Sunday, 21 October 2018

Conservative austerity needs to end and now!

At the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, the Prime Minister announced that the austerity of the last decade is to end and “support for public services will go up.”

I have to admit that I am somewhat sceptical about what has been said, and Theresa May’s announcement has been widely derided as a “soundbite” or positioning for short-term political gain. Indeed, she has couched her pledge as a future action, linked to the outcome of next year’s spending review while also being dependent “on a good Brexit for Britain.”

It was followed within a few days by a cynical appeal by the PM to likely Labour voters, asking them to consider changing their allegiance to the Tories.

Quite rightly, journalists and commentators have been quick to critique the lack of detail behind the rhetoric and how it contradicts what the Conservatives have been saying in recent months, weeks and even days.

And they have not been afraid to point out how it does not reflect the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s financial plan which, while honouring the recent commitment to increase funding for the NHS, would still lead to what one newspaper has described as yet more “eye-watering” cuts in “every other department of state.”

Political opponents have also rubbished the pronouncements from the occupant of No. 10, especially when other leading Conservatives such as the Party Chairman Brandon Lewis have refused to consider rethinking planned reductions in funding to local councils and other public services.

Make no mistake, austerity has done great damage to public services across the United Kingdom, hurting individuals and families and communities in the process.

Senior Conservatives may be making shallow statements about some future cessation of austerity, but local councils such as the unitary authority in Cornwall are still having to grapple with the implications of dealing with savage, unjust and ongoing cuts in central government funding.

And it is to be welcomed that the planned merger of the “Devon and Cornwall” and Dorset police forces looks like it is not going to happen, but such a proposal would not even have been put forward if the promised levels of funding for the police had actually been delivered.

If Theresa May is serious about ending austerity, her Government needs to reverse the cuts to local government, the police and other public services right now; and deliver a whole new approach to government finance through enhanced and fair taxation with the wealthy and big business paying their fair share.

[This was my article in the Cornish Guardian on 10 October].

Housing for local need

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England has just published a new report about the housing market. It is critical of the extent of planned developments and the amount of countryside that is being lost, and it is also pointing out that the housing needs of local people are still not being met.

The document has been widely welcomed and there was even an editorial in the Western Morning News under the heading “All new homes should be built to meet local need.”

In preparing this week’s article, I looked back at some columns on planning and housing that I have written over the past eight years or so, and it really is saddening how central government has time and time again refused to act on legitimate criticism of its failed policies.

As a local councillor, I have been involved with numerous planning battles – both in terms of policy and actual planning applications – and, on many occasions, it has been so dispiriting.

It is particularly galling when housing developments do not have enough affordable housing or, on occasions, no affordable housing at all.

Many young people will not remember but at the turn of the millennium it was possible to buy a new two-bedroom house in mid Cornwall for under £50,000, or a three-bedroom house for under £60,000. Rents in the private sector were also much more reasonable.But since then, the housing market – both for purchase and rent – has become truly dysfunctional. House prices pretty much tripled in the decade after 2000 and the cost of renting in the private sector also exploded.

At the same time, wage increases have been very modest and the gap between household incomes and basic housing costs has become so much greater.

Housing ministers in the UK Government have acknowledged that house prices in Britain are "too unaffordable" but they have done nothing to reduce the cost of renting or purchasing a house, which is so needed in low wage areas like Cornwall.

They have even redefined what can be termed “affordable housing” and made it more expensive, while cutting funding and discouraging the provision of less expensive social rents that have traditionally been provided by councils and housing associations.

This all needs to change and there is so much that the UK Government should be doing. Here are a few suggestions for starters – (i) increased investment in a public rented sector with rents kept as low as possible, (ii) legislation to control prices in the private rented sector, (iii) action on second homes, and (iv) the devolution of all aspects of planning and planning policy to Cornwall.

[This was my article in the Cornish Guardian on 17 October].

Monday, 24 September 2018

Latest update to St Enoder Parish Council


On Tuesday, I will be presenting my latest update report to a meeting of St Enoder Parish Council. It covers the period from 23rd July to 23rd September 2018, and will be as follows:

Listed below are some examples of the work that I have been undertaking over the last two months and associated news updates.

1. Council meetings and related activities

During the last two months I have attended a range of formal meetings. These included: Full Council, Electoral Review Panel (2) (plus two associated pre-meeting briefings and a further meeting of group leaders about the review), Central Planning Committee, a meeting of councillors from the China Clay Area, the China Clay Area Network, monthly meetings (2) of parking group linked to the Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee, members briefing on National Minority status and associated meeting with senior officers working on this.

In the same period, as well as a significant number of informal meetings with council officers and others, I attended six meetings of St Enoder Parish Council and chaired the latest meeting of the St Enoder Parish Neighbourhood Plan Working Group.

2. Other meetings and activities

I attended meetings of Indian Queens Pit Association (trustee), ClayTAWC (Chairman), Leader Local Action Group for South and East Cornwall, Community-led Local Development Local Action Group for South and East Cornwall and the St Austell Bay Economic Forum.

3. Gorsedh Kernow

Gorsedh Kernow held its 2018 ceremony on the Barrowfields in Newquay on 1st September. I was made a bard in recognition of the work I have done campaigning to protect the geographical and cultural integrity of Cornwall. My bardic name is Gwythyas an Tir, meaning Guardian of the Land. I would also like to say a big thank you to everyone who has sent me their best wishes and congratulations. They were all much appreciated.

I was also one of the speakers at the Gorsedh Kernow Conference about Cornwall’s historic environment on the day before the main ceremony.

4. First World War project

During the summer months, I have spent a significant amount working on the First World War project for St Enoder Parish.

I am pleased to be able to report that the roll of honour that had previously been on display in the Indian Queens Methodist Church has been lodged with the Cornwall Record Office for safekeeping. It is in a poor condition and a replica has been produced which will be re-dedicated in late October. The roll of honour lists the 59 members of the Wesleyan congregation who served and returned, along with the nine who did not make it back from the conflict.

The Parish Council has also secured nine silhouettes from the “There But Not There” commemoration scheme to be used at the rededication of the roll of honour, and at other planned commemorative events.

Two further drop-in sessions were held in early September and I am pleased to be able to report that we have been supplied with photographs of three teenage servicemen in recent weeks.

The book is progressing well and new boards are also being planned for the three village halls. The book will contain a chapter on the Indian Queens Victory Hall and I attended a recent meeting of the Hall Committee to update them on progress.

5. St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan

In recent weeks, one of my priorities has been the Neighbourhood Plan. A full draft of the document is nearing completion and will soon be presented to Cornwall Council for comment. As I have reported previously, I have also been liaising with a number of the planning policy officers at Cornwall Council in terms of the content of the Plan.

6. Thomas Playing Field

Over the last two weeks, I have been helping the Parish Clerk, Amanda Kendall, and Cllr Mark Kessell liaise with the installers of the new play equipment at the Thomas Playing Field. While the workers were on-site, we made sure that we visited the site on a daily basis.

Sadly, we have encountered a delay with the works. It is our understanding from the installers that, for a couple of bits of kit, they are missing some of the supports which would be fixed into the ground. They have withdrawn from the site and we are remaining in contact with the suppliers in an attempt to sort this out as soon as possible.

7. Cemetery extension at Indian Queens

I have also been liaising with the Parish Clerk about the extension of the cemetery at Indian Queens. It is great to see that the new Cornish hedge has been completed and we can now sort out the change-of-use planning application for the enclosure.

8. Full Council: vote on Devonwall

Last November, I tabled a motion to Cornwall Council opposing the imposition of a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” parliamentary constituency, which received massive support. At the Cornwall Council meeting on 11th September, I was pleased to be able to support a similar motion opposing “Devonwall.” It was passed by 86 votes to 11.

9. Full Council: vote on Police merger

In my last monthly report, I raised my opposition to the proposed merger of the “Devon and Cornwall” Police Force with that of Dorset and my concern at the biased consultation that been had been doing the rounds. I am pleased to be able to report that, at the Cornwall Council meeting on 11th September, councillors backed a motion opposing the merger. It was passed by 64 votes to 25.

