effect on the climate for learning and on learning itself. Whilst daily travel by pupils into small towns may have advantages to town trade by generatung some retail activity, if car-based it can also adversely affect economic efficiency through traffic congestion. schools on the false grounds of ‘economies of scale’, are damaging to localness and sense of place. The networks of good education are dependent on place, and the identity of places is dependent upon the schools. Small sized classes have a positive effect on the climate for learning and on learning itself. Whilst daily travel by pupils into small towns may have advantages to town trade by generatung some retail activity, if car-based it can also adversely affect economic efficiency through traffic congestion.

Young people have different perspectives and perceptions from those of their elders, whether in towns or villages. Often their leisure ambitions cause them to gravitate towards towns and lager cities. Dedicated youth workers, listening to them and acting on their behalf, can enable young people become engaged with decisions for their future.

Opportunities for affordable housing and jobs for younger people and young families will sustain the lifeblood of the small town and village, and thereby services for those of all age groups. Young people may choose to move away from towns and villages, but they need strong roots so that they do not lose their connections with their places of origin and may choose to return one day to live and work there.

Education is not confined to younger people, and lifelong learning can be promoted from small towns. In rural Austria, the University of Graz uses video conferencing, in the small town of Kirchbach, to engage with audiences of adult students, drawn from the rural area.

Many European towns are facing an increased proportion of longer living population. Some are continuing to be active into old age and to call upon services of education and health, whilst many contribute to social activity by volunteering and to economic prosperity by spending, whatever their level of wealth.

Small towns can offer innovative housing embracing several generations (Mehrgenerationhäuser). That can include homes that are also workplaces (‘live / work units’), for paid work or for voluntary activity, for desk-based writing and computer use, or studio space for artists and craftspeople.

Towns in rural areas have potential for improvement of infrastructure that can also serve villages and smaller settlements and those who want to use the landscape.

Local transport, by rail (where present), by bus and by taxi is focused upon towns as larger centres of population density. As remoteness from town increases, so does reliance on private transport, and for those without the use of a private car, a need for community managed transport increases.

Infrastructure for renewable energy, such as district heating, bio-fuel power stations and combined heat and power plants, can link town and country, connecting the greater number of users in the town with the availability of resources from the countryside.

Phil Turner May 2009

About ASSET    

The Organising Group of ASSET partners has prepared the way for concerted action to influence policy throughout Europe in favour of Small Towns.

Initiated at an ECOVAST Conference in Retz, Austria in November 2005, the Project has highlighted the position of Small Towns in European policy. This has been done at groupings of International NGOs of the Council of Europe, and at conferences and seminars involving ECOVAST and ASSET in Austria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK.

Milestones . Papers on Small Towns have been presented in previous years:

- 1998 the “1st Small Town Symposium” in Murau, Styria - Small Towns as the Motors of Rural Development organised by ECOVAST, Austria.

- 2002 the “2nd Small Town Symposium” in Waidhofen, Lower Austria The main topic was electronic networks in rural small towns.

- 2005 the 3rd symposium was held in the wine town Retz, Lower Austria, proposed and organised by SEEDA (South East England Development Agency).

-2006 visits and seminar in Makarska, Croatia, organised by ECOVAST Croatia.

-2006 Interreg III NORTHERN PERIPHERY PROGRAMME Small Towns Network Conference 4-5 September 2006 in Jyväskylä, Finland.

- 2006 European Rural University URE 2006 Mezotur, Hungary, organised by APURE.

- 2006 ECOVAST Conference “Rural Development in the Knowledge Based Society”, Bratislava, Slovakia

-2007 Third International Science Conference in BIAŁOWIEŻA, Poland. organised by ECOVAST Poland Section.

-2007 Study visit, Energy Town, Güssing Austria, organised by ECOVAST Austria Section.

- 2007 study visit, Richmond market Town, Yorkshire, England, organised by ECOVAST UK section.

- 2007 Regional Studies Association Conference, Lisbon, Portugal.

- 2007 Field course, University of Gloucestershire, in Sardinia.

- 2007 ECOVAST conference, Samobor, Croatia - SMALL EUROPEAN TOWNS – THEIR ROLE IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND HERITAGE PROTECTION.

- 2007 CLUJ-NAPOCA, ROMANIA, INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE COMPETITIVENESS and EUROPEAN INTEGRATION, organised by the BABEŞ-BOLYAI UNIVERSITY.

- 2008 Szolnok, Mezotur, Hungary visits to towns and presentations on Small towns, their hinterland and landscape, organised by APURE Hungary.

-2008 Towns in Schleswig-Holstein, visits linked to ASSET Organising Group meeting in Hamburg.

- 2008 Rural Futures: Dreams, Dilemmas and Dangers, organised by the University of Plymouth, UK.

- 2008 ECOVAST conference in Wittstock, Germany.

- 2008 Small Towns Conference, Rioja, Spain, organised by the Government of La Rioja.

- 2009 FOURTH SMALL TOWNS’ SYMPOSIUM, Grieskirchen, Austria.

- 2009 Forum on the topic “Saving Europe’s Small Historic Towns and Villages and their Surrounding Landscapes”, Taormina, Sicily, organised by Europa Nostra.

- 2009 Galway, Ireland, rural studies symposium.

- 2009 ECOVAST International conference 'Revitalization of Small Historic Towns', Moscenice, Croatia.

