Thursday, 2 July 2020

Climate Change

Last week the Climate Change Committee published its report into the progress that the UK is making in reducing carbon emissions and contributing to tackling climate change. As the Secretary of State in Defra I attended their virtual meeting to participate in the discussion about progress to date. Earlier this week, the Council for Sustainable Business also met. This is a new organisation that brings together some of Britain’s largest companies and which coordinates action by individual businesses to play their part for the environment.
Climate change and environmental concerns more widely have risen up the agenda in recent years. Fifteen years ago, David Cameron made it a central part of his agenda. When the Conservatives came to power we brought our environmental agenda with us. As the Committee of Climate Change report acknowledged, a great deal has been achieved. The UK has made significant progress over the last decade and is the best performing G20 country. We have reduced carbon emissions by about forty percent so far and we have ambitious policies that will achieve more in the years ahead. We were the first country to introduce a Climate Change Act which sets targets for emission reduction. We have met the first two carbon budget targets and we are on course to meet the third in a couple of years time. However, everyone recognises that there is more to do to achieve our targets later this decade.
Over the last ten years, the huge strides we have made have been achieved principally through the huge growth of renewable energy. Major technological breakthroughs in offshore wind generation have been a game changer. Here in Cornwall, work is taking place to deploy the next generation of offshore wind in deeper water with floating offshore wind likely to be piloted at Wave Hub.
However, in the years ahead other changes will be made by the government to ensure we remain the global leader in carbon emissions reduction. The technology around electric vehicles is advancing very quickly which means we are on course to phase out the use of petrol and diesel cars. We also have huge ambitions to dramatically increase tree planting and to restore some of our peatland areas to their natural state. Helping nature recover is going to be an incredibly important part of future phases to address climate change.
Next year, the UK will host COP 26, which is the next global meeting of nations to discuss climate change. One of our key objectives from this conference will be to secure greater recognition and more commitments from every country towards nature based solutions to contribute to tackling climate change. I will be working with colleagues in government as we develop this ambitious agenda for the future.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Cornwall is re-opening for business

Over the last twenty years Cornwall has developed a really powerful and unrivalled brand for tourism. The essential ingredients are our beautiful coast and striking landscapes, a warm welcome and our cultural distinctiveness and a fantastic reputation for great food. It has become a vitally important industry for our communities and the drastic measures that have had to be taken to control the Coronavirus have had a terrible impact.
Hospitality businesses always see the Easter break as a turnaround point when they emerge from the winter and start to turn the corner and get positive cash flow again. This Easter, we entered lockdown and they have lost half the season. The government opened some unprecedented support schemes, suspending business rates, issuing grants to small businesses and covering payroll costs for furloughed staff to prevent unnecessary redundancies. However, these could only ever offer temporary respite. Now that we have the virus under control, we need to take further steps to getting back to life closer to normal albeit with vitally important steps to prevent the spread of the virus and keep people safe.
The last few weeks have already brought a reduction in the restrictions with public gardens, parks and zoos tentatively reopening to the public with the evidence detailing that the risk of transmission outdoors is very low. This gradual easing of restrictions has so far been done while the infection rate of the virus has been held stable so far.
Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced the next stage. From Saturday 4th July, pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines. From the same date, he has set out that two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures, and that people can now enjoy staycations in England and Cornwall with the reopening of accommodation sites such as campsites and B&Bs that make up many of the unique tourism businesses across Cornwall.
In order to begin restoring the arts and cultural sector, some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely – this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
Of course, in the weeks ahead we all have a role to play to ensure that the virus does not re-emerge stronger and effecting more people. The Government’s approach will remain cautious as we seek to control the rate of infection but we are continuing to take steps that can help get people back closer to life as normal. A crucial part to controlling the virus in future will be to closely monitor local outbreaks through testing and tracing the virus and to have very targeted local approaches to asking people to self isolate if they have symptoms or have been exposed to someone else who has.
I understand that there will be a degree of apprehension among some about whether Cornwall in particular would become exposed through an influx of visitors. However, it may take some time to finally see the virus disappear altogether and for the the time being, we will all need to learn to live our lives alongside it and that includes finding ways to enable people to safely visit beautiful Cornwall and spend their money here so that our many fabulous restaurants, camp sites and hotels are given a future.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Think Local, Shop Local

Earlier this week, all non-essential retail shops were allowed to re-open and once more commence trading. For many businesses, this was the first time in months that they could open to the public. Businesses up and down the country have been preparing for this moment and precautions have been put in place with extensive guidance from the Government and Public Health England.
Many of these non-essential retail shops are integral to the fabric of our local communities, especially across Cornwall where there is a strong local community. As we emerge from the shadow of COVID-19, I and my Conservative colleagues across Cornwall launched the Think Local, Shop Local campaign to encourage people to shop locally and help local shops get back on their feet. From our local pasty shops, to fashion and hardware, our highstreets are full of opportunities and bargains.

An update on the Brexit negotiations
Whilst COVID-19 has dominated much of the political and media discourse in recent months, the Government has been actively going about its negotiations with the EU on a future free trade agreement. After years of wrangling we finally left the EU at the end of January and the Transition Period will expire at the end of December. Last week, Michael Gove led a meeting between UK and EU officials where he formally confirmed that there would be no extension to the transition period and that on January 1, 2021, the UK will take back control and regain our political & economic independence.
There have been a couple of sticking points in the discussion about a future trade agreement. Firstly, the EU are making unrealistic asks regarding the future of fishing access which is of great importance to the west country. The second sticking point is that the EU are requesting that we continue to follow their laws in some areas. Obviously neither of these requests are reasonable nor acceptable. We have left the EU so that we can control our own laws again and it is what every other independent country does. Likewise, on fisheries, we are just asking for what every other country has which is to be an independent coastal state like Norway and to control access to our waters and reach sensible annual agreements with our neighbours on the management of shared stocks.
There is now going to be an intensive approach to try to secure a breakthrough in the discussions over the next few weeks but if that does not occur then we will still have the agreement that was signed late last year and which provides a basis on which to proceed after the end of the transition period.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

A light at the end of the Covid tunnel?

