Monthly Archives: November 2017

Praise for “incredible courage” of John Armstrong and family in Chennai Six aquittal breakthrough today

Rory Stewart MP has just now welcomed breaking news that the Chennai 6 men have been aquitted on all charges following a court hearing in India today. The news means that the men ought to be released as early as this evening local time. Rory Stewart has been an active campaigner for the release of his constituent John Armstrong and the other men since the beginning of the issue, has visited John in India, and has lobbied both the British and Indian Governments on John’s predicament for years. He said today: “Firstly I want to praise the incredible courage and fortitude of John Armstrong throughout his ordeal and the bravery and dedication of his family whose commitment to John’s release has been nothing short of inspirational. Having met with John during his time in India I could not be more delighted that this has happened and hope that we will be seeing John back in Cumbria very soon. Obviously uppermost in our minds remains the men’s welfare and the need to be absolutely ready and prepared to get John on a plane with all the necessary paperwork done. Once again I can’t overstate how pleased I am and proud of John’s family and particularly his sister Joanne for all their hard work. Hopefully John will be home in time for Christmas.”



Rory Stewart has met with Steve Atkinson, Founder of Atkinson Builders, at the APCRG National Responsible Business Champion awards, which was held at Parliament today.

The APCRG National Responsible Business Champion 2017 was presented with the award by Sarah Newton MP, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work.

At the reception, Rory congratulated Steve on his nomination, but also for the invaluable contribution that Atkinson Builders has made locally.

Rory Stewart said:  “This award is fantastic recognition to the role that businesses such as Atkinson Builders are playing in their communities. I am thrilled to witness their championing of corporate responsibility, and look forward to seeing more of our flourishing businesses take on from their example”.

Zurich Insurance, nominated by Justin Tomlinson MP, was chosen by a Parliamentary judging panel which looked at nominations from MPs representing constituencies across the UK. The runner-up for the National Responsible Business Champion award was Standard Life Aberdeen, nominated by both Ian Murray MP and Christine Jardine MP.  Thanet Earth, nominated by Sir Roger Gale MP was third placed.


Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart has responded to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Statement, delivered this afternoon, and has in particular applauded the Chancellor’s commitment to progressing a devolved growth deal for the Borderlands region, including north Cumbria – a deal on which Rory has worked since initiating the proposal while a Minister in DEFRA, when he championed a place-based investment strategy to bolster economic growth in the rural communities of northern England and southern Scotland.

Rory said: “​This is another positive Budget for Cumbria. I am especially pleased to hear that the Chancellor has today agreed to open negotiations regarding a Borderlands Growth Deal – a major investment into the Border region that I began working on in my time as Minister at DEFRA, and which will herald investment​ in infrastructure and transport​, develop our existing industries (such as agriculture and tourism), and ​transform the Borderlands into a national example of productivity with high levels of innovation, and the internationalisation of small businesses as we look ahead to a new trading future.”

​“Cumbrians will welcome this pro-small business budget that​ supports our smaller firms – on which the economy in Penrith and The Border depends – with the current VAT threshold frozen, and a proposed switch from the Retail Prices Index to the Consumer Prices Index in April 2018 which ​will assist those feeling the burden of Business Rates. And there is plenty to be pleased about for all sectors of our society, and all those who contribute so much to our economy. Our young people will benefit from both reduced rail fares with a new Railcard, and from the abolishing of stamp duty for first-time home-buyers. Working families will see the benefits of an increase in both the National Living Wage and the tax-free threshold. And our rural communities will be relieved that the planned increase in fuel duty has, again, been cancelled​. In addition, we see continued investment of £500m in broadband and 5G technology – and a commitment to investing in digital skills education, which I would love to be able to harness in Penrith and The Border.”

“At a time when we are in challenging and unprecedented circumstances as a result of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the Chancellor is steering a steady fiscal path through these uncertain times and there is a great deal to be positive about. Our economy continues to grow and the deficit to reduce. Today’s Budget underpins that growth through a number of measures that will bolster our economy as we leave the EU, while protecting ordinary people at home. We will continue to build homes, boldly address national productivity, set aside the funds we need to see us through Brexit, and support people in their everyday lives.​”


Rory, in his capacity as Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, answered Foreign and Commonwealth Questions on 21 November 2017 alongside Boris Johnson, Sir Alan Duncan and Alistair Burt. Watch it here:


Penrith Remembers Image

Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart attended a reception at The George Hotel last week, to launch a new book about Penrith during the First World War. The collection of stories, entitled ‘Heroism, Hardship… and Victory’ were drawn together by the Penrith Remembers group, and edited by co-chair Ann Risman, with help from former Herald Journalist, Bill Mossop.

Rory Stewart said: “There is now no one alive today, who was an adult during the First World War, so this book does something very important – it connects us back to our past, and to a particular place, and it does so in a way which is not just beautifully written, but is beautifully presented; it’s short, it’s crisp, it’s got very moving photographs. It provides something that’s very easy to imagine, and something that will appeal to an enormous number of different generations. And it’s also quite modern, because it isn’t a traditional form of history. If this book had been written in 1920, it would have been almost entirely an attempt to celebrate the heroism of the trenches, but because it’s been written 100 years later, it is much more open to what was happening in Cumbria, as well as what was happening abroad, what what happening with women, as well as what was happening with men, what was happening with the young, what was happening with the old. And as a result – although on the surface that might make it seem less romantic, less adventurous – its complexity, its openness to all the different experiences of the people who lived through World War I, makes it a far more interesting collection of stories.”

“It makes me feel very optimistic, and very cheerful about Cumbria, that we can still produce something of this quality. And it is our hope that in perhaps another 100 years, someone has the connections, the energy, the belief and the faith, when we are all gone, to produce something as moving, thoughtful and interesting as this.”

