Monthly Archives: May 2013


Rory is encouraging constituents to meet with him this coming Saturday, April 27th, when he will be holding a street surgery in Kirkby Stephen outside the Co-op store (3-4pm); an open meeting at Swanson House in Brough (4:30-5:30pm) and a drop-in surgery at the Tufton Arms in Appleby (6-7pm).

Rory said: “Please come along and see me if there are any issues you would like to raise, both local and national. I look forward to meeting with constituents, and there will be a chance to come along to an open meeting at Swanson House in Brough to have a more general, open discussion about the topics of the day. I look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible.”
Rory continues his series of Spring surgeries across the constituency, which have been welcomed by local residents as a great chance to have some time to talk to their local MP and make sure their messages reach Westminster.
Rory with young people at Penrith's Devonshire Arcade


Rory, has called on local food and grocery businesses to sign up to an industry campaign to support young unemployed people in his constituency.

The initiative, entitled Feeding Britain’s Future, will see thousands of unemployed young people from across the country go into farms, factories and stores for free skills training, and Rory wants businesses across Cumbria to get involved so that hundreds of youngsters in the area can reap the benefits.

Following the success of Feeding Britain’s Future “Skills for Work Week” in 2012, the Institute of Grocer Distribution has launched the 2013 campaign in an effort to tackle local youth unemployment. During September businesses across the industry’s supply chain will open their doors to provide free skills training such as CV workshops and interview role-plays for thousands of people in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Some of the UK’s largest firms are already signed up to take part. Last year 70 businesses participated, in 700 locations covering every region in the UK. In 2012 the campaign provided 10,000 skills training opportunities with 98% of participants saying they felt more confident applying for a job. Working in partnership with Jobcentre Plus the national campaign unites the entire food and grocery industry in an effort to tackle youth unemployment.

Rory said: “This is a fantastic initiative for the young unemployed of Penrith and the Border, and I do sympathise very much with the great obstacles that stand in the way of our young people finding jobs in today’s financial climate. We boast so many successful local food and grocery companies, and this is the perfect chance for them to offer important skills training to young people. But for the local young unemployed to get maximum value from this scheme we need as many food and grocery businesses in the area to sign up, so I encourage all businesses in Penrith and the Border that fit the bill to sign up to this, which is a great idea.”

If young unemployed people are interested in Feeding Britain’s Future, they should ask at their local Jobcentre Plus.

Businesses interested in taking part can find out more at


On behalf of the local communities progressing their own community broadband projects in his constituency and across Cumbria, Rory has welcomed today’s news that the county has received Major Projects Approval from the European Commission. This represents another key milestone in the process of providing super-fast fibre broadband to Cumbrian homes and businesses, in conjunction with commercial supplier BT.

Rory said: “Overcoming this final hurdle is truly exciting, and we will begin to see improvements taking place in Cumbria. I am particularly keen to see community projects such as Fell End in my constituency – the first in the country to benefit from the Rural Community Broadband Fund – benefit from this. Fell End will be announcing their civil engineering partner at the end of this month, and will be the pioneering community broadband project in the UK, in a model that will be replicated across rural areas in the country. I now expect BT to announce a working plan relating to the areas they will cover and when, but we need to exercise caution and understand that this is a huge piece of engineering work that will not happen overnight. I will, however, continue to put pressure on government to extract from commercial suppliers the need for transparency, so that all our communities know where they stand, and know when their homes are going to be connected.”

Libby Bateman of Fell End Broadband also welcomed the news, saying:“This is the culmination of almost three years’ work on the improvement of broadband services for Cumbria. Rory has done a huge amount of work to ensure that Cumbria was first on the list as a pilot for Superfast Broadband back in 2010 and it is good to see that this work is coming to fruition. We are hugely grateful for all Rory has done, and call on him to continue pressing Connecting Cumbria and BT for announcements about their next steps for Cumbria.”


Rory took the opportunity to sit in on a creative wood carving workshop, run by local Cumbrian artist Alister Neville, whilst supporting the craft training done by Brampton Community Centre, and The Hut.

