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, 30 January 2014

TruFal Blogger

I have decided to change the name of this blog to TruFal Blogger.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you may be aware that I have recently been selected as the MK PPC for Truro and Falmouth.

I have thought long and hard about this because I am very happy and proud to be living in Illogan and serving my community on the Parish Council. I am not and will not 'desert' Illogan in pursuit of a seat at Westminster.

However, if I am to do the best job for Mebyon Kernow and for Cornwall that I can over the next year or so I need to maximixe every potential opportunity that I have to get the MK message across - and in particular my general election constituency of Truro and Falmouth.

While the name has changed, I have kept the web address the same as I am aware and am very grateful to several people and organisations that have linked to this blog from their own internet sites. The last thing that I want to do is break those links.

Many thanks to anyone who occasionally drops by here - I hope you will continue to do so!



Tuesday, 28 January 2014

What is the mandate of our local politicians?

I wanted to explore what is the political mandate that is given to a local politician, especially Cornwall Councillors, when we elect them.

For example, there is this news story concerning Cllr Simon Rix (who is the Lib Dem PPC for Truro and Falmouth).

An elected Cornwall Councillor is not required to act according to the wishes of one of his local parish councillors. That is probably quite correct - epsecially as, more often than not, local issues are not clear cut and there is a wide range of opinion on the subject. However in this case should Cllr Rix have paid a greater regard to his local parish, given that, the weight of opinion was overwhelmingly in opposition to his own? Particularly as the decision in question was whether to reccommend further debate on an issue rather than have it settled once and for all.

Cllr Rix is listed as a Senior Consultant and an Account Director with Bellenden which describes its job as "to look ahead, alert you to issues that might impact your business and help you represent your interests to the government, stakeholders and the media." Companies that he has worked with include several energy companies, including Renewable UK.

Closer to home, in Illogan, the Illogan Parish Council recently voted unanimously (in a recorded vote) to oppose a development in Park Bottom. A development which would increase, at a stroke, the number of houses in Park Bottom by around 20%. Cllr Wilkins, a member of the planning committee, was not able to attend the highly charged meeting for personal reasons. However, he is on record (on many occasions) as being in support of the development. Cllr Wilkins believes that the opportunity for building 'affordable homes' in Park Bottom is too good to pass up - even though the proposed scheme does not even meet standards set out in the emerging Cornwall Local Plan. Despite his lone advocacy in the face of concerted opposition for the development, Cllr Wilkins has no intention of using his democratic mandate, such as it is, in favour of the development. It seems that his desire to help young people to stay in Illogan doesn't extend far enough to have the courage and conviction to actually vote in favour of the scheme at any point. Like Nick Clegg, you have to ask what is the point of Cllr Wilkins?

Edited Update:

A couple of questions:

Both Cllrs Rix and Wilkins faced united opposition to their opinion.
Should Cornwall Councillors pay more attention when their community is united against them?
Is it better to back your own opinion in the face of mass condemnation or is it better to be a serial abstainer?

Monday, 27 January 2014

Do we want a stadium or not?

Do we want a stadium or not?

This is the question that we need to answer before we can move on from the endless controversy and political shenanigans that seem to cycle around every few months.

It is abundantly clear that a stadium is not a clear-cut money-spinning business proposal - so how can we ever hope to leave it to the private sector to build?

If we can't leave it to the private sector then should we fund it from the public purse? This is the question that we need to answer once and for all - otherwise we will be having the same old - same old debate every few months ... and more and more green fields will be under pressure as continuous false promises are made in order to raise hopes that a stadium might happen.

We need to have the debate and see if there is a consensus of the people of Cornwall that a stadium is a good thing. This is a mandate that needs to be established clearly.

Personally I think that we need to develop a public/private partnership. A partnership which would allow us to reduce both the capital and ongoing costs of a stadium.

A stadium would, in my opinion, bring many benefits for Cornwall - this is why we need to (at least partially) fund it. Once built, running costs could be off-set by the revenue that would be generated through its use. Perhaps we would need to subsidise it. maybe if it was a tremendous success it would actually earn money that could be invested into developing Cornish sports even more.

