Roads and cash top list at NFU meeting in Spalding

John Hayes MP (front third left) with guests at an NFU South Holland branch parliamentary meeting at Springfields House, Spalding.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
John Hayes MP (front third left) with guests at an NFU South Holland branch parliamentary meeting at Springfields House, Spalding. Photo by Tim Wilson.
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Improvement of the A16 and A17, rural funding and rampant hare coursing topped the agenda at a meeting of farmers and the area’s MP in Spalding.

NFU members in South Holland held talks with John Hayes, MP for South Holland and the Deepings, at Springfields House, Spalding, on Friday when plans to tackle hare coursers in the autumn and ongoing efforts to secure a fairer deal for farmers from supermarkets.

The A16 and A17 are crucial transport arteries both in and out of the area so there is a need to ensure that these roads are maintained in sufficiently good shape to allow ongoing provision of transport to and from the key markets

NFU Holland county adviser Gordon Corner

The talks came a month before the UK votes on whether the UK should stay in the European Union (EU) or leave, an option which Mr Hayes is in favour of.

NFU county adviser Gordon Corner said: “We discussed how to attract and maintain businesses in the area, with a focus on the A16 and A17 as crucial transport arteries both in and out of the area.

“The need to ensure that these roads are maintained in sufficiently good shape to allow ongoing provision of transport to and from the key markets was noted and Mr Hayes said he was hopeful that Lincolnshire County Council would look at improving the A16 and, possibly, the A17.”

Mr Hayes also raised the prospect of a meeting in Spalding between himself, Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman and Roads Minister Robert Goodwill to make the case for the A16 and A17 to be improved.

Meanwhile, NFU members in South Holland asked Mr Hayes for help in getting funding from the EU for farming projects in the area.

Mr Corner said: “Both inside and outside of the EU, the majority of funding schemes are aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises and often there is no notice or very little notice of availability.

“This, coupled with very poor organisation, makes getting money to those best placed to use it extremely difficult.”

Mr Hayes then heard about plans for a series of meetings between farmers, growers and police to finalise plans to take on hare coursers who target South Holland between September 2016 and March 2017.

The work of supermarket ombudsman Christine Tacon was also raised and Mr Corner said: “The NFU has engaged with her to ensure that current thresholds are lowered to include more businesses.”

Before the meeting, South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes warned that ‘much more needs to be done’ in the fight against hare coursing.

Mr Hayes said: “Before it was made illegal (in February 2005), hare coursing was a very disciplined sport.

“It was done according to strict rules that were well-established in the way hare coursing was managed and with the permission of the landowner.

“In the time when hare coursing was legal, I saw very, very few hares killed but since it was abolished, the problem has exploded.

“I’m pleased with some of what the police had done, but much more needs to be done and there’s still a long way to go before we combat hare coursing.”