Thursday, 29 June 2017

Parking Fines

 A few years ago there were huge problems with cowboy wheel clamping companies effectively extorting huge parking "fines" from innocent drivers for very minor parking errors.  I argued for a change at the time and the government abolished the use of wheel clamping by these awful companies.

However, it's clear that the problem has not been entirely solved.  The same companies have continued to try to rip off people for trivial parking mistakes and to threaten and intimidate them with the threat of legal action.

The most extraordinary cases I have seen recently have concerned Veor GP Surgery in Camborne.  The surgery has introduced a maximum one hour limit on parking there.  People turn up for their appointment on time but often find that the doctors are running late, which is not unusual.  Then, because the surgery is running late, they overstay in the car park by a few minutes. The next thing that happens is they have to endure the stress and strain of being hounded by a cowboy parking company.  They cannot speak to anyone on the phone.  The company refuses to discuss problems but just bully people for cash.  No one replies to letters.  Veor surgery refuses to discuss the problem with them.  

These companies don't actually have a statutory right to fine.  Instead they rely on a rather creative use of contract law to provide the basis for the way they behave. 

We need to tighten the law to limit their powers, establish genuine dispute resolution and appeals processes and to cap the size of the "fine" that such companies are able to levy. We need to end the ridiculous situation where the people who judge your parking appeal are the ones trying to rip you off in the first place.

The Conservative Manifesto outlined that steps will be taken to tackle rogue private parking operators. I will be writing to DCLG to highlight the specific case of Veor GP Surgery, as well as the parking company involved to ensure that the lessons from this local problem are reflected in a national policy change.


Thursday, 22 June 2017

This Week

As the Queen said in her birthday message, as a nation we have faced a series of human tragedies leaving a sombre mood.  A string of terror attacks including those in Manchester, London Bridge and then Finsbury in recent days has left us all wondering why there is so much hate in the world today. But we have also shown our strength together and have been resolute as a country in making sure such hate does not prevail and that we carry on with our lives.

On top of these events we have had the appalling Grenfell Tower fire tragedy last week.  The suffering of those caught up in this dreadful event causes distress to everyone.  There has been anger too since it seems extraordinary that, with all the building regulations and fire regulations that are in place, cladding that seems to have been flammable could have been used on the building. The government has established a Public Inquiry to investigate why the fire was able to spread in the way that it did. While anger is understandable, we should, at times like this, reserve judgement and blame until an inquiry fully establishes exactly what went wrong and then we should act to ensure such mistakes are never made again.

The disaster was also a reminder of the tremendous and often dangerous and difficult work done by our emergency services, including local firefighter Ben Holehouse who used to live in Camborne and now works for the London Fire Brigade and was one of those who fought the fire at Grenfell Tower.  Closer to home, this week fire crews across Cornwall also fought a major fire at the recycling centre at Pool.

Despite the gloomy tragedies in recent months, we have to carry on with life as normal.  On a brighter note last weekend the sun was shining for Murdoch Day in Redruth and the town turned out in force.  The streets were packed and local schools danced to celebrate the life and achievements of William Murdoch, the local inventor and engineer. Murdoch was one of the pioneers of steam power development in Cornwall and famously invented the first ever gas light using piped gas. The day was a happier and brighter end to an otherwise tragic week.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

General Election 2017

Last Thursday proved that there are no certainties in politics and that elections are always volatile and unpredictable. 

The results were disappointing for the Conservatives nationally. We went to the country and asked for an increased majority as we enter the Brexit negotiations but the country declined to give us this.  

In politics you have to work with the hand you are dealt and read the result of elections. We asked the country what they wanted and the collective answer from voters is that they are unsure or, are divided. There have been a lot of elections in the last two years and there is fatigue with polls.

Parliament must therefore accept that indecisive verdict, work through the various issues before us and prioritise the tasks that matter most. Our constitution is designed to work towards what voters want with the parliamentary maths driving out compromise and caution in the dose requested by voters.

Here in Cornwall, all six constituencies returned Conservative MPs. I want to thank all of the 23,001 people in the Camborne, Redruth and Hayle constituency who placed their confidence in me for a third term.  The total number of votes cast for me actually went up by 4,500 but a Labour surge at the expense of the Lib Dems means the majority is reduced. I want to be clear that I will represent everyone in this constituency, regardless of which way they voted and we Conservatives must also reflect on the message coming from those voters who turned out in large numbers to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

Since being elected, I have prioritised the regeneration of our towns. We have achieved a lot, but there is much more that I want to do. We also need to attract new industries and better paid jobs. Unemployment is at its lowest level in many years, but the next step is to increase wages and create more opportunities for young people.

I will also continue to fight to ensure Cornwall gets its fair share of funding for public services. Just because we are a long way from London doesn't mean we shouldn't get our fair share.

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...