Monday, 24 December 2018

Nadelik Lowen

As we edge ever closer to the festive break, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year.

I would also like to thank all those people who have been supportive of my work throughout 2018. I can assure you all that I am most grateful for the help and encouragement I have received. It is much appreciated.

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowydh Da.

Friday, 14 December 2018

My comment on discriminatory census White Paper

As the leader of Mebyon Kernow, I have condemned the publication of a Government White Paper about the 2021 census which states it does not support the provision of a Cornish tickbox. In a statement, I described the announcement as “illogical, prejudicial, disrespectful and just plain wrong.”

“The Cornish are recognised as a national minority through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, just the same as the Irish, Scots and Welsh.

“It is scandalous that the UK Government and Office of National Statistics consider it acceptable that the Cornish will be the only UK national minority to be denied a tickbox on the 2021 census. This is discriminatory. It is also illogical, prejudicial, disrespectful and just plain wrong.

“But we must not give up. We must redouble our efforts to push for a Cornish tickbox and to pressure the UK Government to do the right thing and to meet its obligations through the Framework Convention.”

Further information

The UK Government has published a White Paper entitled “Help Shape Our Future: The 2021 Census of Population and Housing in England and Wales.” It states that there will not be a Cornish tickbox on the next census.

The document can be accessed at:


The UK Government has just published a White Paper entitled “Help Shape Our Future: The 2021 Census of Population and Housing in England and Wales.” 

It states that there will not be a Cornish tickbox on the next census and under the heading “National identity” includes the following:

3.115: A question on national identity was asked for the first time in the 2011 Census to complement the question on ethnic group. The question enabled respondents to identify themselves using a range of options including British, English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish, irrespective of their ethnic group. In considering this topic for the 2021 Census, ONS recognised a medium user need, particularly when considered with the ethnic group, and recommended, at that time, a question on national identity should be included.

3.116: The evidence provided during the topic consultation and further engagement with stakeholders about ethnicity identified requests for a new response option for Cornish. ONS fully recognises the need of the Cornish community for data on the socio-economic, educational, health and housing conditions of those who identify as Cornish. While there is national user need, the main need is local within Cornwall.

3.117: The development of the “search-as-you-type” facility on the online form will be coupled with a strong local marketing and communications campaign, and additional field support will enable all those who wish to self-identify as being of any particular identity, including Cornish, to know how to do so.

3.118: ONS will also for the first time produce an analytical report on the population who identify as Cornish and how their health, housing, work and education differs from those who do not identify as Cornish.

3.119: The evidence from the topic consultation stated a need for a Cornish response option to supplement other data sources, such as the School Census and housing needs survey to understand the impact of policy and deprivation characteristics of the indigenous population and their cultural identity. Complementing this evidence was the recognition in 2014 of Cornish as a National Minority under the European Framework Convention of the Protection of National Minorities. In the 2011 Census, 83,000 usual residents wrote in Cornish as their national identity. Of these, 73,000 lived in Cornwall, comprising approximately 14% of the population. The remaining 10,000 resided elsewhere in England and Wales.

3.120: ONS has met and reviewed the evidence of Cornish stakeholders to understand the need and conducted testing to consider the acceptability of adding regional tick-boxes, including Cornish, to the national identity question. Having reviewed the evidence against the evaluation criteria, ONS has concluded that the need for a Cornish tick-box is very localised and not strong enough to justify its inclusion in the nationwide census, when ONS can gather the data by means of the online and paper write in options.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Cornwall has the lowest economic performance of any nation in the UK

Yesterday, as the Brexit chaos and the Conservative infighting continued to engulf Westminster, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released its latest GVA (gross value added) figures.

This data shows economic performance across the UK. The latest figures are for the year 2017, and show that Cornwall still has the lowest economic performance of any nation in the United Kingdom.

In 2017, England had a GVA per head (income report) of £27,949, which was 102.8% of the UK average, followed by Scotland with a GVA of £25,685 (94.5%). Doing less well were Northern Ireland and Wales, with GVA figures of £21,237 (78.1%) and £19,705 (72.5%) respectively.

By comparison, the figure for Cornwall was only £18,458, which was 67.9% of the UK average.

Surely such figures once again show that it is time for Westminster MPs to look up from their squabbling and to finally focus on winning a better deal and achieving economic fairness for Cornwall.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

My view on Question Time in Penzance ...

My article in last week’s Cornish Guardian gave my views on the recent visit of Question to Penzance. It was as follows:

Last week, the BBC’s Question Time programme – in which politicians and other public figures are quizzed on topical issues – was in Cornwall.

The programme was broadcast from Mount’s Bay School in Penzance but, disrespectfully, not one of the five panellists came from Cornwall or even had a Cornish connection.

