Tuesday, 17 October 2017

MK calls on Theresa May to end farce of Boundary Review

MK has just released the following statement concerning the Boundary Review:

The leader of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has today called on the Prime Minister to make a formal announcement that she will scrap the Boundary Review that would lead to the creation of an unpopular cross-Tamar constituency.

He was speaking after the Boundary Commission announced revised proposals for constituencies for the next General Election – which included a cross-Tamar seat.

Cllr Dick Cole said: “As someone who has campaigned against the imposition of a ‘Devonwall’ parliamentary constituency for a number of years, I was pleased to see numerous recent newspaper reports that the Conservatives intended to scrap the Boundary Review.

“But I am perplexed that that Theresa May’s Government is allowing the Review to continue – especially as they no longer have a majority in the House of Commons and the recommendations of the Boundary Commission will almost certainly not be supported by opposition MPs or their friends in the Democratic Unionist Party.

“Senior Conservatives have already admitted that their attempt to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 is doomed to failure, and I call on Theresa May to end this farce of a Boundary Review and think again.

“We will certainly be continuing with our campaigns to protect the territorial integrity of Cornwall, and for Cornwall to be treated as a distinct entity for the purposes of governance.”

Boundary Commission proposes Devonwall seat ... AGAIN!

The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has today published revised proposals for new constituency boundaries tomorrow and commenced an eight-week consultation.

The BCE is still recommending a cross-Tamar Devonwall constituency, and has glossed over the massive level of opposition to this breach of Cornwall’s historic integrity.

At the Boundary Commission hearing in Truro in November, I argued that the whole process – with regard to Cornwall was flawed – and appealed to the BCE that they should recognise this and join us in making representations to central government to rethink their approach, to modify the existing legislation and make sure that a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” constituency is not created.

I am very disappointed, but not surprised, that the BCE has chosen not to do this.

Relevant extracts from the document published today are as follows:

“We noted that the electorate of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was 393,874 and that if we were to allocate five constituencies, the average electorate of those five constituencies would be 78,775, which is more than 5% above the electoral quota, and therefore outside the permitted electorate range. We were aware that there would be opposition to the creation of a constituency that crossed the Cornwall county boundary, but we considered that the ‘Rules for distribution of seats’ in Schedule 2 of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (as amended) meant that we had no option but to recommend a constituency that crossed the county boundary between Cornwall and Devon.”

“There was a large amount of support for our proposed sub-regions. The main political parties all submitted counterproposals that adhered to the sub-regions, while acknowledging that there were objections to the creation of a ‘Devonwall’ cross-county boundary constituency. For example, the Liberal Democrat Party (BCE-32821) said ‘We protest at the creation of a “cross-border” seat. We recognise the legal and population requirements. We accept the proposed boundaries and name of the cross-border Revised proposals for new constituency boundaries in the South West 13 seat as “Bideford, Bude and Launceston”.’ There were a number of objections from respondents in Cornwall to the combining of Cornwall and Devon, with many citing Cornwall’s separateness from the rest of England – see the Cornish Nationalist Party (BCE-29305), the Cornish Stannary Parliament (BCE-34907 and BCE-31410) and Mebyon Kernow (BCE-29560).”

“There was support for our proposed constituencies, but also many objections to the creation of a so-called ‘Devonwall’ cross-county constituency, as detailed previously in this report. Many of those who objected to a cross-county constituency did not submit a counter-proposal to create five constituencies wholly within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, each with an electorate within the permitted electorate range. It was argued that Cornwall was a separate entity to the rest of England and should be treated in the same way as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in terms of the review. Our assistant commissioners were sympathetic to the arguments against a cross-county constituency between Cornwall and Devon, but accepted that the statutory rules left them with no choice but to recommend such a constituency.”

The consultation website is: www.bce2018.org.uk.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Revised proposals for parliamentary seats to be published tomorrow

Even though there have been numerous reports that the Conservatives intend to scrap the ongoing boundary review, which would otherwise lead to the imposition of a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” parliamentary constituency, the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) is continuing its work.

It will be publishing revised proposals for new constituency boundaries tomorrow (Tuesday 17th October).

There will then be an eight week consultation.

The BCE is stating that this consultation will be the “last chance” for people to have their say before it reports recommendations to central government in September 2018.

The consultation website is:

I will post more information as soon as I get it.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Update on Post Office “outreach” at Indian Queens Victory Hall

Over the last few days, the Clerk of the Parish Council and I have been liaising with the Post Office Ltd about the delays to the start of the Post Office “outreach” at Indian Queens Victory Hall.

I can confirm that the fault on the telephone lines, etc, has been sorted and the Post Office Ltd has today confirmed that the “outreach” service will start this coming Thursday (12th October), between 1.00 and 4.00.

The service will then happen at the Victory Hall twice a week as previously advertised (Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons).

Those Tory promises on housing ... some comments

In her address to the Conservative Party Conference last week, the Prime Minister has quite a lot to say about housing and, in particular, affordable housing.

Theresa May talked about the UK’s “broken housing market,” she pledged to boost investment in affordable housing by £2 billion, and spoke about “getting government back into the business of building houses … a new generation of council houses.”

This general shift in government thinking has, I think, been quite widely welcomed, though a range of housing experts have been extremely dismissive of the scale of the boost in investment.

For example, Michael Oxley, the director of the Cambridge Centre for housing and planning research described it as “chicken feed,” while Anna Minton, the author of Big Capital, called it “laughable.” She added that the number of rental homes that would be built as a consequence was “pathetic” and would make little difference to the “worst housing crisis in modern times.”

Personally, I consider the present Government and their immediate predecessors to be a key part of the problem. After all, it was the Tories who started selling off council housing in the 1980s, which was a key factor in unbalancing the housing market, and their more recent policy prescriptions have also been very damaging.

They have overseen a massive reduction in investment in affordable properties. They have re-invigorated ”right-to-buy” and stopped investing in “social rent” properties, dictated that Housing Associations must focus on the much more expensive “affordable rent” model (that sets rents at 80% of the inflated cost of private sector rents), and even came up with a nonsensical scheme for “affordable” starter homes, which would cost first-time buyers “no more than £250,000.”

It is little wonder that I remain extremely cynical about the Conservative Party’s commitment to genuine affordable housing.

But I did notice that the Prime Minister stated that the Conservatives would, once again, “allow homes to be built for social rent, well below market level.” She did, though, qualify this by specifying it would be “in those parts of the country where the need is greatest,” and I have no idea if the UK Government considers this to include Cornwall!

As a local councillor, I fully support the increased provision of “social rent” homes which often cost around £400 a month, as I have always opposed the focus on “affordable rent” properties which delivers, for example, three-bed houses with rental costs in excess of £600 a month that many low-income families struggle to pay.

At this time, we need to continue to put pressure on the UK Government to deliver genuine affordable housing and that includes converting existing “affordable rent” properties into less expensive “social rent” ones.

[This is my article in this week's Cornish Guardian].

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Thank you for the messages of support

Over the last few days, I have received a large number of positive messages from people wishing to compliment me on lasting twenty years in the position of leader of Mebyon Kernow and for the work I have done in that time, for Cornwall and my local community of St Enoder Parish.

I am most grateful for everyone who has taken the time to get in contact and to express their support. Thank you.

Looking back over the last twenty years

It has been exactly twenty years since I was elected the leader of Mebyon Kernow. The role has certainly been a massive part of my adult life and little did I think that, two decades on, I would still be in post!

It has been an absolute honour to lead the Party for Cornwall, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has campaigned with me during this time.

It has been hard work. There have been many highs, it has often been frustrating, and there have been many lows as well.

