A monthly column by West Dorset MP Chris Loder
I’M really pleased to be writing my first ever monthly column for LymeOnline as your MP.
I must admit, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind since December but I feel that, after just seven weeks, I am starting to make real headway in Westminster on your behalf.
On transport, I have launched an APPG (All Party Political Group) for the South Western Railway area. I have also been appointed to the Transport Select Committee, with a key responsibility for holding government to account on transport strategy.
I will be pushing for better connections for Lyme Regis and our surrounding towns and villages – in particular addressing the issue of bus connectivity from Lyme to Exeter at Axminster Station.
On Monday, February 3 in the House of Commons I had the honour of delivering my maiden speech during the Second Reading of the Agriculture Bill.
Although I had just seven minutes to talk about what is so special about West Dorset, along with the challenges we face, I did manage a mention for our famous Dorset Knobs and of course Felicity’s Farm Shop! I also highlighted our local farmers and explained why I believe we need to be more grateful to them for their stewardship of our environment.
Given the tourism value of Lyme Regis I am concerned about plans to close the town’s Tourist Information Centre and am currently looking into that situation.
It was an opportunity also to speak about my own family, who have farmed in West Dorset for nearly a century. I shared with the House how my grandmother met my grandfather when she was with the Women’s Land Army, coming to work at our farm during the Second World War; part of the concerted effort to feed the nation during wartime.
I believe the Agriculture Bill is a ground-breaking piece of legislation that will transform our farming sector and that’s why I was delighted to support it in Parliament. You can read my speech in full or watch the recording at www.chrisloder.co.uk/maiden-speech
Another milestone was on February 5 when I introduced my Private Members’ Bill in the House of Commons. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill – inspired partly by my own dog Poppy – makes provision for the maximum penalty for certain offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to be increased from six months to up to five years and is an important piece of legislation for anybody who cares about the welfare of animals.