Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching and I have been taking stock of what has been accomplished in the constituency since May and what more needs to be done in the New Year. 

One of my pledges at the General Election was that I would protect our green areas and I have spent the last few months opposing a planning application to build over 200 houses near St George’s Road in Hayle. This was an unpopular development in the community which is why I was pleased Cornwall Council chose to reject it. 

I have also been working to make sure Cornwall gets its fair share of funding and have worked with our Police and Crime Commissioner to persuade the Government not to implement a formula that would have disadvantaged Devon and Cornwall Police. I am pleased the Government have listened to these concerns as it means that our community policing can now be safeguarded.

In other news, the East-West Link Road finally opened in November. I lobbied hard in the last Parliament to secure funding from Government for this important project. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, and there were a number of challenges during construction, but it is really great to finally see this project, which will create hundreds of new jobs and open up derelict mining land for development, finally come to fruition.

I am also now working on a number of new projects to benefit the constituency. One such plan is to change the law so people whose houses experience subsidence due to old tin mining works receive compensation in the same way that people whose properties are affected by old coal pits are supported by the Coal Authority. This is an old problem (Seb Coe even asked a question in Parliament about this issue back in 1992) and I have already spoken with the Coal Authority about extending their remit to cover people in Cornwall. 

I wish everyone in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

EU Council

This week I have been representing the UK in Brussels in my role as Fisheries Minister.  It is my third year leading our negotiating team and while challenges remain, it does feel like our fisheries industry is starting to turn the corner. 

The picture is particularly good in the North Sea where the haddock quota has gone up by around 30 percent with cod going up by 15 percent and monkfish by 20 percent.  Meanwhile in the channel we are likely to see a big increase in the quotas for plaice with science suggesting quotas could more than double over last year.  

Here in the far South West the picture remains more challenging. There will be some difficult decisions to be made on inshore bass targeting and likely cuts in the quota for haddock and cod for another year.  However, in other areas things are brighter.  There could be an increase in sole in some areas, while the science, although limited, shows that skates and rays are in a strong position and we are likely to see another increase in the quota for hake. I will also be looking to maintain current quotas on other high value species of great importance to Newlyn including Monkfish, Megrim and Pollock.

I have always argued we should make the best judgement we can with the science we have and this year one of my key priorities will be to persuade the European Commission that they should look at trends in so called "data limited" stocks and allow quotas to rise gradually as the stock recovers rather than have arbitrary cuts in quota which is what has sometimes happened before.

The latest reform of the CFP means that decisions about how to manage fisheries are taken by the groups of countries that have a shared interest in the fishing grounds concerned rather than centralised and this year will also be the first year that we start to phase in the discard ban for some of the main species caught here in the South West.  

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Syria

Last week Parliament voted to commence air strikes against ISIL in Syria. It was a good debate and those who attended heard some powerful speeches on both sides of the House. 

As an MP I received hundreds of emails from constituents, many of whom were concerned about the consequences of taking military action, both in terms of how it will affect Britain’s security and the risk to civilian lives. 

These are all genuine concerns. However, I have never tried to hide the fact I support military action against ISIL in Syria. The so called Islamic State is an appalling terrorist organisation whose brutality is like something out of the dark ages and includes the beheading of aid workers, throwing gay people off buildings and selling young woman into sexual slavery. Make no mistake this is an evil organisation and the attacks on Paris, Tunisia and Turkey cannot be ignored.  

We have already recognised this and for over a year British forces have been taking action against ISIL in Iraq. However, for all intents and purposes, the border between Iraq and Syria no longer exists and it makes no sense to allow ISIL sanctuary in Syria or even to rely on France and America to do the work for us. 

The legacy of Iraq hangs over Parliament whenever we contemplate taking any form of action in the Middle East and while I agree we must learn the lessons of Iraq, we cannot allow fear of action to paralyse us from doing the right thing. It is very easy to talk ourselves out of action because there is always the possibility that things might go wrong. However, where we can act and make a difference we should. 

The UN had already called upon countries to do their utmost to defeat ISIL, and I believe we need to stand by our allies as part of a coalition to defeat this murderous death-cult, whose destruction is not only vital to our own national security, but also to any peace process in Syria.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Good News for Public Services

This week, public sector organisations throughout the constituency will be working out what George Osborne's Autumn Statement means for them.  There had been lots of drastic predictions made by commentators about major cuts to be made over the next five years but in the event, things were far more positive.  

There was a collective sigh of relief as funding on key public services was protected and the proposed changes to tax credits were reversed altogether. I support the move to a higher National Living Wage of £9 per hour which will be a big boost to those on low pay in Cornwall.  Once we get there people won't have to fill out complicated forms to get money back in tax credits because they will be earning what they need to live.  But until we start to see wages going up, tax credits will remain important to many in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, so I am pleased that George Osborne listened and reversed his original proposal.

The tough decisions taken in previous years to get the country's finances back on an even keel and get the economy growing again are starting to pay dividends.  As a result, the Treasury will have tax receipts that are £27 billion higher than previously expected and George Osborne used that dividend to help our public services.

The NHS budget will be increased again.  The schools budget is protected and there is a commitment to overhaul the unfair funding formula that gives Cornish schools less than they deserve.  The dire warnings on the police budget proved unfounded.  Instead the police budget has been protected in real terms which means we can keep our excellent community policing teams.  In the department where I am a Minister, we kept the £50 water bill rebate for Cornwall and protected funding for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty around our coast.  Finally, as we face uncertain times internationally, it was right to give a boost to our armed forces and security services so they have what they need to fight terrorism.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Autumn Statement

This week, George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement to Parliament, setting out his spending plans for the next few years. Although there are some challenging decisions to be made, we all know that we can only have strong public services and strong defence if we have a strong economy to underpin it.  A lot has been achieved over the past five years with the deficit more than halved but there is more to do and this week we saw a plan to get this country living within its means again.

