Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Cornwall Council public meeting at Fraddon

Thank you to everyone who attended tonight’s public meeting at Kingsley Village with members of the Strategic Planning Committee and expressed their views about the biogas plant / pig farm planning applications at Penare Farm, which are due to be heard on October 22nd.

In advance of the actual meeting, the councillors held a site meeting at Higher Fraddon and spent over an hour looking around the biogas plant and the pig farm.

I thought everyone who spoke at the meeting did extremely well and the councillors I saw after the meeting were very complimentary about the very dignified, professional and measured manner in which one and all put their views across.

The highlight for me was when Tony Bullows criticized the so-called non-material amendment which changed the whole nature of the biogas proposal as “the worst decision since Noah invited two woodworm onto the ark!”

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Where is the democracy in the "devolution deal"?

Among MK’s key complaints about the recent “devolution deal” from central government was that it was, obviously, very limited in scope, and it was not democratic to give more influence to unelected bodies with limited democratic legitimacy such as the Local Enterprise Partnership.

At today’s meeting of the Constitution and Governance Committee, there was a report about what impact the “deal” would have on the Council’s governance arrangements. As you might expect, I challenged the lack of democracy at the centre of so many of the proposals. Here are a few snippets:

“Agreement is required to be reached as to which organisations will lead the delivery of each policy area.”

I did and will continue to argue that it is not appropriate or indeed democratic for unelected and unaccountable bodies to lead.

“At the current time there is a draft proposal to establish an oversight board comprising the Leader, Chairmen of the Local Enterprise Partnership and Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and two MPs supported by executive officers. This will have oversight of progress in implementing the Deal and be a single reporting route to Government.”

So much for trusting Cornwall Council to "lead" on oversight of the deal.

“There is a requirement for an appropriate overview and scrutiny function for the Deal to be agreed. The Deal envisages that this will comprise elected representatives and business representatives. Whilst this does not preclude the use of the Council’s existing scrutiny arrangements but with co-optees from the business sector, it is perhaps appropriate to consider a separate scrutiny function whose focus is limited to the delivery and impact of the Deal."

Again, so much for trusting Cornwall Council to "lead" on oversight of the deal.

“A Boundary review will commence in 2017 and it is clear that the Government’s expectation is that the number of local councillors will reduce.”

I would have thought that it was time to address the democratic deficit in Cornwall – not make it worse.

The report is worth reading to understand the nature of what is happening. It can be found at:

Cornwall Council and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

In June, I was one of five councillors appointed to a Council working group with the primary purpose of drafting a three year action plan to satisfy the provisions of the Framework Convention which, since April last year, has covered the Cornish.

At today’s Constitution and Governance Committee – it is as exciting as it sounds – it was agreed that the membership of the working group be extended with the co-option of three Bards from Gorsedh Kernow. The meeting also noted progress to date.

The report and associated appendix can be viewed at:

It was also reported that the Council (i) had responded to the Government’s consultation on the 2021 Census and requested that the Office of National Statistics include separate tick boxes for Cornish within the "ethnicity" and "language" sections; and (ii) revised its Cornish Language policy in the light of the Framework Convention, which will be considered by the Economy and Culture PAC on 6 October.

It was further reported that the working group will respond to the Government’s consultation on its BBC Charter Review requesting, amongst other things, the introduction of Cornish language programme services.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

My latest report to St Enoder Parish Council

My next “Cornwall Council” report will be presented to the next meeting of St Enoder Parish Council on Tuesday.

It covers the time period from 27th July to 20th September 2015 and will be as follows:

1. Council meetings

I have attended a range of formal meetings over the last two months. These included: Full Council (and associated pre-agenda briefing), Planning Policy Advisory Committee and five associated pre-agenda/preparatory meetings, Resources PAC, Strategic Planning Committee, Informal Planning and Development Improvement Group, Clay Network meeting, working group on Cornish National Minority status, and briefings on a possible A30 link to St Austell and air quality issues across Cornwall.

In addition to the formal meetings listed above, I have had numerous meetings with council officers and others to discuss a range of issues. Some of these are referenced below.

2. Other meetings

I have also attended meetings of ClayTAWC (Chairman), Indian Queens Pit Association (Trustee), the Rural Sub-Group of the Local Enterprise Partnership, and the St Austell Conference on Cornish National Minority status organised by the Gorsedh.

