Newspaper columns

I write a weekly column for The Mail and a four-weekly column for The Whitehaven News. Please see below an archive of my columns.

The Whitehaven News - May 18

It was my pleasure earlier this month to welcome my colleague Neil O’Brien MP, the Levelling Up Minister, to Copeland to see the levelling up agenda in action.

We visited Millom and Cleator Moor, where £20.6million and £22.5million respectively have been pledged through the Government’s Towns Fund, and to Egremont to discuss the former Red Lion site, recently purchased and set for development by BEC and Copeland Borough Council.

To have two of our four towns in the Copeland borough receive Towns Fund grants is a phenomenal achievement, and the amounts pledged per capita are among the highest in the UK. The grants themselves combine to over £43 million, which will leverage millions more in match-funding and investment into our communities.

The respective Town Boards have been working extremely hard, in conjunction with Copeland Council, on their full business cases that will be submitted this year to draw down the funding from Government.

It’s extremely exciting now to see the detailed plans from the Cleator Moor Town Board begin to be made public, and the artists’ impressions that have been published really give you a sense of how transformational the four projects will be.

Under the ‘Revitalised Town’ project, for example, the money will be used to transform and connect the existing town hall and library into a multi-use community hub, including a café, improved library facilities, youth zone and space for training and community activities. Improvements are also planned to the Phoenix Enterprise Centre building.

While under ‘Connected Town’, plans are afoot to reduce congestion, enhance the gateways, provide more opportunities for walking and cycling, and to provide links to the West Cumbria Cycle Network and the C2C cycle route.

Seven locations across the town have been earmarked for investment in new or improved paths for cyclists and pedestrians, while three junction improvements are also included in the plans.

Further details of the remaining two projects – ‘Healthy Town’ and ‘Enterprising Town’ - will be made public in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile in Millom, the Board has reached the crucial assurance stage, where details of the four projects are being checked to ensure they represent viable, sustainable models for the future.

The Board made up of community representatives has identified its four projects – The Iron Line, Reactivating Heritage Buildings, Activating Community Health, and Connected Millom and Haverigg – and I look forward to further details of these projects being made public very soon.

It’s exciting times ahead for Cleator Moor and Millom, and the wider Copeland community!

The Mail - May 16, 2022

It was my pleasure earlier this month to welcome my colleague Neil O’Brien MP, the Levelling Up Minister, to Copeland to see the levelling up agenda in action.

We visited Millom and Cleator Moor, where £20.6million and £22.5million respectively have been pledged through the Government’s Towns Fund.

To have two of our four towns in the Copeland borough receive Towns Fund grants is a phenomenal achievement, and the amounts pledged per capita are among the highest in the UK. The grants themselves combine to over £43 million, which will leverage millions more in match-funding and investment into our communities.

The respective Town Boards have been working extremely hard, in conjunction with Copeland Council, on their full business cases that will be submitted this year to draw down the funding from Government.

In Millom, the Board has reached the crucial assurance stage, where details of the four projects are being checked to ensure they represent viable, sustainable models for the future.

The Board made up of community representatives has identified and publicised its four projects – The Iron Line (creation of a visitor attraction and recreational space), Reactivating Heritage Buildings (in Millom town centre), Activating Community Health (with a new leisure hub including a swimming pool and 3G pitch), and Connected Millom and Haverigg (to improve the transport network and walking/cycling infrastructure).

These projects will be transformational for the area for generations to come, and I look forward to further details being made public very soon.

But in the meantime, the £500,000 of ‘accelerated funding’ committed ahead of the full package is already making a significant difference to the community. This includes the fantastic new children’s play area and running track at the school – and this is just the start of what are exciting times for Millom, Haverigg and the local community.

The Mail - May 9, 2022

I was delighted to host a meeting last week of key individuals and organisations to further the ambitions of bringing the first small modular reactor (SMR) to Copeland.

Joining me at the meeting were representatives of Rolls Royce SMR, the NDA, Sellafield Ltd, Copeland Borough Council, Electricity North West, National Grid, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, and an official from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Hearing the enthusiasm from all partners on the call to bring Rolls Royce’s new SMR to Copeland was fantastic. 

We agreed to pursue a specific site – of Fellside, on NDA-owned land next to Sellafield – and to pursue the planning application and infrastructure requirements for electricity generation and transmission.  Rolls Royce SMR have set out their ambitions for the tightest of timescales, to be on the bars by 2029.

It was announced in November 2021 that Rolls Royce SMR will invest £195 million of private funding to develop SMRs, with a further £210 million pledged from the Government. In March, the project took a further step forward when Rolls Royce SMR’s design entered the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process with its regulators.

I have been campaigning since I was elected back in 2017 for SMRs to come to Copeland, and my resolve to achieve this is strengthened every day.

Nowhere stands a better chance of success than Copeland.  That’s because we are one of a handful of suitably, licensed sites, with supportive neighbours at Sellafield and a qualified, experienced workforce across our local supply chain.  No other council has as much planning experience, over many decades, as Copeland Borough Council and never have we needed UK energy security more than today.

The next step is a formal proposal to Government to put forward my case for the first Rolls-Royce 470MW SMR power station to be sited at Fellside.

The Whitehaven News - April 20, 2022

Next month will see the most important local elections in a generation take place here in Cumbria.

On Thursday, May 5, residents will go to the polls to elect the first set of 46 unitary Cumberland councillors – representing Copeland, Allerdale and Carlisle in the newly-created authority.