Brampton’s The Hut provides regular workshops, ranging from embroidery to woodwork. It has an excellent set of woodworking equipment and a ceramics’ kiln, in a purpose built workshop. It has brought leading Cumbrian craftspeople together to teach a new generation of students. And it offers the local community the opportunity to engage in an array of arts and crafts that wouldn’t generally be available to a town of its size otherwise.

Rory, who himself set up a crafts education programme within The Turquoise Mountain Foundation charity he established in Kabul in 2005, emphasised the enormous potential of crafts within an economy. Rory emphasised that 80,000 people in Britain are employed in crafts and that Cumbria’s history, reputation for tradition and beauty, and economy put it in a strong position to take a national lead in crafts. “Countries such as Italy,” he said, “have proved that crafts are not merely a hobby, but can be a major component of manufacturing and economic growth.”

Heather Tipler, who runs Brampton Hut said: “We are lucky to have this fantastic art and craft space in Brampton, which acts as a vital central hub for all sorts of activities for local, and even some not so local people. It means people don’t need to travel into Carlisle to take part in recreational activities and these days, when we need to think about sustainability, good local provision is really important for a community. The Hut is a wonderful resource, but the challenge remains to get it known and used more widely.  Any help Rory can offer in this respect would be very welcome.”

Rory said: “This is such a fantastic project, and provides Brampton community with something very special. There is a huge potential for craft education in Cumbria, and I am very keen to ensure stronger links are put in place with the local school and other community groups, to really make the most of this valuable resource. I am looking forward to working with Heather Tipler to see if a development plan can be put in place – be it Summer classes or further weekly sessions – to open up The Hut to as much of Brampton and the surrounding area as possible.”

For further information on The Hut, please visit:


Rory met with Chief Executive of the Institute for Outdoor Learning , Andy Robinson, in Penrith, as he continues in his campaign to make Cumbria a world-leader in outdoor pursuits and education.

Rory has recently played an integral role in efforts to setup a satellite centre for the National Mountain Centre in local college, Newton Rigg, that will provide local people with the chance to access the highest qualifications in the industry. This latest meeting with Andy Robinson focused on how to make Cumbrian businesses and schools work more closely together to make Cumbria the European leader in outdoor education. Andy explained how the Institute for Outdoor Learning, as a Cumbrian based national charity, would be well placed to offer support.

Rory said: “It was fantastic to meet with Andy and learn about the Institute for Outdoor Learning. I really believe that outdoor pursuits must be part of Cumbria’s future, and that given our landscape, there is no reason why the experiences and outdoor education we offer cannot match that of Switzeland or New Zealand. One thing I am really keen to see, is more opportunities for local young people to equip themselves with the skills and experience required to take advantage of the huge potential the outdoor industry still offers here in Cumbria. We must show Cumbrians that this is vital to our economic future, engage more schools, and encourage the thousands of businesses to work more closely with the local community and economy.”

Rory has proposed that they work over the next five years to bring far more Cumbrians jobs in the outdoor economy. He will be gathering headteachers, outdoor centres, businesses, and hotels to reinforce the great potential of the industry and convince people to work far more closely together. He is encouraging all interested parties within the local outdoor sector who would be keen to participate in such an event, to get in touch with him either by email on [email protected] or to contact his office on 01768 758 772.


Rory, and local Cumbrian vet David Black, this week hosted the first Westminster conference of the Dairy Science Forum, pledging to support scientific research into issues affecting the British dairy industry. The objective was to bring together the best in British science and the best in British farming to improve British Dairy. Rory – whose constituency includes the largest concentration of dairy producers in England – opened the Forum, by focusing on the ways science can contribute to the wellbeing of the dairy cow in Britain, public understanding of dairy and the productivity of the dairy industry in general.

David Black, of Cumbrian Paragon Vets, is the Chair of the Forum and used his seminar to focus on new methods of measuring animal welfare.

The Dairy Science Forum, established in 1975, is an ad hoc group of individuals, each well recognised and specialised in particular segments of the industry. It looks to better understand and disseminate the contribution of research and development to diary science and practice, as well as define future areas of activity that may enhance efficient productivity and improve the wellbeing of the cow to fortify a viable dairy industry.

