Thursday, 25 August 2016

Software Cornwall

Over the last two or three years, we have seen growing momentum behind the embryonic computer software industry here in West Cornwall.  A recent national study identified Camborne and Redruth as one of the fastest growing computer software clusters in the country with huge growth in jobs and turnover. 

Companies like Headforwards Software from Pool which develops software solutions for the telecoms industry are growing exponentially.  In Redruth we have the Barncoose Gateway centre which hosts other home grown local success stories like Blue Fruit and Netbooster.  Earlier this week I visited SCSL at Tolvaddon which is another rapidly emerging company in this new industry.  It was founded by Dr Mark Sullivan, a former GP, who spotted the need for better data monitoring to assist doctors in managing the medication of patients in need anticoagulants to reduce their risk of stroke.  Over the last twenty years they have been developing sophisticated software for use by the NHS which makes them one of the world's cutting edge technology companies in their field.

Software Cornwall is a grouping that now has over sixty members both large and small and Mike Barritt, the Managing Director of SCSL, is heavily involved in organising the annual "Agile on the beach" convention which takes place at Falmouth next week and is now judged to be among the top three such events in the world. "Agile" is a new management concept which can be applied to many disciplines including even in financial management but is especially used in software development.  It is about removing rigid processes, targets and management plans and replacing them with something more flexible, holistic and iterative so that complex challenges can be overcome by natural adaptation.

 I have always said that I wanted to see new industries and higher paid jobs in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle. The ingredients of success are the right infrastructure, like Superfast broadband, and the raw talent of bright individuals who can make things happen.  Then you need critical mass so here is local resilience which we are now starting to get.  Previously, people had to choose between leaving Cornwall and taking a well-paid career up country, or taking the lifestyle choice to live in the most beautiful part of the country but accepting a lower salary.  Increasingly, the young people who have grown up in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle and who are receiving their exam results this week will not be forced to make that choice. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Structural and Investment Fund Projects

I am pleased that the Chancellor has announced that the Treasury will ensure that all structural and investment fund projects signed before the Autumn Statement will be fully funded. Philip Hammond has also confirmed that agricultural funding will continue until at least 2020. Horizon research funding granted before leaving the EU will also be guaranteed by the Treasury after the UK leaves.  There will also be further announcements in the autumn statement about how the government intends to secure some continuity and consistency of the funding streams currently managed by the EU up until the point we actually leave.

This move will ensure stability and certainty in the run up to our exit from the EU. However, I believe that we now have a wonderful opportunity to design our own domestic policies to run regional policy, support businesses and sectors such as agriculture and science.

In terms of regional policy, in areas such as Cornwall, over the last couple of years the British government has operated a highly successful economic fund called the Local Growth Fund. This has funded the successful Devolution Deal for Cornwall and has had nothing to do with the EU. It is nationally funded, and is audited in a consistent and proportionate way by the National Audit Office. Following problems relating to procurement around EU funding and grants, Cornish businesses have increasingly questioned the risks of EU funding when they could instead benefit from a stable, national regeneration fund implemented property and consistently.

Research carried out in 2012 by the independent think tank Open Europe has shown that there are huge dead weight costs to sending money out to Brussels and then bringing it back again with lots of pointless bureaucracy and strings attached.  We now have a chance to do things differently and more effectively so that the money we spend really delivers jobs and growth.

For example, by expanding the existing Local Growth Fund, which would be properly managed by national government in conjunction with the Local Enterprise Partnership, we would be free to invest in projects that really deliver for Cornwall.

I am currently enjoying spending Summer Recess in the constituency. On 23rd August, I will be holding a pop-up surgery at Asda, South Quay, Hayle, between 2pm and 4pm.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Man Engine

In recent days, it has been fantastic to watch the progress of the Man Engine's tour of the county. In July 2006, the Cornish Mining Landscape became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Man Engine, a 10-metre mechanical giant, celebrates the 10 year anniversary of our World Heritage Status and the successes and struggles of the people whose lives shaped the Cornish mining story.

I believe that this part of Cornwall must make the most of its amazing industrial heritage, and make the most of Cornwall’s World Heritage Status. Camborne, Redruth and Hayle together make up the heart of the county’s industrial heritage. There are also around 8 million people around the world who are part of the Cornish Diaspora, with ancestors who can be traced back to Cornwall. They took mining technology around the globe to places such as Australia, the United States, Mexico and South America. The growth of the internet has made it easier for people to trace their family history and there has been a surge of interest in such research.

A few years ago I organised a conference in Redruth that culminated in the decision to build the Cornwall Archive in Redruth. It has transformed the old derelict Redruth brewery site into a centre for holding the world’s largest collection of maps, photographs and manuscripts relating to Cornwall.

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 learning the Cornish language. I have always believed that we should give more decision making powers to Cornwall, and this week I have had some encouraging meetings regarding the Devolution Deal.

I am enjoying taking the chance to spend time in the constituency over Summer Recess. On Monday, 15th August, I will be holding an open surgery at Trenithick, Mount Hawke Residents Association Club between 10am and 11.30 am, followed by another open surgery at my office on Commercial Street, Camborne, between 2pm and 4pm.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Olympics 2016

Team GB look set to have a very successful Olympics in Rio. It seems only yesterday that we were preparing for the start of the London 2012 Olympics, in which Mo Farah made history by being the first British man to win gold in the Olympic 10,000 metres.

Cornish athletes have often played a huge part in the success of Team GB. In 2012, Ben Ainslie won his event for the fourth time and Helen Glover took Britain’s first gold of the Games. She will defend her title in Rio. I am also enormously proud that paratriathlete Melissa Reid, from Porthtowan, has been selected to participate in the 2016 Paralympics. I wish her the very best of luck.

The legacy from the London 2012 Olympics is often described as economic, encouraging trade, inward investment and tourism. However, I hope that the most important legacy is that a generation of young people has been inspired to take up sport thanks to the emergence of new role models from various backgrounds, all of whom are about achievement and excellence through hard work.

Locally, I am always very impressed by the efforts of students participating in the Cornwall Schools Games. This allows young people to take part in a huge variety of sports, and is a great way to raise the status of sport in our schools. I am a keen runner, and used to be a member of Cornwall Athletics Club. It is great to see that the club continues to thrive.

I recently watched part of the Cornwall BMX Racing Club Summer Racing Series. It was great to see so many participants, and I am hugely supportive of plans for new and improved facilities which are supported by both British Cycling and Sport England.

I am encouraged by the legacy of London 2012, and optimistic that Rio 2016 will ensure a continuation of this new era for British sport.


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...