Monthly newsletter Edition 11 Sir Robert reports:- Page 2

I was involved recently in a small all-Party exercise with other NW MEPs to urge Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, to invest in some much-needed wastewater treatment works in our region. There are still too many rivers with "bad" or "poor" water quality - the Ribble, the Darwen, the Irwell, the Mersey, the Alt and the Douglas, to name but a few - and it is essential for environmental reasons that action is taken now. Sadly, the response was a predictable refusal. But we will keep at it.

You may remember the fanfares and publicity that surrounded two announcements last year by Chancellor Gordon Brown; firstly, about special fuel tax breaks for Britain's Road Hauliers - the so-called "Brit Disc" - and, secondly, about VAT reductions on church repairs, so essential for the maintenance of these historic buildings. You may not have noticed the announcements that told us that neither of these two policies will actually happen - hardly surprising, since they have never been made! Both these proposals required consultation with the EC, a fact clearly understood by the Chancellor, and both of them are well on the way to being thrown out, in the latter case by a vote of the EU's Finance Ministers, including Gordon Brown. How's that for fraudulent misrepresentation? or hypocrisy? or downright lying?

Dulcie and I spent a delightful evening last month at the Lancaster Grand Theatre. I have been asked to be a Patron of the Appeal Fund for this, one of the oldest theatres in Britain, and we were present at its launch at a Gala Night of fund-raising. The building is a jewel of the North-West's heritage and I am proud to be associated with it.

I attended a Conservative Councillors Association seminar at City Hall, Chester, a weekend or so ago. Councillors and Candidates were there from all over the region and they heard from a variety of the Party's Local Government Leaders and swapped campaigning tips. The hopes and expectations of taking control of Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire County Councils buoyed up everyone and morale was very high.

Visits over Christmas and the New Year have included Warrington North, Ribble Valley, South Ribble, Manchester, Preston, Chester, Tatton, Lancaster & Wyre.

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