Kirkhope hails importance of rural communities in Lords

Lord Kirkhope
Lord Kirkhope
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LORD Kirkhope has pledged to stand up for rural areas as he took his seat in the House of Lords.

The former minister and MEP spoke of his “pride” on becoming a peer and his intention to make “a full and positive contribution”.

Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate was most recently one of Yorkshire’s six members of the European Parliament where he was Conservative group leader for six years.

He was previously the MP for Leeds North-East and a Home Office minister.

Making his maiden speech in the House of Lords, Lord Kirkhope praised the work of rural organisations as well as parish and town councils.

He said: “I pay tribute to the many councillors who give so much of their time on their voluntary basis and I have seen in Yorkshire how hard they work.

“But they need re-enervating with more encouragement and more acknowledgment.

“Parish Councils are responsible for bus shelters but not sufficiently for planning the most suitable means of transporting people.”

Lord Kirkhope highlighted the Rural Challenge Report of 2010 and its recommendations on retaining local facilities.

He continued: “Facilities like our community halls, our churches and church buildings, postmen and women, market town partnerships and local businesses.

“Informing local people of bus services or alternative shared transport schemes, using IT where available and pressing for its availability where not, must be part of that agenda.

“The idea of having village agents to advise on needs and opportunities is one that should also be explored further.”

Lord Kirkhope was given his peerage among the honours handed out by David Cameron as he stood down as prime minister earlier this year.

The peer said: “In the aftermath of June it is inevitable that he will not yet receive the credit he deserves for his premiership but I am certain that in the fullness of time that will be remedied.”