The change in the structure of local government is significant, and much-needed. The switch from having a county council and six districts to having two unitary authorities responsible for all services in their respective areas (one for Cumberland and one for Westmorland and Furness) will make for efficiency, simplification and better service-delivery for residents – and greater opportunities for our area.

The first election offers Copeland residents the chance to shape this new council right from the outset. The 46 councillors elected – including 12 from divisions in the Copeland borough – will form a shadow authority for the next 12-month transition period and will continue in their roles for a further four-year term when the new council takes control in 2023.

Crucially, these councillors will be responsible for shaping how the new council is structured, how services are delivered to you, and how your council tax is spent. It is vital, therefore, that for strong and effective leadership on Cumberland Council, Conservative candidates receive your vote.

The Conservatives have a track record of delivering in Copeland – at a national, county and borough level. National funding has been secured, for example, for £130m of new facilities at the West Cumberland Hospital, a £20m rebuild programme at Whitehaven Academy and a £12m flood defence scheme in Egremont, while Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall has secured Home Office investment for new lighting and CCTV cameras, in addition to new dedicated Community Beat Officers.

The Conservatives on Cumbria County Council recently – and successfully – proposed an extra £1.2m in the budget to fix some of the worst roads in the county, of which Copeland will get £200,000. This is in addition to a range of grassroots schemes carried out by the Conservative-led Local Committee for Copeland, including footpath improvements in Haverigg, Silecroft and St Bees.

And at borough council level, Copeland Council and the Elected Mayor have delivered a £1m Pride of Place scheme for improvements in every town in Copeland, and Millom and Cleator Moor have been offered £20.6m and £22.5m respectively for transformational Town Deals.

On May 5, I encourage residents to vote for local representatives who can be trusted to deliver. I encourage residents to vote Conservative.

** For further information on the Cumberland Council elections – and for pledges and contact details for all the Conservative candidates – visit www.cumberlandconservatives.org.uk

The Mail - April 12, 2022

The new British Energy Security Strategy – launched by the Government last week – represents a massive step forward for the nuclear industry.

The landmark strategy signifies a significant acceleration of nuclear. The Government will target more nuclear energy, as well as renewables, in a quest to produce low carbon power for 95% of all our energy needs by 2030 – with an ambition of up to 24GW to come from this safe, clean and reliable source of energy.

The strategy outlines that a new nuclear delivery body will supercharge delivery and a commitment for up to eight new nuclear reactors by 2030 – with Moorside listed as one of the eight designated sites – which all provides a great opportunity for new nuclear deployment here in Cumbria.

A new government body, Great British Nuclear, will also be set up immediately to bring forward new projects, backed by substantial funding, and the Government will launch the £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund this month.

It is particularly welcome to note in the strategy that small modular reactors (SMRs) will form a key part of the nuclear project pipeline.

I have campaigned for five years for the introduction of SMRs, and to have them located in Copeland.

It was announced in November 2021 that Rolls Royce SMR will invest £195 million of private funding into the project to develop SMRs, with a further £210 million pledged from the Government.

Last month, Rolls Royce SMR’s power plant design entered the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process with its regulators.

And this endorsement in the Energy Strategy is further good news in this regard.

Our community knows more about nuclear power than anywhere else in Europe, and we have a deep talent pool with a track record of safety and deliverability, and Copeland should be at the forefront of the impending acceleration of the industry.

The Mail - March 29, 2022

I’d like to use my column this week to highlight a range of range of grants and support that is available to Copeland’s business community.

The Help to Grow scheme, funded by the Government, is a fantastic initiative that can help business owners or managers take their organisations to the next level.

It’s split into two strands:

- Help To Grow: Management Course supports senior managers of small and medium sized businesses to boost performance, resilience and long-term growth. Run over 12 weeks in a combination of in-person and online learning, the course is accredited by the Small Business Charter and is funded 90 per cent by the Government.
- Help To Grow: Digital offers eligible businesses discounts of up to £5,000 off approved digital accounting software. Businesses can also access free specialised advice on how to choose the right digital technologies to boost their growth and productivity.

I encourage business owners to tap into these excellent resources.

And as the deadline for many grant applications approaches this week – at the end of the financial year on Thursday, March 31 – I’d like to direct readers to my website which is frequently updated with links to grants and funding that are available to the Copeland community.

This ranges from grants for music venues and museums, to funding that is available for heritage projects and farming initiatives.

For more information and to apply for any of the grants, please visit www.trudyharrison.co.uk/grants-and-funding.

The Whitehaven News - March 23, 2022

The world is a very different place since I last wrote a column for The Whitehaven News only a few short weeks ago.

Like everyone, I continue to be horrified and appalled by the ongoing attacks on Ukraine, and my heart goes out to all those affected by this terrible situation.

Since the attacks began, I have been contacted by a lot of constituents who are desperate to help in any way they can.

Thank you so much to all those who have contacted me and I am signposting those who wish to make donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s appeal for Ukraine, which will pay for humanitarian aid – including food and healthcare supplies, shelter – for affected families.

The charity is in Ukraine, as well as neighbouring countries, and your donations will make a direct difference.

In addition, the UK Government has pledged to match-fund donations to this appeal, meaning your support will go even further.

To make a donation and for more information, visit donation.dec.org.uk/Ukraine-humanitarian-appeal

Last week, the Government opened its Homes for Ukraine programme, offering people in the UK the opportunity to sponsor an Ukrainian individual or family and to offer them a home.

For more information and to register an interest – either as an individual or an organisation – visit homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk

I was pleased to meet with Tom Samson, the Chief Executive of Rolls Royce SMR on Monday – following his meeting with the Prime Minister – to discuss the plan to bring small modular reactors to Copeland.