Some departments are protected. The Prime Minister has always been clear that he would increase the NHS budget and there is also additional money for counter terrorism with that budget increasing by thirty percent to back an expansion in our security forces.  

I have been working to ensure Cornwall receives its fair share of funding and have worked with our Police and Crime Commissioner to persuade the Government not to implement a formula that would have disadvantaged Devon and Cornwall Police. I am pleased the Government have listened to these concerns as it means that our community policing can now be safeguarded.

In other areas there has been a historical bias against rural counties and this needs to be put right.  In education, the formula is outdated and has always favoured local authorities in urban areas around cities.  In the last Parliament we put an extra £390 million to help top up areas that were under funded and the Prime Minister has made clear that he now wants to see a wholesale reform of the formula so that it targets need rather than being based on historic inaccuracies.

I have also been looking at the way NHS services are funded. The current formula which decides how much funding local commissioning groups receive from Government currently fails to take into account issues such as rural sparsity and I have been speaking with the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group in order to develop proposals that would see this adjustment introduced the next time NHS England reviews the current funding formula.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Paris


Last week I visited the King Edward Mine near Troon.  They have just had a major investment to restore some of the old buildings and to create new working space for local entrepreneurs.  

For many years this was the site of the Camborne School of Mines. Even after the School of Mines was relocated to Pool alongside Cornwall College, the King Edward mine remained the place where trainee miners gained their practical experience underground.  A couple of years ago, the venue hosted the international student mining competition which is testament to the fact that Camborne and Redruth remains the birth place of modern mining.  

Some of the old building had fallen into a state of disrepair and, with the help of Heritage Lottery Grants and Cornwall Council, these have been restored to their former glory.  There are several new businesses already working out of the site including a therapist, a new project aimed at improving our water quality, a consultancy that specialises in design and storytelling for museums across the country and Kernow Spa who manufacture and sell everything from candles to perfumes.

We are seeing lots of good examples locally where new businesses are taking root.  Large Diameter Drilling have recently opened their new factory at Tolvaddon and I had a chance to see what has been achieved there this week.  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.  

Terror attacks in France

The appalling terrorist atrocities in Paris last weekend have caused an outpouring of sympathy and solidarity with France.  These attacks could have happened anywhere. We had similar attacks in London a decade ago.  It is a reminder that we cannot ignore insecurity and instability in other parts of the world but must stand together to fight brutal terrorist groups with whom it is not possible to reason.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Remembrance Sunday

Last Sunday, along with thousands of others throughout the county I attended Remembrance Sunday services.  This year I was in Camborne in the morning and then at Illogan in the afternoon.  Once again there was an incredibly strong turnout despite the weather.  In particular, it was great to see all of the various cadet groups out in force along with the Scouts and Brownies.  All making the effort to pay their respects to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

There were other events including a "Live on" event with performances from the Military Wives Choir, the Bev Lin Dance School, singer Andy Marshall, a wonderful poem about the Poppy read by seven year old Poppy Stevenson and the band from HMS Seahawk.  Care for Casualties also organised a firework event in memory of David Curnow, the local soldier who was so tragically murdered in Redruth earlier this autumn and his father, Mike Curnow, delivered a very poignant reading at the Illogan service this year.  The incident has caused great shock locally and there is huge sympathy and support for his brave family and what they are going through at the moment.

Earlier this year marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and I recently held discussions with David Spencer Evans who lives locally and is the founder of the Spitfire Heritage Trust.  You learn something new every week and it turns out that, during the last war, the people of Lesotho (or Basutoland as it was then called) donated enough money to build two squadrons of Spitfires to help us at a time of great peril.  It is a reminder that the whole empire got behind the UK during the last war and the Spitfire Heritage Trust have been working on a project to build a replica Spitfire to be presented to the people of Lesotho in recognition of their role.  It is great to see such good work being led here in Cornwall.


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Link Road Finally Completed

At last! The new East-West link road is finally open and I tested it out for the first time last weekend.

It has been a project that I have followed closely since becoming an MP in 2010. The road was always a key part of the regeneration plans for the area, but securing the funding to build it after the economic downturn in 2008 was not easy.  There were several rounds of assessments of the proposal and it had to compete with hundreds of other transport capital projects nationally.  We had to persuade the Treasury to alter their formula for assessing projects, but got there in the end.

There were also a number of challenges during construction. One of the wettest winters on record in 2013 led to a great deal of lost time.  Getting the design of the bridge crossing the river right presented technical challenges and took three attempts. Finally, there were mine shafts that needed to be capped.  I remember visiting the project around Dolcoath early on in 2013.  There is local saying, "deeper than Dolcoath", and civil engineers found out what that meant.  One shaft was so deep that when a rock was thrown down it, you never actually heard it land!

