Local MP. Huw Merriman, spoke of the importance of the rural economy to his Bexhill and Battle constituency during a visit to a local farm in Battle last Friday.
The Country Landowners Association (CLA) invited Huw to tour the pioneering Beech Estate farm near Battle owned by Harry and Sophie Wills to see first-hand the wide range of activities carried out on the estate and to discuss issues affecting rural life and business.
Huw said “I am hugely supportive of the CLA’s Rural Powerhouse campaign which highlights the importance of farming and rural economy. Over 80% of the Bexhill and Battle constituency is rural so these issues affect the daily lives of many of my constituents. It was really good to meet inspirational Battle farmers Harry and Sophie Wills and see the work they do on their estate. Farming organically, conservation and habitat protection, supporting local employment and bringing in tourists are just some of their many achievements.”
CLA South East Regional Director Michael Valenzia said: “It was a pleasure to meet Huw for a farm tour and discussion of a range of rural issues; he was obviously both knowledgeable about, and hugely committed to, the rural community and we look forward to building a close relationship as farming is such an important sector in the Bexhill and Battle constituency.
“We covered a diverse range of topics, from how modern farms and estates are diversifying to remain profitable and sustainable, to the important of digital connectivity to the countryside.
“We were delighted that Huw expressed enthusiastic support for the CLA’s Rural Powerhouse campaign. The initiative aims to highlight how important the rural economy is in terms of food production, employment and environmental stewardship, and how with the right support it has the potential to be even bigger.”
Harry Wills, of the Beech Estate near Battle who hosted the tour, said: “It was great to have the opportunity to tour our local MP around our organic farm outside Battle. The visit allowed us to show Huw how we have diversified across the estate to include commercial units for local businesses, campsite, conservation and other leisure opportunities. He seemed to appreciate the importance of the issues raised including planning, road access, digital connectivity and delay in countryside stewardship payments.”
In photo from left to right: Huw Merriman MP, Michael Valenzia, CLA, Harry Wills