High points in terms of MK include being the author of the “Declaration for a Cornish Assembly,” which was signed by over 50,000 people in 2000 and 2001, and still stands out as a powerful demand from the people of Cornwall for a meaningful devolution settlement.

It was fantastic to be part of the wide-ranging campaign that secured the recognition of the Cornish through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Personally, I feel my election as a Mebyon Kernow councillor for my home parish was my key accomplishment. It has been a great privilege to have served St Enoder Parish since 1999, and I am grateful to all those local residents who have continued to support me with their votes.

But politics can be tough, and I must admit my frustrations at MK’s difficulties in making progress in a political system conducted through the prism of Westminster.

In Cornwall, MK has proved itself able to be competitive in council elections and a number of members have been elected. But it has been very different when it comes to parliamentary elections, where voters have been less willing to give MK their support. It has certainly not helped that MK, as a “regional” political party, has been denied party election broadcasts at such times, and the “mainstream” media, such as the main television channels, very rarely deem MK worthy of coverage.

But, looking back over the last twenty years, perhaps the most saddening thing has been the failure of the UK Government to act properly on so many demands coming from Cornwall.

Just take the 50,000 declarations for a Cornish Assembly and our national minority status as examples. The declarations have been ignored and, instead of bringing devolution proposals, Westminster has centralised and undermined local government structures in Cornwall. And it is also the case that central government has failed to act it on its obligations – cultural, linguistic, political and economic – enshrined in the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

This all reinforces to me that MK, as a pro-Cornwall political force, is needed now as much as ever, and it is my intention to continue playing my part in the years to come.

My time as leader of the Party for Cornwall will be marked at the afternoon session of MK’s 2017 National Conference, which will be held at Bodmin’s Shire House Suite on 18th November. Anyone interested in coming along would be very welcome.

[This is my article in today’s Cornish Guardian newspaper].

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Interview on Radio Cornwall tomorrow

Earlier today, I did an interview with Radio Cornwall's James Churchfield about my twenty years as the leader of Mebyon Kernow - the Party for Cornwall.

It will be broadcast on tomorrow's breakfast show.

Monday, 2 October 2017

BAD NEWS – Delay to opening of Post Office “outreach” at Indian Queens Victory Hall

This afternoon, Post Office Ltd has been in contact to say that the Post Office “outreach” will not be starting at Indian Queens Victory Hall, tomorrow, as advertised.

I have been told that this is because of a fault with the telephone line somewhere between Indian Queens Victory Hall and the Post Office branch at Summercourt, which will be responsible for the service.

As someone who has been circulating newsletters publicising the opening, you can probably imagine just how absolutely exasperated I am.

I have been in contact with a senior person in Post Office Ltd this afternoon. She has asked me to send on her apologies to the local community. She has also confirmed that BT will be on site tomorrow to deal with the fault. The Post Office Ltd will then send in their staff to configure the computers systems, etc.

This shouldn't take too long (fingers crossed) and I will let everyone know when this has been done and when we have a new start date for the service.

If you know of anyone who might have been planning to use the service tomorrow, or Thursday, please let them about the delay to save any wasted journeys.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Cornwall Live article on my 20 years as MK leader

Thank you to Richard Whitehouse for his positive article on the www.cornwalllive.com website about my twenty years as the leader of Mebyon Kernow.

I am really quite pleased with what he has had to say.

Here is a particularly kind extract:

Dick Cole – proud Cornishman, vocal politician and all round nice guy. This is probably the description that you would get from most who have encountered the leader of Mebyon Kernow.

This week he celebrates 20 years at the head of the only purely Cornish political party …

“When I took on the role 20 years ago I had no thought that I would be doing it 20 years later,” he says with a warm chuckle.

“I just hope that it shows that I can be quite passionate in standing up for the things I believe in and my local community.”

That is a massive understatement – Dick is one of the most recognisable names and faces in Cornish politics and is well known for the passionate speeches he has given in the council chamber at Lys Kernow over the years.

When Dick stands up to speak he commands the respect of all in the chamber, no matter what their political persuasion and he is also listened to. On most occasions he is also a rare voice of reason in amongst the often party political posturing which sometimes occurs.

When it has come to issues such as the creation of the unitary authority which shut down the former borough and district councils it was Dick who spoke most passionately to raise concerns that it would lead to a democratic deficit – a similar argument he is making now about plans to cut the number Cornwall Council members from 123 to just 87.

He has also been outspoken on issues such as the incinerator in St Dennis, the plans to impose thousands of new homes across Cornwall and the proposed eco-town.

And when he fights for these issues he is battling on the side of the people and railing against the authorities which are imposing them. Above all he is always consistent and always researches his arguments to a high level.

The full article can be viewed at:
Cornwall Live article on twenty years as MK leader

Marking twenty years as the leader of Mebyon Kernow

This coming Wednesday (4th October) will mark the twentieth anniversary of my election as leader of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall.

I will have more to say closer to the actual date of the anniversary, but the first media report of my two years at the helm of MK can be found on the Cornish Stuff website.

News report on Cornish Stuff

Friday, 29 September 2017

Vandalism at the Fraddon Millennium Green

Many local people will probably have heard about recent vandalism in our local parish, much of which has included the smashing of bottles.

Earlier in the week, bottles were broken in the car park at Indian Queens Recreation Ground and one car ended up with a puncture as a consequence. There was a further incident in the Thomas Playing Field in Summercourt and, today, it was the turn of the Fraddon Millennium Green.

It seems that some children found a box of bottles which they took to the Green, and decided to smash on the play equipment. 

We were very fortunate, though, as a local resident from a neighbouring property realised what was happening and filmed the activities on his phone. When the children realised they were being viewed, they left the Green very quickly.

It could have been so much worse, as the children left a pile of around 15 bottles (see below) which they had not yet got around to throwing at the equipment. 

We have brushed up the broken glass and also removed the other bottles, so the Green is once again safe to visit and enjoy.

Today I started the day at a briefing at Cornwall Council with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, where I was one of the councillors from Clay Country speaking up about the importance of PCSOs.

And I finished the day liaising with a local PCSO about the vandalism and how the guilty parties might be identified from the filming.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

A massive thank you to Di Mlynek

As the Chairman of ClayTAWC (the Clay Area Training and Work Centre) at St Dennis, I would like to say a massive thank you to Di Mlynek, who retired as Centre Manager yesterday.

Di (pictured above left) took over as the Manager in January 2010, and was the “heart and soul” of the Centre for seven-and-a-half years. Always with a smile, she was extremely dedicated to ClayTAWC and its values. She was instrumental in bringing forward the “retrofit” project, which included a host of improvements to the fabric of the building, both inside and out.

The Board is extremely thankful for all the fantastic work that Di has done for ClayTAWC and we will miss her as an employee.

But she will not be breaking her links with ClayTAWC. I am very glad to be able to report that Di has accepted an invitation to become a member of the Board which is responsible for the running of the Centre.

The new Manager will be Kerry Merrifield (pictured above right), who has already worked at the Centre for a number of years.

For those who don’t know, ClayTAWC was founded over 15 years ago to help provide support to residents in the China Clay Area in terms of training, education and working towards employment. Courses and activities are varied, with many being run by Cornwall Council’s Link Into Learning. The Centre also has a computer suite that is available for use by local people, as well as meeting rooms.

It is also an important community hub, used by many local bodies, which provides offices for St Dennis Parish Council and the Cornwall Rural Community Council, as well as a base for the local Police Community Support Officer. In addition, the building houses a community library.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Cut in councillor numbers is an assault on democracy in Cornwall

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has just announced its decision to reduce the number of elected members on Cornwall Council from 123 to 87.

The change will be implemented at the next set of elections due to take place in 2021.

