rory hosts ministerial visit to penrith and the border
Rory welcomed to Cumbria Secretary of State The Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP and Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Jim Paice MP on Thursday March 10th in a day-long visit to Penrith and the Border. Rory took Caroline Spelman and Jim Paice first to uplands hill farm Gaythorn Hall near Orton, where tenant farm-manager Stephen Lord welcomed the Ministers to breakfast in his farmhouse and discussed a range of issues affecting uplands farmers and farming communities.
Rory then guided the Ministers on a morning tour of the Big Society vanguard, taking them to Crosby Ravensworth to meet parishioners involved in the affordable housing scheme and the community buy-out of the Butcher’s Arms pub; to Great Asby to meet with residents using the community-run Great Asby Broadband service; and to the Eden River at Bongate in Appleby, where they met with members of the Heart of Eden community plan, Appleby Town Council and representatives of the Environment Agency and Natural England to discuss the study being undertaken into the feasibility of a new micro-hydro project that will use pioneering SMEC technology.
The tour ended with a visit to Newton Rigg, where the Secretary of State chose to introduce a national statement on the uplands, announcing a £26m package of support to help enable rural uplands communities to thrive. The Secretary of State declared the visit one of the most enjoyable and informative since taking office. Rory said: “It‘s been a huge honour to show Caroline Spelman and Jim Paice around the constituency; they have seen at first hand how incredibly proactive and resourceful our communities are, and have been visibly impressed at the major achievements that we can boast of – from affordable housing initiatives to community-run broadband projects. They felt honoured to visit Newton Rigg and see our excellent land-based facilities for themselves. And I am of course delighted to hear of a funding commitment of £20m to rural broadband. I‘ll continue to work hard to ensure that this is just the beginning of a much better and more consistent level of Government support for the uplands, one that recognises our unique heritage and potential.”
Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, Jim Paice, then took part in two meetings chaired by Rory Stewart at Penrith Auction Mart’s Hired Lad, speaking first to uplands farmers and then to a group of dairy farmers from across the constituency. He commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Penrith and the Border, which was a real inspiration in terms of rural communities doing it for themselves. I was enormously impressed by Rory Stewart’s energy and the great achievements he has made in such a short time. He seems to be making a real impact on constituents’ lives. Rural communities need MPs like him, who can get the best deal for farmers and farming, and understand the inherent challenges of land-based living. The lessons being learnt in the Big Society vanguard will be of huge benefit to other rural communities across Britain.”