Monthly Archives: May 2013


Rory joined members of the Friends of Wigton station, local residents, councillors and railway executives on Saturday to officially open the new ornamental flower-bed. The decorative sandstone display has been erected with the financial support of the County Council Neighbourhood Forum, the Co-op Community Fund, and the Cumbria Community Rail Partnership, as well as dozens of smaller local donations in the form of tools, plant, and volunteer time and energy.The ornamental flower bed is the beginning of a planned series of improvements to the station, including the reinstatement of some of the original station architecture, such as the waiting room, which is currently at nearby Netherhall Estate.

Rory, speaking at the event, gave special thanks to local stonemason Ian Lowes, who provided and cut all the stone, and Jim Riding, who built the flowerbed, even though he had recently undergone two knee replacements.

Speaking at the event Rory said: “I would like to thank everyone for their immense hard work in creating such a beautiful feature for Wigton station, which is such an important stop-off on the Cumbria coast line. It’s great that so many groups were able to come together and build something like this, which is an extremely attractive feature for our station. I look forward now to many more improvements for Wigton. The station is clearly held very dear by so many residents, and I look forward to continuing to support them in whatever way I can, and helping restore Wigton station to its former glory.”




Rory, following discussions with the Director of the national network of Community Land Trusts Catherine Harrington, has been lobbying Planning Minister Nick Boles to provide more government support and assurances that the growing network – which will see community-led affordable housing projects, such as that in Crosby Ravensworth, flourish – will continue to have the full backing of the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Rory – who has been instrumental in piloting some of the country’s most successful national pilots, both in the form of the Crosby Ravensworth CLT model and the Upper Eden Neighbourhood Plan – has requested clarity on the Community Infrastructure Levy; better approaches to the freeing up of land by local authorities for the purpose of community-led affordable housing; more seed-corn funding, to help small groups such as the Lyvennet Community Trust to get started; and assurances that the Homes and Communities Agency’s programme in supporting CLTs will continue beyond 2015.

Rory said: “I completely support the excellent work of both the national network and, closer to home, the Cumbria Rural Housing Trust, both of which are doing amazing work in increasing the number of community land trusts in the UK, and helping to get small-scale community-led affordable housing projects off the ground. We have living examples here in Penrith and the Border, of just how effective these mechanisms can be, and government needs to do all it can to support this growth, and harness it as a force for tangible change in our rural communities.”

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On Saturday Rory celebrated the first milestone in Wigton’s journey to becoming a ‘smart-energy community’, at an event he hosted to introduce members of the public to the potential benefits of installing the latest generation of smart-meters into their homes and businesses.

Rory has brought together a number of local volunteers, and private sector companies, including Silver Spring and Electricitry Northwest to pilot the latest smart-grid technology in a town which has severe fuel poverty. The meters have now been installed in a small number of residential houses, businesses and community spaces – including Nelson Thomlinson School, Wigton Youth Station, and the Barnardos premises. The meters allow residents and businesses, to gain real-time information on their energy use. Residents have already seen at first hand the impact of minor domestic appliances like kettles, on their energy bill, through the meters, and are changing their behaviour and saving money. As the pilot progresses, the Electricity companies will also be able to offer flexible tariffs through the meters, and improve the efficiency of their distribution and transmission network – ‘keeping Britain’s lights on’.

The next stage in the pilot, will see meters and information screens – containing real-time information about energy usage – installed in public spaces in Wigton, to allow the public to see the details of energy use in each premise. This will be followed by a drive to bring a smart grid to system to at least ten per cent of the homes in Wigton.

Rory said: “Wigton’s potential as a smart-energy community is enormous. This is just the first step in a very important journey, that of putting Wigton on the map as a major national pilot, as government invests in energy-saving intiatives that could see the country converted to smart-grids in the near future. At the heart of the project is energy efficiency, and giving consumers the power to monitor usage through these intelligent devices, shop around for suppliers, and trial other energy-saving appliances to run from the network. The community have put in a great deal of work to reach this stage – in association with Silverspring, for whom many thanks are due.  ”

Local Mayor Debbie Stafford, who has one of the meters installed in her home, praised the device, saying: “This has really changed our lives. The whole family has got involved in using the meter, which tells us which appliances use the most energy. As a result we are changing our habits, for example we are boiling a thermos of water in the morning to use throughout the day, as the kettle uses up so much energy. This is a brilliant way of checking how much electricity we are using, and I really recommend it very highly and look forward to more households signing up.”

Wigton households interested in joining the smart-meter initiative are encouraged to email Rory at [email protected] or to call the Constituency Office on 01768 484 114


Rory is encouraging local groups to take part in The People’s Millions competition for the chance to secure significant funding for worthy local, community projects.

The Big Lottery Fund and ITV are giving the public a chance to vote for the community projects they want to receive good cause funding, and have pledged up to £50,000 to 76 projects across every region of the UK to charitable projects which inspire, involve and improve their local community. Those applicants who are initially successful will go on to battle it out on prime time ITV regional news for the public vote.

