02 JAN 2018

Coastal Scene Column - 23rd December 2017

"2017 will be documented as one of the most interesting political years of the 21st Century. An unexpected election with a result that no-one expected at the outset. The Prime Minister gained 2.3m more votes than the Conservatives gained in 2015, the highest share of the vote since 1983 but still went backwards in terms of the overall number of MPs as the minor parties were squeezed. The issue that has dominated the agenda at Westminster this year has been Brexit. Earlier this month the Prime Minister secured an historic agreement with the European Union, which brings to an end the first phase of Brexit negotiations. The agreement secured the rights of the three million EU citizens living here and the million British citizens living in the EU; represented a fair settlement in terms of money; and maintains the common travel area within the island of Ireland. Now the first phase of Brexit has been agreed we can move on to detailed negotiations on other issues, including our future trade deal. This is of significant importance to our part of the country and crucial for Felixstowe as we need to ensure we can continue to trade freely through the port.

As we prepare to leave the EU, my department is focussing on how we maintain and enhance our natural environment through our 25 year Environment Plan and the future of our fisheries – which will continue to place science based fisheries management at the very heart. Due to the Government's commitment to sustainable fishing and the subsequent recovery in fish stocks my departmental colleague, George Eustice came back from Brussels recently with an increased quota for North Sea Cod, Haddock and Monkfish. A festive fillip for our fishermen.

Continuing the fisheries theme - I'm delighted that the Oyster Inn in Butley has been awarded a £25k grant from the Prince's Countryside Fund. The pub was awarded the grant to support the provision of essential village services – with the unused barn buildings due to be converted to provide a village shop. This will complement the community function room, cinema and micro-brewery that opened earlier this year. If you haven't visited since the Oyster re-opened then I would encourage you to check it out – as I would any of our local pubs over the Christmas period.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Coastal Scene readers a happy and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year. I hope you have a great time with family and friends"

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