Farming, community and ‘no’ to a ghetto

Date:

Simon Hoare MP’s March musings: championing British farming, lambing season, community advocacy and Government collaboration

Simon Hoare MP
Simon Hoare MP

For this month’s column I thought I would look at some varied topics rather than a thematic piece.
Farming and food production remains one of the largest part of the UK’s economy – it outstrips the automotive and aeronautical industries by some distance. North Dorset born Dr Luke Evans, MP for Bosworth, launched a campaign in 2023 to persuade supermarkets to have a ‘buy British’ section on their websites. It started small, with just a few of us supporting him, but it grew and took root, with a raft of my Parliamentary colleagues adding their voice. Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Aldi have all now created Buy British tabs on their websites – and we have to hope that other retailers will follow suit. I would encourage readers to write to the chief executives of businesses urging them to do so. Such action would augment and support the recent announcements made by the Prime Minister at the NFU Conference, strongly supporting farming.
Still on the subject of farming – we are on the cusp of lambing season. We dog owners need to remember that our adored companions are not that far removed from the wolf and that latent instincts can kick in. Please please please ensure your dog is on a lead when around livestock. I have seen for myself the mauled carcasses and also the mutilated yet still (barely) alive ewes and lambs that have been attacked by dogs. It’s not pretty. One cannot claim to be an animal lover and then act (or rather not act) in a way that leads to devastating, painful and costly attacks. Please be sensible and cautious.

Blandford ghetto
On the subject of being sensible, I was delighted that the Planning Inspectorate refused the appeal to create a ghettoised caravan park for Ukrainian refugees on open land near Blandford. We have all welcomed Ukrainians fleeing the war as they seek sanctuary from the horror, and we have housed them with families to provide stability, support and comfort.
We have not stuck them in a caravan in some isolated field.
Residents, Blandford Town Council, I and others recognised this proposal for what it was – a not particularly well-disguised Trojan Horse to support a future application for housing development (on a site which has already been explored and rejected for new homes). The Inspectorate listened to our policy-based concerns and dismissed the appeal. It was the wrong scheme, on the wrong site, promoted for entirely the wrong reasons.

A good base
Many of us will be familiar with the phrase ‘joined-up Government’. Sometimes it feels more like an aspiration rather than a way of actually working. Against this backdrop, I thought readers might be interested to hear briefly about my joint work as part of the DHLUC ministerial team with my opposite numbers. We are all concerned about ‘bed blocking’ – people in hospital who are ready to leave but due to delays in their at-home care packages find themselves stuck in hospital. The Department of Health & Social Care and I are working closely to ensure maximum integration between our councils (who provide the care) and the NHS. Likewise I am working very closely with ministers in the Department for Education on issues relating to SEND policy, home-to-school transport and policies towards combating child abuse and exploitation. The role of local government (for which I have ministerial responsibility) is absolutely pivotal, given its place in service provision.
There’s more to do, I know, but steady delivery of joined-up government on policies that really matter to the lives of so many in North Dorset is a good place to begin.

Power of a title
One of the most satisfying parts of an MP’s role is the Advice Surgery. Constituents who have been wrestling with a problem for months come and see me to explain the issue and seek my help. No MP is a miracle worker, but the magical properties that the words Member of Parliament have still amazes me. With those three words, attention is gained and action summoned up.
We can’t solve all of the problems but we do give everyone a damned good try. If you think I can help please email me at simon.hoare.mp@parliament.uk to arrange an appointment.

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