Lib Dem leader pays tribute to MP Helen Morgan during visit to Shropshire farm to hear about issues

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has paid tribute to North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan as a 'champion of the people' and a reason for the momentum the political party has gained across the country.

Liberal Democratic Party leader Ed Davey and North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan visit Bentley Farm, Noneley, to discuss the challenges farmers face with Neil Brown
Liberal Democratic Party leader Ed Davey and North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan visit Bentley Farm, Noneley, to discuss the challenges farmers face with Neil Brown

The leader paid a visit to North Shropshire, visiting two farms close to Wem to talk to farmers about the issues they are facing.

After the visit to the first - Bentley Farm at Noneley - he said the work Ms Morgan had done in raising rural issues in parliament, including ambulance and GP shortages in Shropshire, was one of the reasons for their 'extraordinary' results in local elections last week, where they saw gains in Cumbria and Somerset.

Liberal Democratic Party leader Ed Davey and North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan visit Bentley Farm, Noneley, to discuss the challenges farmers face with Neil Brown

"One of the reasons for that was Helen's win in North Shropshire late last year and the issues she campaigned on," he said.

"It said to people that Liberal Democrats have got momentum behind us, particularly in rural communities. We took some learning from issues that are being brought up here and fed them into campaigns elsewhere and got some excellent results, particularly in Westmorland and Furness where we took overall control, Somerset - another rural county - and Powys where we are the biggest party.

"I wouldn't say Helen's win was the start of it but I think it was a really big part of the story elsewhere and it is something we have built on and will continue to do so.

"I have knocked a number of doors during my visit and noticed how many people recognise Helen - they have seen in just a few months what it is like to have a hardworking Liberal Democrat MP who not only understands and sympathises with the problems constituents face but lives among them."

At Bentley Farm, he met poultry farmer Neil Brown who has processed nearly eight million chickens in the eight years he has worked there.

He gave the leader a tour of the two sheds, which can house up to 40,000 birds at a time, and heard of the problems he and similar farms in the area face such as rising wheat prices, electricity costs and the fall of the basic payment scheme for farmers.

He said: "We are doing a lot of work in the farming communities, not just in Shropshire, to listen to farmers and we will campaign for fairer prices for meat and help to deal with the rising costs of production.

"The Conservatives have yet to decide on a new scheme to replace the basic payments one leaving many farmers worried about a shortfall in funding."

Neil said he was worried about trade deals the government were doing with countries like the USA and Canada and said he didn't mind competing but it would need to be on a level playing field.

He said: "We hear about chlorinated chicken in the USA, a practice which is banned in the EU.

"We are scrupulously clean hear, we have the sheds cleaned out and sterilised for a week before a new batch of chickens come in. I worry if the market opens up whether the chickens are going to be as healthy and well looked after.

"It was good to welcome Ed and Helen here because I think they have an understanding of the rural community and the problems faced by farmers who work in it."

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