Rory said: “Funding is incredibly tight for many local communities at the moment, and there are so many fantastic initiatives that are simply lacking the initial cash injection they need to get up and running. The People’s Millions competition represents a great opportunity to mobilise support and publicity behind a local cause, and is definitely an avenue I would encourage all local communities to be exploring.”

The deadline for applications is 13 May 2013 and those interested should fill out the simple entry form online at or contact the Big Advice Line on 0845 0 10 11 12.


Rory has met with representatives from Plas Y Brenin National Outdoor Centre, to discuss the viability and potential for setting up a satellite centre at Newton Rigg college that would aim to meet local demand for outdoor education within the North of the England. Widely recognised as a centre of excellence within the industry of outdoor pursuits, the Plas Y Brenin centre is currently the only place in the UK where certain advanced outdoor activities qualifications can be obtained.

The issue was initially brought to the attention of the Rory, by Matthew Ellis, Outdoor Learning Advisor for Cumbria County Council. Rory, who has previously stated developing the outdoor pursuits industry should be a priority for Cumbria and Cumbrians, recognised the opportunity and potential of Newton Rigg college to host a satellite centre for this area of the UK, and has worked with Wes Johnson, principal of Newton Rigg, to secure a site visit from representatives of the Plas Y Brenin centre.

Following the meeting at Newton Rigg with the Chief Executive of Plas Y Brenin, Martin Doyle, and the Director of Training, Martin Chester, Rory said: “Cumbria has a huge potential for outdoor activities in the future, and it is an industry sector which I am certain will  continue to form an ever greater part of the local economy. I worry though that we do not currently have the resources in place to ensure that it is Cumbrians benefiting the most from the opportunities our landscape offers. This is why a satellite centre would be a fantastic asset for the area. Newton Rigg’s marketing strategy over the past few years has been absolutely incredible, with application numbers up by over 150% in the last year alone. This is clearly an institution that is well capable of recruiting the necessary numbers to make such a course viable. Today’s meeting was really useful, and I hope Martin and his team were able to take away with them what a fantastic opportunity this would be for everyone involved. There is work to be done now putting together a sound and convincing proposal, and I am standing by to offer whatever further help and assistance I can.”


Rory is encouraging interested constituents to engage in the forthcoming visit of Sir Bruce Keogh to Cumbria. The National Medical Director of the NHS will be visiting the county with a review team next week, and will be spending a few days meeting with members of the public to discuss their experiences and concerns regarding the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, and the Cumberland Infirmary – identified in Sir Bruce Keogh’s recent report as a persistent outlier on mortality indices.

On 7th May, the team will arrive at the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, and independent review panels will carry out rapid responsive reviews, observing the hospital in action. Panel members will also hold meetings  with patients, members of the public, and staff in order to discuss the feedback and  experiences of these groups. These visits will be followed up with unannounced visits to the Trusts.

The meetings with members of the public will be held on 7th May from 6-8pm at the Crown & Mitre Hotel, English Street, Carlisle and on the 8th  May from 6-8pm at Whitehaven Civic Hall, Lowther Street, Whitehaven, Cumbria. These details will be advertised locally and on the NHS Choices website.

Rory said: “Constituents who wish to offer both positive and negative feedback to Sir Bruce are encouraged to take this opportunity to meet with him and relay their thoughts. This is an important platform to be heard, and to convey concerns to the National Medical Director, who values highly comments from members of the public.”



Rory has congratulated the nine apprentices from Innovia Films who have secured a place as finalists in the Brathay Apprentice Challenge – the official search for the apprentice team of the year, supported by the National Apprenticeship Service.
Representatives from Brathay Trust, British Chambers of Commerce and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills judged the regional heats along with Tim Campbell, founder of the Bright Ideas Trust and the Mayor of London’s Ambassador for Training and Enterprise, before selecting nine teams from the 90 organisations that entered, to go through to the final. Following two months delivering community level projects, all finalists will now go on to complete further fundraising and awareness raising activity, with the event culminating in a series of team building tests, logistical challenges and physical competitions at Brathay Trust’s Windermere headquarters from 10th to 12th June 2013.
Rory said:”Its great to see a Cumbrian team get through to the finals of the Brathay Apprentice Challenge. The Innovia team have been fantastic within Wigton, and particularly in their support of Chrysalis.Their effort and attitude embodies the Cumbrian spirit and enthusiasm to help and support one’s own community that I see time and again, and perfectly encapsulates Brathay’s mission of encouraging young people to engage positively in their communities.They thoroughly deserve to be crowned the national apprentice team of the year, and I wish them the best of luck ahead of the finals in June.”


Rory spent time this week meeting staff, patients and their relatives at the Beacon Edge Specialist Nursing Home in Penrith, which provides nursing care for 35 residents who are living with dementia.

