The Reporting Back from Westminster column with Julian Smith MP

It has been a very exciting month in Westminster for a number of reasons. Not only did the Conservative Party welcome its new leader Boris Johnson, and the country our new Prime Minister, I was delighted to be asked to serve in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. It is an honour to be appointed to the role at such a vital and interesting time, and I look forward to the challenges of the months ahead.

Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 1:00 pm
Updated Monday, 21st October 2019, 5:07 am

Amid a frantic first week in my new role, I did have the chance to spend a packed few days in the constituency, meeting with a variety of businesses and constituents across Skipton and Ripon.

I was delighted to visit the Potter Space business park, where I was given a tour by managing director Matthew Lamb, and conducted a topping out ceremony of a new 27,500 square foot warehouse with the company’s property team.

Potter Space operates four other business parks from its head office in Ripon, located in Selby, Ely, Droitwich and Knowsley, comprising more than 250 acres and in excess of 1.6m square feet of commercial space, and has committed to investing £25m in the business over five years. This is an extremely positive story for the city of Ripon and demonstrates the investment, growth and job creation happening in North Yorkshire. Investment in the Ripon site has enabled companies on the site to thrive and prosper, bringing further success to the area. Thank you to all at Potter Space for showing me around.

I had the chance to visit Farmison and Co’s new premises, a 50 thousand square foot site in Bondgate Green.

The site is a state of the art facility, featuring a butchery academy, maturation rooms and a reference library of books about meat and butchery. I met with John Pallagi, the Managing Director, and discussed with him the business’ aim to expand into the Indian market, seizing on the opportunity presented by future trade deals once we have left the EU.

I was also grateful to visit the Theakston Brewery and hear about their campaign to reform Small Brewer’s Relief. At the Autumn Statement in 2018, the Chancellor of the Exchequer committed to a review of this tax, to look at how changes might be introduced to boost businesses. Small Brewers’ Relief has really helped the growth of the industry but there are also some concerns about how the relief works, and that is why I am pleased that the Government is looking at how the current system might be improved to ensure it is supporting growth across the sector.  

Finally, I visited the beautiful site of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, to hear from the General Manager, Justin Scully, about the exciting Skell Valley Project.

The project, funded by the National Trust and the National Heritage Lottery, aims to combat the effects of the River Skell on the landscape upstream and downstream from Fountains Abbey.

We all know the devastating impact flooding from the river has had on our area in the past, and this project is designed to mitigate the damage from flood events not only within the heritage area of Fountains Abbey, but also in Ripon city centre.

It is hoped that the work will address the high level of siltation in the river.

I held two busy surgeries in Skipton and Ripon and will, of course, be continuing to hold surgeries across the Skipton and Ripon area. For more details on these and how to book, please visit my website at or contact my office on 01756 795898.