- 2009 Scottish Towns Learning Network Conference, Glasgow. ‘A European Perspective on Whole Town Strategies’

At the 2007 Conference in Croatia, a Samobor declaration was devised. http://www.ecovast.org/english/asset_e/asset_e_anx_e.htm

Information in English about the 2009 Conference in Moscenici can be found at: http://www.ecovast.hr/skupovi/Moscenice09/Moscenice09_sazetci.pdf

The Wittstock Conference in 2008 devised a Declaration in conjunction with the Brandenburg Chamber of Architects. http://www.ecovast.org/english/asset_e/asset_sm_towns_pos.pdf

Phil Turner Vice President ECOVAST 3 October 2010

March 2010    

At a meeting of the ECOVAST UK Section in March 2010, progress was reported as follows:

ASSET Project funding has come from UK sources (CRC, APURE, SEEDA, and Yorkshire Forward) with a contribution from the European Rural University (APURE) . The project has a balance of about £10,000, held in ECOVAST UK account. It is hoped to continue until the end of 2011 when an international conference, possibly in Brussels, is planned. An INTERREG Med bid has been made with Malta as lead partner and ASSET as an associate; the outcome is awaited. It is hoped to involve ASSET in other events, e.g. the Action for Market Towns (AMT) Convention (in 2010 in Chippenham in October). Papers have been given at other conferences – in Rioja (2008), Mechelen, Galway, and Glasgow (2009). It is hoped to contribute to this year’s IRSS in Cork. Prior to the final conference/convention of 2011 a smaller event is planned in 2010 to spread policy messages. ASSET aims to influence post 2013 European policy and CAP reform. As evidence, research undertaken by Pam Moore will be published. The SUSSET toolkit, which came from a previous INTERREG project; has proved very useful and will be taken forward by Scottish authors, to include additional case studies.

A toolkit for sustainable small town strategy can be seen at:

http://www.susset.org/

This toolkit provides advice for small towns across Europe that helps them find ‘coping strategies’ for the first quarter of the 21st century. Small towns are important places to work, live and visit and they play vital roles in the quest for ‘territorial cohesion’ across Europe, as well as the pursuit of ‘sustainable development’.

The Sustaining Small Expanding Towns (SusSET?) project is an EU initiative sponsored by the INTERREG IIIc programme, involving 12 towns - with populations between 5,000 and 35,000 - from Scotland, Sweden, Poland and Greece. In general terms, the Scottish and Swedish towns are steadily growing, whilst the Polish and Greek towns are in the process of restructuring and trying to grow sustainably. Together, these 12 towns have worked for almost three years to explore and share their ideas and experiences. The results are contained in this toolkit and now shared with other similar-sized EU towns. Although the research by these 12 towns will have many inevitable limitations, it is felt that enough work of substance has been produced to merit documentation and sharing, all for the benefit of a more environmentally sustainable and economically competitive Europe.

In the past, little attention has been given to small towns in terms of serious research, policy and support. This toolkit therefore attempts to fill this gap.

One of ASSET's partners, Yorkshire Forward UK, has sponsored a report on rural areas. it features Market Towns. Download the GREATBRIEF from:

http://www.integreatyorkshire.com/aug-2009-the-potential-of-rural-economies.htm

Futher information on Yorkshire Renaissance Market Towns may be found at:

http://www.rmtportal.com

For information and presentations made at the founding conference of ASSET, held at Retz, Austria in 2004, see the webpages of the ASSET Partner, SEEDA (South East England Development Agency):

http://www.seeda.co.uk/news_&_events/event_reports/2005_events/retz_conference/index.asp

The ECOVAST website pages on ASSET have been updated and shortened. A version of those pages in MICROSOFT WORD format is here.

Upload:PhilTurner/wordformatASSETAugust2009.doc

The ASSET Project Leaflet is also revised - attached here in PDF format.

Upload:PhilTurner/assetprojectleaflet09.pdf

Here, at DORFWIKI, the original ASSET pages, to be removed from the ECOVAST website, are archived below.

January 2008 version     

The ASSET project made progress in 2007 with partners. Prior to 21 August 2007, these pages on DORFWIKI had a project description drafted in November 2006.

The information is now updated, to reflect the progress and changes made by the Organising Group in Brussels on 07.07.07 and an ECOVAST meeting in Weyher, Germany on 14 July and in St Veit, Austria in September of 2007.

 Phil Turner
 President
 ECOVAST
 European Council for the Village and Small Town
 www.ecovast.org.uk
 p.turner@ruralnet.org.uk


At the ECOVAST Annual Conference in Samobor, Croatia, the following was agreed by consensus:

Samobor Declaration    

ECOVAST CONFERENCE, SAMOBOR, CROATIA 15 OCTOBER 2007

We, the 72 delegates from 8 countries (note 1) attending the FINAL PLENARY session on 15 October 2007 of the conference organised by ECOVAST CROATIA at Samobor, on the topic of SMALL EUROPEAN TOWNS – THEIR ROLE IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND HERITAGE PROTECTION;

Noting that the Conference is positioned at the outset of the European Rural Development programme (ERDP 2007-2013), and Aware of the prospect of a Health Check of the Common Agricultural Policy in 2008, which is also the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, but Addressing ourselves to all the governments and peoples of the wider Europe;

