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The Country Land & Business Association (CLA) has welcomed government recognition that rural areas risk being left behind in the UK.

Writing earlier this week, Secretary of State Caroline Spelman suggested that in many cases, the countryside has been abandoned by the government.

She said rural communities and businesses have been "left on their own to try to find solutions to the problems they face".

So while businesses and households in the towns and cities are gaining access to ultra-fast broadband, some remote communities are stuck with dial-up connections.

CLA President Harry Cotterell said it was heartening for a government minister to finally acknowledge the depth of inequality between urban and rural areas.

"The measures to help the rural economy, announced by the Chancellor in November, were a good start but still more needs to be done to ensure fairness for rural communities and businesses," he stated.

He called for a commitment to provide fast broadband for all and affordable housing for rural workers, while also scrapping empty property business rates.

The government has committed £530 million to improving rural broadband connections, however critics believe this figure is inadequate to deliver universal high-speed internet coverage.

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