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

Friday, 29 March 2013

The Westminster Parties

Hands up - who knows what is meant by the Westminster or London  based political parties? This term seems to have become quite poular over recent months and it seems that your local Westmister representatives aren't too pleased at its use.

It's a fairly simple concept really. The Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour and UKIP parties all very much centralise investment and decision making to Westminster, London and the South East. Whenever an important decison is to be made it's London and Westminster that has the first bite of the apple before English regions get a sliver and places like Cornwall get thrown the scraps if anything at all.

All the London based parties are guilty of this no matter how they attempt to make out otherwise. They're all the same whether it's Labour imposing 'bonkers' housing targets on us - the Tories gerrymandering our historic border to ensure a better probability of returning more Conservative MPs - or the LIb Dems jumping on any bandwagon going that they think might turn them a vote or two.

In Cornwall we have Cornwall Labour or Cornwall Liberal Democrats (already showing disregard by ingnoring the adjective 'Cornish' and choosing the anglicised use of Cornwall as an adjective) and the Tories who I'm not sure even bother with a Cornish branch. They all claim to be fighting for Cornwall - whether it's through the coalition London parties having 'MPs at the heart of government' or by Labour reminiscing about the scraps thrown to us by Blair and brown and making them seem like a banquet.

In reality, the Cornish branches of the London parties are disregarded almost as much  by their political masters in their Westminster offices as the people of Cornwall are disregarded. Time and again our local Westminster representatives have to make up fairy tales to excuse how their bosses in London have most recently sidelined Cornwall for the benefit of London in an attempt to keep alive the myth that their government cares about us.

This is what is meant by Westminster or London based parties.

Only Mebyon Kernow is based in Cornwall, fighting for the people of Cornwall. Only Mebyon Kernow can say that evrything they stand for is for the benefit of ordinary people right here in Bodmin or Boswinger, in Illogan or Indian Queens. Only Mebyon Kernow have social and economic policies which have the primary purpose of improving the lives of Cornish people within the setting of the UK, Europe and the world.

A vote for a Westminster based party is a wasted vote. No matter who you vote for you end up with the London government which will keep Cornwall's GDP below 75% of the European average. Just as they have for decades now.

Only Mebyon Kernow believes in building houses for local needs only, in growing social housing stock instead of selling it off.

Only Mebyon Kernow will fight for fair funding for Cornwall - to ensure that Cornish children receive the same opportunities that are available in the City of London.

Only Mebyon Kernow will campaign for a fairer local tax system that will protect services essential for the most vulnerable in our society.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Only Mebyon Kernow

Only Mmebyon Kernow has a housing and planning policy that looks to solving Cornwall's housing crisis for the long term.

We have a bespoke policy for Cornwall.

We believe that Westminster is remote from Cornwall and does not understand the needs of the people of Cornwall.

While the London based parties pursue hyperdevelopment as a Holy Grail that will somehow produce jobs and heal all oureconomic ills, we believe that we need a planning policy for Cornwall that looks to providing housing for local need only and investing European money wisely to help our small and medium businesses to create real jobs.

We have had several generations of massive population growth in Cornwall yet our GDP is still less than 75% of the European average. How much longer will it be before it finally sinks in that building houses does NOT lead to a stronger economy.

But when it comes to fighting Cornwall's corner the London based parties in Cornwall are impotent. Of course you have the odd exception and maverick concillor who will risk incurring the wrath of their political bosses in SW1 because they either understand what is needed or because they want to make sure they win their next election. However, most are just prepared to bang on about building 'affordables' and perpetuate the building our way out of recession myth.

Don't waste your vote on May 2nd by voting for the London led, indiscriminate house building policies of the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour parties. Vote instead to send a message that the concreting of Cornwall MUST stop. Vote for your local Mebyon Kernow candidate on election day.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Council parking short sightedness in Redruth

Rob Simmons has just blogged about parking problems in penzance here.

While I was out talking to people in Illogan yesterday, several people commented on the lunatic new charging regimes for Redruth.

Until recently you could park in Redruth's main car park for an hour and it would cost 50p.

