I am writing this column just before I go to a public meeting in Bridport about the question of unconventional gas exploration – commonly known as “fracking”.

Manor Marine

Last week in this column, I mentioned the very welcome fact that new investment in ship repair is on the cards...


I was delighted to hear last week that the new Mountjoy School has now been short-listed for an architectural award.  Quite right, too.  This brings a fitting end to a saga that has been going on for many years.

Electric Cars

Western GazetteIn the first part of last week, I was rather far away from Sherborne on a trade mission to India. At the end of the week, I was rather close to Sherborne in Oborne. What, you may ask, does Oborne have in common with Mumbai?


There is, rightly, an enormous and increasing focus these days on consumer rights and on businesses that provide poor service for the customer.

Chief Constable

I have mentioned before in this column the very considerable respect I am developing for our new Police Commissioner, Martin Underhill.  He seems to be doing all the things we would hope a police commissioner would do, transforming the hopes and aspirations of his electorate to the professionals in the police in an articulate and effective way, and earning plaudits all round.

Community Resilience

Although the Big Society has been on people’s lips for some years now, I am still occasionally asked what it means and, in particular, what it has got to do with the delivery of public services.

Durnovaria Silver Band

After more than 16 years as the local MP, I sometimes wonder whether I will get to the stage at which I am not surprised by things that I discover in West Dorset. But even if this may eventually happen, I can certainly testify that it has not happened yet.


Being a local MP involves doing a lot of things that you wouldn’t otherwise find yourself doing.  You open things that are already open (usually a pleasant and sometimes an inspiring occasion); you attend meetings with people you would otherwise never meet (sometimes very useful, sometimes very uncomfortable); and you get to hear about things that you wouldn’t otherwise hear about (sometimes dispiriting, but often hugely encouraging).One such activity is the receiving and conveying of petitions.

Police & Crime Commissioner

I imagine that any reader of this column will have at least a vague recollection of the fact that, some months ago, we elected a Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset.