Maskell suggests countryside may hold the key to improving nation’s health

York Central MP Rachael Maskell

York Central MP Rachael Maskell

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SHADOW ENVIRONMENT Secretary Rachael Maskell has suggested rural areas could be used to improve health standards.

The York Central MP argued “social prescribing” could be used to give people access to the countryside.

The idea raises the prospect of GPs being able to prescribe patients a spell in the countryside to help improve their fitness or to recover from ill-health.

She told the conference: “Labour’s ambition to revive urban communities starts by reconnecting urban to rural Britain.

“Not only do we want to see city farms, environment centres and schemes like Edible York in my constituency where communities grow veg on street corners together, but ensure everyone can access the countryside.

“That’s why Labour Governments created our National Parks and the ‘right to roam’.

“With Labour, schools will take children out to get to know the wonders of rural life and through social prescribing, we’ll use the environment to help improve people’s health.”

Ms Maskell accused the Government of failing to give the countryside clarity over the implications of Britain’s departure from the European Union,

She said ministers had “no understanding of the capacity needed to re-negotiate hundreds of regulations protecting our food safety and wider environment, and has no plan for the future of the sector which employs three point nine million people and where 75 per cent of our food exports go to the EU.”

Ms Maskell, whose constituency was amo ng those hit by flooding last winter, promised Labour would take a “whole river catchment” approach to planning flood defences and confront climate change.

She also pledged Labour would make it a statutory duty for fire services to deal with flooding.

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