It is a shocking determination and I am extremely disturbed at the attitude of the LGBCE and their intention to launch an assault on democracy in Cornwall.

Prior to 2009, Cornwall had 331 councillors on the County Council and the six district councils. The centralisation of local government was then imposed on Cornwall and the number of councillors slashed to 123. And now the LGBCE has imposed another large cut in elected members, which will further increase the democratic deficit from which Cornwall already suffers. This is just so wrong.

Many people will not be aware that the LGBCE did not seek a similar reduction in the number of councillors when it carried out an electoral review of the unitary authority in County Durham, which was also created in 2009.

It was founded with 126 councillors and a subsequent review allowed the council to continue with the same number of members. So how is it appropriate that Cornwall will have to suffer a 30% reduction in the number of its elected members?

Mebyon Kernow and many other bodies have argued that Cornwall already had fewer councillors on principal authorities than almost all other parts of the United Kingdom – but these representations have been ignored by the LGBCE.

Wales has more than 1,200 councillors on its 22 unitary authorities, while Devon has just under 500 principal authority councillors and Somerset has over 400.

And yet the LGBCE expects Cornwall to get by with only 87, which – in terms of representatives per head of population – means that many other areas will have more than twice the number of councillors as Cornwall.

The top-down and undemocratic actions of the LGBCE are frankly shameful.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

"Make Votes Matter" Cornwall

In 2015, sixteen-year-old Owen Winter from North Cornwall launched an online petition in support of proportional representation (PR) for future Westminster elections. The last time I looked, the petition had amassed 288,379 signatures.

A formidable campaigner, Owen is one of the co-founders of the cross-party campaign organisation “Make Votes Matter,” which launched a second petition on the official gov.uk website in 2016. In a period of six months, 103,495 individuals signed this second petition and it will be debated by MPs on 30th October.

I am a supporter of the “Make Votes Matter” initiative as I fully back the introduction of a more proportional voting system, which would ensure that the outcome of a General Election would better reflect the actual votes cast.

At the 2017 General Election in Cornwall, the Conservative Party secured 48% of the votes but secured 100% of the seats. There are many areas in England where the Conservatives won all – or nearly all – of the seats, while Labour was equally dominant in places such as South Wales, inner London and some metropolitan areas in the north.

This cannot be right in a modern democracy.

It means that the vast majority of parliamentary constituencies are always unlikely to change hands and the larger political parties pour disproportionate resources into a small number of marginal seats.

To illustrate this, I happen to have some figures from an old General Election campaign. In one competitive Cornish seat, in the four months leading up to polling day, the Lib Dems spent £33,852 and the Conservatives £40,968 (official spending returns). This was on top of the tens of thousands of pounds spent by both parties in the preceding two years.

By comparison, in the perceived “safe” Labour-held seat of Islwyn in South Wales, the Tories spent £923 while the Lib Dems only coughed up £589.

I do not think that this disparity in spending and associated campaign activity is healthy for a democracy.

Writing on the Change.org website, Owen Winter recently explained that he started his original petition because he wanted people to be able to vote for whichever party they believed in. He didn’t want individuals to be pressured into tactical voting because they were scared of “wasting” their vote or “letting the other side in.”

As someone who has contested parliamentary elections I know from experience how great pressure is brought to bear to promote tactically voting. I feel that this distorts debate, undermines the pluralistic nature of British politics, and often derails serious consideration of the issues that really matter to communities throughout the UK.

I am pleased that I was able to attend a very positive first meeting of a Cornwall “Make Votes Matter” group last week, which was addressed by Owen. A second meeting has already been arranged for Wednesday 18th October at the Railway Tavern in Truro (7.30pm). All are welcome to attend and further information is available from mvmcornwall@gmail.com.

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

My latest newsletter …

As the councillor for St Enoder, I deliver a newsletter every six months or so. I have just collected the latest one from the printers, and we will start distributing them in the next couple of days.

In particular, this latest newsletter includes information about the “outreach” Post Office planned for Indian Queens Victory Hall and the Parish Council’s World War 1 project.

If anyone would like to help out with the leafleting, please give me a call on 07791 876607.

My latest update report to St Enoder Parish Council

My latest report will be presented to the next meeting of St Enoder Parish Council on this coming Tuesday (26th September). It covers the time period of 14th July to 24th September, and will be as follows:

1. Council meetings

Over the last few weeks, I have attended a range of formal meetings. These have included: Full Council; Cabinet; Central Sub-Area Planning Committee; Electoral Review Panel (2) (plus three officer / preparatory meetings); the initial meeting about a parking review; the first two meetings of the task and finish group looking at the next waste collection contract; China Clay Area Network meeting; planning training on environmental matters: a meeting about gypsy and traveller sites in the Mid Cornwall area; a briefing on bid to “Sport England” for a well-being project (which includes the Clay Area); the Cornwall Heritage Forum, and a Group Leaders’ meeting.

In the same period, as well as a host of informal meetings with council officers and others, I have been at four meetings of St Enoder Parish Council, and two meetings of the Neighbourhood Plan working group.

2. Other meetings

In the last two months, I have also attended meetings of Indian Queens Pit Association (trustee) (2), the ClayTAWC Board (Chairman) (2), Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Rural Partnership, South and East Cornwall Local Action Group, St Austell Bay Economic Forum and an associated sub-group (director) (2), and the St Piran Trust (trustee) (2).

3. WW1 project

I would like to start with the positive news that I have secured a grant for St Enoder Parish Council from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards a community project about the First World War.

Over the next twelve months, we will working with a range of local organisations to find out more about the impact of the conflict on the people and families of Fraddon, Indian Queens, St Columb Road and Summercourt.

A key part of the project will be to produce a book which will tell the stories of the men who lost their lives between 1914 and 1918.

In addition, the Parish Council will be placing new interpretation boards in our three local village halls, as well as other materials for use in Indian Queens Methodist Church and St Enoder Parish Church.

Watch out for more information on how you can get involved.

4. “Outreach” Post Office at the Victory Hall

Following the closure of the Post Office at Kingsley Village, many people have been pushing hard for the reinstatement of a service at the “Fraddon / Indian Queens / St Columb Road” end of the Parish. I can now report that Post Office Ltd has agreed that an outreach Post Office will be run from the ante-room of the Indian Queens Victory Hall for two three-hour sessions each week.

This will start on Tuesday 3rd October. The sessions will be:

Every Tuesday morning: 8.30 – 11.30.
Every Thursday afternoon: 1.00 – 4.00.

This new outreach provision will be run from the existing Post Office at Summercourt, while the cost of hiring the Victory Hall for the next twelve months has been covered by Kingsley Developers.

I am grateful to everyone who has worked to pull this together, but it is only meant to be a temporary measure as we are continuing to push to secure more permanent Post Office provision in the eastern end of the Parish. This includes seeking the inclusion of postal services in a retail unit at the redeveloped Kingsley Village complex, as stated in the planning permission.

5. Planning matters

- Pines Tip

As parish councillors will be aware, in 2016, the unitary authority rejected plans for three large wind turbines on Pines Tip next to the Pedna Carne Mobile Home Park, near Fraddon. The reasons for refusal were the lack of local support, plus the visual and cumulative landscape impacts of the proposal. REG Windpower, the company behind the scheme, then appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol and I produced a detailed planning statement on behalf of the Parish Council.

I can now report that the Inspector has also rejected the scheme. Key extracts from the decision are as follows:

Written Ministerial Statement (WMS)

On 18 June 2015 a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) was issued stating that planning applications for wind energy development involving one or more wind turbines should only be granted planning permission where: the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan and following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.