I’m following up our meeting with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the NDA, Sellafield Ltd, the National Grid, Electricity North West, our local councils and, most importantly, the local workforce and community.

Sellafield Ltd is more than capable of operating a power station, with the support of our supply chain – and has a need for the power. I am also speaking with hydrogen producers to close the sustainability circle, especially important for transport.

The next step is to form a crack team to make it happen in Copeland, on NDA land adjacent to Sellafield.

I am also this week encouraging constituents to propose their health and care heroes for national recognition.

I am again taking part in the annual NHS Parliamentary Awards, in which I can nominate individuals, teams or organisations from Copeland in a range of categories, and I want to hear about - and celebrate - the range of ways our health and care sector are delivering the best quality service for their patients.

For further information, visit www.nhsparliamentaryawards.co.uk. To discuss making a nomination, please contact me on 01229 718333 or Trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk before this Friday’s deadline. 

The Mail - March 22, 2022

It was a personal promise I made to Copeland to secure new nuclear – and I remain hellbent on doing so.

It’s not easy, but now more than ever, new nuclear is absolutely critical for the security of the UK’s energy supply, achieving net-zero, and for our next generation of apprentices, workers and for our local economy.

To that end, I met with Tom Samson, the Chief Executive of Rolls Royce SMR this week – following his meeting with the Prime Minister – to discuss the plan to bring small modular reactors to Copeland.

I’m following up our meeting with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd, the National Grid, Electricity North West, our local councils and, of course, most importantly the local workforce and community.

Sellafield Ltd is more than capable of operating a power station, with the support of our supply chain – and have a need for the power. I am also speaking with hydrogen producers to close the sustainability circle, especially important for transport.

The next step is to form a crack team to make it happen in Copeland, on NDA land adjacent to Sellafield. To receive my regular nuclear newsletter with further information, please email me at Trudy.harrison@parliament.uk.

I am also this week encouraging constituents to propose their health and care heroes for national recognition.

I am again taking part in the annual NHS Parliamentary Awards, in which I can nominate individuals, teams or organisations from Copeland in a range of award categories, and I want to hear about - and celebrate - the range of ways our health and care sector are delivering the best quality service for their patients.

For further information about the categories and entry criteria, visit www.nhsparliamentaryawards.co.uk. To discuss making a nomination, please contact me on 01229 718333 or Trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk before this Friday’s deadline. 

The Mail - March 15, 2022

It was my pleasure to accept invitations to visit two excellent community projects in Millom last week.

I very much enjoyed spending time in Millom Network Centre to meet the staff, volunteers and service users, and to see the progress being made since the centre relocated to Devonshire Road in 2019.

The centre is community and partnership working at its best, with a range of services one offer all under one roof – from upcycling and woodworking to gardening and crafting; from fun science and maths activities for school children to holistic therapy.

The benefits for those taking part in the Network Centre’s courses and activities are significant, and I look forward to returning soon to see the continued progress being made by Chief Executive Angela Dixon and the team.

From there it was onto the Holy Trinity Church to meet Jan Bridget, Simone Faulkner and Liz North, from Millom and District Local History Society, to hear more about their exciting Millom Heritage Triangle Project.

The passion the group has for preserving and promoting this area's fascinating history shines through, and their plans to redevelop Holy Trinity Church, Millom Castle and the school room buildings include audio/visual guides, display boards, events and further links with the local schools, community groups and other history organisations.

There have been many significant finds in this area, including coins, rings and arrowheads dating back to Roman times, and I fully support the project so the buildings and the area can be used continue to educate and inspire for generations.

The Mail - March 8, 2022

Like everyone, I continue to be horrified and appalled by the ongoing situation in Ukraine, and my heart goes out to all those affected by this terrible situation.

Since the attacks began late last month, I have been contacted by a lot of constituents who are desperate to help in any way they can.

Thank you so much to all those who have contacted me and, while the temptation to donate or gather items to go to those in need is understandable – and highly commendable, the current advice is that a financial donation is the most appropriate at this time.

All donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s appeal for Ukraine will pay for humanitarian aid – including food and healthcare supplies, shelter – for affected families. The charity is in Ukraine, as well as neighbouring countries, and your donations will make a direct difference.

In addition, the UK Government has pledged to match-fund donations to this appeal, meaning your support will go even further.

To make a donation and for more information about the appeal, visit donation.dec.org.uk/Ukraine-humanitarian-appeal

It was my pleasure on Saturday to support the launch of Copeland Conservative Association’s campaign for the historic Cumberland Council elections this May.

The elections will be the start of a fundamental and positive change in how local authorities are run in Cumbria; it will culminate in the creation of two unitary authorities for the county in May 2023, in place of the county/district setup we have now.

The councillors elected on Thursday, May 5 will oversee the creation of the new Cumberland authority (covering the areas of Copeland, Allerdale and Carlisle) over the coming 12 months, and then continue in their roles for a four-year term once Cumberland Council takes effect in May 2023.

This is a tremendous opportunity to improve how decisions are made and services carried out in our county, and I know that the Conservative candidates announced this week – including Doug Wilson (Millom) and Andy Pratt (Millom Without) – are the ideal choices to deliver the best outcomes for Cumberland.

For more information and to contact the candidates, visit www.cumberlandconservatives.org.uk

The Whitehaven News - February 23, 2022

It was a pleasure to welcome two significant visitors to our beautiful part of the world on Monday last week.

