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Nick Clegg's pledge on Westcountry's flood-hit rail line

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 12, 2013

  • Nick Clegg during his visit to Cornwall yesterday, where he took the opportunity to ram home his message that the Lib Dems will be the party to vote for in the next general election

  • Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg takes the chance to talk with apprentices and staff during his trip to Penwith College, in Penzance

  • Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg rolls out bread dough with students at Penwith College PICTURE: PHIL MONKTON

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Nick Clegg has signalled Government cash will be set aside to protect the Westcountry's vulnerable rail network from future flooding.

Speaking to the Western Morning News during a visit to Cornwall, the Deputy Prime Minister said the coalition could "do more" to prevent a repeat of the region being cut off from the rest of the country.

See a picture gallery of Nick Clegg's visit to Cornwall.

He also responded coolly to a Tory plan to wipe the Lib Dems off the electoral map in Devon and Cornwall, arguing his party offered a commitment to "fairness" that his coalition partner could not.

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The Lib Dem leader's promise to look at protecting the mainline – which was seriously blocked on three occasions before Christmas – comes after the Western Morning News revealed rail bosses are reviewing 40 trouble spots.

Mr Clegg said: "The spectre of the flooding begs big questions about how we protect that umbilical transport link between Cornwall and the rest of the country.

"I think it's very important Network Rail follow up its commitment to looking at the 40-odd vulnerable pinch points which the recent floodings have highlighted once again.

"I can't second-guess what Network Rail is going to come up with, but I can certainly confirm that in government we are working very closely to try to make sure within available funds we can do more to protect the main railway line from being submerged in flood water."

Asked whether it was unacceptable that a vast swathe of the country was inaccessible for long periods, he said: "I totally accept we need to do more to prevent that from happening."

This week, the WMN revealed the Conservative Party is targeting ten Lib Dem seats in the next election in the South West – including all five in Devon and Cornwall. Mr Clegg said it is "no surprise", adding: "We'll do the same."

The election battle will be a straight fight between Lib Dems and Tories across much of the region after Labour revealed it would be targeting just one gain, in Plymouth, and nothing in Cornwall.

While the Lib Dems have been battered in recent by-elections, thanks to unpopular cuts and a broken promise on university fees, Mr Clegg argued support had held up in areas where they have a strong local presence.

Of holding seats, he said: "Our record speaks for itself. We have three of the six Cornish constituencies. We have a long history of serving Cornwall and we've got three absolutely outstanding MPs."

He added the party had curbed the Tories in government, who in turn have blocked Lib Dem plans for a "mansion tax" on the wealthy. He said: "Frankly, if it wasn't for the Liberal Democrats in government you wouldn't be doing a lot of the fair things we are doing.

"We wouldn't be taking low paid people out of paying income tax. We wouldn't be providing the pupil premium. We are the ones in government delivering the huge number of apprenticeships.

"We would like to have gone further. We believe there is a case for a mansion tax – millionaires in Kensington chipping in a bit extra to help people in Cornwall. The Conservatives blocked that.

"If we were alone in government we would have got tougher on the banks sooner. We are the only party that strikes the balance between tackling the economy and a fairer society."

To ram home the message, Mr Clegg yesterday visited Penwith College in Penzance to underline investment in apprenticeships, before visiting the A30 that is to be dualled near Bodmin following Government backing, and later Brannel school near St Austell to champion extra investment for poor school children.

He said he was "not going to make great lofty claims" but hopes to make "progress" at the next election.

Of Labour, he said: "Labour have turned their backs on Cornwall. If you're someone who doesn't feel favourably disposed towards the Conservatives there is only one choice. It shows how important it is to have a Liberal Democrat voice in your area."

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  • 4everdelayed  |  January 13 2013, 3:15PM

    Good to see the Daily Mail brigade are out in full force. So....you aren't going to vote Lib Dem.... You can... A) Vote Conservatives- the MAJORITY PARTY in parliament, and the wrecking ball for most of whats going on. Also broke pledges. B) Vote UKIP- a party even more right wing and crazy than the tories. A vote for them is a backdoor vote for the Tories. Lib Dems do offer fairness. If you got your noses out of the media trough you would see that. But no, you believe what you read. God forbid if we end up like 1933 Germany at this rate, they believed everything they read too.... Dan Rogerson, Andrew George and Steve Gilbert do a superb job for Cornwall. Has George Eustice done anything else but pander to his paymasters. And thanks for abandoning Cornwall Labour....as always! Redline me all you like, but reality hurts. Love- someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

