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.