Show round-up from Devon County Show and Royal Cornwall Show

Discover what our keynote speakers had to say during the south west show season 2024.

Another successful major show season is drawing to a close for the South West team. It has been so great to see so many of our members Devon County, the Royal Bath & West and Royal Cornwall shows.

Gavin Lane Devon County Show
CLA Deputy President Gavin Lane at Devon County Show

Devon County Show kicked off our busy show season with its traditional May date. With senior politicians and local MPs invited to speak to members in the run up to the General Election, in front of a sold out crowd, the Earl of Devon, Charles Courtaney, said a political no show raised serious concerns, and that a potential change leadership could be “challenging” for the region largely as a result of Labour’s lack of senior MPs.

He commented: “I don’t think it’s a great sign for the South West that the political parties are not willing to put someone up to speak to us, to tell us what they intend to do, and then to be tested by us. Labour will probably have some new seats in the region, but they will be junior MPs, and I think we as a region may well lose out as a result and we need to think of ways in which we can engage with the new Government, whoever it may be. I see it in Westminster that Labour is very interested in rural issues, they understand it, but they understand it perhaps from an urban way and that may be something of a concern for us.”

A current member of the House of Lords, Lord Devon praised the work carried out by the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, David Fursdon, for his work on the Independent Review of Protected Site Management on Dartmoor, commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last year in response to concerns over proposed changes to agri-environment schemes, namely grazing stock rates, within Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). “I think from all accounts it’s been really well received. It’s Devon leading the way nationally because it’s not just an issue for Dartmoor, it’s an issue for all of our hill communities and I think David has done a remarkable job to pull all of those challenging threads together.”

During the breakfast, tributes were paid to landowner Lord Clinton, who died in April at the age of 89. Lord Devon concluded his speech by saying: “The energy he had for the region was absolutely remarkable. He always spoke about the importance of sustainability of rural businesses, and the sustainability of passing on rural businesses and landscapes for future generations. He’s passed Clinton Devon on with a remarkably strong team that we can all be very proud of. We will miss him very much but he’s left Devon in a much stronger place.”

Royal Cornwall Show Hustings 2024
Scott Mann (Conservatives) and Ben Maguire (Liberal Democrats) at the CLA South West Political Breakfast at Royal Cornwall Show.

Following the announcement on May 29 that the country would go to the polls on July 4, at Royal Cornwall Show, the CLA South West team hosted at North Cornwall Hustings during its Political Breakfast, again attracting a sell-out audience.

Chaired by CLA President Victoria Vyvyan, she told the audience that the needs of the rural

economy have been ignored by those in power for too long, and areas like Cornwall and Devon had been “treated like pensioners of the state”. She commented: “The rural economy

lags 18% behind the urban economy. Not because we are idle, but because we are not given the infrastructural details that we need to grow that economy. Governments of all colours have ignored our needs. Collectively it’s really hard to make ourselves heard and that’s why

we belong to organisations like the CLA, because that way we can come together and shout loudly for people who perhaps politicians don’t want to listen to. I say to them immediately, we’re here to be convinced. When we go into that ballot box we don’t have to tell anybody where we put the tick. The real tragedy is that in the 18th century we had 40 seats in Cornwall, and it’s one of the reasons that we still weigh in way above what Cornwall should really think it’s capable of doing. We know we should have 40 seats in Westminster, I think that’s just about the right number!”

Inviting the three main parties to the hustings, Victoria thanked Scott Mann (Conservative) and Ben Maguire (Liberal Democrats) for attending – the Labour candidate Robyn Harris pulled out of the event – saying “thank you Scott and Ben for having the courage of their convictions to turn up and speak to us today. There are 220 people here who are people who live in rural constituencies, so it’s really important that they hear those voices.”