Welcome the initiative by ECOVAST of the ASSET (Action to Strengthen Small European Towns) project;

Believe that there is a major gap in European Policy. Cities and large towns are well covered through the European Regional Development Fund, as are rural areas through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). However, small towns and their hinterlands deserve more attention. The small towns close to larger urban areas are similarly without a clear policy;

Support the initiative by the European Commission to improve understanding of, and to develop policies related to, the close relationships between towns and rural areas; (Note 2)

Urge all European Governments, in shaping and developing their rural development programmes, to place a policy focus upon small towns, and their potential for sustainable development. We also urge the European Union to place greater funding emphasis on Pillar 2 to implement rural development;

Believe that towns should be seen as consumers of rural products and centres of support for rural businesses including the promotion of rural tourism. For small towns and their hinterlands, land management has a key role in local food production, other local products (crafts, arts, building materials) and in sourcing renewable energy;

Call for a full recognition, by the EU and by governments at all levels, of the key principle that the rural dwellers and people of small towns should be not only the main beneficiaries, but also the main shapers, of development policy and programmes which affect their areas. This principle reflects the great variation in the character, cultural diversity, distinctiveness, needs and resources of different rural areas throughout Europe. It recognises also the ability of local people to take the lead in efforts to improve their own lives, and to have a true sense of ‘ownership’ of these efforts;

Welcome the initiatives being taken in many European countries to sustain and regenerate the vitality of small towns and their rural hinterland. Small towns have a key role in the community life, in the protection of heritage and in the economy of the rural regions. They are set in the landscape and are motors for rural development. However, they face many threats to their continued well-being, such as loss of younger people, replacement of full-time residents by owners of second homes, and the challenges to survival of local facilities and independent local retailers;

Encourage the creation and activity of Town Partnerships, involving municipalities, enterprises and particularly civil society, to lead the process of sustaining and revitalizing small towns and to enable beneficiaries to draw upon European, national, regional and private funding;

Urge that the focus of policy for rural areas should be on sustainable development, seeking to achieve the social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being of the rural people and areas. Development can only be sustainable if it emanates from both men and women, of all ages and origins, who have or who seek the necessary experience, understanding and skills and who take responsibility at grassroots level. Development should be conceived through a process which is participative, taking into account local cultures, and which liberates and fosters the energy of all;

Emphasise the decisive importance of life-long learning for the real participation of rural people in their own development process. There is a widespread need for education, training and skills development; and for advisory services to help individuals, enterprises and communities to take initiatives and to strengthen civil society and local partnership.

Note 1 Participants: ECOVAST members and guests, including students of the University of Gloucestershire MSc Course “European Rural Development”

Countries of origin Austria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Serbia, Spain, and the United Kingdom,

Croatian small towns represented at the conference included: 1. Samobor 2. Otočac 3. Senj 4. Delnice 5. Stari Grad, otok Hvar 6. Ogulin 7. Crikvenica

ECOVAST Croatia members were from the towns of: 8. Petrinja 9. Kostajnica 10. Dubrovnik 11. Slatina 12. Zaprešić

Note 2 “In the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the so called Pillar 2 on rural development agreed in 2005 for the period 2007 - 2013, urban-rural relations are mentioned as an element of the rural development policy. Under the…Axis 3 themes like wider Rural Development i.e. renovation and development of villages, ensuring basic service and economic diversification are addressed. “Small and Medium Sized Towns (SMESTO) are not mentioned explicitly in the Pillar 2, although they could play a crucial role as potential nodes in a spatial strategy especially in rural areas far from metropolitan regions.” European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON 1.4.1 “The Role of Small and Medium-Sized Towns (SMESTO)” Final Report 2006)


ASSET (Action to Strengthen Small European Towns)    
  • Project Proposal January 2008
INTRODUCTION    
The project was initiated at an ECOVAST Conference in Retz, Austria in November 2005. Since then the position of Small Towns in European policy has been highlighted at groupings of International NGOs of the Council of Europe, and at conferences and seminars in Austria, Croatia, Finland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and the UK. Research is in progress on the challenges facing Small Towns and the ways in which they are seeking and receiving support from national and regional agencies.

The Organising Group of ASSET partners has prepared the way for concerted action:

• to make a bid to the European Commission’s INTERREG IVC programme

• to seek funding from international foundations

• to influence policy throughout Europe in favour of Small Towns

Background    

1. The small towns of Europe are a massive asset for the people, the heritage and the economies of the continent. They provide a focus of social, cultural and economic life in their sub-regions. They interact with the villages in their surrounding areas, and with larger towns and cities. They influence and react with their surrounding landscape (some with their seascape). They vary greatly in their origin, age and character, and embody a local distinctiveness that is a vital part of the European heritage. As well as the heritage of buildings and landscape, the people of the towns are themselves an asset. Asset-based community development recognises assets as five ‘capitals’: Natural capital and also human, social, manufactured and financial capital.

( ASSET BASED TOOLS AND APPROACHES FOR SUSTAINABLE RURAL AREAS A Forum for the Future Report for Carnegie UK Trust Dr Rhys Evans http://www.forumforthefuture.org.uk http://rural.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/publications/a_scoping_study_on_asset_based_tools_and_approaches_for_sustainable_rural_areas)

2. However, throughout Europe, small towns face severe problems, challenges and opportunities. Many have lost, or are losing, functions to the larger cities, as part of the processes of globalisation and centralisation. Loss of services and businesses within villages and small towns particularly affect the disadvantaged and those who are not able to drive cars (e.g. young, old, disabled). In some towns, commercial centres are losing vitality because of the creation of out-of-town shopping and service centres. In others that are a success in attracting shoppers and visitors, narrow streets and public spaces are often blighted by traffic or by excessive car parking.