As reported in The Whitehaven News last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited our county to see first-hand the crucial work being carried out in the Northern Centre for Cancer at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary. The Prime Minister had a tour and spoke to every patient in the centre.

He then spent the evening discussing the future of Cumberland with the county’s Conservative MPs, councillors and candidates at an event in West Cumbria.

We have an excellent crop of Conservative candidates who will contest the historic first Cumberland Council elections this May; sitting initially as a shadow authority before the new council is formed (replacing the county council and three districts) in May 2023, and the Prime Minister was pleased to support them.

We had a second day planned on Tuesday where the Prime Minister was due to meet with the National Nuclear Laboratory and Rolls Royce to make our case for future power station sitings in Copeland. Although this meeting didn’t happen when the Prime Minister had to return to London earlier than planned due to the escalating situation in Russia, he has committed to return soon.

Earlier on Monday, I had a thoroughly enjoyable time accompanying my friend and colleague Will Quince MP, Minister for Children and Families, visiting two nurseries and a family hub in Copeland.

We visited Beckermet Nursery and St Bees Little Learners, where we loved playing, singing and reading with the children.

We also visited the Family Action South Whitehaven centre, based on Whinlatter Road, Mirehouse, where we chatted with staff and parents about the range of fantastic services they offer the community - including healthy eating workshops, speech and language therapy, budget management and support for new and expecting parents – in addition to their plans for the future.

It was also my pleasure to spend the previous week’s National Apprentice Week speaking with apprentices from a wide range of fields in a series of in-person and online meetings.

I continue to be blown away by the quality of apprentices we have here in Copeland, and it's been a privilege to meet just a sample of them to hear more about their routes into their chosen field and their ambitions for the future.

The breadth of apprenticeships on offer is wide ranging - nuclear, health, tourism, leisure and hospitality as well as traditional trades – and all the apprentices I met are a credit to themselves and their employers and I’m sure all have a bright future.

And I’d like to finish by directing readers to two online discussions I hosted to offer an insight from local apprentices and apprentice providers who all spoke first-hand about the opportunities available.

They are available on my Facebook page @trudyharrisonforcopeland, and for more information on apprenticeships, visit www.apprenticeships.gov.uk

The Mail - February 22, 2022

I was a pleasure to welcome two significant visitors to our beautiful West Cumbria on Monday last week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited our county to see first-hand the crucial work being carried out in the Northern Centre for Cancer at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary. The Prime Minister had a tour and spoke to every patient in the centre.

He then spent the evening discussing the future of Cumberland with the county’s Conservative MPs, councillors and candidates at an event in West Cumbria.

We have an excellent crop of Conservative candidates who will contest the historic first Cumberland Council elections this May; sitting initially as a shadow authority before the new council is formed (replacing the county council and three districts) in May 2023.

The PM was on top form. He made time for everyone and all were thrilled to have his ear, and he offered his support to our candidates as election-time approaches.

We had a second day planned on Tuesday where the PM was due to meet with the National Nuclear Laboratory and Rolls Royce to make our case for future power station sitings in Copeland. Although this meeting didn’t happen when the PM had to return to London earlier than planned due to the escalating situation in Russia, he has committed to return soon.

I also had a thoroughly enjoyable day accompanying my friend and colleague Will Quince MP, Minister for Children and Families, visiting just a sample of the excellent children’s facilities we have in Copeland.

We visited two nurseries, where we loved playing, singing and reading with the children.

We also visited the Family Action centre, based in Whitehaven although it has an equivalent centre providing services to families in the Millom area.

We chatted with staff and parents about the range of fantastic services they offer the community - including healthy eating workshops, speech and language therapy, budget management and support for new and expecting parents – in addition to their plans for the future.

The Mail - February 15, 2022

Having spent last week's National Apprentice Week speaking with apprentices from a wide range of fields in a series of in-person and online meetings, I continue to be blown away by the quality of apprentices we have here in Copeland.

It's been a privilege to meet just a sample of our apprentices - including those at Tornado Wire in Millom - to hear more about their routes into their chosen field and their ambitions for the future.

The breadth of apprenticeships on offer is wide ranging - from nuclear, health, tourism, leisure and hospitality as well as traditional trades – and all the apprentices I met this week are a credit to themselves and their employers and I’m sure all have a bright future.

There have been 9,540 apprenticeship starts in Copeland since 2010, and the benefits are significant. By combining on-the-job learning with academic study, apprenticeships help individuals develop skills and knowledge for a rewarding career and help employers build a workforce for the future. They are also a crucial way to address skills shortages, invest in future talent, and help more people access high skilled, high wage jobs.

This year’s National Apprenticeship Week – the theme of which is ‘Build the Future’ – has also been an opportunity to recognise the resilience of employers and apprentices during the pandemic.

I’d like to direct readers to two online discussions I hosted last week to offer viewers an insight from local apprentices and apprentice providers.

Firstly, joined by Alex Burghart MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Skills, I spoke with apprentices and providers from Sellafield Ltd, United Utilities, Lakes College, UCLan and the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, who all spoke first-hand about the opportunities that apprenticeships provide.

I then hosted a second online session with my nearest and dearest apprentices -  my daughters Savannah and Rosie and my own constituency office degree apprentice Oliver Dorgan – who discussed their experiences.

My online sessions are available on my Facebook page @trudyharrisonforcopeland, and for more information on apprenticeships, visit www.apprenticeships.gov.uk

The Mail - February 8, 2022

The defining mission of this Government is to level up the UK so no matter where you live, you have the same opportunities.

