Over the past few months, Brightlingsea residents have expressed to me their frustrations over Hedingham’s bus service. I documented in my last article for the Brightlingsea Flyer that these problems stemmed from driver shortages, and that a recruitment process was underway. Whilst it is reassuring that the problem has been recognised, this still presents a problem for residents in the short term.
At the time, I wrote to the Essex Council County requesting their support on this issue. I have now been given assurances that they are working with Hedingham to ensure continuity on their contracted services. I have also been told that the problems are now showing signs of improvement and that this is expected to continue. If any commuters in Brightlingsea feel this is not the case, please let me know!
From a national perspective, things are moving more quickly. People often ask me how Brexit will impact them and their local communities. Particularly relevant to our local community is the impact of Brexit on our fishing and agricultural industries.
Brexit represents a significant opportunity for the UK fishing industry. Since the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973, fisheries have been managed at an EU level under what is now the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). It is widely accepted that the CFP has battered the UK’s fishing industry, for example, by imposing blanket measures and a one size fits all approach.
For an area as large and diverse as the EU, that is not always appropriate. Through its quota system and other initiatives, the CFP has failed to effectively manage fish stocks. In 2008 this led the House of Lords European Union Committee to conclude that 88% of EU stocks were over-fished. Brexit offers the UK a unique opportunity to both support our fishing industries and at last address fish stock sustainability at the same time.
Brexit also presents huge opportunities for UK farmers. Since the UK joined the EU, the proportion of the food we eat that is produced in the UK has steadily declined. Since UK agriculture is so heavily regulated by the somewhat anti-science attitudes of the EU, UK crop yields have been falling behind those of countries such as the US, Canada and Australia. Leaving the EU thus presents an opportunity for us to tailor an agricultural policy for the UK specifically, and for the agricultural industry to recover momentum. And to those concerned about support for farming following our EU exit, the Government has already guaranteed that agricultural funding provided by the EU will continue to 2020.
There are so many unique opportunities on offer as the UK leaves the EU. The Government must now seize the initiative and capitalise on them for the good of our local businesses and communities.