Thursday, 22 March 2018

Cornwall needs its own National Planning Policy Framework

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian explores the proposed changes to the UK Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It is as follows:

The UK Government recently launched a consultation on a revised version of its National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which dictates how local councils deal with planning matters.

The NPPF has often been described as a “developers’ charter” and the so-called “presumption in favour” of growth has certainly led to much development which has been opposed by local communities.

I am presently working my way through the document and trying to understand the implications of the changes. A briefing from Cornwall Council states that there are over 80 reforms, though “mostly these are minor changes” or clarifications of ministerial statements.

But this includes confirmation that housing targets for council areas will be calculated using a top-down “standard method,” and Cornwall Council has already advised that “the scope for local influence over the target is very small to nil.”

As a local councillor, I was heavily involved in the production of the Cornwall Local Plan. This contains Cornwall’s present housing target, which covers the period 2010-2030, but the process of finalising the target was a charade and local politicians ended up having to agree what was acceptable to the UK Government.

This latest NPPF announcement finally removes the illusion that such important decisions are actually being taken locally. 

In addition, the revised NPPF confirms that an uplift in housing delivery would happen in 2021, from which point it would be expected that 2,900 new properties should be built each year – up from the annual target of 2,625 in the Local Plan.

The tone of the consultation launch was also quite bombastic. The Housing Minister, Sajid Javid, announced that the UK Government would take planning powers away from local councils if they did not meet central government targets for house-building.

He even told a Sunday newspaper that he would be “breathing down” the necks of local authorities and threatened that, instead of councillors, government inspectors could make planning decisions in their areas.

On behalf of MK, I condemned the threat as an “undemocratic outrage.” It will certainly take local planning decisions even further away from local communities, and I do not believe, for one second, that Government officials inside the M25 corridor know what is best for Cornwall and its people.

If remains my view that the people of Cornwall should be making these important decision for ourselves. That means we need a National Assembly of Cornwall, with power over all aspects of planning and housing through a Cornish NPPF which would allow housing and other targets to be agreed locally without interference from Whitehall.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

All invited to an MK social event

The St Austell and Newquay Constituency Party of Mebyon Kernow will be holding a social event on Friday 23rd March at the Rescorla Centre, in Rescorla near Penwithick.

There will be some musical entertainment and a few snacks, plus an opportunity to talk about politics (or something else) with leading members of MK.

All are welcome to attend.

And if you would like to find out more about the Party for Cornwall … why not come along and meet with us on the 23rd!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Cornish Nation no. 77 … available now!

Mebyon Kernow has just published the latest edition of its Cornish Nation magazine, which is in the process of being sent to MK members.

If you are not already a member and would like a complimentary copy, please get in contact via

Please specify whether you would like a paper or digital copy.

This latest includes information about the Cornish language album from Gwenno Saunders, plus other features on the many people who have also promoted Cornish through song, the efforts of MK members and others in trying to secure a Cornish tickbox on the 2021 census, MK campaigns to protect our public services, a tribute to Richard Gendall, and so much more.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Looking back: South Crofty, a rally in Redruth and Cornish Millennium Convention

When I got up this morning, it had not dawned on me that today was the 20th anniversary of the closure of South Crofty tin mine, and it has been heartening to hear about the new efforts to restart tin mining at the site. 

Looking back twenty years, I have dug out some photographs to share from that time.

MK parliamentary candidates Ruth Lewarne and Paul Dunbar (right and far right) visiting the mine in the run-up to the 1997 General Election.

Cornish Nation magazine from Spring 1998.

Greg Woods speaking at a rally in Redruth on Saturday 7th March 1998; other speakers seated include Bert Biscoe, Colin Murley, myself and Andrew George.

Launch of Cornish Millennium Convention on Monday 9th March 1998 (left to right): Alastair Quinnell, Mark Kaczmarek, Deborah Clark, Ann Jenkin, me, Philip Payton and Andrew George. This was the first attempt to build a cross-party campaign for greater powers for Cornwall, but didn’t really get off the ground.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Gool Peran Lowen! Happy St Piran’s Day!

I would like to wish everyone the very best on St Piran's Day!

It is fantastic that the 5th of March is now such as important part of our calendar as people come together in the name of our national saint to celebrate Cornwall’s unique identity.

Cornwall has a powerful national identity, reflected in the Cornish language, our music, dance, sport and a range of traditions – all of which are vitally important to our sense of place and the very well-being of our local communities.

But as we celebrate the distinctiveness of Cornwall today, I would like to repeat a key message that Mebyon Kernow makes each and every year on St Piran’s Day.

The promotion of Cornish distinctiveness is not something that should be restricted to once a year in March. We should be doing all in our power, each and every day, to promote and enhance our identity and heritage.