Friday, 29 August 2008

The election result

I have just had the result of the Camborne Town Council by-election phoned through to me. MK has missed out by only 15 votes - with the Tories taking the seat. The full result is as follows:

Conservative 304
Zoe Fox (MK) 289
Liberal Democrat 263
Labour 162

While we are very disappointed at the moment, it is a very creditable vote for our Party. Congratulations to Zoe, her agent Stuart Cullimore and the team for running a very good campaign.

Monday, 25 August 2008

On the campaign trail

As an elected politician, life does sometimes seem like an endless round of meetings. This last week, I therefore delighted to get out on the campaign trail and to do a few hours leafleting in a by-election for a seat on Camborne Town Council (28th August 2008).

Our candidate is MK’s environmental protection spokesman Zoe Fox. She served on the Council between 2005 and 2007, but lost her seat at the last election by only 22 votes to a Liberal Democrat. Zoe had a near-100% attendance record on the Council, but the new Lib Dem has since failed to turn up for a single meeting in six months – hence the reason for the by-election.

The election is a four-way fight also involving representatives of the three main London parties and it is my hope that we will succeed in getting Zoe Fox back on the town council.

Monday, 18 August 2008

What a unitary carry on!

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has condemned the announcement from the Boundary Committee for England that it will “not be able to complete the work” necessary to create new seats for elections to the new unitary council by May or June 2009 and that the elections will have to proceed on the basis of 82 Councillors with the same electoral divisions as the current County Council.

The Boundary Committee has however stated that it is minded to accept the number of 123 councillors for the new unitary authority and will begin a 12-week consultation in November. The Electoral Commission could decide to bring their proposals into effect before the end of the normal four year cycle, which would mean further elections, or alternatively the whole of Cornwall will have to make do with just 82 councillors for the next four years.

It is simply unacceptable for the Boundary Committee for England to say that it cannot find the time to carry out the electoral review and yet does not intend to start the consultation on the numbers until November. They just need to get on with the review and stop prevaricating!

The proposals for the new council include twenty area networks which respect the boundaries of the proposed electoral divisions. If elections are held on the County Council’s old divisions, it will completely undermine the local arrangements for the new council.

What is more, it is ridiculous to expect local people to take part in a consultation on a 123 member council, only for them to then have to vote for new councillors on different boundaries.

Mebyon Kernow has never been in favour of the Liberal Democrat’s unitary council experiment. The arrangements are now descending into farce and we would hope that central government will admit that it has got it wrong and pull the plug on the whole debacle.

If they unwilling to do this, central government needs to ensure that the electoral review is speeded up and, if necessary, the existence of Cornwall County Council and the district councils is extended for three-four months until the democratic arrangements are in place for the new council.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Are all consultations a sham?

Yesterday, I posted a message on this blog about the consultation on the Regional Spatial Strategy. I stand by what I wrote but have been thinking a lot about government ‘consultations’ during the last 24 hours.

I had to ask myself: are they all a sham?

I remember Labour’s plans for regional government (‘Your Region, Your Choice’) in 2002, when they ignored 50,000 declarations for a Cornish Assembly and more representations from Cornwall than the whole of England combined.

By contrast, the go-ahead was given for the Lib Dem’s scheme for a single unitary authority in spite of 80% opposition from the people of Cornwall.

A few days ago in my capacity as a Restormel councillor, I was part of a delegation that met with representatives of the Post Office to discuss their closure programme. We were told bluntly that 20% of Post Offices will close. And if we are successful in saving one outlet, another Post Office (presently not even under threat) will close instead! Madness.

I also remember so many ‘consultations’ where the views of local people have been ignored, such as plans for the centralisation of the Health Service or the loss of Cornwall’s Fire Service control room.

While such thoughts may be chastening, we must never stop making the representations, lobbying and just downright making a nuisance of ourselves.

You never know … one day, ‘they’ might actually listen to us and do the right thing.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

No to 70,000 new houses by 2026

The Secretary of State has released the latest version of the South West Regional Spatial Strategy for formal consultation. In it, there are proposals for 68,200 new houses for Cornwall to 2026.

Produced by the unelected SW Regional Assembly, the original document projected the construction of 45,000 new houses in Cornwall between 2006 and 2026. An ‘Examination in Public’ by an unelected and unaccountable panel contained the bombshell that 68,700 houses should be built in Cornwall which has been largely endorsed by the same Secretary of State that imposed a unitary authority on Cornwall.

I have condemned the announcement and made the point that these unsustainable proposals would have a disastrous effect on Cornwall, our local environment and infrastructure.

These ridiculous proposals are not about tackling the affordable housing crisis in Cornwall but promoting unsustainable house-building for its own sake.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall is calling on local people to respond to the consultation in great numbers.

Comments can be made through an online consultation portal at:

A paper response form is also available and can be downloaded from the GOSW website or requested from the Government Office Regional Spatial Team (0117 900 1705; email

Forms can be sent: by email to; by fax to 0117 900 1914 or by post to: Regional Planning Team, Government Office for the South West, 2 Rivergate, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6ED

The closing date for the consultation is 5.00pm on 17th October 2008.