3. St Columb Chamber of Commerce

I also attended a meeting of the St Columb Chamber to give them a briefing on future European funding for local businesses. The Chairman and Secretary of the Chamber both live in St Enoder Parish, and a number of local businesses are also members.

4. Bus depot in Summercourt

In my last report, I informed the Council that First Kernow had purchased the former Western Greyhound yard off St Austell Street in Summercourt and that I was seeking a meeting with Alex Carter (Managing Director) of the bus company to find out more about his plans for the site and bus services in the Summercourt area.

I met with Alex Carter of First Kernow on 12th August and hosted an open meeting in Summercourt New Memorial Hall on 27th August. This was attended by Mr Carter and four members of his management team.

Mr Carter informed local residents that:

· When Western Greyhound ceased trading earlier this year, First stepped in to run a number of their routes, though he acknowledged that buses between Newquay and Truro no longer stopped at Summercourt.
· First had now purchased the Western Greyhound depot in St Austell Street, Summercourt, and would be using the depot to maintain part of their fleet and run a number of services, particularly relating to their contract with Truro and Penwith College.
· The number of bus movements within St Austell Street – which is quite constrained and does not have a pavement – would be significantly lower than when Western Greyhound ran services from the site.
· First Kernow were keen to be good neighbours and outlined a number of key measures in this regard, which included a code of conduct for drivers, good security on site and regular liaison with local people.

Mr Carter also gave a firm commitment to including a once-an-hour Summercourt stop on the Newquay / Truro route (both directions), and stated that he would work with the local community and Cornwall Council to finalise the details of how this would happen.

It was also noted that changes to routes have to be agreed through the traffic commissioner and this could take a number of weeks.

I am continuing to follow up on this matter and I have promised to keep residents in the Summercourt area up-to-date with progress.

5. Penare Pig Farm, Higher Fraddon and associated AD plant

- Public Meeting

The case officer is presently writing up his reports on the three planning applications relating to the biogas plant and pig farm. The anticipated committee date of 24th September did not prove possible and the applications are now scheduled to go to the Strategic Planning Committee on 22nd October.

In advance of this, I formally requested that Cornwall Council holds a public meeting in Fraddon to allow residents from the local community to address the members of the Strategic Planning Committee.

This meeting will take place on Wednesday 23rd September at Kingsley Village. It will start at 6.00. The case officer will give a short introduction about the applications and then members of the public will be asked to give their views.

I can also confirm that the councillors will themselves be holding a site visit at 4.00 on the same day to view the site and the access road.

- Meeting with Minister

On 5th August, the Roads Minister Andrew Jones MP was visiting a number of projects in Cornwall. Steve Double MP asked that he visit Higher Fraddon so that he could find out more about the problems affecting the area.

We held a meeting at Kingsley Village, where I presented Mr Jones with a briefing note on the situation. This was discussed in detail for some thirty minutes or so. Mr Jones appeared sympathetic to calls for a new road access off the A30 for the biogas plant. He agreed that he would raise the issue with Highways England, but also stressed that he was responsible for the main trunk road through Cornwall and that usually there was a resistance to additional junctions on the road.

- Letter to Highways England

Following the ministerial visit, I secured agreement between Cornwall Council, Greener for Life and the pig farm to send a joint letter to Highways England and Andrew Jones MP, seeking an alternative access off the A30.

I helped draft the letter which was sent off in early September.

- Higher Fraddon Community Forum

Since the last meeting of the St Enoder Parish Council, I have chaired two meetings of the Higher Fraddon Community Forum which took place on 5th August and 2nd September.

I am continuing to liaise with a range of individuals about the planning applications, the ongoing concerns about traffic movements and smells, etc.

Recent developments since my report to the July Parish Council include the following:

(i) The biogas plant has still been taking very little pig slurry and, as a consequence, the pig farm has had to remove a backlog of about 3,000 tonnes of pig slurry. This equated to some 175 additional traffic movements.
(ii) Greener for Life has carried repairs on three properties in the lane which had been damaged by lorries. Promises have been made to two further properties that works will be done, while an additional property owner has co-ordinated his own repairs and has asked Greener for Life for a financial contribution.
(iii) Cormac has provisionally timetabled the patching of the top section of the Higher Fraddon road for early October.

6. Grant application for Indian Queens Recreation Ground

I have completed an initial draft of an application to the National Lottery for funding for new play equipment in the Recreation Ground. It is my hope that the application will be finalised and formally submitted in the next few days.

