Thursday, 29 August 2013

Archive Centre takes major step forward

This week, plans for Kresen Kernow, the new Cornwall Archive Centre to be built at the old brewery site at Redruth took another major step forward as land deals with the owner of the site were finally completed after months of complicated discussions. Late last year Redruth beat competition from other towns to win designation by Cornwall Council as the preferred site for the project and in the spring Redruth saw off fierce competition from dozens of other bids nationally to successfully land funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Things that are worth doing are never easy and this project has been no exception. But Redruth has so far managed to clear each obstacle put before it and there is now a lot of momentum behind this idea with a planning application now imminent. The success so far is a credit to many different people from the enthusiasm of Reduth Town Council to the patience of Horace Yao, the owner of the brewery site and the hard work of regeneration officers at Cornwall Council who have had to hit challenging deadlines for their work.

I have been arguing for the last two years that Redruth was the natural home for this archive project. Redruth is the most international of Cornish towns. Of the 8 million strong world-wide Cornish Diaspora, around a quarter can trace their roots back to Redruth. We exported mining expertise around the globe from Australia and South Africa to California, South America and Mexico. 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 actually looks set to succeed his time. 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.

The time scales for submitting various funding bids and plans to make a reality of the project have been very demanding and credit is due to the various regeneration and planning officers involved at Cornwall Council. As well as being an amazing resource celebrating Cornish history and culture, the archive project is the answer to ending the dereliction of the brewery site and will be the catalyst that kick starts the long awaited revival of Redruth.

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

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Unemployment Down.

Last week saw the latest unemployment figures published which showed a further fall in unemployment in Devon and Cornwall with the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance falling to its lowest level since 2008 going down by 5000 since the same time last year. It's welcome news and is further evidence that the economy is starting to move in the right direction.

I have always been clear that delivering economic regeneration and creating more jobs and better paid jobs is the number on priority for this part of Cornwall. Despite perceptions to the contrary, Camborne, Redruth and Hayle actually have a level of unemployment that is about average for the UK at 3.6 percent.

This is the part of Cornwall where the largest manufacturers are based and where the work gets done. The biggest challenge we have is creating better paid employment because levels of income in Cornwall are stubbornly low. There is no short cut to changing this. In the long term wages will rise only through the creation of new, more profitable businesses and through making sure young people's locally have the standard of education and the skills to win those well paid jobs.

There are lots of reasons why people end up out of work and we need to make sure that the right support is in place to help them. In the case of young people who have just left school or college, it is often the lack of experience that is the only barrier to them finding work. The process of submitting application after application only to be knocked back can be very demoralising. This has been exacerbated by a disturbing feature of modern, supposedly professional "human resources" policies. Often, an employer has already privately decided that they are going to offer a place to an internal candidate but the HR experts will insist on going through the motions of advertising the job and interviewing other candidates so a whole load of people have their time wasted in the name professional practice.

What we really need for our young people is that they have less experience of having to fill out dull application forms but instead are given some experience of actually having a job. That is why the work experience scheme has been such a success because it has given thousands of young people the break they needed and, in lots of cases, employers have been so impressed by the young people who have been seconded to their business that they have gone out of their way to find a paid position for them. That's better for the confidence of young people than requiring them to fill out endless application forms for sham jobs.

But people can also find themselves out of work and suffer a loss of confidence later in life too. There are all sorts of knocks that people have to endure which can lead to a loss of confidence in their ability to work: bereavement, depression, marital breakdown or simply a bad experience with a manager at work leaving them feeling undermined.

Last week I visited a project in Redruth called Active Plus. It is staffed by forces veterans who have suffered problems of their own in life but have come through the other side. They aim to inspire and support older people on the course who have suffered a serious set back in life and to help them get their confidence and sense of purpose back. It's strength is that those who run it know how people feel because they've been there themselves and it was great to see so many people who had clearly enjoyed it and formed new friendships.

The problem of unemployment for those later in life is also exacerbated by a workplace culture that often leaves people in their fifties feeling they are on the scrap heap and are being passed over in favour of younger candidates. It is an attitude that needs to change because older people have so much experience to offer employers which should be recognised. As people live longer and the retirement age rises this will become more important.

George Eustice MP
Member of Parliament for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA 020 72197032 www.georgeeustice.co.uk

Monday, 19 August 2013

Stronger communities

Last week I attended the annual Pengegon Fun Day in Camborne which goes from strength to strength each year with a growing attendance. It is a great example of how a local community has come together to change their neighbourhood for the better.

Pengegon is often singled out by the local authority for its poverty and deprivation. I have always felt there is a danger of such people sounding patronising by focusing too much on the statistics and not enough on the people who actually make up and take great pride in this community. A couple of years ago a report in the West Briton about Pengegon prompted residents to ask the reporter to come out and meet them to put the record straight and see what was actually happening on the ground.