The point is - are there enough people who agree with my broad way of looking at things or am I in a minority. If I am in a minority then democracy would dictate that we put an end to the debate and stop the developers using a stadium as a bribe to allow more private profit.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Frequently Answered Questions

Thank you to everyone who has asked questions about MK's ideas on a Cornish Assembly. It has helped me to begin to draw together a short chapter of FAQs.

Many of the questions will be answered within the main body of our White Paper.

Some of the more frequently asked questions are reproduced and answered below - our full consultation document will be published on St Piran's Day. 

Law-Making Cornish Assembly – Frequently Asked Questions

Isn’t Cornwall just too small for its own Assembly?
Definitely not – there are countless examples of smaller states and regions, both in terms of population and territory, that are either independent or have autonomous government.

We already have a unitary authority in Cornwall Council. Wouldn’t a Cornish Assembly simply be another layer of expensive politicians?
A law-making Cornish Assembly would be a national government rather than another layer of local government. An Assembly would be responsible for making strategic decisions on Cornwall’s future, and it would do away with the need for so many unelected quangos – mostly based outside of Cornwall – and bring greater decision-making back into Cornwall.

We already have MPs, so why do we need a Cornish Assembly? And what would be the point of MPs after a Cornish Assembly came into being?
Members of Parliament will still be there to represent Cornwall at Westminster on a wide range of issues that a Cornish Assembly would not be responsible for – for example, foreign policy and defence. Cornish MPs would continue to be a Cornish voice at Westminster and represent the Cornish interest when it came to UK wide issues and policies.

Wouldn’t a Cornish Assembly cost us all a lot more? Wouldn’t it simply be too expensive to be a realistic proposition?
Mebyon Kernow is confident that a Cornish Assembly could save money for UK taxpayers, including those in Cornwall. An Assembly would be better placed to manage the expenditure of the majority of the public sector in Cornwall and develop the Cornish economy. On top of this, it would be possible to do away with the wasteful individual administration costs of many quangos.
Wouldn’t it be better for Cornwall to be part of a greater South West region or to join forces with Devon? Wouldn’t the larger economic unit bring greater benefits?
Mebyon Kernow believes that, time after time, when Cornish services and initiatives have been shared with a larger area, Cornwall always loses out to centralised power in Exeter or Bristol. We lose our democratic voice as votes are invariably based on population size and funding, originally destined for Cornwall, goes to tackle problems somewhere else.  Additionally, Cornwall is a logical unit of government. It has myriad cultural differences to English counties and regions and a natural cohesiveness.

What difference would a law-making Cornish Assembly make? What could it do that an enhanced Cornwall Council could not?
The list of powers that we believe that a Cornish Assembly should have can be found in section xx. These powers would mean that a Cornish Assembly would either have greater control of or (in many cases) have overall control of important government functions and funding which are currently managed through central government.

For example:
  • Development and planning – setting housing numbers, encouraging economic regeneration and protecting the environment;
  • Economic development and jobs creation (including sustainable tourism);
  • Research and innovation projects – such as the Wavehub;
  • The vast majority of statutory bodies such as English Heritage, Natural England, Local Enterprise Partnership etc.;
  • European funding; and
  • Creating a Cornish curriculum through education policy.
These are just a few specific areas that we have been asked about. A Cornish Assembly could be responsible for policy in these areas and many others.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bringing the Assembly Campaign to the People

We began to take the Assembly campaign to the people today at Lemon Quay, Truro.

The rain stopped, the sun shone and the ink flowed.

Some things that really pleased me:

1. I got to meet and listen to the concerns of the people in the Truro and Falmouth constituency. There is a clear groundswell of opinion that Cornwall gets a raw deal from Westminster and that the London based parties are all much of a muchness.

2. People responded to the publicity that our social media team had given the event today. I spoke to people from all over Cornwall - some had mad a special trip to show their support for our campaign and I would like to thank those people especially. It makes our hard work worthwhile when we know that people are listening to our meassage and responding positively.