7. Flooding problems at Trevarren
For several years, I have made representations on behalf of the residents of Trevarren who remain concerned about the surcharge of waste from the foul water sewer onto the highway at Trevarren. As I have reported previously, in 2014 South West Water confirmed that they had plans to make improvements to the sewerage network in the greater St Columb area from 2015 onwards, and that this would probably include some improvements in the Trevarren area.

I have been in contact with South West Water again recently and they have confirmed that improvements are planned for Trevarren and that it is in their work programme with funding allocated to the project. They are presently finalising the details of what they intend to do.

8. Planning

I have been actively involved with a large number of ongoing applications. Listed below are a few examples, though this list is by no means exhaustive:

- Land west of Kilburn, Fraddon (PA14/00882)

Earlier this year, I reported this application for housing had been consented and that I had written a detailed letter of complaint about how this development has been handled. I have yet to receive a formal response to my complaint.

- Trenithon; planning appeal (PA14/06049)

As requested at a previous meeting, I had produced a statement on behalf of the Parish Council, setting out opposition to the proposed wind turbine. The Planning Inspectorate ruled the appeal was invalid due the failure of the applicant to demonstrate adequate pre-application consultation.

- Laburnum Cottage; planning appeal (PA14/09872)

As requested at the July meeting, I produced a statement on behalf of the Parish Council, setting out opposition to the proposal to allow unrestricted occupancy of the annexe as a separate dwelling. The Planning Inspectorate upheld the refusal.

- Five dwellings near Manor Drive, Fraddon (PA15/00763)

I have previously reported that I did not consider the application to be policy compliant, and that there was to be further negotiation between the applicant and the planning authority. This happened but the proposal was refused under delegated powers.

- Pines Tip, Fraddon (PA15/00955)

Keeping up with the ongoing discussions about the proposal for three wind turbines on the tip has taken up a considerable amount of time, but I have done my utmost to keep the Parish Council up-to-date with what has been happening.

- Mobile homes on the Kelliers (PA15/06186)

This second part-retrospective application for mobile homes on the Kelliers has been refused and enforcement officers are now continuing their investigations into the present unlawful activity on the site.

9. The Kelliers

In the July meeting, I reported that I had formally requested that the freehold of The Kelliers be transferred to St Enoder Parish Council, instead of being leased as previously agreed following the refusal of the unitary authority to honour the arrangement with the former Restormel Borough Council.

I can report that I have spoken to the relevant portfolio holder and council officers, and I believe that I have brokered an arrangement so that there can be a freehold transfer of the land to the Parish Council.

10. Traffic requests

I have been in contact with Cornwall Council / Cormac about a range of outstanding requests for works in our area, as well as updates on other more strategic requests. It is my intention to include a more detailed report on this in my October report.

11. Open space at Lindsay Fields

As noted in July, Cornwall Council is liaising with the developer of Lindsay Fields in Fraddon about the adoption of the open space to the rear of the estate. The applicant is undertaking a list of outstanding works, prior to adoption by the Council. There is an ongoing discussion about whether seating is provided in the open space and, if so, where.

12. Open space at Fairview Park

I have also been continuing to put pressure on all parties to transfer this area of land into the ownership of the Parish Council as previously agreed. I can confirm that Kingsley Developers have asked their legal representatives to commence the transfer.

13. Full Council: 15th August

An increasing problem in our area is Japanese Knotweed, which I do not believe the unitary authority is dealing with well enough. As we know, it is the responsibility of landowners to deal with the knotweed and, because of budget cuts, the unitary authority is only treating the invasive plant on its own land and is no longer being pro-active with other landowners.

In this Parish, I have received complaints about untreated knotweed in Higher Fraddon, which could spread and cause problems for other landowners. At the last Full Council, I formally requested that the unitary authority review its approach to this matter.

14. Planning PAC

Over the last two months, through my role as Chairman of the Planning Policy Committee, I have spent a considerable amount of time organising additional meetings and briefings (for October, November and December) to take forward the Cornwall Local Plan.

This follows the Public Examination into the Cornwall Local Plan, when the Inspector informed the unitary authority that further work needed to be undertaken on a range of topics. In particular, he ruled Cornwall’s increasingly unpopular housing target of 47,500 new properties for the period between 2010 and 2030 should be increased.

