Floods Minister visits Ulverston to view flood alleviation scheme

Therese Coffey, the Government Floods Minister, visited Ulverston yesterday to get an update on the flood improvement work undertaken across Barrow and Furness. 

We met by the Gill where £2.6m was spent as part of the Flood Alleviation Scheme to protect over 300 properties and businesses from further flooding.

Having a receptive Government is essential when dealing with flooding - they need to move quickly in times of need and lay the groundwork through the rest of the year to protect people, properties and businesses when the water comes.

We are very luck to have a Minister of Therese's calibre in this essential job, and I'm very grateful for her support.

Paul Casson endorses Simon Fell


The Chairman of Barrow AFC, Paul Casson, has today given his backing to Simon Fell, the Conservative challenger to be Barrow’s next MP.

Paul Casson said:

“The coming years could be some of the most exciting in Barrow's proud history. The upcoming Successor program should provide the engine for robust economic growth. Who then may prove the best custodian of the areas’ good fortune, the party that passed the legislation that provided it, or the party who's leadership is pledged to its demise?

“My personal opinion is that for Barrow and Furness that answer is Simon Fell. In meetings with him he has outlined a vision for the area that very much matches my own. He has deep family roots in the area and I am impressed by his thoughtful, well crafted, locally inspired ideas. 

“It's time for a change.”

Simon Fell said:

“I’m very grateful to Paul for his endorsement. Paul’s approach - using his good fortune to help others and lift Barrow up - is one I would like to follow. Barrow AFC are ambassadors for Barrow and we should be rightly proud of them.

“Barrow and Furness is the most amazing place but it is neglected on the national stage as it doesn’t have a strong voice fighting for it. I will work constructively with others to get the improvements in our road, rail and broadband infrastructure that Barrow needs and to ensure that our essential public services are safe, secure and funded. 

"Barrow is an amazing place, and I want to promote the positive things it does to the world.”

Three thoughts on the attacks

I’m struck by what a remarkable country we live in.

London has been afflicted once again by terror.

The reason for this attack, the actions that led to it, and the attackers’ minutes, days and weeks before the incident will be picked over for many months. 

Those details will be written about later by others.

But three fragments stand out to me now:

First - that we owe a great deal to those public servants who shy away from danger, putting duty first and themselves a very distant second. As parliament was locked down, Police ran towards trouble (as reportedly did medics from St Thomas’). Even the Foreign Minister performed CPR on a wounded Police officer.

Second - that we should celebrate our democracy. It’s no coincidence that the incident was at the Palace of Westminster, the cradle of our democracy. Inside that building - as happens day after day, year after year - debates are held, and laws passed, in public by parliamentarians who are directly elected to speak for their constituents. Democracy is fragile and remarkable. We should treasure ours. 

Third - that as a wounded police officer was treated at the scene, so was his attacker. What better message can we give to our tormentors than that? That no matter the acts of barbarism which may come, we are confident in our democracy and the rule of law and so will afford them care and try them fairly? 

Our assailants detest our freedom and the institutions and people which underpin and defend it. If nothing else, today has shown that all three are strong.

Say no to pylons in the Duddon estuary and Furness peninsula

Power without Pylons and Friends of the Lake District are running an excellent campaign to keep pylons out of the Duddon Estuary and Furness Peninsula. I urge you to visit their sites and sign up to keep the pressure on NWCC and the Government to ensure that our beautiful landscape is not blighted by enormous pylons.

A copy of my letter to the National Grid is below:

05 January 2017

Dear Mr Powell

Response to National Grid’s North West Coast Connections (NWCC) Preliminary Environmental Impact Report. 

It has been a tremendous privilege to live and work in the Furness peninsula. It is one of the most stunning areas in the UK. Of course, it is not just lakes - hills, valleys and rich coastline mark the area out as unique in the country. Indeed, it's no surprise that the Lake District is a candidate World Heritage Site. It should be treated accordingly.

I'm very glad that NWCC have decided to ensure that cables will be put underground in the National Park. However, it is essential that beyond these points, the same thing occurs. The beauty of the Lake District does not end at artificial boundaries. The Duddon Estuary's incredible beauty is testament to this. It would be wholly wrong therefore to build 50m high pylons (as tall as Nelson's Column!) in an area where people choose to live due to the natural environment, and where nature tourism is responsible for many local jobs (estimated to be almost £2.5bn each year).

