Friday, 26 August 2011

Cornwall

It was a year ago this week that Florence Endellion Cameron was born while the Prime Minister and his family were on holiday here in Cornwall. Last weekend they were in Cornwall again in their second attempt this year at getting an August break.

You have to go back a long way to find a Prime Minister who has been so passionate for Cornwall. Margaret Thatcher used to regularly visit Cornwall on holiday and Harold Wilson famously loved the Scilly Isles but over the last twenty years, Cornwall hasn’t seen much of its Prime Ministers and it is good to see that trend well and truly broken. By my calculation, David Cameron has holidayed in Cornwall for four of the last five years and has been undeterred by the fact that there have been some very wet summers in that time. I am not sure if there has ever been a Prime Minister in history who had a Cornish daughter, let alone one named after a Cornish village.

Also in Cornwall last week was George Osborne who was here to announce that Cornwall has been successful in being awarded an Enterprise Zone at Newquay Airport to create new jobs by offering incentives for new companies to invest in the county. There was very tough competition across the country with many bids chasing only a handful of Enterprise Zones and so it has been a major achievement to get one here in Cornwall. It was always going to be important for the new Local Enterprise Partnership in Cornwall to deliver some early successes to build credibility so this was an important step forward. It was also a reminder of the benefits to Cornwall of being politically plugged in to the government so that we can get our voice heard.

Last week while canvassing in Camborne I met a constituent who was working at Parker, the American engineering firm in Redruth which is currently planning to close. He had worked in engineering all his life. Although he was understandably concerned for the future, he was also determined to find new work, had a can-do attitude and was the sort of person who should have no difficulty. But for me, it was a reminder that getting new industries and better paid jobs in Cornwall must remain the number one priority. We need to make sure that the benefits of the Enterprise Zone lift employment prospects across Cornwall and the task now for the LEP is to plan how there can be spin off benefits to towns like Camborne and Redruth perhaps by creating incentives on Business Rates. There are some good news stories with development at Hayle and new manufacturers such as Calidus and Seasalt opening in Redruth but there is more to do.

George Eustice can be contacted on george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or at 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall, TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.

Monday, 22 August 2011

A busy August

August is usually a quiet month for politics, but this year has certainly turned out to be an exception. Not only have we seen the shocking spectacle to looting and criminality on the streets of our major cities, but the world economy has also been teetering on the brink and the financial markets have been spooked by problems in both the US and the Eurozone.

It was against this backdrop that parliament was recalled to debate the current troubles. The House of Commons was packed last Thursday and, as dozens of MPs rose to their feet to address incidences of violence and looting that had erupted in their constituencies, you got a sense of how many people had been affected.

Parliament also addressed the perilous state of the world economy. As Eurozone countries continue to limp from one crisis to another, the recent deadlock between the Senate and the Congress in the United States over how to deal with their own debt crisis sent the money markets into a tailspin.

The one thing that recent events do prove is that the early action taken by George Osborne to get Britain’s finances back in order was right. A year ago, some commentators were pointing to the laid back approach being taken by President Obama to America’s debt mountain and suggesting that we should do the same. But a year on, the credit rating of the world’s biggest economy has been downgraded in an unprecedented move and growth has stalled. The truth is that you can’t keep living on borrowed money forever. You can only borrow if people are willing to lend to you. In recent years, both the United States and Europe have borrowed and spent more and more money from countries like China who actually make things and so have a surplus. They will want to be paid back at some point and will stop lending if they think you are not serious about repaying them. That is what has been happening to both America and those countries trapped inside the euro in recent weeks.

As a result of Britain acting early to cut its deficit, the world financial markets are starting to see the UK as a safe haven and, as a result, the yields on UK Gilts (put simply the interest rate the government needs to pay to attract people to lend it money) has fallen to the lowest level for over 100 years. While growth is slowing around the world, it is still 1.5 percent in Britain compared to zero in France. These things are more than just statistics. Sound management of the economy means lower mortgage rates for families and a boost to economic confidence which means more jobs and new businesses starting up. That is why we must hold our nerve and continue to live within our means.

