Monthly Archives: December 2017


Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart is urging constituents to take care of themselves and their neighbours this winter.

Every year, winter puts increased pressure on our NHS and emergency services, due to the combination of cold weather, increased levels of flu, sicker patients and staff illness, and the ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign has been launched to help communities understand how to use the NHS effectively.

People can help ease pressure on the NHS by:

Getting a flu jab – the most effective way to protect yourselves and your loved ones from flu. All NHS Staff and those most at risk (those with long term conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, those over 65 and pregnant women) are entitled to a free flu jab.  Carers and those with certain medical conditions are also entitled to a free vaccination.

Choosing wisely – know which NHS service is best for your needs. Check North Cumbria CCG’s website for a range of winter advice.

  • If you care for children – download the free NHS Child Health app for advice and support.
  • If you have a long term health condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – speak to your care coordinator about how best to manage your symptoms and conditions over the winter.
  • Stocking up the medicine cabinet.
  • Only using antibiotics which are prescribed – they are no good for coughs and colds.
  • Norovirus – stay away from hospitals, care homes and schools if you have the winter vomiting bug. Wait until you are symptom free for 48 hours before you visit any public places or relatives.
  • Keeping warm – make sure your home and those of your loved ones are warm this winter. At least 18°C
  • In an emergency call 999
  • Furthermore, patients will be able to access GP appointments out-of-hours, throughout the Christmas and New Year period, through the CHoC service, which is accessed by calling the NHS 111 number, and all pharmacy opening hours are available on the Cumbria CCG website –

    To support the health service through this challenging time, the Government has provided extra funding to support schemes aimed at ensuring people are only admitted into hospital when necessary and also that discharges are not delayed. The funds (around £300,000) will be used for the following projects:

    A successful pilot in Eden will now be rolled out across Carlisle in which therapy teams work with paramedics to assess patients in their own home. This is particularly important for older people who have suffered a fall, who may need medical attention but not necessarily a stay in hospital.  By assessing patients in this way the teams can avoid a hospital admission as the support the person needs is actioned in their own home by the experts who provide it.

  • There will be an increase in availability of therapy teams over a weekend to support discharges. This is because we know that some patients can be delayed going home over a weekend because access to therapy team to support the discharge is usually reduced.
  • To support both discharges and admissions, patients who are ready for discharge but waiting for medication to take home for example, will be taken off the ward to an area where they can be supported by a medical team on the ground floor. This means that the nursing staff from the ward can remain there and the bed space is freed up quicker for other patients.
  • Health teams across Cumbria have been working together to ensure the health system is working as smoothly as possible, and to provide appropriate support and advice to those who are at risk of illness over the winter and thereby reduce the numbers of people who need to be in hospital.

    Rory Stewart MP said: ‘It is absolutely crucial that people help to take the strain off the NHS this winter, by taking good care of themselves and those around them, being prepared and making sensible decisions relating to their health. Increased resources, information, and guidance on self-help have been made available to make this easier, and help relieve pressure, and staff will be working as hard as ever to ensure patients continue to receive the same high standard of care. And I am immensely grateful to all our NHS staff for their care and commitment during this incredibly busy period.”

    “However, physical health isn’t the only important factor in staying well. Christmas can be a very difficult time for many people, and it is important, if you are feeling down, that you speak to a friend or family member, or an organisation such as the Samaritans or Carlisle and Eden Mind for support. And please remember to reach out to friends or neighbours who might be feeling lonely this Christmas”.


    This comes with the warmest wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

    I am writing near Pooley Bridge. The sheep are hunched against the rain under a low grey sky, the river is high, and the banks deep in dank brown leaves, but the limestone walls are sparkling. And through the surrounding thousand square miles of this constituency run the cleanest rivers, under the darkest night skies, in England. You can see the same sparkle in the masonry of Hadrian’s Wall, and in the lime caught in the roots of ash trees, first pollarded by the Vikings, and in a hundred fortified pele towers buried in farmhouse walls.

