Thursday, 19 September 2019

Growing our towns - Redruth

At the height of the tin mining era, Redruth was once one of the wealthiest towns in the land. After the loss of tin mining our fortunes fell behind other parts of the country but today there remains a legacy of that era with some fabulous and quite unique architecture in the town.
We have made good progress getting Redruth back on its feet. The town council now organises four events a year starting with St Piran’s Day, then Murdock day, the pasty festival and finishing with the Christmas lights parade. The support that these now receive from both local schools and local residents shows that the community is strong.
We have also seen numerous projects that have brought revival to the town. Krowji turned the old redundant grammar school building into a hub for creative arts and small businesses. A couple of years ago it completed a significant expansion and is now home to many new enterprises. The Kresen Kernow Archive project is now complete and opened s couple of weeks ago. It is a fantastic resource for the whole county and has led to the regeneration of the old brewery site. I worked with both Cornwall Council, the town council and the owner of the old brewery site to get this project in Redruth and secure the funds needed to complete it and it is great to see that work now complete. A committed team locally have also achieved a huge amount to bring the former butter market back into use as a public realm with a growing number of successful, often specialist shops, opening in recent years.
This week the government announced a new Historic Towns Fund to support regeneration of historic towns like Redruth. I am delighted that Redruth is one of just sixty nine towns nationally to be selected for access to this fund. It is designed to help regenerate old historic building and bring them back into use to help revive towns. Almost £14 million has been set aside for towns in the South West. Access to this fund will help us to build on what we have started with projects like Kernow by spreading the revival up into the town.
I want to work with the local community to identify which projects we should prioritise. There have already been a number of successful projects to bring shops back into use and to restore some of the traditional architecture. There is more work to be done around the butter market. There are also tentative plans to take over the Methodist Chapel by the railway station and bring it back into use as a community asset as a centre for performing arts. It is one of the largest chapels in Cornwall and is an important asset for the town.
The progress we have made to date shows that it is possible to turn the corner with some imagination and support. I am looking forward to building on what we have started with the local community.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Growing our towns

As I write this article, much of the attention in the media has focused on the ongoing Brexit negotiations and the parliamentary processes that those who have failed to accept the referendum result have deployed to stop Brexit. Whilst the saga continues to rumble on, the Prime Minister has rightly continued to focus on the priorities that are important to the public.
In recent weeks we have seen the largest ever investment at RCHT Treliske as plans were announced for a new maternity unit and main entrance. We’ve also seen plans to increase the number of police on our streets, 10,000 new prison places, more funding for mental health services, and just last week a record £14billion cash boost for schools, helping to level up per pupil funding so that every child has a world class education.
In another sign that the Prime Minister is committed to delivering on his promises, the Government has announced plans to level up 100 towns across the country helping to correct the historic imbalances in local funding that some towns have experienced.
When I was first elected, I always made clear that economic regeneration in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle was my number one priority. Over the last 9 years, I have worked hard to achieve this and in recent years we have made progress in regenerating our towns with the new link road, developments around Tuckingmill, the prospect of South Crofty reopening and new jobs in industries like computer software. But there has always been more to do to help level up our towns.
Towns like Camborne, Redruth and Hayle were at the heart of the industrial revolution and our expertise in mining engineering was second to none. Over the years, with the loss of mining our fortunes waned and all too often the political attention was on big northern cities.
It is therefore very welcome to hear the news this week that Camborne had been selected as one of 100 pioneer towns selected to receive up to £25 million in funding for economic regeneration. The funding is part of a wider £3.6 billion Towns Fund separate from other funding pots which are focusing on areas with proud industrial and economic growth. This is fantastic news for residents in Camborne who have long been calling out for more funding for our towns, higher living standards and improved local facilities.
In the weeks ahead I will be working with local communities, businesses and local leaders to join forced and draw up ambitious plans to help transform Camborne’s growth prospects with a particular focus on improved transport, broadband connectivity, skills and culture. This is an exciting time for Camborne, however I will continue to work with all our local communities to ensure that our towns continue to receive the support they need to ensure that our towns can look to the future with a new optimism.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Parliament returns

Now that Parliament has returned from the summer recess, much of the focus and attention in Westminster has shifted back to the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
Last week the Queen approved the Prime Minister’s request to prorogue Parliament, bringing about an end to the longest parliamentary session since the Civil War and beginning the process for a Queen’s Speech. Many have characterised this action as a threat to democracy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The facts remain that prorogation before a Queen’s Speech is normal constitutional procedure, and that often when a new Prime Minister is appointed, they often have their own agenda and priorities which require them to be presented in the format of a Queen’s Speech.
The decision to end the current parliamentary session will enable the Prime Minister to put a fresh domestic programme in front of MPs for debate and scrutiny while also ensuring that there is good time before and after the European Council for Parliament to further consider Brexit issues.
However, whilst Brexit remains an important issue, it is right that we continue to focus on the crucial public priorities. In recent weeks we have seen the largest ever investment at RCHT Treliske as plans were announced for a new Maternity Unit and main entrance. The Prime Minister has also announced plans to increase the number of police on our streets whilst also delivering 10,000 new prison places. Locally in Cornwall we have also seen more money delivered for mental health services and young people in Cornwall ensuring that people get the support they need.
Earlier this week it was also announced that schools across the country will be boosted by a record £14 billion cash boost, helping to level up per pupil funding so that every child has a world class education. I regularly meet with teachers and headteachers across Camborne, Redruth and Hayle and one of their biggest campaigns has always been fairer funding for our schools.
The Prime Minister’s announcement means that every school will receive a minimum of £5,000 per pupil next year and every primary school will get a minimum of £4,000 per pupil from 2021-22, rising at least in line with inflation. The cash boost will also help children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) with £700 million extra being attributed to these funds so that every pupil can access the education that is right for them and none are held back from reaching their potential.
No one can know for sure how events will develop over the next week, and by the time many of you read this column we could be in a clearer position. However, at times of uncertainty what people need from their government most of all is a determined clarity of purpose and with the election of Boris Johnson we now have it.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