10. Electoral Review Panel

The final meeting of the Electoral Review Panel took place on 13th August and agreed he basis of a detailed representation to the Local Government Boundary Commission. This was ratified at the Full Council meeting and the only changes related to the names of some of the divisions.

As previously reported, the proposal is to keep the parish of St Enoder “whole” and within a division with St Dennis. I also worked with the Parish Clerk to send a response to the consultation which went in before the deadline.

As the vice-chairman of the Electoral Review Panel, I am so relieved that the work has been completed. However, the committee is about to be rebadged to deal with the upcoming review into parish boundaries (where changes may be requested by Parish Councils).

11. Community-led Local Development

I am pleased to have been appointed to the South and East Cornwall Local Action Group LAG for CLLD (or Community-led Local Development). It covers an area that stretches from the China Clay Area to the Tamar, and has more than £2.8 million of European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) monies to grant to businesses and community groups.

The official paperwork for CLLD states that it “aims to provide pathways to better economic opportunities for people and businesses … strengthening local availability of employment, skills and training, and developing the ability of local residents to access these.”

It does however need to be pointed out that the money has to be targeted principally on those Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs), which fall within the 30% most deprived in terms of the UK’s Index of Multiple Deprivation.

In the South and East Cornwall CLLD Area, priority areas including Bugle, Foxhole, Penwithick, Roche, St Dennis and Treviscoe (within Clay Country); though it has also been confirmed that some of the funding could be spent in the hinterland around these disadvantaged communities (which includes St Enoder Parish), though projects would need to demonstrate that it would benefit people in the core areas.

12. St Austell Bay Economic Forum (SABEF)


SABEF has just been awarded £1.1 million to fund their “Re-imagining St Austell – A Green and Ceramic Cultural Centre” project to revitalise the town and its surrounding communities.

I have been a director of SABEF for quite some time, but I am presently reviewing my position within the body. It was always my understanding that the Forum covered St Austell, the arc of the Bay to the south of the town and the China Clay Area. It is fair to say that I was invited to sit on the Forum as a representative of the Clay Country.

It is also fair to say that the key focus was always going to be the town itself, but I am very frustrated that the whole of the Clay Area is not featuring within the thinking of the Forum.

13. Economic Strategy for the China Clay Area

Cornwall Councillors from the China Clay Area have been pushing, for a significant time, for Cornwall Council to work with us to produce an economic strategy for the Clay Area.

Given my comments about the SABEF initiative, I am pleased that Cornwall Council has agreed that we can pilot an initiative to bring forward such a strategy for our Network Area which could be replicated elsewhere. It is likely that this will be a key priority for me going forward, rather than SABEF.

14. Planning

I have had a range of meetings with planning officers during the last two months to discuss a range of planning applications, large and small. This has included discussions of the recent application for residential units at Carvynick, and ongoing issues with the biogas plant and pig farm at Higher Fraddon.

The proposal to allow the dayroom on the traveller site near Highgate Hill, Indian Queens, to be turned into a dwelling was referred to the Central Planning Committee. The meeting took place on 6th August and objections were raised by the Parish Council, but it was given permission by the Committee.

The first draft of a new Supplementary Planning Document on housing has been circulated to members of the Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and I will looking at this in detail in the coming couple of weeks.

15. Parking policy

Since my last report, I have attended two meetings with council officers and the Cabinet member for Transport following the “Positive Parking Review.” I can report back that at the most recent meeting I again made representations about the need to repaint double yellow lines in (non-urban) areas such as St Enoder Parish.

16. Traffic

I am following up a wide range of traffic and road safety issues at the present time, which includes speeding traffic at Sea View Terrace on the road between Fradon and St Stephen, as well as a host of ongoing issues. Discussions about the Community Network Highways Scheme will be at the next meeting of the China Clay Area Community Network Panel on 8th October.

It is my intention to provide a more detailed update on all the traffic-related matters that I am dealing with in my next monthly report.

17. Meeting with Ocean Housing

On 14th September, I met with Mark Gardner, the Chief Executive of Ocean Housing. It had come to my attention that one of Ocean’s properties on Barnfield Terrace was being sold off, as the “registered provider” did not consider it economic to renovate the housing unit. I challenged him on this, but the decision has been taken and it will not be reconsidered.

I took the opportunity to discuss the anti-social behaviour near the Harvenna Heights estate, which has been raised by local residents. In addition, I requested him to identify some funding that could be made available to make adjustments to the planting and raised areas in the estate.

18. Litter


I met with some local residents who are actively collecting litter around St Enoder Parish and its surrounding area, who would like to see better support for their efforts, in terms of the unitary authority making it easier for the collection of any recyclable materials that they may collect. I have given a commitment to make enquiries and see what can be done.

19. Meeting with young people

I have been approached to meet with some teenagers to discuss the provision of facilities for their age group in the Fraddon and Indian Queens area. I will be meeting with them later this week.

20. Newsletter

In August and early September, I was out and about delivering my latest “six-monthly” newsletter. I would like to thank everyone who gave me a hand and I estimate that I got around to more than 90% of the Parish. Unfortunately, my other commitments mean that I did not get everywhere and I apologise if I did not get to you.

21. Inquiries

During the last two months, I have helped numerous people with guidance on a range of issues.

Community-led Local Development funding

My article in this coming week’s Cornish Guardian looks at the opportunity of Community-led Local Development funding. It will be as follows:

Brexit continues to dominate the news, as the United Kingdom approaches its “leave” date of 29th March next year. Most recently, this included the various reports that the European Union did not consider Theresa May’s approach to leaving the EU was workable.

But here in Cornwall, some European structural funding is still available and four Local Action Groups (LAGs) have just been launched to promote CLLD (or Community-led Local Development). This involves the allocation of monies from the European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to benefit businesses and community groups.

The official paperwork for CLLD states that it “aims to provide pathways to better economic opportunities for people and businesses … strengthening local availability of employment, skills and training, and developing the ability of local residents to access these.”

I am pleased to have been appointed to the South and East Cornwall LAG, which covers an area that stretches from the China Clay Area to the Tamar.

The investment for this LAG totals over £2,800,000, while the other three Cornish LAGs have similar levels of funding to invest and the UK Government has confirmed it will guarantee the financial basis of this programme.

It does however need to be pointed out that the money has to be targeted principally on those Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs), which fall within the 30% most deprived in terms of the UK’s Index of Multiple Deprivation.

This means that, in the South and East Cornwall CLLD Area, priority will be given to “core” areas such as Clay Country (including Bugle, Foxhole, Penwithick, Roche, St Dennis and Treviscoe); the nearby towns of St Austell and St Blazey; plus Callingon, Liskeard, Looe, Saltash and Torpoint. It has also been confirmed that some of the funding could be spent in the hinterland around these disadvantaged communities, though projects would need to demonstrate that it would benefit people in the core areas.

Each LAG has produced its own Local Development Strategy and in South and East Cornwall, objectives include: “stimulating new and existing local businesses,” “maximising the potential of proposed developments and activities in the Mid Cornwall Economic Corridor,” “developing community led initiatives / community based projects” to build capacity in he local area and “addressing transport barriers that prevent people from accessing work and training opportunities.”

If you have a project that you think might be suitable for CLLD, now is the time to get in touch with the team to find out more. The website (http://communityledcornwall.co.uk) is a good place to start.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Theresa May should end Boundary Review


My article in this week's Cornish Guardian gives an update on the Devonwall proposal.

About eleven months ago, the “Boundary Commission for England” (BCE) published its proposals for new constituency boundaries for the next Westminster Parliament. This included a cross-Tamar parliamentary constituency, which was rightly condemned as an outrage that ignored a thousand years of history. 

The strength of opposition to Devonwall was demonstrated, once again, at last week’s debate on the unitary authority, when elected members voted by 86 to 11 to stand up for Cornwall as a political unit.

