Secretary of state urged to give support to horticulture

Trade association calls for reappointed Beckett to start backing industry

Industry organisation the HTA has urged newly reappointed DEFRA secretary of state Margaret Beckett to start backing horticulture. HTA director general David Gwyther said: “We would certainly expect DEFRA to take an even more energetic approach to what is now its main purpose — the protection of our environment. “While this is a very worthy role, we must expect more legislation and bureaucracy on water management, soil management, waste management, pesticides use and peat reduction targets.” The HTA will lobby Beckett on getting planning policy in place that is much more positive towards more green planting and better maintenance, and also on getting help with improving productivity to help UK growers deal with competition from abroad. The ministry has been downgraded from two ministers of state to one. Alun Michael has gone to the energy ministry, while Elliott Morley remains at DEFRA. The new parliamentary secretaries of state are Lord Bach and Dorset South MP Jim Knight. Junior DEFRA minister Lord Whitty has stepped down. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has a new cabinet minister for communities and local government. The press has dubbed David Milliband “minister for yobs”. He will deal with regeneration and local government finance issues. Reports have suggested John Prescott vetoed Tony Blair’s choice of David Blunkett for the job. Media Strategy public affairs partner Mark Glover said regeneration programmes “did a lot to help return a lot of Labour MPs, especially in the North” and that the Government needed to be seen to be doing something in return.

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