Earlier this week, the Secretary of State for Health announced in the Government’s Daily briefing the country’s lowest recorded rate of deaths from COVID-19. Every life that has been lost to COVID-19 is one too many, and many of us will know of someone who has been affected by the virus. Inevitably there will be lessons learnt from how the state has reacted to the virus, but it is reassuring to hear that after all the sacrifices that many people have made, that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
Of course, in the weeks ahead we all have a role to play to ensure that the virus does not re-emerge stronger and effecting more people. The Government’s approach will remain cautious as we seek to control the rate of infection but we are continuing to take steps that can help get people back closer to life as normal. A couple of weeks ago public gardens and parks were told that they could start to tentatively re-open. The evidence is that the risk of transmission outdoors is very low. This week a further step has been taken to allow the partial opening of zoos in outdoor areas provided numbers are controlled. Caution has been needed because a spike in the rate of infection will see the measures once more tightened and a need for a lockdown to be re-imposed. The Government’s guidance on the plan for the months ahead can be found on the www.gov.uk website.
However with more shops and non-essential businesses re-opening in the weeks to come, it is important that we all do as much as we can to support our local Cornish businesses. Throughout the lockdown, there were stories of people increasingly shopping locally, supporting local businesses. In recent years we have seen a number of movements to support small businesses such as Small Business Saturday, and as we emerge from this lockdown, I would encourage as many people as possible to support our local stores. From our local bakeries serving fantastic pasties, to fruit and veg shops, our great Cornish economy can provide everything we need, right on our doorsteps. If we all buy something locally when retail reopens, we will all be able to make a difference to these businesses.
During these difficult times we have all looked out for each other and pulled together to support one another. Our unique Cornish spirit has shone through, however in the weeks and months ahead we all need to continue to do as much as we can and support these businesses that make up the fabric of our communities.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

A new vision for Camborne

This week, plans to revitalise Camborne stepped up a notch as the Towns Fund Board appointed a local project manager to help craft the vision for the improvements to our towns. With a local project manager in place, work will now continue to help revitalise our town centre with business and leisure opportunities to be enjoyed for current and future generations.
The towns fund was initially launched back in November 2019 by the Housing Secretary focusing on areas with proud industrial and economic growth but which had been less fortunate in years gone by. However, with the government firmly committed to levelling up our towns and cities and unleashing the country’s potential this funding was most welcome.
Our local towns were once at the heart of the industrial revolution and our expertise in mining engineering was second to none. Over the years, with the loss of mining our fortunes waned and all too often the political attention was on big northern cities, but now we have an opportunity to reset this imbalance and deliver the economic regeneration that our towns and communities need.
When I was first elected, I always made clear that economic regeneration in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle was my number one priority. Over the last 9 years, I have worked hard to achieve this and in recent years we have made progress in regenerating our towns with the new link road, developments around Tuckingmill, the prospect of South Crofty reopening and new jobs in industries like computer software.
Here in Camborne there are already a number of exciting and innovative ideas that are being talked about including the potential to redevelop the old bus station, and breathe new life into the high street but I want to ensure that the community is fully involved in discussions about priorities.
In addition to this, the Government also recently announced that Cornwall Council would be receiving £759,000 to kickstart an expansion of cycling and walking in Cornwall. The funding comes as part of a government initiative to encourage more people to take up walking and cycling in an effort to ensure that public transport and our roads do not become overcrowded.
Throughout the Coronavirus crisis many of us have been walking and cycling more than ever, and not only has this helped to contribute to healthier lifestyles, we’re also seeing cleaner air. Whilst we know that cars will continue to remain vital for many, we must continue to build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Pick for Britain

As our country has faced massive challenges in recent months, it’s been inspiring to see the people of Britain come together. From supporting neighbours with their food shop to volunteering for the NHS – our fighting spirit makes me proud to be British.
And we’re once again calling on everyone to play their part by helping our farmers to feed the nation.I spent ten years working in the farming industry, and at the peak of the strawberry season we used to employ 300 people from over a dozen different countries.
I know it can be a challenge to recruit, train, and retain people to pick fruit and veg and stay with the work over the harvest months. Over the past twenty years most of our summer fruit pickers have travelled over from places like Romania and Bulgaria for the spring and summer months. But this year, the unique challenge of the coronavirus means we need to think differently about how our homegrown produce gets to our plates.
That’s why there is an opportunity for people who are already here in the UK to play their part and lend our farmers a helping hand. We’ve already seen people signing up in their thousands to take on seasonal agricultural work this spring and summer.
In April, we launched our ‘Pick for Britain’ website to bring all the jobs in one place and confirmed furloughed workers could take up seasonal work to top up their incomes. But the growing season is only just getting started. From June through to September, bringing in the harvest requires a mammoth effort from farmers and growers across the country.
We’ve been working with industry, from the National Farmers Union’ to Waitrose, to make sure our farmers and growers have support they need in the months ahead. The Prince of Wales has also issued a message today calling on people to pick for Britain, with workers who can really stick at the job needed in the months ahead.
For university students with the summer months stretching ahead of them, this is also an opportunity to gain work experience while earning money and meeting new people. Those who are able and willing to pitch in this year can help to feed the nation in these tough times and do an invaluable service to their country.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Delivering a new Agriculture Policy fit for the 21st Century

Whilst COVID-19 continues to dominate our politics, many government departments have also been working on different bills and legislation as we continue to fulfil the Government’s promises that were made in our manifesto to the country late December last year. In my own department of DEFRA we have been working hard on two of the most important bills to come before Parliament for over half a century, the Agriculture Bill, and the Fisheries Bill.
Last week Parliament reached an important milestone in the progression of the Agriculture Bill with its passing of the Third Reading Stage meaning that it has now gone to the House of Lords for its consideration before a final vote is held. Leaving the EU on 31st December 2019 gave us the freedom to press ahead with our plans to develop this new policy creating one that was fit fir purpose in the 21st century and delivering British farmers and the environment.
Rather than arbitrary area-based payments, where land ownership and tenure is subsidised, we will instead direct future funding to support activities and interventions that deliver for our environment and enhance animal welfare.
We want a package of incentives to support sustainable farming practices and the bill creates the powers to do this. We recognise that Basic Payment Scheme payments currently make up a significant proportion of net farm income. However, rather than maintain a system that just masks poor profitability, the ambition behind our Agriculture Bill is to tackle the causes of that poor profitability.
So, the bill creates the power to make grants available to deliver a prosperous future for farming by helping farmers invest in new technology and equipment to reduce costs. There is a section in the bill to improve transparency and fairness in the supply chain, so that farmers stop being price takers and start getting a fairer share of the cake. Also, we want to make it easier for farmers to retire with dignity and simultaneously help new entrants get access to land.
I grew up on a farm and spent a decade working in the industry. Domestic food production is crucial and plays a vital role in contributing to our nation’s food security. The Coronavirus Pandemic has reinforced this message, and the government takes this very seriously. The revised bill therefore creates a duty to review food security every five years and a duty to consider the production of food when devising policy.
I also know that farming is a risky business and there will always be circumstances where the government must act and intervene in a crisis to support farmers or stabilise markets. The bill makes provisions for that too.
Whilst any change want take place over night, a decade from now, I want the rest of the world to be coming to the UK to see how it is done, and I know we have some of the best farmers in the world.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives

On Sunday evening, the Prime Minister delivered a televised broadcast to the country as we move towards the next stage of our response to the virus. Whilst the messaging has changed to Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives the guidance for now remains similar with a loosening in some areas and a provisional plan to chart a course out of this lockdown.
People should continue to work from home where possible, however if this is not possible then they should return to work and socially distance in a responsible manner. Workplaces will be required to follow Public Health guidelines on social distancing and work together with their employees to help those who cannot return to work due to childcare commitments. Where people are returning to work, they should use public transport as sparingly as possible and either drive to work by car or even better cycle or walk.
We are now also in a position whereby there is not a limit to the number of times that individuals can leave their homes. Therefore, people can go to the park with members of their households and even sit in the park or play tennis with each other whilst respecting social distancing rules. When we do leave our homes and social distancing is not possible then it is advisable that people wear cloth made face masks that will help try and slow the spread of the virus.
In the weeks and months ahead, there may yet be further loosening to the lockdown that we have all have experienced for the last 7 weeks, but the Government’s approach will remain cautious as we seek to control the rate of infection. This is important because a spike in the rate of infection will see the measures once more tightened and lockdown re-imposed on individual regions and the country. The Government’s guidance on the plan for the months ahead can be found on the www.gov.uk website.
Despite the Coronavirus Pandemic continuing to dominate our politics, the Government is also working hard on other legislation. One of the bills that was debated this week was the Agriculture Bill which I have been working on for some time now. The bill is a crucial part of the country’s framework now that we leave the EU as we continue to press ahead with plans to develop a new policy to replace the bureaucratic shambles that was the Common Agricultural Policy.
Whilst much attention has been fixed to the amendments relating to future trade deals, the ambition of the Bill remains that we should use our new-found freedom to embark on a journey to a better future for farming, innovating and developing the policies of the future. Improving transparency and fairness in the supply chain and providing a more prosperous future for farming are key principles and I look forward to work with colleagues to deliver a coherent future policy for our agricultural sector.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

VE Day

This Friday marks the 75th anniversary of VE day. It was the moment that started the end of the Second World War when fighting against Nazi Germany finally came to an end in Europe. There were more battles to come in Asia and the Pacific against Japan but the surrender of Germany was a crucial milestone bringing to an end a terrible struggle.
The conflict had claimed the lives of millions worldwide and change internal and international politics for decades to come. VE day marked the point in which people came together and celebrated the end of the fighting with street parties, and all manner of festivities. It was the point in time that many had longed for.
This year, it is the first year that the traditional May Day Bank Holiday Monday has been moved to the Friday to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. Of course, the rather unusual circumstances we are under means that the scope to properly mark this occasion is more constrained than it might have been but it is important that we take this moment to pause and remember all those who sacrificed so much in that great struggle.
Of course, in this current epidemic it is also not unusual for there to be military analogies made, although the context is very different. However, in recent months many have made sacrifices, some have lost loved ones, and many more have played their part in the national effort to beat this virus.
At times like this it remains important that we all look out for one another. Cornwall has always had a great ability to pull together as a community so play your part. Remember to pick up the phone to family and friends and offer to help elderly neighbours who may want you to assist with their shopping. Whilst as a country we may have passed the peak, there is still a long way to go, we can be inspired by what has come before and know that we will beat this virus and return to the lives that we once led. 
This Sunday the Prime Minister will set out the plan for the next phase of our response to the Coronavirus. The emergence from the lockdown conditions we have all been under will no doubt be gradual since we need to follow the science and guard against a resurgence of the virus, but I hope that we can soon see a route to gradually return life to something closer to normality in the months ahead.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

A Cornishman and true

Earlier this week David Mudd, the former MP for Falmouth and Camborne passed away at the age of eighty six. He was a huge figure in Cornish politics during the 1970s and 1980s, won six consecutive elections and represented the Camborne area for twenty two years and in that time he saw no less than five different Prime Ministers.
David Mudd left a lasting impression on those he represented. Even in recent elections, nearly thirty years after he retired I still find constituents who mention him fondly. My first agent when I stood for this seat in 2010 was John Herd who had previously worked as an agent for David Mudd. I am told that David had an exceptional memory especially when it came to remembering names. It is said that he could walk down the street and know the names of almost everyone he encountered. That is quite a talent which I envy. I have always had a memory for facts and information but confess that I frequently struggle with remembering names.
Some years ago while on holiday in Devon, I ventured into a book shop and came across one of the books that had been written by David Mudd, "Cornishmen and true". It was an account of the lives of a selection of Cornishmen from history, some famous, some less so who had done some remarkable things. David was passionate about Cornwall and for a period of time was said to have been a member of Mebyon Kernow while also being a Conservative MP. I am not sure modern politics would be able to accommodate dual membership of this sort but things were perhaps more laid back in the 70s. David was also a lay preacher for the Methodist church and a Cornish Bard.
Like me, he was a pupil at Truro Cathedral School before he went for a career in journalism. He did national service on merchant ships and then ventured into radio and broadcast journalism. Before becoming the MP for Falmouth and Camborne he was also a presenter for Westward TV News.
At every election, much is made of the fact that the Camborne and Redruth seat is a marginal seat that changes hands often and, as I know from experience, journalists very much enjoy asking the incumbent MP how they feel as the count is about to begin. David Mudd managed to get through six such occasions and in there had some quite remarkable majorities. Whatever different political persuasions people might have had, no one could doubt that he was a Cornishman and true.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Pulling together to get through this crisis

