We have such a rich history here in South Somerset that we should embrace, especially with the
school summer holidays coming up and to support local businesses.
Last week Iain Duncan Smith joined me on a visit to West Coker and Dawe’s Twine Works - a great
example of local community volunteering to preserve the unique industrial heritage of our area.
Iain’s wife is a descendant of Captain Fremantle who fought at Trafalgar alongside Nelson. Coker
Canvas was the highest grade of sailcloth, made with twine from our area, and we know Nelson used
it in the Royal Navy and on Victory, so Iain was fascinated to see how local industry and workers had
contributed to significant moments in our country’s and his family’s history.
Dawe’s is Britain’s only surviving Victorian twine works with its original working machinery. If you
are interested in this brilliant part of our local history you can look online at
http://www.westcoker.net/home-page/ropewalk/ or better still go along on one of the visitor days -
details are on the website.
In terms of modern defence technology the leader locally is Leonardo and I am continuing to speak
to Iain and other MPs about how important the company is to the South West and the UK as our
sole end-to-end helicopter manufacturer. The AW149 is the best option to fill the medium lift
requirement for the Ministry of Defence and the only one able to follow on with sizeable non-MoD
export orders for manufacture here in the UK.
Train strikes this week are causing disruption for many and it is a real problem that this sort of action
is a first rather than a last resort for the unions. The Government is right to look at legal options to
counter strikes so essential services can continue to run. Inflation affects everyone and it is crucial
not to let unrealistically high wage expectations contribute to longer lasting, persistent price
pressure just when some of the price rises will otherwise begin to moderate. It is also an
irresponsible gamble by the rail unions given many companies are still reviewing policies about
working from home and planning future prices accordingly. Rail received a lot of financial support
during the pandemic and there is already further cost of living support for those in greatest need of
around £1200 this year.
Perhaps slightly ironically the House of Commons voted for the Crewe to Manchester stage of HS2 to
go ahead this week. Although it doesn’t affect us directly here it is important we have the
confidence and ambition to move on with big infrastructure projects. While the cost is high, much of
that is spent on creating highly skilled jobs. When discussing the A303 project with Highways
England years ago I was really impressed with how much thought they put in to creating a legacy in
terms of skills and training, and I am very keen to maintain momentum in the A303 works.
I hope that everyone going to Glastonbury has a good time. Although a little out of our patch it is a
great thing for the West Country. Sadly I haven’t got tickets but I am looking forward to watching the
As always, if you would like to get in touch please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or