At this point, it is anticipated that Cornwall Council will finalise a new document in December, which will be consulted on in the New Year and re-presented to the Inspector in the Spring.

15. Resources PAC: 3rd September

I attended a meeting of the above committee to hear an update on the so-called Strategic Partnership, which could be described as IT out-sourcing to British Telecom.

On 24 June 2015, the Council formally notified BT Cornwall in writing that they intended to terminate the contract because BT had failed to meet its commitments in terms of service provision and job creation. BT are challenging this and the parties are due to go the High Court in December.

It is a bad situation and I am glad to be able report that I opposed the original deal and will continue to oppose other such out-sourcing arrangements which I believe are not good for Cornwall.

16. “Affordable rent” properties

Members of the Parish Council will know that the last Government decreed that new affordable properties for rent should not be let out at traditional “social rents,” but at an “affordable rent” which it defined as 80% of the rent levels in the private sector.

I have consistently challenged the way in which the “80%” is calculated and I often feel that the resultant price fails to fall within 80% of average open market rents in the local area. This was brought home to me again recently when I was approached by a local resident who is now paying £616 a month for a three-bedroom house.

In addition to the lobbying I have done in recent years, I have now written to Cornwall Council to formally request that a review is undertaken into the cost of “affordable rent” properties, how the rents are being set by Registered Providers, and what can be done to pressure central government on this issue.

17. Inquiries
During the last month, I have also helped numerous people and local organisations with advice and guidance on a wide range of issues.

Government "affordable rents" are not affordable!

In his July budget, the Chancellor George Osborne announced a 1%-a-year reduction in rents for social housing tenants. He guaranteed that this would be for each of the next four years.

More recently in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said: “For years in our country, we had something of a merry-go-round where rents went up, housing benefits went up, so taxes had to go up to pay for that. I think it was right in the budget to cut the rents that social tenants pay, not least because those people who are working and not on housing benefit will see a further increase in their take-home pay, and be able to afford more things in life.”

To hear David Cameron talking about rent reductions in such a manner, I find it hypocritical in the extreme.

He is, after all, the man who has presided over a Government which drastically slashed investment in new affordable homes, and also decreed that new affordable properties for rent should not be let out at traditional “social rents.”

Instead, his Government introduced a new concept of “affordable rent,” which it set at 80% of the extremely high rent levels of open-market housing.

The manner in which the 80% is calculated by Registered Providers also means that the rent being charged makes a mockery of its description as affordable housing.

I have made numerous representations on this issue and the problems were brought home to me again recently when I was approached by a neighbour. Her family live in a 3-bed “affordable rent” house and are presently paying just over £154 a week, which works out at £616 a month.

No-one could reasonably claim that such a price falls within 80% of average open market rents in my home parish.

By contrast, the most recent set of rental properties advertised through Homechoice included 35 two-bed / three-bed “social rent” properties across Cornwall. All but three of these were available for weekly rents of between £67 and £101, which makes so much more sense.

I have also written to Cornwall Council to formally request that a review is undertaken into the cost of “affordable rent” properties, how the rents are being set by Registered Providers, and what can be done to pressure central government on this issue.

[This will be my article in this coming week's Cornish Guardian].

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Why not join Mebyon Kernow today?

It was a real pleasure to catch up with Michael Bunney yesterday in Gorran, and to welcome him into Mebyon Kernow. 

If you are not already a member of MK; and agree with Michael that “Cornwall needs to make its own decisions … and this can only come about with proper devolution and the creation of a Cornish Assembly” – why not join MK today?

Individual membership only costs £15 per individual (waged) or £8 (unwaged); family membership is £20 per household, while life membership is a bargain £300 per person.

Members get Cornish Nation magazine three times a year, as well as the opportunity to attend numerous local events and take part in campaigns to win a better deal for Cornwall.

You can join online at:

Alternatively you could send a cheque made out to Mebyon Kernow to me at Mebyon Kernow c/o Lanhainsworth, Fraddon Hill, Fraddon, St Columb, TR9 6PQ.

I would certainly love to hear from you.

Friday, 18 September 2015

GREAT NEWS: Michael Bunney has joined Mebyon Kernow

I am delighted to be able to report that Michael Bunney, a prominent member of the Labour Party in the St Austell and Newquay Constituency, has joined the Party for Cornwall.

