Thursday, 1 December 2016

Christmas, Cornwall Air Ambulance and the Addington Fund

There is nothing like Christmas to bring our communities together and this week, Camborne and Redruth have both been getting into the festive spirit with both towns turning on their Christmas lights last Saturday. 

It is also the time of year when we start to think about sending Christmas cards. As in previous years, I ran a competition with local primary schools to design my Christmas card. We had over sixteen schools enter, which is a record, and local children really rose to the challenge with some fabulous artwork.  The panel of judges had a difficult task as always.

This is also a good time of year to acknowledge some good news.  Earlier this week I had the chance to catch up with the team at the Cornwall Air Ambulance who were attending an event at Westminster. They have just been awarded £1 million from the Libor banking fund which is a major boost to their fundraising for a new helicopter.

I can remember when the Cornwall Air Ambulance began in 1987. It was a great example of Cornwall's "one and all" approach because people in Cornwall really rallied behind the idea.  It was the first air ambulance in the UK and now many other parts of the country have followed Cornwall's lead.   Since 1987, it has completed more than 26,000 missions and saved many lives.  It is a great initiative and I wish them every success in raising the funds that are still required to hit their target.

Last week I also had the chance to visit a new housing project run by the Addington Fund at Ruthvoes. Addington does excellent work providing homes for farmers who have had to leave their farm either due to hardship, retirement or ill health. They now have over eighty homes. For many farmers, leaving the farm and having to sell their herd or flock is an emotional wrench and they often find it hard to get alternative housing too.  Having a specialist housing provider with people who really understand farmers is a life line for many.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Redruth Job Centre

Last week, I visited Redruth Job Centre. Unemployment is at its lowest level for many years and I was told that on one local job website alone, there were some 500 job vacancies within a five mile radius of Redruth.

I have always been impressed by the local management team at Redruth Job Centre.  They have an enthusiasm and a passion for the area.  They try new ideas and pilot new approaches nationally.  They currently operate a call centre helpline from Redruth offering advice to benefit claimants nationally using the expertise that the team have developed over many years.

While no system we put in place will ever be perfect and different people need different support, we have to constantly try to improve the support we offer local people to help them back into work. Getting a job and being a valued part of a team in a working environment gives people purpose in life and can help on so many other fronts too.  That is why we owe it to the long term unemployed to help them gain the confidence to take work.

About seven years ago under Gordon Brown's premiership, there was a severe problem with youth unemployment.  When David Cameron became Prime Minister he introduced a new work experience programme so that young people who had left school or college could do work experience for a few weeks. It was contentious at the time and some dubbed it "slave labour" but they were proved completely wrong.  The policy was an extraordinary success and many young people found work as a result. Youth unemployment has now fallen dramatically.  

The next challenge is to help those with impairments or suffering from depression and anxiety back to work. A lot of progress has been made through schemes like Access to Work which provides grants to help people with a disability get any additional equipment they might need to help them get a job.  There is also more work being done to redesign the "Work Programme" so that it provides additional help to those who are on Employment Support Allowance and other disability benefits and to help knock down the barriers to them joining the workplace where possible.  

As the economy turns a corner, we need to make sure we continue to create better paid jobs for this part of Cornwall. As new companies arrive I want to see them become successful and profitable enough to offer higher wages so that we encourage people to take work and stay in work.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Remembrance Sunday

It was a beautiful day for this year’s Remembrance Sunday services. I joined the Royal British Legion at Redruth in the morning, and then went on to Illogan in the afternoon. This year marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and Battle of Jutland, as well as the 25th anniversary of the Gulf War.

2016 saw twenty one Second World War veterans from across Cornwall being presented with the Légion d’honneur. The French Government has been awarding the Légion d’honneur to D-Day veterans from many different countries as a way of honouring and thanking those who fought and risked their lives to secure France’s liberation during the Second World War.  The Légion d’honneur was established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte and is France’s highest distinction and is awarded in recognition of both military and civilian merit.

However, we also have more recent scars from conflict.  There is no doubt in my mind that the difficult operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years has made the public far more conscious of sacrifices made by our armed forces. We owe those who have given up so much at such a young age all the support they need to help them build their lives back, especially those who suffered life changing injuries during those terrible conflicts. Charities such as Help for Heroes, the Army Benevolent Fund and the Royal British Legion do just that, helping people recover not just from the physical but also mental difficulties that come from being exposed to war.

It was good to see such a strong attendance from all the various Cadet groups, Scouts and Brownies. It is great to see these movements going from strength to strength, and the young people that represent them always do us proud.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Carnegie Wave Energy at Wave Hub

I have always believed that Wave Hub is a really exciting project. It is the world’s largest and most technologically advanced site for the testing and development of offshore renewable energy technology. It is establishing Hayle as an international centre of excellence in the renewable energy technologies of the future, and this in turn is securing the UK’s reputation as a market leader in offshore renewables.

