• Out and About

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    31 July 2015

    Last week, with the start of the parliamentary recess it was good to get out and about in the constituency. This included a very uplifting visit to Grey Matter, the software wholesaler based in Ashburton. I say ‘uplifting’ as it is especially rewarding to visit a company that has such a long history of expansion and success, is based locally and provides vital high skilled jobs in the local community. Since my last visit a couple of years ago the Grey Matter has expanded to employ around 90 staff and has recently completed a major renovation of its premises. The new light and spacious offices create a great working environment. With a turnover in the tens of millions and as a business well up in The Sunday Times International Track 200 league table Grey Matter is a perfect example of what powerful entrepreneurship can achieve right across the world and all from within a local rural setting. We need more Grey Matters to power our rural economies and I was especially pleased to see in the Budget that the Chancellor focused on further cuts in business taxes and greater investment in skills and apprenticeships – this will go some way to helping make this happen.  I also dropped into Ashburton’s newly developed post office. What an extraordinary transformation. A once rather cramped, dark space has been opened up to accommodate not just a smart new post office but also the local library – which will be taken forward with the help of the Friends of Ashburton Library and a team of enthusiastic volunteers. If ever there was an example of how a community can come together to provide a positive solution in the face of financial pressures this is it. A great new library space, volunteer support and a post office busier and more secure than ever before. My thanks in particular to postmasters Stuart and Jackie for the extraordinary job they have done in spearheading this progress. I was also pleased to spend time with the Chairman and Chief Executive of Dartmoor National Park – we dropped by to thank Award Winning Ashburton Motors for their generous loan of a vehicle to the Park. The Park has a hugely important role in protecting, supporting and promoting one of our country’s most important assets and this is a significant challenge given the pressures on funding. As with the approach taken by Stuart and Jackie the best way forward is to look for smarter and better ways of doing things. Approaches in which efficiencies are gained as well as better outcomes achieved. This is not easy, but I was impressed by DNP’s thinking and have agreed to continue to lobby ministers and to arrange ministerial meetings to see how changes might be introduced that result in services being maintained and, wherever possible, enhanced. One very important issue we discussed was the expectation that we should see superfast broadband available to every property on Dartmoor by the end of next year.