Now it's complete, the rest of the changes to the roads around East Hill will start to make sense. People from Troon, Beacon and Pengegon will have a shorter and quicker route to the A30.  The traffic congestion on East Hill will be eased because people can use the new road instead.  It opens up all of the derelict mining land around South Crofty and Dolcoath for regeneration with new housing and industrial space planned.  There are even ideas for a new Fibre Park in the area so that the growing computer software industry in Camborne and Redruth has new space to move to once it has outgrown Pool Innovation Centre.  So, if you have not tried the road yet, why not give it a go.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Police Funding

There is currently a lot of speculation around police funding and the impact this will have on Cornwall.  Like all government departments, the Home Office, which is responsible for allocating police grants, is having to make significant savings over the next five years. 

No one knows yet how much each department will be asked to save, but we all know we are in a situation where it is more likely that budgets will go down rather than up.  The huge debts piled up by Gordon Brown have left a painful legacy and we are only half way through clearing up the mess.

The immediate task is to ensure that Devon and Cornwall gets a fair allocation of the national funding pot and I have been making the case for improvements to the new funding formula within Government.  However, there will still be savings to be made and that means we need to think differently about the way we organise our services.  

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the possibility that the police station in Redruth might close. At the same time we have seen a brand new "Tri-Service" station open in Hayle.  There, one single, modern building is the joint location for the Fire Brigade, the Police and the Ambulance Service.  It is a great example of our public services working together to save money on overheads like old buildings so that the front line can be prioritised.

How we get our public services working more closely together is likely to be one of the key issues debated next May when we have the second elections for the post of Police and Crime Commissioner.  Although some people were sceptical about these new elections three years ago, the truth is Tony Hogg, our current PCC, has been visible and brought some much needed accountability.  

Friday, 23 October 2015

Fisheries Council

I am now entering my third year as Fisheries Minister and we are starting the annual negotiations leading up to the December Fisheries Council where quotas and fishing opportunities are settled.  At the moment much of the focus is on the agreements we must reach with those countries outside the EU such as Norway, Iceland and the Faroes.  This is particularly important for the agreements we need to reach for fish like mackerel in the North Sea.

However, I have also begun preparation work to develop our case for December Council where most of the agreements relevant to Cornwall are concluded.  I want to make sure that where we have a species where the scientific evidence is patchy, that we make the best assessment we can with the evidence we have rather than assume the worst.  If you set quotas that do not reflect the state of a particular stock, then you risk increased discarding.

Next year is also the year that the discard ban will start to come into effect and this week I announced our plans to introduce this.  This has been an important reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.  It means that the shameful practice of discarding will be banned, starting with a handful of species this year and rolling it out to cover all species over the next four years.  Instead, fishermen will be given an uplift to their quota to allow for the fact they are no longer throwing good fish back, they will be offered grants to improve the selectivity of their nets and there will be new flexibilities to make the discard ban work in practice such as flexibilities on quotas and exemptions for some fish species which will survive if put back. 

Finally, I also announced this week a plan to give more quota to our smaller inshore vessels. I made a clear pledge at the last election to rebalance quotas so that the small "under ten metre" boats received a fairer share of the national quota and from next January they will.



Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Party Conference

Last week I attended the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. The mood was very positive although everyone recognises that there are further difficult decisions to take to get our country back on its feet.  As DEFRA minister, I took part in a number of meetings relating to food and animal welfare. There was a well-attended fringe event on the problem of irresponsible back street dog breeders which has been an issue I have championed since becoming an MP


However, the highlight of conference, as always, was the Prime Minister’s speech, where he set out his plans to tackle poverty and boost social mobility.  Before becoming an MP, I worked for David Cameron as his Press Secretary at a time when he was trying to develop new policies to tackle the country’s social problems. However, due to the economic crisis in 2008, some of these ideas had to be put to one side as he turned his priority to getting the country’s finances in order. This required the Government to make hard, often unpopular decisions.  However, with the economy now back on track, the Prime Minister has signalled a return to the reforming agenda he outlined a decade ago.

Part of his speech was dedicated to helping young families buy their first home.  This is really important in Cornwall.  There have been some schemes such as Help to Buy where the Government has provided financial help for those who don't have the huge deposits that most mortgage companies demand before offering a loan.   However, it does not help all.  I frequently come across hard working people who still cannot raise a mortgage because their income is judged too low to afford mortgage repayments even though their rental payments are even higher.  It is incredibly frustrating for them.  There are some other models such as shared ownership that can help but the announcement of a major increase in new housing that is "affordable to buy" where local first time buyers are able to purchase properties at a discount to the open market price will help many more local families.


Thursday, 8 October 2015

Great British Beach Clean

Last week I took part in the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean where I joined over forty volunteers in helping to clean up litter at Porthtowan Beach. It wasn’t just about picking up litter however, as we also recorded our findings to help the MCS identify the main sources of litter on our coastlines and raise awareness about the threat it poses to the marine environment.

This was the second year in which I have taken part in the Beach Clean, which occurs at over a hundred beaches all across the country. So far over 6 tonnes of litter has been removed with the most common items found including fishing ropes, bottle tops and various pieces of plastic, the latter of which often takes hundreds of years to break down. Over the last twenty years the MCS has noticed a steady increase in the amount of litter being left at beaches and while this ruins them for visitors we must also recognise the terrible impact that litter has on marine wildlife, with animals often becoming entangled in netting or eating discarded pieces of plastic.

I have also had a lot of correspondence recently about the ongoing problems of sewage releases made by South West Water. Our old Victorian sewer system means that in most places water from drains off the streets is not separated from the sewage system meaning, that when you have heavy rain, the system is overwhelmed.  Without the discharges, sewage would back up into people’s homes.


