7 July 2021
A time for renewal for Ross and the lower Wye

It is great news that so many of the national lockdown restrictions will be lifted on July 19.

The pandemic has been a very difficult time for the whole country. But if one of its consequences is that more people across the UK come to Herefordshire and visit Ross-on-Wye, that could be a real boost for local businesses and tourism.

For Ross, this can be a huge moment of renewal: a time when we can pull together the best ideas and the best thinking into a long term economic, social and cultural strategy for the town and the lower Wye.

For me, there are three major elements.

The first is a properly agreed plan to clean up the river Wye itself. Two weeks ago I wrote to the Environment Agency, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales pressing them to take responsibility, and come together with a cross border taskforce and a plan. And I made clear that I and my fellow MPs would support them in this initiative.

The second is a plan for the town itself. I am delighted that Herefordshire Council has retained Rose Regeneration to work with the Town Council and local people on a development strategy. Rose did great work on our successful recent £22.4 million Stronger Towns Fund bid for Hereford. I am chomping at the bit to go into bat at Westminster for more investment--but we need that strategy.

The third is to embrace the future. I think we should look at making Ross a pioneer in the use of LoRaWan, a wide area local network used for social care and telemedicine and a whole range of public services. Why not have Ross leading the whole country in this important and inexpensive technology? It could make a huge difference in years to come.