Whitehaven News column – 4th September 2014

For years now, I’ve stated that the best days of Copeland and West Cumbria are ahead of us. The investments we’ve managed to secure, the prospects for our area, the strength of our community all point towards this. That said, not everyone shares this view.
Thanks then to the unusual pairing of the Royal Mail and the TUC for two recently published reports in which Copeland prominently featured.
First, the Royal Mail published a list of the most desirable postcodes in England in which four Copeland villages featured: Moor Row, St. Bees, Gosforth and Seascale. The Royal Mail evaluated the employment opportunities, quality of health and education, crime rates and housing affordability of all areas across Britain.
The study, carried out to mark the 40th anniversary of the postcode, was conducted in conjunction with the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR).
It took the following factors into account, using data from government agencies, the Office for National Statistics and the Land Registry
            Employment opportunities
            Health
            Education and training opportunities
            Levels of crime
            Homelessness
            Household overcrowding
            Ease of access to local services
            Quality of the physical environment
            Housing affordability
We should all feel proud of this. Reported in the Times newspaper, the TUC’s report on house affordability showed that Copeland is the “sole region where the cost of a house is less than three times the average local annual salaries.”
It went on to describe Whitehaven as “Copeland’s jewel” (but published a 20 year old picture of Marchon; journalists, eh?)
As the date for the independence referendum in Scotland draws near, it might be worth heeding the advice of Robert Burns:
O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!’
As a shadow minister, I’m fortunate to see lots of England; and despite the difficulties caused by the government’s vindictive spending cuts, we’re doing a lot better than many other areas. And let’s not forget, we also have Britain’s best view. Our ambitions are huge, I’m convinced that we can achieve them, but sometimes – just sometimes – we should consider what we already have.
Alex Won’t Answer
Some months ago, I wrote to Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond asking him what the plans were for Scotland’s radioactive wastes. Currently stored in England, international law dictates that each country has to deal with its own radioactive wastes, meaning that a Scotland outside of the United Kingdom would have a multi-billion pound problem. Surely this has been thought through? Surely? Anyone?
If I get an answer, I’ll let you know…
Meanwhile, this ice bucket challenge caper is getting out of hand. I’ve been nominated by my wife and children, Cllr Karl Connor, Stuart Bruce on behalf of the MND Association and others. I’d like to thank you all…
The momentous event, I’m told, takes place this Saturday at Egremont RUFC just before kick off.
I’m sure you’re all very sympathetic. You’re welcome.
And finally…

To a packed Westminster meeting to discuss the nuclear industry and West Cumbria where NuGen Chief Executive Sandy Rupprecht told the audience that after working in China, the US, Europe over decades he has never found a community like ours with regard to the partnership between business, politicians and the community for  building new nuclear reactors. Sandy is an understated, straight-talking, serious figure. “In my experience,” he told the heaving committee room “..it’s the best in the World.”
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