Friday, 29 January 2021

The G7 and "levelling up"?

Prominent Cornish politicians and public figures have been queuing up to rejoice at the news that the next G7 summit of world leaders will take place in Carbis Bay in June. The leader of Cornwall Council, Julian German, has declared that he wants to ensure there is a “lasting legacy” to the west of the Tamar, while the Prime Minster has suggested that the event will “showcase” Cornwall to the world.
From my perspective, I fear that West Cornwall will simply be a pretty background for the talks, and there will be little focus on the reality of modern Cornwall.

As the political commentator Bernard Deacon has said: “Swarms of journalists will descend from across the globe eager for copy. But will all they devour be the same stale old imagery of Cornwall as just a tourist destination? Can Cornwall be presented as more than a picturesque backdrop?”

I sincerely hope the summit is a success and meaningful progress is made to tackle climate change and other global ills. But there is much to be concerned about – not least that we are still in the teeth of a worldwide pandemic.

At the last G7 in France, more than 13,000 people officers, plus military personnel, were used to deal with protestors and the Assistant Chief Constable of the Devon and Cornwall Police, Glen Mayhew, has said that “it will be the biggest security operation” ever undertaken by the force.

It has been well-documented that the cost of past summits in the UK have not been fully met by central government, and it cannot be right that Cornish taxpayers may have to meet a significant element of the cost of the summit in these very straightened times.

It has also been proffered that the economic benefits of the event to Cornwall would be £50 million, with suggestions that this is part of the UK Government’s new “levelling-up agenda.” But it is most certainly not part of any strategic attempt to combat the economic inequality that plagues the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister has just set up a “Build Back Better Council” of business leaders, which he says is about “levelling up opportunity for people and businesses across the UK.”

It has been reported that there are 30 members on the Council, of which 22 are based in London. I understand that three others are based in towns just outside the UK capital, two in the Midlands, one in Cambridge, one in the north and one in Scotland. Apart from being London dominated, isn’t it telling that there is no-one from Wales, Northern Ireland or Cornwall?

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

Tuesday, 26 January 2021


My latest report will be presented to tonight's meeting of St Enoder Parish Council. It covers the period from 23rd November 2020 to 24th January 2021, and is as follows:

1.0 Council and other meetings 

Over the last two months, I have attended a range of virtual meetings and briefings via Microsoft Works and Zoom. In terms of Cornwall Council, these have included Full Council (2) and an associated briefing; Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee (2) and associated briefings (3); Cornish National Minority Working Group, associated briefings (2) and meetings with Office of National Statistics about the upcoming 2021 census and the publicity for the “write-in” option for Cornish nationality (2); BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethic) steering group; incinerator liaison group; Group Leaders; Local China Clay Area members; and planning training sessions (2). 

In addition, I have attended the Covid-19 Local Outbreak Engagement Board (3); briefings about the response to the Covid-19 pandemic (4); and the lockdown support group for the China Clay Area (2). 

I have also been at two meetings of St Enoder Parish Council and one meeting of the South and East Cornwall Community-Led Local Development Local Action Group. 

2.0 Grant funding for a toilet in Indian Queens Recreation Ground 

The Parish Council has been working up a project to provide a public toilet for users of the Indian Queens Recreation Ground. 

It is proposed that a small extension will be built to the changing rooms, which will include a toilet cubicle (that will be fully accessible and meet all regulations for use by disabled people). Two existing toilet cubicles and washbasins, located within the changing rooms, will be refurbished and linked to new extension. All three cubicles will be permanently open during daylight hours. 

I am really pleased to be able to announce that I have just secured a grant of £10,000 for the project from the National Lottery’s Award for All funding programme. 

Once this has been done, the Parish Council will be looking to provide a similar facility in the playing field in Summercourt. 

3.0 Planning applications 

The Parish Council and I continue to deal with a range of planning applications. Updates on a couple of specific applications are shown below. 

3.1 Indian Queens Industrial Estate (PA19/05975 & PA20/09460) 

I previously reported that the application (PA19/05975) for a new access into an industrial unit (no. 2) at the Indian Queens Estate from Moorland Road, and the provision of 15 parking spaces, was rejected at a meeting of the Central SubArea Planning Committee on 2nd November. The owners of Unit 2 also submitted a planning application (PA20/09460) for four houses on the industrial estate. 

