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

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Incinerator - Already a Costly Dinosaur

Many thanks to STIG and the Cornwall Waste Forum for the hard work and dedication that they are showing on behalf of all of the people of Cornwall.

The Court of Appeal decision today is far from the end of the road and STIG has vowed to carry on the fight against the economic and environmental disaster that is the planned incinerator for St Dennis.

A big thankyou to Rod Toms - MK parish councillor, environmental expert and STIG campaigner for his 'guest' contribution to this blog.

"The rocky road to building an Incinerator at St. Dennis just took another twist. It was initially thrown out by democratically elected Councillors at Parish, District and County level, but was resurected by the Public Inquiry Inspector. It was sunk in the High Court, but today was dragged up to the surface again by the Lords of Appeal who found in favour of the developer, Sita.

However, this is far from the end. The legal team for Cornwall Waste Forum who are opposing the Incinerator are seeking leave to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court on a matter of law and also seeking an injunction to stop building work from commencing. If this is unsuccesful, their QC will take the matter to the European Courts.

So why is this challenge so important? Well, we will be lumbered with a cross between a White Elephant and a Dinosaur that will cost Cornwall over £150 Million. The technology is dirty and out of date, and by the time it starts to burn waste the amount of feedstock being generated by householders will have fallen so low that it will be uneconomical to run. This will mean that waste will be trucked into Cornwall from up country at a huge profit to Sita, when we (the Tax Payers) have paid to build it. It will still leave many thousands of tons of toxic fly ash to be dumped in Gloucestershire and other ash to be dumped locally, so the landfill sites will still overflow.

Mebyon Kernow believe that the way forward is to embrace and fully commit to new technologies and recycling processes which will make it possible to achieve a Zero Waste policy. This means sorting the waste and using the food waste to drive clean simple Anaerobic Digesters which produce energy and compost. There will only be a tiny residue going to landfill.This whole process will cost less than a third of an Incinerator and generate millions of pounds through the sale of recycling.

MK looks to empower our innovators. We argue for the laying of foundations for the new industries to invest in sustainable processes and to generate the economic advantages to lift Cornwall from the bottom part of European poverty tables"

Marriage - should it be available to one and all?

Society is debating the question of marriage being extended to gay couples.

The government has just announced that there will be a public consultation on changing the law applicable to same sex civil unions.

The consultation will look at whether it is right to redefine the term 'marriage' which currently only recognises the joining of opposite sex couples. It will not take evidence on whether same sex marriages should be allowed in a religious setting, nor whether civil partnerships should be extended to heterosexual couples.

For me both exclusions are simply storing up problems for the future.

If we want a society where marriage is available to one and all then surely there is no need for two 'types' of marriage? Either a couple is married or they aren't.

Then again, if marriage and civil partnership are two different things then why shouldn't either be allowed to anyone that wants to make that particular commitment - regardless of your sexual orientation.

At the same time, not consulting on religious settings is merely a sop to the more conservative religious organisations - there are some that welcome the idea of gay marriage and would be more than happy to conduct religious cermonies, so why should they be refused the right to do this.

As far as I am concerned any, and all, type of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation should be consigned to the waste bin of history along with racism and religious intolerance.

New MK website - join MK today pay using Paypal!

The new MK website has gone live today.

Many thanks to Pete Dudley super infoboffin Niall Curry for their hard work to get this far.

I particularly like the fact that you can now get instant membership through using Paypal - try the website and join NOW - kill two birds with one stone.

The new site also features regular news updates and a Twitter feed to keep us bang up to date.

As well as the new features you can check out MK policies, have a look at some of the team members and get in touch with MK - all at the click of a mouse button.

Try it!

Sunday, 25 March 2012


At the Plaid Cymru Spring Confernce, over the last two days, the over-arching element, infusing every speech, presentation, question and answer session and fringe meeting was a burgeoning sense of Welsh self-confidence. With inexorable momentum, the realisation that anything and everything is possible is driving Plaid Cymru forward to independence for Wales.

The United Kingdom, as an institution, is dead in the water. Westminster Unionist politicians are straining to hold on to the remnants of an hegemony, an ideology, based on expolitation.

The lie that the status quo must be maintained in order to preserve levels of poverty - lest they become even worse - has been revealed forever as the chain which binds the distinct nations of Britain to the provision of wealth and prosperity for a greedy and ruthless elite. That chain is now being broken, link by immoral link.

As the bastions of deceit begin to crack, crumble and fall down, a new political landscape is beginning to emerge.

How will that landscape be moulded?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Illogan - back to the Dark Ages (or at least a few years ago)

Illogan Parish Council have decided to ban tweeting and other real time social media reporting.

There was no apparent reason for the ban apart from a general dislike of the concept.

In my mind this is an entirely retrograde step for any government body that believes in modern and open communication with its electors.

MPs can tweet from Westminster and have only recently voted decisively against it being banned - despite claims that it would distract members from the matter in hand.

In reality I doubt if there is any highly charged audience waiting expectantly for real time updates from an Illogan Parish Council meeting. My concern is that we need to attract younger people into local politics and young people understand social media and banning its use is just further discouragement to getting them involved.

I reccomended that we should allow the use of Twitter etc, but on the basis that any Member did not break any of the myriad codes of conduct/protocols that councillors abide by through that use.

In the end I was the only one who voted against a ban.

Does anyone have a slate and chalk that I could borrow please?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Westminster Building Corp

The Executive Summary of the MK response to the Core Strategy:

Cornwall Council’s Core Strategy has been produced within the wider context of irresponsible planning and unjust housing policies, devised and implemented by central government. These policies have lead to unsustainable growth within Cornwall, while inequality has grown and working people are increasingly denied access to housing that they can afford in their own communities.

Mebyon Kernow utterly reject the policies of the central government and we will continue to oppose them.

Within this context, our response to the consultation on Cornwall Council’s Core Strategy and includes the following points:

· Mebyon Kernow considers that the Core Strategy is not distinctly Cornish. It fails to understand what makes Cornwall culturally distinctive.

· Mebyon Kernow considers that the Core Strategy is not sustainable. Its claims to be “green” or “sustainable” are false and undermined by the promotion of unsustainable levels of housing growth.

· Mebyon Kernow objects to the proposal to set a twenty year target of 48,000 new properties for Cornwall.

· Mebyon Kernow considers that the projections used by Cornwall Council to justify their proposed levels of housing to be flawed.

· At this time of low economic performance and decreased levels of in-migration into Cornwall, Mebyon Kernow seeks a breathing space from the large-scale development of open market properties and, instead, the prioritisation of affordable local-needs housing.

· Mebyon Kernow members remain concerned at statements from the administration at Lys Kernow suggesting even greater growth than that outlined in the consultation document.

· Mebyon Kernow considers that the Spatial Strategy does not deliver a “dispersed” approach to development as claimed. MK objects to the centralisation of large degrees of housing around existing urban centres, as well as the eco-town and eco-communities proposals.

· Mebyon Kernow considers that the policy statements on employment, land and assets, historic and natural environment, etc, are poorly-defined and likely to be undermined by the level of growth proposed.

· Mebyon Kernow objects to Cornwall Council’s proposals on waste, which are still based around a single mass-burn incinerator for municipal waste.

We would respectfully call on Cornwall Council to rethink its attitude to both development and its planning policies. A good start would be to radically reduce the housing target set out in the present Core Strategy consultation document.

This is just the first page summary of a sixteen page document which argues for an entirely different approach to the 'build as many houses as possible' approach of the Conservative Cornwall Council.

The Core Strategy is a Conservative strategy. Before their electoral success in 2009 and 2010 they were keen to rubbish Labour's Regional Spatial Strategy, with George Eustice calling the RSS call for 68,000 houses to be built across Cornwall 'bonkers'.

Now the Conservatives openly want to build a MINIMUM of 48,000 houses and behind the scenes are looking at building 60,000 or more.

In response to this George Eustice wants to wait for 10 years before doing anything or wants to build on brownfield land (that is brown according to Cornwall Council planners but looks green when locals take thier dogs for a walk) before green.

The Lib Dems:

"have not submitted a 'corporate' response to the consultation as we took the view that our individual Councillors were free to respond as they saw fit depending on their individual views of the needs of their locality. As we are not the Tory party no responses have been vetted."

Clearly it's not an important enough issue to spend time on as a party wanting to get things right for Cornwall.

What was Labour's response to the Core Strategy? You might think, given their previous desire to cover Cornwall with 68,000 houses, that they would be critical and call for even more houses than the minimum 0f 48,000 that we have been promised.

In fact Labour, like the Lib Dems, have not taken the time to present any response to the CS at all. Instead the Labour Party say that:

"The Labour Party in Cornwall encouraged members to make their own submissions on local aspects of the Core Strategy and fed into the Community Network Area and local council responses via our town and parish representatives."

