Welcome to the blog. All the opinion on this blog is my own or as attributed. Thank you for reading - I hope you enjoy.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Daffodils for St Piran

Last year a mysterious benefactor came forward and provided daffodils for the St Piran play. The organisers never had a chance to thank him propoerly as he arrived just as the play started and then vanished as quickly as he came when the play had completed.

This year we are again short of a supply of daffodils for the traditional pilgrimmage across the dunes and would appeal for a flower producer, or anyone that could help to, let us have a couple of boxes of daffodils for the pilgrims as they watch the play and make the journey to the church and ancient Celtic cross.

If the benefactor from last year is reading this - please make yourself known so that we can thank you properly for your help last year - it really was much appreciated!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Illogan Public Meeting

Last night Lawrence Molton and I hosted a public meeting at the Illogan Wellbeing Centre on the subject of development in Cornwall.

I was very heartened by the excellent turnout - I wasn't sure if people would turn up.

I was particularly encouraged because, amongst the people who attended, was the young lady in the photo. If Cornish politics is to be rescued from middle aged or retired men, like me, then we need to encourae as many young people to engage with the system as possible. MK has several young councillors leading the way in this field.

Also speaking at the meeting were Cllr Jean Charman, in her capacity as the chairman of the Trelawney Alliance, and Dr Bernard Deacon from CoSERG.

Our guest speakers were very well received and the residents of Illogan were unanimous in their condemnation of the Core Strategy proposal from Cornwall Council.

Just as it was at the Trelawney Alliance meeting a few weeks ago, it is clear that there is a groundswell of opinion that does not understand why we need to build a minimum of 48,000 houses in Cornwall.

In Park Bottom (part of Illogan Parish) there is a plan to build 300 houses - this will literally double the size of the village. What nobody can understand is just who all these houses are for. It is clear that doubling the size of a Cornish village is not necessary to house people from that village.

In fact it is clear from the evidence of ONS figures that Cornwall has a falling indigenous population so the extra housing must be for in-migrants and not for the people of Cornwall.

Even allowing for decreasing household size and a reasonable level of in-migration CoSERG have calculated that somewhere in the region of 12,000 - 13,000 houses would be required in the next twenty years. Even though it is easier to get blood from a stone than it is to get Cornwall Council planners to admit it, it is clear that a minimum of 35,000 houses will be built in order to encourage in-migration.

Where does madcap planning like this end?

Only Mebyon Kernow have a housing and planning policy that is tailored to the needs of Cornwall. We believe in building houses predominantly for local need - not developers' greed. MK also advocates commencing a programme of building proper council houses again - rather than following the Westminster ideology of selling as many as possible.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Cornish Lib Dem's Trip to the Sweetie Shop

Today the duplicitous, 'Pick & Mix' Cornish Lib Dems trooped into 'Honest Eric Pickles' Sweetie Shop' and ordered four ounces of council tax payment freeze.

For the next twelve months we will all be told by the Lib Dems how it was the Lib Dems that masterminded the freeze in Council Tax - never mentioning that the whole electoral bribery scheme is Tory Local Government Minister Eric Pickles' brain-child.

Only the Mebyon Kernow group, supported by the single Labour councillor and a few independents, opposed the scheme which is likely to cause great hardship next year, when Honest Eric has closed up shop and disappeared to a South American hideaway.

It will be interesting to see how the Pick & Mix party try to wriggle out of their responsibility for massive hikes in council tax, amounting to two year-on-year rises, while the people of Cornwall try to cope with further cuts in services caused by swingeing spending cuts imposed by the Lib Dems in Westminster.

It will be doubly interesting as the inflated council tax demands will be landing on door mats just as the Lib Dems commence their Unitary election campaigns. I wonder if they will still be claiming responsibility for their short sighted actions then?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Taking a Holiday With Your Kids May Turn Them Into An Underclass Or A Young Offender

Michael Gove - that champion of 'Free' Schools and releasing local authority schools from state interference - wants to legislate to prevent parents from taking their children out of school for a family holiday.

Supposedly, the reason behind this is concern about rising truancy rates, which the government believes is resulting in the creation of an underclass and an increase in the number of young offenders.

What a load of rubbish!

Headmasters and schools already have the discretion as to whether to allow families to take children out of school for a holiday and it is something that is discouraged wherever possible.

Clearly there are multiple opportnities for parents to arrange holidays outside of school terms and most responsible parents do this whenever they can.

Sometimes though, families simply can't afford the premium rates that are charged by tourist industries during school holidays, and there is quite often a choice of going in term time or not having a holiday at all.

Gove's proposed legislation is just an attempt to grab headlines and make the Tories appear to be tough on improving truancy rates. The truth is that it will have no effect except to take yet more power from schools and centralise it at Westminster.

