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The Minister for Rural Affairs. Richard Benyon

- Is there a conflict of interest between his ministerial role and his role as a farmer?

- Assurances are required, commitments to lawfulness demanded and, if that cannot be done the Conservative monopoly of the countryside should be broken.

Says Steve YandallSays Steve Yandall

Richard Benyon's farming interests have,according to the Daily Mail, benefited from 2m of public monies.This,of course,demands an explanation from Mr Benyon to illustrate how he avoids a conflict of interest between his ministerial role and his business interests plus an explanation,from the cabinet, of the safeguards that are in place when selections are made(and ongoing)to avoid partiality.

I first spoke to Mr Benyon 19 months ago when he expressed concerns re. my allegations against Natural England and the partial information that ministers were supplied with.My allegations included non compliance with the law,poor science,financial misuse and public exclusion.

I was left with "please keep me updated and I will meet you when I visit Cornwall soon".

To date I have heard of no action being taken to address any of my allegations EXCEPT a Parliamentary Ombudsman decision,in response to Mr Ian McNeill Cooke(coordinator,Save Penwith Moors),that NE had not maladministered their Cornish activities!

Disabled,CROW,Highways Act non compliance.Money wasted.The public excluded.Archaeology damaged on multiple occasions.Denial of a critical part of the eco system they were spending millions on,contractual irregularities and low accountability etc but NO MALADMINISTRATION!!!!

Things were starting to smell ripe.

I have no reason to believe that Mr Benyon is partial but,in view of the Daily Mail article,and the above precis,I now have no reason to believe he is impartial either.

When MP's achieve office they do so to represent the public but 2m ,perhaps, represents payments that could maintain the status quo in his own department?

Recent appointments to the NE board of a farmer and scientist do nothing to allay the above fears as the public continue to be excluded and divorced from the countryside and the second enclosures'act' accelerates its barbed 'no go'message across our landscape and through Common Land Law.

Rural recreation is an economic factor and is discounted through current policies.The mobility and leisure time enjoyed through the last 5 decades must be factored in by conservation in order to fulfill and give credibility to their oft quoted 'environmental'initiatives.Rural areas need visitors to remain viable.Livery,shops,services are all reliant on NE feeling an obligation to the whole rural economy not just farming.

All the above requires ministerial impartiality.

That 2m is,after all,public revenue and requires balanced benefits NOT as one farmer was heard to say"that is MY gold plated pension".

Assurances are required,commitments to lawfulness demanded and,if that cannot be done the Conservative monopoly of the countryside should be broken and Lib/Dem Mr Andrew George MP should be appointed!

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