Vicky Ford is a Member of the European Parliament for the East of England. Â Here she tells us about her role as MEP and her life in East Anglia…
I live in Balsham, a village equidistant from Cambridge, Newmarket, Haverhill and Saffron Walden. I’ve lived here for about 8 years but my husband was brought up in our house!
What do you like most living there?
We are a very strong and supportive village, with beautiful countryside. There is a huge mix of different people in the village, from world class scientists to farmers whose families have been here for generations. I particularly enjoy Saturdays supporting the cricket team – they take me to some stunning grounds in villages Essex, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
Where would take the family for a daytrip out?
Well there is a good reason why Duxford Air MuseumÂ is such a popular attraction. You can’t see it all in a day though!
Do you have any favourite places in the East of England?
Where do I start? Cambridge backs still remind me of University days, Ely Cathedral is simply one of the most beautiful in the world, Norwich and Colchester Castles, Ipswich town centre, Bury bustling on a market day. Then coastal towns and villages like Cromer which I visited last week.
Where would you go for a meal with friends?
We often go as a family for a Chinese meal on Friday evenings when I return from Brussels or Strasbourg. The children love sharing out the different dishes and we share our stories from the week at the same time.
Which shops are your favourites?
I do like a good bookshop – try Heffers in Cambridge which is still exceptional.
Where would you go for a walk and a picnic?
Holkham beach and more locally Wandlebury woods. Last summer the children really enjoyed picnicing on the banks of the Cam near Granchester and a chance for wild swimming in river.
Where would you shop for a present that’s a bit different?
Try outside the main towns – like Burwash Manor Barns off Junction 12 of the M11. It has a plethora of small shops with interesting gifts. I’ve done a lot of my Christmas Shopping at the annual market that the local Conservative party organise at Hatfield House – lots of stalls and they raise a lot for charity too.
Do you have a favourite building?
I would strongly recommend sitting quietly in the middle of Kings College Chapel and staring up at the ceiling.
I recently visited the Suffolk Food Hall near Ipswich – really worth a visit. A huge variety of local produce as well as the best of the best from around the world. It’s worth taking time to sit and drink a coffee looking out over the stunning views of the River Orwell.
What is your favourite view?
Ely Cathedral rising out of the Fens – glorious and so unexpected.
What do you most enjoy doing in your spare time?
I dont get a lot of ‘spare time’ but digging in my garden helps to put the world in perspective.
I usually am in Brussels or Strasbourg Monday through Thursday. I mostly work on the economic affairs and industry committees. I get very frustrated when the EU tries to make laws about things that could be decided locally or nationally (like maternity leave or how long people work), but a lot of my work is involved in areas where there does need to be international and even global agreement. For example at the moment we are in the negotiations of new rules for banks and financial markets post the financial crisis. The devil is in the detail so I tend to spend a lot of time reading background information and meeting experts to try to speak from an informed postition. Of course it can be extremely difficult getting 27 different countries to agree on a sensible common line. There can be satisfying moments too – for example winning a recent vote on “country of Origin food labelling” means that it will no longer be possible to import dead animals, process the meat in the UK and then put a ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“BritishÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Â¬Ãƒâ€šÂ label on it. Colleagues are making good progress on stopping the horrendous fish discards. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever had to do in your role as MEP? Visiting a North Sea Oil rig 250 miles from the coast of Scotland. Before going I had to do the safety training which involves being submerged and spun upside down in a mock up helicopter, pushing the windows out and swimming back to the surface. What are the big issues and concerns of the moment? From my economic point of view the d ebt crisis in the Eurozone. I’m one of six MEPs looking at the new proposals for government debts across Europe and the only one from outside the Eurozone. Most of our trade is with Europe so its important to us that they get back to stable economies but, as we are outside the Euro we should not get swept into their bail-outs or fines or have our own national budgets subject to brussels approvals. Again its a lot of legal detail. I also am looking ahead to our biggest future challenges like food and fuel security. That is why I am leading a report into the safety of offshore oil for the parliament. The EU has a huge budget for science and research and there are more UK businesses and universities involved in EU funded programs than from any other country – its extremely important for our science community in the East of England. Feeding the planet in decades to come with a growing population and challenged envrionment means investing in the best food science – a lot of which happens in East Anglia because of our climate and research institutions.
For more information about Vicky’s work as MEP?for the East of England, visit her website at www.vickyford.orgVicky Ford was born and grew up in Northern Ireland. Both
her parents were English doctors. As a child she joined her mother campaigning with the peace movement and her father stood in local elections in an area now dominated by Sinn Fein. She attended primary school in Northern Ireland, but following her father’s death she went to secondary school in England and then read Maths and Economics at Trinity College, Cambridge. She subsequently worked as an investment banker? from 1989 to 2003?before embarking on a career in politics. Vicky is married to Hugo, a consultant in cancer medicine at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. They have three children Elizabeth , Edward and Anthony. At school, Vicky was an accomplished musician, playing the clarinet and piano with distinction. She still plays the clarinet and is now enjoying the challenge of learning the saxophone. Away from politics, Vicky enjoys fishing, skiing, gardening and spending time with her family and her two dogs.