The application was not policy compliant as the Indian Queens Industrial Estate is identified as a principal employment area in the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan, which states that “proposals for housing within the principal employment areas for the Parish … will not be supported.” The applicants were informed that the application would not be supported, and they have withdrawn it. 

3.2 Derelict pig farm at Higher Fraddon (PA20/08679 and PA20/09375) 

I am able to give an update on the two applications submitted for the derelict pig farm site in Higher Fraddon. 

I can confirm that planning officers have informed the applicants that their outline application for 16 holiday units (PA20/09375) on the site is not policy compliant and will be refused. 

As previously reported, the other application is for the conversion of some of the farm buildings into five dwellings (PA20/08679). It is not a planning application in the traditional sense as it relates to something brought in by the UK Government called “Q Class” developments. This allows buildings on farm holdings to be converted into dwellings as long as they are structurally sound. For such applications, the “merit” of such schemes is not considered, as the focus is simply on whether the buildings can be converted. The maximum number of units allowed on such applications is five. The applicant’s right to create five dwellings on the site was confirmed in December. 

The applicants have also been speaking to Cornwall Council about whether a development of seven-eight new dwellings on the site would be acceptable – in place of the five consented Q-class conversions and the possible conversion of a couple of other buildings on the site. 

They did supply an initial mock-up of how the development might look, but they sought to include a significant amount of agricultural land (to the west) into the development area. Cornwall Council has advised that this increase in the footprint of any development is unacceptable and it should be restricted to the site of the extant buildings. The Council has also advised that the applicant should do a formal pre-application consultation before putting in any applications. 

4.0 Unsafe building at derelict pig farm at Higher Fraddon 

In addition to discussions about the planning future of the derelict pig farm, I have been contacted by residents about the unsafe nature of the buildings on the site. I have passed this information through to the owners of the complex, though residents are unhappy at the limited extent of safety works being undertaken on the site. 

5.0 Proposed Government changes to permitted development rights 

Over the last month, I have also been encouraging people to object to the Government’s latest consultation on changes to planning system, which is titled “Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure.” The consultation ends on 28th January. 

It proposes allowing commercial and industrial premises to be changed into housing without the need for planning permission. In particular, it would create a new “permitted development right” that would allow “shops, offices, light industrial, restaurants, gyms, medical facilities and nurseries” to change to residential use with little or no regulation. 

The consultation document states that the proposed new “right” would apply “everywhere … not just on the high street or in town centres.” Unbelievably, it also states that there would be “no size limit on the buildings” that could benefit from the right. This would mean, for example, that even large buildings on strategic industrial estates could become housing without the need for a traditional planning consent. In particular, the changes would completely undermine the employment land and commercial property policies in the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan. 

6.0 Traffic / parking issues 

6.1 Parking issues at Kingsley Village 

Since Christmas, I have continued to make presentations about the ongoing parking issues on the B3275 near Penhale. I have visited the location on a number of occasions and I have been feeding information back to planning, enforcement and traffic officers at the Council, as well as the local Police. This has even included the registration details of parked vehicles. I have also continued to lobby the owners of the complex (CPG) about this, while staff from the unitary authority are continuing to request information from the businesses at the complex. This has not been readily forthcoming. 

I am unhappy with the lack of progress and I have escalated the issue by making further representations to senior planning officers. As a consequence of this, another meeting has been arranged for 2nd February.
6.2 Seaview Terrace and Ridgewell Terrace, Fraddon

 I have been contacted by residents at both Seaview Terrace, on the road to St Stephen, and Ridgewell Terrace, Fraddon, about recent accidents near their homes. In both areas, there have been numerous incidents in recent years and I am working up a full list of all the accidents / incidents to lobby Cornwall Council. 

I am however able to report that Cornwall Council's safety engineer is pulling together a list of thirty or so locations (with safety problems) for investigation through a “Local Safety Scheme,” and it has already been confirmed that Seaview Terrace will definitely be among the 30! 