Like many of you I am writing this article from home as the Coronavirus continues to restrict our day to day lives. We have made very good progress in controlling the virus with new hospital emissions having peaked last weekend and with things now on a downward trajectory and with the first tentative signs that the death rate is starting to follow.
The steps that everyone took to observe social distancing and stay at home where possible has taken the pressure of the NHS and new capacity created through the Nightingale Hosptials has meant that there was never a shortage of intensive care beds and ventilators. However, it is too early to make any changes and last week the government took the decision to extend the current restrictions for another three weeks and to review again at that point.
Modern technology allows a large number of us to continue in our day to day roles, even Parliament has managed to find a way of coping with the situation with the evolution of a hybrid parliament using video conferencing meaning that MPs can continue to carry out their duties and take part in debates via video rather than having to be physically in Parliament.
In my role as Environment Secretary I have been working hard to address the challenges that the virus has posed to the country. From working together with major food retailers to ensuring that supermarkets have the stock to meet demand, supporting vulnerable people and those who are self-isolating, and working with farmers and the agricultural industry continue to be supported during these difficult times.
Earlier this week, Captain Tom Moore completed his aim to walk 100 laps of his garden before he reached the age of 100. As a former soldier during the Second World War, Captain Moore had already given much to his country, but felt compelled to continue to devote himself to his country during these difficult times. At the time of writing this article Captain Moor had raised over £27million for health charities and his efforts have become something of a symbol for the public’s support for nurses and doctors during this difficult period.
Now more than ever during these difficult times it is important that we all continue to look out for one another, helping elderly neighbours by doing a shopping run for them, or walking their dog if they are staying at home and keeping in touch with family and friends by phone. Everyone has made sacrifices in the weeks that have gone by and it is right that we thank all those who have given so much to help others, however in the weeks ahead we all need to continue to pull together to get through this Coronavirus crisis.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Helping others during these difficult times

Earlier this week the Prime Minister was released from hospital to continue his recovery at home following his battle against the Coronavirus. It is great to see him making a recovery after having such a difficult encounter with the virus and we all wish him well and a continued recovery.
His message of thanks to the NHS and the nurses who helped him during his time in intensive care will have struck a chord with many. In recent weeks millions have turned out in their gardens or doorsteps every Thursday evening at 8pm to clap for the NHS and show their appreciation. We also recognise all of the key workers who are helping the country through this crisis including those working in supermarkets, in the food industry, in public transport or the police as well as the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who are working for charity groups and food banks to help get food to those in need.
Here in Cornwall, many businesses such as hotels and restaurants have suffered a severe blow with the tourism industry placed on hold. Although they are suffering financial distress some hotels are offering accommodation for NHS workers and many other businesses have rapidly adapted to a new delivery to home model. There have no doubt been a lot of pasty sales in recent weeks and businesses like Baker Toms have started a mobile bread van focusing on delivering fresh bread to rural communities and my own family and their team at Trevaskis Farm have turned to home delivery of shopping from the farm shop with all the restaurant staff re-deployed to this new and unexpected task.
In Camborne, Redruth and Hayle and across the country, smaller charities, community groups, neighbourhood associations and friendly social media apps and groups are all connecting with a core purpose of helping the vulnerable and those who most require it. They are doing extraordinary work and without them many may have faced real hardship.
This week the Government will review the social distancing measures that are in place. It is now clear that they are having an impact with the number of hospital admissions stabilising or starting to dip but it is probably too early to relax things very far, so we are likely to have several more weeks before we start to see light at the end of the tunnel. We may not be able to meet one another but we can all still speak so remember to pick up the phone to family and friends and offer to help elderly neighbours who may want you to assist with their shopping.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

We'll meet again

The very sad news that the Prime Minister has been admitted to hospital this week to support him in his fight against the Coronavirus has brought home to many the seriousness of this virus and the reason why such drastic steps have been necessary to bring it under control. The virus is indiscriminate, and the conditions can be quite variable. While the vast majority of people will usually experience symptoms similar to flu and come through within a week, in some cases there are more complications. The Prime Minister is a fighter and I am sure he will pull through this with the fabulous support of our NHS and we all wish him a speedy recovery so that he can take the helm again.
The better news is that the measures that have been taken are starting to have an impact. The numbers of people using public transport and in public places has fallen sharply and people are needing advice not to travel unnecessarily. As a result, while there is still a tragic daily rise in both new cases and, sadly, deaths, the growth in the number of cases is moving in a more linear way rather than the exponential growth that is a normal in an epidemic like this where there is no immunity in the population. This is important because the concern all along had been that an exponential growth in cases would lead to very high numbers of hospital admissions and overwhelm our NHS. At the moment, the growth in the number of cases, while placing a pressure on our hospitals is within the levels that have been comprehensively planned for in recent weeks and months.
Last Sunday the Queen also addressed the nation as the country continues to grapple with the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic. The Queen acknowledged the challenging time that many are experiencing and paid tribute to all those who are working on the front line, giving themselves selflessly as we work to return to more normal times.
The social distancing measures put in place are obviously very difficult for everyone. It has had a severe impact in many sectors of the economy that have had to close and with some beautiful weather last weekend it is hard for people to be staying at home. However, it is important that we all try to limit our social interaction, maintain distance wherever possible and go out for exercise but limit the time we spend away from home. This will remain important as we approach the Easter weekend in order to ensure we continue to suppress the spread of the virus. Easter is traditionally a time when families come together or even travel away for a nice break and it will be difficult for many to be separated from their family and relatives this year. We have all had to get much more used to using digital technology to keep in touch or even the old fashioned phone and that will remain the case for now.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Working together to beat the virus

Over the last week the Coronavirus pandemic has developed at pace with the numbers of those who have contracted the virus and died from it sadly rising. The epicentre of the outbreak remains London and other major urban centres like Birmingham. Currently, the number of cases in Cornwall remains lower but the numbers will continue to rise over the next few weeks. The NHS have been planning and preparing for the challenge ahead. We each have a part to play by staying at home where possible and reducing our contact with others to protect the NHS and help to save lives.
Last weekend, the Government announced the establishment of strategic coordination centres across the whole country which will bring together senior members of the emergency services with local authorities and the NHS to lead communities through this period. This will help to coordinate a local response.
From Cornwall to Cumbria they are ensuring that frontline people have the right protective equipment. As hospitals prepare their response across the country there has been a huge surge in demand for masks and other protective equipment. The National Supply Distribution Response Team have now delivered 170million masks, 42.8million gloves, 13.7million aprons, 182,000 gowns, almost 10million items of cleaning equipment, and 2.3million pairs of eye protectors, all to 58,000 NHS Trusts including GP surgeries and pharmacies. Every single GP practice, dental practice and community pharmacy has had a PPE delivery. All care homes, hospices and home care providers have or will shortly receive a delivery, and the Government will not stop until it has got people the equipment they need.
There has also been an amazing response in other ways and this crisis has shown our country at its best as it responds quickly. British manufacturers like Dyson and JCB are working together to develop and manufacture a big increase in the number of ventilators. We have built several huge new Nightingale Hospitals at places like the Excel exhibition centre in London to increase our hospital bed capacity. Food producers have pulled out all the stops to help good food to people’s homes and help those who are vulnerable top and unable to go out and there has been an explosion of offers from volunteers with a government call for volunteers leading to 750,000 people stepping forward to help.
Locally I wanted to assure you that I and my team have been working hard to answer all your questions and concerns that you may have amid the ongoing pandemic. Whilst we are receiving a large volume of correspondence we will always help you the best that we can.
At times like this it is important that we all look out for one another. Cornwall has always had a great ability to pull together as a community so play your part. Remember to pick up the phone to family and friends and offer to help elderly neighbours who may want you to assist with their shopping. We have some very difficult weeks ahead but it can also bring our the best in our communities.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Stay at Home, Protect Lives, Save the NHS

