Monthly Archives: July 2015


Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border, today celebrated the planning decisions made by Eden Distric Council to reject the planning applications for wind farms at Raisgill Farm and Barrock Fell, describing the decisions as “victories for common sense”. Rory was actively involved in the campaigns against each of them, because of the lack of local approval and negative effects on the landscape.


Rory addressing a protest against the Raisgill farm turbine.

The application at Raisgill Farm called for a 200 foot turbine, as well as a road to service it, while a 250 foot turbine was planned for Barrock Fell. Rory pointed out that the assault on the natural landscape could have profound economic consequences, saying “in a region where tourism is our main income earner, we are directly dependent on our natural landscape as one of the last unspoilt regions in Britain. Building wind turbines risks a deep and long-term negative impact on the economy of Cumbria.”


Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border, is highlighting an outstanding opportunity for budding young Cumbrian journalists. The opportunity involves two incentives taking place during the summer.

The News Academy Summer School, in partnership with The Times and The Sun, and is a free week-long journalist training programme for students aged 16 to 18. During the programme, fifteen students will have the opportunity to write and publish their own newspaper, with the advice and assistance of journalists from those papers. The Sun is also offering an opportunity to have a column appear in the paper and gain a place at the News Academy Summer School.

Rory said: “Young Cumbrians have proved again and again that they are amongst the most dedicated and innovative young people in the country – I have seen this through sitting on the Young Cumbria Question Time panel several times, and through my work on National Citizens’ Service and visiting schools up and down the constituency. I encourage any young writers to get involved in this great scheme.”

To apply for the News Academy, interested students are to write an article (up to 500 words) on a subject they are passionate about and submit it to their website. Applications close at midnight on 19th July 2015. The News Academy opportunity is for 18 to 24 year olds. For the Great British Sound Off, students are to write why they deserve to win and submit an article of 200 words on a subject of their choice.

Anyone interested in either of these opportunities should visit for the News Academy Summer School and for the Great British Sound Off.


Rory Stewart MP on Friday visited the Warwick Road Tesco Superstore in Carlisle – used by many thousands of residents of Penrith and The Border for their weekly groceries shop – to see first-hand the work of the store’s manager, Phil Pearson, and his team members Vicki Pearson and Penny-Jane Davidson, who are addressing important issues around local food consumption. He was also able to congratulate Tesco on the lead they are taking in addressing food waste.

Rory’s visit comes on the back of new Government initiatives including Defra’s pushing through of a new code on supermarkets and food businesses, leading to a dramatic drop in the amount of food in supermarket dustbins and to new ways of helping families not to throw away food before they need to. The Government’s land-fill tax has massively reduced the amount of food which isn’t recycled, packaging has been reduced and improved – new re-sealable cheese packets for example allow cheese to last much longer – and there has been a surge in public education, explaining to the over sixty per cent of people who still believe that products last longer outside their packaging, that the reality is the reverse; or that products don’t need always to be frozen on the day of purchase.

The local MP also learned about this year’s sixth Neighbourhood Food Collection at Tesco – a 4-day drive which enables shoppers to donate food to a central pool of items which is then distributed amongst those in need. Tesco now has a total of 500 food collection points in stores across the country, allowing people to donate food all year round, wherever they live. Shoppers can also donate cash, to which Tesco adds a 30% donation. Since Tesco’s first Neighbourhood Food Collection in December 2012, shoppers have donated 21.5 million meals to help charities such as FareShare. The MP also learned how FareShare has pioneered a smart phone app through a pilot currently in London to enable local charities to obtain surplus food directly from Tesco, so that it is not wasted.

Importantly, Rory discussed the potential for working more closely with local suppliers, which manager Phil Pearson agreed was something that they could collaborate on.

Speaking on Friday, Rory said: “I would like to praise Phil and his team for their energy and positivity, and for dedicating their time and resources to this excellent initiative. Not only is this a brilliantly local response to local communities, but I am also very encouraged to know that Phil is keen to make use of local producers, and this is something that I would like to work on with him. If we can support people who are going through challenging times with food that has been locally produced, we are aiding not only our consumers, but our producers too. This is a really exciting vision for local communities.”

Manager Phil Pearson said : “Rory’s visit was great, and it was great to see one of our local MPs getting involved in such a worthy cause. The collection we have just done has been the most successful we have ever had and it is great to see the people of Carlisle giving so much to such a worthy cause. Tesco are really pleased to be involved with this collection.”



Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border and former Chair of the Defence Select Committee, welcomed the Chancellor’s Budget announcement that the Government will continue to fulfill the United Kingdom’s NATO commitment of spending 2% of GDP on defence.

He said: “I am delighted that the Government will be fulfilling its commitment to our NATO allies even when money is scarce. With the emergence of an openly hostile Russia, and the ongoing conflagration in the Middle East and North Africa, the world – and our neighbourhood in particular – is an increasingly dangerous place. The Government recognises this unfortunate reality and as well as providing much-needed resources for maintaining Britain’s security, it has sent a message to allies and adversaries alike that we remain a serious player in global affairs.

“I would like to pay tribute to my former colleagues on the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, who worked so hard to enable a well-informed public debate. I look forward to the contribution that will be made by our successors in the new Parliament, led by the magnificent Julian Lewis MP, in helping the Government to ensure that these welcome resources are deployed in the best possible way.”


Local MP Rory Stewart, who has worked closely with his parliamentary colleagues for years on assisting constituents who have suffered significant financial losses as Equitable Life policyholders, today welcomed the Chancellor’s acknowledgement of their long-standing fight for justice, in a mention in the Budget Statement delivered in Parliament.

The Chancellor announced today a further package of support for the neediest victims of the near-collapse of Equitable Life, many of whom live in Penrith and The Border. The £80 million will now be redistributed to the most needy policy holders who already received a compensation package. The Chancellor will double the compensation payment to anyone who is receiving pension credit. It is estimated that up to 85,000 people will benefit from the new payment.

Rory Stewart said today: “It is great to get recognition in the Budget of the continuing distress and upset that those affected by the Equitable Life scandal continue to suffer. It is unbelievably stressful for the residents of Penrith and The Border who continue to fight for their substantial financial losses, and they have been left in a very difficult position. I continue to offer them any support I can.”


Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart has welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Statement delivered today, announcing measures that will give a huge boost to Penrith and The Border, and to Cumbria: investment relief for SMEs and farm businesses, a dedicated Road Fund in which the local MP will lobby Parliament to incorporate a ring-fenced sum for the dualling of the A66, and a win for Rory’s long-standing campaign to cut National Insurance contributions, which he has lobbied Parliament on year on year since he was first elected in 2010.

Following a five year campaign for investment relief for small and medium-sized businesses, the Chancellor announced that the Annual Investment Allowance, which had been due to fall to £25,000 at the end of this year, would be raised to £200,000, and would remain there.

Rory Stewart said: “This is a budget windfall for Cumbrian workers, businesses, and for farmers too. In Penrith and The Border, SMEs employ 92 per cent of private sector employees, and the certainty of a generous, permanent increase in the Annual Investment Allowance will allow businesses such as Bells of Lazonby, with whom I have been calling for such a move, to invest in their staff, increase production and bring in more workers. Our rural economy will create employment and generate wealth in our towns and villages. SMEs need stability and simplicity in the tax system, and that is what the Government is providing.”

Small businesses in Penrith and The Border will also be given a boost by yet another cut in National Insurance contributions. This will relieve the financial burden on employers looking to hire staff, helping local businesses to grow and communities to thrive.

But it is not just good news for employers and their new staff: as Rory has argued since his election in 2010, earners in Penrith and The Border have a low average wage, and so the Government must look to reward work and put more money in their pockets. The Government has responded by introducing a new National Living Wage, at £9 an hour by 2020. Furthermore, the tax free allowance will be raised once again, to £11,000 a year. As the Chancellor said when making his statement, “The best way to support working people is to allow them to keep more of what they earn.”

Cumbria will also benefit from the Government’s new Roads Fund, and drivers will benefit from a further freeze in fuel duty. Rory has, today, written to the Department for Transport pushing hard for a ring-fenced fund to be dedicated to the dualling of the A66, following the recent spate of accidents and tragic deaths along the road.


On Friday, local MP and Minister for Rural Affairs Rory Stewart attended the 2015 Graduation Ceremony at Newton Rigg, of the triumvirate of agricultural colleges – including Askham Bryan satellite colleges at Guisborough and at Newcastle – of which Newton Rigg in Penrith and The Border is the hub. Rory joined Askham Bryan Executive Principal Liz Philip, North-East and Cumbria Principal Wes Johnson, and the Board of Governors, to celebrate the largest-ever graduating class of around 700 students (more than half of whom are from Newton Rigg) and their proud families.

