The decline of services in the Dromore area reflects the findings of a report by English MPs concluding that rural communities get a raw deal.
That’s according to Dromore Partnership chairman and Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who said there was no doubt the recent report raised a lot of issues relevant to rural communities locally.
“The report raises some issues Stormont would do well to take note of,” he said.
Produced by MPs on Westminster’s Rural Affairs Comittee, the report on England’s countryside areas concludes that Government policy too often fails to take account of the challenges in providing services for people in rural communities.
It prompted England’s biggest rural partnership, The Rural Services Network, to call for government action.
Mr. Donaldson, meanwhile, said it was clear that UK government was moving towards the centralisation of services.
“In recent years even towns the size of Dromore have seen many local services removed,” he said, “including, in this case, one of the two local banks and the police station, while a question-mark hangs over other services, such as care for the elderly.
“In the rural hinterland, issues such as the availability of broadband affect not only households but local businesses.” Mr. Donaldson said the closure of rural schools and Post Offices was another area of concern.
“I recently met with the Federation of Sub-Postmasters,” he added, “and they are concerned that plans for privatisation and rationalisation will result on further closures.
“When you remove the schools, the Post Offices and so on from rural areas it very often makes it more difficult to attract inward investment to those areas.
“It’s evident that government across the UK is moving towards centralisation of services, because of perceived efficiencies, but there needs to be a close examination of the impact centralisation in urban areas has on rural communities and their long-term sustainability.”