Over the last week the Coronavirus pandemic has continued to develop at pace and there have been major effects for us all with the decision to close all restaurants, pubs and non-food shops and strong advice to everyone to stay at home wherever possible and to take care to distance themselves from others when they do need to go out or go to work.
These quite extraordinary measures have had to be taken in order to protect lives and try to reduce the pressure on our NHS which is going to have a huge task trying to deal with those more serious cases that lead to people being hospitalised. While the vast majority of us can fight off the Coronavirus, all of us contribute to spreading it around and therefore passing it on to those more vulnerable people who might not be able to fight it off.
The steps taken will have huge impacts on the economy and it is a worrying time for many with businesses forced to close and many losing their jobs. It has also been an incredibly volatile time with public anxiety driving behaviours that are not helpful. Cornwall and many other parts of the country initially saw an influx of people fleeing to the countryside thinking that it helped them to isolate but the danger is that they carry the virus with them and out vulnerable local residents at greater risk. There have also been difficult situations in the food supply chain with panic buying in some areas meaning that Supermarkets struggled to keep food on their shelves.
The government has taken steps to give tougher guidance to people only to travel if absolutely essential, to stay at home and work from home if at all possible and when going out to do essential shopping to do all they can to keep their distance from others maintaining a 2 metre separation wherever practical.
In Defra my main focus has been on trying keep the food supply chain moving. In the last three weeks shops have put an additional £1 billion of extra food into people’s homes. We have a resilient food supply chain which is able to respond to increases in demand as it does every Christmas. Food manufacturers have increased their production by about 50% to meet the surge in demand. We removed time restrictions on lorry movements at stores and relaxed restrictions on drivers’ hours to keep the lorries moving more food to every store.
At times like this we discover as a country the jobs that are really valued. Those who work in the food supply chain whether on farms, in food processing factories, delivery drivers and staff in supermarkets have done a fantastic job keeping the nation fed and their jobs are of crucial importance. Some of them have faced anger and abuse from a tiny minority of the public but the rest of us are grateful for all that they are doing to keep us fed at a difficult time.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

COVID-19 - Coronavirus

In the past week public awareness and concern around the Coronavirus has risen sharply as governments around the world including the UK have taken some dramatic steps to dampen the spread of the disease in order to reduce the peak of infection and ensure that our NHS is able to cope with an expected increase in cases.
This disease has been monitored closely since the first outbreaks in China towards the end of last year and the Government has been working for months to put in place plans first to contain the disease and then to delay it and mitigate the effects. It has now become a global pandemic.
In most cases the symptoms are similar to flu with a fever and cough which lasts for up to a week and, like flu, in the overwhelming majority of cases people are able to fight it off. The reason there has been so much concern about it is because it is a new virus and, unlike most flu outbreaks, there is therefore no natural immunity within the population so nothing to check its spread. Unless steps are taken now to delay the transmission of the disease there is a risk that the NHS will be placed under considerable pressure.
So in the last week we have issued guidance to everyone that if they show symptoms of fever and a cough, even if those symptoms are mild, that they should stay at home. We have also said that where a member of a household shows symptoms of the disease then the whole family should try to self-isolate and stay at home to avoid the risk of onward transmission and there is wider advice to the whole population to try to reduce social contact by avoiding large gatherings, by working from home where that is possible and avoiding too much social contact for the time being. People should also wash their hands longer and more frequently which can have a significant impact if we all do it.
There will be significant impacts on the global economy from this pandemic and the Chancellor has stepped in this week with a package of emergency measures to support businesses facing severe disruption. The tourism industry will see severe disruption over Easter.
The most important thing is for people to remain calm and work together as we tackle this disease. Last weekend there were a few isolated cases around London of individuals being inconsiderate and aggressive to staff at supermarkets who were working to try to restock shelves following an increase in demand. The food supply chain is resilient and able to cope with sharp increases in demand as it does every Christmas and there is plenty of food for everyone if people are considerate.
It will also be important in the weeks and months ahead that we all look out for one another, helping elderly neighbours by doing a shopping run for them, or walking their dog if they are staying at home and keeping in touch with family and friends by phone. Once the initial shock over the Coronavirus has settled we all need to pull together to get through it.

Monday, 16 March 2020

St Piran’s Day

Last Saturday I attended the St Piran’s Day celebrations in Redruth. This event goes from strength to strength every year and it was good to see the town centre packed and many local schools and groups taking part in the parade.
Redruth has really led the way in using civic events and celebrations of this sort to bring people into the town and to bring the community together. Together with the pasty festival, the Christmas lights procession and, of course, Murdoch Day, there is something every few months. It is really heartening to see so much support from the local schools and it's a vote of confidence in the future of the town.
Over the past few years, we have seen a growing interest in Cornwall’s history and culture. Camborne, Redruth and Hayle are at the very heart of this revival, and its great to see these great industrial towns leading the way in promoting our rich and wonderful history. From the regeneration of Heartlands at Pool, the new Kresen Kernow Archive, and the redevelopment of Hayle Harbour, we are seeing a lot of regeneration done in a way that not only respects but celebrates our proud industrial past. With the added investment of the Historic Towns Fund in Redruth which will help spread the regeneration of the town that started at Krowji and the butter market, and the Towns fund which will support the further revival of Camborne town centre, there is potential to do much more in the years ahead.
Cornwall has a unique constitutional place within our United Kingdom which is recognised. Many of us consider ourselves as Cornish before English and there has been growing interest in the Cornish language in recent years.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - The Coronovirus situation continues to develop globally. The symptoms are similar to flu but the reason it is attracting so much attention is that it is a new virus and there is no natural immunity. As with flu, the overwhelming majority of people make a full recovery typically after a few days. The Government, supported by the Chief Medical Officer, Public Health England, the Department for Health and other government organisations are working hard to manage the outbreak. We have well established and rehearsed plans and approaches to deal with such situations. The most up to date advice can be found on the gov.uk website.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Constituency catchup