I am absolutely chuffed that Michael had decided to join MK. He is a passionate Cornishman, who really has Cornwall’s best interests in his DNA and we are looking forward to working with him in the coming months and years.

Michael, who is a Gorran parish councillor and previously represented the Mevagissey division on Cornwall Council, has issued the below statement:

“After 22 years membership of the Labour Party, and having been a parliamentary candidate, I have taken the decision to leave Labour and join Mebyon Kernow.

“This is not connected at all to the leadership election. It is a positive decision as I believe only Mebyon Kernow will truly stand up for Cornwall.

“I believe all the Westminster parties fail to understand Cornwall and they have consistently required us to follow unsuitable policies that are designed for large urban areas.

“In so many areas of policy, the one-size-fits-all approach from London has damaged Cornwall. Planning policy is ruining our beautiful landscape. House building targets are enforced on us by Westminster and yet there still aren’t houses for local people and the Government prevents Cornwall from tackling the problems of second homes. Economic policy has enforced cuts in Cornwall, while vast sums are spent on infrastructure projects elsewhere, such as HS2.

“I strongly believe Cornwall needs to make its own decisions about the future and this can only come about with proper devolution and the creation of a Cornish Assembly.

“I have been impressed by the positive, cooperative approach of Mebyon Kernow councillors, who work with all parties to get the best outcome for Cornwall. I am tired of seeing the London-based parties squabbling for political gain, while Cornwall suffers.

“MK exists to represent all the people of Cornwall, whether they were born here or have chosen to make our beautiful Duchy their home. I believe it is time for a new generation to join the campaign for Cornwall and that only MK can unite all people in working for the best interests of our local communities.

“I want to commit all my positive political energy to winning the campaign for devolution and working with MK for a better deal for Cornwall. I am delighted that this is a decision that my extended family and close friends strongly support.”

Thanks to Matt Facey for the photograph.

18th September 2014 ... one year on: It is time for democratic devolution to Cornwall

Today marks the first anniversary of the Scottish independence referendum and the media is – quite rightly – full of comment about all aspects of the devolution debate and the possibility of a future referendum.

Twelve months ago, the people of Scotland did not vote for independence, but the NO vote was underpinned by promises of a large amount of additional powers for Holyrood from the leaders of the three largest Westminster parties.

David Cameron claimed that one consequence of the vote would also be a “balanced settlement” for all of the nations of the United Kingdom. But like so many Westminster politicians, he still cannot seem to get past speaking about the “four nations” of the United Kingdom. He still seems to have a massive blind spot for that often unmentioned nation of Cornwall – where he tends to holiday!

His hyperbole that the recent top-down “Cornwall devolution deal” was historic is a total nonsense. The reality is that the undemocratic “deal” - see previous blogs in July - completely pales in comparison to the devolution enjoyed in Scotland and Wales.

Indeed, central government has also stated that the Cornwall “deal” was just the “first of many devolution deals for counties.” So much a balanced settlement for the nations of the UK.

At this time, I would wish to repeat my call for a mature, respectful and wide-ranging debate about the future of the whole of the United Kingdom, all its constituent parts and how they are governed – with Cornwall at the heart of that debate.

The people of Cornwall must speak up to demand a new democratic settlement, which takes significant political and economic powers from Westminster and brings them home to Cornwall.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Calling for a Cornish Assembly does not damage your political prospects!

When I commented on Jeremy Corbyn’s successful election to the position of Labour leader this weekend, I wrote that I had always been extremely disappointed by Labour’s unwillingness to support greater powers for Cornwall through a Cornish Assembly.

In particular, I recalled Labour’s non-response to the 50,000 individually-signed declarations calling for our own Assembly – delivered to Tony Blair in 2001 – was particularly galling for me.

In 2011, when we marked the tenth anniversary of the declaration campaign, Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards tabled the following Early Day Motion:

“That this House notes that 10 years have passed since the presentation of a petition with 50,000 signatures in favour of a Cornish Assembly to 10 Downing Street on 12 December 2001 which equated to 10 per cent. of the adult population of Cornwall; recalls that this declaration of support for a Cornish Assembly was launched by Mebyon Kernow and received support from those of all parties and none; expresses disappointment that the then Government did not act upon the subject of the petition; believes that the failure to establish a Cornish Assembly has created a democratic deficit; further notes Government proposals for the devolution of power in the UK; and calls for the formation of a democratically elected Cornish Assembly to take decisions for the benefit of the people of Cornwall.”