We should also note that some of the apparently dramatic photos are misleading.  Raw sewage is not brown but grey. The brown water pictured is simply the minerals from the red river. However we clearly need a better solution in the long term. Water companies account for over a third of pollution in our rivers and we need to see improvement. I would like SWW to consider prioritising new investment in West Cornwall to increase its holding capacity so that the number of these sewage releases can be significantly reduced or stopped altogether.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Being in Opposition


It has been an eventful couple of weeks in Parliament with a new leader for the Labour Party and key votes to reform the welfare system and make Trade Unions more democratic. 

But the annual Party Conference season is now underway and next week Jeremy Corbyn will have to deliver his first party conference speech as leader of the Labour Party.  I was previously an adviser to two leaders of the opposition.  Firstly Michael Howard in the run up to the 2005 election and then David Cameron as he emerged from obscurity to become the leader of the Conservative Party.  

Being Leader of the Opposition is a gruelling task.  It is a big leap for any backbench MP to suddenly assume such a role.  You are under constant scrutiny from the media.  It is a struggle to get everyone in your own party singing from the same song sheet.  When things go wrong, people you thought were on your side turn on you.  If you don't get things right within the first few months, then perceptions about you start to set.  You are under constant pressure to react to everything in the news and just attack the Government which makes it hard to develop your own agenda.  You also have to get by with just a handful of key advisers who keep the show on the road and do not have access to all the resources that the Civil Service offer Government.  Jeremy Corbyn has all this to look forward to.

However, our system is designed to make being Leader of the Opposition difficult.  It should be a testing ground for would be Prime Ministers to sort out the wheat from the chaff. The job is tough but it gets no easier if you go on to be elected Prime Minister.  Those who think they can do the job need to be tested.  Being Leader of the Opposition either makes them or breaks them.  Time will tell what it does to Jeremy Corbyn, but it's been a bit of a shaky start.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Reforming Welfare


Reforming the welfare system and supporting people back into work go hand in hand.  For too long, too many people were left languishing on benefits and trapped in a life of poverty.  Helping them go back to work has been one of the primary objectives of the Government in recent years and the results are starting to show. 

I have always kept in close contact with the local Job Centre and other providers delivering the Government's Work Programme and visited both again in recent weeks. Unemployment has tumbled by almost half over the last year or so, and the job market is stronger now than it has been for over a decade.

One of the most powerful schemes in recent years has been the policy of creating work experience opportunities for young people. The most important step to getting a full time job for school leavers is gaining experience. Lots of local employers have done their bit by offering unpaid work experience to school leavers and I have seen numerous cases where, after that short trial period, employers are so impressed by the young people joining their team that they move things around to try to find them a permanent place.

Another change now being rolled out is the introduction of the Universal Credit to replace other out of work benefits and Housing Benefit. Previously, many believed that they were better off on the dole. If a job didn’t work out it was difficult to get back on benefits support. If income went over a certain threshold, people lost all Housing Benefit or tax credits resulting in employees being unable to work more than sixteen hours per week for fear of being worse off. That is about to change.  Under the new system there will be tapered support so that there is a single benefit payment which is withdrawn gradually as income rises.  It will always pay to work more hours but if something goes wrong, the support will kick back in automatically.


These changes are never straightforward but they will transform the lives of those who are on the bottom rung of the ladder. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Assisted Dying

Parliament can be at its best on a "free vote" where the political parties step aside and where each individual MP tries to reach their own conclusion on difficult and complex issues of conscience.  Last Friday, we all debated one of the most difficult issues of all: the Assisted Dying Bill.

None of us finds it easy to contemplate death. In recent years there have been some heart wrenching cases of individuals who had severe terminal illnesses and who wanted to bring their own life to an end early, on their own terms with medical assistance.  Some of these have ended up in high profile cases before the courts.  In the last few years I have become more sympathetic to some sort of change in the law that would allow professional assistance to be given to those who genuinely want it and had therefore been minded to support the Bill.

However, as always in such areas, the difficulties start once you get into the detail and try to work out how to put such an option into the lawyerly clauses of a written statute.  A week before the debate as part as my preparation, I read the whole Bill from cover to cover and that is when doubt started to set in.  Of particular concern for me were the nature of the "safeguards" and the impacts that creating such an option would have for relationships within families.  It started with the mere description of how a doctor would prepare and then place the drinkable "medicine" beside the patient and then retreat to a neighbouring room to observe from a distance.  There would need to be a signed declaration from two doctors that the persons' condition meant they had less than six months to live. Doctors say it is very difficult on most conditions to make such a judgement on an arbitrary time limit.  It would also not have helped some of the difficult cases which have ended up before the courts and have prompted debate in recent years such as the former rugby player who was severely paralysed.

There would then need to be a High Court Judge to decide whether or not the individual had genuinely wanted to exercise the choice to have assisted dying or whether they had felt under pressure to do it.  But how can a judge really know when you have such complex relationships between an individual and those nearest and dearest to them? Someone might feel very uneasy about ending their own life but could equally feel that they were a burden on their children or feel that they would not want their children to see their condition deteriorate. Their children would most likely feel precisely the opposite and would want their loved ones to know that they would always be there for them. But they would equally fear that they might be being selfish by standing in the way of a loved ones' wishes. The problem is compounded by the fact that people with such terminal illnesses sometimes suffer depression which is understandable. This came up in the debate and the solution put forward by proponents is that, in such cases, doctors would refer the individual for psychiatric assessment before signing off the procedure. But what's that about?  You have to go and pretend to be happy for the psychiatrist before you are allowed to opt to end your own life?

