Letter: Help for the hungry

Sir: "Food deserts" are not confined to inner cities; the plight of the rural poor is just as wretched.

The low-paid in rural areas are finding themselves marginalised in their communities - increasingly populated by wealthier residents - and cut off from employment and vital services. As more mobile residents drive to supermarkets and other services away from villages and rural towns, high-street shops face closure. For those without a car - and in some locations this can be as many as one in five - the opportunities for employment, social interaction, even shopping for basic needs are severely limited.

The role of land use and transportation planning, as well as the aims of the community services in rural areas, must be reassessed to avoid further social exclusion for the rural poor. The promotion of affordable housing for traditional rural inhabitants, public transport networks and employment opportunities must be priorities for the Government's new Countryside Agency.

JULIAN SAYERS

Chairman, Countryside policy Panel

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

London SW1

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