Monthly Archives: January 2016

Border Country


Rory Stewart MP was delighted to visit BSW Timber’s Carlisle sawmill recently, to see the work of one of the constituency’s largest employers and to find out about its incredible rate of recent growth, praising the ‘huge potential for the timber industry in Cumbria, for Cumbrians.’

The local MP met with with Hamish Macleod, Director of Public Affairs, Tony Hackney, CEO, and George McRobbie, Managing Director, to find out about the business group’s latest developments.​ ​During the meeting Rory and the group discussed issues around sustainability, planting and restocking, and flood mitigation. They also talked about BSW’s ‘Roots to Prosperity’ initiative, and the important role of Rory’s constituency Forestry and Woodlands think-tank. Rory learnt about BSW Timber’s production of over 30% of the UK’s softwood from seven locations across England, Scotland and Wales, in which it employs over 1,000 people. The annual output of the Carlisle site alone is around 50,000 cubic metres which is used for fencing, landscaping products, green-carcassing, pallets and packaging.

Rory Stewart MP said: “I was delighted to meet with BSW and discuss their plans for a sustainable future.​ I can also see huge potential for this industry in Cumbria. It is vital that we do not underestimate the many benefits that commercial forestry can deliver to our communities and economy.​ The role of the timber industry is, I think, widely misunderstood, and I am pleased that in our constituency think-tank we provide an important platform for the sector to be able to discuss forestry policy together with a broad spectrum of stakeholders from the third and government sectors also.Companies like the BSW Group are integral to both our local and our national economy, and I was pleased to get such a great first-hand account of how the sawmill operates, and to see the wonderful work it does.”



Rory Stewart MP called in at the Lloyd Volvo showroom in Carlisle last week to show his support for the Beijing Biddies as they collected the vehicles which they will use for their Arctic Challenge.

The group of five women will be driving from Carlisle to the Artic Circle in February to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support. The 2,700 mile drive will see Edwina Sorkin of Newbiggin-on-Lune, Helen Stobart and Liz Tinkler from Penrith, Kerrie Ellison from Kendal and Kate Sleath from Wetherby, travel across Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway in this non-stop challenge.

Following the event Rory said: “This will be both a very exciting and very challenging adventure for these five brave ladies. I am very proud of what they are trying to achieve for a very good cause and wish them the best of luck.”IMG_1916



pr5Rory Stewart MP visited the village of Warcop on Friday to look at the damage caused by the recent floods. Residents gathered to meet Rory as he walked through the village, looking at the river and its banks and discussing how to protect the village better in the future. The visit was one of the first stages of the new Cumbria Floods partnership, chaired by Rory Stewart. The Floods Partnership will be conducting visits to communities across the county, on a daily basis, to listen to residents, take on board community ideas on better flood protection, and provide advice and support. There are currently 19 sessions planned in different communities over the next 15 days, in which the Environment Agency and Local Council staff will be available to meet residents.

Following the first round of community meetings, the new Cumbrian Floods Partnership group, chaired by Rory, will then consider what improvements to flood defences in the region are needed. A designated officer will be appointed for each major catchment as the key community link. They will develop plans all the way from upstream options for slowing key rivers to reduce the intensity of water flows at peak times, to “hard” defences around towns.

Rory has also taken on the role of the Prime-Minister’s Floods Envoy for Cumbria and Lancashire, coordinating the national component of the flood recovery operation, in support of Cumbria County Council. This work will be supplemented by a National Flood Resilience Review to better protect the country from future flooding increasingly extreme weather. In light of the Cumbria events, a new cross-Government team will look afresh at how risk is calculated. This will see the Government updating ‘worst case scenario’ planning, considering the future impacts of climate change and carrying out a risk assessment of critical infrastructure, like electricity substations. The review, also to be published next summer, will be led by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Letwin and include the Government’s Chief Scientist, Defra, DECC, DCLG, HMT and the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency.

Speaking after the visit Rory said: “It was fantastic to visit Warcop and meet with residents to hear about their experiences and see first-hand the damage caused by Storm Desmond. I would like to see communities such as Warcop empowered to make their own decisions about flood defences in the future, and I have asked the Environment Agency to attend the next Parish Council meeting to discuss a community plan.”



Rory Stewart MP visited Culgaith Primary school on Friday and took part in the school assembly, where he presented five year old Tom Taylor – the winner of his annual Christmas card competition – with book vouchers for Penrith’s Rheged Centre.

Culgaith, which has been a first school since the mid 1970’s, currently has 61 pupils and three classes, but Head Teacher Lynn Harrison explained that the children are taught in flexible groups according to their needs or the learning activity. During his visit, Rory also had a tour of the school and its grounds and took part in class three’s ‘Fizz Buzz’ maths game, led by Mr Dodd.

After his visit Rory said: “The staff and students I met in Culgaith were fantastic, and the school has a wonderful atmosphere. There are some great facilities, and the natural outdoor area seems to be particularly engaging. Being outside in nature benefits children both physically and mentally, so it is highly important that outdoor play is encouraged.” He added: “It is wonderful to see such articulate, confident children who are a credit to their enthusiastic and dedicated teachers and the nurturing environment which they create.”pr4



Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border, on Saturday led hundreds of locals through Lazonby in a march through the village to show their support for the retention of the part-time Lazonby Fire Station, which is under threat of closure by Cumbria County Council.

The MP has since the beginning of the campaign several weeks ago strongly supported the community’s efforts, which lobbying to keep the station – which has a crew of eleven retained firefighters – open. The group marched from Lazonby Auction Mart past the Midland Hotel and up to the station on Saturday, where both Rory Stewart and local firefighter and Lazonby resident Gail Eastham spoke to the assembled crowd.