It is therefore shameful that the BCE has ignored calls from Cornwall to challenge central government on the flawed basis of the whole process, not least because of the breach of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

And earlier this month, the various Boundary Commissions (for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) presented their final recommendations to parliament. The BCE has sadly not retreated from its Devonwall proposal and continues to blame central government’s approach to the review.

I guess this is not a surprise, as the BCE has been working within the rules set down by Westminster that state seats must have electorates of “between 71,031 and 78,507 – that is, 5% either side of the electoral quota of 74,769.”

But whatever the BCE says, this is intrinsically political as MPs will have a formal and binding vote on whether to accept what has been proposed.

There have been numerous reports that Theresa May and her Government were likely to “pull the plug” on this Review and a number of senior Tories have told journalists that the attempt to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 is doomed to failure.

The recommendations of the BCE will almost certainly not be supported by any opposition MPs and an increasing number of Conservatives are also against the changes.

I am therefore very disappointed that they still seem to want to breathe life back into the process.

Surely now is the time for Theresa May to end this farce of a Boundary Review, to repeal the underlying legislation, and think again about how future reviews might be carried out, while protecting the territorial integrity of Cornwall.

To his credit, Steve Double MP has opposed Devonwall for a considerable period of time and it is to be welcomed that Scott Mann MP has also given a guarantee that he will vote against the changes.

For the sake of Cornwall’s democratic future, all Cornish MPs need to make it clear that they will vote no to a cross-Tamar seat.

The image is from the Tamar Rally from October 2016.  

Friday, 14 September 2018

Corporal Walter Kirk MM


My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian seeks help in finding out more about Walter Kirk MM. It is as follows:

In the research that we have been carrying out to mark the centenary of the First World War in St Enoder Parish, we have uncovered a lot of information about some servicemen but with others there are still many questions to be answered.

In my column this week, I would like to share what we have found out about Corporal Walter Kirk, in the hope that someone will have additional information that would be helpful to our project.

Walter was resident in the Summercourt area when he enlisted in the 10th Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. A Londoner, he was born in 1898 at 25 Lenthorp Road in Greenwich and had a very difficult upbringing. His father, also called Walter, originally came from Exeter while his mother, Mary Ann (nee Phillips), was born in London. They had two other sons and Walter senior worked as a general labourer on the docks, but died in 1900.

His widow remarried in 1902 and with her new husband Thomas Simmons, Mary Ann had four daughters. The family continued to live close to the Thames, but historical records show that Walter and his siblings spent much of their childhoods in institutions. It is known that in 1909 most family members were in the Greenwich Union Workhouse and in the following year Walter’s mother died.

At the time of the 1911 census, Walter himself was in Greenwich and Deptford Children’s Home along with two siblings, one was in a Receiving Home for Children in Shepherds Bush, while others were still in the Greenwich Union Workhouse.

It has not been possible to ascertain how Walter Kirk came to be living in Mid Cornwall and there is also a lack of information about key aspects of his military service.

Walter rose to the rank of Corporal and won a Military Medal which was announced in The London Gazette on 12th March 1918, when his place of residence was recorded as Leyton in London. But there is no further information on his act of bravery.

Walter was not killed in action and records show that Walter died on 9th June 1918, though the cause is not documented.

He is one of 8,348 Commonwealth servicemen buried in the St. Sever Cemetery Extension at Rouen, where there were a number of hospitals which would have treated wounded and ill servicemen.

It would be great if anyone had more information about Walter, or indeed any of the men from Fraddon, Indian Queens, St Columb Road and Summercourt who lost their lives in the First World War.

Monday, 10 September 2018

No to Devonwall


The Boundary Commissions for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have presented their recommendations for new parliamentary constituencies to the Westminster Parliament.

The Boundary Commission for England has ignored calls from Cornwall to challenge central government to revisit the flawed basis of the whole process, not least because of the breach of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

The relevant (very disappointing extracts) are as follows:

Paragraph 748. The County of Cornwall (including the electorate of the Isles of Scilly), has an electorate of 393,874 which results in an entitlement of 5.27 constituencies to that county. This meant that it was not possible to develop a proposal for five constituencies within the county boundary that were all within the permitted electorate range.

Paragraph 755. Most notably, we received significant opposition to our proposal to combine Cornwall in a sub-region with Devon, including one constituency that crossed the River Tamar. Many respondents wanted Cornwall to be treated as a stand-alone sub-region and that it be allocated five constituencies, which, as stated above, would not enable us to comply with the statutory rules within which we are bound to work.

Paragraph 757. In formulating our revised proposals, we considered that compelling evidence had not been received to propose constituencies that crossed the regional boundaries. We acknowledged the passionate views expressed by those opposing our proposals to combine Cornwall and Devon to form a sub-region. However, there is no valid lawful alternative to a cross-county boundary constituency that would comply with the statutory rules. Our revised proposals were, therefore, based on the same sub-regions as those of our initial proposals.

MPs will have a vote on the recommendations in the very near future and we must put pressure on them to vote them down.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Gorsedh Kernow in Newquay


Not unsurprisingly, my column in this week’s Cornish Guardian focuses on Saturday’s Gorsedh Kernow. It will be as follows:

Gorsedh Kernow, which exists to promote and maintain the Celtic Spirit of Cornwall, held its annual bardic ceremony in Newquay on Saturday. With the associated Esedhvos, or Festival of Cornish Culture, it was fantastic to see such a positive celebration of all things Cornish.

It was a great day for me personally, as I was honoured to be one of sixteen new bards, who were welcomed into the College of Bards on the Barrowfields. I was recognised for the campaigning work that I have done to protect the geographical and cultural integrity of Cornwall, and my bardic name is Gwythyas an Tir, meaning Guardian of the Land.

Under the leadership of the Grand Bard Merv Davey (Telynyor an Weryn), Gorsedh Kernow has certainly been an increasingly strong advocate for Cornwall and Merv himself has been an outstanding ambassador for the organisation.

At Newquay, Merv stood down after his three years at the helm and I know he will be able to look back on his leadership with great pride.

The new Grand Bard, Elizabeth Carne (Melennek), has been installed, along with a new Deputy Grand Bard, Pol Hodge (Mab Stenak Vur). I have a great deal of respect for Liz and Pol, and would wish to congratulate them both on their new roles. I am confident they will do a brilliant job.

Gorsedh Kernow also held a one-day Conference titled “Cornwall’s Heritage Assets – Time for Change?” on the day before the bardic ceremony.

In promoting the event, Merv Davey made the case how “Cornwall’s distinctive culture is a major asset that impacts upon the health and economic well being of our community,” and argued that “now is the time for Cornwall to take control of her own cultural destiny and to capitalise on the opportunities this offers.”

I was privileged to be one of the guest speakers at the Conference and to make the case for greater local control over state-owned heritage assets, as well as meaningful devolution, which would allow policy on matters relating to the historic environment of Cornwall (such as statutory protections) to be taken in Cornwall.

My key and final point was that Cornwall should be treated with the same respect as the other Celtic nations of Wales and Scoland.

Wales has its own historic environment body known as Cadw, linked to the Welsh Government. Likewise, Historic Environment Scotland reports to the Scottish Government.

It is my view that we should not accept anything less for the nation of Cornwall, and that means a Historic Cornwall organisation, responsible to elected politicians in Cornwall – preferably through a National Assembly.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

And the Yarg is ... Cornish


My article in today's Cornish Guardian covers the recent decision by Waitrose to sort out the branding on their Cornish cheeses. It is as follows:

As a proud Cornishman, and someone who worked in agriculture during my teenage years, I believe it is important that produce from Cornwall is proudly labelled as Cornish.

Not only is this important for the confidence of our small nation, it could represent a significant boost to the local economy. It is right that this is increasingly being recognised by food producers, business people, economists and politicians.

The unitary authority’s “economy and culture strategy” for the period 2013-2020 rightly declares that Cornwall is “valued for its unique environment and culture together with its strong sense of community and identity.” It adds that we have a “world class brand” that needs to be enhanced and promoted.

I fully agree with such sentiments, and it saddens me how much Cornish produce – particularly on sale in large supermarkets – has had its providence hidden and is branded as “West Country” or British or even English.