Labour go on to claim:

"this whole issue has become a political football, which has not been constructive in the development of a strategy that will serve the interests of people in Cornwall."

Well if it's a political football there's only one party kicking for Cornwall!

This whole consultation once again goes to prove that the only party with Cornwall's interests at heart is Mebyon Kernow.

All of the Westminster parties are clearly happy to support their London superiors in the pursuit of unsustatinable hyper-development.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

World Championships in the Heart of Cornwall

Over the weekend of 31st March and 1st April the Camborne School of Mines will be hosting the International Mining Games at the King Edward Mine Camborne. These games will be the first time in 34 years to be hosted in Britain. It would be a foolish person not to visit - at least on Sunday.

Visit the King Edward Mine website for more details.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Pick & Mix Lib Dems - 75% success rate?

Alex Folkes has started a series of blogs which claims that the Lib Dems have managed to achieve 75% of the election promises, contained within their manfesto.

I have listed 20 random Lib Dem promises from their manifesto below. Perhaps a Lib Dem out there might indicate which 15 of these have now been fully implemented?

1. Scrap unfair university tuition fees for all students taking their first degree, including those studying part-time, saving them over £10,000 each. We have a financially responsible plan to phase fees out over six years, so that the change is affordable even in these difficult economic times, and without cutting university income. We will immediately scrap fees for final year students.

2. Ensure children get the individual attention they need by cutting class sizes

3. Break up the banks and get them lending again to protect real businesses

4. Taxing capital gains at the same rates as income, so that all the money you make is taxed in the same way.

5. Saying no to the like-for-like replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system, which could cost £100 billion. We will hold a full defence review to establish the best alternative for Britain’s future security.

6. Immediately restoring the link between the basic state pension and earnings. We will uprate the state pension annually by whichever is the higher of growth in earnings, growth in prices or 2.5 per cent.

7. Ending the rollercoaster of tax credit overpayments by fixing payments for six months at a time.

8. Setting aside extra money for schools who want to improve the energy effi ciency of their buildings. They will pay back the loan over time from energy savings, creating a rolling fund to help insulate every public building.

9. Bringing 250,000 empty homes back into use.

10. Investing £140 million in a bus scrappage scheme that helps bus companies to replace old polluting buses with new, accessible low carbon ones and creates jobs.

11. Reform business rates, creating a fairer system where rates are based on site values rather than rental values and are the responsibility of local authorities. We will make small company relief automatic and also seek to ensure that the burden is spread more equitably between small and large businesses.

12. Pass a new Mutuals, Co-operatives and Social Enterprises Bill to bring the law up to date and give responsibility for mutuals to a specific minister.

13. Introducing fair pay audits for every company with over 100 employees to combat discrimination in pay, for example against women. We will also require all public companies to declare in full all remunerations of £200,000 per year or more.

14. Establish a fully independent Educational Standards Authority (ESA) with real powers to stand up to ministers and restore confidence in standards. The ESA would oversee the examinations system, the systems of school inspection and accountability, and the detail of the curriculum. It would replace the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (OFQUAL), and include OFSTED, the schools inspectorate.

15. Set up a ‘Creative Enterprise Fund’ offering training, mentoring and small grants or loans to help creative businesses get off the ground.

16. Reform the National Lottery. We will change the way the National Lottery is taxed from a ticket tax to a gross profi ts tax, which is forecast to deliver more for good causes and the Exchequer.

17. Extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, making it easier for grandparents, for example, to take a caring role.

18. Set the minimum wage at the same level for all workers over 16 (except for those on apprenticeships)

19. End testing of household products on animals.

20. Cut rail fares, changing the rules in contracts with Train Operating Companies so that regulated fares fall behind inflation by 1 per cent each year, meaning a real-terms cut.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Democratic Process Back On Track?

Tonight saw Camborne Town Council (CTC) vote on whether or not to maintain their objection to Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) and Side Road Orders (SRO) that are required to allow the East West Link Road project to move forward.

Previously CTC planning committee had written to the Secreatry of State raising objections on the basis of the increased traffic that will be directed through Wesley Street as a result of the new road and the accompanying housing that it facilitates.

Over the last week the CTC councillors have been bombarded with lobbying to vote to withdraw CTC's objections to the CPOs and SROs.