7.0 Highway improvements 

7.1 Proposed new footway between Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School 

The transfer of part of the field to the west of Indian Queens School, from Cornwall Council to St Enoder Parish Council, is nearing completion. The legal paperwork is being prepared and the unitary authority has finalised its report to sanction the grant of funding to construct the proposed new footway between the Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School. I am hopeful that the Parish Council will be in a position to construct the new path in early Spring, when the weather is drier. 

7.2 Proposed zebra crossing on Chapel Road, Indian Queens 

As previously reported, I have been lobbying Cornwall Council schemes for crossings in Indian Queens, on routes to and from the Primary School. The works were promised when the size of the school was increased a few years back. I can confirm that a proposal for a zebra crossing on Chapel Road has been worked up, near to the top of the Drang. It was presented to me at a meeting with highway officers on 22nd January. The scheme also includes some speed cushions on Chapel Road, and I hope that a formal consultation can be held in the very near future. 

I am continuing to push for a crossing on St Francis Road, near the main entrance into the Recreation Ground. The highway officers have come across a number of “design” problems in this area, including the width of the road and services in the pavement / road. A follow-up meeting is planned for 2nd February. 

7.3 Proposed works in Summercourt 

Two highway improvement schemes for Summercourt are still being worked up, though progress has been delayed by lack of capacity within the authority and the inability of staff to make site visits. As previously reported, the two schemes are (i) enhanced safety measures outside Summercourt School, and (ii) pedestrian crossways linked to the traffic lights at Summercourt and two permanent vehicle activated signs on the A3058. 

8.0 Small play areas or open spaces 

In St Enoder Parish, there are a number of small play areas or open spaces, which are still the responsibility of Cornwall Council, though the areas have not been maintained as well as local people might like to see. The Parish Council is in the process of formally requesting that it takes ownership of these areas, which are as follows: 

Kingsley Court, Fraddon (2) (small play area / small open space) 
Lindsay Fields, Fraddon (open area with tree planting) 
Penhale Gardens, Fraddon (small play area) 
St James View, Fraddon (small play area / open grassed area) 
Hanover Parc, Indian Queens (small play area) 
Clodan Mews, St Columb Road (garden area) 

9.0 Covid-19 

The ongoing health emergency continues to make life very difficult for people. As a Cornwall Councillor, I attend fortnightly meetings of the Cornwall Local Engagement Board where we are briefed about how public bodies are working to deal with Covid-19, as well as a lockdown support group for the China Clay Area comprising representatives of a number of bodies and charities. The Parish Council continues to be a contact for Volunteer Cornwall. 

10.0 “Remembering the war dead of St Enoder Parish” 

When I am not working on my council duties, I have been trying to do some research into the fallen servicemen from our area, who lost their lives in the Second World War. This year, I will be remembering these servicemen (as well as those from the First World War featured in the 2018 book) on the anniversary of their deaths on the “Remembering the war dead of St Enoder Parish” facebook page. 

11.0 Inquiries 

While this report has been a summary of many of my recent activities, I have helped a wide range of people with localised issues.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021


On a number of occasions, I have written about the UK Government’s plans to dismantle the existing planning system, as set out in their White Paper titled “Planning for the Future.” I recently reported that the Planning Minister had back-tracked on the worst excesses of its new top-down “standard method” for housing targets, which would have imposed over 81,000 new properties on Cornwall over the next twenty years.

But I continue to maintain that the proposed changes would nonetheless be a disaster for Cornwall, and I have been somewhat taken aback that the UK Government is consulting on yet another change to planning. I would describe this latest proposal as frankly bonkers.

The consultation is titled “Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure,” and proposes allowing commercial and industrial premises to be changed into housing without the need for planning permission.

It seeks to create a new “permitted development right” that would allow “shops, offices, light industrial, restaurants, gyms, medical facilities and nurseries” to simply change to residential use with little or no regulation.

The consultation document states that the proposed new “right” would apply “everywhere … not just on the high street or in town centres.” Unbelievably, it also states that there would be “no size limit on the buildings” that could benefit from the right.

Planning professionals are already raising concerns that the commercial heart of towns and cities could be undermined by the reforms but, ridiculously, the proposed changes would even allow very large buildings on strategic industrial estates to become housing without the need for a traditional planning consent.

