25th Oct, 2016

Labour's Town Hall meeting hears case for staying in Europe

Aaron Wise 10th Jun, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A MEETING at Evesham Town Hall organised by the town’s Labour Party showcased how Wychavon District Council had benefited from European Union grants.

Evesham Labour Party referendum organiser Ros Gowers told guests about the range of cash boosts handed to the authority by the EU in recent years.

Through Enterprising Worcestershire – a programme for business start-up and growth support – Wychavon had received £388,575 in EU grants, the meeting heard.

Wychavon received £112,000 out of £430,000 in grant funding to Worcestershire to support reducing energy consumption, from which 23 district companies benefited.

Another scheme which helps businesses get their products to market quicker provided seven companies with £157,000 between them.

And the Leader programme brought £1.2 million into Worcestershire for funding local community projects, several in Wychavon, the meeting heard.

Information on grants was part of the public meeting which included some active discussion on both the likely effect on the economy of a vote to leave and the current levels of immigration into the UK.

It was chaired by Michael Worrall, Evesham Labour Party Chair, who listed several family members who came from other European countries

Jeff Kenner, a previous parliamentary candidate for Stratford, and Professor of European Law at Nottingham University, pointed out the incorrect figures the EU is supposed to cost the UK.

Mr Kenner said the figures did not take into account the benefits of being in the EU and how the UK relied on it for trade and jobs.

While there was war and hunger in the world, Mr Kenner said those problems would see continual movement of people, problems which couldn’t be stopped by leaving the EU.

A third speaker was Dr David Nichol, a neurosurgeon from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, who provided an unexpected insight into the benefits of the EU for the NHS.

He said some 40 per cent of NHS staff came from outside the UK, many from Europe.

The exchange of knowledge and information on health care was greatly helped by being an EU member, according to Dr Nichol.

Fomer Worcester councillor Richard Boorn addressed the challenge to small business and said his company produces a special adhesive, much of which goes to EU countries.

He said it was far easier for him to trade into the EU with Britain in than if the country voted for ‘Brexit’.

Party Chair Michael Worrall said: “The EU is far from perfect, but we need to stay in to reform it rather than leave, and then have no influence on policies which will continue to profoundly affect our lives here in the UK whether we are in or out.”