By Cotswold MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown
Last week, politicians, party members, journalists, charities, and industry experts gathered in Birmingham for the Conservative Party Conference. 

Away from the main stage, an array of interesting events and meetings took place and I thought I’d share some of my conference highlights.   

On the first night, I attended a Localis Fellowship event, where we discussed reaching Rural Properties with off-grid heating in the transition to net zero. 

Industry experts spoke about the rising cost for many rural households that are not served by the mains grid, usually using LPG or fuel oil. 

They aren’t, unfortunately, receiving the same levels of generous Government support but will be provided with a £100 payment. 

We agreed during the event that this was not fair compensation compared to other gas users and that more support on the phasing out of gas boilers from 2025 is needed. 

I will be pushing the Government on both these issues.     

The next day in my position as vice president, I introduced the newly appointed Secretary of State for Defra, to the well-attended BASC and Angling Trust rural reception. 

During the Covid period, there was a huge increase in anglers. We would not be able to enjoy the rural beauty of the British countryside without the hard work of the farmers and landowners who planted and maintain the landscape. 

The Secretary of State spoke about the vital balance between food production, the environment, and growth. 

As we work to halt the decline in biodiversity and protect our natural environment, organisations such as BASC that champion rural interests and conservation are vitally important.    

I also had a meeting with Nick Aldworth, Regional Delivery Director for National Highways. 

He updated me on the A417 Missing Link Project which appeared 2nd on the Transport list of Investment Zones announced by the Chancellor. 

This is a milestone in a project that I have been campaigning hard on for 15 years! The final decision, likely to be made in November, is with the Secretary of State for Transport. In anticipation, the contractor Kier has begun preparations for construction to start in 2023. 

You may start to see the initial clearing of vegetation and construction site cabins being set up.

 I am working with Highways England to ensure that the partial and complete road closures during the 4-year construction period are kept to a minimum.