George Eustice can be contacted on george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or at 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall, TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Riots in London

The riots in London this week have highlighted the problems caused by a gangland culture which seems to have become a feature of our major cities in recent years. Those involved were very young, in many cases still of school age. This was not a protest that got out of control or hijacked. The fact that wanton violence and looting spread so quickly and opportunistically to other parts of London proved that there was no single event that prompted these riots, it was simply the case that people with a criminal tendency jumped on a bandwagon.

There are many reasons why this dire gang culture has grown in recent years. It is partly because of the gradual breakdown of the traditional family unit. This means that fewer boys have a positive role model when they are growing up and, in too many cases, they end up seeking their inspiration and sense of belonging from urban gangs. It is partly driven by popular culture and the mainstreaming of a gang culture through things like rap music. Finally, the authority of teachers to maintain discipline in some schools, especially in our inner cities, has been undermined in recent years.

Putting these problems right will take time but it is important that we start now. There are some things we can’t change: popular culture moves in cycles but rap music will eventually lose its street credibility. Of the things we can change, first, we need to rekindle the family unit and, when doing that, we must also recognise the incredible role that millions of men play as step-fathers, supporting children for whom they are not the biological father.

Next, we need to improve discipline in schools and that is why the government is currently introducing new legislation that will tip the balance back in favour of the authority of teachers and strike down some of the obstacles that have prevented them doing basic things like confiscating mobile phones, expelling pupils or using reasonable force to restrain violent children.

Finally, I think we need to introduce a modern day form of national service so that young people from all sorts of different backgrounds come together and achieve something together. Some countries do this better than we do and they recognise that it can break down barriers in society. There are many good organisations already such as sports clubs, youth clubs, dance groups and the cadets movement but we need to make participation in such activity more universal. This summer the government has been piloting the idea of a National Citizens Service which aims to do just that. We will see how it develops but I would personally not rule out making such a scheme compulsory so that the hardest to reach also benefit.

George Eustice can be contacted on george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or at 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall, TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Celebrating Cornwall's Industrial Heritage

With parliament now in recess, August is a very good month to focus on meetings and work in Cornwall. I am holding a series of public meetings across the constituency this month starting with two this week at Ponsanooth and Mount Hawke and with others to follow every week. It is a great way to keep in touch with people’s concerns.

The parliamentary recess is also a good time to take forward other local initiatives. Last week I organised a mini conference to discuss how we can maximise the benefits from Cornwall’s World Heritage Site status. Almost sixty people packed into Murdoch House in Redruth to take part in the discussion.

Camborne, Redruth and Hayle together make up the heart of Cornwall’s industrial heritage with most of the key attractions and old engine houses based here. Although people are aware of Cornwall’s industrial landscape, very few realise that we are a World Heritage Site. This is partly because most World Heritage Sites are clearly defined single locations and having a large site covering the whole of Cornwall (and part of West Devon) creates challenges.

I think we should make more of our heritage. We might be able to build a stronger tourist offering to visitors, especially those returning from overseas to trace their ancestors. There are around 8 million people around the world who are part of the Cornish Diaspora, with ancestors who can be traced back to Cornwall. These Cornish emigrants took mining technology around the globe to places such as Australia, the United States, Mexico and South America. The growth of the internet has made it easier for people to trace their family history and there has been a surge of interest in such research.

Some good work is already underway in Cornwall. We had a detailed presentation from the World Heritage Site team at Cornwall Council who have helped develop the offering of a number of local mining attractions, created a new website and done a lot of research into public perceptions. The Heartlands project at Pool is almost complete and there is the hope that this will create a strong central attraction which will pull more people into the area and benefit the other attractions too. We also heard from the Trevithick Society of their imminent plans to display Trevithick’s Puffing Devil engine in the old Holmans showroom beside Camborne railway station which I think is a great idea.

But there is also more to do. We need to do more to improve and support our tourist attractions, we need better signage so that awareness is raised and we need to do more to market the extraordinary heritage we have. There was certainly no shortage of enthusiasm and passion at our meeting and I hope people will work together to create success.

George Eustice can be contacted on george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or at 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall, TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.