3. There are good examples where the people of some small towns and villages have taken the initiative to assess their strengths and weaknesses and to promote a vision of a sustainable future, seeking assistance from municipalities, regions and agencies. Many other small communities lack the skills and capacity to take such action and need support from larger municipalities, regions, governments and NGOs.

4. In the face of these forces, there is a strong and widespread concern to revive the small towns, to protect and find new life for their remarkable heritage and to strengthen their economies. This effort falls within the broader context of policies within and beyond the European Union; and can call upon programmes of regional development, rural development, spatial planning and other sectoral activities.

5. However, no major European programme has focused on small towns, in their own right. They are, in this sense, a hidden asset. In some countries, government agencies or regional councils have focused on small towns, providing advice, finance and other support and encouraging networking and exchange of good practice between towns. Some national networks of small or market towns exist, such as Action for Market Towns in England, and others such as the Association of Croatian Towns, the association of towns in eastern Alentejo, Portugal and the Polish Union of Small Towns (Unia Miasteczek Polskich). Equivalent bodies to the Local Government Association (England and Wales) that exist in other member states will be important to such networks. At European level, there are some formal networks of towns with special interests, such as RECEVIN (wine towns) and Citta Slow.

6. However, there has been no significant effort, at European level, to link these different efforts and to gain the benefit of exchange of ideas and good practice between those agencies and organisations that wish to support the strengthening of small towns throughout Europe.

Addressing The Need    

7. In an effort to fill that gap, ECOVAST and SEEDA joined with the Regional Council of Niederösterreich to sponsor, at Retz in Austria in November 2005, a European Conference on ‘Small Rural Towns’. This three-day event attracted 85 delegates from 30 regions and 12 countries. After intensive discussion, and description of initiatives in many countries, the Conference agreed that a project should be launched to promote co-operation, and exchange of good practice, between governmental and other agencies throughout Europe who offer support to small towns.

8. ECOVAST and APURE (l'association pour les Universités Rurales Européennes), The South East of England Regional Development Agency (SEEDA), Yorkshire Forward (Regional Development Agency, England) as main partners, with the support of The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) England) and MONTE, ACE - Desenvolvimento Alentejo Central, Portugal, have therefore taken the initiative in making progress on that project, and are supported in doing so by other potential partners including:

- SPECTRA, Slovakia Central European Research and Training Centre of excellence in spatialplanning - Niederösterreich Regional Council, Austria - WILL – Wirtschaftsförderung, Leipziger Land GmbH (an economic development agency in south east Germany)

And other interested parties include: - East Midlands Development Agency England - COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) - Rioja Spain, Territorios21 International Forum of Urbanism of Small and Medium City Regions - The towns of Borba and Arraiolos in the LEADER area of Monte Desenolvimento Alantejo Central,Portugal - The town of Samobor and the Croatian Association of Towns and Municipalities - The town of Modra, Slovakia has also shown interest.

In October 2007, at Samobor, Croatia an ECOVAST conference SMALL EUROPEAN TOWNS – THEIR ROLE IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND HERITAGE PROTECTION, at which 72 people from 8 countries attended, consensus was reached on the Samobor Declaration

AIMS OF THE PROJECT    

9. We propose that the project should have the following Aims:

a. To promote co-operation, and exchange of good practice, between governmental and other agencies throughout Europe who offer support to small towns

b. To promote contact and exchange of good practice between individual small towns throughout Europe.

c. To speak on behalf of small towns to influence the European Commission, Council of Europe, Committee of the Regions of the European Union and governments and The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.

d. To facilitate, support and encourage the delivery of research to enable evidence-based policy approaches to strengthening the well-being of small towns.

e. To develop policy formulation at European levels focused on small towns and their rural hinterlands.

IMPLEMENTATION    

Scope and Definitions    

10. We propose that, for this purpose, ‘Europe’ should be the whole of the European Continent, effectively those nations that are members of the Council of Europe.

11. By ‘small towns’, we start from considering those with a population between 2,500 and roughly 30,000, though this definition should be flexibly interpreted. In remote areas there are populations of a few hundred that call themselves a small town. In sought-after tourist locations the resident population can be matched or exceeded by visitors, seasonally.

12. ‘Agencies who offer support to small towns’ (hereafter called “support agencies”) may include arms of central or regional governments, regional development agencies, formal networks of small towns, and other public or non-governmental organisations.

Outcomes and Deliverables

13. Provisionally, we envisage that the project will embrace:

• Reporting on the progress of an ASSET questionnaire that has elicited information from several states within and outside the EU, and preliminary analysis of the results covering the sub-national/regional support to small towns and the range of challenges faced. Partners of ASSET, members of ECOVAST and respondents would be invited to comment on the topics with the aim reaching consensus and a matrix of common understanding.

• Gathering, and dissemination to the support agencies, of information about the support agencies themselves, their programmes of support to small towns, how these programmes are funded or managed, and what effect they appear to have in terms of the vitality of small towns.

