Tuesday, 19 September 2017

POST OFFICE “OUTREACH” COMING TO INDIAN QUEENS 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 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

NEXT MK MEETING IN ST AUSTELL & NEWQUAY – FRIDAY 22nd SEPTEMBER


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.