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, 24 February 2014

Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall

Our White Paper 'Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall' will be launched on St Piran's Day.

Come to the County Arms at Highertown, Truro at 11:00am on Wednesday 5th March to get your copy - hot off the press!


"Mebyon Kernow is campaigning for a National Assembly for Cornwall and this document sets out what it would mean for Cornwall.
This is a consultation document for MK members and the wider population of Cornwall.
We recognise that individuals and groups committed to greater powers for Cornwall may have different views about detail of the democratic settlement that we should be seeking for the future.
The consultation period is open until 30th June 2014 and we would like to hear from you.
Please send any comments on this document to:
        Mebyon Kernow - the Party for Cornwall, Meridian House, Heron Way, Truro, Kernow/Cornwall, TR1 2XN.
Or by email to:
A revised version of this document will be published later in 2014."

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Oratory Uncovered

Work to uncover St Piran's Oratory will begin on Monday (17th Feb).

The oratory was buried in 1980 'for its own protection'. Now it will be uncovered in order to assess what needs to be done to preserve the remains for future generations.

Work will be ongoing as the annual pilgrimage and St Piran Play take place on Sunday 1st March. Why not come along and witness iconic Cornish culture.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Declare Your Support for a Cornish Assembly at Trevithick Day!

Trevithick Day? Don't mind if I do.

Why not join us at this iconic Cornish cultural event?

Come and sign your declaration of support for a Cornish Assembly and ask us the questions you are dying to ask.

Meet Mebyon Kernow Camborne Town Councillors and enjoy all the fun of the fair at the same time.

If you're a MK member why not come along and meet fellow members and help us talk to the public?

Put Saturday 26th April in your diary now!

Shameful Assertions From the Pick 'n Mix Party

Cllr Jade Farrington has had the bare faced cheek to claim on Twitter that the Lib Dems stopped Devonwall constituencies.

What a load of nonsense - it just goes to show how far the Cornish Lib Dems are prepared to go not to allow the truth to get in the way of a good bit of propaganda.

You may remember the controversy a year or two back because the Tories and Lib Dems had plans to do away with Cornwall's historic border and introduce a Devonwall constituency.

A few amendments were proposed which had no chance of succeeding  because Lib Dem bosses in London did not support them (although they were prepared to support the Isle of Wight).

In fact Cornish Lib Dems voted for the legislation which would create the Devonwall seat on several occasions as the Bill passed through the legislative process. The Bill was only scuppered because the Lib Dems felt that the Tories had betrayed them on House of Lords reform.

The Liberal Democrats, including Cornish Lib Dem MPs, were quite content to vote in favour of a Devonwall seat right up to the point when the party threw its toys out of its collective pram and voted against its own Bill.

So it might be true that the Lib Dems stopped Devonwall - but this was just a (fortunate for Cornwall) by-product of a teasy tantrum from the Pick 'n Mix Party - famous for a complete lack of principle, apart from doing whatever it takes to get elected.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Pick & Mix Party at it Again

Apparently the Lib Dems are going to be asked whether or not their party supports the idea of a Cornish Assembly at their Spring Conference.

There's no more detail than that - just a broad principle of support for a national legislative assembly that would be more than an enhancement of local government.

It will be very interesting to see what happens.

In Cornwall, Lib Dems (some of whom quite probably genuinely believe that a Cornish Assembly would be a good thing) are often embarrassed when their party bosses in London play down and rubbish the concept of Cornwall as a nation.

Nick Clegg clearly doesn't have a clue about Cornwall. Lib Dem MPs all toed the party line and voted to do away with Cornish only Westminster constituencies right up to the point when the party threw its collective toys out of its pram because the Tories reneged on a deal to reform the House of Lords. What is good for Cornwall doesn't necessarily go down well in Westmister.

So, as Andy Long said, we welcome this latest conversion. We believe that a Cornish Assembly is good for Cornwall - always have and always will - and we welcome support from anyone that wishes to acknowledge the fundamental common sense of our policies. The questuion is - do the Pick & Mix Party really believe the same - or do they just believe that it might be a good vote winner?

Affordable (sic) Housing Consultation

Cornwall Council are currently consulting on their Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning (SPD) Document. The consultation will run until Friday 14th March and details can be found here.

What can I say? Where do you start?

Central Westminster Government, regardles of the colour party that is currently occupying number 10, wants to see lots of new houses built. In fact there is now a presumption in favour of allowing development. The London based parties want to be seen 'to be doing something'. They also need to provide the people and organisations which finance their activities with ample opportunity to generate the profit that ensures the cash donations continue to flow.

