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  In education, the formula is outdated and has always favoured local authorities in urban areas around cities.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.