The conference, held this week in Westminster and entitled ‘Collaboration, Communication and Innovation’ enabled useful discussions on what the key priorities for research and development in the dairy industry should be, how funding of this research and development can be better co-ordinated, as well as looking at how to improve uptake of technical and business information through better knowledge and exchange.

Rory said: “I’m enormously proud to be hosting this event in Parliament today.  The Dairy Science Forum does great work for the industry and indeed the country. This science matters to us in enormously significant ways: economic productivity, animal welfare and public perceptions on animal welfare. I feel there is so much potential in this country within our agricultural industry. We are proud, as a government, that we are beginning to bring together a more focused strategy; but it is the people here at this conference today who can help us to bring various strands of development together in a meaningful way.”

David Black, Chairman of the Dairy Science Forum said: “We’re enormously grateful for Rory’s support. We aimed to help align the thinking throughout the dairy industry, by producing these strategy papers and identifying what we saw as the key issues.  By coordinating R&D across UK and Europe more effectively and by addressing the need for excellent knowledge exchange at all levels of the industry, we are in a position to empower farmers and advisers with the information they need, and give access to evidence based science so that the UK industry becomes ever more vibrant and competitive in world markets.  Addressing the needs of the animals themselves, and looking at the preferences of domestic animals, so that they are healthy and productive is the very basis of animal welfare – and at the same time education of the purchasers of products and the wider society results in a better understanding of the value of farming.


Rory, yesterday chaired an important meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group, resolving to organise a ‘Mountain Rescue’ day in Westminster. This follows on from the success of Cumbria Day earlier this year. The event will raise awareness of the excellent work that Mountain Rescue groups do across the country. The APPG group welcomes members from both the England and Wales Mountain Rescue, and Scottish Mountain Rescue groups.

David Allan, Chairman of the England and Wales Mountain Rescue group, reported that  following strong lobbying by the All Party group, Standard operating procedures for the deployment of Air Assets have now been agreed between the two organisations, making rescue operations much easier. Rory said: “I’m thrilled to hear that communications between Mountain Rescue teams and Air Ambulances are improving and this issue now seems to be resolved. It’s important that these organisations are able to work together and communicate easily with each other. I am also committed to creating a really excellent awareness-raising event in Westminster later this year, which will bring together our Mountain Rescue charities from across the country in event that will showcase their dedication and bravery, and to get important points across to Ministers and officials.” There are approximately 48 Mountain Rescue teams in England and Wales with a further 27 teams in Scotland. Team members are on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year. As volunteers, team members do not get paid and operations demand an extremely high commitment from all team members. There are over 1,100 rescues each year in England and Wales, over half of these occurring in the Lake District. A typical rescue may involve up to 20 team members for around 6 hours on average.

David Allan, Chairman of Mountain Rescue England and Wales said: “As on previous occasions this was a very useful meeting of great benefit to mountain rescue. The proposal to hold a ‘Mountain and Cave Rescue Event’ within the Houses of Parliament’ has the potential to be of enormous value in increasing awareness of the extensive role that the organisation now plays.It was also encouraging to find that the group will support the continuation of a government grant to mountain rescue to help with equipment and training and will seek to transfer the payment to the Home Office when the current arrangement through the Department for Transport expires. We look forward to a continuing good relation with the APPG and appreciate the time given by MPs and Members of the House of Lords to facilitate this.”




Rory on Saturday supported over two hundred local protestors at the proposed Carwath Wind Farm site, scene of application 2/2013/0227 to Allerdale Borough Council for the construction of three turbines of 115 metres in height, which if built could be viewed from the National Park, and across the whole Solway Plain.

The local community has strongly opposed the application on grounds of landscape and wildlife impact,  the detrimental effects on the tourism industry, noise and health issues, property values, and other negative impacts on local residents. The proposed industrial-scale structures would dominate the landscape from the northern fells.

