Monthly Archives: March 2012

Rory optimistic about recycling sites win


Rory has said that he is “optimistic” that the three recycling sites in Penrith and the Border that are potentially affected by Cumbria County Council’s consultation into their future will remain open, albeit he expects with reduced opening hours.  He  has held numerous meetings with community representatives from Wigton, Brampton and Kirkby Stephen, to discuss the impact on their communities that any closures would have. He has pressed the County Council hard to keep the sites open, most recently through two meetings, which he convened in Carlisle, with representatives from Wigton, Brampton and Kirkby Stephen, to  communicate to their views to Councillor Lawrence Fisher of the Scrutiny Task and Finish Group (set up to look at the recycling centres).
Rory says that he is now 99 per cent confident that it will be possible to keep all the sites open, commenting: “The community demonstrations have had a real impact. The recent meetings I have held with
representatives of the affected sites in Penrith and the Border, have  allowed communities to analyse the budgets and make detailed proposals. I think we have convinced the County Council to keep these sites open. The
fall-back option would have been for communities to run the site themselves, either in partnership with local private organisations, or  through existing democratic bodies such as parish and town councils. However, I am now very optimistic that the sites will remain open, operating as they are now but with reduced hours. This would of course be enormously welcome to the many, many residents of those communities who have given up many valuable hours to meet with me and with others in their campaign to ensure our recycling sites do not close. I am extremely pleased to be able to report that our meetings have had such a positive outcome.”


Rory Champions Lead Health Status for Cumbria at NFU Conference


Rory pressed for a radical change in approach to animal health, including annual testing for bovine TB, and a new Cumbrian pilot in an address at the NFU Conference  in Birmingham on 22 February.
The comments were made during a discussion on the future of farming, talking alongside parliamentary colleagues Jamie Reed MP and Tim Farron MP. The discussion included the challenges facing young entrants to the industry, the importance of developing training opportunities and better mobile and broadband infrastructure to underpin sector growth. Rory Stewart focused particularly on gaining lead-health status for Cumbria.
The local MP, who represents the top-ranking English constituency in terms of its upland coverage, size, sparsity, and its milk-field, spoke passionately on the future of Cumbrian farming and the importance of securing Cumbrian breeding stock and building customer confidence in Cumbria’s agri-exports. He proposed a raft of measures to bolster the county’s health status, including immediately establishing a base level of health through testing of all Cumbrian herds for bovine TB, BVD (bovine viral diarrhoea) and Johne’s Disease, and a longer-term plan to introduce pre-and post-movement testing for all cattle movements into Cumbria and better dissemination of test and movement data at auction marts via a real-time online stock database.
Rory said: “The long-term future of farming will rely on bold reforms in animal health and exports. We must secure the future of our breeding stock not only for the peace of mind of Cumbria’s farmers, but also to strengthen the potential for agri-exports abroad. I will be pushing very hard for Cumbria to achieve lead-health status as soon as possible, by adopting more rigorous measures in terms of both testing, and selling.
“Our aim is to make Cumbria entirely bovine TB-free. This is a great time to be doing it – Secretary of State Caroline Spelman and Minister for Agriculture Jim Paice understand the industry very well and are very open to new ideas from farmers.  Their sympathy for farmers is clear in all their recent reforms, from reducing regulations to introducing the grocery adjudicator.
“MPs can support in many ways. I have been pressing for better mobile coverage and superfast broadband to Cumbria’s farming communities, to ensure that businesses can grow. We are making real progress in relaxing planning laws so that younger farmers are able to adapt farm buildings for affordable housing. We need to do more work on rural apprenticeships, recognising the fact that young farmers require a number of skills. And I would like us to put far more emphasis on agricultural exports – particularly to the Middle East and China. But at the heart of this must be a healthy herd – ensuring we are never devastated, in the way so many parts of the country have been, by endemic bovine TB. Cumbrian farmers should take the national lead on annual testing, and I will be calling on the government to support a pilot.”



Rory congratulates local Rampsbeck Hotel on prestigious TripAdvisor Award

Rory has congratulated Watermillock’s Rampsbeck Hotel on winning the prestigious TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award.
The prize, awarded by millions of real travellers, puts the Rampsbeck Hotel among a small group of hotels worldwide recognised for consistent excellence. Fewer than four thousand hotels worldwide have received a Traveller’s Choice Award this year.
Rory said: “I’m delighted that the Rampsbeck Hotel has won this award; tourism is so incredibly important for Cumbria, and it’s great news that our local hotel has been recognised in this way – with a global award – hopefully helping to attract more new visitors into the area. This is a great reflection of the general quality of hospitality on offer in Penrith and the Border, of which I am very proud. I would like to congratulate all the staff at the Rampsbeck on their fantastic achievement and wish them every success in the future.”


