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.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Public Spending

Everyone knows that if we want to increase spending on public services we have to have a strong economy. The last Labour Government bankrupted this country and left every family with huge debts and over the last few years, the Conservative led Government has taken the difficult decisions to get our finances back in order.

However, we have still prioritized hospitals and schools. Spending on the NHS has increased
in this parliament by £12.7 billion and this additional funding has helped Cornwall and includes an expansion of the minor injuries unit at the Camborne and Redruth Community Hospital and the creation of a doctor-led urgent care centre. In addition, by cutting bureaucracy in the NHS, we have also been able to recruit 500 new doctors in the South West. 

Local schools have also seen additional funding with an increased pupil premium, giving schools in areas where there is poverty, extra funds to employ the best teachers to give children the best start in life and many of our schools have benefited from converting to academies where they have had more funding and, full control over how they spend it so that head teachers can be captains of
their own ship.

Police Funding

We all know that we can only afford to increase funding for our public services and our police force if we get our economy back on its feet. The last Labour government almost bankrupted the country, saddling every family in Britain with huge debts. That has meant some difficult decision have had to be taken and the police have had to manage with a slightly smaller budget like everyone else.

However, what matters is how much they achieve with the funding they have. I regularly visit our police force in Camborne and Redruth and I am always really impressed by their professionalism.  We have seen big improvements in efficiency in the last few years and the Government has scrapped pointless paperwork.  The focus on neighbourhood policing and working with communities has been particularly successful.

Police and Crime Commissioners have been criticised by some but they only replaced the old defunct Police Authorities who very few people had even heard of.  It is far better to have someone who people can hold to account at the ballot box and while there are still issues with alcohol linked violence, crime has fallen overall.