Monday, 23 February 2015

No to the eco-town

In this week’s Cornish Guardian, my column will focus on my opposition to the eco-town. It will be as follows:

It is well-known that I have been a persistent critic of plans for a so-called “eco-town” in the China Clay Area. I am unsurprisingly saddened that Cornwall Council has submitted a planning application for an “eco-community” of 1,500 new properties at “West Carclaze.”

The basis of the proposal stems from 2007, when the Labour Government announced a “competition” for landowners and builders to put forward plans for eco-town developments.

There was much fanfare about “green,” “sustainable,” “zero-carbon” and “exemplar” developments, and Imerys set out a proposal for a 5,000-property scheme (spread over five different sites around St Austell and the China Clay Area).

At the time, I was already angry that central government had recently set a ridiculous housing target for the Restormel area of 15,700 new houses over a twenty-year period. But I was further aghast at the undemocratic and top-down nature of the “eco-town” process, which was undermining what was left of the local planning process.

It was and remains my view that it is wrong for central government to decide development priorities in Cornwall.

I produced a detailed report, which opposed the “eco-town.” It was endorsed by Restormel Borough Council and we even presented it to a Government Minister.

Sadly, these local views were ignored and, in July 2009, central government gave the go-ahead to the scheme.

Many of us have questioned whether the development would happen, especially when the Conservative Party’s housing spokesperson said that: “Eco-towns are now dead and buried ... at no point will they meet their twin objectives of being environmentally friendly and tackling the housing shortage.”

But the Conservative-led Coalition Government, and the unitary authority, have since pushed ahead with the “eco-community” development near Penwithick and Stenalees with former Liberal Democrat MP Matthew Taylor at the head of the board set up to promote the project.

Nothing has changed which would win my backing. I consider the proposed development to be just another large housing estate.

It is advertised as a “brown field” development, but a large amount of the housing would actually be built on green fields and they have a wider masterplan to construct a further 300-plus dwellings on green fields between the development and Penwithick.

Many local residents are concerned about the impact on the local infrastructure and it is also the case that the application refuses to even guarantee the future of the iconic skytip near Carluddon. It does not propose to remove the tip, but states that this is only “until more information and other interests come to light.”

If, like me, you oppose the application – let Cornwall Council know your concerns.

Friday, 20 February 2015

£2,500 raised via Crowdfunder for St Austell and Newquay campaign

Thanks to everyone who has pledged to the Crowdfunder appeal for my General Election campaign in the St Austell and Newquay constituency.

We raised a total of £1,817 via online pledges to the Crowdfunder appeal. But a number of people have also supported me with cheques sent through the post, bringing the total received to £2,500.

I am extremely heartened by the support that I have received and I will do my utmost to ensure that we use the money wisely to fight a strong and extremely visible campaign.

I would like to personally thank the following people who made donations to the appeal.

Angela Angove
Jori Ansell
Roger Bailey
Christine Barker
Antony Best
Pat Blanchard
Matt Blewett
Heather Bolitho
Eileen Carter
Tamsin Carter
Ray Clemens
Kevin Craddock
Neil Craze
Stuart Cullimore
Roger Curnow
Bernard Deacon
Paul Dunbar
Lance Dyer
Paul Ellis
Matt Facey
Jill Fox
Julie Fox
Jonathan Flower
Sharon Forward
Wendy Glanville
Bernard Gilbert
Ben Gilby
Roy Gill
Sioned Haf
Mrs Stephanie Haworth
Philip Hosking
Doug Johnson
Justine Kent
Diane Lawer
George Lawson
Edward Llewellyn
Matt Luke
Phillip Martyn
Barrie Osborne
Keith Palmer
Robert Phillips
Lionel Pollard
Don and Helen Rawe
Clive Price-Jones
Brian Richards
Tim Saunders
Rob Simmons
Christopher Smith
Dr Lamorna Spry
Andrew Thomas
Shaun Toft
David Trethewy
Mark Trevethan
Derek Williams
Ian Williams
Paul Williams
Michael Young
Justin Vingoe
Hilda Wasley
Peter Wyper

Obviously, people who missed the Crowdfunder deadline are still welcome to make donations to the campaign. Cheques made out to Mebyon Kernow can still be sent to Lanhainsworth, Fraddon Hill, Fraddon, St Columb, TR9 6PQ.