For every case where this gives people the option they want, I feared there would be many, many more where the weight of having to consider whether to actually take such an option would add another intolerable dilemma to people suffering terminal illnesses.  That is why, in the end, I voted against the Bill. However, I remain sympathetic to some other change.  As I listened to the debate I could see an alternative way.  Legal guidance has already been altered in recent years so that there are no prosecutions brought in cases where a family member acted compassionately to assist a loved one in their wishes.  We could, in my view, move that guidance further.  It might also be that people should be able to opt in advance for a palliative care pathway that deliberately seeks to expedite an end rather than try to delay the end.  That would go some way to dealing with these difficult choices without bringing all the new dilemmas inherent in the Assisted Dying Bill.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Syrian Refugee Crisis

Over the last week the Syrian refugee crisis finally broke into the public consciousness with the heart wrenching picture of a Syrian toddler who drowned with his brother and mother while their family was attempting to make it to Greece.  The Syrian civil war has been running for several years and some four million people have fled the country with many desperate families putting their trust in people-traffickers and trying cross the Mediterranean in overloaded and dangerous boats.


I have received a great deal of correspondence from constituents on the matter. I think there are three things we need to do.  Firstly we need to offer sanctuary to those refugees in immediate need of asylum, but to do so in a way that does not encourage more families to risk their lives. That is why David Cameron was right to say that we will offer sanctuary to thousands more refugees, but take them from refugee camps in Syria and the surrounding states so that we don't encourage people to put their lives at risk trying to enter Europe illegally. 


Secondly, this is a moment when our aid budget can really come into its own.  Britain is already the second largest donor of funds to alleviate the refugee crisis in Syria and we can direct more funds to help support those neighbouring states provide refugees with shelter, food and medical treatment.  


Finally, in the longer term, the problem will only be solved once the civil war ends. I voted in favour of air strikes in Syria in 2013 because I think, had we intervened early, we could have brought the conflict to an earlier close with a moderate group forming a new government.  Haunted by memories of Iraq and Afghanistan, parliament hesitated.  A year later, in a separate vote, parliament limited the authorisation for targeted RAF bombing against ISIS extremists to Iraq only, not Syria.  While we should use force with caution,  there are definitely times when military intervention is the right thing to do and the best way to help vulnerable people suffering the consequences of an enduring civil war.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Improving Opportunities for the Next Generation

I have always thought the best way to promote social mobility is to make sure every child has access to a good education tailored to that child’s individual needs. We have some brilliant schools in Camborne, Redruth & Hayle and the A Level and GCSE results which came out last month show that they are going from strength to strength.

We also have some brilliant extra-curricular projects in the constituency which take place over the summer and are aimed at teaching young people life-skills and helping them to build their confidence. For eleven year olds about to start secondary school, Hayle School participates in CampFirst which runs a two week summer camp, allowing participants to get to know their future classmates before the start of term, while the Get On Track Project, run by the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust deploys retired Olympians to help mentor and inspire young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and uses sport to teach life skills such as team work and problem solving.

We cannot forget however, that the first three years of a child's life are the most formative and have a crucial impact on a child's life chances.  Many primary school head teachers tell me they have noticed a growing trend in the last twenty years of children arriving in reception class with language difficulties and, however much effort those schools put in, those children start at a disadvantage. 

The other week I visited the Gooseberry Bush Nursery at Rosmellin. Run by Gill Smith, the Gooseberry Bush stresses the importance of play based learning in developing basic communication skills so children can build relationships with one another.  The government has been increasing free nursery care for two and three year olds and the Gooseberry Bush have been piloting a new programme of early intervention based on rediscovering the importance of traditional play.  They are getting some really positive early results which proves that, in those first few years, it’s not about forcing academic learning ever younger but instead just about encouraging child's play.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Fairer Funding

I have always argued that we need to make progress to improve the historic unfairness in the way various funding formulae operate in Cornwall.  

In the last Parliament I led the campaign to get every Cornish household a £50 rebate on their water bills and also campaigned to introduce the new Pupil Premium which is paid to schools to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Progress was also made on the NHS formula with greater recognition given to the age of our population.

However, there is further to go and I want to build on the successes so far. This week I met Tony Hogg, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, to discuss some of his ideas to improve the police funding formula.

The current formula is too heavily based on population numbers and density. This favours more urban areas, but fails to address the challenges of policing a large, rural area like Devon and Cornwall. Nor does it address the fact that as a popular destination for holidaymakers, the police have to contend with the annual influx of tourists and the difficulties such a large increase in the population temporarily brings.

The Government has announced that it will be reviewing the way in which funding is allocated and I will be working with Devon and Cornwall Police to make sure the new formula takes into account the unique geography and challenges which our area faces so that we don’t stand to lose out.

In addition to police funding, I also recently met the head of the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and other local NHS managers and I really want to focus on looking at ways to achieve a better deal in terms of healthcare funding. Again, I think we need to recognise the challenge of running a health service in rural areas. People also need healthcare most at the end of their life and that is why the government was right to increase the weight given to the age of the population.  We have started to put things right, but there is further to go.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Exam Results

It is that time of year when teenagers across the country get their exam results.  It can be nerve racking experience because, for many, the results they achieve at A level can have an important bearing on where they go to university.

Last week saw some exceptional A Level results from our local schools with Camborne Science and International Academy achieving a 100 percent pass rate and Redruth only just behind with a 97 percent pass rate.  

