The East of England Rural Forum (EERF)

About the East Of England Rural Forum

I am absolutely delighted to have been elected Chair of the EERF and I am looking forward to ensuring that the views of the wide range of organizations represented on the Forum will be heard both regionally and at national level.

We are currently entering a period of both political and economic uncertainty and it is more important than ever to keep rural issues on the agenda. I am determined that the EERF is seen as an informed and relevant organization playing a considerable part not just in highlighting key issues pertinent to the region but also in providing solutions through shared best practice to inform and influence key stakeholders and act as the rural regional voice.

Pat Holtom is the EERF Chair

I would like to see a continuation of the Position Papers drawing on the expertise of the Forum’s membership and sub groups as I believe they have played a considerable part in highlighting key issues pertinent to the region to a wide range of organizations and potential policy makers.

Our Rural White Paper will be launched later this year and I will ensure that this document is widely distributed and used to influence strategic decision making at both regional and national level. The quarterly meeting with the Minister (DEFRA) provides a tremendous opportunity to present to him/her the issues identified in this Paper. I hope that the membership of the Forum will take ownership of this document and through their relevant organizations see that the actions are carried out.

One of my main interests is in the economic development of rural areas (and this includes the agricultural sector) – job creation, skills training, business advice, transport, market towns etc. with all the implications of planning, regulation, access to key services etc. But I am also aware of the social and environmental issues, the ageing population, childcare, housing, health, education, the environment, all of which go to make the region’s identity and contribute such an important part to its development. The challenge is to see the integration of the economic with the social and environmental and provide a coherent discourse on the best way forward. It is this combination of rural communities and rural businesses which contribute to a strong, vibrant economy within the region. I believe that within the Forum’s membership lies the key to unlocking some of these issues, and through informed debate and a programme of relevant topics, the Forum can provide a voice for rural stakeholders and be a respected partner capable of influencing the rural agenda in the East of England. I look forward to your support, but more importantly to your active input into the Forum and its development.


The East of England Rural Affairs Forum (EERAF) was originally set up in 2002 to carry out the role of 'rural sounding board' as set out in the 2000 Rural White Paper.

The Rural Strategy, published in 2004, included a description of a range of new functions for Regional Rural Forums. In response, Government Office for the East of England facilitated a review of the EERAF, in partnership with other regional organisations and members of the EERAF itself. The East of England Rural Forum (EERF) is the result of that review. This also links and compliments Go-East's own Rural Policy.

The Forum consists of representatives from a range of constituencies in the region that are intended to reflect regional thematic and geographic balances across the three pillars of sustainable development - environment, economy and community.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Rural proofing of key national and regional strategies.
  • Contribution to the development and review of regional delivery priorities.
  • Monitoring, scrutinising and review rural delivery.
  • The Rural Forum will act as the rural voice of the region.
  • The Forum provides a link between rural stakeholders and the East of England Regional Assembly, Government Office for the East of England and the East of England Development Agency.
  • Linking in with County Rural Forums.