Monthly newsletter Edition 21 Sir Robert reports:- Page 2
The local election results were like the curate's egg - good in parts! There was excellent news in Congleton and West Lancashire, where we have taken effective control, and we made small but consistent gains throughout the region. However, the setbacks in Hyndburn and Rossendale, losing 24 seats over the two Councils as well as control, are undoubtedly a blow. Fortunately we just held on in Carlisle but have probably relinquished largest Party status in Barrow. As the figures (enclosed) demonstrate, the net effect is that we ended up -5, Liberals -4 and Labour +14, so May 2nd could have been better! I managed to campaign in 16 Boroughs and was heartened by the enthusiasm and commitment of Party activists and Candidates. We must all be grateful to defeated Councillors for their hard work and dedication to their communities and hope that, where possible, they regain their Seats at the next election. There were also a number of young Councillors elected for the first time and that offers excellent prospects for Conservative local government in the years to come.
As a former Waterways Minister, I was pleased to be invited in 1997 to become President of the "Ribble Link", which was set up to campaign for the joining of the Lancaster Canal to the rest of the British canal network, something that failed to happen in the 18th/19th centuries. On July 12th, the link, with ten new locks, will be opened - the first canal to be dug in Britain for well over 100 years. It was a Conservative Government which initiated the necessary resources and as a result of funds such as the Lottery, the Millennium Fund etc., provided the means whereby such large and important projects could be completed. Congratulations to all concerned.
I went to see a major environmental manufacturing company last month, William Blythe's of Accrington, who specialise in retrieving recyclable chemicals from industrial waste. Founded in 1848 and now employing 230 people, Blythe's products vary from the mundane to the highly toxic and, without them, the world would be a much less safe place. All the more reason, therefore, for them to be a little aggrieved by some of the proposals of Environment Commissioner Wallstrom in her Chemicals White Paper. Mrs. Wallstrom, a Green Party Member, wants all Chemical Companies to test every product that they manufacture, even if information about many safe chemicals has been in the public domain for decades. There are approximately 90,000 in world production, of which some 50% will now require detailed testing on animals, thereby probably killing millions more unnecessarily. Since this will only happen within the EU, it will also put the likes of William Blythe at a huge competitive disadvantage by prejudicing their profits, the jobs of their employees and the vital environmental contribution that they make to a cleaner, safer planet. It is bureaucracy gone mad!
My part in the Jubilee Celebrations was as a Guest of Honour at the Mere Brow Festival in West Lancashire where, in the company of other local luminaries, I helped judge the best floats, fancy dress etc. A delightful day, in perfect weather, celebrating our Queen's achievement with local residents who shared our feelings. Sitting there, I reflected that this typical English scene was just the sort of tradition that we have fought wars to defend and how proud I was to be British at such a time.