It is true that this is not just a Cornish problem and there was outrage at this year’s Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd, when the traditional Welsh branding in the food hall was replaced with British branding.

A prominent member of the Welsh Assembly, Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth, was quick to condemn the shift in emphasis.

In a statement that could equally be applied to Cornwall, he said: “Welsh branding is important. It adds value, shows where the food comes from, shows quality, pride and economic strength, and highlights that this food is specifically from Wales. This is the very best of Welsh food … and should be celebrated as such.”

I have chosen to focus on this issue so that I can congratulate those campaigners who have been lobbying Waitrose to use start using Cornish branding on its Yarg.

The supermarket has been using packaging for the two lines of Cornish cheese with a cross of St George. One campaigning news network told Waitrose: “The Cornish flag is a national flag. It already is recognised by customers, and you would have the approval of the Cornish people in using it to promote Cornish products.”

It is therefore good news that Waitrose has bowed to pressure from a range of representations and a social media campaign to give a commitment to change the English flag to a banner of St Piran within one month.

This is another small but very welcome victory that should encourage us to continue to put pressure on processors, retailers and supermarkets to do more to always celebrate Cornish produce in its labelling.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Please respond to consultation into police merger


My article is this coming week’s Cornish Guardian focuses on the so-called consultation into the proposed merger of “Devon and Cornwall” and Dorset police forces. It will be as follows:

The online consultation into the proposal to merge the “Devon & Cornwall” and Dorset police forces comes to an end on 27th August.

My opposition to the merger and the centralisation of public services into larger “south west” bodies is well known. It is my strong view that the Police in Cornwall need decent levels of funding, not a merger.

I have also been very disappointed at the biased nature of the consultation. The local Police and Crime Commissioner has claimed that she “is on the fence” about the proposed merger and yet she has been actively promoting material setting out “seven reasons to merge.” This has been widely shared on social media and elsewhere, and she also produced a video which really did lack balance.

There have also been numerous claims about the financial benefits of the merger but, at the same time, we have been repeatedly told that the business case had yet to be completed.

I think it is ridiculous and wrong that the consultation has been carried out in advance of the business case – which will nonetheless be ready for submission as part of the bid to central government, which is timetabled for mid October.

It has certainly made it all farcical at times. When the issue was discussed at a meeting of Cornwall Council on 10th July, I was among a range of councillors who challenged the merger. But many elected members were unhappy about the lack of information, while others – for political reasons – used the uncertainty to limit criticism of the Police Commissioner.

As a consequence, the Council voted to request further information along with an extension to the consultation which, to my knowledge, has not been forthcoming. It means that the consultation will be completed before the next meeting of Cornwall Council.

It was a similar scenario at the recent meeting of the advisory Police and Crime Panel, made up of councillors from across the force area, many of whom were unhappy with the lack of information. One even said: “It was a nice presentation with nice words, but are we wasting our time today, as we can’t scrutinise anything?”

It is my understanding is that they agreed to re-arrange the date of their next meeting at the request of the Police Commissioner, so they could get sight of the business case – a privilege not being extended to others.

Put politely, it is a less than satisfactory situation, but I would still encourage everyone to make their views known over the next few days. The online survey can be found at: https://www.futurepolicing.co.uk/

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Regional inequality and the UK Government’s approach to Brexit


My article in tomorrow’s Cornish Guardian looks at issues around regional inequality and the UK Government’s approach to Brexit. It will be as follows:

The UK Government has issued a statement confirming it will honour the current programme of structural funding for the next two years. The official Treasury press release states that “businesses, universities and local organisations” will have the assurance “that any funding they secure through EU programmes, from now until the end of 2020, will be guaranteed – even in a no-deal scenario.”

Such a commitment is to be welcomed, but Theresa May and her Government need to go much further to develop a meaningful regional investment programme.

This is especially important for areas such as Cornwall and West Wales & the Valleys, which have been receiving the highest levels of funding of EU funding to combat low levels of economic performance, to create jobs and help people into work and training.

It has been announced that there will be a post-Brexit “UK Shared Prosperity Fund,” but ministers have had little to say about how it might work and whether the needs of poorer areas like Cornwall will be prioritised.

In Wales, Plaid Cymru has actively been challenging Conservative politicians to live up to the promises of “Vote Leave” on regional funding.

The Prime Minister was at an important agricultural show in Wales last week when MP Jonathan Edwards pointed out that "in the run-up to the EU referendum we were promised that rural Wales would not be a penny worse off after Brexit." He and various media outlets sought assurance to that effect, but it was not forthcoming. Not unsurprisingly, there has been quite a backlash.

Jonathan Edwards has rightly pointed out that “instead of getting our fair share of the cake, we may end up with no more than crumbs” from the Westminster table.”

Even senior journalists hit out at the noises coming from Westminster, with one adding that the “British state has never been good at distributing resources fairly around the nations and regions of the UK … infrastructure investment has gone disproportionately to London.”

While the political debates in Cornwall and Wales and elsewhere have been ongoing, another report has been published about the stark regional inequalities across the United Kingdom. This latest report has come from Sheffield Hallam University and its starkness had been well summarized by a prominent columnist

“All countries have their regional differences. States in the American Deep South are poorer than those in New England. But Britain is in a class of its own. The gap between the richest and poorest parts is wider than in any EU country. Incomes per head in inner London are five times as high as in the Welsh valleys or Cornwall.”

My latest monthly report to St Enoder Parish Council

I presented my most recent monthly report to last week’s meeting of St Enoder Parish Council. It covered the period of 25th June to 24th July 2018 and was as follows:

Listed below are some examples of the work that I have been undertaking over the last month and associated news updates.

1. Council meetings and related activities

During the last month I have attended a range of formal meetings. These included: Full Council (and associated briefing), Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee and an associated workshop on housing policy to be contained within a new Supplementary Planning Document), Electoral Review Panel (plus an associated preparatory meeting and a pubic meeting on the boundary review in Truro), the National Minority status working group, the first of new set of monthly meetings to review Council’s approach to parking policy, a meeting of the Council’s group leaders and a briefing on the proposed merger of the “Devon and Cornwall” Police Force with that of Dorset.

I also attended a meeting of the Leadership Board (which brings together representatives of the unitary authority and the wider public sector), and the Liaison Group for the incinerator at St Dennis.

In the same period, as well as a number of informal meetings with council officers and others, I attended one meeting of St Enoder Parish Council and chaired the latest meeting of the St Enoder Parish Neighbourhood Plan Working Group.


















2. Other meetings and activities

I attended a meeting of Indian Queens Pit Association and I was pleased to be able to help out at the annual Johnny Cowling event at the Pit which was a great success and attended by about 350 people.

3. Crantock Bakery


The most substantial issue in St Enoder Parish this month was the shock news that Crantock Bakery went into administration on July 9th with the immediate loss of 109 jobs. Ten individuals remain in post to “administer the sale of the business and liquidate all its assets.”

The closure is a terrible blow to the local area and the impact should not be under-estimated.

The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and the Cornish Pasty Association have come together to offer support to local people affected by the job losses. In particular, I understand that the Cornish Pasty Association has been compiling a list of vacancies with other companies in the sector.

At the Full Council meeting on 10th July and the Economic Growth and Development OSC meeting on 17th July, I asked the leadership of the authority about what support they and their partners could give to Crantock Bakery and affected individuals. A briefing was produced about the support that might be available to those seeking work, which I have forwarded to the Clerk for the Parish Council website.

At the Leadership Board on 13th July, the representative of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce informed the meeting that they had been contacted by a potential inward investor. This individual had been placed in contact with the Cornwall Development Company and the administrator for Crantock Bakery. It was suggested that this individual might even be able to save the concern as they were interested in taking on the factory.

When I receive further updates, I will let parish councillors and others know.

4. Police merger

At the Cornwall Council meeting on 10th July, I was among a range of councillors who spoke against the merger of the “Devon and Cornwall” Police Force with that of Dorset.

I pointed out that I did not support the centralisation of public services into larger “south west” bodies and added that history has shown us that Cornwall and its communities lose out from such centralisations.

