• Busy

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    16 March 2018

    I was flat out in the constituency last week. Ours is one of the largest seats in the country and it takes an hour and a quarter to drive from one side to the other. In Ashburton I caught up with Stuart, Jackie and Jo at the post office. I have arranged a key meeting with the Treasury minister responsible for post offices for Stuart and myself shortly. This is part of our drive to ensure that our post offices are remain viable through providing the widest range of services including banking facilities that are critical for local traders. The ability to bank cash in the local post office is really important especially where the last bank has closed (as in Ashburton). In Okehampton I met up with governors and the head teacher at Okehampton College. The school continues to do really well and we covered a variety of important issues including funding – every school in our constituency will be receiving extra per pupil funding as a result of the recent fairer funding package. Also in Okey I had the great pleasure of presenting the passing out certificates to apprentices who have completed their courses with Barkwell Training. Their bright, open and inviting premises represent a centre of excellence for the delivery of apprenticeships in areas like plumbing and electrics. I was also delighted to hand out the Apprentice of the Year Awards. All who have completed their apprenticeship should be very proud of their achievement. Standards are high and these qualifications will ensure that the young people who have secured them have really strong career opportunities ahead of them. In Heathfield, near Bovey Tracey I visited Moor Training and once again had the pleasure of meeting apprentices developing a variety of different skills including a group working to be arboriculturalists. We discussed the minimum apprentice wage amongst other important issues. In Crediton I was also able to meet up with the new apprentice working at the NFU office in the high street. Also with the previous apprentice I met a few years ago and who has carved out a very successful career with them. Farming continues to be right at the centre of the work that I do in the constituency and I very much valued the opportunity to discuss the current government consultation on the future of farming post Brexit with the head of the NFU office. We have confirmed that much of the funding for farming that is currently coming via the EU will continue to be provided through this parliament. But key now is going to be how productivity in farming can be improved by the use of new technology and how support payments can be better directed towards production and the protection of the environment whilst dialling down on oppressive red tape. There will be many opportunities for farming ahead and I will be arranging a get together with the NFU and local farmers soon to discuss further ideas. Mel is on Twitter @MelJStride.