A transcript of the full speech to council delivered by Cllr Hugo Graham today: Madame Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen. I hope you don’t mind me reading from paper, but I find on the odd occasion I have a coherent series of thoughts, it’s best to a.) write them down and b.) use that after, so apologies for that. The Lake District is a “sort of national property in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy”. Not my words Madame Chair, those of William Wordsworth.
Cumbria must be unlimited in our ambitions. We need to be an ambitious council with big plans for our county. We need to create an open Cumbria, responding to the challenges of today with sensible development putting residents at heart.
One of the things I love about the Lake District is that it is not just for the super-rich or the super fit, everyone in the world has the right and should have the ability to enjoy these glorious landscapes.
For centuries people have come to Cumbria and been inspired, to be humbled and to be educated. And we have raised several icons of our own. We are a vast county, but we are a great one too. We are a county of writers, of explorers, of scientists, of grafters, even politicians. We are unrivalled in our geography, our history and our technology.
Part of this is tourists, let us not quibble, we need tourists. My parents ran a guest house in Cockermouth for 20 years and a restaurant in Bowness before that; we value and need tourists. But we need more than that, we need people to come and stay, and we need our home grown talent not to leave. Cumbria has some of the best schools in the Country, and many of our young people will leave for University, but there needs to be something with prospects to return home to.
I make no excuses and i allocate no blame. I believe we have all been lacklustre at one time or other and i speak to the entire chamber to ask that that changes.
We must stop the infighting that afflicts us all and halts progress within this county. Cumbria has too many councils and too many councillors. How best do we provide services for our people at the smallest cost to the taxpayer? We must present a united front to the rest of the world for inward investment. Seek out new investment, seize every opportunity and bang the drums of Cumbria around the world.
I find it a great shame that things may get heated on the doorstep and in this chamber, but I know we are capable of working together in a spirit of professionalism and community spirit, which gives us cause for hope. I have witnessed that myself.
What makes me proud to be a Cumbrian is our sense of community. When tragedy strikes, everyone will know someone who was affected and everyone will do their part in the recovery. I would challenge anyone to find anywhere in the country where the people are as brave, as strong as resilient as Cumbrians.
In spite of everything you may hear in the media, there is cause for hope.
Imagine Workington Free Port, free from customs and duties and attracting new goods from around the world to support our industries here.
Imagine Cumbria connected to the world using Carlisle Airport and going via Dublin or London.
Imagine getting from London Euston to Keswick or from Keswick to Carlisle via train.
Imagine places like Maryport freed from the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and becoming flourishing fishing towns once again.
Imagine our farmers freed from the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy and growing and exporting more Cumbrian delicacies than ever before.
Now while we all come from different places, and have different philosophies. We are all here for the same reason. I do not believe for an instant there is one person here who would see our county decline. And there are things we can and do agree on. We all know that Cumbria is the best place to live, work and visit. Let us prove it! Madame Chair, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I will work with anyone who has a dream for a stronger Cumbria, we will work with anyone. Let us all unite, reach for the stars and build a Cumbria for the 21st century we can be proud to call home. Thank you.