This proposal has only come about because of massive funding cuts from central government, which has caused the loss of hundreds of police officers, PCSOs and civilian support staff, as well as other changes including the closure of public desks at local police stations. To be blunt, I find it insulting that the dreadful impacts of the cuts are being used to put pressure on people to acquiesce to the merger.

There is a somewhat biased consultation doing the rounds, but please take the time to tell the Chief Constable and Police Commissioner what you think. I would encourage everyone to make their views known. The survey can be found at: https://www.futurepolicing.co.uk/

5. Housing

As noted above, I attended a workshop on housing policy to inform the content of a new Supplementary Planning Document which should be consulted upon in the near future. I was heavily involved in the preparation of the previous SPD as Chairman of the Planning Policy Panel, and I am pleased that officers are keen for me to be similarly involved this time.

At the Economic Growth and Development OSC meeting, it was agreed to set up a review into a range of issues relating to private housing. Five councillors have been selected, including me, and the review will commence later this year.

6. Parking policy

As one of the members involved with the “Positive Parking Review,” I have been informed that council officers and the Cabinet member for Transport are keen to meet with us, on a monthly basis, to review progress against points raised in the review. The first of these monthly meetings was held on 20th July.

Cornwall Council is now committed to a more equitable spread of parking enforcement which includes visits to areas such as the China Clay Area. At the present time, investment is planned for greater mechanisation in certain key car parks in local towns, which will free up enforcement officers to do more work away from the towns and to do more to address safety and congestion issues. At the meeting, I argued that double yellow lines needed to be properly refreshed across rural areas, if the Council was serious about enforcement.

7. Planning

In recent weeks, council officers have kept me informed about a number of planning applications. I have two updates of note.

In terms of the application to lift the condition to install bio-filters on the pig farm at Higher Fraddon, the unitary authority has been monitoring complaints about odour in the locality. Officers will soon be assessing the evidence to see whether the smells relate to the pig farm or the biogas plant.

Following the objection of the Parish Council to the proposal to allow the dayroom on the traveller site near Highgate Hill, Indian Queens, to be turned into a dwelling, it will be referred to the Central Planning Committee for decision.

8. Transport

Following on from discussions at the last Parish Council meeting about the Community Network Highways Scheme through which £50,000 a year will be allocated to Community Network Panels for highways improvements, I have informed the relevant officers of the Parish Council’s priorities.

For the sake of clarity, these were (i) traffic calming measures and a 20 mph speed limit adjacent to Summercourt School and (ii) vehicle activated cameras at key locations on various entry points into local villages.

9. St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan

One of my key priorities in recent weeks has been the Neighbourhood Plan. I have spent a considerable amount of time preparing the working draft of the document, which was presented to the working group on 12th July. I was grateful for the feedback from the meeting and I will be updating the document over the next few days for another meeting in the very near future.

I have also been liaising with a number of the planning policy officers at Cornwall Council in terms of the content of the Plan, the wording of the policies, etc.

10. Complaints at Goonabarn


Parish councillors will be aware that there have been a lot of complaints about clay pigeon shooting in the Goonabarn area and that officers from Cornwall Council (both planning and environmental health) have been trying to take enforcement action.

A case was presented to the court in Bodmin on 12th July, though the landowner was not present at the hearing. A further date is presently being sorted out.

Since the date of the hearing, I have been liaising with the various parties to help sort out a face-to-face meeting between council officers and the landowner. I understand this is likely to happen soon and, in the meantime, the landowner has stated that there will be no more organised shoots on his land until he has met with the Council representatives.

11. Anti-social behaviour

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of anti-social behaviour recently, particularly near the Harvenna Heights estate. I have received a number of complaints and I have been in regular contact with the local policing team about the work they have been doing with Ocean Housing.

12. Grass cutting


The Parish Clerk and I have made a number of representations to Cornwall Council about the need for grass cutting on open spaces, and along hedges and verges.

13. Electoral Review Panel

I can confirm that the Electoral Review Panel at their last meeting gave their support for the new electoral division (from 2021 onwards) which would comprise the parishes of St Enoder and St Dennis.

14. World War 1 project

Further progress is being made as we get closer and closer to the centenary of the Armistice. Posters have been produced for local notice-boards, village halls, etc; and the faded roll of honour from the Indian Queens Methodist Church is with an art specialist who has been tasked to produce a replica, However, I will update more fully on the project at Tuesday’s meeting.



15. Charity cricket

Away from the meetings and related council activities, I was pleased to be able to take part in the annual councillors versus officers charity cricket game, which was played in a wonderful spirit.

16. Inquiries

During the last month, I have helped numerous people with guidance on a range of issues.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Celebrating 70 years of the NHS

My article in today’s Cornish Guardian is about the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service. It was as follows;

On 5th July 1948, the Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan launched the National Health Service at Manchester’s Park Hospital.

It is well reported that Bevan symbolically met the NHS’s “first patient,” a 13-year-old girl called Sylvia Diggory. She later recalled: “Mr Bevan asked me if I understood the significance of the occasion and told me that it was a milestone in history – the most civilised step any country had ever taken.”

The fundamental principles behind the new health service were clear. The NHS would be “available to all” and “financed entirely from taxation,” meaning that “people pay into it according to their means.” And in his seminal 1952 publication, In Place of Fear, Bevan himself wrote, that: “No society can legitimately call itself civilized if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.”

It is frankly not possible to overstate the significance of the NHS and how, over the last seventy years, universal healthcare has transformed the lives of millions and millions of people.

Writing a few years ago, the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown summed up how “Bevan’s vision has stood both the test of time and the test of change unimaginable in his day … surviving, growing and adapting to technological and demographic change” while still being at the “centre of the life of our nation as a uniquely British creation, and a uniquely powerful engine of social justice.”

Seven decades on, it is so important that we celebrate the NHS, described by many people as the United Kingdom’s greatest achievement.

But looking forward, there is a desperate need to build a strong political consensus about how the National Health Service can continue to serve the people of the United Kingdom into the future.

Over the last few years, the NHS has been a permanent fixture in the news. It has not all been good news with concerns about the lack of hospital beds in numerous areas, inappropriate pressure on junior doctors, the pressing need to better link health care with social care and, not least, the ongoing NHS funding crisis.

Political arguments abound and it has been widely welcomed that the Prime Minister has pledged to increase annual funding for the NHS to £135bn by 2023-24, a £20 billion increase on the present year’s budget. But even the head of the Government’s own National Audit Office has stated that much more money is needed.

It seems to me that all political parties need to come together to develop a truly progressive taxation system, that raises sufficient resource to provide vital public services, with big business and the well-off paying their fair share.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

South Africa National Memorial, Polygon Wood and Palingbeek Park


My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian is about some of the thoughtful ways in which the First World War is being commemorated in 2018. The article is as below:

There are so many impressive memorials and initiatives, and I would like to focus my comments on three: the South Africa National Memorial in France, Polygon Wood and an art installation at Palingbeek Park (see above), both in Belgium.

The South Africa National Memorial is located near Langueval on the Somme, within Delville Wood where hundreds of their countryman were killed in a terrible battle in July 1916. There are now walls of remembrance (unveiled in July 2016) on the approach to the Memorial and the associated museum. These contain the names of every single fallen serviceman from South Africa listed in alphabetical order – irregardless of race, colour or creed. The director of the site has rightly described this as an “important symbol of a reconciled nation.”

One of the names is that of Harry Osborn, from Summercourt, who served with the South Africa Signals and died in German East Africa (now Tanzania).

In Polygon Wood near Ypres, a Wood of Peace has been planted, which was designed to be a “place that calls to mind the terrible events of the First World War.” It comprises a total of 523 trees – which each reflect a named soldier buried in two nearby cemeteries. At the heart of the Wood, there is also a Peace Monument surrounded by a representation of barbed wire made from 1918 metres of steel banding, which is in memory of the unidentified servicemen who also rest in Polygon Wood cemeteries.

