Representing an area like the East of England
makes you realise that it's not just our inner cities that need
I have campaigned long and hard to gain recognition for the poverty,
lack of services and affordable housing in the countryside that
many of my constituents face.
For example in the debate on reform of the European Unions
Common Agricultural Policy I have argued for money to be channelled
in to direct aid for our rural communities, rather than being used
to support crazy schemes like asking farmers to set aside land.
At the beginning of 2002 I was pleased to see my efforts begin to
pay off, with £3 million of European money going to support
training and development schemes in the Fens and Norfolk.
But my constituents living in urban areas need support too. Recently,
Southend qualified for approximately £25 million in
European aid. I am delighted to say this will lead to around 1,000
new jobs for local people. It will also stimulate as much income
again in match funding from private and public sector investors.
I am very keen to support small rural businesses, especially
if an opportunity arises for them to expand into other European
markets. In June 2002, for example, I visited the Norfolk
village of Starston to meet proprietors of the Alewife Brewery
who have been able to export beer to Spain, Mexico, Sweden and Malta.
This is thanks to the European funded E-urocom project that trains
business people in European marketing skills. .