There were three Westminster MPs involved in this most recent episode. Representing the Conservatives was Nadhim Zahawi MP (Stratford-upon-Avon) and Labour’s choice was Rebecca Long-Bailey (Salford and Eccles), while Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon) was there for the Liberal Democrats.

The two other panellists were Tim Martin from the Wetherspoon chain of public houses, who I understand lives in Exeter, and the writer Benjamin Zephaniah who presently resides in Lincolnshire.

I don’t think that it would have been too difficult to have some Cornish voices on the programme. Surely, one of Cornwall’s six MPs could have represented the Conservatives and Adam Paynter, the leader of Cornwall Council, could have been the Liberal Democrat’s nominee. I can also think of a number of business people from Cornwall who would have had plenty to say.

The BBC website has a “frequently asked questions” section about Question Time. This includes: “Why doesn’t the panel reflect the region they are in by having local politicians on the panel?” It blandly answers its own question by stating it “is a national programme which must be relevant to audiences across the UK” though it is “broadcast from all round the country to make sure that a broad cross-section of audiences have the chance to take part.”

That claim is crass nonsense. Could you image an episode from Scotland or Wales, without a single representative from those countries? Of course not!

Eight weeks ago, the programme was in Edinburgh and all the panellists had meaningful Scottish connections: Ross Thomson (Conservative MP for Aberdeen South), two members of the Scottish Parliament Kezia Dugdale (Labour) and Mike Russell (Scottish National Party), crime writer Val McDermid from Kirkcaldy and the editor of the Spectator magazine Fraser Nelson, who was actually born in Truro but raised in Nairn.

Likewise, when Question Time was last in Wales, only three weeks ago, the guests included Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts and the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Service Union, Mark Serwotka, who is from Cardiff.

It is my view that the BBC should apologise for the total exclusion of local political voices from the recent Penzance show and give guarantees that, in the future, it will treat Cornwall with the same respect as the other Celtic parts of the United Kingdom.

My latest report to St Enoder Parish Council

At the end of November, I presented my most recent monthly report to a meeting of St Enoder Parish Council. It covered the time period 22nd October – 27th November 2018 and was as follows:

1. Council meetings and related activities

I attended a number of formal meetings at Cornwall Council, which included the Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee (and an associated workshop on the Cornwall Local Plan), Central Planning Committee, the working group on national minority status, and an informal meeting about the work programme for the Electoral Review Panel. In addition, I attended the annual Conference of the County Councils Network at Guildford.

In the same period, as well as a significant number of informal meetings with council officers and others, I attended four meetings of St Enoder Parish Council.

2. Other meetings and activities

I also attended meetings of the Leader Local Action Group for South and East Cornwall, the Community-led Local Development Local Action Group for South and East Cornwall (Vice-chairman) and I helped out at the 41st annual show of the Indian Queens Cage Bird Society.

3. First World War project

It would be an understatement to say that, for me, the last few weeks have been dominated by my involvement with the Parish Council project to commemorate the First World War.

I am very pleased and somewhat relieved to be able to report that the book, principally about the 73 local men who lost their lives in the conflict, has just come back from the printers.

The replica of the Roll of Honour (previously on display in the Indian Queens Methodist Church, but which has been lodged with the Cornwall Record Office for safekeeping) was rededicated in a poignant service on 28th 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. At the service, nine silhouette figures from the “There But Not There” commemoration scheme were on display to symbolically remember the fallen. 

My wife and I also helped with the service at St Enoder Church on 11th November, when the silhouette figures were also on display, interspersed with the congregation. I also had the privilege of reading out the names of the fallen at the war memorial.

On the afternoon of the same day, I worked with parish councillors David Hearl and Peter Cocks on the commemorative bonfire on Pines Tip which was also memorable. But partly, this was because the wood was delivered to the wrong location, we had a belated struggle to get the bonfire built in the correct place, and then it took an hour for the bonfire to get going – thanks to the skills of Gary Sibley.

Classes at Indian Queens Primary School studied the conflict in the period leading up to Remembrance Day. This included looking at the lives of a number of local men and they used material from the forthcoming book. On 12th November, I was pleased to host four classes (totalling 105 children) at the Methodist Chapel. They viewed the Roll of Honour and discussed the men from the congregation that they had been studying.

I also gave three talks about the fallen servicemen at Fraddon Village Hall, Indian Queens Victory Hall and Summercourt New Memorial Hall, where new boards were unveiled which list the 73 men associated with our area who lost their lives between 1914 and 1918.

In addition, a memorial plaque has been produced for the Bandroom at Indian Queens which names the four bandsmen who did not return from the First World War. Two were from Queens Band and two were from Summercourt Band. When Indian Queens Band played in the Remembrance Service at St Columb Church on 11th November, they had four of the silhouettes on display to remember the fallen bandsmen.