It is symbolic that the Wood is positioned in what was no man’s land during the conflict, as is the land art installation near Zillebeke at Palingbeek Park – the scene of another dreadful battle.

A total of 600,000 sculptures have been produced and placed together in the artwork at Palingbeek. It is huge, but it is also a very personal commemoration, with each sculpture representing one of the 600,000 people of all nationalities, both military and civilian, men, women and children, who lost their lives in Belgium between 1914 and 1918.

In terms of my home area of Fraddon, Indian Queens, St Columb Road and Summercourt, twelve men are remembered there: William James Bailey, Richard Henry Brewer, Christopher Bullock, William Ephraim Dunstan, Fred Langdon, Samuel May, Gerald Clair Menear, Henry Francis Osborne, Thomas James Rabey, Fred Ridgment, Samp Rundle and Albert Samuel Williams.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Remembering the fallen of 1914-1918


My article in today’s Cornish Guardian focuses on my recent visit (holiday) to Belgium and France. It is as follows:

Regular readers of this column will be aware that I am involved with a project to remember the men of Fraddon, Indian Queens, St Columb Road and Summercourt, who lost their lives in the First World War.

My wife and I have just returned from a week’s break in France and Belgium, where we visited a number of memorials and cemeteries, and took many photographs which might appear in the book that is planned.

The cemeteries and memorials certainly have great poignancy and together represent the sheer magnitude of the heartbreak experienced by loved ones, families and communities between 1914 and 1918.

There are a significant number of memorials to Commonwealth servicemen who have no known grave. Among the largest are the Thiepval Monument which records the names of over 72,000 men who died in the Somme sector; the Menin Gate in Ypres and the nearby Tyne Cot Memorial which, respectively, detail the names of around 54,000 and 35,000 men from the allied forces who died on the Ypres Salient.

This year, we also visited the French National War Cemetery at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, and the Duetscher Soldatenfriedhof (German Soldier's Cemetery) in Langemark. The French cemetery contains about 20,000 individual graves but the remains of a further 22,000 unknown soldiers lie in eight ossuaries, while the German cemetery contains around 44,000 men, of which 25,000 lie in a mass grave.

But as well as the large memorials which often feature as the focal point for commemorations, there are hundreds and hundreds of First World War cemeteries. These lie within what was, one hundred years ago, horribly scarred landscapes that had been witness to untold human suffering,

One cemetery we visited was at Grand Ravine near Havrincourt (above). It contains 139 servicemen including Charles Force (West Riding Regiment), my great-great-uncle from St Mawgan, who was killed on 29th September 1918. It is now a remarkably peaceful place, with the burial ground surrounded on all four sides by ripening corn. There were even poppies growing naturally on the approach to the site.

But this cemetery – along with all the others – nonetheless stands as a stark reminder of the futility of the First World War. And when I think about the conflict which battered the globe between 1914 and 1918, I often find myself drawn back to what King George V said on a visit to Tyne Cot, where there is also a cemetery with over 10,000 graves. He famously asked “whether there can be more potent advocates of peace upon Earth … than this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of war.”

In my column in next week's newspaper, it is my intention to look at some of the thoughtful ways in which the First World War is being remembered in 2018.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Remembering Robert F. Kennedy

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian remembers Robert F. Kennedy. It is as follows:

Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated fifty years ago today, once said that “the purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.” Such a simple, but also profound, statement tells us a lot about the character of a man, who we should remember today with great respect.

Robert was one of the younger brothers of John F. Kennedy, who was US President from 1961 until he was murdered in 1963. As a lawyer, Robert was active in governmental circles throughout the 1950s and served as US Attorney General during his brother’s term of office, before he was himself elected to serve on the US Senate for the state of New York.

As he grew into his public roles, he became a powerful advocate for civil rights in the United States of America, as well as human rights around the globe. And in the 1960s, he also became a champion for America’s poor, many of whom were struggling to make ends meet, both in rural areas and the cities.

Five decades on from his death, it is right that we recall his attempts to make the World a better place as well as some of his eloquence that defined the manner in which he lived his life.

Indeed, it is perhaps best, at this time, that we let his words speak for themselves.

Early in his career, in 1954, he addressed a number of South African students and famously said: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Robert Kennedy’s also had a genuine ability to reach out and inspire people to get involved with public affairs or their community.

On one occasion, he said: “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

And on another: “All great questions must be raised by great voices, and the greatest voice is the voice of the people – speaking out – in prose, or painting or poetry or music; speaking out – in homes and halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes – let that voice speak and the stillness you hear will be the gratitude of mankind.”

It is right that we continue to promote such powerful sentiments and see how we can each be a force for good.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Next MK meeting in St Austell & Newquay Constituency


The next meeting for Mebyon Kernow members in the St Austell & Newquay Constituency has been arranged to take place this Friday (8th June).

The meeting will take place at ClayTAWC in St Dennis and start at 7.30.

Party members will be planning our approach to numerous campaigns and activities in our local area – and all are welcome.

Anyone from the St Austell & Newquay Constituency, who would be interested in attending the meeting and / or finding out more about MK and its local campaigns, can call me on 07791 876607 or email dickcole@btinternet.com.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Great editorial in Cornish Guardian

Today's Cornish Guardian also had a positive editorial in favour of a Cornish tickbox. It was as follows:

It may not be debated with the same fervour as Brexit or the same passion as changes to the NHS, but the campaign to to have Cornish identity recognised with a 'tick box' on the next census is an important one.

Cornwall has long been considered a Celtic nation, yet it continues to be treated as a second-class citizen compared to its cousins in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. 

All six MPs representing Cornwall in Westminster have campaigned for a Cornish tick box at the 2021 census and it now may be one step closer.

Steve Double, Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay has secured an adjournment debate in Parliament on June 11 where the case for full recognition of Cornish national identity in the next national headcount will be argued.

While there are no guarantees that the Office of National Statistics will adhere to the words of our Cornish MPs, there is no denying that the current census options do not recognise Cornwall's unique identity and the overwhelming demand from Cornishmen and Cornishwomen to be recognised as a nation of people in their own right.

Pleased to welcome support of MPs for Cornish tickbox


In today's Cornish Guardian, my article praises Cornish MPs for their support for a Cornish tickbox on the 2021 census, and looks forward at what the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities should mean for Cornwall. The article is as follows:

Cornish 'tick box' is the least we can expect from census

It is more than four years since the Cornish were recognised as a national minority by the UK Government through the Council of Europe. It was a truly landmark decision. But central government has, thus far, failed to treat the Cornish in the same manner as other national minorities, such as the Scots and the Welsh, which it promised in 2014.

An Advisory Committee from the Council of Europe visited the United Kingdom in March 2016 and, last year, published an Opinion which was very critical of how the UK Government and other public bodies were complying with the articles of the relevant Framework Convention with regard to the Cornish,

I am optimistic that this situation will improve in the coming months, and it is to be welcomed that Cornish MP Steve Double has been appointed to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Mr Double himself has issued a serious and forthright statement about bringing his “Cornish credentials” to the organisation, adding that “it was the Council of Europe that granted ethnic minority status to Cornish people,” something he was “keen to ensure we make the most of.”

Cornwall’s MPs have thrown their weight behind the campaign to secure a Cornish tickbox on the next census, and they have secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons to consider issues relating to Cornish identity and the 2021 census.

This is all very heartening, and I sincerely hope that the actions of local MPs also reflect a sea-change in the thinking of central government as a whole.

For the sake of Cornwall, we need to win those immediate and symbolic battles to (i) secure the tickbox to give us census parity with the other nationalities of the UK, and (ii) to protect Cornwall’s territorial integrity by preventing the creation of a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” parliamentary constituency.