• Gathering, and dissemination to support agencies and to small towns and their networks, of information about good practice in development or revitalisation of small towns and in support systems, illustrated by case studies, including methods of capacity building and toolkits (such as the Market Towns Health Check – UK – and the City Check – Austria).

• Focusing on specific projects with small towns – through interest groups working on topics such as walled towns, wine towns, market towns, historic charters, landed estates, industrial heritage, trade and renewable energy. Small towns and their surrounding landscapes are ideal for considering the future of renewable energy, demonstrating their capabilities in economic terms as sustainable settlements.

• Involvement in research activities, beginning with literature review.

• Exchanges between groups of small towns in different member states are envisaged together with peer assessment and mentoring. ASSET may also enable facilitation for training in capacity building of Municipalities, Local Authorities and Communities. This might be undertaken in co-operation with PREPARE, or other bodies, if funding becomes available. http://www.preparenetwork.org

         http://www.preparenetwork.org/index.php?pno=0

• Facilitation of on-line exchange between all involved in the field of small town development

• Holding of events to permit face-to-face exchange between those involved in small town development

• Where necessary and appropriate, speaking on behalf of small towns to influence urban and rural policies of the European Union and governments, and play a strong role in developing a formal policy for European small rural towns and their hinterlands.

These activities are expected to benefit small towns, local government, support agencies, governments, the European Union and the Council of Europe.

BENEFITS

A table may be downloaded at:

Upload:PhilTurner/benefitsASSETproject21.08.pdf

For the ASSET Project as a whole, the benefits are likely to be gained by: Small Towns, Municipalities and local government, Support agencies (Regional, NGOs and Associations),Governments, EU and Council of Europe

Knowledge of the types of support available from agencies in many parts of Europe

Awareness of the challenges faced by, and initiatives of, other Small Towns

Tool kits for local vision and action

Involvement in techniques of capacity building

Advocacy – policy influence of ASSET

Opportunity to attend conferences and seminars of ASSET

Learning through networking (including seminars / conferences) exchange visits, peer assessment, mentoring support and capacity building

Benefit of higher profile for town in being a member of this network – individual towns and groups of towns as ‘Exemplars’

Regular information by website and newsletter

Awareness of work packages and outcomes of INTERREG project

Free exchange of templates of experience of well-tested successful good practice (dissemination by web/open source [attributed] and publications)

Feedback to local and regional authorities of experience from European level EU

Evidence base to support policy formulation (COST Research)

Awareness of competitiveness of small towns in European economy

Influence on regional development programmes

Formulation of rural small town policy for Europe

Method and Management    

14. We propose that the Project be initiated and sponsored by a group of support agencies, acting as project partners and will take joint responsibility for the core funding of the project. Each partner will be represented on the Organising Group of the Project. In addition to the core funding provided by the partners, funding will be sought from Foundations and from the European Union.

15. It is proposed that ECOVAST, as a European NGO with strong experience of networking and of project management, should provide the secretariat for the project, under the oversight of the Organising Group.

Actions and Timing    

16. In the preparatory phase to 2008, meetings of the Organising Group of Partners have been held: in Brussels in September 2006; in Lisbon in March 2007; in Brussels in July 2007 and in Austria in September 2007.

17. In 2008 a bid to INTERREG IVC will be prepared with specific partners drawn from across Europe. Following that, there will be a wider launch of the project, aimed to attract further partners to the ASSET project as a whole who would join the Organising Group. In preparation for that formal launch of the project the following action is being undertaken:

• Preparation of a crisp but detailed database about who is doing what to support small towns throughout Europe.

• Choice, from within that database, of further potential partners

• Approach to those potential partners

• Identification of potential sources of funds to match that provided by the partners

Through a questionnaire to contacts in a number of European countries, work is advanced in establishing a database of support agencies and regional contacts in the EU and beyond (e.g. the Accession states, Russia and Macedonia) to map and record existing networks, and to establish how to link and develop exchanges.

18. We propose that, after the preparatory phase, the project might have a planned duration of at least three years (2011). If (as we expect) the exchanges and networking generated by the project prove to have a longer-term value, then a structure will be formed to sustain that activity beyond the project period. As the exchanges, networking and other benefits develop then we intend to initiate a review process to ensure that the lessons learned are addressed, either in a continuation of the programme or its integration into another programme or programmes. Also at that stage a succession strategy will be devised.

Finance    

19. Start-Up.

ECOVAST is undertaking the preparatory phase, with financial support totalling 9000 euro, from SEEDA (2000 euro), APURE (2000 euro) and CRC (5000 euro) towards the costs of this phase, which are estimated as follows:

Preparation of database of support agencies 2,000 euro

Travel costs to visit potential partners 3,000 euro

Meetings of partners 500 euro

Preparation of project dossier 1,500 euro

Accounting and advice on bids to European Union sources 2,000 euro

Total start-up costs 9,000 euro

20. Provisional budget Main three-year programme (See Table download below)

For work beyond the preparatory stage, SEEDA has contributed 2000 euro as partnership contribution for the second of three years of the project and Yorkshire Forward has agreed to contribute 2000 euro for each of three years. APURE (through ERU UK Group, has contributed a further 1428 euro in July 2007).

ECOVAST’s contribution will be made in kind (instead of 2000 euro for three years), in terms of staff-time (focused particularly on identification of potential sources of matching funds) and office support, as manager of the project. For the three years of the main project the budget has, in addition to ECOVAST’s in kind contribution, the cost of a secretariat – 65000 euro.