4. Thomas Playing Field

Since works started on the new play equipment at the Thomas Playing Field, I have been helping the Parish Clerk, Amanda Kendall, and Cllr Mark Kessell to liaise with the installers of the new equipment.

It has been extremely frustrating and, eleven weeks after works commenced, the Thomas Playing Field has still not reopened. An independent check on the equipment has been carried out and this has identified a number of things which still need to be done. We will report in more detail at Tuesday’s meeting.

Turf also needs to be laid over the muddy areas in advance of the Field being re-opened, and hopefully we can get this sorted in the next couple of weeks.

5. Traffic issues

In my last monthly report, I promised to have an update on the range of key traffic matters that I am dealing with. I had a meeting with Rachel Tatlow (Cormac) on Monday (26th November).

- Surfacing works

The following surfacing works are timetabled for the next few months:

- Trevarren – end of January 2019
- A392 (near junctions with Atlantic Reach, Tresithney and Trugo) – early February 2019
- A3076 (from Mitchell and past Gummows Shop, which is partially along the St Enoder Parish boundary) – early February 2019

Other works have also been agreed to be carried out in 2019-2020:

- Carnego Lane from Summercourt to Resurrance
- Toldish
- Watery Lane near Black Cross
- B3275 near Melbur Blockworks
- Goonabarn to St Austell St, Summercourt
- Trefullock Moor.
- Carworgie Way and Halloon Avenue, St Columb Road
- Pocohontas Crescent and Princess Park, Indian Queens

- Community Network funding

I informed Ms Tatlow that the Parish Council is keen to use the funding scheme to purchase a mobile speed camera, and she will be providing me with additional information about running costs, maintenance, etc.

In addition, I raised concerns about the need for a “feasibility study” costing £7,000 for any calming works outside Summercourt School. A meeting is being held next week to consider these issues.

- Flooding on A3058 south of Summercourt

Flooding on this section of highway is an ongoing problem and, earlier this year, improvements were made to the drainage system (taking water off the road) near Nanpean Farm.

I have raised concerns that this section of road was still badly flooded on 9th November, and there are also still problems near the bus depot which I am continuing to follow up.

- Gaverigan Farm

Cornwall Council has agreed to carry out improvements at the entrance to Gaverigan Farm which is regularly flooded. These works will be done in January 2019.

- Gritting routes

Ms Tatlow and I have been making representations about the main routes for gritting during winter periods. We have not made as much progress as we would have liked but I can report that, in the new winter service plan, the road through Fraddon and Indian Queens to the Indian Queens Industrial Estate has been added to the primary gritting routes.

- Church Lane

On 9th November, Cllr David Hearl, the Parish Clerk and Parish handyman put dye down the road drain system on Pocohontas Crescent and the top end of St Francis Road, and found that all the water is going into the ditch in Church Lane.

The ditch is being worn away and I have visited the site with Ms Tatlow and she has acknowledged that CORMAC need to take some responsibility for damage, etc. She has promised to look into this and come back to me.

- Other issues

I also raised a wide range of issues with Ms Tatlow, a number of which had been raised by local residents:

- Speeding traffic in a number of locations, including near Sea View on the B3275
- Safety issues at a number of locations including Toldish and the school drop-off point on the Drang.
- Traffic management plan for Indian Queens School agreed as part of the planning consent for additional classrooms (which I am also following up with the Education team at County Hall).
- Request for lining at western entry-point into Indian Queens to be re-painted.

- Double yellow lines

In addition, I am continuing to request that faded double yellow lines are repainted. 

6. Anti-social behaviour

In St Enoder Parish, we are very fortunate that the vast majority of young people are responsible and well-behaved. Sadly, I have received numerous complaints about a small number of children who are behaving very inconsiderately. This has included misbehaviour around the Bandroom and they also disrupted a meeting of a Local Action Group that I was chairing at the Indian Queens Victory Hall. I am making representations about what can be done.

7. Housing needs survey

Last Thursday, I was informed that Cornwall Council will be carrying out a housing needs survey across St Enoder Parish. It has been commissioned by a house-building firm. Letters will be going out this week to all households publicising an on-line survey.

I was not told until the survey was ready to go out. I have raised concerns about what has happened and senior officers have already apologised to me. I will update with further information at Tuesday’s meeting.

8. County Councils Network

I was part of the delegation to the annual Conference of the County Councils Network at Guildford. This allowed me to listen to two Government Ministers, opposition spokespeople and numerous prominent representatives from the local government sector.

At the event, I made a representation about the levels of government funding for Cornwall in a post-Brexit world.