I am delighted that Carnegie Wave Energy, a leading wave energy developer from Australia, has been awarded a grant to support the first phase of its £60m commercial wave energy project at Wave Hub. Carnegie Wave Energy is the only company in the world to have operated a grid-connected wave energy project over four seasons, and I believe that it is wonderful news for Cornwall.

The project will be delivered by Carnegie’s local subsidiary, CWE UK, which is already based at the Hayle Marine Renewable Business Park. Delivery of the project will leverage Cornwall’s wave energy resource, marine energy revenue support, maritime industrial heritage, Wave Hub infrastructure, and innovative marine engineering and research sectors.

Additionally, the project will include engagement with, and coordination of, a suitable supply chain for the construction and operational phases. Having spoken with representatives from Carnegie Wave Energy, I am confident that the project will bring huge opportunities to commercialise wave energy in the UK.

Carnegie Wave Energy will be announcing the funding and the CETO Wave Hub Project at the Ocean Energy Europe conference in Brussels this week. I will be meeting with representatives from Carnegie at Hayle, and look forward to learning more about the project.

Attracting Carnegie Wave Energy to Cornwall highlights a long term commitment to this sector. I am hugely proud of what has been achieved at Wave Hub. I am excited about its future, and believe that we should fully support continued investment in this sector.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Meeting with Volunteers

This week, I met with a group of students from Camborne Science and International Academy. They were all taking part in the National Citizen Service. As part of this, the group were at the Centenary Chapel on Wesley Street volunteering at the food bank.

Visiting groups such as these always boosts my faith in human nature. The energy, determination and commitment of the group was infectious. The food bank has now been running for a number of years. The driving force behind the project is Don Gardner but he has incredible support from volunteers both connected with churches in Camborne and outside, as well as other volunteer groups. I was really heartened to hear of the excellent contribution being made by the students from CSIA.

The concept of the food bank is simple: members of the public and sometimes local businesses donate food to the charity and local agencies can issue vouchers for food to those families facing genuine financial crisis. As well as helping those facing problems all year round, they make a special effort at Christmas. Food Banks do excellent work helping those who have hit difficult times and I fully support the efforts of people like Don Gardner and others from local churches in our community who have come together to offer support in this way.  

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Cornwall Manufacturers Group

Last week I met the Cornwall Manufacturers Group. The group was started in 2012, with the addition of SME manufacturers to the Cornwall Manufacturers Forum of the largest manufacturing companies in the county. Members come from various sectors, including agricultural machinery and medical equipment. 

The Group comes together as a means of sharing information, and discussing the wider manufacturing industry in Cornwall. It aims to encourage and assist the development of manufacturing in Cornwall. The switch of emphasis towards manufacturing is feeding into an economic revival in areas like Camborne and Redruth, which have traditionally been centres of excellence for industry and engineering.

A great example is that of European Springs and Pressings. Based in Redruth, European Springs and Pressings recently took on a project that highlighted the technological expertise of its workforce. The company formed part of a design solution to West Ham Football Club’s new football ground.

Teagle Machinery is another great example of a Cornish success story. It is a world leader in its sector. It remains a private company owned by the same Teagle family who founded it. The number of staff employed has more than doubled in the last ten years. More than half of everything the company makes is exported as far afield as Japan, the US and Eastern Europe. It has achieved success by achieving the highest standards and by constantly reinvesting in research and development to create new designs which offer engineering solutions to the challenges of modern farming.

I would like to see more support for manufacturing businesses. We need to be more willing to lend a hand to those companies which have a proven track record and might achieve a lot more with some targeted help on things like developing export markets and research and development.  Leaving the EU creates an opportunity to modernise and improve the way we target grant support for businesses.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Camborne Rec

I am delighted that Camborne Recreation Ground has been preserved as a community facility following a major campaign and a petition by 5000 local people.  There is now an agreement between Cornwall Council and the Town Council to a 99 year lease which also secures the home of Camborne Rugby Club and the best rugby ground in the county for decades to come.

Camborne RFC has less than twenty years to run on their current lease. This has made it difficult for the club to acquire grant funding to improve the current facilities. The certainty that this agreement secures means the Club can now plan its future with confidence.

Two weeks ago I watched Camborne beat Salisbury 56-19 and the ground looked perfect: almost like a cricket pitch.  My father used to play for Camborne and a couple of years ago he deployed his farming knowledge to improve the ground.  He would be proud to see how well the team is performing this year.

Camborne Rugby Club has really been on the up in recent years.  They have recently been promoted from Tribute South West 1 West to National League 3 South West. They have also won all six of their first games this year in the higher league.  

The club also have teams for each year age group, and are also good at playing younger players in the main team so that they gain valuable experience. There has been a strong team spirit because the players quickly progress through the Colts and into the Chiefs and get used to playing rugby together.

I think that amateur sports clubs like this have a crucial role to play in our community. We need to have the club structures there to support and encourage children into the sport they love. Groups like this are the bedrock of our society and we need to support them.