Because many small towns will not be able to afford an annual contribution of 2000 euro, they have the opportunity to join ECOVAST as a member organisation (annual subscription fee currently 60 euro) so that they may be kept informed of the progress and detail of the ASSET Project.

21. So that funding from European Union sources, such as INTERREG IVC, and from International Foundations, can be received and monitored, an ACCOUNTABLE BODY is necessary. For receiving money from foundations and charitable trusts we are seeking an organisation that has experience of accountability for European Union funding, and could handle finances, effectively treasurer for the for the ASSET project as a whole. Those services will necessitate expenses to cover staff time and overheads. Although partners of the project, they would not contribute 2000 euro a year.

A Lead Partner for an INTERREG project is sought, who would be the accountable body for that element of ASSET’s work. The pan-European INTERREG IVC programme is being studied, and the indications are that the Lead Partner would be a Local Authority or Regional body with dedicated staff, rather than an NGO.

22. Indicative BUDGET

The indicative budget may be seen at:

Upload:PhilTurner/IndicativeBUDGET.pdf

23. We propose that a substantial proportion of the total should be covered by contribution from partners – say 2000 euro per partner per year. It is envisaged that 20 partners would produce a total of 20 x 3 x 2000 euro = 120,000 euro. A limited number of the partners could make their contribution IN KIND.

24. The remainder would be sought from International Foundations.

25. A bid will be made to the European Commission INTERREG IVC programme (pan-Europe) during 2008. It is envisaged that bids for 75% of the INTERREG portion of the project would have to be matched by funds from other sources. The structure and content of the INTERREG bid will require further work with potential INTERREG Partners and their willingness to undertake ‘work packages’. That will inevitably recast the budget, showing the discrete INTERREG component and the gearing of match funding contributions.

Upload:PhilTurner/budgetINTERREGIVC.pdf

Proposal Development

26. It is proposed to develop this Proposal as the preparatory phase proceeds, leading to a full Business Plan and Action Plan/Timetable.

The structure of the ASSET project may be seen at:

Upload:PhilTurner/structure.pdf

27. Contributions IN KIND: Time that is devoted to any part of the overall ASSET project will be recorded, together with travel and accommodation and other expenses. Time and expenses that are not refunded from the resources of the project, or from the separate budgets of any EC funded activity, will be counted as an IN KIND contribution. An organisation (NGO or Association) may be accepted by the Organising Group as a partner of the main ASSET project on the basis of a contribution IN KIND, rather than a financial contribution. Specific rules for IN KIND contributions will apply to EC funded activities such as INTERREG, and the basis may differ in each Member State.

Annexes: A. Background paper on ECOVAST – its aim and achievements

B. Background of APURE and other Partners

C. Quotations that support and enhance ECOVAST’s views

D. INTERREG IVC

Annex A

ECOVAST is the originating partner of ASSET, contributing services and activities IN KIND.

ECOVAST, the European Council for the Village and Small Town, registered in Alsace, France, was set up in 1984 to further the well-being of rural communities, and the safeguarding of the rural heritage, throughout Europe. Its formal aims are:

to foster the economic, social and cultural vitality and the administrative identity of rural communities throughout Europe; and

to safeguard, and to promote the sensitive and imaginative renewal of, the built and natural environments of such communities.

ECOVAST's membership has grown rapidly, to over 500 members in 20 countries in East and West Europe. The membership is widely drawn, to include individuals, government and non-government bodies, from local to international level. ECOVAST can thus act as bridge between decision-makers and those who are active at local level, between experts and practitioners. It operates mainly as a network, to assist mutual support among its membership in pursuit of their activity in rural areas. It has national sections in Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom, and planned in other countries. These provide a focus for exchange and activity in each country, to benefit its rural communities and rural heritage.

ECOVAST's policy approach for rural Europe is set out in our "Strategy for Rural Europe", published in 1994 : this has been translated into many European languages, and widely distributed. A 2005 update is on our web site. We have published policy documents on "Traditional Rural Buildings", and on "Agriculture and Forestry - sustaining their future in Europe", plus a Manual on creation of Heritage Trails and a Manual on “Integrated Rural Community Development”. Our Internet Website was opened in January 1999.

ECOVAST has consultative status with the Council of Europe; and also with the European Commission, including a seat on the EC Advisory Committee on Rural Development. We have International Non-Governmental organisation status with the Council of Europe. We have good working relations with many other European organizations. We played an active part in the European Countryside Campaign 1987-88; have taken a strong stand on certain crucial issues, notably the protest against the now discontinued systematisation programme in Romania; a current protest against the proposal for gold/silver mining at Rosia Montana, Romania; the review of Brown coal mining in Central Europe; and contributed to the Council of Europe Campaign, ‘Europe : a common heritage’, in 1999-2000 and are active in supporting the involvement of local communities in work related to the European Landscape Convention.

ECOVAST has active working groups on landscape and rural architecture. We organise conferences, seminars and other events, including training programmes in integrated rural development; and we send technical missions to advise on rural development and heritage protection. We take part in major practical projects, such as the Heritage Trails project in Slovenia and Bulgaria, the Wine Traditions Network (WITRANET) project, the Transnational Woodland Industries Group (TWIG) project, and the Euracademy project, all part-funded by the European Commission.