Further advice on wind turbines is contained in the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), which reflects the WMS. It also advises that the cumulative landscape impacts of a proposal are important considerations as to the effects of a proposed development on the fabric, character and quality of the landscape. Cumulative visual impacts may arise where two or more of the same type of renewable energy development would be visible from the same point, or would be visible shortly after each other along the same journey. The PPG advises that it should not be assumed that just because no other sites would be visible from the proposed development site that the proposal would not create any cumulative impacts.

Principle of development

… when the Council determined the planning application there were no development plan policies which identified suitable sites for wind energy development. Accordingly the Council relied on the transitiona
l provisions as set out in the WMS. In such instances local planning authorities could find the proposal acceptable if, following consultation, they were satisfied the application had addressed the planning impact identified by affected local communities, and therefore had their backing. However, since the Council’s decision, the CLP has been adopted. The appeal site is not identified as being suitable for wind energy development within the CLP; indeed paragraph 2.96 of the plan makes it clear that no sites for wind energy development will be allocated unless they are included in a NP. Both parties agree that there is no NP for the area.

The appellant submits that in view of the above the transitional provisions set out in the WMS apply in this case and my attention has been drawn to a number of planning appeal decisions to support this view. Whilst noting the submissions made, I do not consider that the transitional provisions apply in this case. This is because the WMS makes it clear that transitional provisions only apply where the application was submitted prior to the WMS (which it was) and where the development plan or NP do not identify suitable sites for wind turbines. Whilst the CLP does not specifically identify suitable sites for wind energy development within the body of the plan, it makes it clear that such sites should be included in NP. It is not silent on this matter. The particular circumstances of this case are materially different to the examples quoted and I find that they are not comparable, and I have afforded them limited weight in my consideration of the appeal proposal. In any event each planning application and appeal should be determined on its individual merits and this is the approach that I have taken.

The appeal site has not been identified as being suitable for wind energy development within the CLP or a NP. Accordingly the transitional provisions do not apply in this case. I therefore conclude that the principle of wind turbines in this location is not acceptable. The scheme would result in conflict with Policy 14 of the CLP and national planning policy as set out above. Given my finding in this regard, whilst there was both support and opposition to the scheme, it is not necessary to consider whether or not the proposal has the backing of the affected local communities.

Landscape character

I am however concerned that their visual dominance and their solid appearance with rotating blades would be likely to draw the viewer’s attention to the preponderance of turbines and other tall features in the landscape. This would be likely to result in a landscape perceived to be characterised by turbines and other tall manmade structures to an unacceptable degree. The relationship of the appeal site to other wind turbines and the intervisibility between would lead to wind energy development in the area being more than occasional which would conflict with the landscape strategy set out in the Council’s renewable energy document. This would lead to a significant reduction in the landscape quality of the area. I have not taken the proposed wind turbines at Scarcewater Tip into account in my assessment as these do not benefit from planning permission at this time. The presence of topography, landscape features and settlements would not mitigate the harm identified.

In light of the foregoing, I find the impacts of the proposed development on landscape character and appearance both singly and cumulatively, to be unacceptably adverse, contrary to CLP Policies 2, 12, 13, 14 and 23. There would also be conflict with the Framework in respect of the natural and local environment and visual impact.

- Pen-y-Thon, Chapel Town

The proposal for a single dwelling to the rear of the above property was also refused by Cornwall Council, but the applicant appealed the decision and it was upheld by the Inspectorate.

The applicant’s agent claimed that the proposal represented the “rounding off” of the settlement but, in the representation that I prepared on behalf of the Parish Council, we took a very different view. An extract from our statement was as follows:

The frontage of the Pen-y-Thon faces to the east and any development to the west, or south west, would be to the rear of the dwelling – clearly representing the extension of “building into the open countryside” rather than any form of “rounding off.”

The wooded area to the rear of Pen-y-Thon meanwhile represents a natural end of the residential part of the Chapel Town area, and any development to the west or south west of this would represent an incursion into the open countryside.

I was very disappointed at the decision, the less-than-sympathetic interpretation of local policies, and the lack of weight given to the views of the Parish Council.

- Unauthorised development on the Kelliers

Members will recall that, about nine months ago, the unauthorised caravan site on the Kelliers failed to secure planning permission through an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. The owners were also told that they had to remove the caravans from the site by 18th July 2017. They have failed to do this but, in the last few weeks, have started to move caravans to the top of the site so that they can be removed. Cornwall Council is, at the present time, still in the process of taking forward a prosecution.

The application for five traveller pitches on the site has also been refused by Cornwall Council, but the landowner has appealed. The date for the appeal has not yet been set but, on behalf of Cornwall Councillors across the Clay Area, I have formally requested that the unitary authority does more research into unlawful activities in relation to such sites, and related issues, to assist in preparations for the appeal and other enforcement actions across Clay Country. A meeting is to be held with senior officers on Monday 25th September and I will be able to verbally update everyone at Tuesday’s Parish Council meeting.

- Higher Fraddon biogas plant

The owners of the plant have submitted two appeals to the Planning Inspectorate. Condition 14 states that the types of HGVs accessing the site must be agreed through the condition, but the operators want this to be left very open-ended. Cornwall Council did not consider this acceptable and declined to discharge the condition as requested by “Greener for Life” – seeking them to be consistent with statements they made at last year’s appeal about the types of lorries they intended to use.

In addition, they have appealed a planning application to modify condition 14 (by increasing the number of small vehicles to the plant) because it had not been determined by the unitary authority.

For both these appeals, written representations have to be in by 19th October.

I can also report that “Greener for Life” no longer exists. The company went into liquidation on 29th August and were bought out by Ixora Energy Ltd (which had only been incorporated on 2nd August 2017), and is owned by directors of the original company. The new managing director is Darren Stockley who previously attended many meetings in Fraddon on behalf of Greener for Life.

However, I also understand that the “Fraddon Biogas Limited” Plant has “broken away,” with a different financier – though the man recorded in the paperwork had been involved with Greener for Life for a number of years.

- Carvynick

At the holiday park, the application has been approved which has modified the constraints on the site. As part of the planning permission, the owners will provide £50,000 for the purchase of new play equipment for the Thomas Playing Field in Summercourt. This money will be paid to the unitary authority between 6th and 30th April 2018 and should allow improvements to be made during next year.

6. Proposed housing scheme near Mitchell

Coastline Housing is presently working up an “affordable housing led” scheme for twenty houses on the eastern site of Mitchell at the Fruit Farm. The land falls within St Enoder Parish and the company is suggesting that, for the affordable housing, residents with a local connection to either St Enoder or Newlyn East, would be eligible to apply for the homes.

A public consultation will take place on Tuesday 3rd October at the Plume of Feathers in Mitchell from 3pm until 7pm.

7. Neighbourhood Plan meetings

I am pleased that the Parish Council’s working group for the Neighbourhood Plan is meeting again and busy reviewing the comments from the questionnaire circulated around the Parish earlier this year. The drafting of the actual Plan will soon commence.

8. Waste Collection and Cleansing Contract

Cornwall Council has commenced a review of the content of the contract for waste collection, street cleaning, beach cleaning, etc, which will be retendered in a couple of years. Much of the work is presently focussing on the best way to collect domestic waste from the roadside.

However, I am making representations about the limited extent of street cleaning in rural communities and the number of public waste bins.

I have reviewed Cornwall Council’s list of bins in St Enoder Parish, which was quite problematic. The numbers did not always tally with the location, the location itself was sometimes inaccurately recorded, and a couple of bins were not on the list at all.

The below update lists what there is in St Enoder Parish. As you can see there are a total of 18 bins.