Its good to get out of Westminster at the end of each week and get back home to visit some of the many amazing charities, local schools and innovative businesses in Camborne Redruth and Hayle.
First on the agenda last Friday were meetings with representatives from ththe Council to discuss the progress it has made on its plans for the Towns Fund. Last autumn, the Government announced that Camborne was selected to receive funding from the new Towns Fund which focuses on areas with a proud industrial heritage that are in need of economic growth. There were some interesting discussions, particularly centring around the use of the bus station in the town, but there is still more to be done.
Following this I met the Mayor for Redruth who provided me with an update that the Council were doing especially with regards to the future of the Passmore Edwards library building, whilst also focusing on plans as to how the Council will implement the Historic Towns Fund which will help spread the regeneration that has been started with the opening of Kresen Kernow, Krowji and the Butter Market.
Next up on the agenda was a meeting with Portreath Parish Council and the Environment Agency to discuss their work in delivering a flood alleviation scheme for the town. Over the years Portreath has suffered particularly from flooding and storm damage to its sea defences. The meeting was very encouraging and shows the positive work that can be done when government and organisations come together to tackle issues such as flooding. This is also an area that I have been working on in my role as Secretary of State for the Environment as we support communities that have been affected by flooding and invest more in defences to prevent future flooding from taking place.
I also met with members from the local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). Over the years, we have built up good links with the local team and often work together to help constituents who require assistance. The CAB do a lot of good work locally and we’re fortunate to have a strong team that are easily contactable and that work hard for everyone.
Finally, on Saturday morning I held my regular advice surgery. I hold advice surgeries most weeks and have a dedicated team who are here to help unblock problems. If you have a problem that you need help solving, I can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk, by telephone on 0207 219 7032 or by appointment in our Camborne Office at 13 Commercial Street, Camborne, TR14 8JZ.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Building the right homes for Cornwall

I have always believed it is important to help young families fulfill the ambition of owning their own home. Over time, owning an asset like your own home gives you some financial security and allows you to set down roots. Twenty years ago it was possible to get relatively affordable mortgages for 95 percent of the value of a property and this meant that people who were working could generally save a five percent deposit. However, after the banking crisis in 2008 things went into reverse. Banks and mortgage companies now expect a much higher deposit than was the case twenty years ago, typically 25 percent which means that it's much harder for young families to purchase their first home.
A few years ago the government introduced a new "Help to Buy" scheme where government would help to underwrite the deposit in order to ensure normal families who work hard but don't have large incomes or even large savings, could be supported to purchase their first home. The scheme was available on certain new build properties and it has been a success with some good examples across Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.
Building on this success, the Government this week announced further details on the new Help to Buy scheme that will run from 2021 to 2023. The scheme will be targeted and continue to help more people onto the property ladder including regional property price caps based on average first time buyer prices. Such caps will take average first time buyer prices for the region and add a further 50% to ensure there is good availability of the scheme. This is a positive step forward and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to building at least one million new homes over the course of this parliament.
There is no doubt that nationally we have a housing shortage. A combination of population growth and issues like family breakdown means that many families are struggling to find a home that delivers their needs. In Cornwall, the issue is exacerbated in some areas by second homeowners. So, as well as helping first time buyers purchase their first home through schemes like Help to Buy, we do also need to build more homes.
However, the homes that we do build should be built to the highest quality. Every year, I have a number of constituents contact my office citing defects to their newly built home that they have just moved into. No one should expect to purchase a poor-quality home or receive poor customer service, but far too many do. That’s why this week the Government announced that it will be establishing a New Homes Ombudsman to protect the rights of homebuyers, holding developers to account when things go wrong, and including legislation to require all developers of new build homes to belong to this Ombudsman. Not only will this ensure a constant access to redress for all buyers of new build homes, it will also help to drive up standards across the country.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Winter storms

Last Thursday I was asked by the Prime Minister to join his Cabinet as the Environment Secretary. It is a huge honour and I am looking forward to the task ahead with many important Bills to get right as we leave the EU and chart a new course for vital industries like farming and fishing.
However, my very first task within hours of being appointed was to take charge of our plans to manage the impacts of storm Dennis. The last two weekends have seen Britain battered by two storms, and once again, many communities are experiencing the distressing effects of floods. In Cornwall we have had plenty of gale force winds and lots of rainfall but, unlike a few years ago when the tidal surges damaged sea defences at Portreath.
This time the worst of the damage has been seen in Worcestershire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and South Wales but there have also been widespread effects across the country. Part of the problem is that following a very wet winter land is already very waterlogged, the water table is very high and rivers are already brim full. That means that there is nowhere for additional rainfall to go. In recent years we have spent billions of pounds on over 600 flood defences which has protected over 200,000 homes and there are more under development that will protect a further 100,000 homes. In this last episode, although over 500 homes were flooded, the defences we had in place protected about 20,000 homes. A further £4 billion has been allocated for the next five years to build more still and the Met Office also recently announced that it was investing £1.2 billion into a new supercomputer to help predict future weather conditions and foresee extreme weather events.
The success of our flood defences in protecting many homes is, of course, no consolation to those who were affected and had their home flooded this week. Suffering flood damage is an incredibly traumatic event for people and that is why we have also announced a package of measures to help people get back on their feet with reliefs on Council Tax, payments to those affected to help them manage the short time crisis and grants to help them repair their homes in a way that will make them more resilient to future flooding events.
Around the world we seem to be seeing an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events. It is not just here in the UK. Over the Christmas period we saw massive bushfires across Australia fuelled by hot and windy conditions with more than 11 million hectares of bush, forest and parks across Australia burned. There were also higher-than-average rainfall and floods in Eastern Africa and droughts in south-east Asia.
One factor driving the increased frequency of extreme weather events is climate change and that is why we must continue to make progress to reduce carbon emissions and that is a key objective in both the Environment Bill and the Agriculture Bill that are going through parliament at the moment.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Investing in local transport