With Forum Synergies and other non-government organisations, we launched the PREPARE programme - Pre-Accession Partnerships for Rural Europe - to strengthen civil society and to promote multi-national exchange in rural development. This programme has a strong a focus on the countries which recently joined the European Union, and on those hoping to do so shortly. http://www.ecovast.org

Annex B

Other Founding Partners of ASSET

APURE – Association for the European Rural Universities - is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) whose members are individuals and organisations from 15 European countries and an American University.

APURE is directed by an International Administration Council presided by a Portuguese personality and has a changeable geographic representation.

APURE was established in Paris in 1988 ruled by the French statute of non profit making associations in order to contribute, within the framework of the principles defined by the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Men and of Citizens (1948), to develop the network of actors in the rural world, particularly through the sessions of the European Rural Universities (ERU).

Also created to improve the principles of Popular Education, APURE is a wide open, convivial and non-formal organisation that practices the exchange of practical knowledge issued from experience as the main handspike of the reinforcement of specific abilities to the development of the rural world.

"European Rural University is the college coming out from its walls to live the quotidian reality of the rural world.

The actors of the rural world that release themselves from their everyday life to apprehend it with scientific methods and instruments are the European Rural University.

The European Rural University valorises the exchanges and solitaries between the academic knowledge and "the knowledge of experience", the reflection and the practices.” http://www.ure-apure.org/

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), as the Regional Development Agency for the South East, is responsible for the sustainable economic development and regeneration of the South East of England - the driving force of the UK's economy. Our aim is to create a prosperous, dynamic and inspirational region by helping businesses compete more effectively, training a highly skilled workforce, supporting and enabling our communities while safeguarding our natural resources and cherishing our rich cultural heritage.

In April 2004 SEEDA launched a new programme of £7 million to support small rural towns across the region. The new programme has been developed together with the regional South East Rural Towns Partnership and the Countryside Agency. Local authorities are key members of the South East Rural Towns Partnership and have also played a significant role. The new programme recognises the vital role that small towns play and this has been reflected in the Regional Economic Strategy which argued for region-wide support.

Small rural towns in past times have been the lifeblood for rural areas and still today provide a key focus for their surrounding hinterland of villages and hamlets. Small rural towns provide jobs and major services. They are already a focus for public transport routes and many have developed leisure facilities. However many have seen a real downturn in their retail position. New patterns of shopping and the influence of out-of-town shopping centres have all taken their toll.

Many towns are trying to find a new role. However they have significant assets that can lead any renaissance. There are significant opportunities for new business development, and an opportunity to become an outlet for local produce for their area. They could offer affordable and key-worker housing. Many are historic towns with an additional asset, with a display of a wide variety of different traditional vernacular architecture offering considerable potential for tourism www.seeda.co.uk

Commission for Rural Communities, England UK

The Commission was established in April 2005 and became an independent body on 1 October 2006. Our role is to provide well-informed, independent advice to government and ensure that policies reflect the real needs of people living and working in rural England, with a particular focus on tackling disadvantage.

We have three key functions:

Rural advocate: the voice for rural people, businesses and communities

Expert adviser: giving evidence-based, objective advice to government and others

Independent watchdog: monitoring and reporting on the delivery of policies nationally, regionally and locally

Our Purpose

Our Aspiration:

England’s rural communities should be diverse, thriving and sustainable, where everyone is able to play a full part in society and where no-one is disadvantaged. We will speak up for rural people and communities, especially those experiencing disadvantage, and ensure that policies take full account of rural needs and circumstances, holding government and others to account for their delivery. We want the Commission for Rural Communities to be widely recognized and accepted as:

    * an effective national voice and advocate for rural communities
    * a source of authoritative and expert advice on rural issues and concerns
    * a respected and fair rural watchdog 

We'll achieve this by:

    * listening to rural communities and their representatives
    * establishing the facts and strengthening the rural evidence base
    * engaging Ministers across Government
    * influencing policies and decisions
    * challenging government and others at all levels to bring about real improvements
    * monitoring delivery and identifying and promoting good practice 

We'll do this by:

    * working closely with a wide range of people and organisations 
      locally, regionally, nationally and internationally
    * forming new partnerships and drawing on new areas of expertise
    * investing in and developing our staff
    * working innovatively and creatively, making full use of new technology and the experience of others
    * communicating openly and clearly 

http://www.ruralcommunities.gov.uk

Yorkshire Forward, England, UK

Yorkshire Forward was set up by Government to promote sustainable economic development throughout the Yorkshire and Humber region. One of England's nine Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) we are a business led organisation that aims to help improve the region’s relative economic performance and reduce social and economic disparities. A regional approach to economic development allows local businesses and communities to formulate solutions that are appropriate for the particular circumstances and strengths of this region. Yorkshire Forward supports the expansion and development of business in our region by encouraging public and private investment, and by connecting people to economic opportunity. We also work to improve levels of education, learning and skills, and do all that we can to enhance the region's environment and infrastructure.

http://www.yorkshire-forward.com/www/index.asp

Renaissance Market Towns Programme The Renaissance Market Towns Programme (RMT) grew out of the lessons gained during the Market Towns Initiative and the experiences of the Urban Renaissance Programme. There was a clear need to move from a funding led to a strategy led approach as well as a desire to bring about a step change in aspirational thinking in market towns.