Because of policies of centralisation and suburbanisation imposed by Westminster and carried out by successive councils in Cornwall, Redruth is only an echo of the vibrant community centre that it once was.

Realistically, these days, the range of shops and services that are available in Redruth mean that people only 'pop in' to Redruth as a matter of convenience. perhaps to vist the bank or post office or one of the more specialist shops the town has to offer. Generally people do not go to Redruth to spend time indulging in 'retail therapy'.

One resident of Illogan wrote to Cornwall council because the minimum charge to park has gone up to £1 from 50p. Granted you can now park for up to 2 hours - but then who would really need to. The elederly lady in question despairs at this extra tax on top of all the other tax increases and service cuts that she is facing and she wrote to the council to complain.

Aparrently the reason that the council have changed the charging structure is to encourage people to spend longer in Redruth.

Absolute nonsense when you think about it. You don't encourage people to spend more time just by making them pay for a longer parking slot. You encourage them to stay by providing the shops and services that people want and by providing the conditions for entreprenneurs to be able to do this.

When the council began looking at the carparking charging schemes Mebyon Kernow asked questions of the council and asked them to conduct a thorough economic impact assesment. Of course, this never happened and Alec Robertson's arrogant cabinet went ahead with new schemes in an attempt to milk the cash cow of car parking for all it was worth. How much have revenues increased since then (or have they actually dropped) and how mny people have been discouraged to visit our local town centres. Instead they have been herded to the out of town centres and supermarkets with their free parking advantage?

Far from getting people to stay longer in Redruth this misguided scheme will discourages people from visting Redruth at all. Thank you Cornwall Council.

Labour needs to get its facts straight

Jude Robinson, the only Labour Cornwall Councillor, has been complaining a lot about inaccurate blogs recently. A few days ago she blogged about the enrgy from waste contract. Perhaps Cllr Robinson should take her own advice and make sure that her own missives are more accurate before she attacks others?
Dear Councillor Robinson,
I read your blog about the current situation regarding the Incinerator at St. Dennis. My first comment is that it is a good rule of politics not to speak about subjects of which you have little or no knowledge. A fact apparent from mistakes in the blog.
Starting at the top, I think you will find that Lance Kennedy broke the rules on Purdah because he made a decision and announcement about a controversial issue after the date of publication of the election (20th March) and before the date of the first full council meeting after the election (probably 15th May). His statement could influence voters who might possibly vote for an anti-incinerator candidate, but would now change their mind, or a pro-incinerator candidate with a voter who was doubtful about voting.
Next, the contract with Sita was for an IWMC and was signed in 2006. This was during the "reign" of the Liberal Democrats, but so also was the decision in 2009 to refuse planning permission. The Lib-Dem dominated Planning Committee voted 22-0 to refuse permission on the substantive motion (the amendment was defeated 20 for 1 against and 1 abstain). After the vote Mr. Whalley said from that moment on, the Authority would be dedicated to following the wishes of the elected Members and would oppose the Incinerator. You conveniently fail to mention that during this period you were also strongly pro-incinerator.
The fuzzy nature of the "could have been a lot, lot better" and "St. Dennis people not treated as they should have been" suggests cynical fence sitting to try to get votes from both sides. You claim that the plus side of the Incinerator is that it "doesn't fill up the....... countryside"
Do you realise that at best there will be 22,000 tonnes of ash (some of it highly carcinogenic and toxic) and at the worst 66,000 tones of ash dumped in the Cornish Countryside and the most lethal bits in Gloucestershire? Similarly have you ever heard any opponent of Incineration claim that Landfill should be used instead?
You claim to be in favour of energy from waste without realising that this covers a large number of technologies including Anaerobic Digestion which does not require Incineration, does not produce any ash only usable compost, and the energy can be used anywhere unlike the restricted use of waste steam from an Incinerator. You clearly have not understood Climate Change. This is largely due to Carbon emissions, and in order of Carbon emission we have 1) Incineration 2) Landfill (due to Carbon sequestration) 3) at seventeen times less than Incineration - Anaerobic Digestion.
You seem to think that recycling will not do anything for climate change nor plug the energy gap. I suggest you start reading the reports by European Commissioner for Environment and Waste Janez Potcnik. He is the driving force behind Resource Efficient Europe, explaining that unless we recycle, we will use up all our resources including oil into plastic. The mining and manufacture of products from raw materials uses far more energy than re-use and recycling, and is thus not commensurate with a policy of sustainability. Cornwall Council laughably claim that Incineration is sustainable and Green!
The name of the site close to you at Scorrier is Hallenbeagle and the type of plant that will be built there is not an incinerator but a pyrolysis plant, yet another form of energy from waste. The reason that I do not favour this kind of technology is because it has a limited feedstock, being only able to use certain types of waste plastic and other organic matter (plastic is made from oil). During the process, which is contained in a near vacuum, depolymerisation gives rise to heavy tars, and unless these can be successfully reprocessed they are a difficult product for disposal.
Finally let me say that I do not live in St. Dennis, I am not a Lib-Dem, but as a trained scientist with a father who was an Industrial Chemist I do try to keep up with the correct facts on the subject. It might help Cornwall a bit if you did too.
Rod Toms.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Three years on and Tory & Lib Dem voters seem to have diappeared

