Representatives from many parts of the British Horticultural industry gathered in Ross-on-Wye to consider their response to an important EU draft report “The Future of the EU Horticulture Sector and Strategies for Growth”.
The report written by West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre, is the first of its kind dealing exclusively with horticulture ever prepared for the EU’s Agriculture Committee and covers not only fruit and vegetable growers but also ‘ornamentals’ (flowers, bulbs etc) and vineyards.
“I am grateful to everybody who submitted suggestions for the initial draft and especially to those who opened their farms to me and gave so willingly of their time”, said Miss McIntyre.
“This meeting was an opportunity to review my findings and proposals and to prepare amendments that can be proposed when I present the draft at a meeting of the Agriculture Committee in November
“The sheer scale and diversity of the Horticultural sector in the UK is staggering with the West Midlands alone producing crops worth over £350million at farm-gate prices and food-processors add a further £600million of Gross Value Added.”
Miss McIntyre’s report looks at the needs of both the industry and consumer and strongly supports increased innovation and research into methods of growing crops that increase yields and quality.
The work of a group of dedicated volunteers providing practical support and assistance to young people late at night, often when they are suffering from the effects of too much alcohol, was the topic of a presentation to Hereford Conservative Business Forum last week.
Robert Thomas of Vennture, the charity behind Hereford Street Pastors, was introduced to the audience of more than 20 local business men and women gathered at the Pengethly Manor Hotel, Ross-on-Wye by West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre.
Mr Thomas explained that: “locally, 16 to 24 year olds are the group most likely to become victims of crime and the majority become victims in Hereford between 10pm Saturday and 4am Sunday.
“This is a national issue highlighted in the recent drunk tank headlines and more hospitals concerned about drunk young people filling in A&E on Saturday nights.”
Whilst some cases that the Street Pastors deal with are amusing – such as the boy dressed in drag for a stag night who finds walking in high heels impossible or the lad thinking he can swallow dive from a litter bin into a flower bed – many are more concerning.
Lost handbags is a big one. No handbag means... No phone. No money. No way home. No id. No way anywhere. To be clear the girls know where their handbag is; they just don’t know where the friend who they gave it to, to look after, has gone.
“The lad who at 2.15am can’t think where his mates have gone. He’s not feeling anything – especially not the cold. This alley will do.
“Some stuff has no funny side at all…it’s 3am. The young girl is very drunk and being controlled by someone much older who is coercing them.”
In their first qurater the Street Pastors helped 775 people; have kept 4 or 5 vulnerable people safe each Saturday; saved 2 or 3 Ambulance call outs each week, kept those people out of A&E and ensured they are cared for more appropriately so they get home safe to someone who has been instructed in how to look after them.
Speaking after the presentation, Anthea McIntyre said: “When it is a busy night it can take 30 or 40 minutes for emergency services to attend even a high level incident. The Street Pastors can be anywhere in the area they patrol in under three minutes – the speed of response, the ability to deal appropriately with a wide variety of problems and to provide practical help are hugely impressive.
“By working closely with the door-staff of the various venues, and both the police and ambulance service, the Street Pastors are providing an amazing service to our community and allowing ‘official’ resources to be used more effectively.
“I have asked to spend a night with the Street Pastors as an Observer and am very much looking forward to seeing first hand this stunning example of real care in action.”
Always keen to talk about her work as a West Midlands Conservative MEP, Anthea McIntyre was the guest at a lunch in Defford, Worcestershire.
Miss McIntyre, who took her seat in the European Parliament in December 2011, is the Conservative’s Employment spokesman in Europe – a role that has seen her constantly campaigning against unnecessary additional burdens being imposed on businesses.
“Before becoming an MEP I had run a successful small business for a number of years and knew from my own experience that creating and sustaining a business and the jobs that follow is tough. It is easy for a bureaucrat to have a ‘good idea’ that actually ends up increasing costs, reducing flexibility and ultimately destroying jobs.”
“Let there be no mistake – I am not advocating a wholesale abolition of all regulation but it is vital that the full impact on businesses are taken in to account before any extra burden is imposed.
“Most businesses are small - they employ less than 10 people – yet they have to comply with the same massive weight of regulation as a huge multi-national company, a company that can afford to employ either their own staff or external specialists to read through, digest and implement every regulation. Small business owners, and especially the self-employed, simply don’t have those resources.
“It is this reflection of reality that I have been forcing the EU Employment Committee to face with some success. There is now agreement that the specific impacts of any proposed regulation on micro-businesses will be assessed and mitigated before approval. This is a significant improvement and a first step on the long road that leads to freeing the business community from red-tape and over-regulation.”
More than 50 local residents turned out recently to question the local MEP who firmly believes that politicians should ‘trust the people’.
The well-attended public meeting at the Old Court Hotel, Whitchurch, heard Ross Conservative MEP, Anthea McIntyre, set out the case for an In/Out referendum as part of the “Europe: Let Britain Decide” campaign.
“It was a tremendous opportunity for me to answer a whole range of questions and to set out the reasons why I am so strongly committed to a clear and unequivocal referendum following a process of renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the EU.” said Miss McIntyre.
“Unlike our opponents, who seem to believe that politicians always know best, the Conservative Party is the only major party that is prepared to trust the people on this important issue.
“There is clear evidence that a number of our European neighbours, most notably Germany, are accepting our arguments that the EU is too cumbersome, too intrusive and too involved in many areas that should be left to national governments. The prospect of renegotiating a new relationship, one that is in Britain’s interests, is better now than it has been for many years,” she added.
Plans to set up a raft of Europe-wide regulation for pay talks between employers and trade unions were condemned today by Conservative MEPs.
Employment spokesman Anthea McIntyre said approval by MEPs of a report on cross-border collective bargaining set a dangerous precedent.
She insisted: "Conservative MEPs voted against this because it is simply not an area where the EU should legitimately get involved.
"Sadly it was voted through with the enthusiastic support of MEPs from the British Labour Party, no doubt acting on the instructions of their trade-union paymasters."
The report, by German Far-Left MEP Thomas Händel, was approved by a majority of MEPs in Strasbourg yesterday afternoon (Thursday). It seeks to create a Europe-wide set of rules and regulations for negotiations on pay and conditions in companies that operate in more than one EU state.
Analysis of the voting received today shows that 11 Labour MEPs, including GMB-sponsored delegation leader Glenis Willmott, voted in favour of the report.
Miss McIntyre said: "There is not sufficient evidence to justify EU policy initiatives or action in this area. Instead we must respect the traditions of individual member states and allow companies the flexibility to tailor their agreements to the legislative and industrial frameworks in which they operate.
"Worryingly, the report also demands a greater role for trade unions in shaping EU policy. We absolutely object to any further interference between the trade unions and elected policy makers, but Labour MEPs continue to dance to the trade-union tune."
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