Remarks visiting Norfolk
|Document type:||public statement|
|Source:||(1) Eastern Daily Press, 6 August 1981 (2) Anglia TV Archive: OUP transcript|
|Editorial comments:||MT spent the day in Norfolk - arriving at Norwich Airport 1000, where she visited an exhibition of Lotus Cars (who had paid for her chartered plane, according to the press account). Her later engagements were at Norplan Ltd (fitted kitchens) 1030-1110, followed by a meeting with regional media (1110-1135), a brief speech to a private meeting of 550 party workers in Norwich (1145-1225). A group of about 100 demonstrators from the Troops Out movement jeered, banged dustbin lids on the ground and threw various missiles as MT arrived for her engagement at County Police Headquarters and County Hall (1225-1430). (Three were arrested amid scuffles.) After lunch with the Leader of Norfolk County Council MT met fruit farmers at Mill Farm, Watlington (1430-1550) - where she was interviewed by Anglia TV for the second time that day - before her final engagement, a (private?) meeting for party workers at King’s Lynn (1620-1720).|
|Themes:||Local government finance, Agriculture|
PM in the seat of power at airport
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had plenty of power at her command after flying in to Norwich airport yesterday.
But this time the power was in the shape of a 150 mph Lotus Turbo Esprit sports car.
Mrs. Thatcher's top-gear start to her day-long visit to Norfolk began as soon as she stepped from a jet chartered by Lotus chief Mr. Colin Chapman. A row of spotless Lotus production and racing cars were awaiting her inspection.
After driving the Esprit Turbo she confessed: "I was tempted to drive away in it."
Her son, Mark , drives an Esprit and he recently had a racing accident.
She said: "He's fine now. He ‘phoned me the moment it had happened.
"I think he was perhaps wise he got into another racing car the very next day."
The Prime Minister said she never watched her son racing.
"He might just take the slight risk he wouldn't otherwise take," she said.
She described the Lotus cars as "lovely to drive."
Lotus had invested money into research and development and that was the way to keep ahead.
As well as driving the Esprit, Mrs. Thatcher rode in an Eclat 2.2—driven first by South Norfolk MP John MacGregor, then by her husband, Denis .
But Mr. MacGregor, Minister for Small Industries, managed to stall the car with the PM in the passenger seat—and she was quick to point out where he went wrong.
She was able to inspect the controversial Type 88 Formula One Lotus, and Colin Chapman explained some of the refinements.
Mrs. Thatcher was greeted at the airport by the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Mr. Alan Driver, and the leader of the county council, Mr. John Alston.
The Lord Mayor asked about Colin Chapman's Cessna jet, and the Prime Minister joked: "Mr. Chapman the Mayor's thinking about a plane ride"
When she found out the plane was American made, she said: "We make an executive jet—and it's much better than this one."
A Norplan kitchen would look great at No. 10.
That was the verdict of Mrs. Thatcher when she visited the Hurricane Way factory on the airport site.
She told the managing director, Mr. Paul Hague, that the firm's operation was "marvellous" and said she would love one of their fitted kitchens.
"Like most women, I would love a dream kitchen. Those at No. 10 are nowhwere near as modern," she said adding that she could not modernise them because it would have to come out of public money.
The Premier was given a short tour round the workshops while Mr. Hague explained Norplan's rise from humble beginnings in a garage six years ago.
Since last June, the firm has more than trebled its production and increased its staff to more than 200.
"I think she was impressed though she remained pretty non-committal all the time," said Mr. Hague.
He added that he had no idea why the Prime Minister had decided to visit Norplan. "All I could get from her Press secretary was that our name had been mentioned in official circles," he said.
Later, Mrs. Thatcher delivered a rousing speech to Tory Party workers at the Norwood Rooms.
She told them that two-thirds of the Conservative manifesto had been carried out.
Mrs. Sheila Starling, chairman of the Catton Grove ward Conservatives, said afterwards: "It was a terrific speech. A great fillip to everybody in Norwich—and everyone in the country for that matter."
The speech gave great encouragement to party workers, said Mrs. Starling, although she said: "I never needed to be encouraged. I believe very strongly in what she's doing."
Many more people would have been at the Norwood Rooms to cheer the Prime Minister if security had not been kept so tight, she added.
Autograph hunter Mr. John Harris gained the signature of a lifetime when he leapt forward as Mrs. Thatcher left the Norwood Rooms.
For a moment she hesitated as she was about to climb into her car—then she turned back and planted her signature next to that of Cabinet colleague Mr. Jim Prior in Mr. Harris' book.
Mr. Harris, of Elm Close, Loddon, said: "I was determined to get to see her. To get to shake hands with her was wonderful. There's no keener Thatcher supporter than me."[fo 1]
A RAY OF HOPE FOR NORFOLK
A ray of hope for Norfolk ratepayers came from the very highest level yesterday, as the Prime Minister visited the county.
On the steps of Norfolk County Hall Mrs. Thatcher told an "EDP" reporter: "I think Norfolk has done a very good job. I would like to make that very clear."
The Prime Minister said she was well aware of the problems facing Norfolk County Council and rate-payers through loss of Government grant, but any changes in the way Government money was handed out would have to come from Mr. Michael Heseltine, the Environment Secretary.
"I am not Minister for everything," she said.
The Prime Minister had a private meeting with Mr. John Alston, leader of Norfolk County Council, before joining district council leaders for lunch at County Hall.
Mr. Alston said they discussed the problem of Norfolk losing grant, despite being one of the lowest spending county councils in the country.
"I am quite sure she understands. Norfolk has done a very good job, and I am glad to hear it from the mouth of the Prime Minister," he said.
Mr. Alston has pledged to fight on for a better deal for Norfolk from the Government. If he fails, this year's cuts in Government grant will turn into next year's huge rate rises.
"It has been a very enjoyable visit, and I am very glad to have been able to put my case to her," he said.
The Prime Minister was anxious that people should look at the success stories which were emerging rather than dwell too long on the gloomy side, said Mr. Alston. "She has been very impressed by what she has seen in Norfolk."
[fo 2] (2) Anglia TV Archive: OUP transcript:
A lot of people in this area are very concerned about the fruit and vegetable growing industry. What encouragement can you give them in the face of what they see as unfair competition from Europe?
Well, I've just been explaining that the ... I know that the ... the marketing of the Cox's Orange Pippin has had a tremendous success against Golden Delicious, because we have beautiful fruit, but we haven't really got down to marketing ... marketing it before in the same way as the French have. And I think when we do market our produce well, we can tempt the British housewife to buy it. I really do.
And in the end that's whom we have to tempt—get the British housewife to buy it. And I think that they really are down to doing that.