When I stood for election for Illogan parish in 2010 I knocked on lots of doors.

There were lots of people saying that they normally vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat. There were a number who would vote for me and the odd one or two that were going to vote for the Labour candidate.

In the end I got elected with over 70% of the vote.

Yesterday I started my doorstep campaign. As there is a long time to go I have worked out a schedule whereby I go to what I believe will be the areas that I will have least support first. Therefore, yesterday I started knocking doors in an area that I was expecting to be hard work for me.

During the next few hours I failed to find anyone that was definitely going to vote Tory or Lib Dem. I managed to get promised support from two households and I found one household that were staunch Labour and had been all their lives (however they were going to consider an vote for MK if no Labour candidate emerged).

Every other person that I spoke to said that they had not made up their minds yet. A few of them definitely ruled out MK but most still included MK in the mix.

The difference from yesterday's experience and that of three years ago is quite amazing. People are absolutely fed up with bickering Westminster parties.

Candidates standing for Mebyon Kernow have an excellent chance of gaining votes from areas we never have before - but we need to get out there and get our message across because you can be sure we're not going to get the media coverage the Westminster parties will.

The next few weeks are going to be interesting and exciting (if you follow local politics). The result is probably the least predictable it has been for decades. Let's make sure that Mebyon Kernow make the impact that our policies and values deserve.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Labour manifesto - must try harder for Cornwall

Apparently, on Friday, the 'Cornwall Labour Party' (I think a case could be made for another oxymoron there) released its manifesto for May under the rather cliched title 'A Fairer Future for One and All'.

The document is full of Westminster rhetoric alongside ambiguous concepts and disingenuous, if not downright misleading, claims.

Labour purport to 'Oppose the introduction of regional pay scales in the NHS.' Fair enough you would think. Mebyon Kernow has always campaigned for a better deal for Cornish workers and the provision of fair pay for real jobs. We believe that regional pay is just another way of funding high salaries in London, and the South East, at the expense of the rest of the UK. Regional pay is another of those evil and divisive policies designed to put more money into the pockets of the wealthy at the expense of those already worse off. Perhaps Labour share our vision of equal pay for equal value work and saying no to regional pay.

Mebyon Kernow has also said that it would lead the way by working towards paying people the 'Living Wage' - starting with employees of Cornwall Council. Again Labour appear to agree. Their very first action point begins:

"Make Cornwall Council a driving force behind a decent Living Wage for All by assessing the level of a genuine living wage in Cornwall, setting a recommended minimum hourly rate ..."

Now, as far as I understand it, the Living Wage is something that is assessed and set by the Living Wage Foundation and is currently £7.45 for the UK. Yet it would appear that Labour are unable to commit to this. Instead, in Cornwall, we might actually end up with a Labour regional living wage "by assessing the level of a genuine living wage in Cornwall".

So what do Labour stand for? They oppose regional pay and yet, seemingly, support the idea for the lowest paid workers in Cornwall. Ambiguous? Misleading?

Next up we have:

"A new Joint Chief Executive for both Cornwall Council and the Isles of Scilly Council to cut costs, end costly consultancy contracts with the Chief Executive’s Department and limit the new salary to no more than 20 times that of the lowest paid council employee pro-rata."

First of all (if you overlook the fact that Labour appear to have stolen a policy from David Cameron of all people) I'm not sure that sharing a CEO with the Isles of Scilly is a good idea either for us or Scilly. A shared role would, in reality, mean increased costs for us both as the new man/woman would spend a lot of unproductive time and money travelling between two offices. Further, just as we have experienced in sharing institutions with Devon, would it not be likely that Cornwall would have a dominating voice to the detriment of the smaller Scilly Isles?

If you are going to reduce the expectation on a new CEO as far as Cornwall is concerned (which would have to happen if they were also doing a job for Scilly) why not just say so in the job description, reduce the salary on offer and eliminate the wasted travel problem?

Secondly, why go around the houses to say what they believe the salary for the new CEO should be? If they think that the salary should be no more than 20 times the lowest paid council worker and they believe in a living wage then surely the calculation is a simple one. £7.45 x 35hrs x 52weeks x 20 = £271,180. So if Labour implement the recognised living wage (rather than their own regional, Cornish version) they would pay the new CEO no more than £270k. Hmm ... Kevin Lavery was only on just over £200k so I would dearly hope that the new CEO would be offered substantially less than £270k. Perhaps they need to go around the houses because it looks a lot better on paper that way? Ambiguous? Misleading?

Let's look at some Labour  housing policy:

"Ensuring an adequate supply of housing appropriate to the needs of the local community including truly affordable housing and Council housing. While this sometimes means hard decisions must be made on where housing is built, this duty cannot simply be evaded. Cornwall Council should be actively bidding for all potential government monies for new social housing."

Independent research has demonstrated that local housing need is very different to that projected for and imposed on Cornwall by Council Officers acting under Westminster dictats. Lest we forget, the last Labour government planned to build 68,000 houses in Cornwall - a figure which even the Conservatives, with their commitment to a presumption in favour of development, called bonkers. 68,000 houses would have involved an awful lot of 'hard decisions'.

Mebyon kernow were the only political party to submit a detailed and thoroughly researched response to the consultation on the Core Strategy. Labour could not be bothered and yet now they want us to believe they will fulfil a duty which they say 'cannot simply be evaded'.

It is very clear from past experience that Labour policy on housing involves concreting over Cornwall and indulging in hyperdevelopment aimed at encouraging poulatuon growth in search of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not quite how their manifesto sounds. Ambiguous? Misleading?

I could go on looking at the Labour manifesto but this is already a long blog piece and I suspect that minds are beginning to wander.

In summary I would say that Mebyon Kernow believes in government by consensus. Look at the hard work that Dick Cole has put in to create a cross party consensus that the Cornwall Local Plan should set a target of 39,000 houses for Cornwall (before a few Con Dem spoilers selfishly lifted that figure to over 42,000). There are, without doubt a lot of areas of progressive policy that we would share with the Labour party.

The big difference is that our policies always put Cornwall first. The Cornwall Labour party are still the Westminster Labour party and, as such, have to answer to their Lords and masters in London.

The Labour Manifesto school report? 5 out of 10 - must try harder to put Cornwall first!


Labour party members have contacted Mebyon Kernow and asked us to explain that because they want to increase the cap on the CEO's pay it doesn't mean they want to increase the pay.

So why icrease the cap then?

It all sounds a bit like when David Cameron assured us that he had no plans to increase VAT in 2010, and look what happened then. Of course, the whole idea of a 20x cap was David Cameron's in the first place - perhaps Labour intend to use even more Tory style spin than they already do?

Monday, 11 March 2013

The land's end: the great sale of Cornwall

Written by one of the authors of Cornwall at the Crossroads, Dr Bernard Deacon, this book is about the future being mapped out for us by developers, aided and abetted by some local political and business groups and egged on by central government. It rejects the million people-plus Cornwall that these self-appointed elites are planning for us and for future generations and offers a critique of current policies.

The first chapters are available here to download now in pdf format. The book, published by CoSERG, will be available in the normal format to purchase soon.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The local cost of austerity

Earlier today I joined over a hundred local people to send a strong message to Cornwall Council. Keep our community assets for our community.

