Thursday, 17 May 2018

South Crofty

There has been much talk about South Crofty in recent weeks, both locally and nationally. March 2018 marked 20 years since South Crofty sadly closed its gates for the last time. This week, South Crofty has been in the national spotlight again. Strongbow Exploration, the Canadian company which bought South Crofty in July 2016, has announced plans to float on the Alternative Investment Market next month. This is great news for us here in Cornwall. Strongbow is looking to raise £25m during the next 18 months to progress to a production decision.
 
It is estimated that production could begin in 2021. I am in regular contact with Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Strongbow, and there is every reason to be optimistic.
 
As always with mining, there have been many false starts. Tin prices vary, but have rallied of late. Demand for tin has increased dramatically. It is the main element used in solder, which joins up electronic circuit boards on mobile phones, tablets and TVs. These changes mean world tin prices are currently at around 20,000 dollars per tonne – an 8-10 fold increase on 1998. Global demand for tin is predicted to remain stable, but supply is likely to decline over the next few years due to a fall in production in China, Malaysia and Peru.
 
One of the challenges we face is ensuring that the “Red River” does not run red again. In the mining days of the past, various pollutants entered the water and gave it a red appearance (hence the name). We have to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and that we protect the ecology in and around the river. I worked with the Environment Agency and Strongbow, the owners of the mine, to find the right kind of filtration and water purification processes and permits were then issued late last year.
 
We have also learnt that Cornwall has considerable lithium reserves, including in South Crofty. Cornish Lithium is exploring for lithium within the hot springs that naturally occur beneath the surface in and around Cornish granites. The government as earmarked lithium as a metal of strategic importance to the country, and its use in electric cars makes it an important asset. So, the presence of metals in South Crofty that are in the vanguard of modern electronic technology creates a good chance that mining will resume.
 
Since being elected, I have prioritised economic regeneration. The East-West link road has played a crucial part in unlocking the potential of the derelict land around South Crofty.  We have seen Pool transformed over the last four years with new businesses setting up at the Pool Innovation Centre, a makeover for the college and, of course, the completion of Heartlands.  We are seeing new employment space opened up to attract new industries and better paid jobs. This latest news about the mine is good news for our area, and we have much to look forward to as we move forwards.
 

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Kresen Kernow

Cornwall has a unique culture and an industrial heritage to be proud of, with Redruth playing a particularly important role as one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution and as the centre of the Cornish diaspora across the world. In its prime, Redruth was at the heart of the tin mining industry and there were many feats of engineering developed in Cornwall at that time.

After the decline in the fortunes of tin mining in the late nineteenth century, there was a huge exodus to the new world with Cornish tin miners founding the industry in Australia, California, South Africa, South America and Mexico. As a result, today there are some six to eight million people making up a worldwide Cornish diaspora and the vast majority of them can trace their family roots back to Redruth.

 
Last week, I visited the Kresen Kernow Cornish Archive. It has undergone quite a transformation since my last visit. Huge progress has been made. The roof is now being put on, and it was great to see the purpose built rooms that will house thousands of manuscripts, maps and photographs as well as other documents relating to Cornwall.

Redruth beat competition from other towns to win designation by Cornwall Council as the preferred site for the project and saw off fierce competition from dozens of other bids nationally to successfully land funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

I argued Redruth was the natural home for this archive project. Redruth is the most international of Cornish towns. Redruth Town Council has shown tremendous enthusiasm for the new archive project and credit should also go to both existing and former local councillors for their support.


I have met Horace Yao, the Honk Kong based owner of the brewery site in Redruth, on many occasions now to try to help progress plans. Mr Yao bought the brewery site some twenty years ago and ran the famous Cornish Rebellion and Newquay Steam beer brands for several years. Since then there have been a couple of schemes to try to find a future for the site which didn't work out in the end and he has shown tremendous patience in being prepared to go through another process which has succeeded. The most sought after residential address in Hong Kong is actually along Cornwall Street which shows how far our international connections spread and it is fitting that there should be a Hong Kong connection in creating the most sought after venue in Cornwall.


It is this history that makes Redruth the ideal place to host the new Kresen Kernow archive project and that is why I have supported this initiative from the start.

 

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill

In the last week, I have been contacted by many constituents about the Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill. Last Friday, I was one of the MPs that stayed in London to vote for the Bill to protect emergency workers. In the end, there was a consensus on all sides of parliament and a vote was not required, meaning that the Bill has now passed all its Commons stages and will now be considered by the House of Lords.
 
I think that strengthening the law to protect staff in our emergency services who are just doing their job is now needed.  In the current internet age, there has been a coarsening of our society with more people showing aggression and intolerance and more people finding themselves on the receiving end of abuse.  We see it in the nature of some of our political debate with intolerant attitudes which can undermine freedom of speech.   
 
We have also sadly seen an increase in abuse and physical attacks aimed at front line staff in our emergency services.  This is totally unacceptable. The great strength of our emergency services stems from the men and women who work in them and the commitment they bring. We owe emergency service workers a debt of gratitude for the courage, commitment and dedication they demonstrate in keeping us safe and this needs to be reflected in the law.