I am really proud of all of our schools and tried to visit our secondary schools before the end of last term.  They have each made tremendous progress in recent years and when you visit our schools you detect a real sense of pride from both students and teaching staff.  We now have some of the best schools in Cornwall here in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.  

Camborne has done impressive work on international exchanges and science, hosting the student science fair in 2013.  A few weeks ago I visited Redruth School which has come forward in leaps and bounds over the last few years and I was really impressed by the work they did to develop confidence in pupils.  Pool Academy also continues to deliver excellent results.  I remember seeing some of their students a couple of years ago running a mentoring scheme to help local children with their reading and Hayle School has also seen its results improve in recent years and has always done good work developing entrepreneurial skills and focusing on languages.

Over the last few years the government has been trying to raise standards by putting a new focus on subjects like maths, sciences and languages and by giving head teachers more freedom.  Every good school has one thing in common: good teaching staff who are well led.  Last week the Prime Minister made clear that he wanted to help more schools become academies.  Being an academy means that head teachers have control of their own budget and the ability to set their own curriculum.  I have never yet met a head teacher who regretted converting to academy status because of the freedom it gives them.  

Friday, 14 August 2015

Cornwall Archive Centre

Last week John Whittingdale, the Secretary of State for Culture, was in Redruth to see work on the new Cornwall Archive project and to confirm the £12 million of Heritage Lottery Funding needed to see the construction completed.

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.

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. The new funding of £12 million secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund is a major boost.

The money will be used to help transform the old derelict Redruth brewery site into a centre for holding the world’s largest collection of maps, photographs and manuscripts relating to Cornwall. In addition, once complete, the centre will host a range of exhibitions and activities allowing audiences to celebrate and share in Cornwall’s history.

As well as safeguarding the iconic brewery, the site will also see the construction of homes and shops all of which will play a key role in kick starting the wider regeneration of Redruth and leading to an estimated 300 new jobs in the town.



Thursday, 6 August 2015

National Citizenship Service

Parliament has now dissolved for the summer recess which gives MPs the opportunity to take a break from the politics of Westminster and spend more time in their constituencies and in my case catch up on some of the good projects in Cornwall.

Last week I visited a group of young people taking part in the National Citizenship Service (NCS). Set up back in 2011 as a type of modern day, non-military National Service, NCS is open to all 16-17 year olds in England and aims to bring together young people from all sorts of different backgrounds, helping to break down social barriers and develop self-confidence.

As NCS is a residential course, it gives participants the opportunity to leave home behind for a couple of weeks and immerse themselves in a fresh environment and make new friends. This can be a great way to develop their confidence and independence as it means those taking part are all in the same boat. It doesn’t matter what school they go to or where their parents live and it’s a great way of breaking down social barriers.

The team I met had previously spent their first week of NCS enjoying water sports at Sibleyback Lake near Liskeard which was then followed by another week on a residential course at Tremough University where they took part in more team building exercises and began to plan their project to help the community. When I caught up with them, they were putting the finishing touches to a children’s play area at the BMX track at Parc Erissey, where they had spent the last two weeks helping to build sand pit slides, a tunnel and a scramble net. All of their hard work looked very impressive and those involved were celebrating the completion of the project with a well-deserved BBQ in the sun.

Speaking to those taking part, it was clear to me just how much they had learnt and benefited from NCS and I think they deserve a big congratulations for taking on the challenge.

Friday, 24 July 2015

PM visits link road

Last week David Cameron came to Camborne to see the new East-West link road which is now set to be completed in October.  It was part of a wider visit to Cornwall where he also agreed a new "Devolution Deal" with powers to join up spending on areas such as health and social care services being passed to Cornwall.


The East-West link road will play a crucial part in unlocking the potential of all the derelict land around the old South Crofty mine.  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.  Now it is time for the Tuckingmill end of Camborne to get the investment that it deserves with new homes built at the proposed Tuckingmill Urban Village and new employment space opened up to attract new industries and better paid jobs.


Building the new road has not been plain sailing and its completion has been a long time coming.  We had a real fight on our hands to secure funding for the project in 2011 and there have been quite a few complications during the construction due to many mine shafts and mine workings affecting the site.  There have also been major problems getting an engineering solution to crossing the Red River Valley due to the softness of the ground with an early attempt having to be aborted.


Perhaps most important of all, once the new road opens, the junctions at either end of it will start to make sense.  For several years now the traffic lights at the top of East Hill have not really worked properly because they were designed to predominantly carry traffic across the top from the new road to the A30.  The result is frequent congestion.  At the other end, the disruption around the Tesco roundabout in Camborne has also caused frustration.  Let's hope these problems are resolved when the new road opens.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Cornwall Deal

Plans for a new Cornwall Deal could take a big step forward this week with the Government expected to outline some areas where it plans to give more responsibility and power to Cornwall.

Cornwall has its own unique identity and being a peninsula at the end of the line, I have always said we should have more control over the way we configure key services.  Last month I spoke at the Cornish Constitutional Convention and made the case for Cornwall having more of a say over culture and heritage policy.  I also think that we can do more to ensure our bus routes work effectively by joining up bus services with train timetables and exploring the possibility of franchise models to make sure that rural routes link in with the main trunk routes.

Another area where we could join things up more effectively is in the area of health and social care.  The problems we have had with black emergencies at Treliske have largely been driven by the fact that Cornwall Council have been slow to roll out care packages for people waiting to be discharged from hospital. If we could join up funding streams more effectively by looking at increased joint commissioning of services we could reduce the tendency of different institutions working in the field of health and social care to operate in silos.  