I would urge everyone involved in this decision-making process, from the Government to National Grid to reconsider the proposals currently on the table. The Duddon Estuary, the Whicham Valley and the Furness peninsula deserve parity with the conditions being granted to the National Park. I would urge all parties to accept the recommendation that the cables are buried and run either offshore from Kirksanton to the Fylde or, as an alternate option, through a tunnel under the Duddon Estuary.

National Grid should not be sacrificing our internationally important landscapes and wildlife sites on cost grounds. They are prepared to spend significant sums of money in burying cables and constructing tunnels elsewhere, such as between Furness and Morecambe. The Duddon Estuary is just as valuable and deserves the same treatment.

Local opinion is united against these plans. I truly hope that NWCC and the Government hear our concerns and act accordingly.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Fell

Conservative Spokesman for Barrow & Furness

Labour is Torpedoed

An article for Cumbria Pink following the announcement that there is to be - yet another - Labour leadership election... one that Jeremy Corbyn seems sure to win.

Less than a month ago we were dragged through a thoroughly miserable EU referendum campaign, all of us hoping that come June 23rd, that would be it for a while. 

But it wasn’t. 

The news that Britain voted to leave the EU quickly became a side-note to the political earthquake that followed.

But while the Conservatives united at breakneck speed behind Theresa May, Labour have taken the opportunity to wash their dirty linen in public.

The upcoming Labour leadership election is a battle for the party’s soul. But the fight is not just taking place in the gilded corridors of Westminster - it is just as real in Labour branches across Cumbria.

Just this month, Barrow’s MP John Woodcock overwhelmingly lost a vote of no confidence from the Ulverston Labour branch due to his continued attacks on Jeremy Corbyn. Alongside this, a ‘Red Labour’ group has sprouted in Barrow, and a number of Labour stalwarts and councillors have signed a petition for him to stand down, citing the fact that he has neglected his constituents in pursuit of a ‘crusade’ against his democratically elected leader.

Up and down the country, we’ve seen Labour MPs challenged in a similar way. 

You might ask why this matters to Barrow. 

It matters because the future of Labour and the future of Trident are intertwined.

Next Monday, the Conservatives have called a vote in parliament to approve the next stage of the Trident Successor programme. The vote will pass as the Conservatives have a majority at Westminster. 

But if Jeremy Corbyn wins the leadership election - and most pundits believe he will - he will have a refreshed mandate to change the party in his image. That means a harder left party that wants unilateral disarmament and for the Trident programme to be scrapped. 

What seemed impossible under Blair and Brown will become Labour party policy by 2020.

It will be suicide for Labour to fight the next general election in Barrow on a policy which will hurt up to 1 in 5 jobs in the area. 

Labour MPs who fought Mr Corbyn tooth and nail since his appointment may face deselection. As we’ve seen in Ulverston, there are already moves being made to soften the ground for this. 

MPs like John Woodcock had an opportunity to work with Jeremy Corbyn in good faith and find a compromise on important issues like this. Instead, they ran a guerrilla war against him and have used the Brexit vote to engineer a coup. It looks like they will lose.

John Woodcock has spent the last year fighting Mr Corbyn rather than speaking for Barrow. He protests that he did this to ‘save’ Labour. Instead he is now looking at the prospect of a split party, scrapping Trident being party policy, and deselection by his own party members. 

Bad judgement has torpedoed Labour and it looks set to sink John Woodcock in Barrow.

A letter from the Secretary of State for Defence

Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, has written to people across Barrow and Furness about the very real threat posed by Labour doing a deal with the SNP in order to gain power following the election.

The letter is clear.

There is a choice at this election between a strong Conservative government and Ed Miliband, propped up by the SNP. The same SNP who have called scrapping Trident a 'red line' issue for them.

From our 2015 General Election Manifesto

From our 2015 General Election Manifesto

We have put our commitment to Trident in black and white in our manifesto: we support a four boat solution and are committed to the jobs, investment and opportunity which that will bring to our area. 

Ed Miliband's Labour Party has made no such commitment, mentioning only a 'minimum' capability in their manifesto. They are already paving the way for a deal.

The choice couldn't be clearer: whether to support a Conservative party which backs Barrow, or a Labour party which needs the SNP for power.

The SNP have been absolutely open about what they will do - they will haggle, bully and bend arms to get what they want from the Labour party. That means scrapping Trident, raising taxes and borrowing more. And who will pay for it? All of us.

We cannot afford to risk our security by letting Ed Miliband's Labour do a deal with a party which only exists to break up the UK. To secure Trident we need a strong Conservative government and every vote counts to help make that happen.

You can read Michael Fallon's letter below.

A letter from Michael Fallon to all Barrovians.

A letter from Michael Fallon to all Barrovians.