The Bill would create a statutory aggravating factor. This means that when a person is convicted of a specific offence, the judge would have to consider the fact it was committed against an emergency worker as an aggravating factor in determining the sentence within the maximum allowed for the particular offence. It will also create a new aggravated version of the offences of common assault and battery when committed against an emergency worker, for which the maximum allowed for common assault will be increased from six months to twelve months.
 
The Government has made clear that it supports the amendment which will see sexual assault added to the list of offences to which the Bill’s statutory aggravating factor will apply.

The Bill covers all emergency workers, including police, prison officers, custody officers, fire service personnel, search and rescue services and certain healthcare workers including ambulance personnel and it sends a very clear message that our society will not tolerate assault on the emergency services.  Sometimes, despite the nature of politics at the moment, parliament is capable of coming together in unity to deliver changes that matter.
 
Portreath School
 
Congratulations to pupils from Portreath School were in parliament last week to address a parliamentary committee on the work they have done to tackle the scourge of plastic waste. They have persuaded suppliers to change from plastic to cardboard packaging, their milk now arrives in glass bottles, and they help with beach cleans at Portreath. It is great to see a Cornish school teaming up with Surfers Against Sewage to take part in this campaign.

 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Trevithick Day

This week, I am very much looking forward to attending the Trevithick Day celebrations. Back in 2010, when I was first elected to Parliament, I made Richard Trevithick the main focus of my maiden speech.  I found a wonderful statement from him saying that, although he had been criticised for trying new principles and was left in severe financial hardship as a result of his pioneering endeavours, he knew in his own heart that he had brought forward new ideas that would be of boundless value to his country.  For many years, Trevithick's achievements were not really recognised which makes it all the more important we celebrate them now.

For me the achievements of Richard Trevithick epitomise the contribution made by Cornwall to the Industrial Revolution, and while Holmans and the mines may be gone, Camborne and Redruth still has many world leaders in specialist engineering.
 

Large Diameter Drilling (LDD) have opened a factory at Tolvaddon. This is a world leading company specialising in heavy engineering and drilling technology and they are involved in projects around the world including Panama, Argentina, Alaska, Malaysia and Australia.  It's great that the legacy of Holmans lives on through new, world leading companies like LDD.  
                                                                                             
Meanwhile, European Springs and Pressings in Redruth are leading experts in the field of spring manufacturing and high speed press technology. They have had a fantastic year and continue to go from strength to strength. Severn Subsea in Redruth helps manufacture complex components for the oil and gas industry.  DP Engineering, also in Redruth, manufactures specialist components for the aerospace industry while Rigibore in Hayle produce highly specialised, computer guided drill bits for use in precision hydraulics manufacturing.

In some cases, the driving forces behind these companies trace their roots back to Holmans.  It is why the greatest legacy left by Holmans wasn't the buildings but the people they trained. I would like to see us build on our heritage and expertise in engineering.  We are seeing our local schools bring in a renewed focus on science and technology to prepare the next generation for a rewarding career in technology and, in recent years, the government has delivered a huge expansion in apprenticeships to help young people get a career.   

I have been really encouraged by the energy that our local schools have put in to promoting science as a career choice for their pupils. The future success of our nation will depend on us maintaining a lead in technology. Britain has a lot going for it. Four of the world’s top ten universities are in the UK. We lead in areas such as cyber technology, satellite communications, aerospace and pharmaceuticals.
 
Last week’s employment figures signalled further good news for the area, with unemployment at its lowest level since the early 1970s. Since becoming an MP, I have prioritised regeneration. I am clear that I want to see these fantastic companies continue to thrive, and offer well paid jobs so that our brightest young people are encouraged to stay here in Cornwall.

 

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Syria

This week, British forces joined Allies in a precision strike on Syrian installations involved in the regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own people. The strike was launched as a response to a chemical weapon attack in Douma which killed up to 75 people, including young children.
 
All available evidence indicates that the Syrian regime was responsible for this attack on its own people. This must be stopped not just to protect innocent people in Syria, but because we cannot and will not allow an erosion of international norms that prevent the use of chemical weapons.
 
I voted for action in Syria back in 2013. As was the case then, we are neither trying to change a regime, nor to impose some Western style democracy. No British troops are committed to the region. There are no risks taken with British pilots. Instead, there is one clear and modest objective: to prevent and deter the use of chemical weapons which have been subject to a worldwide ban since 1925 and the use of which is a war crime. This was a very limited intervention to address a particular crime and was nothing like Tony Blair's engagements in Iraq fifteen years ago which were hugely ambitious and ran into severe problems.
 
Wars leave a profound imprint on the public consciousness and we are always at risk of allowing the experience of our most recent conflict to cloud our judgment about the events of the day. The horrors of the First World War led to the policies of appeasement and disarmament which then contributed to the Second World War. The world did too little, too late in Rwanda and in Bosnia but was then too ambitious in its intervention in Iraq. This week many MPs who voted against action in Syria in 2013 expressed their regret at having failed to act.
 
