Monthly Archives: August 2018


Rory visited Wigton Swimming Baths to show his support for the recently approved plans for development. Since the Trust took over the management of the baths they had become increasingly aware that the lack of dry side space had inhibited business and its potential for growth. The Trust set about plans for a ‘Loft’ development, consulting user groups and the general public in the process.

On August 1st, Allerdale Council Planners approved the plans to transform the 100 year old Swimming Baths to create a new reception area, a multi-purpose meeting room and viewing gallery. Currently spectators coming to the Baths have to sit around the pool side, the new viewing gallery which has windows overlooking the pool, will allow for a more comfortable, accessible and safe place for spectators.

The multi-purpose room will provide a space to run courses managed by the Baths, meaning that the pool will no longer have to fully close when lifeguard courses are taking place. In addition to this, the room will be available to hire for local groups as well as birthday parties. Both rooms will be accessible by lift and stairs.

The additional reception area will create much needed space for members of the public, and the tea and coffee facilities alongside the vending machines will allow for walkers and cyclists to stop in for a rest.

The swimming baths are now in the process of seeking the required funding to push the plans into reality and will be pursuing various avenues including Sport England and Lottery Funding pots.

Elaine Hudson, Swimming Baths Manager said about the approved development “These are exciting times, bring the much loved Baths into the 21st century. I am thrilled about all the positive feedback from locals.”

Mr Stewart commented “I completely support this development. The Trust has listened the needs of the community and by pushing these plans forward will see the transformation of this already fantastic asset, into a versatile space for all. I wish them the best in securing the funding and will do whatever I can to help them in this process”.


Rory met with Caldbeck Parish Council to discuss the proposed plans to create a wheelchair and pushchair friendly path and cycle way joining together two picturesque Cumbrian villages, Caldbeck and Hesket Newmarket.

A call for such a footpath was included in the 2005-15 Parish plan and was overwhelmingly supported by parishioners. The parish Plan was written following a questionnaire to all its residents. In response, there were 200 suggestions for local footpaths, and out of those, 173 called for a safe footway between Caldbeck and Hesket Newmarket. The road is sometimes narrow and has a complete absence of verges along most stretches. It is notoriously tricky both for pedestrians and cyclists and has become known as the road that separated two villages rather than linking them together.

The proposed path which would follow the road, is just over 2 kilometres in length and would take walkers about 30 minutes to access the opposite village. Currently it takes over one and a half hours to walk between the villages along roads and footpaths crossing rough farm land.

The hope is that the footpath will allow visitors to be able to enjoy both the villages, walking safety and directly along the path enjoying the delights both villages have to offer including a number of pubs, shops, tea rooms and galleries.

The Parish Council has received £100,000 as a generous gift to pay for the mapping and construction of the footpath and has firm estimates to ensure the work can be completed within budget.

Plans for the footpath have been rejected by Cumbria County Council. However, Caldbeck Parish Council is keen to pursue a variety of options to try and move the proposal forward. It is continuing to work closely with Cumbria County Council, the Lake District National Park, Allerdale District Council and land owners. Mr Stewart welcomed the update on the project by the Parish Council and hopes a resolution can be found.

After meeting with the Parish Council Mr Stewart said – “It is fantastic to see local people coming together to work on projects like this. It highlights why it is so vital to have local Parish plans. They address the issues surrounding village life and help to develop ideas that will benefit the whole community.”


There are many drivers of prison violence – the greatest is probably the surge in the use of Spice and other mind-altering drugs. But the trend is clear. Assaults have risen steadily over the last five years and there were more than eight thousand attacks on prison staff last year alone. Violence wrecks prisons. It doesn’t only make it challenging to perform the most basic tasks – from cell inspections, to running classes for prisoners – it poses an unacceptable risk to our staff; it makes it very difficult to turn around prisoners’ lives, to prevent reoffending and ultimately to protect the public.

So our key task must be to reduce violence in prisons. We have begun by recruiting an extra 2,500 prison officers – creating a key-worker system where each officer is assigned around six prisoners, spending at least forty-five minutes a week with each, one on one, developing a constructive relationship and working on their behaviour and needs. But this will not be enough, unless we achieve three further things: massively reduce the supply of drugs; restore basic decency; and above all provide the training and support for prison officers to challenge the behaviour that drives violence.

We have an increasingly detailed understanding of how new psychoactive substances have driven prisoners into aggressive frenzies, and self-harm, and trapped them in dangerous drug-debt. And we have better intelligence on how organised criminal gangs smuggle the substances in. But we should and can do far more to improve our basic security procedures. Better netting and window-grilles will prevent throw-overs and drones, new body scanners will detect drugs being smuggled in through the gate. So will more sniffer dogs. And we need to improve our searching of everyone who enters the prisons – accepting that, although the vast majority of families and prison officers are not engaged in the trade, we need to search and catch those who are.

