Any consideration of the issue of nuclear waste in Cumbria must start by recognising one basic fact.

No matter how much some people might wish it were otherwise, Britain already has thousands of tons of low-level waste material, and a substantial amount of high-level nuclear material, as a legacy of our existing and historical nuclear programmes.

And much of it is already in Cumbria.

Imagining that the tens of thousands of cubic metres of nuclear material which is already here at sites like Sellafield and the LLWR will somehow magically go away if you put up posters demanding that there should be no nuclear waste in Cumbria or, worse, try to sabotage any attempt to get a rational discussion going about how we can most safely manage the nuclear waste which we already have by vilifying anyone who takes part in a conversation about it, is not just incredibly stupid but utterly irresponsible.

I would not suggest the above is a fair description of the actions of everyone who opposed the MRWS (Managing Radioactive Waste Safely) programme a few years back but I think it is indisputable that there was too much of that kind of knee-jerk opposition, much of it about as realistic as “stop the world, I want to get off”.

Now there is another attempt underway to look at how to best manage the nuclear waste which Britain already has. Cumbria County Council was invited to nominate a representative to take part in the working group which is considering the issue.

We learned a few weeks ago that the Labour leader of the county council declined to respond to this offer. Cumbria’s local committee for Copeland duly asked if we could take up the place if he doesn’t want it.

We were told at our January 18 meeting that the council has to decide and inform the working group whether they are going to take up the place before they can consider reallocating it. We also learned at that meeting that the matter has not been brought to the county council cabinet for decision.

Cumbria’s local committees – consisting of the county councillors elected to represent each borough or district – have the power to refer an issue to Cabinet, so I proposed that Copeland local committee should refer this issue to Cumbria’s cabinet. This was unanimously agreed and I would like to thank my colleagues of both parties for their support. I hope the cabinet will be equally constructive.

Regardless of whether you agree with nuclear power or whether you take a different view, it would be absurd if the county council did not even seek to be represented in discussions on something so vital to West Cumbria as the issue of how the waste which is currently here can most effectively be stored and kept safe.

We should have locally elected councillors on that working group – from each level of local government – reporting back to their councils about what is going on, and being held to account for their decisions in an open and transparent way.

Not to take part would be a complete abdication of responsibility.


County councillor for Egremont North & St Bees (Conservative)

Covid: there is another way

Below is a snapshot the last 24-hour period as I write, where we have seen 1,325 deaths in the UK with a population of 67 million:

  • 0 deaths in New Zealand (pop 5 m);
  • 0 deaths in Taiwan (pop 24 m);
  • 0 deaths in Australian (pop 25 m);
  • 0 deaths in Vietnam (pop 94 m);
  • 1 death in Thailand (pop 70 m);
  • 0 deaths in China (pop 1,398 m).

The common thread is that these counties all have a zero Covid strategy whereas our Government’s policy here in the UK is to allow Covid to spread in a controlled way but to try and stop the NHS being overwhelmed.

Most of these other countries can now live relatively normally WITHOUT lockdowns because they have almost eradicated Covid. How is this done? Tight border restrictions, enforced quarantine for 14 days on entry, isolation of incoming truckers and a proper track, trace and isolate system.

All these countries are different, culturally, politically and economically, some have lower population densities than UK, some have much higher, some are small crowded islands like the UK, some are huge countries with land borders, but in every single on of them, once their government committed to zero Covid, they were successful.

The zero Covid strategy has worked everywhere it has been tried. It’s also much cheaper in the long run. There is no constant yo-yo between lockdown and release which is clearly not working here.

What is the result of a zero Covid strategy? The economy can more or less operate as normal with open restaurants and pubs and pretty near normal travel within the country. No one could have missed the TV footage of mass celebrations in Wuhan over the new year because the area is now free of Covid.

A zero Covid strategy is the obvious way to escape this crisis. Yet the government has refused, since March last year, to adopt this strategy to save lives and the economy. We need to pressure the government to change strategy NOW or the endless deaths, lockdowns and damage to our economy will continue.

Let’s learn these lessons from other countries and move to a zero Covid strategy.


Former Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Copeland

Covid – The Great Time Thief

Covid is a time thief – it snuck into our lives,

Changing lives forever and spoiling all our plans.

March lockdown 2020 is when it all began.

It came across from China, the district of Wuhan.

Most of us take note, take care of Covid rules

But some of us are in despair at the rise in fools.

“Oh,” they say, “it’s the old that die, we don’t need to worry,”

With street demos and partying while taking furlough money.

But for us, the old ones, although I never thought it,

We’re losing all our freedoms for fear that we caught it!

We’re missing our families, the sounds of children’s play,

Time taken from our days out and lovely nights away.

Our family time so precious we’re losing every day.

Time thief that is Covid has killed not just the old –

It’s taken vulnerable and young, and yet some won’t be told.

Almost one year down the line and what has been achieved ?

The vaccine rollout has begun, but fools say there’s no need.

Covid is a time thief – it’s taken too much from me.

My hope is loved ones all stay safe

But we will have to wait and see.

Please take care everyone.


By email

Jab lot

Applause is due for the upbeat atmosphere at the Cockermouth hospital last Thursday for an outstanding turnout of staff and volunteers who managed and delivered an all-day clinic for coronavirus vaccinations.

Representing the younger oldies, I was there.

Walking through the door, every step was monitored by hand sanitising, temperature-taking aides, whose dexterous charm made it feel like we were auditioning for a film.

I don’t know who to thank in particular, the car park marshals deserve an award, the timing of attendees made it possible to ‘first jab’ a lot of grateful people with expertise and a minimum of fuss.

Thank you everyone involved, you were superb!