Launched in July 2002, RMT is a pioneering 10-year plan to support sustainable rural towns in Yorkshire and Humber. As one of Yorkshire Forward’s flagship projects, RMT aims to ensure that the regions ‘rural capitals’ are places where people want and are able to live, work, invest and visit.

The objective of RMT is to generate sustainable development through a fully operational and sustainable “Town Team” whose role it is to drive the RMT process forward. Each team is comprised, primarily of local people with an interest in creating and delivering a vision for the renaissance of their town over the next 25 years. During the first year of the programme the teams develop an ambitious yet achievable town vision or charter that is translated into action plans for implementation. These plans incorporate a portfolio of prioritised projects with defined delivery mechanisms.

The first round of Renaissance Market Towns, launched in 2003, has successfully completed their town charters and are beginning to see projects take shape on the ground, whilst the second round of towns, from 2004, has completed their Master Plans and are working with their Lead Consultants to produce a Business Plan to take their visions forward.

Yorkshire Forward is continuing to work with these towns and is developing a Partnership Skills Programme to support the Town Teams in the early stages of RMT project delivery. The Partnership Skills programme will also build capacity and confidence within the teams enabling them to become self sufficient in delivering their visions. Future towns will be selected based upon a clear and transparent framework created from information produced for the Regional Settlement Strategy overlaid with additional lifestyle data. This framework will be discussed with Local Authorities and Key Partners across the region to develop a prioritised list of towns.

For more detailed information on the Renaissance Market Towns Programme and the towns already involved please visit www.rmtportal.com

MONTE, ACE, is a partner of ASSET and member of the Organising Group, offering to provide activity IN KIND.

Monte-Desenvolvimento Alentejo Central, Portugal, is a non-governmental organisation for development, founded in 1996, in Arraiolos village. It is a non-profit private entity with four local development associations as partners, which represent 679 entities, 16% of which are collective entities and the rest are single persons.

Its creation is the result of a bid for a development project for Central Alentejo region, from four local development associations: ALIENDE – Associação para o Desenvolvimento Local; A.D.I.M.- Associação de Defesa dos Interesses de Monsaraz; A.D.M.C. – Associação de Desenvolvimento Montes Claros and TRILHO – Associação para o Desenvolvimento Rural.

http://www.monte-ace.pt

Annex C

Quotations that support and enhance ECOVAST’s views.

(i) from the resolution of the NORTHERN PERIPHERY PROGRAMME Small Towns Network Conference 4-5 September 2006 in Jyväskylä, Finland. http://www.smalltownnetworks.com/library.asp

‘Small towns are home to one-fifth (***) of Europe’s population and many of its most creative businesses/service-providers as well as being a rich repository of our collective heritage and local history’.

‘ In some areas, small towns have been absorbed by the city or overwhelmed by modern development, environmental dilapidation and have suffered from prolonged under-investment.’

‘There is a serious policy gap at European and local levels. The confidence and wellbeing of small towns are being undermined by exclusion from Europe’s existing cities’ and rural development programmes. This is short-sighted and ultimately dysfunctional for communities of all kinds. In the long run, the performance of Europe’s city-regions and deep rural areas alike is highly dependent on sustaining the constellation of small towns and the villages in their hinterlands, which underpin and anchor these regions.’

‘Maintaining territorial cohesion via balanced regional development and creating opportunities for all of Europe’s people are fundamental principles of the Union. Better ways of supporting small towns (throughout Europe) must be urgently identified’.

(***) Small towns could represent HALF .

ESPON 1.4.1 The Role of Small and Medium-Sized Towns (SMESTO) Final Report June 2006

ANNEX D INTERREG

INTERREG IVC

As a working hypothesis ASSET is considering the following as a synopsis of the scope of the aims of a bid:

Small towns have demand for energy and potential in their hinterland for production of renewable energy (e.g. Güssing ).

The character of the landscape, its biodiversity and built heritage are key cultural elements in tourism and economic activity.

Adverse changes resulting from energy production (crops, timber, wind turbines, hydro, waste conversion, hydroelectricity brown coal and other mining ) need to be addressed.

The competition for agricultural and forestry land posed by renewable energy and threats to locally sourced food and timber processes also requires to be examined in terms of local and regional self sufficiency – local markets for local products, to avoid excessive transportation energy and costs in the context of climate change.

These are sustainability considerations.

The involvement of local citizens is essential to policy formulation and the implementation process. Small towns and rural areas cannot be viewed in isolation from each other and from the dominant larger urban areas in spatial policy terms.

Support from regional agencies to small towns and rural areas is needed to enable the municipalities and civic society to engage in a vision for the future of energy autonomy and economic self-sufficiency.

Small towns are ideal venues to carry out new projects and experiences in renewable energies because they have a critical density of an urban area, within a rural setting that offers potential for sources of renewable energy to be harvested using traditional techniques from the landscape in close vicinity.

The ability of small rural towns to achieve and sustain competitiveness in economic terms may rely on retaining the entrepreneurial spirit of younger people. For that, key issues are rewarding jobs, affordable homes, social and retail facilities and transport choices within the local area of each town.

Policies and action aimed at restructuring small towns will be examined, with the aim of positioning them as the backbone of rural regions through enhancing the attractiveness of the rural territory in support of socio-economic development and through sustainable tourism by protecting cultural heritage and landscape.

END