Last week saw the significant milestone of the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper; the Government’s plan to transform the UK by raising standard, spreading opportunity, improving our public services and restoring people’s sense of pride in their community.

There are a host of UK-wide missions included in this lengthy paper that will benefit Copeland residents including raising numeracy and literacy standards; ensuring pay, employment and productivity rise; and cutting serious and violent neighbourhood crime.

However, I want to draw out some Copeland-specific references within the White Paper that exemplifies Levelling Up in action.

Of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund pledged to create thriving communities, a £20.5 million offer has been made to Millom and Haverigg.

The Millom Town Board – chaired by Robert Morris-Eyton and made up local representatives -  successfully bid for the funding last summer and is currently working with various partners to put together the full business case that will draw the funding down.

The funding is centred around four projects: transforming the Iron Line into an inspiring visitor attraction; bringing Millom town centres back into use; creating a new community and leisure hub; and improving the transport, cycling and walking infrastructure.

In the meantime, the £500,000 of ‘accelerated funding’ has already been spent in Millom and Haverigg and is already making a significant difference to the community, including the new children’s play area and running track at the school.

The White Paper also highlights the new Cumbria Coastal Community Forest, which has received funding from Defra’s Nature for Climate Fund to kickstart planting this year.

From Carlisle right along the coast to Barrow, the new community forest will better connect 65 miles of communities to woodland.

The project will allow more people in Copeland to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of being out in nature, while also playing a crucial role in tackling the local impacts of climate change.

This is levelling up in action and right on our doorsteps.

The Mail - February 1, 2022

Next week is National Apprenticeship Week and I am delighted to be supporting this important annual week of celebration by championing apprenticeships here in Copeland.

On Thursday, February 10 at 9am, I am thrilled to welcome Alex Burghart MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Skills, to an online session where we will speak with apprentices and apprentice providers from across Copeland to share their experiences and to provide first-hand information and advice on the opportunities apprenticeships provide.

Joining us for the discussion will be apprentices and providers from a range of sectors - nuclear, utilities, health, leisure and tourism – as together we shine a light on the positive differences that apprenticeships can make to individuals, employers, communities and to the wider economy.

There have been 9,540 apprenticeship starts in Copeland since 2010, and the benefits are significant. Apprenticeships help individuals develop skills and knowledge for a rewarding career and help employers build a workforce for the future. They are also a crucial way to address skills shortages, invest in future talent, and help more people access high skilled, high wage jobs.

This year’s National Apprenticeship Week – the theme of which is ‘Build the Future’ - is also an opportunity to recognise the resilience of employers and apprentices during the pandemic.

I’m encouraging readers to get involved, not only by viewing the session on my Facebook page (@trudyharrisonforcopeland) but also submitting any apprenticeship-related questions you would like answered in advance. Please email me at Trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk before 5pm on Monday, February 7, and if there are any questions myself and the panel don’t have time to answer during the session, we will send a direct response via email.

The Whitehaven News - January 26, 2022

As it's my first Whitehaven News column of the new year, I'd like to wish readers all the very best for 2022.

I believe 2022 promises to be a year of great progress and development across Copeland.

Cleator Moor and Millom have been offered £22.5 million and £20.6 million respectively by the Government for Towns Fund Deals for a series of major, transformational projects in each town – and work is ongoing by the Boards to develop their full business cases to draw down the funding offered.

Accelerated projects worth half-a-million have already been completed in each town – from improved play areas and sporting facilities to a cultural trail – and this is just the start for these communities.

In Whitehaven, plans have been approved for the £40m phase two of the West Cumberland Hospital, and these exciting artist impressions have been out for public consultation over recent months, while the £20m Whitehaven Academy new-build is expected to open in Spring 2022. This is the school that the pupils, staff and parents deserve.

In the town centre and harbour, work will soon start on the Coastal Activity Centre, there’s been real improvements made to the harbour and lighthouses, and innovative plans are being put forward for a gaming hub in the former Whittles building.

In Egremont, the £12m flood defence project is progressing well and expected to complete this year, and the Egremont Place Plan  – against which a significant Borderlands funding bid will be made – is extremely exciting for the town.

As we strive towards our net-zero ambitions, it is abundantly clear that net-zero needs new nuclear. I am pleased to say that 2021 saw significant progress for new nuclear projects - and this momentum will continue throughout 2022.

Rolls Royce SMR has secured private and Government funding to develop small modular nuclear reactors, and I am absolutely determined that Copeland – and more specifically on the NDA-owned land next to Sellafield - will host the first SMR that comes on stream.

Meanwhile, Moorside has been shortlisted as a potential host of STEP - the UK’s first prototype nuclear fusion power plant - and we’ll learn this year whether this bid has been successful.

And crucially, a new financing model for new large-scale nuclear power plants is working through its final stages of Parliamentary approval. All represents substantial progress from a Government that is committed to new nuclear projects.

I look forward to bringing you news and views in The Whitehaven News throughout the year. If there’s anything readers would like me to discuss then please get in touch.

Myself and my team in Bootle are always pleased to hear from constituents and, if you have any issues or questions, we will always help in any way we can. Please contact me on Trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk or 01229 718333.

The Mail - January 25, 2022

I’d like to use my column this week to highlight a range of range of grants and support that is available to Copeland’s business community.

The Help to Grow scheme, funded by the Government, is a fantastic initiative that can help business owners or managers take their organisations to the next level.