But that can only be the beginning. There is so much to be done to ensure that the Framework Convention is acted upon and Cornwall gains from the national minority status of its people. As far as I am concerned this needs to include:

- Meaningful devolution to a Cornish Assembly, and the acceptance of Cornwall as a distinct national community for all forms of governance, administration and service provision.
- A formal presence for Cornwall at the British and Irish Council, where the other Celtic parts of the British Isles are already represented, along with the governments of Guernsey and Jersey.
- A Cornish Language Act, the return of the funding for our national language, and the enhanced teaching of Cornish.
- A distinct Cornish offering from the BBC, and other media outlets.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

My latest report to St Enoder Parish Council

Last night, I presented my most recent report to St Enoder Parish Council. It covered the time period: 26th March – 20th May 2018


Listed below are some examples of the work that I have been doing. Please note that this report is not exhaustive.

1. Council meetings

Over the last two months, I have attended a range of formal meetings, briefings and training sessions. These have included: Full Council, a pre-agenda session for Full Council, Cabinet (2), Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee, National Minority Working Group, a workshop on the content of a Housing DPD (development plan document), meetings with local members from the China Clay Area (2), Group leaders’ meetings (2), one-on-one meeting with the Chief Executive, a training session on planning, and briefings on corporate parenting, the so-called garden village consented near Penwithick, parking, Project Genesis (developing neighbourhood policing for the future) and the stadium for Cornwall.

In the same period, as well as a number of informal meetings with council officers and others, I attended the St Enoder Parish Annual Assembly at which I tabled my annual report. I was also present at five meetings of St Enoder Parish Council and chaired the most recent meeting of the working group tasked with preparing the Neighbourhood Plan.

There was a further meeting between the operators of the pig farm at Higher Fraddon, and council (planning and environmental health) from the council, to discuss issues of odour.

2. Other meetings and activities

I have attended meetings of ClayTAWC (Training and Work Centre for the China Clay Area) (Chairman) and Indian Queens Pit (trustee), plus two meetings of the South and East Cornwall Local Action Group (one of which was the AGM) and the AGM of the St Piran Trust (trustee).

In addition, I went to the most recent meeting of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Leadership Board (as an observer). The Board considered the “New Frontiers” document, which I wrote about in a previous monthly report.

3. Highway matters

3a. Ongoing highway issues and present work programme

As noted in my last monthly report (March), the recent bad weather has caused a number of highway problems and I have been in regular contact with staff at Cormac. I have reported a host of potholes, many of which have been patched, and raised concerns about a number of areas where the road fabric is deteriorating (eg. The Drang, Carworgie Way, Pocohontas Crescent and Toldish in Indian Queens).

I can confirm that the following areas are in the resurfacing programme for 2018/2019:

- A392 from Newquay Road turning towards White Cross.
- Carnego Lane, Summercourt.
- Road from Melbur Blockworks towards Scarcewater.
- Trefullock Moor.
- Road from A3058 towards Trendeal, as far as the turning towards Goonabarn.
- Trevarren.
- Watery Lane from Black Cross.

In addition, I can confirm that both Carworgie Way and Pocohontas Crescent are already included within the 2019/2020 resurfacing programme, but I will be continuing to lobby for these improvements to be undertaken as soon as it is practicable.

Members will be aware that I have also reported a number of problem areas to the unitary authority, which are still being assessed for inclusion within the main works programme.

Three specific updates are as follows:

- Water rising through the pavement alongside Chapel Road, to the east of Queens Garage. I have been told that the scheme is on the “long list” for consideration, but it is deemed a low priority. It has been reported to me that “the site has been visited by the design group and the asset team individually on several occasions during heavy rain whilst in the area and problems were not witnessed.” This is contrary to my previous experience and, in future, I will be monitoring episodes of rising water in this location.

- Main road through Fraddon. Following a number of flooding incidents in Fraddon in 2013-2015, it was acknowledged that the unitary authority did not fully understand the state of the road drains. Principally this is because the main pipe lies in the centre of the road and there are no manholes which allow direct access into it. In March, Cormac undertook an investigation with trial holes. I have been informed that “the survey work identified a damaged section of pipe in the middle of the road. This has now been repaired, and no other defects have been identified.”

- Flooding at entrance to Gaverigan Manor and nearby road. This is an ongoing problem linked to a road ditch, that I have been raising concerns about for some two years. I am pleased to be able to report that it has just been confirmed that mitigation works will be progressed this year.

I am continuing to follow up a number of localised issues. These include flooding problems at Trefullock, and the need for white lines around Summercourt crossroads.

I can also report that a local resident from St Columb Road, who uses a motorised wheelchair, fell into the road because of the slope linked to dropped kerbs on the pavement on which he was travelling. Cormac’s local Highway and Environment Manager is investigating this issue.

The Highway and Environment Manager has also, following a request from me, removed a redundant sign opposite the doctors’ surgery in St Columb Road, and we are making representations that Fraddon, Indian Queens and St Columb Road are given greater priority in terms of future winter gritting routes.

3b. Community Network Highways Scheme

The unitary authority recently agreed that, for each of the next four years, £50,000 will be allocated to Community Network Panels for highways improvements in their areas. This has been welcomed by Cornwall Councillors, though it is a relatively small amount of money. In the China Clay Area, it will have to be spread across six individual divisions.

How we approach the scheme locally will be discussed at the next Network Panel meeting on Monday 4th June, though it has already been stated that Cornwall Councillors and Parish Councils will need to put forward suggestions in the very near future.

It is my hope that we can have a discussion about how we collectively approach this funding at Tuesday’s Parish Council meeting.

All my previous requests to the unitary authority are still listed with the relevant officers and could form the basis of our discussions. These may be summarised as follows:

- Speed reduction measures / traffic calming at Fraddon, Indian Queens and St Columb Road, which could include traffic calming measures at entry points, possible priority build-outs through the villages, as well as permanent VAS signs.

- Speed reduction measures / traffic calming in Summercourt, which could include traffic calming measures at entry points, possible priority build-outs, as well as permanent VAS signs.

- Traffic management measures to resolve congestion, accessibility, delivery and safety issues relating to the Co-op store in St Columb Road.

- Improved pedestrian phase to existing signalised junction at Summercourt crossroads, to improve safety and accessibility.

- Access improvements at Indian Queens Primary School, which were agreed when the planning permission was granted for additional classrooms. These measures include pedestrian crossing improvements and footpath links/improvements (eg. across field to Harvenna Heights). It needs to be stated that I am continuing to push for these works to undertaken outside of the scope of this Community Network Highways Scheme.

- 20 mph speed limit and related highway improvements outside Summercourt School.

- Traffic calming at New Road near Fraddon and at Sea View Terrace on the road to St Stephen.

In addition to the above, I can report that Cornwall Council has submitted a bid to central government to make improvements along the A3058 to the north of Summercourt. It has been with the Department of Transport for a number of months, but no response has been received.

3c. Speeding traffic

I have been liaising with Cormac about undertaking some additional monitoring of traffic speeds in a number of locations, and I will make my formal requests once the Parish Council has considered its approach to the Community Network Highways Scheme.

3d. Parking matters and parking enforcement

In recent months, I have served on the “positive parking” Inquiry Panel. Obviously much of the focus has been on car parks in Cornwall’s towns but enforcement matters have also been considered.

The Inquiry has agreed a recommendation to Cabinet that there be a more equitable distribution in terms of civic enforcement and I am due to attend a further meeting to make further representations to the relevant Cabinet Member on this point.

4. Changes to bus services through Summercourt

First has announced that it will be reducing the frequency of buses between Summercourt and Truro. It is two years since we were able to get buses back onto this route (following the collapse of Western Greyhound) and I am very disappointed that this is happening.

The Managing Director of First SW has responded to my queries and stated that the decision to reduce the number of buses is because are not enough passengers. In one email to me, he stated that following;

“Over a 37 week period from last summer through to February this year, the average number of passengers either boarding a 90 bus at Summercourt bound for Truro, or arriving back in Summercourt from the Truro direction, was 0.19 per journey – so less than 1 passenger boarding or alighting for every 5 journeys we routed through Summercourt on the 90 service to/from Truro.”