Crime has fallen dramatically in recent years as people start to look out for one another and the community has come together to campaign for improved facilities. Last week, young people living in Pengegon all aged between 8 and 15 were doing a litter pick to earn rewards. If they put in enough hours helping improve their area, they are all taken on a group day out swimming. If they go to the next level, they earn enough rewards to go to the main trip to BF adventure. It’s a really good way of bringing the next generation in this community closer together as well as teaching them the value of work and giving them a great trip.

Before I am accused of seeing everything through rose tinted glasses, I am under no illusion that we live in difficult times and there is undoubtedly a problem with poverty, debt, worklessness and family breakdown in our towns. These problems are longstanding and difficult to solve. But should we focus our efforts on treating the symptoms or tackling the causes? Is it better to give people a little bit extra in benefits or get them out of the benefits trap altogether and back into work? Should we make allowances for the challenges local schools will face or have even higher expectations of them?

My view is that our priority should be to tackle the root causes of poverty even though it takes longer and sometimes means tougher decisions in the short term. That is why some of the difficult changes the government is implementing to reform the benefits system are right and I welcome the increase to the Pupil Premium so that schools in areas where there is poverty have extra funds to employ the best teachers to give children the best start in life.


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

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Innovation will raise wages


Camborne, Redruth and Hayle have always been the part of Cornwall where good ideas are made and where the work gets done. The best known Cornish inventors came from here and these towns made a unique contribution to the industrial revolution.

Today, despite being on a remote peninsula, this is still the one part of Cornwall that can hold its own against any other urban centre in the UK. We have the largest urban conurbation in the county with the Camborne Redruth area having double the population of Truro. This constituency is home to both the world renowned Camborne School of Mines and the Tremough University campus which now also hosts Exeter and Falmouth universities. Redruth is home to Cornwall’s largest and most successful manufacturers. Hayle hosts the world’s first commercial scale wave power installation. We are about to build the Cornwall Archive Centre in Redruth and we host two of Cornwall’s three Innovation Centres. I’m not pretending that everything in the garden is rosy – people are struggling with the cost of living so we still need better paid jobs – but we have a lot to be proud of.

Last week I visited the Pool Innovation Centre next to Cornwall College to see a range of new businesses that have chosen to set up here. When I visited last year, there were 150 people working there. Now there are 250 people. The centre has just won national recognition for its success in growing new businesses. They range from firms employing over thirty people to one man bands who are yet to launch. The project is aimed at ‘incubating’ new businesses with high growth potential. People with a bright idea are given support and mentoring and a great environment in which to work for up to a maximum of three years when they are expected to fly the nest, move to larger premises and make way for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The new businesses I saw included PLS, a company supplying major British manufacturers with energy saving lighting solutions; Headforwards, a computer software company that employs some thirty computer programmers writing specialist programmes for the telecommunications industry; Azook which is digitalising thousands of old Cornish photos and film footage; NetBooster which has carved out a position as a world leader in online marketing and Search Engine Optimisation and has chosen Pool as its main UK base; TRAC services which is a national leader advising the pharmaceutical industry on regulatory issues and Shopper Utopia, which is still to launch but has some novel plans to revive the High Street.

People sometimes ask me about opportunities for the next generation. It starts with projects like this and the individuals with the courage and energy to take a risk and have a go at setting up on their own.

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

Monday, 5 August 2013

Young volunteers show the way

When he became leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron said he wanted to establish some kind of modern day National Service which could, in time, become a universal rite of passage that most young people would participate in. Military National Service was phased out in Britain more than half a century ago but still exists in some countries. What if we could create something new that would replicate some of the good features of National Service but could be broader and something young people would want to do?

In the past few weeks thousands of teenagers have taken part in their National Citizen Service. The aim is simple: to bring together young people from all sorts of different backgrounds in common endeavour. The project is aimed at sixteen and seventeen year olds and runs over the summer holidays. Initially, participants take part in a series of team building activities outdoors. It is a residential course so they leave home behind for a couple of weeks and are immersed in a new environment and make new friends. This can be a great way to develop their confidence and independence. It also means they are all in the same boat. It doesn’t matter what school they go to or where their parents live. It’s a great way of breaking down barriers.

In the final week of the programme, the young participants break up into much smaller groups and decide on a project they want to deliver for their local community. The group in this area took on the challenge of making the skate park at Tuckingmill Valley Park more welcoming. In several question and answer sessions I have done at local primary schools, younger children have told me that they feel intimidated at the skate park, so it was a good choice.

Like anyone trying to do a good turn, they encountered their share of frustrations. Officials at the council initially said they couldn’t do the work because they were not an “approved contractor” and some of the very skaters they were trying to help vandalised some of their work before the paint was dry. But they had many supporters too. Local sponsors like B&Q, Homebase, Warrior, their councillor Paul White and our local Conservative branch helped out with some materials. They had support from their team leaders, Rob and Amber. When they approached Cormac (who were the approved contractors) to get permission, the local rep put all the petty bureaucracy to one side and said, “just do it.” Good for him.

So congratulations to Lamorna, Aidan, Rowan, Tamsyn, Erin, Aphra, Tom, Terry and Tyler for all their hard work. When I asked them what the best part was, they said, “making new friends” and that’s what matters most.

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