In a peninsula like Cornwall, there will always be challenges to building a resilient public transport structure. However, some good progress has been made in the last few years. We have invested to improve our railways and there is now a regular half hourly service running through Cornwall which has led to a significant increase in passenger numbers.
However, for most people in Cornwall, it is the local service that matters most and the key to making things work better is to try to integrate or join up the bus network with the rail network more effectively than we have done in the past. This will allow rail and bus timetables to work in tandem to give people more frequent options to get from one destination to another.
I have long pressed for a regular and routine 30-minute local train service through Cornwall with buses then providing onward connections over shorter rural routes to our villages and this is now starting to come together. By joining up commercial routes of buses and trains with smaller, local, shuttle buses travelling shorter distances, you start to get the makings of something that could really work, and you could build more confidence in the public transport network.
Following the General Election result, there are now however some really interesting and important things happening in line with the Government’s commitment to levelling up our towns and ensuring that regions like Cornwall outside of London receive improved connectivity. Earlier in the autumn, I wrote about the plans to introduce Britain’s first Superbus network here in Cornwall. The network was part of the government’s plans to reverse the impacts of dwindling services in local towns and drive forward a bus revolution that will improve access for everyone.
The pioneering investment would direct investment towards more frequent public transport in the countryside, introducing new apps that will improve the information available to commuters whilst also ensuring that the bus fleets will be cleaner, greener and more environmentally friendly.
Earlier this week the Government further committed to improving bus and cycle links announcing a significant £5 billion package of funding to drive forward the reforms needed. The new funding, delivered over the next five years, will see the introduction of more regular and faster bus services while providing cycle routes with a major boost - funding more than 250 miles of new cycleways and introducing at least 4,000 new Zero Emission Buses.
Creating an integrated public transport system for Cornwall is an important step forward in ensuring that our local communities are supported. Investments like those announced this week and earlier in the autumn will help to improve the affordability of transport for local people, improving our regional links and ensuring that we have a more environmentally friendly transport service.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Unleashing the potential of our towns

The result of the recent General Election has transformed British politics and given way to a sense of energy and optimism. Much of this is because the government now has a stable majority providing the ability to get on with the job of governing. However, there is also another factor that is proving decisive, namely that the government is committed to delivering on its promises, levelling up our towns and cities and unleashing Britain’s potential.
For towns like Camborne, Redruth and Hayle this is welcome news. Our local towns were once at the heart of the industrial revolution and our expertise in mining engineering was second to none. Over the years, with the loss of mining our fortunes waned and all too often the political attention was on big northern cities, but now we have an opportunity to reset this imbalance and deliver the economic regeneration that our towns and communities need.
In Hayle there is already some exciting work taking place to transform the harbour into a new coastal quarter. We have already repaired the harbour walls, started to develop South Quay and built a new marine business park on North Quay. Now further construction is under way at North Quay with the first phase of the scheme delivering homes, new shops and open spaces just yards from the beach at Gwithian Towans. There will also be considerable investment into the roundabout at Loggans Moor roundabout helping to improve the flow of traffic and improve the infrastructure.
The Historic Towns Fund is also set to help with the regeneration of Redruth, one of just 69 in the country. It recognises the amazing architecture that we have in Redruth and will help restore it. The fund can help spread the regeneration that has been started with the opening of Kresen Kernow. Projects like Krowji and the work around the Butter Market shows just what is possible with some imagination, passion and local leadership and we now have funds to help facilitate further work.
In the weeks ahead I will also be meeting community leaders in Camborne to explore plans to help transform Camborne’s growth prospects. Camborne will be receiving funds from the new Towns Fund which focuses on areas with a proud industrial heritage that are in need of economic growth, with up to £25 million being designated for Camborne. There are already a number of exciting and innovative ideas being talked about including the potential to redevelop the old bus station, and breathe new life into the high street but I want to ensure that the community is fully involved in discussions about priorities.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

We've got Brexit done, now lets move on

By the time that many of you read this article, there will be less than 24 hours until the UK has formally left the European Union. This is a momentous occasion and there are many exciting opportunities open to the UK as we chart a new course and enter a new chapter in our history. From my perspective, the chance to be at the heart of designing an independent agriculture and fisheries policy for the first time in half a century is something I relish.
Over the course of the last three years, there were times when both I and many others who had voted to leave the European Union feared that Brexit would never happen and that for the first time in this country’s history we would not have respected a democratic vote. As someone who campaigned to leave and sought to compromise in order to achieve Brexit, it’s been a deeply frustrating time.
With Brexit now done, the time has come to move on, to bring this country back together and get on with delivering on the people’s priorities. I think there are signs that we may have turned a corner with the aggressive tone of debate changing and a calmness descending on Westminster and the general political debate. Much of this has been helped by the fact that the government is getting on with the job and doing what it said it would do in its manifesto during the recent election campaign.
From investing in our NHS, levelling up our schools funding and improving the vital infrastructure on which we all depend, there is much going on within Westminster and at a local level. Already the Prime Minister has indicated his support for regions like the South West and others outside of London to help reduce the inequalities that exist in our communities. In our NHS, we have seen commitments to build a new hospital, a new maternity and children unit at RCHT Treliske whilst also nationally increasing spending on the NHS by almost £34 billion per year.
On schools, the Prime Minister has confirmed his commitment to improving standards and ensuring that every child has access to a world class education. Last week statistics for schools across Camborne, Redruth and Hayle revealed that many had seen an increase in the proportion of pupils achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics last year. With some schools experiencing a jump of over 40%, it is clear that children are already benefiting from the excellent standards of teaching that they are receiving.
The last three years have been a turbulent year in British Politics, however it is my hope that with a majority government, we can continue to put the turmoil and divisiveness of the past behind us and all move on. Events to date have shown a promising start for the year.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Developing a new Agriculture Policy fit for the 21st Century

Last month’s general election result has finally brought clarity and direction, following three very difficult years. The UK will leave the EU at the end of this month and there will be an orderly Brexit with an implementation period running until the end of this year. There will be no extension and we will not be part of the customs union, nor the single market, but we will seek a free-trade agreement.
We now have the freedom to press ahead with our plans to develop a new agriculture policy that is fit for purpose in the 21st century and delivers for British farmers and the environment.
The Agriculture Bill has returned this week for the second time. As before, we seek to replace the bureaucratic shambles that is the Common Agricultural Policy with something that has coherence.
Rather than arbitrary area-based payments, where land ownership and tenure is subsidised, we will instead direct future funding to support activities and interventions that deliver for our environment and enhance animal welfare.
We want a package of incentives to support sustainable farming practices and the bill creates the powers to do this.
We recognise that Basic Payment Scheme payments currently make up a significant proportion of net farm income. However, rather than maintain a system that just masks poor profitability, the ambition behind our Agriculture Bill is to tackle the causes of that poor profitability.
So, the bill creates the power to make grants available to deliver a prosperous future for farming by helping farmers invest in new technology and equipment to reduce costs.
There is a section in the bill to improve transparency and fairness in the supply chain, so that farmers stop being price takers and start getting a fairer share of the cake.
Also, we want to make it easier for farmers to retire with dignity and simultaneously help new entrants get access to land.
I grew up on a farm and spent a decade working in the industry. Domestic food production is crucial and plays a vital role in contributing to our nation’s food security.
The government takes this very seriously, so the revised bill creates a duty to review food security every five years and a duty to consider the production of food when devising policy.
I also know that farming is a risky business and there will always be circumstances where the government must act and intervene in a crisis to support farmers or stabilise markets. The bill makes provision for that too.
Finally, I know that change must be delivered in an orderly and progressive way. It won’t happen overnight. Our bill envisages a seven-year transition period from the old legacy system to the future policy, starting next year.
Our ambition is to use our new-found freedom to embark on a journey to a better future for farming. We want to innovate and develop the policies of the future.
A decade from now, I want the rest of the world to be coming to the UK to see how it is done, and I know we have some of the best farmers in the world who can do just that.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Levelling up our schools