The second priority, is to restore basic decency. Broken windows are not only unsightly – and a route for drones – they breed a culture of carelessness, while filth and graffiti around the cells breeds resentment and violence.

But the most important priority is to provide training and support to our staff, and in particular to the uniformed officers, working long shifts outside the cell doors. We need to invest in the slightly more senior staff – ‘Band 4 Officers’ in our language – and help them to be role-models for the new staff on the landings. We need to provide a staff college to make sure that governors have the best possible training before they take over a prison. And above all we need to invest in the thousands of officers who have recently joined the service.

Prisons can be intensely intimidating environments. It is not easy, for example, to know what to do if a prisoner swaggers up to you on a busy landing and swears at you. I recently witnessed an officer who chose to simply ignore it, telling me that the prisoner had a troubled past.  But, if we are serious about getting on top of violence, we need to train new officers on how to challenge such behaviour. Ignoring aggression doesn’t help the prisoner, who needs to learn to take responsibility for his behaviour. And it has a destructive impact on the hundred other prisoners, who witnessed that scene and suddenly feel less safe on the landings – or feel tempted to be violent themselves.

We have to set very clear expectations about behaviour for prison officers and prisoners – right down to the way clothes are worn, the state cells are kept in, and prisoners’ attendance at education or work. Clean, regularly inspected cells, for example, make it more difficult to hide or use drugs; order, calmness and safety are all mutually reinforcing. But enforcing high standards takes incredible energy, and commitment from prison officers day in and day out. They have to be strict and consistent, while also treating prisoners with dignity, and making it clear that the objective is not to exercise power, but to change lives, and thus prevent reoffending. In other words, for the Prison Service, as much as for, say, the Army, or a great company, it all comes down to how well you train and support the people on the frontline.

We have more than a hundred different prisons, each with a slightly different history, and culture, staffed by tens of thousands of people – some of whom have been working for forty years. No-one can hope to change an entire system overnight. So we have selected ten prisons to roll out this model. They include some of the prisons with the worst drug figures in the country, and some of our toughest prisons from Wormwood Scrubs to Nottingham, and Leeds.

We will put some additional resources into drug-scanners, and fixing cells in these prisons – adding to the wider £30million investment announced last month. But this is not just about resources. It is fundamentally about creating – through training, through clear expectations, and relentless energy and management – a culture, which supports and respects prisoners, while challenging poor behaviour. I believe that within twelve months we can reduce the quantity of drugs in these jails, reduce the violence, and prove that it is possible – despite all the problems of the new drugs – to create calm, orderly, decent prisons, that, ultimately, leads to more rehabilitation, less reoffending and fewer victims of crime.


Rory is encouraging communities to nominate their local high streets for the Great British High Street Awards 2018.

These awards, sponsored by Visa, celebrate local achievements on the nation’s high streets and will encourage communities to share suggestions to improve them in the face of new challenges. Community teams, councils and trading associations can register their local high streets by visiting This can also be done by contacting Rory or the local council. The shortlisted entries will be announced in October and these will then be submitted to a public vote. Finally, the remaining contenders will be visited by a judging panel comprised of industry leaders from across retail, property and business. Britain’s best high street will be announced in November, with the winner receiving £10,000 for a community project. So far, Kirkby Stephen High Street has been nominated and more are expected to follow.

Commenting on this, Rory said: “I am delighted to support this competition, which rightly celebrates the creativity of the many businesses which are so vital to preserving our high streets. I would like to encourage everyone to get involved in this important competition and I hope to see a great number of Penrith and The Border’s high streets nominated.”

Secretary of State for Communities, James Brokenshire MP said: “The Great British High Street Awards acknowledge how vital high streets are to our nation. They are crucial in creating jobs, nurturing small businesses and driving local and regional economies. As a government, we are committed to ensuring high streets continue to thrive and I’m delighted to support this brilliant competition.”



Rory, in his capacity as Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, appeared on Sky News this morning to discuss the Government’s decision to take control of HMP Birmingham.


BBC today programme

Rory appeared on the Today Programme this morning, to discuss the Government’s announcement that it has taken control of HMP Birmingham.

You can listen to Rory’s interview here: Today


Rory appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning to announce the Government’s new investment plan for ten of the nation’s prisons. You can watch the full episode HERE.



BBC today programme

Rory, in his capacity as Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, appeared on the Today Programme this morning to discuss the Government’s new investment in the nation’s prisons.

You can listen here: Today