Thursday, 14 May 2015

My Plan For The Next Five Years

The election last Thursday delivered a very good result for Cornish Conservatives and I want to thank all those in the Camborne, Redruth and Hayle constituency who placed their confidence in me for a second term. Now the election is over, I want to be clear that I intend to represent everyone in this constituency whether they voted for me or not.

In these last five years I have prioritised the regeneration of our towns. I grew up here and hate the way some people talk down Camborne and Redruth. We have an industrial heritage to be proud of and the housing development at the old Holman's site in Camborne shows we can create new housing as well as protect some of the beautiful architecture that we have. Work to do the same to the old brewery site in Redruth is underway and the transformation of Hayle Harbour is finally taking shape. In the next five years, I want to get things moving on some of the other derelict sites we have like Avers roundabout and Tuckingmill. 

We also need to attract new industries and better paid jobs. Unemployment has halved here in the last five years, but the next step is to increase wages and create more opportunities for young people. The new Barncoose Gateway building will provide space for twenty companies employing 500 people. There are already two software companies moving in who between them will employ around 200 people and our schools are now putting more emphasis on maths, physics and computer coding so young people here will be better equipped to take these well paid jobs when they leave school.

Next on my list of priorities is to help those on the bottom rung of the ladder. When people lose their self confidence or get trapped in debt, it can be incredibly demoralising. We need support and advice for those trapped in debt to help them get their life back on an even keel.

Finally, I want to ensure Cornwall gets its fair share of funding for public services. Just because we are a long way from London doesn't mean we should get less than our share. Progress has been made in re-balancing the funding formula so it recognises the challenges faced by Cornwall which has to contend with an older population, increased visitors in the summer and the difficulty of being a peninsula at the end of the line.

Friday, 1 May 2015

A Lot Done, A Lot More to Do

When I was elected in 2010 I made delivering economic regeneration my number one priority. We have an industrial heritage to be proud of and over the last few years I have prioritised delivering major projects like the regeneration of Hayle Harbour and the Cornwall Archive at the old Redruth brewery.  

We have made a good start, but there is more to do. While unemployment has almost halved in recent years, we still have problems with a low wage economy so we need to attract new industries and better paid jobs.  Over the last few years, we have started to see new businesses setting up in industries like computer software and engineering and which have skilled jobs on offer. I will work to ensure that we continue to increase the number of well paid jobs in our economy to provide opportunities for the next generation.

To build on what we have started, we need to fight for continued investment in our transport infrastructure, we need more apprenticeships to help young people find their first job and we need to ensure we have the right support in place to help those who are out of work and have lost their self-confidence.  

Friday, 24 April 2015

Public Services

A recent report by comparing health systems concluded we have the best NHS in the world.  Its central value is that it is free at the point of need and it is the dedicated staff that makes it such a great institution. We have increased NHS spending by over £12 billion since 2010 and will increase it by another £8 billion if re-elected.

While it is free at the point of need our NHS has always involved some private practices most notably GPs surgeries. Tony Blair extended the use of private providers in the NHS and Gordon Brown introduced PFI contracts which left many schools and hospitals lumbered with appalling contracts where they were routinely ripped off for basic property maintenance.

The use of private providers in the NHS encompasses only six percent of the total NHS budget, an increase of only one percent since 2010. I think the key thing is not to be dogmatic about these issues. Where private providers can help our schools and hospitals cope we shouldn't rule them out.  But the agreements need to be negotiated properly so that our NHS is not ripped off in the way it was under Gordon Brown's PFI deals.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Farming and Fishing

I grew up at Trevaskis Farm near Connor Downs, studied at agricultural college and worked in the family business for over nine years.  Over the last eighteen months I have been the Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food.  I think it makes sense in politics to bring to the table knowledge you gained in an earlier career and for me that was farming.  

I want to see a vibrant farming industry and my priorities if returned would be to shake up the Common Agricultural Policy and make it easier for new entrants to get into the industry. I also think we should have a much looser CAP with common European objectives, but where national governments legislate to deliver these objectives in their own way.  

All new industries need new talent and farming is no exception. The high cost of land is a real barrier to new entrants so I want to do more to encourage alternative routes in, such as contract farming agreements where a young farmer might manage the crops or livestock on behalf of the landowner for a fee that is linked to outcomes.

Better progress has been made improving the Common Fisheries Policy and we have now banned the shameful practice of discarding perfectly good fish back into the sea which takes effect next January.  

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Superfast Broadband

In order to raise standards of living and wages in Cornwall we need to attract new industries and better paid jobs. The Superfast Cornwall programme has been very successful in getting homes and businesses connected to fibre optic broadband and when the programme ends in 2015, it will have connected 95% of premises in the county.

Improving connectivity is a great way of attracting new businesses to the area and we are now beginning to feel the benefits. I recently visited the Barncoose Gateway Centre where they have opened a new office block with space for twenty companies. Once occupied there will be 500 skilled jobs on offer and already NetBooster have chosen to base their European headquarters there. Elsewhere, the innovation centres at Pool and Tremough play an important role in incubating new start-ups, with Tremough specialising in digital media and green technology.

These are all positive steps forward. However to build on this, we also need to take advantage of our industrial heritage and wave resources. In Redruth, Severn Subsea is a world leader in the development of equipment for the oil and gas industry while in Hayle, Wave Hub has harnessed the powerful Atlantic swell to create the first commercial test facility for wave power in the world. We need to encourage more of this kind of innovation to attract new opportunities to the area.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Housing

Finding the right home is one of the main issues that constituents come to ask my help on and I think there are three key things we need to do.
Firstly, we need to build additional homes, especially for young families who need more room and for older people looking to downsize. If we build more one bedroom apartments then we also free up larger homes for families. I have always argued that we should build on brownfield sites before greenfield sites and projects like the old Assembly Rooms at Trevu Road next to Camborne train station are the model to follow.
Secondly, we need to be flexible about the way we allocate social housing.  When people's circumstances change and perhaps they are earning more money or their children have flown the nest, we need to encourage them to move up the housing ladder and make way for young families in need of a larger home.  
Finally, we need to help those who aspire to own their own home. Schemes like Help to Buy have been successful helping hundreds of local families by underwriting their mortgage so that they can get a 95 percent mortgage and buy their first home. I want to see more of this help.

Better Opportunities

Since being elected in 2010, my main priority has been economic regeneration and I have put my weight behind several major projects like the Cornwall Archive Centre, the restoration of Hayle Harbour and the new link road to unlock derelict land at Tuckingmill. My priority now is to attract new industries and better paid jobs. 
Progress has been made. Unemployment has almost halved.  The new Innovation Centres at Pool and Tremough have seen many new companies setting up in Redruth with a new generation of computer software and digital companies choosing Camborne and Redruth as the location to set up in business.  We have also attracted new engineering firms like Large Diameter Drilling in Tolvaddon and Severn SubSea.  
There is still concern about low levels of pay in Cornwall and that is why we must focus on developing skills so young people can take advantage of the new opportunities being created.  There are also concerns about zero hours contracts although it is important to recognise they only apply to around 2 percent of all jobs.  However, the Government has acted to ban exclusivity clauses in these, ensuring those on zero hour contracts have the freedom to pursue other opportunities.