North Wiltshire MP James Gray has recognised the vital role that farmers are contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as he pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster last week.

Farming in the South West region contributes £1.25 billion to the local economy and provides 66,079 jobs – this is on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was organized by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming during a particularly crucial period as the Brexit negotiations continue.

Speaking at the event, Mr Gray said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to wear the NFU’s Back British Farming pin badge in Parliament today.”

“Farming in North Wiltshire alone contributes some £23.7 million to the nation’s economy and provides over 1,250 jobs.”

“These reasons are why I have pledged to Back British farming in Westminster and to ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.”

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

More information about NFU’s Back British Farming campaign is available at https://www.countrysideonline.co.uk/new/home/get-involved-must-read/back-british-farming/

North Wiltshire MP James Gray spoke up in support of the decision to scrap the Severn tolls during Wales questions yesterday morning. Mr Gray highlighted that this would not only benefit Wales, but also companies based in counties such as Wiltshire who conduct business in Wales on a regular basis.

“The scrapping of the Severn tolls is a huge benefit to businesses across Wales. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is also of vast benefit to businesses in places such as Wiltshire, where HGV operators have been paying £20 a time to get across the Severn? All of sudden, they will be able to do business in Wales much more profitably.”

The Secretary of State responded that

“My hon. Friend has rightly recognised that scrapping the Severn tolls is a significant boost not only to the south Wales economy, but to the economy of the south-west of England. He welcomed it along with the South Wales chamber of commerce, Business West and many others. It seems that the only people who have not welcomed the scrapping of the Severn tolls are the Labour party and the Welsh Government.”

A decision such as this will not only promote more business in Wales, but may also encourage Welsh companies to do business across the border.

James Gray MP attended a Guide Dogs event at the House of Commons on Monday 3rd July to show his support for the campaign to end problem pavement parking.

At the event, the MP for North Wiltshire heard from guide dog owners how parked cars blocking the pavement force them to walk in the road, into the path of traffic they cannot see. Some guide dog owners face these dangerous situations on a daily basis, risking their safety every time they go shopping or make the school run.

Research by YouGov for the charity Guide Dogs shows that 54% of UK drivers admit to parking on the pavement, with more than a quarter (29%) of those doing so a few times a month or more. More than half (55%) of these drivers do think about the impact on people with sight loss, but park on the pavement anyway.

Pavement parking particularly affects people with visual impairments, parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users and other disabled people. According to a Guide Dogs survey, 97% of blind and partially sighted people have encountered obstacles on the pavement, and 9 out of 10 have had problems with pavement parked cars.

Guide Dogs is campaigning to make pavement parking an offence, except in areas where local authorities grant specific exemptions. This is already the case in London, but elsewhere across the country, councils struggle to tackle unsafe pavement parking because they can only restrict it street by street.

James Gray MP commented:
“No one should be forced to brave traffic due to cars parked on the pavement. I’m calling on the Government to end pavement parking across the country. Blind and partially sighted people should be able to walk down streets without fear.”

James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, commented:
“Pavement parked cars can turn the walk to work or trip to the shops into a dangerous obstacle course. It’s a nuisance for anyone, but if you have a visual impairment or a toddler in tow, stepping out into the road with moving traffic is just too big a risk.

Our research shows that most drivers who park on the pavement know that it can be dangerous for pedestrians, but many do so regardless. That’s why we need clear rules so that drivers only park where it’s safe.

Back in 2015, we were encouraged when the Government committed to find a solution to this problem. We hope that they will now follow up with a law to curb unsafe pavement parking.”