The full timetable for Summercourt-Truro services from Tuesday 29th May (including both First and Travel Cornwall), is as follows;

SUMMERCOURT – TRURO BUSES
Monday to Saturday (except Public Holidays)

Departures from Summercourt (London Inn)
0700hrs Travel Cornwall service 497
0717hrs First Kernow service 92 (MF)
0810hrs Travel Cornwall service 497 (NSD)
0810hrs Travel Cornwall service 497 (S)
0930hrs First Kernow service 95
0935hrs Travel Cornwall service 497
1050hrs Travel Cornwall service 497 (S)
1130hrs First Kernow service 95
1235hrs Travel Cornwall service 497
1315hrs First Kernow service 95
1435hrs Travel Cornwall service 497 (NSD)
1435hrs Travel Cornwall service 497 (S)
1535hrs First Kernow service 95

Departures from Truro
1010hrs Bus Station First Kernow service 95
1147hrs Boscawen Street Travel Cornwall service 497
1210hrs Bus Station First Kernow service 95
1255hrs Lemon Quay Travel Cornwall service 497 (S)
1347hrs Boscawen Street Travel Cornwall service 497
1355hrs Bus Station First Kernow service 95
1615hrs Bus Station First Kernow service 95
1715hrs Bus Station First Kernow service 92
1730hrs Boscawen Street Travel Cornwall service 484
1804hrs Lemon Quay Travel Cornwall service 497

Key
MF: Monday to Friday only
NSD: Monday to Friday during Cornwall School Holidays only
S: Saturday only

In speaking to the Managing Director of First, I have informed him that I will continue to seek information about how well the bus services are being used, so that I can lobby for as good a service as we can get.

5. Tidy-up of the Kelliers

I was also pleased to take part in the two “tidy-up” sessions for the top part of the Kelliers on 22nd April and 20th May. The amount of rubbish on the site was very significant and I would like to thank all parish councillors and volunteers who helped out.

On 22nd April, we filled a large skip but also collected approximately 140 tyres, some gas bottles and a fridge, which were collected by Cornwall Council.

It should be noted that dealing with the fly-tipping was the Parish Council’s responsibility, as it was on Parish Council land. However, as the vast majority of the waste had been dumped prior to the Parish Council securing ownership of the site, the unitary authority agreed to dispose of the tyres and gas bottles.
























On 20th May, we filled a further skip and found another twenty tyres, two gas bottles and a cooker.

6. Vote on stadium

On 17th April, councillors voted by 69 votes to 41 to agree funding of £3 million towards the stadium for Cornwall. There were seven abstentions. I was pleased to support the investment and, for me, the starting point for the debate was a simple one. It is my view that it is shameful Cornwall does not have the same sporting facilities and venues that other parts of the United Kingdom take for granted.

In addition, I could see that the £3 million from Cornwall Council would lead to spend in the local economy of £8 million from local partners and a further £3 million from the UK Government.

The funds will come from the Economic Development Match Funding pot, which must be used to boost the local economy. I must admit that I was therefore frustrated that a number of councillors argued that “public” money should not be spent on “private” projects. As elected members, they were fully aware that a great deal of “public” money – especially from EU structural funds – is granted to local businesses, large and small, to create jobs and boost productivity.

I also felt that many opponents of the proposal downplayed the importance of the role of Truro and Penwith College, which is already a significant local centre for elite sport. A stadium on their doorstep will represent a fantastic advance for educational opportunities and for local youngsters with aspirations to do well in sport.

7. PCSOs

For than 15 months, I have been making representations about the planned reduction in Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and how this will impact on our area. I attended another meeting about “Project Genesis” at County Hall last week, when I made further comment about Clay Country and our need for PCSO coverage in our area.

I continue to be frustrated that we have yet to receive any commitments about future policing levels.

8. St Austell Story

The St Austell Bay Economic Forum (SABEF) has produced a narrative to promote economic regeneration in Mid Cornwall. SABEF is meant to cover not just the town but also the coast to the south as well as the whole of the China Clay Area.

As the name suggests, the main focus is on St Austell and reference to Clay Country is quite limited. My priority has been to speak up for the parishes of the China Clay Area, and I will be continuing to do this in the coming weeks and months, hopefully securing a stronger focus on the areas to the north and west of the town.

9. World War 1 project

The project is progressing well and a community engagement session as held on 21st April at Indian Queens Victory Hall. A number of people have supplied photographs of fallen servicemen in recent weeks. The two most recent ones were of William Nail, who was active within the congregation of Black Cross Methodist Chapel, and Albert Samuel Williams, who lived at Primrose Cottage at Toldish and whose father was a local councillor after the war.



10. Inquiries

During the last month, I have helped numerous people with guidance on a range of issues.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

In support of PCSOs

It is some fifteen months since I first wrote about the Police and Crime Plan (2017-2020) for the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, and raised significant concerns about the proposal to phase out more than half of the Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

At the time, we were informed that the number of PCSOs would be cut from 360 to just 150 across the whole of the force area (Cornwall and Devon).

It is well known that I am a strong supporter of PCSOs and really appreciate the fantastic work they do in our local communities. As I have written many times before, I consider that the officers have been very effective in their roles, understand local communities, and have strong working relationships with Parish Councils and other bodies.

Along with many other councillors, particularly my colleagues in the China Clay Area, I have repeatedly lobbied the Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, on this matter. And I was pleased when, at a Cornwall Council briefing (September 2017), Ms Hernandez indicated that she and the Chief Constable were going to review the reductions in PCSO number, which they suggested were actually too onerous.

I was therefore extremely disappointed to attend another update, last week, about the Neighbourhood Policing Review, now known as “Project Genesis.”

It was stated that the local police force had to react to “changing priorities,” but would retain the “ethos” of community policing and do nothing to undermine “connectivity” with local communities.

And yet, the presentation simply trotted the old line that the number of PCSOs would be cut to 150, and there was no confirmation about any lessening of staff cuts as previously stated by the Commissioner.

It remains my view that the loss of PCSOs would have a devastating impact on community policing, particularly in rural areas, and the key priority in the Police and Crime Plan of “Connecting Communities and Policing” would be massively undermined in many areas, including the parish that I am proud to represent as an elected councillor.

I have once again written to the Police and Crime Commissioner and asked her to rethink the PCSO cuts, and confirm that rural communities in particular will not lose out as a consequence of “Project Genesis.”

If you agree with me on this matter, please join me in making yet more representations to Alison Hernandez.

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

Friday, 18 May 2018

Votes at 16!

Votes at sixteen is a campaign that I have always supported and I was pleased when the Scottish Parliament allowed 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the 2014 independence referendum. It was particularly heartening when the Parliament then legislated to lower the voting age for all subsequent Scottish elections (including local councils).

Last week, a (cross-party) private members’ bill to lower the voting age to 16 for parliamentary and other elections was presented to the House of Commons for its second reading.

I found myself in total agreement with the proposers of the bill – Peter Kyle MP (Labour), Norman Lamb MP (Liberal Democrat) and Nicky Morgan MP (Conservative) – who released the following statement:

“Opponents of reform have argued that 16 is an arbitrary age. However, in many crucial areas, such as in taxation, we already treat our 16-year-olds as responsible contributors to society. We grant economic rights without the correlating political rights. This should concern any democrat. And this is just one example. The experience from Scotland is that 16- and 17-year-olds are both capable and responsible enough to meaningfully engage with, and improve the vitality of, our democracy.”

Sadly, the Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement) Bill did not proceed as it was “talked out.” One MP even accused colleagues of a “corrupt and unfair filibuster” and demanded reforms into how private members’ bills are dealt with.

This is just one example of why I think that the democratic system of the United Kingdom needs a major overhaul, and it came just a few weeks after a series of “unrepresentative” results in the recent local elections.

We all know how at the 2017 General Election the Conservative Party secured 48% of the votes but won all six seats. In addition, there were 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.

But in London on 3rd May, there were three boroughs (Barking and Dagenham, Lewisham and Newham) in which all the elected councillors belonged to the Labour Party, leaving the local authorities with no opposition group or groups. Taking Lewisham as an example, Labour won all 54 seats on the Council with 52% of the popular vote, while the Greens (18.4%), the Conservatives (13.0%) and the Lib Dems (11.8%) did not win a single seat between them.

This cannot be right in a modern democracy.

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