I’ve been following the story of the forest sell-off, building up information from campaign sites, news stories and blogs like this one from my friend Mark Allery, another woodland worker. Today, as MPs were debating and voting on the governments plans to sell off our forests I checked the 38 degrees blog for the latest news. Their advice – call your MP. Having not had a reply to my email to Rory Stewart I decided that this would be a good opportunity to contact him directly. The 38 degrees site helpfully gave me Mr Stewart’s no and I spoke to a very well meaning member of his office who was, quite frankly, no help at all except in giving me the phone no for the constituency office here in Penrith and the Border. I am pleased to say that later in the day Mr Stewart did call back and we had a very interesting discussion.
I’d love to say that my fears were soothed and I can count on my MP to oppose the sell-off but that was not my impression. Grizedale, as a ‘heritage forest’ would be protected by handing it over to a charity such as the National Trust but the fate of the other 30 he wouldn’t be drawn on which presumably means the worst.
He did in the end agree that the government’s handling of this has been “shambolic”, that he ought to meet with Save Lakeland’s Forests to discuss the individual forests in question and that the website omission would be addressed.
Now, I realise that I probably haven’t changed Mr Stewart’s stance and I can accept that to some extent I was simply fed an official line but nonetheless, for me this was an important event. I feel strongly about something the government of the day is up to, that’s happened before. This time though I did something about it, I called up my MP. That he called back was a shock, that he will be taking some actions as a result of talking to me is nothing short of a revelation. If you’re sitting at home, as angry and disappointed with the people running the country as I am and their handling of (insert policy here) then take action, pick up your phone and tell them.