9. Electoral Review Panel

I have been the vice-chairman of the Electoral Review Panel at Cornwall Council, and we have been working on representations to the Local Government Boundary Commission (LGBCE) about the boundaries for Cornwall Council divisions at the 2021 elections. The final decision from the LGBCE will be published on 4th December.

The Electoral Review Panel is now being refashioned to deal with an upcoming review of parish boundaries, though this will only focus on where there are requests for changes.

10. Inquiries

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

Sunday, 18 November 2018

The Cornish paradox?

On Saurday, the annual Mebyon Kernow Conference was held at Bodmin and I was re-elected as Party Leader. 

In my address at the event, I looked back some fifty years to the 1960s when MK founder-members (and husband and wife team) Richard and Ann Jenkin published a book titled Cornwall – the Hidden Land.

In this publication, they argued that the emergence of a Cornish political party was “one of the most promising signs that Cornwall will continue to exist as a Celtic country and not decline into merely an administrative division of England.”

I reminded the MK Conference that, 15 years ago, I had co-authored a book about MK with Bernard Deacon and Garry Tregidga. And, in the conclusion, we had considered what the Jenkins had said.

We pondered how “since the 1960s, there has been an unmistakeable enrichment and intensification of the Cornish sense of ‘Celtic’ identity.”

But, at the same time, we noted how Cornwall was being submerged into SW bodies and wrote: “Cornwall has indeed ‘declined’ into a state of what should more accurately be described as being part of an administrative division of England, rather than even being an administrative division of England in its own right.”

At the Conference, I spoke about how this paradox continues to the present day. Four years ago, the Cornish were recognised as a national minority and it is clear that the “enrichment and intensification” of our wonderful Cornish identity continues apace.

I also believe there is a growing confidence in the way we are making the case for greater Cornish recognition, and the most obvious example of this is the amazing “tickbox bus,” and the campaign for inclusion on the 2021 census.

And yet central government continues to refuse to recognise Cornwall as political, economic and cultural entity.

The threat of a cross-Tamar parliamentary seat still hangs over us and the United Kingdom is still an over-centralised state. There has been no meaningful devolution to Cornwall, the UK Government views us through the prism of local government, and now central government and the unelected “Leadership Board” are promoting the so-called “Great South West” regionalisation project, which would mask Cornwall and its needs.

We have even had the proposed police merger and the attempt to centralise some cancer services out of Cornwall, but thankfully these moves have been curtailed – largely because of public opposition in Cornwall.

Surely it is time for this paradox to be consigned to history, and Cornwall’s national interest to be properly reflected in all aspects of government policy.

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

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

The UK’s fiscal and economic model is broken

Mebyon Kernow’s sister party in Wales, Plaid Cymru, has an impressive economic advisor called Eurfyl ap Gwilym. He famously got the better of Jeremy Paxman during one interview, even challenging him to do better research when preparing questions.

Mr ap Gwilym has produced another article which focuses on how the “UK’s fiscal and economic model” is broken.

What he has to say is as relevant to Cornwall as it is to Wales and, in particular, he has focused on how investment in three areas (research and development, transport and the arts) is still “heavily skewed to the South East” of England.

In terms of research and development, he has shown that “business is by far the biggest source of R&D expenditure and this tends to be concentrated in certain sectors (defence and pharmaceuticals) and geographically.”

Looking at the actual figures: “Of the £6.5bn spent on R&D by the higher education sector 59 per cent, or £274 per person was spent in London and the Home Counties. This compares with £83 per person in the rest of England, £86 in Wales and £196 in Scotland. The differences are even more marked in the case of R&D spending by the UK Government and the research councils: of the £2.2bn spent in 2016: £54 per person was spent in London and the Home Counties; £5 per person in Wales and £30 per person in Scotland.”

It has been the same with transport. Mr ap Gwilym has detailed how London has been the “recipient of a disproportionate share of public investment … over decades.” He has also shown how “cumulative spend per person in real terms since 1999-00 has been £7,500 in London compared with £4,100 in Scotland, a mere £3,000 in Wales and £3,700 across the UK as a whole.”

And in his assessment of arts funding, he notes that “despite the fact that private sponsorship of the arts is overwhelmingly concentrated in London,” it is a reality that “public spending is heavily weighted in favour of London as well.”

Mr ap Gwilym’s main reason for, once again, pointing out the inequities of regional funding, was to raise concerns about the repercussions of Brexit and how this would be “likely to push regional policy even further down the list of priorities of the post-Brexit UK Government.”

He is also right to point out that without a fundamental shift, we will see “little improvement in the relative performance” of regional economies outside London and the South East. And that would be a disaster for Cornwall.

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

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 ( 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:

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:

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

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.