• A Busy Week

    The Moorlander
    13 March 2020

    Representing one of the largest and most rural constituencies in England has plenty of challenges but one of the benefits is spending time in some wonderful market towns – each with its own character, history and sense of community. This week I was in Chagford, meeting with the Chair of the Business Association. We discussed a variety of issues including plans for the town’s first food festival. This would be a wonderful addition to the already well-established food and drink festivals across Central Devon which include Moretonhampstead, Bovey Tracey and Ashburton. They are an effective way of promoting high-quality local produce and artisan products and give local families an enjoyable day out on their doorstep. While in the town I visited two new businesses –an established French antiques business which is looking to move into the old Spar building and a great B and B. I am always encouraged to see new businesses starting out or relocating to our constituency – a sign that our market towns can still thrive despite increasing competition from online retailers. 

    I also visited Ashburton Fire Station to catch up with crew manager Don Distin. I have worked closely with Don in recent months to keep the fire station open after the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority had planned to close it as part of a major restructuring. I am delighted that our arguments for keeping it open (which included access to the A38 as well as the more rural communities on Dartmoor) proved successful. However, neither of us want to rest on our laurels and I will continue to stay in touch with Don and his team to make sure the station gets the support it needs.

    I also visited New Park in Bovey Tracey with local Devon County Councillor George Gribble to meet with local residents. A major landslip has left the community cut off from Thorn’s Cross with residents facing a significant detour. I have written to DCC urging them to make the repairs a priority given that park home communities are comprised of older residents, many of whom don’t drive or are not particularly mobile. 

    In Westminster I formally became the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, having been Chair-Elect since January. I immediately called the incoming Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey to speak to the committee, so we could consider his suitability for the role (the committee doesn’t hold a formal veto but is influential in approving the appointment of a new Governor). To see this interview visit, using the search parameters ‘Andrew Bailey’ and 4th March. The committee, made up of Conservative, Labour and SNP MPs, approved his appointment but raised a number of serious concerns regarding the performance of the Financial Conduct Authority both before and during his time as its CEO. Many of these concerns – specifically around culture, transparency and insufficient speed of action – will remain a key focus for the committee.

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