Rory chatted with senior carer assistant, Ellen Harrison, who has worked at Beacon Edge for seventeed years, and had a chance to see the mursing home’s unique approach to person-centred care, including specialist features like memory boxes that capture residents’ personal momentos, before joining residents for a cup of tea in the dining room.

Rory said: “This is a very special care home, and I was so impressed by the professionalism, expertise and compassion displayed by its dedicated staff, who clearly work very hard to make their patients’ lives as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible. Meeting patients’ relatives is an essential part of seeing how well a home operates, and it is gratifying to see so many relatives who are happy with the care their loved ones are receiving. I feel very grateful for the opportunity to have met with everyone today, and wish everyone continuing success.”

Home manager Deborah Byrne said: “It was fantastic to have Rory at Beacon Edge and for him to see the hard work and commitment of all our staff. He spent time speaking to everyone on the day, which meant a lot to residents, family members and staff, and taking the time to find more about the specialist care that we provide.  We have strong links with our local community and it was great to welcome Rory to our home – we look forward to welcoming him back!”



After months of behind-the-scenes work, Rory will on May 11th officially launch Wigton as a national ‘smart-grid’ pilot town, in a pioneering project that aims to address fuel poverty, and give energy consumers in Wigton – both private and business – the means to control their energy usage and have more say in the energy providers they use.

The launch is a major milestone in Rory’s campaign for Wigton to become the country’s leading example of ‘smart energy’. He now hopes to establish the market town as a ‘smart-energy community’: making the town an example of how smart-energy appliances can be used.

Rory is working in collaboration with Silver Spring Networks (SSN), a leading international provider of smart-energy applications, and the inaugural event – to be held in Wigton’s Market Hall at 3pm on Saturday May 11th-  will involve Rory, local town and community representatives, and members of Silver Spring Networks. Members of the public are warmly welcomed.

Rory said: “This is a hugely significant event for Wigton: not only does it put Wigton on the map as a community willing to take practical steps to address fuel poverty, but is the beginning of many other potential benefits to both residents and businesses in the town. Our aim is to grow the pilot so that it will, eventually, cover more homes, businesses and public spaces, creating a true town-wide network. The long-term benefits to Wigton are huge: greater energy options, the means to control energy usage and reduce bills, explore innovative heating solutions, and even the use of electric vehicles. There will be no hidden costs in energy bills, and this initiative comes at no cost to any Wigton resident: it is all about people making energy savings through becoming more energy-aware, and we are extremely lucky to have secured such an exciting opportunity for the people of Wigton.”

Local trial smart energy meters will be officially ‘switched-on’ in both residential and community premises, such as in the Innovia factory, at the Nelson Thomlinson School, and on the Greenacres Estate. The meters will act as a practical showcase of the benefits of smart-metering, enabling Wigton residents to monitor energy usage and potentially run smart-energy devices from a town-wide network. The smart meters operate over a wireless-based communications network, and data gathered will enable residents to make more informed decisions about energy efficiency, home investment and the energy use of appliances. At the heart of the initiative is the sharing of insight and learning across the community via a display area in the Market Hall, websites and communal discussion.

Brian McGuigan of Silver Spring Networks, who leads the initiative in Wigton,  said: “It has been a pleasure to work with the town and see their enthusiasm for the initiative.  They have been engaged and interested in how they can take control of their energy in the future.  It will be exciting to build on the early learning and bring further benefits to the community”.

James Pace, Managing Director of Silver Spring Networks in UK said: “Silver Spring Networks is focused on empowering consumers and communities to take control of their energy costs through the practical use of data available to them from smart meters. We are proud to work in partnership with the town of Wigton and Rory, their Member of Parliament, to accelerate consumers achieving control of their energy use and associated cost saving benefits as envisaged by the government from the forthcoming full smart metering roll-out.  We look forward to our future work together to extend the initiative across the community, to trial the benefits for the town of new technologies and to share the learning from Wigton with other communities.”

For further information about the Wigton ‘Smart Energy Community Initiative’ or to explore how to get involved please contact Mark Coyle at Silver Spring Networks using [email protected]com and phone 0780 779 7457.


Rory has congratulated the success of Brampton’s sustainable market, visiting the bustling town event during his latest street surgery, held on Saturday outside Moot Hall.
Rory met with the majority of stallholders to get an sense of the market’s success, to sample and purchase their produce, and speak with the market co-ordinator Heather Tipler to discuss what can be done to help support and promote the market.
Rory said: “On a sunny day like today, there really is no better place to shop than in an outdoor market, like Brampton’s. The chance to buy quality local produce, support local businesses and enjoy an incredible atmosphere, is what makes our Cumbrian town markets such a fantastic experience. At a time when supermarkets continue to overwhelm small, independent retailers, and many local agricultural businesses are really struggling, there are few better ways to show your support for local business than by visiting an outdoor market.”