Fraddon / Indian Queens / St Columb Road

Moorland Road (opposite cemetery) - 83
Moorland Road (cemetery layby) - 348
Fraddon Hill (bus stop / layby) - 351
Chapel Road (bus stop / layby) - 352
Fraddon Hill (bottom of) - 353
Parka (St Columb Road end) - 354
Parka (nearer Fraddon end) - 82
St Columb Road junction (by Chopping Block) - 355
Penhale (bus stop / layby) - 81
St Francis Road (bus stop nr Carworgie Way) - 356
Penhale (near Westbourne Terrace) - 358
Moorland Road (east of Gnomeworld) - 84
Not included on official list
Higher Fraddon (near bridge to Pedna Carne) - no number
Newquay Road - 899

School Road - 360
School Road (Thomas Playing Field) - 361
Road to Chapeltown (by car showrooms) - 897
Beacon Road (bus stop) - 47

At the Parish Council meeting on 26th September, I think it would be worthwhile to consider where we should formally request that additional bins be placed. Likewise, I believe we should also consider a formal request for more regular street cleaning to be incorporated into the new contract.

9. Review into councillor numbers

In recent months, I have regularly updated the Parish Council on the review into councillor numbers, through the Local Government Boundary Commission “for England” (LGBCE).

I can report that the LGBCE will be publishing its decision about the number of elected members for the unitary authority, for 2021 onwards, on 26th September. The next stage of work will involve working up proposals for the new divisional boundaries.

I will give a verbal update at the Parish Council meeting.

10. Highway matters

Over the last two months, I have been in regular contact with the local Cormac officer to discuss a range of highway and related matters. I can report the following:

- As part of the 2017/2018 programme for road surface improvements, works have been completed along part of Moorland Road, Indian Queens, and at Carvynick, Summercourt.

- Other works listed in this programme and still to be carried out include improvements at Trevarren; Watery Lane near Blackcross; Halloon Roundabout; and some of the rural roads around Summercourt.

- I have received a range of representations about parking and speeding issues. I can report that speed recordings are presently being taken in three locations across the Parish. I have also reported complaints about overhanging trees and bushes next to pavements, as well as vegetation encroaching over pavements.

- Some works have been carried out. This includes the cutting back of vegetation near the roundabout at Penhale to enhance visibility.

- In terms of the flooding problem on the road to Trefullock from the A3058, a team from Cormac will be carrying investigation works during the first week in October.

The China Clay Area Network Panel is meanwhile making representations about the safety record on the A3058, much of which runs through St Enoder Parish.

11. Review into parking matters

As referenced in my last monthly report, I am a member of the Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee and was appointed to a “task and finish” group to review the Council’s arrangement for parking, which will include enforcement matters.

I am frustrated as the timetable for the review has been lengthened and the initial briefing and first meeting of the sub-group were almost entirely about car parks in urban areas and there was little thought given to those issues being raised in areas such as ours. I am, naturally, making further representations about this.

12. Regeneration study for St Austell Bay & the China Clay Area

I attended a meeting of the St Austell Bay Economic Forum to hear a briefing about the study into the regeneration of St Austell Bay and China Clay Area being undertaken by consultants called Thinking Place. My initial thought was that the conclusions did not focus enough on the parishes of the China Clay Area and I was very outspoken on this point – much to the annoyance of some other members of the Forum. It is my intention to make further detailed comment on the draft of the final document when it is produced.

13. A strategic vision?

The consultants referred to above, are also working on a project to develop a “strategic vision, shared outcome and ambitious growth narrative for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly” for Cornwall Council and the unelected Local Enterprise Partnership.

The project was not considered by elected members in advance of the work being commissioned. I am not happy about this or indeed what was in the brief, the contents of which have only recently been shared with me and other councillors. I have raised a number of objections and, in particular, I do not agree with the manner it seeks to place Cornwall within an emerging “Great South West proposition” which will inevitably undermine Cornwall’s distinct message.

14. Visit of Police Commissioner

The Police Commissioner Alison Hernandez will be attending a meeting at Cornwall Council on Friday 29th September. It is my intention to be present to make further representations about changes to local police cover (such as the threat to PCSOs) and my opposition to the merger of the local force with that of Dorset.

15. Helping local community groups

During the last couple of months, I have assisted a number of local groups with advice and practical help. This has included writing letters of support for three parish organisations (Indian Queens Band, Indian Queens Victory Hall and Wesley Pre-School) to some local grant bodies, and I am presently helping Fraddon Village Hall put together a funding application for new chairs.

16. Website for Queens Pit Association

I am pleased to be able to report that the Pit Association has just launched a new website. As one of the trustees, I pulled together some historic information about the monument, as well as details about our community building, which was turned into a website by Dinah Crellin (DMC IT), who lives in St Enoder Parish.

The website can be found at: www.indianqueenspit.co.uk.

17. Newsletter

I am about start the distribution of my latest six-monthly newsletter around St Enoder Parish. This edition includes information about the outreach Post Office at Indian Queens Victory Hall and the First World War project.

18. Inquiries

During the couple of months, I have also helped numerous people with guidance on a vast array of issues.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Consultation on proposed affordable housing scheme near Mitchell

Coastline Housing are presently working up a proposal for a development on the immediate eastern site of Mitchell at the Fruit Farm. The main purpose of the scheme would be to bring forward affordable housing.

The land for the site falls within St Enoder Parish and the company is suggesting that, for the affordable housing, residents with a local connection, to either of the parishes of St Enoder or Newlyn East, would be eligible to live in the homes.

A public consultation is due to take place on Tuesday 3rd October at the Plume of Feathers in Mitchell from 3pm until 7pm.

Anyone interested in finding out more is welcome to attend.

Friday, 22 September 2017

New officers elected at Constituency Party Meeting

Thanks to everyone who turned up to tonight’s Annual General Meeting of Mebyon Kernow’s St Austell & Newquay Constituency Party.

Branch officers elected at the meeting, and pictured above, were:

Chairman: Cllr Michael Bunney
Vice-Chairman: Cllr Matt Luke
Secretary/administrator: Cllr Dick Cole
Nominees to National Executive: Nessa Brown and Dr Garry Tregidga

Anyone wishing to become active within our local branch would be welcome at our future meetings. Feel free to get in contact.

Thursday, 21 September 2017


The next formal meeting for MK members and supporters in the St Austell & Newquay Constituency Party will be taking place on Friday.

The venue will, as usual, be ClayTAWC in St Dennis and the meeting will start at 7.30.

This meeting will also be the AGM for the Constituency Party, and there will be an opportunity for one and all to have their say on the future direction of our local campaigns and other activities across the Constituency.

All are welcome at the meeting. Do come along if you are interested in joining MK.

Call me on 07791 876607 for more details, if you would like to attend.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Following the closure of the Post Office at Kingsley Village, many people have been pushing hard for the reinstatement of a service at the “Fraddon / Indian Queens / St Columb Road” end of the Parish.

I can now report that the Post Office Ltd has agreed that an outreach Post Office will be run from the ante-room of the Indian Queens Victory Hall for two three-hour sessions each week. 

This will start on Tuesday 3rd October.

The sessions will be:

Every Tuesday morning: 8.30 – 11.30.
Every Thursday afternoon: 1.00 – 4.00.

This new outreach provision will be run from the existing Post Office at Summercourt, while the cost of hiring the Victory Hall for the next twelve months has been covered by Kingsley Developers.

We are grateful to everyone who has worked to pull this together, but it is only meant to be a temporary measure.

Local councillors and the Post Office Ltd are continuing to liaise in an attempt to secure a more permanent Post Office provision in the eastern end of the Parish. This includes seeking the inclusion of postal services in a retail unit at the redeveloped Kingsley Village complex, as stated in the planning permission.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Twenty years on from the referendum vote for a Welsh Assembly: my recollections

My article in this coming week’s Cornish Guardian looks back at the referendum vote for a Welsh Assembly, which took place on 18th September 1997. I was fortunate to actually be in Cardiff and here are my recollections.

