prime minister visits eden valley’s big society vanguard
Rory was “honoured and delighted” to welcome Prime Minister David Cameron to the Eden village of Crosby Ravensworth yesterday, in a visit that saw the Prime Minister meet and chat with members of the Big Society vanguard project over a ploughman’s lunch provided by the Crosby Ravensworth Food Alliance at the newly refurbished community-owned pub, the Butcher‘s Arms.
The Prime Minister sat down to lunch with pub landlord Keith Taylor, Lyvennet Community Pub board members David Graham, Joan Raine, Cameron and Kitty Smith, and Steve Holroyd, and Tom Woof and Libby Bateman of the Upper Eden Community Plan to hear about the successes of the Big Society vanguard projects. He learned at first hand from Cameron Smith how the Lyvennet Community Pub Ltd had successfully raised almost £300,000 for the community purchase and refurbishment of the pub; from David Graham about Lyvennet Community Trust’s local affordable housing scheme, whose foundation stone has just been laid; Libby Bateman, who was also representing East Cumbria Community Broadband Forum, updated him on the advances in community rural broadband projects; and Tom Woof, leading on Upper Eden’s Neighbourhood Development Plan, explained how the group is helping to shape government planning policy and is one of the country’s most advanced and innovative neighbourhood planning pilots.
The Prime Minister declared himself “enormously impressed” at the successes of the vanguard, and celebrated the successful pub buy-out by formally opening the bar, and being the first to sign the visitor’s book. He personally thanked members of the Crosby Ravensworth Food Alliance for their contribution, and chatted with them about the sustainability of local food production.
Rory said: “It was an enormous honour to welcome the Prime Minister to Crosby Ravensworth and to introduce him to some of the key local community members, who have made such incredible progress in the Big Society vanguard right here in the Eden Valley. The Prime Minister was obviously impressed by what he saw and heard. It’s wonderful to have had the opportunity to show him the tangible results of strong community action, and what it can achieve. He has seen how Cumbria and its rural communities are the true model of volunteerism, and how community aspirations can succeed against the odds. I hope this will be the beginning of a close relationship between the Prime Minister and Cumbria.”
The Prime Minister and Rory went on to visit the residential National Citizen Service pilot at Howtown Outward Bound centre at Ullswater before attending a reception in the evening at the Shepherd’s Inn and Auctioneer at Carlisle.