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"Blair's rural legacy is a disaster" - Farron

May 10, 2007 10:06 AM

Local MP, Tim Farron, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming has criticised Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair for his poor record on rural affairs ahead of the expected announcement tomorrow of a date on which he will resign. The fiasco at the Rural Payments Agency, post office closures in rural areas and a lack of NHS dentistry are just a few areas, among many others in which Tony Blair has failed rural communities.

After ten long years in office, Tony Blair is expected to announce tomorrow that he will be standing down in a matter of weeks, which gives an opportunity to reflect on his achievements and failures during his tenure.

Tim Farron said:

"Although Tony Blair has had some successes such as the power sharing agreement in Northern Ireland, his record on rural areas is a complete shambles, the most obvious legacy of which is the utter disaster that is the Rural Payments Agency. The vast majority of farmers blame former DEFRA Secretary Margaret Beckett for the problems, and yet Tony Blair promoted her to the role of Foreign Secretary.

"The RPA has left farmers out of pocket to the tune of £23 million, and the resulting IT cost overruns and EU fines are sure to lead to budget cuts to key government priorities.

"In Many ways this government has done by accident or design, to rural communities what the Thatcher government did deliberately to mining communities. Tony Blair's legacy here is not a happy one."