Twenty years ago this week, the people of Wales backed the creation of their National Assembly in a referendum.

It was a momentous vote. It secured national government for Wales and, over the last two decades, the Assembly has grown massively in stature and authority, achieving some law-making powers, control over a range of taxes, and it is soon to be renamed as a Parliament.

The significance of the vote was such that the present First Minister of Wales has even questioned whether Wales would have been able to call itself a nation if it had rejected devolution two decades ago.

And yet, it could have been so very different. The ballot was extremely close with 50.3% of voters backing devolution.

The votes were counted in 22 different council areas and, as the results were announced during the night of the 18th and 19th September, the NO camp built up a lead in the popular vote.

But that all changed when the final result came through from Carmarthenshire. There was a massive YES vote in the county, which tipped the result in favour of devolution. The overall majority across Wales was just 6,721 votes.

I have wonderful memories of this particular night, because I was in the Welsh capital for a Channel 4 programme about the outcome of the referendum, which was broadcast from Cardiff Castle.

For me, it was the first time that I had been invited to take part in a live television debate, but it did not work out as I had anticipated. I was there to comment on the implications of a YES vote for the rest of the United Kingdom but, as it was looking like a NO vote, they did not bother to use me. The programme then ended, ridiculously, before the last regional results were announced and the final outcome known.

At that time, it would be accurate to say that I was less than happy to have travelled all the way to Wales and not even participated in the debate.

But Channel 4 had booked me a room at the Park Hotel, where the YES camp was based and had planned their celebratory party.

When I got there, the mood was dark and sombre, as the campaigners – many of whom had dedicated their lives to the goal of greater self-government for Wales – feared their dream of devolution would not be realised.

I was present when the final result came in, along with a few others from Cornwall, complete with flags of St Piran. I will never forget the raw emotion of that night, the explosion of sheer joy when everyone realised that they had indeed won the vote, and I am grateful that I was able to be there. Thank you Channel 4 for my night in Cardiff.

The campaign for Welsh devolution continues to be an inspiration for me. I just hope that we can replicate their success here in Cornwall.

Friday, 15 September 2017


The next formal meeting for MK members and supporters in the St Austell & Newquay Constituency Party will be taking place on Friday 22nd September.

The venue will, as usual, be ClayTAWC in St Dennis and the meeting will start at 7.30.

This meeting will also be the AGM for the Constituency Party, and there will be an opportunity for one and all to have their say on the future direction of our local campaigns and other activities across the Constituency.

All are welcome at the meeting. Do come along if you are interested in joining MK.

Call me on 07791 876607 for more details, if you would like to attend.

Consultation on Government plans to increase rate of house-building

The UK Government yesterday launched a consultation on plans, in its words, to “boost housing supply.”

Proposals include the introduction of a “standard method for calculating local authorities’ housing need.”

But what does this mean for Cornwall?

The Cornwall Local Plan (which was formally adopted in November 2016) has a target for the period 2010-2030 of 52,500 new properties – a figure that was higher than that proposed by the unitary authority. This equates to an annual target of 2,625 new properties per annum.

In the consultation paperwork, the UK Government sets out its “indicative assessment of housing need” based on their new formula. It sets an annual target of 2,889 – which would equate to a housing target of 57,780 is spread over a twenty-year plan period.

The Government is also consulting on a “proposed transitional arrangements.”

This states that if the local area has “no plan, or plan adopted more than five years ago” (or an emerging plan that has not yet been published and has not yet reached publication stage), there will be no transitional arrangements.

However, if a Plan has been adopted within the last five years – as here in Cornwall – the “new standardised method” will not come in immediately, but will be used when next reviewing or updating the Plan.

The consultation document is entitled “Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation proposals” and can be accessed on the website for the Department of Communities and Local Government:

DCLG website

Thursday, 14 September 2017

St Enoder Parish Council secures grant from HLF for First World War project

I am absolutely delighted to be able to report that St Enoder Parish Council has just secured a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards a community project to remember the men who lost their lives in the First World War.

Over the next twelve months, we will working with a range of local organisations to find out more about the impact of the conflict on the people and families of Fraddon, Indian Queens, St Columb Road and Summercourt.

A key part of the project will be to produce a book which will tell the stories of the men who lost their lives between 1914 and 1918.

In addition, the Parish Council will also be looking to produce interpretation boards to be placed in our three local village halls, as well as other materials for use in the Indian Queens Methodist Church and St Enoder Parish Church.

We are also investigating the possibility of events to mark the centenaries of the Armistice (November 1918), the Victory / Peace Day celebrations (July 1919) after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, and the unveiling of the St Enoder War Memorial (September 1919).

My latest newsletter is presently being produced and this will feature more detailed information about the project and how local people can get involved. It will be delivered across St Enoder Parish in the next three weeks.

Monday, 11 September 2017

An invitation to MK meetings in Clay Country

Garry Tregidga stood in the recent Cornwall Council elections in Bugle division. He secured a very positive increase in support for MK, polled 360 votes and came second.

He is presently delivering a leaflet around the division to thank local people for their support, and he has organised a meeting in the Rescorla Centre (in the heart of Treverbyn Parish) for anyone who like to meet him or discuss the work of the Party for Cornwall in his local area and the wider China Clay Area.

The meeting will be this Friday (15th September) and will start at 7.00.

All are welcome to attend and find out more about MK and how to get involved. As well as Garry, I will also be in attendance.

In addition, the Annual General Meeting for the St Austell and Newquay Constituency Party of MK will be held on Friday 22nd September. This will take place at the ClayTAWC centre in St Dennis, and start at 7.30.

If you interested in finding out more about MK, you would be most welcome to attend this meeting as well.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Good news and bad news: Devonwall and a police merger?

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian unsurprisingly covers the latest news about the parliamentary boundary review and the proposed police merger. It will be as follows:

As someone who has campaigned against the imposition of a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” parliamentary constituency, I am delighted to see that newspapers have been reporting the intention of the Prime Minister to scrap the ongoing Boundary Review.

Senior Conservatives have said that their attempt to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 is doomed to failure, and the “fierce local arguments that would ensue over precise seat boundaries” would be “profoundly unhelpful” to a Government, without an overall majority, trying to grapple with Brexit.

The UK Government may not have listened to our specific arguments about the importance of protecting the territorial integrity of Cornwall, but at least this latest shift – if true – means that a “Devonwall” constituency has been averted, at least for now.

I am still nervous as there has been the occasional report that Theresa May intends to press on with the Review and, until it is formally ended, the Boundary Commission is continuing its work.

And yet, assuming that the main reports are accurate, it would mean that a new review of parliamentary seats – based on the existing number of 650 MPs – would commence at some point in the future.

We therefore still need to be extremely vigilant and to continue our campaigns for Cornwall to be treated as a distinct entity for the purposes of governance.

But at the same time that we heard the good news about the Devonwall seat proposal, the Chief Constables of the Devon & Cornwall and Dorset police forces announced plans to explore “closer working” which include the possibility of a full merger.

Some news reports state that they deem a merger to be inevitable because of deep cuts to their funding from the Conservative Government.

It is well-documented that, prior to coming to power in 2010, they promised to protect policing, with the-then shadow Home Secretary Nick Grayling pledging to put “more police on the street … fighting crime and protecting local communities.”

But since then, public desks at police stations have closed, the number of police officers has fallen drastically, PCSOs are being phased out and now we have added insult of a proposed merger of forces – with the blame being placed on government under-funding.

These broken promises have had a devastating on local policing and I most certainly cannot support the further centralisation of power into a larger police area.