A child’s education is one of the most important aspects of their life. The first three years of a child’s life are the most formative and have a crucial impact on a child’s life chances.
Education is also the single most important thing that can increase social mobility and help the next generation to get on in life. We must constantly strive to strengthen primary education, bring rigour to both secondary education and the exams system and also support those who want to go on to university or take on an apprenticeship.
Here in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle we are fortunate to have some fantastic local schools delivering an outstanding quality of education. When I am visiting them, I always find that there is a sense of pride from students and teachers alike. It is clear for everyone to see just how hard the staff are working to deliver the highest levels of education for our children. But it is important that we do everything that we can to support our schools so that they can continue to deliver an outstanding education.
Throughout the General Election, the Prime Minister made clear his intention that the Government would invest in schools around the country with £14 billion over the next three years, worth an extra £150 million a week. Because of this major investment, each secondary school will receive a minimum of £5,000 per pupil for the next academic year, and each primary school will receive a minimum of £3,750 rising to £4,000 in 2021-22.
Many in the campaign questioned whether the Government would deliver on these promises but this week the Department for Education released figures which showed that the per pupil funding figures had increased for schools in the constituency, delivering on its pledge and helping to level up education funding for schools in Cornwall. This is a positive step forward and demonstrates that the Government is serious about improving the lives and futures of everyone in this country regardless of whether you’re from Putney or Camborne.
We will also do more to support those who need extra support from schools to help them achieve their full potential by increasing the high needs budget by £780 million in 2020-21. This 12% increase will ensure that every pupil can access the education that is right for them and strengthen the support that they receive in their schools.
I think it is important to create a culture of excellence in the education system where schools are constantly striving to achieve more for all children. You only get one education, so we must do all we can to make it a success.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

A New Year Awaits

The New Year has always been regarded as a time for hope and optimism. For some, it is a chance to turn over a new leaf, stop smoking or start exercising. For others it’s a chance to take up a new hobby.
Our country has had to endure several years of highly divisive argument over Brexit. It has divided communities, political parties and in some cases even families. Following the result of the recent General Election we have a chance to put all the arguments behind us, bring our country back together and start the process of healing. This week the Bill that delivers an orderly exit from the EU concluded all its stages through the House of Commons without incident. Our country has finally turned the corner and is on the way back.
The year ahead represents a fresh start for our politics and a chance to finally turn our attention to other matters. Already the Prime Minister has indicated his support for regions like the South West and others outside of London to help reduce the inequalities that exist in our communities. In the weeks ahead the UK will leave the EU and the Government will get on with delivering on the people’s priorities. From investing in our NHS, levelling up our schools funding and improving the vital infrastructure that we all depend on, there is much to be getting on with.
The year ahead also brings new opportunities for our towns. Since I was first elected in 2010, my number one priority has been to deliver the economic regeneration that our towns require, attracting the jobs and opportunities to level up our towns. Last autumn it was confirmed that all three of the major towns had been selected to receive funding. Hayle will receive funding to improve the flow of traffic at Loggans roundabout, Camborne has access to a new regeneration fund and Redruth will receive funding to help restore and preserve some of the historic buildings in the town. In the months ahead I will be working with local councils and the communities to discuss how best to deploy these new resources.
2019 was a turbulent year in British Politics however it is my hope that with a majority government that we can finally put the turmoil and divisiveness of the past year behind us and all move on. Events this week have been a very promising start.
If you have a problem that you need help solving, why not email us to provide some detail or drop into our Camborne office to arrange to meet one of our team. George can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk, by telephone on 0207 219 7032 or by appointment in our Camborne Office at 13 Commercial Street, Camborne, TR14 8JZ.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Christmas - A time of goodwill

Our country has had to endure several years of highly divisive argument over Brexit. It has divided communities, political parties and in some cases even families. Following last week’s General Election result with a clear majority for Boris Johnson and the new Conservative Government, we have a chance to put all the argument behind us, bring our country back together and start the process of healing.
As we approach Christmas, which is traditionally the season of goodwill, let’s hope that some goodwill can also spread into our political discourse. In recent years there has been a trend towards a greater polarisation of views. Social media has encouraged people to make short and terse comments on issues of the day and to make sometimes quite aggressive or offensive comments anonymously about others. People can wind themselves up and become angry. We need to get more tolerance and respect back into our political debate.
I think there are some signs that we may have turned a corner. The aggressive tone of debate and the level of intolerance was particularly noticeable and acute in the 2017 General Election. I think that this time, while people were very frustrated by what has happened (or not happened) over the last three years, there was also a calmness about the situation and a clarity about what was needed to rectify matters which subsequently translated into a very clear and decisive result in the election.
Boris Johnson has wasted no time in doing what he said he would do. The Queen’s Speech has already taken place this week and on Friday Parliament will have started taking through the legislation needed to implement the withdrawal agreement that was agreed with the EU in October. Having cleared its stages in the House of Commons the Bill will be on its way to the House of Lords by the New Year where it is expected to clear very quickly.
Christmas is also a time when we are particularly aware of the dedication of NHS staff and other public sector workers who work difficult shifts throughout the holiday period. Boris Johnson has reaffirmed his clear commitment plans to substantially increase spending on our NHS by almost £34 Billion per year. Spending on the NHS has increased over the last decade and is about 20 percent higher now than in 2010 but the pressures have grown faster. As medicine advances and surgery becomes more complex, the NHS can do more and that is why we need to make a major new injection of funds.
After some turbulent and difficult times for our country, I would like to wish everyone a peaceful and restful Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.