Monthly newsletter Edition 14 Sir Robert reports:- Page 2

My continuing concern about European air traffic congestion led me to give evidence to a recent House of Lords inquiry into the same problem. I am pleased to record that their Lordships' conclusions are the same as in my Report to the Transport Committee, so now it is up to the Government and the Council of Ministers to take early and decisive action to resolve the inconvenient and costly delays which so irritate the travelling public. I was able again to question Transport Commissioner Palacio directly at our last Meeting and impressed upon her the need for urgent and decisive action.

Before returning for the Campaign, I was involved in a public hearing by the Transport Committee into the increasing incidence of Deep Vein Thrombosis amongst air passengers. This worrying development has become somewhat fashionable at present although it has been around for some time and is not confined either to Economy Class or, indeed, to aviation alone. Nevertheless, we invited several medical experts and senior aircrew representatives and questioned them in depth. A number of factors may aggravate a pre-existing susceptibility to DVT, such as lack of exercise, the seat pitch & angle, or excessive alcohol or dehydration but it is public awareness coupled with a more appropriate and understanding approach by airlines that will reduce the dangers.

One of the high points in the otherwise dismal election results was the Tory recapture of Cheshire County Council and the loss of Labour's majority in Cumbria County Council. These changes will have an impact on the balance of power within the North West Regional Assembly and will provide the opportunity for Tories to fight an even stronger corner against the unnecessary cost and bureaucracy that characterises that ineffectual talking-shop.

Following the environmental pollution caused two years ago by the wrecking of the tanker "Erica" off the Brittany coast, the Commission is trying to address the problems of delayed and inadequate compensation to those affected by such oil disasters. However, the proposals offered were sadly deficient in many respects and I tabled a large number of amendments to improve the position. In essence, the Commission got its sums wrong, ignored the comparable threat from bunker fuel oil, chemicals and other noxious substances, failed to consult with the International Maritime Organisation, and sought to bring more bureaucratic interference to bear on an already complex insurance structure. Other than that it was quite good! Nearly all my amendments were accepted by both the Committee and the Parliament, thus bringing common sense and coherence to a complicated subject. Now Ministers and the Commission must act.

My wife has just become Mayor of the Town of Garstang and it has been good for me to be two or three steps behind her for a change, in my temporary capacity as Mayor's Escort! It is no reflection on Borough Mayors to say that a Town Mayor bears a particularly local and close relationship to residents and constituents and Dulcie is enjoying meeting the many different organisations and community activists that make Garstang tick. I do hope that every other North West Town Mayor and Parish Council Chairman has as productive and satisfying a year as the Mayor of Garstang.

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