It’s split into two strands:

- Help To Grow: Management Course supports senior managers of small and medium sized businesses to boost performance, resilience and long-term growth. Run over 12 weeks in a combination of in-person and online learning, the course is accredited by the Small Business Charter and is funded 90 per cent by the Government.

- Help To Grow: Digital offers eligible businesses discounts of up to £5,000 off approved digital accounting software. Businesses can also access free specialised advice on how to choose the right digital technologies to boost their growth and productivity.

I encourage business owners to tap into these excellent resources.

I would also like to highlight a new grant that has been launched this week for the farming sector. Under Defra’s £27m Farming Investment Fund, the Improving Farming Productivity Grant will pay up to 40 per cent of the cost of initiatives that increase productivity and protect the environment. This can range from slurry treatment equipment, to robotic weeding and harvesting, to ventilation control systems for buildings. Applications are now open and the window for this tranche closes on March 16.

And for businesses in Copeland affected by Covid-19, Copeland Borough Council currently has two Government grants available – the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant and the Additional Restrictions Grant (for business affected by the Omicron variant) – with an application deadline of February 28.

For more information and to apply for any of the grants, please visit www.trudyharrison.co.uk/grants-and-funding.

The Mail - January 18, 2022

It was excellent news for our nuclear ambitions last week when the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill was passed by the House of Commons.

This Bill will facilitate investment in new nuclear using the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model, in which consumers will contribute to the cost of new nuclear power projects during the construction phase. This will encourage a greater diversity of private investment and, ultimately, lower the cost of financing new nuclear and reducing the cost to consumers.

Ensuring we reach net-zero by 2050 is the greatest challenge we face as a country today. To reach net-zero, we will require 10 times more clean energy than we have today, and nuclear is uniquely placed to deliver this as our only source of reliable, low-carbon power.

The biggest hurdle to new, large-scale reactors in recent years has been concern over financing. Therefore, this new means of financing large-scale nuclear projects has my full support. It is tried and tested and will bring down the capital costs while protecting consumer and taxpayers by attracting new private investment.

This is the just the latest in a series of positive developments for our nuclear ambitions; more specifically Copeland’s nuclear ambitions.

In November it was announced that Rolls Royce SMR has secured funding – both from the private sector and Government – to develop small modular nuclear reactors in the largest engineering collaboration the UK has ever seen.

Ever since I was elected, I have campaigned strongly to introduce SMRs and to have the first one in Copeland. Our community knows more about nuclear power than anywhere else in Europe. We have a deep talent pool with a track record of safety and deliverability, and I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure Copeland is at the forefront of this new and exciting development.

Additionally, Moorside is on a five-strong shortlist to house the innovative STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) plant.

Again, this NDA-owned land adjacent to Sellafield is the most logical site for this new technology, and we expect to know where the UK Atomic Energy Authority has chosen as its location this year.

I’d like to be clear too that the ambitions to welcome SMRs and STEP are not at the expense of larger scale projects on this site; there is enough land there for small and advanced modular reactors and large gigawatt-plus reactors.

Nuclear is what we do best here in Copeland, and I am determined to help us continue what we do best long into the future.

The Mail - January 11, 2022

I strongly welcome the new measures announced by the Government this week to make our homes, streets and communities safer for our residents.

A key new addition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is allowing victims of domestic abuse more time to report incidents against them.

Currently, prosecutions must start within six months of an offence taking place, but we are increasing this requirement to two years. The statistics show that, compared to other crimes, domestic abuse is often reported longer after the offence has taken place, so these new measures will ensure that more victims have enough time to seek justice and more perpetrators face justice for their actions.

Domestic abuse is a scourge on society and, through the excellent work being carried out at Copeland Borough Council, there is a way out that has proved a lifeline for hundreds of families in this constituency since the council’s support service was launched three years ago.

The council’s Prevention and Crisis Support Officers work with those who have suffered domestic abuse or sexual exploitation, linking in with the council’s Housing Options team to provide emergency accommodation if necessary. Some of these properties have been expertly adapted to create a safe home for people and families who may be at serious risk. 

To contact the Prevention and Crisis Support Officer, email housing.options@copeland.gov.uk  or call 01946 598300 to access the 24-hour service.

Further to the measures regarding domestic abuse, I’d like to draw readers’ attention to a new tool that has been introduced to improve safety.

StreetSafe is helping people anonymously flag areas in which they don't feel safe. This could be as a result of environmental issues (eg street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism) and/or because of some behaviours (eg being followed or verbally abused).

The Home Office has launched the tool with the National Police Chiefs Council to help the police identify areas that need to be improved and make the streets safe for everyone.

To access the service, visit https://www.police.uk/pu/notices/streetsafe/street-safe/

The Mail - January 4, 2022

I’d like to begin by wishing all readers of The Mail a very happy new year.

I know 2021 has been a challenging year for so many due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts on our lives and livelihoods. And as the new year dawns, unfortunately some of these challenges do remain.

But thanks to the outstanding efforts of our NHS, Covid volunteers and our community, the booster roll-out continues apace - not least here in the Copeland constituency where the figure of those who have had their third dose stands at well over 40,000.

Having your booster is the single most important thing we can do to help ourselves return to normality.

The Government has been here to support residents and businesses throughout the pandemic, and the announcement by Rishi Sunak before Christmas – of new grants of up to £6,000 for hospitality and leisure sectors, and another £30 million into the Culture Recovery Fund – further exemplifies this commitment.

Throughout the pandemic, Copeland Borough Council has been truly excellent in getting business grants to business owners in double-quick time – with over £42 million in support for our business community since March 2020 – and I am sure this excellent service from the council will continue with this latest round.