It is my view that we should be putting pressure on central government to provide increased funding for local policing and to reintroduce a distinct Cornwall Police Force.

MK National Conference: Saturday 18th November

It is now only ten weeks to Mebyon Kernow’s 2017 National Conference, which will take place on Saturday 18th November. The venue will be the Shire House Suite in Bodmin.

Why not put the date in your diary and come along?

The Conference will be open to members of the public, and one and all are invited to attend.

Updates on the Conference agenda, items for discussion and speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

The above picture is from the last time that MK held it’s National Conference in Bodmin, when guest speakers included Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards and SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

MK press release opposing police merger

The Mebyon Kernow press release opposing the merger of the “Devon & Cornwall” and Dorset police forces has been sent out. It is as follows:

The leader of Mebyon Kernow has hit out at the proposal to merge the “Devon & Cornwall” and Dorset police forces, and challenged central government to properly fund policing in Cornwall.

Chief Constables Shaun Sawyer and Debbie Simpson issued a statement said the merger was inevitable because of deep cuts to their funding from the Conservative Government.

In a statement issued today, Cllr Dick Cole said:

“Prior to the Conservatives coming to power in 2010, they promised to protect policing. The-then shadow Home Secretary Nick Grayling pledged to put ‘more police on the street … fighting crime and protecting local communities.’

“But since then, public desks at police stations have closed, the number of police officers has fallen drastically, PCSOs are being phased out and now we have added insult of a proposed merger of forces – with the blame being placed on government under-funding.

“These broken promises have had a devastating on local policing and the Westminster Parliament should be ashamed.”

Mebyon Kernow is calling on local people to oppose the merger and to challenge central government to provide increased funding for a Cornwall Police Force.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Cricket report … the Leader, a Conservative and me!

Late this afternoon, the annual charity cricket match between “Cornwall Councillors” and officers took place at Boscawen Park in Truro.

The Councillor team “won” the contest but it should be acknowledged that, this year, the definition of elected member was extremely loose.

After numerous late withdrawals, we ended up with only three Councillors on the field: Lib Dem Leader of the authority Adam Paynter, Conservative Stephen Rushworth and yours truly. Cllr Mitchell from St Agnes could not take part, but sent along his teenage son and a friend – who were both extremely talented cricketers. Our team of seven, was completed by two friends of Adam’s.

The game was played in a fantastic spirit. This was especially the case when our team was fielding and the officers lent us players to make up our numbers. What is more, their fielding was exemplary and they even helped to get some of their own team out.

All in all, it was an entertaining game that went down to the last couple of balls. I just cannot fathom why so few of my councillor colleagues were willing to take part!

Council Chairman Mary May was also at the event to present the trophy to Adam!

BAD NEWS … Proposal to merge police with Dorset

It has just been announced that the Chief Constables for “Devon & Cornwall” and Dorset Police Forces have launched a proposal to merge.

MK will oppose this centralisation and we will campaign for a Cornwall Police Force and proper funding of our local policing.

More to follow on this, but the official press release from the Chief Constables was as follows:

The Chief Constables of Devon and Cornwall and Dorset Police have announced plans today, Wednesday 6 September 2017, to explore further collaboration and closer working between the two forces.

There is an established strategic alliance programme between the forces which has seen significant efficiencies and better working in the last four years.

Whilst this announcement does not preclude any outcome, one avenue now being explored further is the possibility of a full merger between the two forces uniting Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police into one police force.

Police and Crime Commissioners from both forces have informed the policing minister of their support for the Chief Constable’s intentions to actively explore options and over the coming weeks consultation with key stakeholders such as locally elected MPs and councils will begin.

In a joint statement Chief Constables Shaun Sawyer, (Devon and Cornwall), and Debbie Simpson, (Dorset), said: “The strategic alliance has made significant progress helping us provide a more effective and efficient policing service to the residents of our three counties.

“We now see this as a timely opportunity to progress this alliance further, including a potential aim to merge our resources and create a more resilient police force.

“Policing has faced some significant funding challenges in recent years and we do not see this landscape changing. To preserve local, neighbourhood policing and deliver safeguarding within our communities, as well as an ability to respond to emergencies and emerging threats as effectively as possible, we view closer working as the only way forward.”

Shared leadership is already in place across both forces with two deputy chief constables that share portfolio areas and directors that lead support functions and business areas across both forces, as well as operational commanders and heads of department in some areas.

Operational police departments such as Operations, Roads Policing and Prevention as well as 17 other business areas are also operating across three counties with a further 11 departments currently going through changes which will see them aligned.

The forces also now share a number of support services such as administration, information technology and human resources.

Both Chief Constables added: “We have been able to make this progress so far because of our staff’s hard work and conscious effort to work in collaboration.

“Our officers across Dorset, Devon and Cornwall have similar policing styles, values and priorities with cultures based on delivering resilient and sustainable services to our communities.

“We know working together has increased our resilience, streamlined our leadership and unlocked new capabilities in our support functions allowing us, where we can, to re-invest in our services. We feel that now is the right time to explore whether a full merger between the two forces is possible.

“We realise there may be statutory obstacles to overcome and there is a lot of work to be done to understand the benefits and challenges ahead. We will also ensure that the views and feelings of the public are taken account of. As a result, a decision is unlikely to be made quickly but we are absolutely committed to exploring the possibility of a merger in order to continue to provide a sustainable police service for all of our communities in the future.”

Great news … May to scrap review of MP numbers

In today’s newspapers, there are numerous reports that the Prime Minister is to scrap the boundary review presently being carried out by the independent Boundary Commission.

Obviously this means that the present proposal for a cross-Tamar Devonwall constituency will not happen, which is fantastic news for Cornwall.

But it is not yet clear what happens now, but MK will keep campaigning to make sure that the historic boundaries of Cornwall are respected in any future reviews.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Tackling inequality - Government needs to do more

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian will focus on the issue of inequality.It will be as follows:

Politicians talk a lot about the need to tackle inequality in society, often seeking to address problems relating to low incomes, concerns about deprived communities, and the lack of life-chances for far too many people.

Sadly, inequality seems to be increasing in most major economies, and the World Economic Forum has identified a significantly growing gap between the rich and the less-well-off.

Such assertions have certainly been borne out by report after report in the media.

A report has just been published by the Scottish Parliament that examined the impact of the UK Government’s austerity agenda. Looking at welfare changes announced since 2015, the report claims that those families on low incomes had been “targeted” by the changes, while families with children have been “hardest hit” by the reforms.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions meanwhile showed that more than 5,000 sick and disabled people have had their benefits sanctioned for a period in excess of six months. This has left many families struggling worse than before, with campaigners arguing that disabled people were “not receiving the proper support … to navigate the complex social security system."

There has also been a further report about teachers being significantly worse off – in real terms – than in 2010, because of years of pay restraint. It noted this was leading to a serious recruitment crisis in some parts of the UK.

Central government has obviously responded, bringing attention to some of the positive things that it had done. This included increasing the level of both the national living wage and the personal allowance. But these arguments are undermined by the continuing public sector pay freeze and a harsh approach to many benefit claimants and would-be benefit claimants.

Government claims about fairness and tackling inequality are further undermined by the news that it has launched a "secretive amnesty" for companies who have failed to pay the minimum wage to their staff.

In the last three or four years, many firms have been named and shamed, and had penalties issued against them for such breaches of the law.

But now, some firms are to be allowed to “dodge this process” if they “identify underpayments themselves and refund workers.”

Indeed, HM Revenue and Customs has contacted somewhere in the region of 3,000 companies, who it is thought might be failing to “pay the legal minimum,” and offered them the chance to use the scheme.