Rory praised the graduating class for their hard work, and praised Wes Johnson and the team behind Newton Rigg for creating such a vibrant, impressive centre of rural learning, where students are equipped with a wide range of skills and the confidence to invest their knowledge back into their villages and communities. The group discussed a range of problems to do with rural transport, improving rural skills, and helping to drive productivity in food, farming and game-keeping, all of which is central to the Government’s policies in this area.

Rory said: “We should be immensely proud of Newton Rigg. Six years ago it was in danger of closing. Cumbrian communities put huge energy into saving it. And it’s now growing rapidly into one of the leading agricultural colleges in north of England. I have been very impressed with the personal leadership of Wes Johnson, delighted to meet the new Director of Newton Rigg, Dr Jane Sullivan, and am really pleased to hear about the progress they are making with game-keeping. They are playing an enormous role in engaging on issues such as hen harriers with their award-winning Skydancer initiative, and demonstrating their understanding of local landscape with their working grouse moor near Shap. They are showing how the college is a leader not only in farming, but in the rural economy.”

North-East and Cumbria Principal Wes Johnson said: “Staff and students at Newton Rigg were delighted that Rory could join us at our annual awards day. Over 900 people over two events joined in the celebration of student success which for the first year included students, staff and parents from our Newcastle and Guisborough sites too. We consider Rory to be a good friend of the College and we look forward to working with him in the future to deliver positive outcomes for young people and for the rural economies of the north.”


Campus Principal (Cumbria and the North-East) Wes Johnson, Governor Alan Bowe, and Rory Stewart MP


Rory Stewart MP has spent time at the Penrith base of the local charity Mountain Heritage Trust, where Chairman Jeff Ford showed him some of the charity’s archive, and explained about the work it does in promoting awareness of Britain’s mountaineering and climbing history.

The Mountain Heritage Trust was founded in 2000 with the aim of recording and preserving Britain’s rich heritage in the fields of climbing, mountaineering and mountain culture. Second to none in terms of breadth, Britain has a proud legacy in the Alps, the Himalaya and the other great mountain ranges as well as closer to home on British rock. Pioneers in techniques from the earliest days, Britain’s climbers and mountaineers have also led the way in preservation and conservation of traditions, culture and mountain heritage. The Trust’s governing body – its Patrons include Joe Brown and Sir Chris Bonington – all firmly believe that mountain heritage matters now, and for the future.

Currently on show at Keswick Museum are two new exhibitions – Kangchenjunga: Five Treasures of the High Snow, which opened on 16th May 2015 and will be on display for twelve months, and Wainwright: A Love Letter to the Lakeland Fells.

Rory Stewart & Jeff Ford MHT Penrith Station

Rory Stewart MP with Jeff Ford, Chairman of the Mountain Heritage Trust, outside the charity’s Penrith office at Station House.

Rory, himself a keen walker of the world’s mountain ranges, was fascinated by the volume of material that the Trust has acquired and archived, and declared it to be one of Cumbria’s treasure troves of knowledge. He said: “It has been a great education to see, today, the wealth of material that is testament to Britain’s enduring love affair with mountains across the globe, not only here at home; and I can see that this is a collection of great value and resonance to climbers of all ages and backgrounds. That it is right here in the heart of Penrith is extraordinary, and I would love to see it reach a wider audience.”

Chairman of Trustees Jeff Ford said: “With Rory’s enthusiasm for history and heritage it was a great opportunity to give him an insight into the important work of the Mountain Heritage Trust in maintaining the rich heritage of British climbing and mountaineering, and his input and ideas were invaluable.”

For more information about the Trust, please visit:


To highlight the inaugural Rural Business Awards, and in tribute to the huge variety of innovative and exciting rural businesses operating in Cumbria, Rory Stewart MP has visited a number of tourism-related business based in the heart of Penrith, at Station House. He met with John Wilson of Lake District Paddleboarding, Dan Richards of Lake District Cycling, Daniel Holder of The Quiet Site, and Jim Walker of Ullswater Steamers to talk about how rural businesses can be best supported in Parliament.