Rory said: “I would like in particular to pay tribute to the role that Lazonby’s retained firefighters played during the floods, which is a very very good example of why services like these are the most efficient and the most effective way of delivering support in an emergency. How they supported Greystoke Road in Carlisle, and other areas, is a classic example of why this service is needed, and I encourage everyone to put their views forward to Cumbria County Council about how they should be spending their budget. Above all, my heartfelt thanks go to the firefighters themselves for the amazing work they do.”




pr2R​ory Stewart MP, the Chair of the Cumbria Floods Partnership has laid out, with the Environment Agency, a calendar of community flood discussions across the County, and is encouraging Cumbrians to drop in. ‎These sessions will help feed-in to the longer term work on improving flood planning across the County.

Rory said: “We have to learn from local communities. These drop-in sessions are an important opportunity for local people to inform flood risk management in their community by providing information on their experiences. It is so important for us to be able to learn from local communities, and to build their experiences into the planning for future resilience and prevention, and so I encourage anyone with an interest to attend.”

Dan Bond, Environment Agency Manager, said: “You can’t underestimate the devastating impacts of flooding to people’s lives and the key to recovering quickly, and increasing our flood resilience in the long term, is to listen to the people who experienced it first hand and learn from their experiences.​ ​We’ve been visiting affected communities since the flooding began in early December, and these drop-in sessions are the start of a more coordinated approach to involving local people in the development of local flood risk management plans.”

Anyone affected by ​ the recent​ ​flooding ​ ​is encouraged​ ​to come along and ​ ​meet with Environment Agency officials.

Technical experts from the Environment Agency and County Council will be​ ​available to chat to, with support from a number of agencies that can provide advice and support.

The first drop-in sessions, detailed below, will be held in a mobile trailer with further meetings to be​ ​scheduled soon to coincide with parish council meetings, dates to be confirmed:

Appleby: Moot Hall car park, 11am – 6:30pm on Wednesday 13 January 2016.
Carlisle Warwick Road: Brunton Park car park, 11am – 7pmon Thursday 14 January 2016.
Carlisle Caldewgate: Sainsburys car park, 11am to 7pm on Friday 15 January 2016.
Rickerby village: 11am – 1pm on Saturday 16 January 2016.
Low Crosby: The Garth, 11am to 2pm on 19 January 2016.
Warwick Bridge: Downagate community centre car park, 3pm to 5pm on 19 January 2016.
Kendal: Gooseholme, 11am to 7pm on 20 January 2016.
Kendal: Market Place, 11am to 7pm on 21 January 2016.
Burneside: outside convenience store, 11am to 2pm on 22 January 2016.
Keswick: Greta Gardens, Keswick Recovery Centre, 4pm to 7:30pm on 22 January 2016.
Eamont Bridge: village hall, 11am to 2pm on 23 January 2016.
Ambleside: location TBC, 10am to 1pm on 26 January 2016.
Grasmere: location TBC, 2pm to 6pm on 26 January 2016.
Braithwaite: location TBC, 10am to 1pm on 27 January 2016.
Cockermouth: town centre 11am to 2pm and Gote Rd 3pm to 6pm on 28 January 2016.
Pooley Bridge: location TBC, 10am to 1pm on 29 January 2016.
Howtown – Glenridding: location TBC, 2pm to 5pm on 29 January 2016.
Patterdale & Hartsop: location & time TBC, 30 January 2016.
Flimby & Maryport: location TBC, 11am to 3pm on 30 January 2016.

For more information on the flood risks, members of the public can call the Floodline number on 0345 988 1188.



Rory Stewart MP joined staff, supporters and beneficiaries on Friday at the 30th Anniversary celebrations of Eden Mencap Society (EMS), celebrating the important local service that began in 1986. The birthday party took place at their premises in Duke Street, Penrith, which has provided the local charity with vital extra space to support its users since moving there in January 2015.

​Rory Stewart MP said: “It is wonderful to celebrate another birthday with EMS, having celebrated them on their 25th Anniversary five years ago. They should be rightly proud of their local knowledge and passion, which enables them to best serve their members, and tailor their support in only a way that small, local charities can do. Jacqui and her staff, as I have said many times before, are clearly incredibly dedicated, placing every emphasis on the people they support. It is always a real pleasure to visit them, and to see such a well-run charity in action.”

Jacqui Taylor, Chief Officer of EMS, said: “We have come a long way since those early days of providing support to a few children with learning disabilities. The range of services we provide today, our standard of operations and the number of staff we have, has expanded along with the quantity of people we support. It is good to know that our passion and commitment has allowed us to overcome a range of challenges over the years. While we are proud of our historical achievements we are looking forward to improving on them in the future.Our focus since moving in was on raising the funds to upgrade the facilities to meet the more specialist needs of some of our clients. However, it became evident that unless we owned the property or had a much longer lease on the building, applying for grants was harder and in some cases impossible.”

This has led E​MS​ Board of Trustees to announce that to celebrate the Society’s 30th Anniversary a campaign to ‘Help Us Buy Our Home’ is to be launched. The goal is to plan activities to mark the anniversary on the 30th of each month, or in the case of February, on the 29th.

Jennie Sutton, Chair of the Board of Trustees, enthused​:​ “This is a very special year for us and we hope that our plans inspire the local community and groups to support our worthy campaign. If we can achieve our goal, it will put us in a stronger position to obtain the additional funding we need to transfer Ul​l​swater House into a modern facility. This will ensure that the Society will be able to continue to provide excellent support for many more years to come.”PR1



Rory, in his capacity as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, appeared alongside Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change, Tom Bastin, Head of the European Union and International Energy Efficiency Team, and Robert Hitchen, Head of the Environment Team, European Union Strategy, before the Environmental Audit Committee on 20 January 2016 to give an assessment of EU and UK Environmental Policy.