The forthcoming year promises to be an exciting one for Millom, Haverigg and the South Copeland community. Following the Government offer last summer of a £20.6 million Town Deal, work continues apace by the Town Board to develop their full business case to draw down the earmarked funding. This money will be transformational for the area, but in the meantime, the £500,000 of ‘accelerated funding’ committed ahead of the full Town Deal announcement is already making a significant difference to the community, including the new children’s play area and running track at the school – and this is just the start.

I’d like to thank The Mail for inviting me to write this new weekly column and I look forward to bringing you news and views throughout the year. If there’s anything readers would like me to discuss then please get in touch.

Myself and my team in Bootle are always pleased to hear from constituents and, if you have any issues or questions, we will always help in any way we can. Please contact me on Trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk or 01229 718333.

The Whitehaven News - December 15, 2021

It was a pleasure to spend last week’s Small Business Saturday visiting a sample of the many excellent independent businesses we have here in Copeland.

Small businesses are the heart of our communities and we are lucky to have such quality and diversity right on our doorsteps.

I had the opportunity to visit Make New and Mend and The Clock Tower in Millom, The Woodlands Bistro and Tea Room in Santon Bridge, and Deja Brew in Egremont, and speaking to the owners, managers and staff, the passion that they have for their business, their products, their customers and community shines through.

This attitude is indicative of small businesses right across our borough, and courtesy of Copeland Borough Council and its successful Young Entrepreneurs Market and mentorship scheme, the future looks bright for the next generation of traders.

It has however been a difficult time for many small-business owners, with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenge of competing with online shopping. In the final few shopping days before Christmas, I would encourage readers to support our wonderful local businesses community wherever you can.

I would also encourage businesses owners to access two Help to Grow schemes, launched by the Government to provide free or subsidised world-class management training and digital skills.

For further information, visit https://helptogrow.campaign.gov.uk

Speaking of helping to grow, the deadline is fast approaching for the Kickstart scheme which has already seen 80 young people in Copeland secure work and get a crucial first step on the career ladder.

Kickstart offers employers funding to cover the cost of employing a young person aged 16 to 24, who are currently claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term employment. The Government funding includes six months’ worth of wages (national minimum for 25 hours per week), National Insurance and pension contributions to businesses who take on eligible young people.

The deadline for businesses to apply is this Friday, and there is no minimum on the number of vacancies a business can apply for, which means firms of all sizes can benefit from the scheme.

For more information, visit https://kickstart.campaign.gov.uk.

And as this is my last Whitehaven News column before the festive period, I’d like to conclude by wishing all readers and your families a merry Christmas and best wishes for 2022.

The Whitehaven News - November 17, 2021

The eyes of the world have been on Glasgow for the past two weeks as leaders from across the globe came together for COP26 - the biggest political gathering ever held in the UK - to agree a significant shift in our approach to tackling carbon emissions.

The historic Glasgow Climate Pact, signed by almost 200 countries on Saturday, is the first ever global agreement which paves the way to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.

It also delivers a plan to increase support for developing countries to adapt to climate change, and requires countries to come back with stronger targets to further cut emissions by the end of the year.

This agreement builds on progress made and agreements secured throughout the summit on phasing out the burning of coal for power generation, zero-emission transport, finance to support climate action, and pledges to end deforestation. Though there is more to do over the coming years, we continue to work tirelessly towards our goal.

The Glasgow Climate Pact came only days after another significant announcement in our net zero ambitions for the UK.

Rolls Royce SMR has pledged to invest £195 million to develop small nuclear reactors, with a further £210 million committed by the Government, and I firmly believe the NDA-owned land next to Sellafield is the prime location for this clean, low-carbon technology.

Ever since I was elected in 2017, I have campaigned strongly to introduce SMRs and to have them located here; from securing a Westminster Hall Debate and pushing for SMRs back in 2018, right through to bringing together key officials from Rolls Royce SMR, Sellafield Ltd, the NDA and Copeland Council this summer to outline our joint ambitions and expert capability to officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

And while last week’s funding announcement is most welcome progress, my relentless lobbying for Copeland to be at the forefront of this new technology will continue.

I’d like to be clear too that the ambitions to welcome SMRs is not at the expense of larger scale projects on this site. There is enough land there for small and advanced modular reactors, fusion technology (including the STEP reactor for which Moorside has been shortlisted as a potential location) and large gigawatt-plus reactors.

Nuclear is what we do best here in Copeland, and I am determined to help us continue what we do best long into the future.

The Whitehaven News - October 20, 2021

The death of Sir David Amess MP, who was killed while holding a public surgery in his constituency, is desperately sad, utterly tragic and yet another attack on our democracy. My thoughts are with David’s family, friends and all those in his beloved Southend West constituency, and of course, my colleagues across Parliament.

David was a lovely, kind and gentle man. He will be remembered for his brilliant campaigning to achieve city status for Southend-on-Sea, as well as his many books, especially his most recent publication Ayes and Ears: ‘A Survivor’s Guide to Westminster’, a fascinating insight into his lengthy and distinguished political career.

David will be dreadfully missed but will be remembered for his compassion, brilliantly effective campaigning and wonderful charisma. I will fondly remember helping David with his last Prime Minister’s Question, looking back at his kind smile as he lobbied for change on the green benches. He wanted those responsible to apologise to the women affected by forced adoptions during the 50s, 60s and 70s. He really cared about people.