Rory quizzed at Cumbrian Young People’s Question Time

Rory Stewart joined fellow Cumbrian Members of Parliament John Stevenson (Carlisle) and John Woodcock (Barrow in Furness) for a Young People’s Question Time at Rheged on Saturday 25th February, in a panel question-and-answer event organised by Young Cumbria that will be followed by young people’s surgeries.
The three Cumbrian MPs were  joined by Cumbria County Councillor Anne Burns (Children’s Social Care Cabinet Member), Director of Children’s Services at Cumbria County Council Julia Morrison, Kendal Councillor Clare Feeney-Johnson, and newly-appointed interim Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary Stuart Hyde. This year’s event – which will this year be hosted by Cumbria Woman of the Year and BBC Radio Cumbria presenter Val Armstrong follows the success of last year’s.
Rory commented: “I’m really excited to be taking part in a Young People’s Question Time again, which was a real success last year. We were asked some extremely pertinent, sometimes challenging, questions, and I was extremely
 impressed at the level of engagement and political interest displayed by those who took part. I’m particularly pleased to know that we will be holding informal surgeries after the debate, giving young people the chance  to talk to us on particular issues that concern them, and I am sure that it will be an incredibly rewarding session.” or call 017687 75085.


Rory welcomes sporting legacy boost for Kirkby Stephen Grammar School


Rory has welcomed news that Kirkby Stephen Grammar School has secured £120,000 of Olympic legacy funding
from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities Fund, part of the £135 million Places People Play legacy programme that is bringing the magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities across the country. Every sports facility that receives funding will carry the London 2012 Inspire mark, celebrating the link to the Games.

This significant tranche of funding will allow the completion of the second phase of the community sports hall project at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School, following completion of the main sports hall in July 2011. Pupils and local users will now be able to access toilets showers and changing rooms, as well as the first-floor community function rooms, previously incomplete due to insufficient funding. The Inspired Facilities funding has allowed Phase 2 to be completed, making the sports hall a fully functioning facility which will increase participation by pupils and community groups. As part of its development plan, there will be new clubs started, including one for disabled young people. The first floor area will be available to both sporting and non-sporting groups to use, either for hire or for parents and friends to wait or watch sporting events.

Rory said: “This is absolutely fantastic news, and I couldn’t be more pleased that the sports hall will be completed soon, allowing the facilities to grow and benefit not only the pupils and staff at KSGS, but the surrounding community as well. This is the year to celebrate sport and its ability to bring communities together, and I
am delighted that KSGS’s commitment to sport and the community has been recognised in this way.”

David Keetley, Headteacher, said: “We are delighted to secure the Inspired Facilities grant, which has finally enabled us to upgrade our sports hall. It is only right that Kirkby Stephen, with its long tradition of sport clubs and sporting success, should have a first-class facility, part-funded by the Olympic legacy. As a school, we have now raised some £720,000 to build this fantastic facility.”

Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, said: “We want to use the Olympic and Paralympics next summer to inspire a generation to get involved in sport across the country. This is why as part of the £135 million Places People Play legacy programme we invited community sports clubs to apply for funding to upgrade their facilities.”

Notes to Editors:

Inspired Facilities

Inspired Facilities is part of the Places People Play legacy programme. At least £52 million will be invested through Inspired Facilities. Responding to unprecedented demand, Sport England has made over £7 million of additional awards in the first round of investment decisions, taking the total to over £17 million[1]. There will be four more funding rounds as part of Inspired Facilities, with the second round opening on 1 February 2012.

At least £35 million of the funding will go to community and voluntary organisations, through grants of between £20,000 and £50,000. The remaining funding will be open to a wider group of organisations, including councils and schools, with grants of up to £150,000 available.

To make sure the technical elements of the application process don’t put off groups with good projects, Sport England has created a catalogue of typical facilities developments and improvements, based on what sports clubs have told us they need.

Sport England

Sport England is focused on the delivery of a mass participation legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We invest National Lottery and Exchequer funding in organisations and projects that will grow and sustain participation in grassroots sport and create opportunities for people to excel at their chosen sport.