I fully agree with the MP who stated that it is not enough for “serious offenders to simply pay the arrears owed.” Central government needs to penalise those who take advantage of the less-well-off, and properly focus on building a fairer, more equal, society.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Leafleting in Bugle division

Over the next couple of weeks, MK members and supporters will be delivering leaflets in support of our local candidate, Dr Garry Tregidga.

The leaflet will thank the 360 people who voted for Garry in the May local elections, and invite anyone interested in finding out more about MK to a meeting at the Rescorla Centre, in Rescorla, on 15th September at 7.00.

If anyone fancies helping out with the deliveries, please give me a call on 07791 876607.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Politics at Indian Queens Primary School

I was very pleased to be involved with the pupils of Indian Queens Primary School in a democracy project, which they carried out earlier this year. Steve Double MP visited the school to talk with the children, and I was one of three councillors who were grilled by them when they visited the offices of Cornwall Council and took over the council’s debating chamber.

The report can be found on the School’s website at:


Monday, 28 August 2017

New website for Queens Pit

I am very proud to be a trustee of Indian Queens Pit, and pleased to be able to publicise the fact that the Pit Association has just launched a new website. It includes some historic information about the monument, as well as details about our associated community building. It will also include details about events in the Pit, as and when they are arranged.

The site has been built by Dinah Crellin (DMC IT), who lives in St Enoder Parish. 

The website can be found at: www.indianqueenspit.co.uk.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Will the size of the St Dennis incinerator undermine recycling efforts?

Cornwall Council’s “waste and recycling, street and beach cleansing” contract comes to an end in March 2020.

Work has already started on the options for the next contract, and the Council’s cabinet member (environment and public protection) has spoken about the need to protect the environment by “reducing waste and increasing recycling rates.”

I certainly agree that it is ridiculous that, across the UK, thousands and thousands of tonnes of recyclable and bio-degradable material is dumped in landfill or incinerated, when much better use could be made of such resources.

It is all summed up extremely in the “Wealth from Waste” report which was published a few years ago by the Local Government Association. This stated: “The simple fact is that taxpayers would be better off, the economy will benefit, and more people will have jobs if we grow the domestic market for collecting, sorting and reprocessing recycling … recycling actually brings in cash for the taxpayer and we owe it to today’s hard-pressed taxpayers to get as much of their money back as possible.”

But in this regard, Cornwall has a long way to go. We only recycle 36 per cent of our local waste, and our performance is significantly behind many other parts of the United Kingdom.

Just look how we compare with Wales. It has just been confirmed by the Welsh Government that they have achieved an ambitious recycling target of 64% – some three years ahead of schedule. One county, Ceredigion, even managed a rate of 70% – the proposed Welsh target for 2025.

But here in Cornwall, there is a complication. The unitary authority is tied into a multi-million-pound “integrated waste” disposal contract, structured around the controversial incinerator near St Dennis, which has just become operational.

It is well documented that I was an outspoken opponent of the incinerator and, in particular, the size of the plant.

Designed to principally deal with Cornwall’s domestic waste, it has an annual capacity of 240,000 tonnes. But each year, we generate about 170,000 tonnes of residual waste (from kerbside collections and household waste recycling centres) – significantly less than the capacity of the incinerator – and that is after we have recycling just over a third of our waste.

The reality is that if we were to meet the government’s 2020 recycling target of 50%, the amount of residual waste would be much reduced and the void within the incinerator – to be filled with commercial waste, possibly from outside of Cornwall – would be even greater.

It just seems to me that, in the minds of many people, the need to fill the over-sized incinerator in Mid Cornwall with waste could undermine or stifle efforts to boost recycling.

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

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Keeping up the pressure for a Cornish tick-box

In this coming week's Cornish Guardian, my article reports on the recent meeting between Cornwall Council and officials from the Office of National Statistics. It will be as follows:

Earlier this month, prominent officials from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) visited Cornwall to meet with representatives of the unitary authority.

The visitors included the Acting Director for the 2021 census, the ONS’s Head of Census Statistical Design & Outputs, and a senior research officer; and the main focus of the meeting was to discuss our demands for a Cornish tick-box on the next census.

In the last census in 2011, the question on national identity gave a choice of five tick-boxes: English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and British. There was also an “other” box, which invited people to “write in” their nationality.

In the event, a total of 73,220 residents of Cornwall described themselves as Cornish, which equated to 13.8% of the overall population. On a local basis, the top five parishes for self-identification were St Dennis (22.0%), St Hilary (21.6%), St Wenn (21.4%), Carharrack (21.3%) and Warleggan (21.3%); the lowest was Botus Fleming (4.0%).

It is impressive, and significant, that nearly 14% of people in Cornwall took the initiative to self-identify as Cornish in the 2011 census but, if there had been a tick-box option, the number of people registered as Cornish would undoubtedly have been considerably higher.

This can be shown by what has transpired in Wales. In 2001, there was no Welsh tick-box on the census, but 14.4% of residents in Wales self-identified as Welsh using the “other” option. A decade on, the inclusion of a tick-box option in the 2011 census meant that 66.6% of people in Wales expressed their national identity as Welsh – a greater than four-fold increase.

In its initial feedback, the ONS indicted that they were not minded to include a Cornish tick-box in the 2021 census but, at the recent meeting, we made a strong – and I would say unanswerable – case for parity with other UK nationalities.

We pointed out how, since the last census, the UK Government had recognised the Cornish as a national minority through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, affording them the “same status” as the “UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

We reminded the ONS that, in their Opinion Report, the Council of Europe has made a specific recommendation that a Cornish tick-box be included to ensure compliance with the Framework Convention. And we made it clear that by excluding a Cornish tick-box from the 2021 census, the UK authorities would be actively discriminating against the Cornish national minority that they themselves had formally recognised in 2014.

The discussions with ONS are ongoing and Cornwall Council is preparing additional briefing information for the organisation. I will report back again soon on what progress is made.

Diplomacy and international relations

My article in last week's Cornish Guardian pondered international relations in the age of Donald Trump and his Presidency of the United States. It was as follows:

August 9th 2017 marked the 72nd anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, which had followed the nuclear attack on Hiroshima three days earlier.

All in all, more than 140,000 people died in the initial blasts over the two cities, or lost their lives as a consequence of their injuries, radiation poisoning and other factors.

Just over twelve months ago, Barack Obama, in his final months as US President, visited Hiroshima. Speaking at the main memorial in the settlement, he told a large and sombre crowd: “On a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.”

He spoke about how the “image of a mushroom cloud” that twice rose in the clouds over Japan was a stark remainder of “humanity’s core contradiction” and that the “very spark that marks us as a species,” such as “our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our toolmaking, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will,” also equates to a “capacity for unmatched destruction.”

How right Obama was to urge the world to “choose a future when Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not considered the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”

This week, I have read a number of personal recollections of people from Nagasaki and the terrible horrors they experienced in 1945 and the years that followed.

One man called Hirotami Yamada, who was a child at the time, has recalled how “the flash and heat from the detonation felt like the sun had fallen from the sky; then everything went dark. When the light returned, much of Nagasaki had been vaporised in a cloud of smoke and dust that barrelled a mile up into the clouds.”

Most of his family initially survived because they were some distance away from the centre of the blast, but in the coming days he had to watch heartbroken as his siblings succumbed to death.

Such awfulness should never be forgotten and it must reinforce why everyone should be working to get rid of all weapons of mass destruction.

It is therefore truly disturbing that it was on “Nagasaki Day” that the new President of the United States, Donald Trump, intensified his war of words with the belligerent leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, threatening "fire and fury like the world has never seen;" before following this up with a statement that his military was “locked and loaded.”

Such outrageous and intemperate language makes the world a much less safe place, and world leaders need to rise to the challenge to put real diplomacy at the heart of international relations.