Alledgedly telephone calls from Cllr Odgers (the Conservative group leader) have been received by councillors on the matter, accompanied by two rather revealing emails from the Conservative led Cornwall Council and Conservative MP George Eustice.

The emails are presented below:

From: Swain Peter

Subject: CPR Major Highway Scheme - Orders Objection by Camborne Town Council

Dear Member,

You will be aware that after several years of development, numerous public consultations, bids to government for funding, two planning approvals and local liaison, the Cornwall Council promoted major highways project for a new link road from Dudnance Lane to Dolcoath development has reached the point where the scheme details have largely been finalised and the necessary Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) and Side Road Orders (SROs) have been advertised. This followed the granting of a planning consent for the proposals some time ago.

I am informed by the Secretary of State that the Camborne Town Council (CTC) has written to the Secretary of State objecting to the advertised Orders in regard to the effects of the scheme at the Camborne end of the project. It appears that the CTC planning committee considered the proposals at their meeting of 9th January and resolved to write to the Secretary of State expressing concerns over the detailed layouts proposed for the Dolcoath Avenue and Dolcoath Road junctions, on the basis of the effects of traffic on Wesley Street.

These proposals are fully in line with the approved strategies and plans for the CPR area, consistent and integral with the Dolcoath Development proposals in both the short and long term, and the environmental and traffic effects of the scheme have been considered fully as part of the planning approval processes.

I don’t know if this matter has been reported to the full CTC, through their receipt and consideration of the 9th Jan planning meeting minutes, as yet.

The effect of the letter sent to the Secretary of State is that CTC are now considered to be a statutory objector to the Orders, and will be offered the opportunity to appear at the forthcoming public inquiry into the Orders unless the objection is withdrawn beforehand. It is important to note that this is NOT a planning inquiry but a CPO and SRO inquiry.

I do not know if the CTC were aware, when making this objection to the Secretary of State, that the planning application at the time proposals do in fact have valid detailed planning consent and all the issues regarding the detailed layouts would have been considered at the planning stage. Indeed, I don't recall if CTC supported or opposed the planning application at the time.

The stage we are at currently is the making of the legal Orders to acquire land (CPO) and to make changes to public and private rights (Side Road Order). Thus, I would suggest that, objections really ought to be based on the validity/extent/making of the Orders rather than the detail of the proposals that has already received planning consent.

Clearly, with Cornwall Council promoting a scheme in front of an inspector it would be unfortunate to have another elected council objecting to the orders, not least as the scheme is part of a much wider initiative to drive forward regeneration in the area.

As Cornwall Council members on the Town Council, I am seeking your advice and assistance in identifying a way to enable the CTC to withdraw its objection to the Orders. Would a presentation by the design team, to key members of the CTC be useful?

I look forward to receiving your advice and enclose a plan of the western end of the scheme for your information.



Peter Swain
Highway Projects Manager
Environment, Planning and Economy Directorate
Transportation Service
Cornwall Council

From: EUSTICE, George

Dear Jeff

I know that the Town Council is discussing the issue of the new East West Link Road tomorrow and I wanted to set out my views on this project which I hoped you might circulate for councillors to consider.

I have spent a lot of time over the last eighteen months winning support from the government in order to secure this £29 million investment in to our town. At the end of last year, the government did its part, came up with the money and gave the project the green light.

The reason I think we need to get behind this project is that it will create 6000 new and kick start the much needed economic revival of Camborne. I also believe passionately that, when it comes to housing growth, we should build on brownfield sites before greenfield sites and this new road enables the development of derelict land at Dolcoath and Tuckingmill and will therefore prevent the mass building of houses around villages like Penponds.

The consequence of not building this road is that the Highways Agency will block the development of many brownfield sites. That in turn will mean that Cornwall Council will need to revert to the old plans set out in the Regional Spatial Strategy to build more houses on greenfield sites around Penponds and Illogan instead because these do not require the road infrastructure. Some of us have fought hard to get rid of the old Regional Spatial Strategy and inject some common sense with a “brownfield before greenfield” principle which has widespread support within the town. I therefore think it would be an own goal to block the construction of the road at this stage, especially since it already has planning permission.

I know that some people say that you cannot create jobs just by building quality business space and industrial units but the evidence shows it is an important factor. The new business units at Tolvaddon are fully occupied and have created many new jobs in new industries. Last week I visited the Pool Innovation Centre which now has 180 people working in it and is approaching capacity. There are companies that want to locate in Camborne because it is at the heart of Cornwall. If we want to help the next generation in Camborne, we should make it easier for businesses to create jobs here, not harder and I think that the new road scheme is a crucial element in improving our town’s future.