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  • Doitdreckley  |  January 13 2013, 12:36PM

    Its amazing how the Liberal Democrats seem to organise themselves to red arrow all the negative comments about Clegg. I cannot believe the delusion from them and to suggest any reason to vote for them after they have been part of a government that has made Thatcher's look socialist. There is no reason to vote Liberal because if you don't vote 'tactically' and let the Tories in as a result it makes no difference. They lied on tuition fees and have supported welfare cuts that are delivering real hardship for people.

    Rate   -16
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  • Cerberus2010  |  January 12 2013, 4:21PM

    "Nick Clegg during his visit to Cornwall yesterday, where he took the opportunity to ram home his message that the Lib Dems will be the party to vote for in the next general election" In your dreams Cleggy. The Lib Dems are dead and buried after they have shown themselves to be weak AND yet another lying bunch of political misfits. Savour your current time in office, it will be your last.

    Rate   -16
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  • 1newlyn  |  January 12 2013, 4:13PM

    Well his lips are moving so he must be L@@@@@ ! I thought the panto season was over ! Comparison, Cameron and Clegg , more like Morecombe and Wise ! Four accomplished comdians.

    Rate   -6
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  • SmokieJoe  |  January 12 2013, 2:25PM

    Apologies for the multiple post, trouble with uploading and false messages from the site!

    Rate   -15
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  • WORSTNITEMARE  |  January 12 2013, 2:14PM

    Why did nobody ask Nick Clegg why his party lied about tuition fees, after giving a written pledge not to support. Dantwo is absolutely right. On the photogallery, I see you cannot comment. Well here is a comment on the photos. Its the first, and possibly only time ever you will see Andrew George actually doing some real work, making pasties or whatever he is playing at making. 10 to 1 whatever they were making was totally inedible, and had to be thrown away afterwards. Just like the electorate will do with Andrew George. No wonder he voted for out of work benefits to rise. He will soon be on them+ The voters have seen through you Mr George. Goodbye.

    Rate   -17
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  • SmokieJoe  |  January 12 2013, 2:13PM

    Having attended the meeting in St Stephen, he said nothing to gain new support and much that made existing supporters nervous and believing he will continue supporting tory. Worse, a simple question as to how the ability to pick up a 10p coin from the floor indicated no health issues for someone suffering mental health problems left him flummoxed and trying to defend ATOS and disability reviews carried out by people without any medical training. I suspect a great many voters, particularly young people, will never trust libdem promises again. In fact it would be better to ask them to produce 2 documents, 1 stating the aims of the party if they were to win a majority, and 1 confirming what they would accept to be in coalition again.

    Rate   -9
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  • SmokieJoe  |  January 12 2013, 2:13PM

    Having attended the meeting in St Stephen, he said nothing to gain new support and much that made existing supporters nervous and believing he will continue supporting tory. Worse, a simple question as to how the ability to pick up a 10p coin from the floor indicated no health issues for someone suffering mental health problems left him flummoxed and trying to defend ATOS and disability reviews carried out by people without any medical training. I suspect a great many voters, particularly young people, will never trust libdem promises again. In fact it would be better to ask them to produce 2 documents, 1 stating the aims of the party if they were to win a majority, and 1 confirming what they would accept to be in coalition again.

    Rate   -10
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  • SmokieJoe  |  January 12 2013, 2:12PM

    Having attended the meeting in St Stephen, he said nothing to gain new support and much that made existing supporters nervous and believing he will continue supporting tory. Worse, a simple question as to how the ability to pick up a 10p coin from the floor indicated no health issues for someone suffering mental health problems left him flummoxed and trying to defend ATOS and disability reviews carried out by people without any medical training. I suspect a great many voters, particularly young people, will never trust libdem promises again. In fact it would be better to ask them to produce 2 documents, 1 stating the aims of the party if they were to win a majority, and 1 confirming what they would accept to be in coalition again.

    Rate   -10
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  • rozel  |  January 12 2013, 2:11PM

    If you believe Glegg's pledge that cash will be set aside to protect the Westcountry's vulnerable rail network from future flooding then you will believe anything such as the moon is made of blue cheese!

    Rate   -10
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