    The Borderlands deal, which we secured in the October budget, is an opportunity to build on all this unique landscape and history. It is a chance to invest in the architecture and the essence of our market towns, instead of apeing anonymous mini-cities; to defend and celebrate small family farms for their cultural and social values; to really promote what it unique about our local produce; and to invest much more in higher-value tourism. It is also an opportunity to support all that is already so impressive from our Community Hospitals, to the Scouts, from our local radio stations, to Mountain Rescue, Young Farmers’ Clubs, and local agricultural shows. We continue to excel in skills education from Appleby Heritage Centre, to Blencathra Field Studies Centre and Newton Rigg, and in the apprenticeships supported by companies such as Cranstons and Atkinsons builders. And I am really pleased that we now have one of the very lowest unemployment rates in Britain.

    Borderlands meeting at Bewcastle

    Borderlands meeting at Bewcastle

    But all of this approach to our local strengths and assets must be powered by new ideas from elsewhere. Ninety per cent of people in our villages were not born in our villages. Perhaps a quarter of our population has worked abroad at some time in their life. We have moved from a world of large employers to a world where ninety per cent of us work for businesses employing less than ten people, and a quarter are self-employed. This means that all the work we have done on superfast broadband since I was elected – bringing £40 million pounds of funding into Cumbria, and delivering to ninety per cent of homes – must be only the beginning.

    Bringing 4G to Penrith and The Border

    Bringing 4G to Penrith and The Border

    This year, therefore, we have been pushing new mobile masts into the back-end of Ullswater, and deeper into the Howgills. We have been trialling new community approaches to microwave technology on the East Fellside. We are exploring how to allow the elderly in remote houses to receive medical support, or to allow children to access lessons from around the world. And we are developing increasing numbers of businesses in new technology – in the Gilwilly Estate for example Atlantic Geomatics are using drones for high-resolution land mapping, or in Flusco Typhon Systems – conceived in Africa, headquartered now in Cumbria – are using Cumbrian LEDs to revolutionise water purification across Europe.

    And our environment is changing as fast as our technology. We face renewed threats from diseases – such as endemic bovine TB– which we must control if we are to save not just our herds and farms, but the entire rural economy that they support. And our weather is changing. Storm Desmond poured the highest rainfall ever recorded onto some of the steepest, wildest, quickest flooding catchments in the country. So we have to transform the way we respond to floods. Much of this year has, therefore, been about investing tens of millions of pounds of new money in bridge and road repairs, and in ensuring that most of those who were flooded have resilience measures such as house flood gates or pumps installed. But it also about using the latest computers to completely re-examine our flood models from the source to the sea. Cumbria is leading natural flood management schemes on the uplands – to slow the flow. We are involving communities ever more closely in design – ensuring that engineers meet villages again and again to explain every detail of proposals – and absorb both the frustrations and the knowledge of communities. And we will invest about £70 million pounds over the next few years bringing these new flood schemes to fruition.

    Image courtesy of Val Corbett

    Image courtesy of Val Corbett

    Finally, we have just heard that my entirely innocent Wigton constituent John Armstrong – who I was able to visit when he was imprisoned in India in 2013 – has at long last been released alongside his fellow members of the ‘Chennai 6’ group. We should all pay tribute to his parents and sister, for their effective campaigning, their empathy, and their grace throughout what has been the most testing time imaginable. Their dedication symbolises so much of what Christmas should mean – the resilient power of our families, our patient care for one another, and our faith in a better world.

    Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and New Year,


    Rory, in his capacity as Minister of State for the Department for International Development and Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, appears before the International Development Committee on 19 December 2017 to answer questions on the humanitarian response in South Sudan.