Sadly, only three MPs from the Labour Party could bring themselves to support the EDM. But the signatories did include Jeremy Corbyn, now the leader of the Labour Party, and John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.

It just goes to show that calling for a Cornish Assembly does not damage your political prospects!

Support the Food Waste Reduction Bill

Last week, I was pleased to be invited to participate in ITV’s “The West Country at Westminster” alongside the Labour MP for Bristol East, Kerry McCarthy, and the Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View, Johnny Mercer.

The topics for discussion were very topical and included the recent so-called “devolution deal” for Cornwall, the refugee crisis and the Labour leadership contest.

But also covered on the programme was the fantastic initiative for a Food Waste Reduction Bill, which is being actively promoted by Ms McCarthy.

The Bill seeks to ensure that food being “needlessly wasted through the food industry … is prevented or made available to charities, for redistribution to people living in food poverty.”

The Bristol MP herself reports that the “amount of food wasted in the UK is a scandal.” She has also referred to the situation as “obscene,” adding that “in the European Union, up to 50% of edible and healthy food gets wasted.”

Her Bill would “oblige supermarkets to donate unsold food” to food banks and charities; set ambitious food waste targets; require “large supermarkets and manufacturers to publish and transparently report their food waste across the supply chain;” and “require the Government to review its current system of fiscal measures, which perversely makes it cheaper to sell food nearing its use-by date for anaerobic-digestion and composting, rather than for redistribution.”

I am pleased to see that the Bill is winning considerable cross-party support.

One Conservative MP has rightly declared that “food waste is not only an environmental concern but a social problem too.” He expressed the strong view that it is “morally right” for large retailers to make “food that would be dumped anyway” available to those “most in need or struggling.”

One of Ms McCarthy’s Labour colleagues has described the situation as a “national scandal” noting that “while thousands of people are forced to go hungry, supermarkets throw away tonnes of perfectly good food every year.”

The UK’s sole Green MP has meanwhile described the Bill as a “call to arms” to “address the social and environmental consequences of the way we produce, consume and dispose of our food.”

If you agree with me that a Food Waste Reduction Bill is an excellent proposal, please write to your local MP asking them to proactively support this legislation.

[This will be my article in this coming week's article in the Cornish Guardian].

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Report on Constituency AGM in St Austell & Newquay

Mebyon Kernow members in the St Austell & Newquay Constituency recently held their Annual General Meeting at St Dennis.

It was an extremely upbeat meeting, with members looking forward to a host of local campaigns and the 2017 elections to Cornwall Council and numerous town and parish council elections.

Cllr Matt Luke (Carn Grey) was re-elected branch chairman at the meeting with Cllr Brian Higman (Roche) as his vice-chairman. I agreed to continue as branch administrator.

Olie Allen (St Austell) and Peter Wyper (St Columb) were appointed to represent the branch on the MK National Executive Committee.

An Executive Committee for the Branch was also set up. This included the officers and the representatives to the NEC, along with Nessa Brown (St Austell), Cllr Matt Facey (Mevagissey), Julie Fox (St Austell), Pete Hedger (Mevagissey), George Lawson (Newquay), Brian Richards (St Austell) and Dr Garry Tregidga (Penwithick).

Saturday, 12 September 2015

MK comment on Corbyn victory

Jeremy Corbyn’s overwhelming victory in the Labour leadership contest has been widely welcomed by progressive political parties across the United Kingdom.

The SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon has congratulated Jeremy Corbyn on his victory and offered to “work constructively with him in a progressive alliance against Tory austerity,” calling on him to “give an early commitment that Labour MPs will join the SNP in voting against the £100 billion renewal of Trident.”

Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru has also congratulated the new Labour leader on his success, adding “we hope that he will now deliver the votes of his MPs to join Plaid Cymru MPs in opposing those Tory policies that are causing great harm to people in Wales and beyond.”

On a similar theme, Natalie Bennett of the Greens has remarked that the result shows “how many people support an alternative to austerity economics, to the head-in-the-sand approach to our environmental crisis and to tired, business-as-usual politics.”

As the leader of MK, I share these views and I sincerely hope that Jeremy Corbyn’s election really does reinvigorate progressive politics across the UK.

But there has also been concern about the nature of the Labour Party that Mr Corbyn has inherited.

