Hereford Times Column: Welcoming Liz Truss to Herefordshire

It is always my pleasure to show off our beautiful county to visitors.

So I was delighted to welcome Liz Truss, the MP for South West Norfolk and Secretary of State at the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs to Herefordshire recently.

It is always my pleasure to show off our beautiful county to visitors.

So I was delighted to welcome Liz Truss, the MP for South West Norfolk and Secretary of State at the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs to Herefordshire recently.

Liz is a rising star in the Conservative party, and as the name suggests, her brief has huge relevance to this county. A key part of her focus recently has been on measures to help renew the rural economy. So it was a real coup to be able to show her some of the exciting projects already in progress here.

Our first stop was to open Skylon Court, a new section of the Enterprise Zone in Rotherwas. This consists of ten high quality units designed to accommodate technology-based businesses and organisations. The offices have been built to high sustainability and environmental standards, and are equipped with great facilities--all in all a real boost for local businesses, and hopefully a real encouragement to Herefordshire’s entrepreneurs.

Liz then met with the project leaders and other key people to discuss our plans for a new Herefordshire University. Readers will recall--perhaps with some pain--that I have been beating the drum for a university here since 2009. As I endlessly say, if we can pull it off this will be the most transformative project for this county since the construction of Hereford Cathedral.

The meeting too was a great success. Liz was obviously impressed with the plans, and came out of the meeting brimming with enthusiasm.

This matters, because the more top-level support that we can secure for the university project the better. Alongside the project team I have been vigorously making the case over the last few months to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and also directly to the Chancellor. Having the chance to outline the project to Liz and DEFRA is a further step forward.

While the growth of innovative rural business and education is important, no less so is the contribution made by our farmers and food producers. There were plenty of both at a packed dinner of some 160 people in Ross-on-Wye that evening. Liz spoke very well about the challenges and opportunities facing this county, and got a superb reception.

All in all, then, a very successful visit. Thanks to everyone who gave Liz such a warm Herefordshire welcome.