The growth of St Michael’s hospital

Last weekend I visited St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle to see the recent investment in new facilities that is now allowing the majority of orthopaedic work in Cornwall to be transferred from Treliske to Hayle. St Michael’s has always had an exceptional reputation for its role as a centre of excellence on breast cancer with new investment made about eight years ago and the leading reputation of some of the surgeons who work there. In recent years there have periodically been scare stories that the future of the hospital is in doubt. However, far from losing services, more are being transferred there.
There has always been some orthopaedic work done at St Michael’s but the lack of adequate isolation units for patients who develop infections or complications meant that patients who were judged to be higher risk tended to be operated on at Treliske. The new investment made last year with the building work completed at the beginning of this year means there are now three isolation rooms which have enabled far more hip replacements and other similar operations to move to St Michael’s from Treliske.
One of the key ways to stabilise Treliske Hospital is to take some of the unnecessary burdens off it. It has been under intense pressure with an exponential rise in demand. Steps can include reducing the pressure on A&E by introducing additional critical care units at other sites so that people with minor injuries can be treated without creating a burden on the main A&E service. There are also many routine operations that are far better managed at satellite sites run by the RCHT, like St Michael’s, leaving Treliske to focus its energies on its core function as an acute hospital for the more risky operations and emergencies.
The NHS is a great British institution and the dedicated staff who work in it show tremendous commitment and this was evident as always at St Michael’s last week. Earlier this week, the Prime Minister was in Cornwall to visit Treliske and meet staff there to talk about some of the issues they have faced. Boris Johnson recently announced some major new investments in Treliske to upgrade facilities such as the maternity services. The hospital has had its share of problems in the past but is starting to turn the corner and it was good that Boris Johnson took the opportunity of a visit to Cornwall to meet NHS staff.
I hold advice surgeries most weeks and have a dedicated team who are here to help unblock problems. If you have a problem that you need help solving, why not email us or drop into our Camborne office to arrange to meet one of our team. I can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk, by telephone on 0207 219 7032 or by appointment in our Camborne Office at 13 Commercial Street, Camborne, TR14 8JZ.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

A tougher approach to policing

The election of Boris Johnson has reinvigorated Government in his first few weeks setting a clear and determined course. Since his election, the Prime Minister has announced a relaxation of migration rules for scientists, £1.8 billion for the NHS including a new maternity and children’s unit for Treliske and a raft of other commitments to address the concerns that many have had.
Over the weekend, it was also announced that the Government would be delivering 10,000 new prison places, as well as a number of tougher anti-crime policies not to mention a larger rollout of stop and search. These measures are in addition to the 20,000 extra police officers that were announced during the Prime Minister’s Conservative leadership election campaign. The Prime Minister has a plan and it is refreshing to see Government delivering on the issues that matter most to people.
Recently I took part in walk around with police officers in Camborne to understand the challenges that the police face, as well as talking to local residents and business owners about their concerns. Over the last few weeks I have received reports that some businesses have experienced problems with antisocial behaviour and I wanted to get a better understanding of the concerns of local businesses and shop-goers. It was also a good way for me to speak to local residents and tell them about some of the great work that is going on across Cornwall to deliver what our communities want and expect.
In Cornwall, the local police have piloted successfully the Tri-Service Safety Officer role. It’s the embodiment of the blue light services in one role, combining the skills of a trained firefighter, a co-responder paramedic for the ambulance service and having community safety accreditation from the police. The individuals (and there are ten now) are highly skilled, highly trained, highly professional and are there to respond to community need and based in our more rural and remote areas. Its been an innovative way of providing good neighbourhood policing whilst not losing police officers.
Here in Cornwall it is right that we continue to look at what more we can do to improve neighbourhood policing to ensure that people feel safe in their homes and local communities. As a rural peninsula the challenges that we face in Cornwall are often more difficult to deal with, but that doesn’t mean that local communities should be abandoned. That is why the Prime Minister’s recent announcements are a welcome return to a strong team in government working with police and crime commissioners and local authorities to cut crime and ensure that law and order remains a priority.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