The businesses who took time to meet with Rory are representative of a new generation of imaginative rural businesses, who are making the most of the natural environment on Penrith’s doorstep. Lake District Paddle Boarding is Cumbria’s only dedicated stand-up-paddle provider, based in the heart of the English lakes in Cumbria. Lessons can be taken on Ullswater, Derwentwater, Wastwater and Buttermere, and the team provide an all-round experience for anyone wishing to experience the beauty of the Lake District from the top of a paddleboard. John works closely with his business colleagues in ensuring that visitors to the Lake District can enjoy a holistic experience: enjoying a range of outdoor activities in one of the most stunning parts of the country. Lake District Cycling, whose cycle-hire hub is on the south-bound platform of Penrith railway station, offers a service from train-to-cycle, whilst The Quiet Site is a multi award-winning, carbon neutral campsite on the shores of Ullswater.

Rory said: “Cumbrian businesses are at the heart of the regeneration of our county: ensuring that they are taking advantage of a growing, strengthening economy, and the lifeblood of our communities. I am absolutely thrilled that so many innovative and energetic businesses such as these are flourishing at the moment, and importantly sending a message that tourism can pay, and is an exciting industry for young Cumbrians to get into. I encourage all rural businesspeople in Cumbria to think about entering the Rural Business Awards, which is such a great tool in helping us to recognise the valuable role these SMEs play in boosting our local economy, and our local villages and towns.”

The aim of the Rural Business Awards is to give recognition to businesses operating right across the rural sector, from engineering through to artisan food producers and professional services organisations. Importantly, the awards are organised by rural business for rural business, and judged by people who understand the rural sector. The ten award categories will be decided by an independent panel of judges drawn from the rural business sector, official agencies and rural charitable organisations.

Anna Price, co-founder of the awards, said: “Our aim is to grow The Rural Business Awards over the next five years to become the UK’s most prestigious and respected Awards for rural businesses. If you are a business in Penrith and The Border, and are interested in sponsoring the awards or would like to contact us to see how you can be involved, please get in touch as we would love to hear from you!”

To enter your own business, or nominate another you feel is worthy of these awards, those interested should visit or call 01162163161 for support in entering a nomination.


L-R: John Wilson of Lake District Paddleboarding, Dan Richards of Lake District Cycling, Daniel Holder of The Quiet Site, Rory Stewart MP, and Jim Walker of Ullswater Steamers


To celebrate Rural Housing Week and to learn more about local housing associations’ work in Eden, Rory Stewart MP has met with John Clasper, Managing Director of Eden Housing Association, and staff members at their Bridge Lane headquarters in Penrith where he enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation with John around issues facing tenants of the local Association.

Rory, who works closely with Eden Housing Association on helping to improve the wellbeing of tenants, praised the local organisation for its flexibility, sensitivity and energy in helping to address tenants’ needs.

Rory Stewart said: “Rural Housing Week is another fantastic initiative from the industry, raising awareness of rural housing and the associated issues around availability, landlord-tenant relations, and of course affordability. It is so important that we continue to engage with these issues on a daily basis, and that is what Eden Housing Association do. Under John’s leadership Eden Housing Association is a local organisation that is deeply committed to delivering high-quality housing in some of the most beautiful parts of Cumbria, if not the UK, whilst also dealing with challenges head on.”

Endorsed by the Rural Housing Alliance and organised through the National Housing Federation, each year Rural Housing Week aims to demonstrate the important role affordable housing plays in maintaining rural communities. Building affordable homes in rural communities makes it easier for local people to continue to live in the same area as their friends and family. But it also helps to preserve the economic viability of rural communities by ensuring continued demand for key services – shops, schools, post offices, pubs and much more, and providing the homes needed by people working locally. Many affordable homes are built by housing associations, local authorities and community organisations. During Rural Housing Week, these organisations highlight rural housing issues by organising a range of local activities, from debates and coffee mornings, to visits to rural schemes.

John Clasper said: “It was very opportune that our MP, Rory Stewart visited us at Eden Housing Association in Rural Housing Week. It gave us a chance to discuss a number of rural housing issues and express our concerns over the Governments Right to Buy proposals. Whilst he did not support rural exemptions, Rory was in favour of us receiving 100% market value. We also urged for a reversal of the of current policy which no longer requires affordable housing to be included on sites with ten or less homes – in rural areas this potentially has disproportionate consequences. In other areas, and in his hew DEFRA role, he was supportive of the idea of working with landowners to release more land for affordable homes. We’re pleased that Rory is aware of the work we are doing in our communities and he encouraged us to look at how we can build upon that success in areas across health and wellbeing. Our staff also appreciated the fact that Rory took time to visit each department, thanking them for their dedication and hard work.”Rory_JohnClasper_1