Thursday, 27 October 2016

Cornwall Manufacturers Group

Last week I met the Cornwall Manufacturers Group. The group was started in 2012, with the addition of SME manufacturers to the Cornwall Manufacturers Forum of the largest manufacturing companies in the county. Members come from various sectors, including agricultural machinery and medical equipment. 

The Group comes together as a means of sharing information, and discussing the wider manufacturing industry in Cornwall. It aims to encourage and assist the development of manufacturing in Cornwall. The switch of emphasis towards manufacturing is feeding into an economic revival in areas like Camborne and Redruth, which have traditionally been centres of excellence for industry and engineering.

A great example is that of European Springs and Pressings. Based in Redruth, European Springs and Pressings recently took on a project that highlighted the technological expertise of its workforce. The company formed part of a design solution to West Ham Football Club’s new football ground.

Teagle Machinery is another great example of a Cornish success story. It is a world leader in its sector. It remains a private company owned by the same Teagle family who founded it. The number of staff employed has more than doubled in the last ten years. More than half of everything the company makes is exported as far afield as Japan, the US and Eastern Europe. It has achieved success by achieving the highest standards and by constantly reinvesting in research and development to create new designs which offer engineering solutions to the challenges of modern farming.

I would like to see more support for manufacturing businesses. We need to be more willing to lend a hand to those companies which have a proven track record and might achieve a lot more with some targeted help on things like developing export markets and research and development.  Leaving the EU creates an opportunity to modernise and improve the way we target grant support for businesses.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Camborne Rec

I am delighted that Camborne Recreation Ground has been preserved as a community facility following a major campaign and a petition by 5000 local people.  There is now an agreement between Cornwall Council and the Town Council to a 99 year lease which also secures the home of Camborne Rugby Club and the best rugby ground in the county for decades to come.

Camborne RFC has less than twenty years to run on their current lease. This has made it difficult for the club to acquire grant funding to improve the current facilities. The certainty that this agreement secures means the Club can now plan its future with confidence.

Two weeks ago I watched Camborne beat Salisbury 56-19 and the ground looked perfect: almost like a cricket pitch.  My father used to play for Camborne and a couple of years ago he deployed his farming knowledge to improve the ground.  He would be proud to see how well the team is performing this year.

Camborne Rugby Club has really been on the up in recent years.  They have recently been promoted from Tribute South West 1 West to National League 3 South West. They have also won all six of their first games this year in the higher league.  

The club also have teams for each year age group, and are also good at playing younger players in the main team so that they gain valuable experience. There has been a strong team spirit because the players quickly progress through the Colts and into the Chiefs and get used to playing rugby together.

I think that amateur sports clubs like this have a crucial role to play in our community. We need to have the club structures there to support and encourage children into the sport they love. Groups like this are the bedrock of our society and we need to support them.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Cornwall Athletic Club

Last week I rejoined Cornwall Athletic Club after a gap of some twenty years.  I have been meaning to get back into running for several years and, this year, finally made use of the summer months to actively find the time to do it and to make going for a short run part of my daily routine.  Athletics and cross country running was my childhood passion and I continued to compete as part of the Cornwall county cross country team until my late twenties.  Work ended up crowding out the time I had for running and, with the exception of a brief period when I trained for a marathon about six years ago, I struggled to keep it up and my fitness ebbed away.

The great thing about running as a sport is that everyone can find their own level and compete against the time they themselves got the previous week or month.  It is also open to all ages with many races now offering results for age groups in five yearly bands from junior categories right up to over seventy fives - I have just tipped into the 45-50 age group.  It is also a great way to keep fit.  A growing number of primary schools in the area are signing up to the national campaign to run a "mile a day" which is a brilliant way for children to start their school day.   

The sport has seen a transformation in the last fifteen years.  The number of members of Cornwall Athletic Club has grown exponentially.  In addition, locally we have new road running clubs like Carn Runners and Hayle Runners who also boast large and growing memberships.  We have also seen developments like the "Park Run" movement which now stages 5k fun runs nationally every Saturday.  I recently went to the 10th anniversary of the original Park Run in Bushy Park which attracted over 1200 runners.  It was my first race for years and I had to buy a new Cornwall AC vest having "outgrown" the last one.  I managed to get around in 21.05.  Not bad for a start after such a long break, even if it's five minutes slower than I would have done twenty years ago!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Conservative Party Conference 2016

This week marks the end of the party conference season as Theresa May delivered her first speech as Prime Minister.  As always, each of the parties has their own issues to contend with. 

For the Liberal Democrats it was to try to make their party relevant again.  The election last year brought an abrupt end to the three party structure that had characterised our national politics for almost forty years with the Lib Dems losing all but eight of their MPs.  They are hoping that the decision by Jeremy Corbyn to lurch to the left will create space for them to recover.

For the Labour Party, the big question was how they can try to heal the scars of bitter infighting and try to put together an effective official opposition in parliament when nearly all Labour MPs think that Jeremy Corbyn should go.  I worked for David Cameron and Michael Howard when they were Leaders of the official Opposition.  The role has an important formal function in our democracy to help scrutinise law so it's important that Labour get their act together.

For we Conservatives, the issue that loomed large throughout the conference was how we maximise the opportunities created by our decision to leave the European Union.  I took part in several fringe events to discuss how we could dramatically improve policies on agriculture and fisheries once we escape the dead weight of the EU and are free to innovate, try new policies and make our own laws again.  Theresa May has revealed the huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to prepare for Brexit with a Repeal Bill being drafted which will replace EU law with regulations we want to keep on a legitimate UK legal basis.

I have known Theresa May for over twelve years.  She was on the front bench for the Conservatives when I worked for Michael Howard.  She was always solid and dependable, never ducked a difficult fight and played as a trusted part of a team.  What strikes me most so far is that she doesn't mess about but takes clear decisions in a timely way and seems determined to get things done.  That is what we need right now.

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...