LIKE workplaces the world over, Monday conversations in Westminster often dwell on the events of the weekend.

For MPs that means what they got up to in their constituencies and this week I was able to proudly say that I went to the pub – which just happens to be the best in the country!

That’s according to CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale – which last Friday presented its UK Pub of the Year Award to the George and Dragon at Hudswell, near Richmond.

It was a great occasion. The pub was absolutely packed with villagers, supporters and TV camera crews. Congratulations to landlord Stu Miller, his wife Melissa, and the whole team for landing this hard-won honour From the outside, the George and Dragon looks much like any other stone-built Dales pub. What makes it special, and why it received this national accolade, is the surrounding community which, when bankruptcy forced its closure in 2008 along with many other pubs, refused to let it die.

The story about how villagers and supporters, together with my predecessor William Hague, banded together to buy the pub and reopen it two years later is now well known. It has become the model for many other community inn initiatives, like the one which saw the Foresters at Carlton-in-Coverdale reopen in 2011 and the plans the villagers have in Skeeby to reopen their village pub.

The role that pubs play in their local communities interests me greatly. As we know, for all the success stories like George and Dragon’s there have been many instances where the village pub has closed for good and lost forever.

I am currently looking into the overall health of pubs and while there are signs that the rate of closures has definitely slowed in recent years I want to do everything I can to ensure their future. As a force for community cohesion in rural communities, pubs are as important as schools, shops and post offices.

A quick update on the current Boundary Commission review of Parliamentary seats. As part of the review which aims to reduce the number of MPs by 50 and make seats about the same size in terms of the numbers of electors in each one, it has been proposed that Great Ayton moves from the Richmond constituency into the Thirsk and Malton seat. As you might imagine, I don’t think that is a particularly good idea and I made that clear during the first consultation on the Commission’s initial proposals.

A second consultation on the plans and a counter proposal to keep Great Ayton with the other communities in northern North Yorkshire it naturally belongs with has just opened.

It is important that people in Great Ayton (and elsewhere) have their say on this so I would urge them to log on to the Boundary Commission’s review website at

There you can see the initial proposal, all the comments from the first consultation and the counter proposal which would keep Great Ayton in the Richmond constituency.

Please take this opportunity to keep Great Ayton where it belongs. All you need to say is that you believe it makes more sense for Great Ayton to stay with Stokesley, Northallerton and the rest of the constituency rather than move over the hill to Ryedale.