I very much hope not to have to change my behaviour as an MP; it’s vital that all community leaders can continue to meet in person and be accessible to all the people they serve. My favourite part of this job is meeting you all. I’m proud to call Copeland home - and hope I always will.

I would like to thank Cumbria Police for immediately reaching out to me on Friday and in the days since, offering assistance and further protection to myself, my office staff, and my husband and family to enable democracy to continue despite adversity. I also thank them for their service to everyone across Cumbria - today and every day.

This is my last Whitehaven News column before two important events over the coming weeks; the pivotal COP26 summit in Glasgow in which world leaders will gather to outline how we and partners around the globe will secure net-zero; and the conclusion of the Government’s Spending Review and Autumn Budget, in which we will set out how we will build back better and continue to support businesses and jobs. I will keep readers updated through the Whitehaven News, my website and social media.

It is also my final column before the Remembrance period, and I would like to remind readers that I am inviting Copeland residents to share with me your stories of friends, relatives or community members who have served their country. A tribute to Copeland will be included in the House of Commons Constituency Garden of Remembrance, and alongside this, I will be sharing stories of our local heroes on my website and social media over the Remembrance period. Please send your submissions to me at Trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk.

The Whitehaven News - September 22, 2021

It was my privilege last week to meet so many talented and enthusiastic young people from Copeland who visited Westminster for the first Nuclear Week in Parliament.

The Nuclear Skills and Apprenticeship Fair was one of the highlights of the week in which apprentices and graduates – including a very sizeable contingent from Copeland – showcased the range of careers and opportunities available in the industry.

There was a real buzz in the room as our area’s nuclear expertise and talent – from science and technology to innovation and manufacturing – took pride of place courtesy of the nuclear firms, supply chain and unions in attendance.

It was also a pleasure at the event to meet Katie Wightman - a Control Room Operator at Sellafield Ltd - who has been named the National Skills Academy for Nuclear’s Apprentice of the Year.

Katie, who delivered an inspirational keynote speech, is an outstanding advocate for apprenticeships, Sellafield Ltd and the industry and I have every confidence that her career and positive influence among the next generation of apprentices will continue to go from strength to strength.

Further to showcasing exciting opportunities and innovations, Nuclear Week in Parliament was about reminding everyone that we need nuclear ­– the most sustainable and efficient clean-energy we have ­– to achieve our net-zero ambitions.

I’m equally ambitious for our health and education sectors in Copeland. I’m therefore delighted that plans for the second phase of the West Cumberland Hospital redevelopment are going on public display this week.

The £40 million redevelopment will bring about a significant upgrade in facilities for patients and staff, with local suppliers invited to be part of the supply chain.

While just around the corner from the hospital, the £16 million new-build of Whitehaven Academy is making great strides. On a recent visit to Valley School to learn about their outstanding mental health campaign, I was asked by a pupil about my proudest moment as an MP; my answer was being part of the community campaign to remove the previous management and bring the Academy under the Cumbria Education Trust, without which we would not be in the position we are today.

The rebuild funding for the hospital and the school are examples of significant Government investment in our area that will benefit our residents for generations to come.

I’d like to finish by thanking everyone who has wished me well on my appointment as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport. I am proud to accept the ministerial position, which is testament to all those who have given me such fantastic support, and I look forward to this next chapter.

The Whitehaven News - August 25, 2021

As family and friends begin to reunite, it has been very special to be out and about again across Copeland meeting people and attending events. 

My first public engagement was a most enjoyable car show, organised by the West Cumbrian Rotarians.  The Rotating Wheels Show was held at Gosforth and raised over £3,000 in funds for the BEEP charity, which provides emergency roadside medical assistance to support our paramedics. 

Further to my first in-person Saturday Chataway in Cleator Moor, I also enjoyed being part of the celebrations held by residents of The Gardens estate at Corkickle – the first council estate built in Whitehaven – whose residents gathered to celebrate 100 years since the first home was occupied in May 1921. 

Listening to the tales of family life over a century was wonderful and this close-knit estate is incredibly proud of their community – and rightly so.

The lovely visits and events I have attend have brought a couple of hours’ respite over the past week from the challenging situation in Afghanistan. We are working incredibly hard to bring people home UK nationals and those eligible to come to the UK.

As I write this column, the Prime Minister has convened a meeting of G7 leaders to urge international partners to match the UK’s commitments on aid and the resettlement of those most in need, in order to protect human rights and contribute to the stability of the region.

He will also urge the US to extend its presence in the country past August 31 to give more people the opportunity to secure a safe passage to the UK.

I’d also like to offer an update to the high number of constituents who have contacted me about ex-Marine Pen Farthing and his Afghanistan-based animal charity Nowzad.

When the struggles facing Pen and Nowzad were first brought to my attention, I reached out to their headquarters in Devon and opened a direct line of contact with Pen in Kabul. I have significant admiration for Pen and everything he has achieved, both in serving his country and championing the welfare of animals.

Pen and his staff have now developed a comprehensive dataset for us on their 25 staff and their immediate families. This has now been submitted to the Foreign Office and the Home Office, which is currently carrying out all relevant processes and due diligence; 68 of these visas have already been granted.

I am in constant dialogue with Pen as we work towards a safe journey for him, his staff and their families.

Additionally, I am liaising with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to see what the UK can do for the animals in Nowzad’s care and will keep constituents updated on this important work as it develops.

** My next Saturday Chataway event takes place in Beckermet Reading Rooms on Saturday, September 4 from 10am to noon. Please book a timeslot in advance by emailing me on Trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk and I look forward to seeing you there.