“I would like to thank everyone who was involved in producing this book, and particularly Ann Risman, for their time and energy, and for their wonderful, invaluable contributions.”

Copied of the book are £5 and available from the Herald office on King Street, Penrith.

Image attached (left to right: Bill Mossop, Andrew Humphries, Barry Marshall, Rory Stewart MP, Richard Preston, Merilynne Popple, Colin Bardgett, Mark Popple, Ann Risman)


Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart has praised the work of a group of dedicated volunteers, who have been awarded £5,958 to boost their vital life-saving work.

The money for the Penrith Mountain Rescue Team has been made available from the Government’s inshore and inland rescue boat grant fund and is the fourth round of funding under this five year, £5 million scheme.

Charities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will use this year’s fund to purchase 14 new lifeboats and maritime equipment including life jackets, helmets, boots, ropes, knives and torches.

Penrith Mountain Rescue covers the largest area of all rescue teams in the Lake District, stretching from the Scottish Border in the north to the Northumberland border in the east, down the North Pennines to High Cup Nick above Dufton in the South, with the north-eastern fells of the Lake District (Haweswater) making up their western boundary.

Made up entirely of volunteers, the group is funded by donations and responds to call outs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Rory Stewart said: “I cannot praise the dedication and commitment of this team enough. Our beautiful landscape attracts thousands of walkers every year, and both visitors and locals can be safe in the knowledge that they can turn to the Penrith Mountain Rescue Team if they find themselves in danger. The group is manned by volunteers, who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The work is relentless, so I know this Government support will come as welcome news.”


23131171_10155807183303770_2113148638_oOn Friday 27th October, Rory Stewart MP convened a meeting between local residents and area, county and local Environment Agency managers to discuss the Agency’s plans for future flood defences in Rickerby and Low Crosby. Both communities were badly affected by the winter 2015-16 flooding, and have been pushing for clarity on the schemes proposed and the related timescale. Andy Brown, Flood Risk Manager for Cumbria, and Iwan Lawton, the local specialist, discussed the potential for upstream measures to reduce peak flood flows and the overall strategy for the Lower Eden valley. They then turned to discuss the detail of the two lead options for Low Crosby, describing potential arrangements around Warwick Holmes and the scope for additional defences to the west of the village. Finally, they described a new approach developed to deliver a viable scheme for Rickerby, commencing next year, building on synergies, economies of scale and knock-on benefits from the broader Carlisle area developments. Keith Ashcroft, Area Director, summed up by affirming the Agency’s determination to find the best possible solution for both communities in a timely and constructive manner.

Rory said: “I am extremely pleased that the Environment Agency has now found a solution to the challenge of delivering flood defences for Rickerby, and that we will be seeing progress on this in the near future. I am confident that they will also continue to focus on practical measures to improve flood resilience in Low Crosby, and that we will see their thinking crystallising into workable plans in due course. Both communities have suffered from flooding on multiple occasions, and it is important that we use the government’s booster funding for Cumbria to make progress on these longstanding problems. I will continue to work with residents throughout Penrith and The Border to push for progress in these difficult areas.”



Last week, Penrith and The Border MP​ Rory Stewart paid a visit to two of Warwick Bridge’s heritage assets; Warwick Bridge Corn Mill, and Our Lady and St Wilfrid’s Church​.Rory was accompanied to the Corn Mill by local residents, including Councillors Doreen Parsons and Marilyn Bowman, and met with representatives from Historic England and the North of England Civic Trust​.The Grade II* listed ​mill was built in 1839 for the Corby Castle Estate and extended during the 19th century. It has been water powered throughout its working life, producing animal feed into the 1980​’​s.

​ ​Since falling into disuse the building has been a concern for Carlisle City Council and Historic England. Options for conversion were explored, but they were limited by the historically important mill machinery, so the building was then​ added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2000​,​​ and ​subsequently ​acquired by the North of England Civic Trust (NECT) in 2015 with grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). It is proposed that the mill complex will house an artisan bakery and provide craft skills training facilities.

Following acquisition by NECT, Historic England grant aided a project to address the most urgent repair works prior to the main repair and conversion scheme. This was carried out in 2016 and concentrated on the Drying Room and the former Miller’s House.

​ The repairs focused on roof structures and coverings, rainwater goods and associated masonry repairs. The work cost £206,000, to which Historic England contributed £175,000​, and t​he project was essential to stabilise the most threatened elements of the complex, ​while the larger HLF funded scheme was being developed.

Rory was then given a tour of Our Lady and St Wilfrid’s Church​ by Don Austin, who talked about the building’s rich history, and the restoration work which is planned for the building should the project be successful in obtaining HLF funding.

Designed by celebrated English  Architect, ​Augustus Pugin ​- who also designed the interior of the Palace of Westminster – and completed in 1841, the building includes some impressive stain glass windows by renowned craftsman John Hardman​, who created stain glass windows for churches and cathedrals all over the world.

Catherine Dewar, Planning Director at Historic England said: ‘We’re thrilled that this wonderful building will be brought back into use and are really excited by the Trust’s plans.  The repairs that we have helped to fund are a big step towards giving the building a new life and have stopped further decay of the building for now.  There is of course further work to be carried out and more fundraising to be done by the Trust and they are keen to hear from anyone with memories of the building in use.’

After the visits Rory said: ‘Warwick Bridge has an incredibly rich heritage. The people and the stories behind these buildings are a fascinating part of our cultural history, and it is right that they are restored and cared for, so that future generations can enjoy and learn about them for many years to come. I am deeply supportive of these restoration project​s​​, and will be watching how they progress.’