Developers would also be allowed to turn sizeable buildings into a large number of residential properties, without providing any local-needs housing or making any contributions for education provision or infrastructure.

In addition, it would mean that local planning authorities, such as Cornwall’s unitary authority, would be powerless to stop buildings in inappropriate and unsustainable locations becoming residential properties.

If you share my concerns about this ill-prepared, ill-considered and totally inappropriate proposal, please respond to the consultation. A link to the consultation can be found on my blog at:

Please also contact your local MP to challenge them to oppose the ongoing deregulation of the planning system.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that central government is pretty clueless on planning matters and does not comprehend what is appropriate for Cornish communities. We really do need to bring people together in a massive campaign to demand that all decisions on planning policy which affect Cornwall are taken in Cornwall.

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

Friday, 8 January 2021


The UK Government is consulting on proposed changes to the planning system, which would allow commercial and industrial premises to be changed into housing without the need for planning permission.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has described the proposed changes as “bonkers” and is calling on the residents of Cornwall to respond to a government consultation which closes on 28th January.

The consultation is titled “Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure.”

It seeks to create a new “permitted development right” that would allow “shops, offices, light industrial, restaurants, gyms, medical facilities and nurseries” to change to residential use without the need for planning permission.

The consultation document states that the proposed new “right” would apply “everywhere … not just on the high street or in town centres.” It also states that there is “no size limit on the buildings that can benefit from the right.”

In a statement issued today, I stated the following:

“The proposed planning changes are ill-prepared and inappropriate – bonkers even!

“For example, the changes as presently proposed would allow some very large buildings on strategic industrial estates to become housing without the need for a traditional planning consent. Important employment space would be lost.

“Sizeable buildings could also be turned into a large number of residential properties, without providing any affordable housing or making contributions for educational provision or infrastructure.

“Local planning authorities would further be powerless to stop buildings in inappropriate and unsustainable locations becoming residential properties.

“Please respond to the consultation and please contact your local MP to challenge them to oppose these ill-considered changes.”

The link to this consultation is as below:

Wednesday, 6 January 2021


Today marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall. As the present leader of MK, I would like to mark the occasion by writing about the earliest days of the organisation.

The inaugural meeting took place at the Oates Temperance Hotel in Redruth on Saturday 6th January 1951. There were thirteen people present and a further six sent apologies. Among the founder members, there were four future Grand Bards of Gorsedh Kernow (Ernest George Retallack Hooper, Ann Trevenen Jenkin, Richard Garfield Jenkin and George Pawley White) and Charles Thomas, who went on to become the Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter.

Helena Charles was elected MK’s first leader. A remarkable woman, she had been born in Calcutta of Cornish parents and spent much of her life in voluntary work. She had worked in the slums of Bermondsey in the 1930s, she served with the London Ambulance Service during the Second Word War and she was well-known for her selfless work on behalf of Jewish refugees during the war and in the immediate post-war period. She served on Camborne-Redruth Urban District Council and, following a trip to Venice in 1964, she founded a charity to care for the large number of stray cats in the Italian city.

This formal launch of Mebyon Kernow followed the 1950 International Celtic Congress, held in Truro, which brought together many like-minded people from the various Celtic nations, and proved to be the catalyst that forged a new movement.

In MK’s original aims, there was a strong focus on Cornish identity and culture, and the need to “further the acceptance of the idea of the Celtic character of Cornwall, one of the six Celtic nations.” But it was also openly political with a commitment to “study local conditions and attempt to remedy any that may be prejudicial to the best interests of Cornwall” while, by September 1951, it was pushing Cornwall’s “right to self-government in domestic affairs in a federated United Kingdom.”

Mebyon Kernow certainly launched a wide range of initiatives in its earliest years. These included campaigns for a Cornish Assembly, a Cornish University and a Cornish Industrial Board or Development Agency; support for traditional Cornish industries and opposition to railway closures. But it was essentially a pressure group, which meant that activists in other political parties could also be members of MK. Such members included Conservative MP David Mudd and Liberal MPs Peter Bessell and John Pardoe.

Mebyon Kernow continues to campaign for Cornwall, and I am most grateful to those foresighted individuals who, seven decades ago, decided a Cornish political organisation was needed.