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Tuesday 24 May 2011

Incinerator - Idiomatic of Westminster Government

Eric Pickles has spoken. With a stroke of his pen he has consigned a democratic process, by which Cornwall had said no to the incinerator (now to be built in St Dennis) to the bin. So much for commitment to local people from Cornish Conservatives and so much for commitment to localism from national Conservatives.

Before the election David Cameron promised a ‘Minister for Cornwall’. As soon as the deal with the Liberal Democrats was done, Mr Cameron reneged on that promise - claiming that Cornwall had 6 MPs at the heart of government. All six Tory and Lib Dem Cornish MPs campaigned against the incinerator and yet Mr Pickles seems to have ignored their opinion as much as he has ignored the people of Cornwall – so much for a strong Cornish voice at the heart of Westminster!

In fact Mr Pickles appears to have given more importance to the perfidy shown by the Conservative Leader of Cornwall Council, Alec Robertson. Mr Robertson has previously voted against the incinerator project but then wrote a secret letter to his boss in Westminster, pleading for the findings of the Cornwall Council Planning Committee to be over-ruled. This is surely a betrayal on the same scale as that shown by the Liberal Democrats when they jettisoned their pre-election pledges for a taste of Westminster power.

Indeed this betrayal has led to Stephen Gilbert MP popping up on Radio Cornwall feigning indignation and anger at what has happened. The problem is, Mr Gilbert, it was your party that created the problem in the first place by creating the contract with SITA. I also find it extremely hard to believe anything you say given the way you go back on your pledges. Who can forget Mr Gilbert holding his pledge on tuition fees which was so dramatically discarded as soon as he took his seat in Westminster. In fact Mr Gilbert’s feigned anger on behalf of the people of St Dennis was very reminiscent of his speech back in October when he promised that his job was to vote against the government over Devonwall – just before he meekly went through the lobby and cast his vote to discard Cornwall’s ancient border in favour of joining Cornwall and Devon. Sorry Mr Gilbert, I can’t trust a word you say.

Perhaps the Labour Party can give us some strong leadership. Unfortunately not. Just as they were totally divided over the recent AV vote, the Labour party in Cornwall seem to be split on the incinerator issue. While Jude Robinson has come out firmly in favour of the incinerator other notable members of Labour in Cornwall have made it clear that they believe that the incinerator is bad for Cornwall.

The only party that has consistently argued against the incinerator project is Mebyon Kernow – The Party for Cornwall. Dick Cole has a wealth of experience and knowledge of this case and has acted in a statesmanlike manner throughout the whole process. It is clear that the only party that can always be trusted to put Cornwall first is Mebyon Kernow – The Party for Cornwall. Cllr Cole will continue to do all that he can to help the residents of St Dennis in their continued fight – just as MK will continue its fight to put Cornwall’s interests before those of Westminster.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Small and Underfunded Cornish Schools Face Closure

In December last year the coalition government announced that Cornish schools would receive less than half the funding than schools in the City of London. ‘Guaranteed Units of Funding’ (GUF) for Cornwall amounts to just £4663 per pupil while the figure for London is £9373.

At the same time, new legislation encourages schools to convert to ‘Academies’ and to opt out of funding by Local Authorities in favour of receiving centralised funding from Westminster.

Despite attempts by the Conservative leader to prevent it, Mebyon Kernow leader, Dick Cole, gained the support of Cornwall Council in calling for a commission to investigate fairer funding for Cornwall.

Coalition policies mean that the very nature of our smaller schools in Cornwall puts our children at an unfair disadvantage. This is because as well as being short-changed with their funding, the new academy system means that there is less money available to Cornish councillors to provide support for the smaller schools. There is a very real risk that many community based schools will be forced to close – children as young as five years old could be forced to make bus journeys just to get to school.

Cornwall needs politicians who understand Cornwall’s unique challenges and who are prepared to put Cornwall first.