I would like to thank you for taking these thoughts on board ahead of what will be a very important decision for the council.

George Eustice MP

The first observation I have is that several people (all of whom were in favour of the East West Road development) made the point that lobbying is quite a normal aspect of political procedure.

However, it seems strange that there was no lobbying of CTC members by individuals or groups in favour of maintaining their objections. In fact, Cllr Cullimore stated (or words to the same effect) during the meeting that the level of lobbying on this matter was unprecedented. It seems that pro-development organisations and bodies take every opportunity to lobby for continued unsustainable hyper-development - while the ordinary members of the public, opposed to unsuitable development, are left without a voice.

Mr Swain was present at the meeting and defended his action saying that he was unaware of the best way to approach a town council to offer advice. His email clearly indicates that his preferred method was to present to 'key' members of the CTC. Are some members more equal than others?

For me, Mr Swain's letter reads as though Cornwall Council was attempting to place pressure on CTC to reverse their democratically reached decision to contest the CPOs and SROs in order to avoid an embarassing situation for Cornwall Council Mr Swain denied this.

The text of the email is above - I'm sure people will disagree with my interpretation - most of the members of the public present at the meeting agreed with me.

More worrying in many ways is the email from George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.

To me it seems that Mr Eustice was also trying to avoid an embarassing personal situation - having campaigned so hard with central government to obtain £29 million only to find that the people of Camborne might actually reject his scheme.

Mr Eustice also makes claims about jobs that don't seem to add up.

Exactly how does building a road create 6,000 new jobs - it dosn't. You might create space to build new industrial units but you can't create jobs by building. Succesful businesses create jobs.

Certainly, businesses may move to bright, shiny new premises but they will have moved from elsewhere and the proportion of newly created jobs will be negligible as a result of simply building a new home for existing jobs.

George Eustice also makes a great deal of noise about building on brownfield sites. The basic idea of building on brownfield sites in order to preserve green, open spaces is an excellent one. The problem that I have with Mr Eustice's take on this is that he has never defined what he sees as a brownfield site. Cornwall Council defines as brownfield many open green spaces that people enjoy as such. It is, at the very least, disingenuous of Mr Eustice to talk about developing brownfield sites first - unless he is prepared to define what he believes makes a brownfield.

Mr Eustice also seems to be an expert professional planner when he is not being kept busy as an MP. I am afraid that I can't see how stopping this road development will lead to greenfield sites being developed and the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) being brought back into play. The plan for Cornwall is the Core Strategy and that is what will be followed - not the RSS.

We pay Cornwall Council planning officers an awful lot of money to provide planning solutions. If this road is stopped then they need to earn their money by producing a scheme acceptable to the people of Cornwall.

We do not need to be emotionally blackmailed by our MP!

Mr Eustice claims that the 'new business units at Tolvaddon are fully occupied'. If he means Tolvaddon Energy park then a quick phone call to Goldring Yates (on 01209 610111) will reveal that at least 8 of the 19 units are currently unoccupied - hardly fully occupied!

At the same time the Pool Innovation Centre was recently the subject of a survey undertaken by the Combined Universities of Cornwall. they discovered that less than 33 new jobs have created as a direct result of the opening of the centre (see here) - hardly the 180 jobs that our illustrious MP implies.

Back to the meeting.

To its credit CTC voted to allow the opportunity for the 50 plus members of the public to participate when it came to the crucial agenda item. (Although it might be noted here that Conservative Cllr Odgers was one of just two members that wanted to refuse the public the opportunity to participate in a very important community decision.) Following some robust statements in favour of CTC continuing its objection from members of the public and statements from CTC members on both sides of the debate a recorded vote was taken.

CTC voted by 8 votes to 7 to continue with the objection to the CPOs and SROs. The Conservative group voted in block against the proposal. [Edited to make more clear - The Conservative group voted in block against the motion to continue with the objections.]

Despite being given a hard ride it would appear that local democracy has prevailed - for the time being.

Finally it might be mentioned that if ordinary people are concerned about the concreting of Cornwall, then they need to act now. All too often people allow planning decisons to be made on their behalf without getting involved at the appropriate time. Quite often only when the decison has been made and presented in black and white (or more likely black and grey - tarmac and bricks) do people realise what has happened. By then it is too late!