Rory said: “I am personally strongly opposed to the building of turbines in Penrith and the Border, for reasons of local democracy, economy and landscape. The centre of our economy is now tourism, and the centre of our area is the Lake District National Park. The three million visitors who come here every year, and support tens of thousands of jobs in the area, come because this is one of last ‘unspoilt’ landscapes in Britain. We have a landscape of tight valleys, of small farms, of sheep, and peace, famous from Finland to Japan. The impact of 350 foot high, industrial, white spinning metal on the sound, the look, and the soul of the intimate scale of the Northern Fells of the Lake District is immense, and immensely negative. It would be a poor short-term decision for our economy. Cumbria has already contributed enormously to the nation’s energy needs – not least through the nuclear industry. We are taking the lead in Wigton, and elsewhere on smart grids and new approaches to energy conservation. And the aim of reducing carbon consumption, will also be massively reinforced – as Professor Dieter Helm argues – by converting coal-fired stations to gas, at a fraction of the estimated one hundred billion pounds currently committed to Wind Turbines.  Today we can clearly see how strongly local communities feel about protecting their local landscape, and not only for their own benefit: for the benefit of all who visit Cumbria precisely to see and enjoy our beautiful countryside. The protestors we see here today come from all walks of life and ages; this is not something that attracts a narrow part of our society. Such wind farms affect us all, and I am proud to see so many people give up time on their Saturday to show how very concerned they are.”

Rory has created the community website as a means of bringing community opposition groups together to share learning and resources to aid their campaigns, and the website has been instrumental in increasing communication between groups across the county.

His comments follow those of Energy and Business Minister Michael Fallon, who is calling for measures to protect rural shires from the increase of applications, and the means for local communities to enjoy better planning protections. Rory will also be calling on local councils to look to introducing ‘buffer zones’ for residential areas in their local plans and ‘SPD’s (Supplementary Planning Documents).




Rory  with (l-r) Josh Myers, Adam Johnstone, Ellie Johnstone, David Shingler and Taylor Hardon

Rory on Saturday presented children from Year 7 at Wigton’s Nelson Thomlinson School with a plaque produced by the Member of Parliament to commemorate their planting of Norwegian maple trees on the new public cyclepath and footway on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of Wigton’s Market Charter in 2012, attended last  year by HRH The Prince of Wales.

Rory presented the children with gifts of box trees to grow in their own gardens, and thanked them for their assistance in helping to create a lasting feature to symbolise the historic event in Wigton’s history.

Rory said: “It’s wonderful to see our trees have survived a year of very tough weather conditions, and I was delighted also to see the children again, who are now in Nelson Thomlinson School in Year 7. Wigton’s special anniversary will be remembered in this unique way, as a testament to the real community spirit that thrives in the town. I was extremely impressed by the children’s interest in trees and tree-planting, and their enthusiasm for the project.”


In wet and blustery conditions, Rory declared himself “honoured and delighted” to officially open on Saturday the North Pennines AONB’s refurbished 18th-century Packhorse Trails, in an extensive network that will run across Hartside onto Alston Moor, and beyond into Teesdale and Weardale.

Rory joined members of the North Pennines AONB, including Director Chris Woodley-Stewart, and representatives from local authorities and parish councils, the Local Access Forum, Cumbria Tourism, and local farmers and residents at the opening of the rebuilt Rickergill packhorse bridge on the Hartside trail, once used to transport lead and other goods from north Cumbria to far-off towns.

Rory said:  “It’s an enormous pleasure to be supporting the North Pennines AONB today, and the historic re-opening of the Rickergill pack-horse bridge at Hartside. This sort of infrastructure connects not only our landscape and our people in a physical way, but of course speaks also of the incredible heritage of our landscape and its guardians: we its residents and keepers, who walk and work the land and continue to do so. This itself is part of the North Pennines AONB’s extraordinary re-opening of various Packhorse Trails in and around the beautiful Alston Moor area, as well as in Northumberland and towards the Derwent Valley. It is a huge honour for me, having walked this trail myself in recent years, to be here today at the invitation of North Pennines AOB and my thanks also go to Cumbria County Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cumbria Tourism’s ‘Adventure Capital’ fund for their generous contributions, which have been integral to completing this very important project.”

The routes have been developed as part of the AONB’s Landscape Partnership Programme, in association with the Heritage Lottery Fund, making the trails accessible to walkers, mountain bikers and equestrians.