Nicola Sturgeon has described Labour as a “deeply, and very bitterly, divided party,” adding that “if Labour cannot quickly demonstrate that they have a credible chance of winning the next UK General Election, many more people in Scotland are likely to conclude that independence is the only alternative to continued Tory government.”

Leanne Wood has meanwhile stated that “his election cannot alter Labour's dismal record in government in Wales” which she described as “one of failure and managed decline.”

From my perspective, I have always been extremely disappointed by Labour’s unwillingness to support greater powers for Cornwall through a Cornish Assembly. Labour’s non-response to the 50,000 individually-signed declarations calling for our own Assembly – delivered to Tony Blair in 2001 – was particularly galling for me.

This opposition to Cornish devolution has stretched from the local party in Cornwall to the party bosses in Westminster.

I am reassured though that Jeremy Corbyn is one of only a handful of Labour MPs who have not been afraid to support calls for a Cornish Assembly. He was, for example, one of only three Labour MPs who backed an EDM (Early Day Motion) in 2011 marking the 10th anniversary of 50,000 declarations demanding a Cornish Assembly and calling for proper democratic devolution to Cornwall.

Still the Leader of MK …

For many weeks, the media has been full of the ups and downs of the Labour leadership contest, and later today the result will be known.

Readers of this blog might be interested to know that nominations for the leadership of Mebyon Kernow closed on Thursday. At yesterday’s National Executive Committee, it was confirmed that I have been re-elected unopposed as MK Leader.

This will be officially confirmed at the Mebyon Kernow Conference on 14th November, when I will formally begin my 19th year in charge!

Also elected unopposed have been Cllr Loveday Jenkin as my Deputy Leader, Cllr Andrew Long as Treasurer, and Cllr Stephen Richardson as Party Development Officer.

The West Country at Westminster … view it here

Yesterday’s edition of the “West Country at Westminster,” on which I appeared alongside Labour MP Kerry McCarthy and Conservative MP Johnny Mercer, can now be viewed online.

It can be found at:

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Today’s “The West Country at Westminster”

What a long day – London and back by train – but I was pleased to be one of three political guests on ITV’s “The West Country at Westminster.”  

And it was also a strange feeling arriving home to hear my own dulcet tones emanating from my living room.

As I previously reported, the topics of discussion included devolution, the refugee crisis and the Labour leadership contest. I made criticised the recent “Devolution Deal” and made the case for a Cornish Assembly. I also argued in favour of a humanitarian response to the refugee crisis and spoke against any increase in military action.

The photo above shows the presenter Ian Axton with Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, Johnny Mercer, Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View, and yours truly.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

MK on “The Westcountry at Westminster”

Tomorrow (Thursday 10th September), I will be one of the three political guests on ITV’s “The Westcountry at Westminster.”

It will certainly be a long day of travelling for me, with the programme being recorded at ITV’s Millbank studio in Westminster in the late afternoon. It will be broadcast on the same day at 10.40 on ITV 1.

I understand that the other guests will be Johnny Mercer, Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View, and Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, while the topics of discussion will include devolution, the refugee crisis and the Labour leadership contest.

Public meeting about Higher Fraddon developments: Wednesday 23rd September

The controversy around the development of the biogas plant at Higher Fraddon is ongoing, though it now seems we are only six weeks away from the Strategic Planning Committee on 22nd October, when the planning applications relating to the biogas plant and the re-development of the pig farm will be considered.

In advance of this, I have formally requested that Cornwall Council holds a public meeting in Fraddon to allow members of the community to address the members of the Strategic Planning Committee.

I have just been informed that this public meeting will take place on Wednesday 23rd September at Kingsley Village. The meeting will start at 6.00. The case officer will give a short introduction about the applicaions and then members of the public will be asked to give their views.

I can also confirm that the councillors will themselves be holding a site visit at 4.00 to view the site and the access road.

I will circulate any further relevant material, as and when it comes available.

Kernow King gig at Queens Pit - CANCELLED

The Kernow King gig due to take place at Indian Queens Pit this coming Saturday (12th September) has been cancelled, principally due to a poor weather forecast.

I have spoken to Ed and he says that he will arrange something special for the Pit next Spring or early Summer.

