Rural area in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire could prove to be a key battleground in the forthcoming General Election – and the CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, is offering people the chance to hear exactly what the main parties will do for the rural economy if they win in May.

Questions from the Countryside is an event being organised by the CLA at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, on Thursday March 26 when five of the area’s leading parliamentary candidates will set out their case and answer questions on issues affecting the rural economy.

It will be chaired by the CLA’s National President, Henry Robinson, who is a Gloucestershire landowner and farmer, and who will present the candidates with the CLA’s views on the future for rural areas set out in its manifesto titled: Unlocking the Countryside’s Potential.”

It’s a chance, says CLA South West Director, John Mortimer, for people to find out where the different parties stand on key questions relating to such things as animal and plant disease, broadband, flood management, planning and housing, renewable energy production and food and farming.

“This is an opportunity for everybody with an interest in rural issues to question the people putting themselves forward for election.

“We have had acceptances from Neil Carmichael MP the Conservative MP for Stroud; from James Greenwood, who is standing for the Green Party in the Forest of Dean; Paul Hodgkinson from the Liberal Democrats and Chris Harlow from UKIP who will both be contesting the Cotswold seat and from Andy Newman who will be fighting the Chippenham Constituency for Labour – so it promises to be a lively and robust exchange,” said Mr Mortimer.

The event, which will be held at the Boutflour Hall at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, on Thursday 26 March from 6pm to 8pm is free of charge and open to anyone with an interest in rural issues and the CLA hopes it will bring together a wide range of rural interests to question the candidates on their Party’s plans and priorities are on key rural issues.

“There are some big issues facing the next government and there are question marks hanging over how seriously the different parties see rural businesses and their contribution to the economy. We want to hear how they plan to face up to the challenge of delivering a genuinely living and working countryside,” he said.

The CLA “Questions from the Countryside” is free of charge and open to all and is supported by the Royal Agricultural University and Strutt and Parker.