SOCIETY: Curse of townies destroys rural life

Successful townies who move house to the country were yesterday accused by a government adviser of destroying the village life they aspire to. Richard Wakeford, chief executive of the Countryside Commission, said incomers were more likely to wave at each other from their luxury cars than gossip outside the village shop.

"People are spending money in superstores while bemoaning the loss of traditional greengrocers and butchers' shops. They then criticise the loss of rural bus services that they have never used," Mr Wakeford said in a speech to the Royal Town Planning Institute.

The inability to throw off urban lifestyles was turning thriving villages into virtual dormitories for the big towns and cities, he said. The Government estimates 4.4 million new homes need to be built over the next 20 years. Almost half could be in the country, but with their easy mobility the new green-wellie brigade may not even save the village pub.