We also need to look at how we can make things work more effectively within the NHS.  As people live longer there will always be growing demands on the NHS Budget.  That is why George Osborne was right to commit in to an increase in NHS spending of £8 billion.  However, we also need to make sure that funds are distributed fairly so Cornwall gets its fair share.

One of the ways you take pressure of A&E departments is through supporting alternatives like the minor injuries unit currently being piloted at Camborne and Redruth Hospital.  We also have a fantastic tradition of hospice care in Cornwall with charities supporting people with end of life care and support.  These hospices mainly run on charitable funds but, without them, there would be a lot more pressure on NHS services.



Friday, 10 July 2015

The Budget

By the time you read this article, George Osborne will have presented his first budget of this new Parliament.  Good progress has been made in the last five years reducing the deficit, but there is more work to do.  

In Britain we have earned credibility, which means we have incredibly low interest rates at the moment which is a respite for those paying mortgages and a stable economy increases confidence in business which has contributed to a sharp fall in unemployment here in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.

As I write this article, there is a lot of speculation about what the Budget will hold. We are likely to see a further clampdown on wealthy individuals claiming non-dom status in this country as part of a wider £5 billion crackdown on tax avoidance while the personal allowance threshold is also likely to move closer to £12,500. This will be especially important here in Cornwall where we have a higher number of people on lower incomes.  

To help balance the books, George Osborne has been clear that we will need to look again at the amount of benefits some households receive.  He has already said we will continue to protect the most vulnerable in society such as the disabled. However, where people can work, they should work and it is simply wrong that some families not working are better off financially than those who do work and pay their way. 

In addition, there could be good news for Cornwall with speculation that a new growth deal could be on the way that would give Cornwall some additional investment in infrastructure, the ability to manage more of its own services and with funding for the NHS and social care being more joined up to make sure that the money we have is used effectively.

The economic situation today is very different from the one inherited in 2010. Britain has the fastest growing economy in Europe, the deficit has been halved and we have record numbers of people in work.  I hope this Budget will help sustain that momentum.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Tougher Rules on Wind Turbines

I have written previously about how the proliferation of wind turbines across Cornwall is a blight upon our countryside, which is why I welcomed last week’s statement by the Department for Communities & Local Government announcing a shake-up of planning law that will now give local people the final say on wind farm applications.

Under these new rules, Cornwall Council will only be able to grant planning approval for new wind turbines if the proposed site has been identified as suitable in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan and if, following consultation, the concerns of  the communities affected have been fully addressed.

I think this is good news for Cornwall. When one of the country’s first wind farms was built at Carland Cross, it seemed like there was potential for these kind of developments, so long as they were of uniform design and concentrated in one area. However, since then it now feels like we have reached saturation point with the random proliferation of single wind turbines that have no uniformity in their design.

To be fair to Cornwall Council, where a wind turbine application has been shown to have too great a cumulative impact on the countryside, a planning committee has been able to refuse planning permission. However, too often Cornwall Council’s decisions have been overridden by appeals to the Planning Inspectorate. This is why I feel these new regulations are important as they put power back into the hands of local communities and gives them the ability to decide what wind developments are built in their area. The next step should be to do more to prevent field scale solar farms damaging our countryside and scarring the Cornish landscape.  

Having advised the Prime Minister on energy policy in the last parliament, I am well aware there are no easy solutions when it comes to our future energy supply. In reality we will probably need to have a mixture of different technologies, including gas, nuclear, wind and some solar on roof tops.  However, it is vital that these developments are done with local communities not to them.”

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Cornish Devolution

Last weekend I attended the Cornish Constitutional Convention in Truro to discuss the prospects of devolving new powers to Cornwall and the importance of passing powers down from Cornwall Council to parish and town councils.

Cornwall has its own unique culture and, as a peninsula at the end of the line, also has unique challenges. While I don't agree with those who want to have a costly new "assembly" and pay for another tier of politicians, I do think there are areas like transport and culture and heritage where there is a case for more decision making powers for Cornwall Council.

As a Cornish unionist, for me there are three things that we should aim to achieve when discussing devolution in Cornwall.  Firstly, any new devolution settlement should strengthen the union and should be founded on a solid agreement within the UK, rather than relying on vague recognition by European institutions.  Secondly, it should not just be about giving power to Cornwall Council.  We also need to find ways of transferring control from Cornwall Council to town and parish councils and to the head teachers and governing bodies of individual schools.  Finally, we should remember that devolution should be about empowering people so finding mechanisms such as local referendums which give communities the power to block unpopular decisions are important.  

The Government is currently giving thought to the next wave of "growth deals" which are all about giving responsibility (and also the funding that goes with it) to Local Enterprise Partnerships so they can implement measures that will help their local economy.  There is a good case for more "enterprise zones" in Cornwall to nurture new industry.  As a peninsula, we also have unique challenges making bus services work effectively and there is a case for looking at whether a stronger franchising model could better develop coherence to services.  Finally, We have a unique culture with our own identity and language so there is a case for looking at whether Cornwall should take on more of a role promoting and managing its own heritage assets instead of the existing arrangements with English Heritage. 

Friday, 19 June 2015

Planning in Hayle

I have always said that, when it comes to building new homes, we should focus on brownfield sites before greenfield sites. That is why this week I have asked the Secretary of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government to consider calling in the planning appeal currently being considered for over 220 houses on St George's Road in Hayle.  