For more information please contact the press office: Peter Dickinson
on 020 7273 1800.

Rory alerts Cumbrians to second boundary changes consultation

Rory is alerting constituents of Penrith and the Border to the Boundary Commission for England’s (BCE) secondary period of consultation, which will follow the BCE’s publication at noon on Tuesday
March 6th 2012 of all written representations and verbatim transcripts from last October’s public hearings.
This secondary consultation period is short, closing at noon on Tuesday April 3rd 2012, and Rory is encouraging those who missed the last consultation to send in their comments on the proposed boundary changes, which will see Cumbria’s six parliamentary constituencies reduced from six to five. All representations will be published on the BCE website in one
easily searchable format
The BCE’s initial proposals, which nationally are to reduce the number of constituencies in England from 533 to 502,  were met with widespread opposition from across the political spectrum in Cumbria, with the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties proposing alternatives that were broadly aligned.
Rory said: “I welcome this secondary consultation period, as I continue to have major reservations about the division between the West and East of Cumbria as proposed by the BCE in their initial proposals. I hope very much that they have taken into account the strong feeling shared by so many Cumbrians that the suggested divisions make very little sense. I have proposed instead that we have one urban-based West Coast constituencyserving the industrial areas of Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport; a Carlisle area with its border hinterland taking in Spadeadam and Bewcastle; and a Barrow area. This would leave two rural constituencies to represent the very important and unique Cumbrian interests connected to sparse populations: one very similar to the existing Westmorland and Lonsdale seat, and another ‘mid-Cumberland’ constituency representing Penrith and the Solway region. I strongly encourage all constituents who are interested to engage in this secondary consultation, and to contact me if they require any assistance in accessing the online database of responses to the public hearings.”

Loyalty of the borderlands: Identity, not economics, should direct the debate over Scottish devolution

I live in the northern English borders and I am the only MP whose constituency has the word “border” in its name (Penrith and The Border). Our northern boundary is the Western March: a territory which for four centuries had its own government and law. Like many of my constituents—and much of the British population—I am both Scottish and English. Two years ago, when I walked from my parents’ home in Scotland to my house in Cumbria, I was walking between two nations but I never felt I was leaving my country.

Our modern England-Scotland border is a Renaissance compromise finally brokered by a French ambassador to resolve the wild “debatable lands” that lay between the nations in 1552. But the constituency contains earlier borders: ten miles south of the modern line is the monstrous military encampment of Hadrian’s Wall, ditched, spiked, revetted, and manned by 10,000 for 300 years. Twenty miles further south is the Anglo-Saxon border at Eamont Bridge, from a time when all of Cumberland was outside England (it is not even in the Domesday book) and where the Kings of Britain met in treaty in 927. I have stood on each frontier, and stayed in farms on both sides and never seen a country’s difference between one patch of wet grass, one limestone crag, one nimble black-faced sheep, and another.

It was different when I walked across the frontiers between Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. In each case, within a few yards, I felt I was in a completely foreign land, in which every detail of manners, language, cuisine and context was altered. Related people lived on each side, but the change was final: for 400 miles across Turkey people drank coffee, 100 yards into Iran coffee had been replaced by black tea; green tea began only in Afghanistan.

In Britain, by contrast, the border forms more a unity than a division. For 700 years till the early middle ages we were the independent Kingdom of Cumbria and Strathclyde, stretching from Glasgow to Penrith—separate from Scotland and England, with a single Celtic language, laws, literature and dynasty. We were torn apart into two separate peoples by the propaganda and finance of Norman aristocrats on both sides of the border, who worked (often with the support of foreign powers) to deepen the divisions for four centuries, in order to sustain cross-border raids and proxy wars. The M6 may change its name at a shining sign saying “Failte Gu Alba” in Irish-influenced Gaelic (that no one ever spoke at Gretna), but that does not make that modern border any less artificial.

History, language, landscape and culture are strangely absent in the debate about the Union. Alex Salmond promotes Scotland as a virtual, high-tech economy, floating freely between Europe and the global markets. (His party’s website talks of “better, healthier, wealthier, greener, fairer, smarter… Scotland”). English opponents of the Union talk about money: about Scotland’s free eye tests, prescription charges and tuition fees. These should not be the arguments on which Great Britain is broken. This is not only because Scots have yet fully to digest the advantages of an independent sterling, UN security council membership, the British banking system and credit rating. Nor is it only because the English often forget that transfer payments happen all over England and (even if you discount North Sea oil) the total amount the southeast gives to Scotland is two years of winter fuel allowance, or about 1 per cent of the national budget. It is because a debate about the union is not about economics. It is about identity.

