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.