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10th May 2012 FLOOD DEFENCES PROVING THEIR WORTH SAYS JESSE

Local MP Jesse Norman has praised Hereford's new flood defences, after weeks of heavy rain put them through their paces for the first time last week. Jesse visited the Yazor Brook Flood Alleviation Scheme while it was being constructed last summer. The Scheme diverts flood water from the Yazor Brook near Credenhill through a series of tunnels, culverts and chambers down into the Wye.

Commenting, Jesse said, 'After weeks of rain, and with a flood warning in operation, the Yazor Brook scheme has really started to prove its worth. Without it, much of that water would be in the Merton Meadow car park by now! I vividly recall carrying sandbags to protect houses on Edgar Street and Newtown Road during the floods of July 2007, in three feet of water. If this stops that happening again, and protects people in their homes and businesses from flood damage, it will have been a fantastic investment.'


Jesse helps to carry sand bags during the floods of 2007.

Jesse at the Yazor Brook Flood Alleviation Scheme.

10th May 2012 JESSE VISITS CANAL TRUST TO SEE LATEST WORKS

Jesse Norman, MP joined his colleague Richard Graham, MP for Gloucestershire recently to visit the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust and see its latest canal excavation work. Both MPs are Vice Presidents and strong supporters of the Trust. The Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal follows an almost entirely rural course for 34 miles through the glorious countryside of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, linking the two cities of Hereford and Gloucester.

Founded in 1983, the Canal Trust is restoring the Canal as a navigable waterway. When completed, it is likely to be one of the most attractive cruising routes in the country, as well as a significant source of rural regeneration. The Trust is an almost entirely volunteer-led organisation, with some 1,300 members. Speaking after the visit, Jesse said, 'There is something very inspiring about seeing an ancient canal receive new life, especially through the work of so many deeply engaged volunteers. The Canal Trust is an extraordinary organisation, and this is a major restoration project which will have lasting ecological, landscape and economic benefits for the county.

When the work is finished, the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire canal will, I think be a huge source of local pride and pleasure, and a significant attraction for tourists visiting the county. In the meantime, I would encourage all and any Herefordians to visit the canal, and get involved!'


Jesse Norman, MP with Richard Graham MP, viewing the latest excavation works by the Canal Trust.

10th May 2012 TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL SMUGGLING TRIGGERS DEBATE

Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman has raised the rapidly growing problem of illegal alcohol and tobacco sales with Ministers in a well attended debate in the House of Commons. Jesse called the debate after speaking with local police and Councillors about recent raids on illegal traders in Hereford and Ross-on-Wye. The call followed a letter from Jesse to the Home Secretary raising this issue in December of last year. Since then, however, further large quantities of illegal tobacco and alcohol have been seized.

West Mercia Police have made clear their concern at what they see as a growing problem. In his speech, Jesse highlighted the lack of information about illegal tobacco and alcohol sales; the lack of tough powers for the Police and HM Revenue and Customs to close down premises; and the overlapping remits and confusion between the Revenue, the Home Office and local trading standards officers. He called for full cross-departmental co-operation to ensure tough and effective enforcement.

After the debate, Jesse said, 'I have been talking to local police about this for months. They are very concerned that the punishments are not strong enough to deter the smugglers, who defy the law and undercut real, legitimate shopkeepers. These shops are selling dodgy cigarettes and alcohol illegally, and without any regard to the age of their customers or the quality of what is sold. A fake packet of cigarettes or rolling tobacco could contain virtually anything.

West Mercia police routinely raid these shops, seize the illegal goods and arrest the people they find there, some of whom are not legally entitled to be in the UK. But a few weeks later the shops re-open. And the shopkeepers are only the small fry. The profits they make end up in the hands of serious organised criminal gangs. That's why we must ensure that the police have the powers they need to close down these pirates, and that government as a whole is adopting a really effective and coordinated approach.'


Jesse Norman MP, speaking out at Westminster against illegal tobacco and alcohol sales.

10th May 2012 JESSE QUESTIONS PRIME MINISTER OVER LOCAL FUNDING

Jesse Norman MP has pressed the Prime Minister personally over unfair funding of local schools and hospitals, at Prime Minister's Questions. Jesse produced the first authoritative study on the underfunding of Herefordshire’s public services over two years ago, in March 2010.

The study, entitled 'The Thin End of the Wedge,' estimated the true extent of under-funding over the previous five years at approximately £35 million per year. That total included education, where the county had the third worst funded schools in the country, as well as local NHS services and Herefordshire Councils. The study is available free on www.jesse4hereford.com.

At PMQs Jesse highlighted the funding as 'unfair', especially since local people also earn on average less than in the UK as a whole. He asked the PM personally to support measures to change the funding formulas to get a fairer deal for Herefordians. In response, the Prime Minister pledged that he was 'looking at the funding formula for schools.'

Speaking afterwards Jesse said, 'Herefordians have long been hit by the double whammy of lower than average income and lower than average funding for public services like schools and hospitals. We have had some important wins over the past two years, especially with the new Enterprise Zone and Rural Broadband. My longer term goal continues to be to push the Government towards fairer funding for our county and its public services.'


Jesse Norman questions the Prime Minister over local funding.

10th May 2012 JESSE QUESTIONS MINISTER ON RED TAPE REVIEW

Jesse with Jim Paice at Hereford Cattle Market.

Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman has questioned Jim Paice, the Farming Minister, on the detail of the MacDonald review, which aims to slash unnecessary red tape and regulation in the farming industry.

Mr Paice confirmed, in answer to Jesse's Parliamentary Question, that farmers who already comply with voluntary quality assurance inspection programmes such as Freedom Food and the Red Tractor scheme will be subject to a lighter touch DEFRA inspection regime. This should mean savings for farmers as well as taxpayers.

The Farming Regulation Taskforce, chaired by Richard MacDonald, has made 238 recommendations to reduce the burden of regulation on the farming industry. DEFRA has agreed to implement 159 of these recommendations immediately, and give consideration to a further 31. The Food Standards Agency has agreed to implement a further 17.

Commenting afterwards in Parliament, Jesse said, 'I am pleased that DEFRA will finally recognise the value of voluntary quality assurance schemes, and I look forward to seeing the details of how this commitment will work out on the ground. I hope that the MacDonald review will make a real difference to farmers, with a government that is listening to them and trusting their experience.

We in Herefordshire are rightly proud of our farmers and food producers, and this review should help our local rural economy to thrive and to compete on the world stage.'


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