    Rory Stewart MP has met with some of Cumbria’s key Education figures to discuss some of the challenges facing the teaching system. The group included Graham Frost, Cumbria Branch Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), Sue Sanderson, Cumbria County Council Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning, and Kathryn Fox, Head of School Partnership and External Engagement at the University of Cumbria. 
    During the meeting they discussed issues such as support and funding for inclusive practice, recruitment and retention of school leaders, and the training, recruitment and retention of teaching staff. 
    Following the meeting Rory Stewart said: “I am pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss Cumbria’s teaching challenges with Sue, Kathryn and Graham, and am very grateful to them for sharing their knowledge and insight. We should remember that more people came back into teaching in 2016 than in 2011, and more people came into teaching than left last year, and that is encouraging, but it is absolutely right that teacher retention and professional development is prioritised, and I am pleased that the Government is investing £42 million to pilot a Teacher Development Premium, which will test the impact of a £1,000 budget for high-quality professional development for teachers working in areas that have fallen behind.”
    “I am also encouraged by plans to introduce extensive measures to boost teacher recruitment and retention, as well as the investment in teacher support and training. A new style maths bursary will also be piloted, with 1,500 – 2,000 maths trainees expected to benefit from this in 2018-19. Over £30 million will be invested in supporting some of those schools that face the biggest challenges in recruiting and retaining teachers, and Northern Powerhouse funding will be used to support the best teacher trainer providers to expand their reach in northern areas. I welcome the £75 million investment in the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Funding over the next three years. This will support high-quality professional development for teachers and school leaders in the parts of country and the schools that need it the most.”
    “All this news is very encouraging, but we absolutely need to make sure that any scheme will benefit rural areas like Cumbria, where our unique geography can often put us at a disadvantage, and so I will be keeping a close eye on how things develop and push for improvements where necessary.”
    Image attached (Sue Sanderson, Rory Stewart MP, Kathryn Fox, Graham Frost)


    Rory, in his capacity as Minister for Africa, offered his thoughts on the situation in South Sudan. Watch it here:


    IMG-9126Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart last week attended a meeting of farmers from North Cumbria, organised by the National Farmers Union (NFU) and held at Low Wood Farm, Warwick Bridge, to discuss the challenges around Bovine TB (bTB) and Brexit, and hear the concerns of local farmers.

    Acknowledging the potentially catastrophic effects of the spread of bTB in Cumbria, there was a strong consensus that more must be done to contain the disease, in order to protect the Cumbrian agricultural economy. Similarly, it was agreed there must be a move towards more efficient testing of cattle, along with stronger sanctions on the movement of cattle, to prevent bTB becoming endemic in the area. Rory Stewart said he was confident that through continued dialogue between Defra, APHA, the NFU and local farmers, and strong, timely action, the effects of this disease could effectively be mitigated.

    The group also voiced concerns about the ongoing Brexit negotiations, as the agriculture sector is likely to be impacted in a number of ways; particularly by the seasonal migration of workers and the effect of any new trade relationships.

    After the meeting Rory Stewart said: “Agriculture is vital to Britain’s economy, landscape, health and security, and is part of our iconic Cumbrian heritage. We must look to ensure its success at all costs, and dealing with the very real threat of bovine TB, and the challenge of Brexit, is integral to achieving this. After Brexit, I personally hope for more freedom for our farmers – freedom to deliver as a world-leading food and farming industry, to grow more, sell more, and export more, and I am committed to supporting our farming community through this uncertain time.”

    Rory’s comments on the release of Wigton constituent John Armstrong

    “John has now finally flown out of India, following his almost four-year ordeal in India. I cannot overstate how pleased I am for John and his family, in particular his parents and sister Joanne Thomlinson, who have done so much to bring about this result, and whose courage and patience throughout has made a huge impression on me personally both when I flew to India to visit John and in our many meetings in Cumbria and parliament. I know that John will be spending the immediate period of time re-acclimatising to ‘normal’ life and will appreciate the respect of his privacy from the media and others. And I look forward to seeing John back home in Wigton very soon. I wish everyone who has been affected by the Chennai 6 case a peaceful holiday period together with their families.”



    Penrith and The Border​ MP Rory Stewart is asking constituents to nominate their favourite local food and drink producers ahead of Cumbria Day 2018, which will take pl​ace in Westminster on 24th January​.

    Hosted by Cumbria’s six members of Parliament and supported by Visit Cumbria, and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, the annual event provides an opportunity for Cumbrian businesses to network on a national level, and showcase their produce to Parliamentarians from across the UK.

    Rory Stewart said: “Cumbria Day is an incredibly important event, and I am very proud that it is now in its third year. This time around, each Cumbrian MP has been asked to invite two businesses from their constituency to attend the day in Westminster, but with so many high-quality producers on our doorstep, this is a very difficult decision, and that is why I am asking constituents to nominate their favourites and help me make the decision.”

    To ​submit your nominations visit or contact the ​Parliamentary office on ​0207 219 7127.

    The deadline for nominations is 11pm on Monday ​11th ​December and the two businesses with the most nominations from the public will be invited to Westminster to showcase their produce at the event on 24th January.​