Thursday, 29 January 2015

Developing Green Energy

I have always been a strong supporter of wave power in Cornwall, but I am very opposed to field scale solar farms which are scarring the Cornish countryside.

With the powerful Atlantic swell off the Cornish coast we have a wave power resource that is second to none and Wave Hub is the first facility of its type in the world able to test commercial scale arrays of devices.

I have always championed wave power and worked to secure Marine Energy Park status in Hayle. There are several major wave energy developers now seeking to locate in Hayle and our strong heritage in engineering means we have the companies that can really make wave power work.

There is a place for solar panels on roofs, but field scale solar developments damage the countryside and take good farmland out of production. What has happened with all those new solar developments between Chiverton roundabout and Carland Cross is an absolute tragedy and will damage other industries like farming and tourism. As Farming Minister, I decided to abolish farm subsidies on any land occupied by solar developments and I have pressed for Cornwall Council to say no to more of these awful developments.

NHS in Cornwall

The NHS is incredibly important to everyone in Cornwall and recently there have been rumours regarding the future of St Michael’s Hospital. Earlier in the summer, I met with the then Chief Executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, to discuss these rumours and ask if there was anything I could do to help. She made clear there are no plans whatsoever to close the hospital and that they would actually like to do more work there. I strongly disagree with those people who keep saying St Michael's will have to be closed down.  We should not undermine confidence in our local NHS. Instead we should support and strengthen it.

Funding for the Kernow Clinical Commission Group had increased this year by £14.3 million with another £11.6 million to come next year. Furthermore, I think it is encouraging that extra funds have been granted for an expansion at the minor injuries unit at the Camborne and Redruth Community Hospital and the creation of doctor led urgent care centres at the same hospital. Like any big organisation, the NHS will always have challenges to deal with and I think we should help them deal with those challenges, not talk them down.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Cornish Devolution

Cornwall has always been unique.  We have a strong identity and our own language and culture. Many of us consider ourselves Cornish before English and in recent years we have seen a renewed interest in celebrating St Piran’s Day. 

I do believe that we should give more decision making powers to Cornwall and the Government has already put together "growth deals" where new money has been made available for Cornwall to spend on transport projects that it has prioritised to promote growth.

I don't think we should build a Welsh style assembly and have yet another tier of politicians. That would just be a waste of money. Instead, we should focus on what more Cornwall Council can do. I would like to see more powers relating to culture and heritage devolved to Cornwall Council and taken away from English Heritage which I think can sometimes be remote.

But Cornwall Council is far from perfect so in addition, I think we should give our town and parish councils a greater say on how elements of Cornwall Council’s budget is spent so they have more power and a stronger sense of purpose

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Election Year Looms

This is the last of my weekly columns for the West Briton and Cornishman. As we enter the New Year we are in the final four months leading up to the next General Election in May and a new format is planned to involve all of the various candidates from different parties.

I know that many people frown upon political parties and I don't doubt that most people will have had enough of the debate come May 7th. But political parties should not be undervalued because no democracy can work without them. They are all voluntary organisations funded by donations from supporters to enable them to print the leaflets and literature which are then delivered by local volunteers who give up their free time to help the party they believe in.

This is going to be the most important election for decades. So much is at stake. Do we stick with the plan to turn the economy around and deliver prosperity or do we abandon all the progress that has been made and make Ed Miliband Prime Minister instead? It is a big choice and if the polls are to be believed, it is going to be the closest election in living memory. The two main parties are neck and neck and other smaller parties are also attracting more support than usual. Camborne, Redruth and Hayle has always been closely fought and a key battleground in elections. Unless the Conservatives can hold seats like Camborne and Redruth then Ed Miliband will become Prime Minister next May.  

Elections are increasingly about local issues too. I am fortunate enough to be an MP representing the towns where I grew up and where my family have worked for over four hundred years.  My family have lived through the changing fortunes of Camborne, Redruth and Hayle for generations and that is why I have always made bringing new industries and better paid jobs to the area my number one priority. I hate the way some people talk our towns down.  We have an industrial heritage to be proud of and which hasn’t been forgotten and this is still the part of Cornwall where the work gets done.  A good start has been made with the restoration of Hayle Harbour, millions invested in Camborne and plans for a new archive centre at the derelict brewery site in Redruth but there is still more to do. If voters give me the chance next May, I want to build on what we've started.

Digital Skills and Connectivity

One of the ways we can raise wages and incomes in the area is by promoting more apprenticeships and locally Cornwall College which I attende...