Thanks again to one and all.

Tax cheats must be prosecuted

My article in this week's Cornish Guardian focussed on tax dodging. It was as follows:

David Cameron recently claimed that no government had done more to tackle tax evasion and regressive tax avoidance than the present Coalition. It is a claim that does not stand up to scrutiny.

I am appalled at the number of large corporations and wealthy individuals who continue to do all they can to evade tax (illegal) and to aggressively avoid tax (apparently not illegal). And I am saddened at the failure of central government and HMRC to more forcefully take on the tax cheats.

Indeed, recent research by Tax Research LLP, on behalf of the Public and Commercial Services Union, shows that “the difference between the tax that should be paid in the UK if the tax system worked as parliament and HMRC intended, and the amount actually paid” was £119 billion in 2013-14.

At a time, when the austerity agenda of the Westminster parties means less and less money for so many of our vital public services, it does show that – when it comes to tax – the super-rich are treated very differently to the rest of us on PAYE.

This has been demonstrated through the scandal surrounding the HSBC bank, whose Swiss private bank helped clients to serially evade tax on, what one newspaper described as, an “industrial scale.” And, according to a whistleblower and financial authorities in France, the UK government had known about the scandal since 2010 but done nothing.

Challenged in the House of Commons last week, the Prime Minister – with no sense of irony whatsoever – evaded and avoided all the questions that were put to him.

The HMRC has meanwhile reported that two-thirds of those people who had accounts in HSBC’s Swiss bank "were found to be compliant" with UK tax rules. But that means one-third were not. That is truly shocking.

A large number of prominent donors to the Conservative and Labour Parties have been caught up in the scandal. One was Tory peer Stanley Fink. A former Treasurer of the Party, he admitted that he had taken steps to reduce his tax bill but claimed that “everyone” was involved in tax avoidance.

In a separate development, a prominent newspaper has reported that a number of multi-millionaires “who have donated nearly £10 million” to the Conservatives are now being investigated because of a range of tax avoidance schemes. They have been described as “two peers, one knight and some of the City’s wealthiest financiers.”

It is time that a much harder line was taken against all such tax cheats and I believe that should include many more prosecutions.

The pancake race ... no captions necessary

It has been another frantic week and The St Austell Voice newspaper used Shrove Tuesday as an excuse to “launch” the race to be the next MP for St Austell and Newquay with a photo-shopped pancake race.

It was all a bit of fun and dodgy photographs for one and all.

Thanks to Paul Williams for use of the photographs.

Friday, 13 February 2015

We need your support … just four days left for Crowdfunder appeal

Thanks to everyone who has pledged to the Crowdfunder appeal for my General Election campaign in the St Austell and Newquay constituency. I am extremely grateful for all the support I have received.

The more money we raise, the better the campaign we will be able to fight in St Austell and Newquay. If you haven't pledged yet, please consider boosting MK's campaign and help us take on the establishment parties.

You will be aware that, this week, the BBC Trust has denied MK’s call for a Party Election Broadcast. It means that I will be the only candidate in the St Austell and Newquay seat whose Party will be denied a television airtime.

And did you know that in the 2010 General Election in this seat – between January 1st 2010 and polling day on May 6th – the Conservative candidate spent £40,968, while the Liberal Democrat candidate spent £33,852. And that in the period leading up to 2010, they also spent many tens of thousands of pounds.

That is what we are up against. Help us to promote an alternative to politics as usual.

The Crowdfunder appeal will only be live for another four days – please support this appeal if you can.

The appeal can be accessed at: