July 2021: Government Commits to Consider Melton Mowbray as Home for DEFRA
On Monday 19th July DEFRA Minister Rebecca Pow MP confirmed that the Government has instructed civil servants to consider Melton Mowbray as a potential location for a DEFRA office following Melton MP Alicia Kearns’ campaign.
The decision was announced during a half hour Adjournment Debate on the floor of the House of Commons which Melton’s MP had secured specifically for her campaign for DEFRA to open an office in Melton Mowbray.
Responding to the news Alicia Kearns MP said:
“I’m delighted by the news that the Government has instructed civil servants to actively investigate whether a DEFRA office can be opened in Melton Mowbray.
“I will continue to make the case for our wonderful town, and to create opportunity for us and give our town every chance to succeed. A DEFRA office in Melton is right for our communities, right for our farmers, right for our food and drink producers and, right for our country.”
During the speech DEFRA Minister Rebecca Pow said:
“I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns) on securing this debate, making such an impressive case for her constituency, and indeed speaking up for her constituents. She is such a champion and a great voice in this place.
“I know that my hon. Friend has already raised this with the Secretary of State, so she is leaving no stone, or pork pie, unturned. I have asked my officials to include Melton Mowbray as a potential location for a new DEFRA office. It will be considered with all other options, and will be subject to the usual disciplines, such as securing value for money, and all the criteria that will have to fit the DEFRA operating model.”
Over the past few weeks Alicia Kearns MP has met with the Secretary of State for DEFRA George Eustice, Chancellor of the Duchy Michael Gove, and Lord Agnew at the Cabinet Office to make the case for why no other rural location can rival Melton’s offer.
During her speech Alicia Kearns invited the Minister and the Speaker of the House Lindsay Hoyle MP to visit Melton Mowbray and see why she believes DEFRA needs Melton, as much as Melton needs DEFRA. The Speaker of the House stated that “the case has been very well put.”
May 2021: Alicia Kearns launches campaign to bring DEFRA to Melton Mowbray
Alicia Kearns MP has launched a campaign for the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to open an office in Melton Mowbray. If successful her campaign would bring jobs to the town by playing to its strengths: our agricultural and food heritage and expertise.
As part of the Government’s historic commitment to level up every part of our country, it has pledged to move 22,000 civil servants outside of central London by 2030. The East Midlands already suffers from some of the lowest levels of public investment in the Country, which Alicia Kearns is committed to changing, and ensuring that the region benefit from the Government’s historic pledge to boost growth and prosperity as we recover from the pandemic.
Alicia Kearns will put to the Government that Melton Mowbray is the ideal candidate for an office for DEFRA outside of London. It is the Rural Capital of Food, offers a vibrant and diverse agricultural sector that feeds the entire country and is home to the Livestock Market. It also benefits from Brooksby Melton Agricultural College, major food production factories and a Food Enterprise Zone, and is home to two world-famous GI Foods: Stilton Cheese and Melton Mowbray Pork Pies as well as many wonderful and award winning food and drink producers. And nowhere hosts more food festivals!
According to the Institute for Government, while only one in five civil servants is located in London, two thirds of those advising on policy and at the senior levels are based in London. Just five per cent of all civil servants are based in the East Midlands, the lowest in the country.
Alicia Kearns MP for Rutland and Melton, said:
“Today I launch my campaign for DEFRA to open an office in Melton Mowbray. Melton is the agricultural backbone of our country, and I am determined to generate jobs and prosperity to level up and bring more opportunity to our wonderful town.
"A DEFRA office in Melton is right for our communities, right for our farmers, right for our food and drink producers and, right for our country. That is why I will work as hard as I can to make this a reality and deliver on my promise to bring investment to our town.”
Melton Borough Council Leader Joe Orson, said:
I welcome this exciting initiative from Alicia Kearns MP. Moving a DEFRA office to Melton would fit well given the area's agricultural industry, Cattle Market & being the Rural Capital of Food. Certainly it would help bring employment, prosperity and growth to Melton Borough and in particular help regenerate Melton town centre following the Coronavirus Pandemic. I look forward to working with Melton Borough Council colleagues to fully support this campaign.
Commenting, Melton Mowbray Cattle Market President Hugh Brown, said:
We strongly support having a permanent Defra office in Melton Mowbray. As the home of Midlands largest livestock market and the Rural Capital of Food, we really can provide a farm to fork environment for joined up policy development and its real-world impact.