The Council has planned to sell off land, and in particular the running track, at Carn Brea leisure centre in order to allow developers to build a supermarket. Some of the proceeds of sale might be used to patch up the leisure centre but a lot would be lost into the general coffers of the council rather than be used for the benfit of the local community.

Mebyon Kernow believes that real localism is about protecting this sort of local community facility. Where is the olympic legacy for Pool?

This sort of stupidity is the true face of failed Westminster austerity. Our community facilities are being sold off while bankers continue to get their bonusses.

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Independent Group - an oxymoron surely?

Cornwall is a land apart in many different ways.

For example we have a proud and long history of electing independent politicians. Whereas, in England, the vast majority of top tier authority councillors belong to one of the mainstream political parties, in Cornwall this is different. Following the 2009 elections, of the 123 councillors no less than 32 were 'Independent' gaining 23% of votes.

Independent Group councillors will tell you that Independents are free-thinkers not bound by party political ideology. So why are they part of a group that conducts group meetings to discuss group policy/decisions?

The only convincing argument that I have heard in favour of having an Independent Group is that it enables the administration of representation on committees and other areas that are decided in a 'proportional' way. However, to my mind, once committe seats have been allocated, and other bits of admin completed, there should be no need to conduct regular meetings?

Of course, not belonging to any 'party' means that 'independent' politicians have no collective responsibility. I wonder how many Independent councillors standing for re-election in May will be arguing for the 'good' that the current administration has done during the past four years. For, make no mistake, Independents are just as responsible for the good and bad that has come out of Cornwall Council as the Conservatives. Yet when faced with criticism it will be the Tories that get the blame and any 'individual' opposition or highlight that will be pointed out to the electorate.

Then again, is it not just a tad disingenuous (at best) for an Independent to campaign on the basis that s/he is an independent free-thinker knowing full well that once elected they will be part of a group that acts to all intents and purposes as a political party, making corporate decisions and expecting members to toe the line.

True Independents should have the guts to be 'stand alone' councillors and not seek to reap the benefits of being part of a political grouping while avoiding the responsibilities that go with it.

Monday, 4 March 2013

St Piran Play 2013

What a day!

A brand new St Piran Play was declared a great success by the pilgrims as the marched across the dunes. There was a new script with new scenes telling the story of St Piran. Skinners were there providing free refeshment for the pilgrims and, for St Piran, the latest innovation - a great outdoors sound system - made sure that everyone could enjoy the twists and turns in the comedy and tragedy as it unfolded. More than ever before, the players used the sand dunes to great effect. Natural ampitheatres and 'cliffs' were used to frame the dialogue to brilliant dramatic effect.

Yet the Cornish innovation and looking to a bright future was, as always, grounded in a foundation of the celebration of our distinctive Cornish culture. The holy places of St Piran were there.The traditional themes and the daffodils were there. And the people of Cornwall were there - I estimated around 500 this year. Not a bad figure when you think of the burgeoning number of St Piran events that are taking part along the full length of Cornwall this Pirantide!

I'm sure that Piran himself, looking down on us with a tankard of ale in hand, enjoyed our celebration of his life.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Save Carn Brea Lesiure Centre - 9th March

This from here

A public rally is being held on Saturday 9th March at 11am at Carn Brea Leisure Centre by a local campaign group, aiming to ensure that all sale proceeds from the potential sale of the CBLC land by Cornwall Council will be re-invested in leisure in the CPR area.

Please, come along to the rally! We need as many people as possible to highlight the vital importance, to our community, of keeping leisure centre and track facilities in THIS area. We have to increase awareness in the media and locally, and protect our resources. Don't let them disappear!!

Visit this Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/130842763748584/ to find out more about the campaign or click here to download a poster- share it at work, school, college and with friends and get as many people as possible along to the rally!

This is about ensuring the future of athletics here and making sure that people of all ages and abilities in our area have the best opportunity to maintain and improve their wellbeing, health and fitness and enjoy sporting activities for years to come.

Please lend your support and come along to the rally- just a few minutes of your time will be incredibly valuable!