The proposal is opposed by many Hayle residents. The Town Council opposed the scheme and Cornwall Council had yet to reach a decision when the developer, Linden Homes, decided to by-pass the Council and go straight to appeal based on the fact that Cornwall Council had failed to determine the application.  Although there is no guarantee that the Secretary of State will agree my request, I think it is important that decisions of this magnitude are subject to democratic oversight and scrutiny.

I have supported some other local projects from Linden Homes. The work they have done at Pool on the site opposite Cornwall College is impressive and it completes the regeneration work started through the Heartlands project and many of the new homes have been offered through the 'help to buy' scheme for first time home owners.  Linden also do some really good work with apprenticeships in the area creating careers for young people in the construction industry.

However, when it comes to Hayle, I think there are many other sites that should be developed before we start building very large developments on green field sites.  We have just spent several million pounds putting in a new bridge and flood infrastructure at North Quay precisely so that it would be possible to build new homes around the harbour.  There is now room on this site for several hundred homes.  There are also plans for new homes on South Quay and work on the remaining phase is due to start soon.  We should be prioritising building homes first on these brownfield sites which will complete the regeneration of the harbour area.

You only get one chance to get major planning decisions right so we should take time to consider them carefully

Fiber Park Plans

Last week I met Toby Parkins, Chief Executive of Headforwards Software in Pool to discuss the innovative idea of a new Fibre Park in the area.

In recent years we have seen an embryonic but vibrant computer software industry taking root in this part of Cornwall. The big leap forwards came with the introduction of super-fast broadband.  It means that software companies can now compete around the world from a digital connection in Cornwall.  Previously, people often had to choose between a high flying job in London or the lifestyle choice of Cornwall.  That's changing. Today, new industries like software producers can run world beating operations from Camborne and Redruth offering people the best of both worlds.

Headforwards now employs over fifty highly skilled people and is expanding.  Down the road at the new Barncoose Gateway office block, NetBooster have established their main European headquarters and BlueFruit, another highly successful local company, is also moving in.  Between them, local computer software companies are now employing hundreds of people in Camborne and Redruth and they are paying good salaries.  I want to see them grow and prosper and I also want to ensure that young people taking their GCSEs are learning to write computer code so that they can take up these new opportunities.

The concept behind the fibre park proposal is simple.  You create a hub near the Pool Innovation Centre which offers a mixture of state of the art business space and educational space.  It means that up and coming enterprises who have outgrown the innovation centre can move to larger premises and you can also establish an academy in computer software co-located on the same site so that you can have a partnership between, say, Cornwall College and local businesses.  Young people taking computer courses at Cornwall College will be able to develop their talents within real working environments rather than in a classroom detached from front line innovation.  It will take a lot of work to move the idea from being an interesting concept to a real venture, but I think we should give it a shot.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Royal Cornwall Show

This week is Royal Cornwall Show week and on Friday I will be attending a debate as food and farming Minister on the potential for growth in the food industry in Cornwall.  Few people realise it but food is our largest manufacturing industry, employing around half a million people and contributing some £100 billion to our economy.


The question being debated is whether the food industry has the potential to become a key driver of prosperity in Cornwall.  We have seen great progress in recent years. The Cornish pasty industry has grown exponentially and is now to be found throughout the country.  We have seen many new companies like Lynher Dairies creating new markets with their highly acclaimed Cornish Yarg.  Companies like Roddas Cream are creating new export markets and developing a really strong brand synonymous with Cornwall.  Last and by no means least,  companies like Falfish have ensured that Cornwall is the market leader for many fish species.

Over the last decade or so there has been growing interest in food provenance. People want to know where their food has come from and how it was produced.  Cornwall has definitely managed to carve out a niche in that new market through attention to detail and commitment to the values that make Cornwall unique. The Government has just designated parts of Cornwall a "Food Enterprise Zone" to try to provide additional support to the industry and maintain momentum.

I have many childhood memories of the Royal Cornwall Show. When I was growing up my father was one of the many volunteer stewards who gave up his time each year to make the event possible, with an early start at 5 am for days in a row to get to the show and manage the gates before any of the traffic started to arrive. For many years we used to show our South Devon Cattle there and my brother and father will be there again this year with the family's prize winning Lop Eared Pigs, which is a rare breed native to Cornwall. I am very much looking forward to it.

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. 

Stadium for Cornwall

The decision last week by Cornwall Council planners to defer a decision on a supermarket and housing development has been a blow to hopes for a Stadium for Cornwall but we need to revise the approach and try to get the concept back on track.

I have always been passionate about the role sport can play in both bringing communities together and creating and providing an interest for young people.  Athletics was my passion and I ran for the Cornwall cross country team for many years and my family help sponsor Camborne Rugby Club today.

The support the idea of Stadium for Cornwall but from the start the project has been vulnerable because, to be financially viable, it depended on being part of a wider property deal with a supermarket and loads of housing needed to help raise cash.  The only reason Truro was suggested as a location was because they thought they could get higher property prices.

Truro is famous for lots of things like accountants and solicitors, but not for sport.  It's not the right place for a major sporting venue.  The traffic is horrendous.  I think we should revise plans for the stadium in a number of ways.  First, build it where the population is, where there is a sporting tradition and where we have good road networks.  That means Camborne or Redruth and Camborne is already home to the best rugby ground in Cornwall.  Secondly, it would be better to have something a little smaller that was viable in its own right rather than have a giant project always in financial trouble.  Finally, I think it would be better to broaden the project so it wasn't just a stadium where people watched, but was also a sporting centre where young people had access to great facilities to develop their talents in a range of sports.