• Ashburton Fire Station, Brexit and Shooting Licenses

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    15 July 2019

    Following proposals put forward by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service for a major shake-up of their operations (detailed in my article a fortnight ago) I visited Ashburton Fire Station this week. I met with the Crew Manager, some of the firefighters in his team and local councillors to discuss how the proposals would affect fire and rescue service capability and response times locally and how the firefighters currently based at the station would be affected. I am fully committed to preserving our station and will be looking at various proposals. I would again encourage constituents to get involved with the consultation and ensure their views are heard by visiting

    On Sunday I appeared on the Politics Show South West. I always enjoy the opportunity to debate issues more thoroughly than is possible in short interviews when complex issues are too often restricted to a couple of minutes. The programme is on BBC iPlayer for anyone who is keen to watch it. The discussion started with Brexit and issues surrounding a no-deal departure. It is still my view that the best scenario would be a renegotiation over the Northern Irish backstop which would enable us to leave with a deal, but if getting a deal through the House of Commons is not possible it is more important that we honour the referendum result and leave without a deal than go down any path they would result in us staying within the EU. We had a democratic referendum, we must abide by the result and focus our efforts on making Brexit a success. I share the frustration that many people feel at us not having left the EU yet - I voted three times in the House of Commons to pass the withdrawal agreement and if more MPs had voted the same way we would have left the EU already. Labour have just announced that they will support a second referendum and would campaign to remain in the EU.

    After debating other issues including Universal Credit the discussion turned to our farmers and the Government’s resolution to the legal challenge from the campaign group Wild Justice which resulted in Natural England withdrawing shooting licenses. As an MP who proudly represents a huge rural constituency I was concerned that our farmers were left unable to protect their crops from pest birds and was pleased with the quick action from DEFRA in reissuing the licenses with some exemptions to satisfy the legal challenge. As I said on the programme, sense had prevailed and we should trust our farmers to do what is right when it comes to controlling pest birds.

    In Westminster I took questions as Leader of the House of Commons and announced Government business for the week including the Second Reading of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing Bill). The bill will increase the maximum sentence for the worst instances of animal abuse from six months to five years.

    For more from Mel follow him on twitter @MelJStride or visit