In the Balkans twenty years ago, the world also did too little too late. The diplomatic establishment stood on the sidelines insisting that nothing could be done, reciting the ancient adage that you should not “mess with the Balkans” and fearful that they might upset Russia. As a result around 100,000 people were killed, 8000 men and boys were massacred at Srebrenica in 1995 and an estimated 30,000 women and girls were subjected to systematic rape which was used as a weapon of war. There were lots of “what if?” doubters at the time who cautioned against involvement but when we did finally intervene in Kosovo in 1998, we actually found it was a relatively simple operation that should have been done far sooner.
 
There are only three countries in the world that have the military capability to stop the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria: Britain, America and France. We must stand with France and the United States to do the right thing.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Commonwealth Games


In the last few days, we have seen the 2018 Commonwealth Games get underway at the Gold Coast in Australia.  The Games will go on until 15th April, with more than 6,600 athletes and team officials from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories taking part. New sports including Women’s Rugby Sevens and the Para Triathlon are making their Commonwealth Games debuts this year.
 
I was particularly pleased to hear that Molly Caudery will be competing in the pole vault. Molly trains at Carn Brea Leisure Centre, and will be the youngest competitor in the English team. 
 
You know you're getting older when you start sentences with "I knew her father" but Stuart Caudery was a highly accomplished decathlete (and pole vaulter) and was a member of Cornwall Athletic Club at the same time as me in the late 80's and early 90's.  There would often be times when a small band of us from Cornwall would head off in the minibus at the crack of dawn, London bound, to hold our position in the Southern Athletics League.  When you are thinly spread across lots of different events, a decathlete is an essential part of the team and Stuart was always kept busy!
 
I wish Molly the very best of luck in her debut at the highest level of international competition and Cornwall will be willing her on all the way.
 
Cornish athletes have often played a huge part in the success of our national teams. In 2012, Ben Ainslie won his event for the fourth time and Helen Glover took Britain’s first gold of the Olympic Games. She went on to win gold again in Rio. Paratriathlete Melissa Reid, from Porthtowan was selected to participate in the 2016 Paralympics.
 
The legacy from the London 2012 Olympics is often described as economic, encouraging trade, inward investment and tourism. However, I hope that the most important legacy is that a generation of young people has been inspired to take up sport thanks to the emergence of new role models to encourage young athletes to follow their passion.
 
I am supportive of the campaign to get every primary school in the UK running the Daily Mile. Several of our local schools have already signed up and some have even linked it to fundraising efforts for charity.  It is a great way to get children in the habit of regular exercise from a young age.
 
Last week, the largest Olympic-style youth sports event in the region took place at Mount Hawke skate park. Lots of young people enjoyed the experience of competing at one of the UK's best skate parks and host of the Team GB Olympic Trials for Tokyo 2020. The Mount Hawke team took gold in both the scooter and skateboard team classes.
 
We have some fantastic sporting success stories here in Cornwall, and our local athletes have given us much to be proud of.
 

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Pets

A few weeks ago, my office was contacted by a constituent whose dog had sadly passed away. It was a relatively young dog, and she was clearly heartbroken by the loss of her companion. Unfortunately, she had been told by her housing association that she would not be able to get another dog. Whilst they had allowed the dog when she moved in, as she already had him, they couldn’t give permission for a new pet.
 
The constituent had also lost her husband. I wrote to the housing association concerned, and I am over the moon that they are now reviewing their policy to make exceptions in cases where loneliness is a factor. I am hopeful that the lady concerned will be able to get a new pet, providing her with companionship.   
 
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister committed to tackling the issue of loneliness. More than 9 million people in our society always or often feel lonely. Shockingly, around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month. Up to 85% of young disabled adults feel lonely. Loneliness is one of the challenges of our time.
 
The companionship of a much loved pet can be of great benefit to humans. Reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and increasing social interaction and physical activity are all associated benefits. Equally, all too often we hear of people abandoning animals including dogs and cats. Extraordinarily, many animal welfare charities say they often have to take in pets because landlords refuse to allow people to take them with them into their homes.
 
Locally we have one of the country’s leading charities in this area. The Cinnamon Trust is a national charity also based here at Hayle, which organises an army of volunteers to help exercise dogs whose owners are no longer able to and to re-home dogs whose owners have passed away. Cinnamon Trust is the only specialist national charity supporting elderly and terminally ill pet owners and their much loved, much needed pets. The Trust, through a network of 16,100 volunteers, provides domiciliary help with an aspect of day to day pet care that is difficult for the owner to provide, e.g. dog walking. The Trust offers a short-term fostering service when owners face a spell in hospital. For owners who need care themselves, the Trust supports sheltered housing, care homes and nursing homes to maintain a database of facilities where they are welcome with their pets. The Trust also takes on lifetime care of pets who outlive their owners.
 

My own cat, Gus, joined the Eustice family 2 years ago from the Cats Protection. He has been a wonderful addition to our family. Gus’ previous owner had been unable to keep him, as she had been moving. He has settled into life in our home very well.

That we are a nation of animal lovers is proved by the fact that there are so many vibrant charities like the Cinnamon Trust out there doing this sort of work with so many volunteers willing to support them.