Why do I say this? I think it's fairly obvious that, while it isn't good for a child's education, going on holiday during term time isn't the same thing as the sort of truancy that creates the social problems that the government say they want to tackle.

Headmasters should be allowed to continue to take individual circumstances into consideration and judge each case on its merits.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Public Meeting in Illogan

I shall be holding a public meeting in Illogan on Thursday February 23rd.

There will be one item on the agenda - the hopelessly unsustainable over-development of Cornwall and how it will impact Illogan.

If anyone wants to come along it will start at 7:00pm at the Wellbeing Centre, Illogan Churchtown.

I am hoping to have speakers from CoSERG and the Trelawney Alliance.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Another MK Councillor!

Congratulations to John Gillingham who has become the fourth MK councillor on Carn Brea Parish Council.

John is the latest of a rapidly growing number of local Mebyon Kernow councillors. He is in his mid-twenties and will bring a fantastic work ethic to his new responsibility.

At the moment John is studying Celtic History and Politics with Exeter University in Cornwall - time to put some of his newly gained knowledge to work for the residents of Carn Brea parish.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


Looking for something entertaining over the St Piran weekend?

Why not try the Green Room in Redruth on Saturday 3rd March.

Cornish rock band, Kowethas, will be performing with The Surgeons from 8:45 pm to 11:00pm.

As well as supporting local talent you will also be supporting Little Harbour, the new Cornish children's hospice.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Let Us Pray - Please?

Following a legal ruling that it is not lawful for local councils to incorporate prayers into their formal agendas, Cornwall Council's Chairman, Pat Harvey, has decided that prayers are off the agenda - at least for a few meetings. Instead there will be an unofficial ten minute 'period of reflection' before the official council business begins.

The ruling that has caused this reorganisation of council agendas across the UK was the result of legal action brought by the National Secular Society against Bideford Town Council.

Eric Pickles, the Local Government Minister has criticised the ruling and says that he will fast track the commencement of a section of the Localism Act 2011 which will enable local councils to hold prayers as part of their official business if they so desire.

For me the question is whether religion should be allowed to influence or be a part of government at all and, if so, should there be a presumption in favour of Christianity or the Church of England?

Are we a Christian society or are we a multi-faith society?

If we are a multi-faith society then how can we justify saying Christian prayers and not conducting similar religious activities for other faiths? How do we justify unelected Church of England bishops having the right to influence legislation?

If we are a Christian society then shouldn't we be honest and open about it and make it clear that, although other faiths may be 'tolerated', Christianity is the 'official' religion.

These are the questions that are hard to resolve as, whatever answer you come up with, it will seriously upset a large section of society. This is why many politicians try to avoid having an opinion on the subject at all.

I think that this issue is going to run and run.

For example, if Mr Pickles is correct, and his Localism Act allows councils to make their own decisions, does this mean that in some areas there may be Islamic services as part of council meetings where the local councillors are predominately Muslim or does the law apply only to allow Church of England prayers? How will Christian councillors feel about being summoned to Muslim prayers?

The problem is that the divisiveness that the convergence of different religions inevitably brings, is set to become a growing dilemma now that this particular genie is out of the bottle. Perhaps the judges have got it right and the best thing is to keep religion and government separate?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Jobs Black Hole at the Rotten Core of the Council's Strategy for Cornwall

It seems the only plan that the Cornwall Council cabinet and planning officers can come up with for economic regeneration in Cornwall is to build more houses.

It's bad enough that the figure that is being bandied around is 48,000, in fact it is likely to end up a lot more.

Why? Well let's look at what Cornwall Council says.

First of all the 'target' is a MINIMUM of 48,000. If this figure is simply a target why not just say 48,000 - why do you have to say a minimum of 48,000. It seems to me that this is the sort of hidden agenda language that is used when there are secret plans to do something different - such as 'we have no plans to raise VAT' in a an election campaign and then do just that within 6 months.

Perhaps I am being paranoid or overly cynical? If I am why did the council publish the 'Can Do Cornwall' strategy which claimed that Cornwall could build 30,000 houses in just 10 years.

I would be willing to bet a pretty hefty sum that if the people of Cornwall don't stand up and tell the council to 'bin the core strategy' then we will be looking at more than 60,000 houses being built in Cornwall over the next 20 years - back to the bonkers 68,000 target of the last Labour government. Does anyone want to bet against me?

The Can Do Cornwall document proudly claims that Cornwall can build 30,000 houses and create 15,000 jobs. Is it not obvious that 30,000 houses will be occupied by around 65,000 people how is creating 15,000 jobs for 65,000 people a good thing, or something to be proud of?

Last Friday, at the Trelawney Alliance public meeting, George Eustice (Tory MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle) proudly declared that there were "three whole pages of the Core Strategy document devoted to job creation". So three pages of the Tory plan about jobs and 25 about housing - about right for this nonsense approach to Cornwall's future.