Alex Salmond has surprisingly little to say about Scottish identity. Even his Hugo Young lecture on “Scotland’s place in the world” is little more than a list of technocratic policy choices on welfare and economics. His final flourish from the Scottish national poet Burns is a quote not about Scottishness but about social equality: “for a’ that an’ a’ that, it’s coming yet, for a’ that.” Yet he still proposes a referendum to take the lively, powerful and flexible material of Britishness and tear it apart. He would force us each to choose an exclusive and separate identity, and in doing so split my family and indeed tens of millions of individuals like myself. This is false to who we are: not because we are free-floating cosmopolitans, too elusive to be pinned, but because we are British. And Britain is not a bland and placid unity: but a vigorous community, built of different nations.

No two British identities are alike: but all are invigorated by contradictions. My English nationalist neighbour’s contempt for the bagpipes, the Scottish rugby team, and Scottish politicians, seems not to affect his admiration for marching Scottish regiments, Eric Liddle’s triumph in Chariots of Fire, or David Stirling, the founder of the SAS. My 89-year-old father looks like a comic book Scot—he wears tartan trews and a tam o’shanter every day, eats haggis once a week, and did not go south of the border until he was 18. His study is piled high with Gaelic dictionaries and accounts of Bonnie Prince Charlie. He is certain that the Scottish education and legal systems are better than the English, and that the Black Watch was the greatest regiment. But he enjoys being part of a minority in Britain, made his career outside Scotland, and believes that independence would leave Scotland, diminished—in his words “a country of mini-men.”

Most of us can find Cumbria more homely than Scotland but the Highlands more invigorating than Devon, appreciate the architecture of Edinburgh but find London the greater city and our capital. We experience this both as members of nations and as citizens of a larger country whose geographical limit is the shores of our islands. Each of us feels an outsider in some part of our country, and is challenged by the pride of our fellow nations. Such contradictory energies are not a threat to Britain but have been, for centuries, the key to our vitality. This deep and flexible identity is true to our natures, and to the modern world. Reducing our identity reduces ourselves.

[This article originally appeared in Prospect magazine March 2012)


Rory pledges support for Cash for Kids Hardship Fund

Rory met with Cash for Kids fundraiser Diane Campbell and Board Member Dawn Dixon at Carlisle’s CFM radio station to discuss the work of local charity Cash for Kids, where he pledged his support and suggested that the charity considers launching a hardship fund to address the issues of rural isolation in east Cumbria.
CFM Radio’s Cash for Kids delivers initiatives for sick and underprivileged children in local communities, benefiting the neediest and raising and donating cash locally. The national charity raised nearly £10 million in 2011, with CFM’s branch of the charity raising almost £315,000 – an increase on the £223,000 it raised in 2010. Its target for 2012 is £350,000, enabling it to donate to more children in Cumbria.
In recent months its high-profile campaigns have included the Secret Santa Toy Appeal, raising over £110,000 worth of toys to donation to over 1,700 children, and the Helping Hand for Olivia Appeal, raising over £80,000 and still climbing.In 2011 CFM’s Cash for Kids allocated several grants locally, including to Eden House Children’s Hospice, West Cumbria Young Carers, Carlisle Youth Zone, Barnardos, and Riding for the Disabled.
Rory said: “I’m glad to have had this opportunity to learn more about the work of Cash for Kids, which has delivered unbelievably impressive results in terms of the amounts it has raised, the quantity of initiatives it has driven, and the sheer energy of its fundraising team, which has worked tirelessly to promote such appeals as the Secret Santa Toy appeal.
“I am delighted to know that such an energetic charity is operating to improve the lives of the neediest of Cumbria’s children, and am sure that it will achieve its goal of growing its funds year on year, ensuring that more money be spent locally. I have encouraged the charity to think about establishing a hardship fund to donate bursaries to some of east Cumbria’s neediest families, particularly those whose children are having trouble accessing services because of lack of transport or private funding in times of financial downturn. It would be great to see some of our particular issues of rural isolation being addressed by such a fund, and I very much look forward to continuing to support this excellent charity’s work.”
Picture: Diane Campbell, Dawn Dixon and Rory Stewart MP