I know this is disappointing news for those of us who were planning to attend the event, but let’s hope that the replacement event next year will take place in nicer, warmer weather and be something to remember.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

London bias in infrastructure spend

During the last few General Election campaigns, there has been much debate about fair funding for Cornwall, and politicians from the various Westminster parties made pledge upon pledge on this issue.

But our hospitals, schools and vital public services still receive less funding than other parts of the United Kingdom and the situation has been made much, much worse by the devastating cuts to Cornwall’s public sector.

Meanwhile, infrastructure spending by central government is still disproportionately centred on London, as shown by last week’s report from the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute.

This documents a massive bias towards the English capital in terms of infrastructure investment, with most other areas getting a raw deal as a consequence.

The report shows that of the projects listed in the “National Infrastructure Pipeline” (published in December 2014) around 42% are attributed to a single English region. Of these, more than half of the planned spending is attributable to London.

Planned public investment per head in London is recorded at £5,304.73, compared to £805.29 per head in the figure for the South West (in which they include Cornwall). Other figures ranged from £413.67 in the North East to £1,946.24 in the North West.

Specific projects identified in the report included the Trans-Pennine rail line modification in the Yorkshire and Humber region (£208 million) and the Midland rail electrification in the East Midlands region (£518 million), but these projects have been indefinitely paused by central government. In contrast, the projects identified in London did not include the Crossrail 2 rail network (estimated cost of £25 billion) and the expansion of Heathrow (estimated cost of £19 billion), showing an even greater fixation on spending in the South East.

The findings of the report – although not exactly coming as a surprise – are truly shocking, and demonstrate that central government needs to rethink its approach to infrastructure investment.

It is my belief that the Westminster parliament should agree an Economic Fairness Act to rebalance the United Kingdom economy away from this present concentration on London, to prioritise investment in disadvantaged areas, and to ensure that areas such as Cornwall really do get their fair share of government spending.

[This will be my article in this coming week’s Cornish Guardian].

Thursday, 3 September 2015

MK stall at Gorsedh Kernow – St Austell, Saturday 5th September

Gorsedh Kernow will be holding their annual bardic ceremony this coming Saturday in St Austell. The ceremony will take place in Poltair Park, where there will also be a range of stalls.

Mebyon Kernow will be represented with a stall, which will be staffed by some prominent activists.

We would certainly be delighted to see anyone on the day who might be interested in finding out more about MK, its campaigns or even becoming a member.

I look forward to seeing many of you there!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

MK meeting in St Austell & Newquay Constituency: Friday 4th September

A meeting for Mebyon Kernow members in the St Austell & Newquay Constituency has been arranged for the evening of Friday 4th September. The meeting will take place at ClayTAWC in St Dennis.

Issues for discussion at the meeting will include future local election campaigns, raising the profile of Mebyon Kernow in Mid Cornwall, campaign activities in the area and organising a social event or two.

Anyone from the St Austell & Newquay Constituency, who would be interested in attending and finding more about MK, can call me on 07791 876607 for more details.

New report on investment shows shocking bias towards London

Mebyon Kernow has today reiterated our call for fair funding for Cornwall following a new report from the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute.

The report shows a massive and totally unacceptable bias towards London in infrastructure investment.

Speaking on behalf of Mebyon Kernow, Cllr Andrew Long described the findings of the report as “shocking.”

In particular, he said: “This report shows that infrastructure spending by central government is disproportionately centred on London and other areas get a raw deal. There is a desperate need for a rebalancing of the United Kingdom economy away from this present concentration on London, and Mebyon Kernow is continuing to push for an Economic Fairness Act to ensure that Cornwall gets its fair share of government investment.”

Evidence within the report shows the following:

- Of the projects listed in the “National Infrastucture Pipeline,” around 42% are attributed to a single English region. Of these, more than half of the planned spending is attributable to London.
- Planned investment per head in London is £5,304.73, compared to £805.29 per head in the South West (which includes Cornwall). Other (per head) figures ranged from £413.67 in the North East to £1,946.24 in the North West.
- The figures in the report included the Trans-Pennine rail line modification in the Yorkshire and Humber region (£208 million) and the Midland rail electrification in the East Midlands region (£518 million), but these projects have been indefinitely paused by central government. In contrast, the figures for London do not include the Crossrail 2 rail network (estimated cost of £25 billion) and the expansion of Heathrow (estimated cost of £19 billion).

I will be writing more about this report in the near future, though in the meantime, the full report can be located at: