Government Minister Visits Islands

Lord Taylor of Holbeach

Defra Minister, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, is making a two-day visit to Scilly as part of a tour of rural areas across the UK.

He visited Bryher yesterday to view the waste site, which is currently being cleared and improved. When completed, there will be steel platforms from which refuse can be safely deposited in the bags on the trailer. Access to the site will only be at set hours and under the supervision of Chris Potterton, Bryher’s waste and water manager.

At the Community Centre he was given a presentation by Andrew Steel of SLR, the Council’s waste consultants, about the waste programme up to 2015.

Lord Taylor also found time to visit the St Mary’s waste site and told us that he hoped the £1.5m investment by his department would reduce the size of the ‘Moorwell Alp.’ He said Defra was working closely with our Council and he had every confidence that “they know what they’re trying to achieve.”

Councillor Marian Bennett also took Lord Taylor to see projects funded by the Local Action Group including the Sussex Gig Shed and Bryher Shop.

Marian says he was well acquainted with the report comparing transport in Scilly with the Scottish Isles.

The islands were lashed by storm force winds and heavy rain yesterday and Marian said that, although she wants visitors to see the islands at their best, for certain Government visitors it’s sometimes useful for them to see them in difficult conditions.

The Defra minister will visit St Martin’s today to see the site of the proposed community hall which his agency has part-funded through the Rural Development Programme for England.

The Peer says he’s thrilled that Defra’s investment has made the islanders’ dream a reality.

Cheryl Davis is Treasurer of St Martin’s Community Hall and Reading Rooms Committee, which has raised £120,000 over twelve years. She says that Defra’s contribution of £563,000 of extra funding has moved on the plans for the new building by years. Cheryl hopes the building will provide a social hub for the whole community.

The Minister, who has spent much of his life in rural Lincolnshire, and ran a successful flower-growing business, says he understood well the need for such facilities as a focus for local communities.

He will also visit St. Martin’s Vineyard, which hopes to double production to 4,000 bottles a year following a £16,000 grant. The money will improve the quality of the wine that is produced and Val and Graham Thomas hope to increase visitor numbers from 2,000 to 3,000 each year.

Lord Taylor said the Government is committed to investing in rural communities, saying it was the small and medium sized businesses in these areas that will lead the country out of the economic doldrums.

And he said it was important to find new business opportunities, such as the St Martin’s vineyard, as well as maintaining our more traditional industries like flower growing.

Lord Taylor’s knowledge of farming will be evident today when he meets with Jonathan Smith of Scilly Organics, which was set up eight years ago on five acres of land. He’ll also be meeting members of Scilly’s newly-formed Farmers Association.


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