Even allowing for this pitiful lack of joined up thinking between increasing population without making adequate provision for job creation, the way that the council calculates it's new jobs is laughable.

Take the East-West road about to be imposed on Pool and Camborne to provide the infrastructure for new houses.

It is claimed by planning officers that the provision of a certain amount of hectares of commercial/industrial land space will mean that a certain number of jobs will be created.

This is utter nonsense. Merely providing the infrastructure and capacity for places for people to work does not create jobs - it takes more than simply building industrial units and 'innovation centres' to create jobs.

The planners point us to the recently completed Pool Innovation Centre as a beacon of what can be achieved.

Now don't get me wrong. I think that the Pool Innovation Centre is a good thing for Pool and for Cornwall. It provides Cornish businesses with state of the art facilities to ensure that they can compete with the rest of the world. This is crucial for a modern, forward-looking Cornwall. However, I would say that it has not created any more than a few jobs, mainly needed to administer the centre. We are told that the centre is over 80% full and that 300 jobs have been created by the businesses working there. My question is - how many businesses already existed before the centre was built and simply transferred there? Or - how many businesses actually set up just because there was the facility available to occupy? Is it really 100% as we would be asked to believe.

Basically the Council's plan and strategy for job creation is to build lots of places for businesses to occupy and then count anyone that transfers their business place to the new premises as creating new jobs.

You only have to drive around some of the half empty industrial estates in Cornwall to see that this isn't going to work.

But never mind we will have lots of shiny new units that are just as empty as the old rusty ones - and to look on the bright side we will have lots of new houses with higher unemployment to help disguise the black hole at the centre of the plan.

Of course the only solution in twenty tears time will undoubtedly be to build more houses to stimulate growth .......

Core Strategy Focus Groups

Hidden away on page 75 of this week's West Briton, I discovered a small piece on the Council's upcoming Focus Groups on the Core Strategy.

Apparently the Council would like to hold four discussions with a dozen people at each who normally don't have anything to do with planning.

There will be two groups at New County Hall on Wednesday 15th February and two groups held at the Camborne One Stop Shop on Friday 17th. On both days the groups will be held between 2pm and 4m and 5:30pm and 7:30pm.

I wonder if there will be alternative views presented at these focus groups or whether this will just be another manufactured opportunity for council planning officers to use their glossy presentations and gobbledygook jargon to bamboozle ordinary folk into believing that hyper-development is the only way forward for Cornwall?

I also wonder how much weight will be given to the outcome of these sessions - or might that depend on the results?

If you want to volunteer for a focus group, contact the council on 01872 224293 or at cornwalldf@cornwall.gov.uk by noon on the day before.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

.... 20,000 Cornishmen will know the reason why

Last night I attended a public meeting organised by the Trelawney Alliance. A panel including George Eustice, Mark Kaczmarek and Council planning officers faced the wrath of local residents over the content of Cornwall Council's Core Strategy.

Despite much obfuscation and many statements designed to hide the truth it was clear that the residents were not in the mood to be bamboozled by jargon and planning-speak.

The same old, same old tired arguments as to why it was vital for the future of Cornwall to build 48,000 houses were trotted out. How building an East-West road was crucial to providing jobs (not at all about providing the opportunity to build more housing). How we had to build unaffordable houses so that our children might have a shot at getting on the housing ladder at some point in the future. How it was stale projections and old, out of date statistics that controlled levels of housing demand - and not policies set by the people that we elect.

Even though Cllr Stuart Cullimore asked the question several times there was no answer to one of the conundrums posed by the 'Can Do Cornwall'. It is Cornwall Council's desire to build 30,000 houses in 10 years but only create 15,000 new jobs - how does that work on any basic economic platform?

Cllr John Rowe also summed up the Council's approach very well. Reminiscent of fast-food chain hustling it seems our planners are obliged to ask "Do you want housing with that?" whenever there is any real opportunity for economic regeneration.

George Eustice did what he does best - talked at great length about nothing. He handed out copies of his answer to the Tory Core Strategy which basically boil down to do nothing for 10 years (when he will probably not be requiring votes anymore) and 'Lets build on Brownfield sites before Greenfield'. The problem here is that he doesn't define what he means by brownfield and as CoSERG have pointed out many times many of the technically defined 'brownfield' sites around Camborne are actually green fields.

The person next to me said that she was even more depressed on leaving the meeting than when she went in. She felt it was clear that there was no intention on behalf of the powers that be to listen to anyone - just to go through the motions and tick the boxes.

This sentiment is probably accurate but if we allow ourselves to think in this way it will be self-perpetuating. It is essential for the future of Cornwall that ordinary people and groups get together and force the planners to listen - silence just indicates acceptance.

There are a few weeks left of this round of 'consultation' if you care about how Cornwall will look in twenty years then get out there and do something now!