The single largest investment in Cornwall’s health services

The NHS is a great British institution which all of us will rely on it at some point in our lives. The many hard-working nurses and doctors who contribute to this success have a lot of be proud of. Locally across Cornwall we are fortunate to have a number of excellent hospitals delivering high quality care to those who need it most. From St Michael's Hospital in Hayle which is a national leader in breast surgery, to Camborne and Redruth Hospital which has a number of specialisms including stroke and prosthetics.
However, in recent years there have been intense pressures on Treliske. As life expectancy has risen and medical science has advanced, the demands on our NHS have grown. Even though the national budget has been significantly increased by almost 20 percent since 2010, pressures remain and the demand continues to grow. In recent months, the Department for Health has announced increased funding for mental health and other support. This week the Secretary of State for Health announced that the Government would be delivering on its pledge for a hospital upgrade programme. This was part of a series of pledges that the Boris Johnson announced last week on the steps of Downing Street in his first speech as Prime Minister. The good news for Cornwall came in the announcement that the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust site at Treliske would be receiving an investment of up to £100 million to deliver a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital at Treliske.
The investment will see the construction of a new building between the existing tower block and Trelawny Wing which will house women’s and children’s services including maternity, neonatal care and gynaecology. The new building will also become the main entrance for the hospital with plans for changes to the layout of roads and a pedestrian zone to improve the environment and accessibility of the hospital.
The announcement is excellent news for all those who use the services in Cornwall and has been acknowledged by Managers at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust as the biggest ever single investment that Cornwall has seen in local health services and that the biggest for more than 20 years in children’s services.
The construction of a new co-located maternity and neonatal services will provide doctors and nurses with the ability to work more closely and effectively together to deliver safer care to expectant mothers and new born babies. Whilst the current maternity services have provided a high level of care for patients, it was clear that there was a limited lifespan and that an upgrade would have been needed sooner rather than later.
The story of investment across the local level is also being matched by that on the national level. New Health Infrastructure Plan’s are being developed in coordination with local authorities and healthcare providers to help deliver a strategic major hospital rebuilding programme so that we have the necessary health infrastructure across the country for years to come. All of this also comes on top of the extra £33.9 billion a year that the Government has committed to provide to the NHS to secure its long term future. This is great news for Cornwall and plans will now proceed to the next stage for the hospital.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Getting on with Brexit

This week I returned to government, picking up where I left off as the Minister of State for agriculture and fisheries. It is a policy area that I have always been passionate about having studied horticulture and worked in the family farming business for ten years. Fishing is also an important industry in Cornwall and in the five and a half years that I did the job previously I led our annual negotiations on quotas at the EU. It is good to be back and part of a new Government that is now pursuing the more assertive approach I advocated in February.
The next few months will be crucial to restore the credibility of our democracy, implement the decision taken in the 2016 referendum and to restore self government in this country as we come out of the European Union. Boris Johnson has reinvigorated Government in his first week and set a clear and determined course. I resigned from Theresa May’s Government in the spring because I disagreed with her decision to dither and delay our exit date. I felt that it signalled weakness and undermined our negotiations. With the election of Boris Johnson there is now a renewed sense of purpose and a fresh mandate for a new Prime Minister to deliver what we said we would in our manifesto. We will use whatever means are necessary to ensure that the UK leaves the European Union by the end of October and we will leave with or without an agreement.
Of course, there will still be obstacles to overcome, not least those MPs and political parties who have set themselves against the referendum result and have made clear that they will force people to vote again until they give a different answer. The EU, who have not really acted in good faith in their negotiations with Theresa May, will also have to decide whether they want to make the sensible changes requested by Boris Johnson and remove the so called “backstop” or whether they will remain obstinate. There will be many arguments over the next three months but this long running saga must now be brought to a head and be resolved once and for all.
Boris Johnson has appointed a new Cabinet that shares his determination to deliver Brexit. He has also appointed a number of new advisers to support him in the task ahead. A number of them worked on the successful Vote Leave campaign which inspired people to vote for a better future and to take back control of our own laws. It is important to have the right advice and support of people who believe in the objective because one of the main weaknesses that Theresa May faced is that too many people around her didn’t really agree with government policy or understand that leaving the EU really is in the national interest. In politics, if you embark on major change, you have to have a team that understands and believes in what we are delivering as a country.
In Defra we have many issues to address. Firstly we need to consider what tariffs we would apply to imports once we leave. Measured by import value, the UK is the third largest market for food in the world after China and Japan and probably the most sophisticated. We have discerning consumers with an interest in food provenance and very high standards of animal welfare and food safety. Everyone wants access to our market but we must do nothing that jeopardises what we have built. We are also designing a major shift in the way we support farmers away from arbitrary payments based on land area where most of the money goes to very large and wealthy landowners and instead focusing funds on delivering enhanced animal welfare and environmental improvements. On fisheries, if we leave without an agreement, then as early as this November this year, we will be negotiating new arrangements and setting new conditions on any access to our waters and we will begin to rebalance the unfair sharing arrangements imposed on us by the EU.
No one can know for sure how events will develop over the next few months. However, at times of uncertainty what people need from their government most of all is a determined clarity of purpose and with the election of Boris Johnson we now have it.