3. It was great to meet lots of new MK activists. This is particularly encouraging. When you read and see how memebership of Westminster political parties is declining it is wonderful to see MK membership blossoming - we must be doing something right. The icing on the cake is the number of young people that are taking up the MK cause.

The roadshow will be coming to a town near you - why not pop along and meet us when it does?

Monday, 20 January 2014

No Glory in War

ww1 sargent gassed  538

It seems that there is a determined effort to re-write the tragic, inglorious Great War as something other than the stinking mess that it was.

First Gove and now Dan Snow .

Surely it would be much better to commemorate the end of the war and to think about how to avoid future conflict than to glorify mass slaughter for jingoistic propaganda?

If you agree perhaps you could join me in signing the Open Letter; How should we remember the first world war?

Like on Facebook: Cllr Stephen Richardson LL.B
Follow on Twitter: @CllrSRichardson

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Roadshow Preparations

I have spent today preparing for our first Cornish Assembly Roadshow - Lemon Quay, Truro, Saturday 25th January 10:00am - 4:00pm.

I have learned how to construct the new MK Roadshow hub, dressed it and got all the materials we will need together in one place.

I have clipboards, pens, blank declarations, enormous declarations, bunting, flags cable ties, hooks, string, bluetack etc etc.

All we need now is fine weather, lots of MK activists to collect declarations and bags of enthusiasm.

Why not come and see what we are all about?

Friday, 17 January 2014

PPC Nomination

I have been nominated by the Truro and Falmouth branch of Mebyon Kernow to represent them in the general election in 2015.

I am proud and excited to have received this nomination and I am looking forward to working with a professional and dedicated team of activists to put MK on the electoral map.

We have hit the ground running and have already begun planning how our campaign will work.

We have to overcome a deficit in terms of media coverage compared to other parties but this is just one of the challenges that will be overcome.

In the meantime I would ask anyone at all that believes that Cornwall is being badly served by the Westminster parties to get in touch and help us make the news instead of just commenting on it!

The campaign will be using social media a lot and I have a Facebook page - please 'like' it and set your options to receive notifications of posts.

You can follow me here on Twitter!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Housing Numbers - Lessons to be Learned

I have been putting off blogging about the latest decision on housing numbers for Cornwall. Such a wide range of issues coalescing in one figure of 47,500 makes it hard to know where to start.

I could take the Tory scam of using a 33k headline figure to attempt to generate a party political coup. In some people's eyes, this is where the decision taken on Tuesday begins. But that's the point - Tuesday's decision is a result of years of hard work by a small number of councillors and planning officers. For the Tories to come along at the last minute and drop what they hoped would be a vote winning bombshell was breathtakingly hypocritical and cynical in the extreme. We are now three years into the twenty year plan (and the Tories led the council for two of those years) and only now do the they come up with this scheme?

Their plan was dishonest (the figure of 33k turned out to just be a basis with almost unlimited potential to spiral higher by tens of thousands) and amateurish (the numbers simply didn't add up - in some areas extant permissions already exceeded the numbers they were quoting).

It is absolutely clear that the main concern was how to garner votes and not the best interests of Cornwall. For example - the plan wasn't even supported by all of the Tories. Scot Mann - a PPC for the Conservative party voted against the plan and in favour of the high numbers. Despite this the usual Tory suspects were abroad on social media trying to create the impression that low numbers = Conservatives and high numbers = Lib Dems. When it was pointed out how Cllr Mann had voted then suddenly, in his case, it was high principle - heads we win, tails you lose!

The only party that has concistently and doggedly opposed high housing numbers for Cornwall is Mebyon Kernow. Where were any of the Westminster parties or the Independent 'Group' when it came to the consultation on the 'Core Strategy'? Only MK put forward a detailed and evidence based reply to that consultation - none of the other political parties could be bothered back then and they only want to score party political points now.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that, last Tuesday, the arguments were all about how to come up with a plan that would be approved by Westminster and not about what is best for Cornwall.

Mebyon Kernow knows all about this frustration. This is what gives us purpose - democracy for Cornwall instead of imposition from London. Fighting this imposition is what gives us a broad depth of knowledge and experience in this area. We know and fully understand the extent of the harm that the lack of capacity to make our own decisions causes Cornwall. And this is why we know how best to fight back.

Mebyon Kernow has Cornish interests at its very core. We have formulated policies which concentrate on making the difference in Cornwall. We are the only political party which has a housing and development policy which is tailored purely for Cornwall's needs. We don't believe in a presumption in favour of growth like the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour.

MK will go into the consultation period on the Local Plan, with well researched, evidence based proposals for a housing number of 38k. These figures do add up and can be defended under scrutiny. They are the result of many hours of work put in, not just by MK members, but by people who have a serious and genuine interest in keeping housing numbers down.

Dr Bernard Deacon has commented that it is a great pity that pro-Cornish campaigners haven't been able to come together to make sure that Cornwall Council stands up to Westminster. I would agree - and I would call on everyone, who doesn't want to see Cornwall covered in concrete simply in order to fuel the profits of big developers, to back our campaign and unite for Cornwall's sake.

Rediscovering Iconic Cornish Heritage - St Piran's Oratory

After all the interminable permission seeking, form filling, plan making and sheer hard work the St Piran's Trust has finally been given the go ahead to begin excavations at Gear Sands. St Piran's Oratotory will once again be open to the air.

This is the first, information gathering, stage of the St Piran's Trust's plan to eventually make the oracle accessible to the people of Cornwall.

The Trust has engaged the archaeological services of Cornwall Council to excavate the oratory, evaluate the integrity of the structure and formulate how to go about preservation of the monument.

The excavations will be beginning in mid February and it is hoped that the oratory will be visible for the annual pilgrimage accross the dunes on Sunday 2nd March.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Assembly Campaign Roadshow starts in Truro!

Truro's Lemon Quay will host the first of the Campaign for a Law-making Cornish Assembly Roadshow!

Please come along on Saturday 25th January 10:00am to 4:00pm whether you are an MK activist and want to get involved or if you want to meet MK members and discuss the benefits that an Assembly would bring.

There will be regular speeches and 'mini-events' throughout the day. If you are a MK member and would like to make a speech or have an idea to get the public involved then please let me know.

Exciting times ahead for the next nine months leading up to Scotland's independence. Then our Westminster election campaigns can begin in earnest - even more exciting!

Do you want the Assembly Roadshow to come to a town near you - get in touch!

Kan Rag Kernow

Kan Rag Kernow / A Song For Cornwall!

The Melting Pot Cafe, Redruth is proper proud to have been chosen to host the Kan Rag Kernow event.

Kesstrif rag dewysi an gan Gernewek rag an Kesstrif Pan-Keltek

The Kan rag Kernow is an annual competition to find a song in Cornish to represent Cornwall in the International Pan Celtic Song Contest in Ireland.

24sa Mis Genver / 24th January
Koffiji Seth Teudha / Melting Pot Café
doors open 7pm
tickets cost £6.50 in advance or £8 on the door

for details and directions please visit www.themeltingpotcafe.co.uk

To buy tickets for any event please either phone 07915 252757 between 9am and 5pm and have your credit or debit card ready, or come into the cafe, please dont email for tickets. All tickets must be paid for to secure them, we cannot reserve tickets for any event without full payment.(Please note lunchtimes are often very busy and your call may not be taken at these times.)

To find out more about the Melting Pot program, or to enquire about hiring rooms give Ben a call on 07915 252757 or come in to the cafe


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A few questions

Bledhen Nowyth da pub huni!

Mebyon Kernow is producing a white paper on a law-making Assembly for Cornwall.

One section will be a series of FAQs.

.... so what are the questions that you would most like to see answered about a Cornish Assembly?

Please ask your questions by leaving comments. I am collecting as many questions as possible in order to answer the most frequently asked ones in the white paper. Perhaps your question will make the publication :-)