The answer, of course, is to encourage lots of development, brag about how many 'affordable' homes have been 'delivered' and, at the same time, claim that lots of jobs have been 'created'. Meanwhile their wealthy, fund-raising buddies have increased the value of their property portfolios and the dosh flows round the system. All the time, the difference between wages and houses prices or rent grows ever wider.

Of course our local planning authority are required to play the game - required  by law. That it is all a game is clearly demonstrated by the SPD.

Cornwall Council proudly proclaim:

'Ensuring the housing market offers enough decent homes at a price which people can afford is one of the Council’s highest priorities.'

But what is an 'affordable' home? Well there are half a dozen or so definitions of affordable housing 'products' all of which are supposedly matched to the ability to pay. When it comes down to it though, what is needed is lots of 'affordable rent' or 'social rent' houses.

Rentals are crucial because, as Cornwall Council recognises, it would require a gross household income of around £37,000 with a 10% deposit in order to purchase a house in the bottom quartile price category in Cornwall. In other words even the cheapest houses in Cornwall are out of reach of the people who live here (so tell us something we didn't already know!)

Even though Cornwall Council realises that you will have to bin your aspiration to buy your own home, at least it recognises the desperate need to build low cost rentals as the only realistic way to meet local housing need. In fact, its stated policy is that at least 70% of any planned affordable houses should be low cost or social rented houses.

Well at least that sounds like a sensible policy. If you have a limited capacity to provide the housing which is needed at least target the area where you can have the most positive impact. 

And perhaps it might be - except for the over-arching get-out clause - economic viability. Developers won't build if they can't make a profit (fair enough). But, the problem is that, as our public bodies are not allowed to build house to provide people with homes anymore, the only way for local housing need to be met is to depend on the charity of developers (not a good place to be!) If developers aren't feeling charitable then local housing need won't be met. Yet this is the only option that the Council has - if it isn't 'economically viable' then the houses won't get built. So in desperation the Council takes a policy and waters it down. Just like Westminster it has to be seen to be doing something doesn't it?

Cornwall Council knows and documents that demand for high housing numbers is driven by in-migration. It knows that the people that live here are unlikely to ever be able to afford to buy their own home and it knows that a sensible way to provide homes for people in need is to build social rented homes.

The problem is that it isn't allowed to develop policies which will solve the problems that it has identified. It can't avoid allowing houses to be built simply for profit and to keep the Westminster merry-go-round turning.

For me, Cornwall Council affordable homes policy sums up why we need to change things. Why Cornwall needs to make the difference. We should be able to create policy which is tailored for the benefit of Cornwall and not for party political purposes. We need to build homes which will meet local need - if they don't then why build them? We need government for Cornwall which is prepared to grasp the nettle and say enough is enough. We need government which has the ability to make its own decisions and which has the ability to provide homes for people instead of delivering property portfolios for corporations.

We need a Cornish Assembly which can start to meet the challenges which face us in Cornwall.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Daffy Planting a Huge Success!

Well done to everyone (including MK's very own Cllr Dave Garwood) who helped the Glasney Green-Space Regeneration Project plant over 5,000 daffy bulbs on Sunday!

Is the ability to make a profit a material planning consideration?

Thankfully Cornwall Council planners supported Falmouth Town Council and refused an application to remove a Section 106 clause which prevents year round occupation of holiday lets at Goldenbank in Falmouth.

The application asked for the restriction to be removed because:

"the restriction has limited the units’ marketability and that the targeted occupancy has never been attained in more than four years."

So does this mean that making a profit is a material planning consideration?

I have seen this type of application before. A developer has failed to come up with a viable business so it's back to the planners to have restrictions removed.

If there was a good reason for the restriction in the first place then there shouldn't be any going back on it just because a company is failing to make a profit.

If making a profit is going to become a material planning consideration then perhaps developers should do their homework better before their original application. Time after time you see amazing reports setting out how allowing a development will bring jobs and economic benefit for a neighbourhood. Time after time the reports are wrong.

A cynic might say that it's all a game that developers play. Overegg the benefits early on and then whinge when they don't appear so that you can get what you wanted in the first place.

We need a strong planning policy based on what is best for Cornwall. This will only ever have a chance to happen if we get a Cornish Assembly.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

An Evening of Cornish Artistry

I enjoyed a superb night out last night at Charlies Bar in Redruth.

Great company, an atmospheric venue and an exciting line up.

It was brilliant to watch Reece Whetter perform his solo set - a rising Cornish star.

Tredanek were outstanding. With real passion, skill and musical expertise they wove complex rhythms and melodies that took me on a journey through Cornish culture.

The finale bought us all bang up to date when Hanterhir took to the stage. If you want to see how the past present and future can blend into one then go and watch Hanterhir. A firm base in Cornish, Celtic folk - but with a contemporary twist - excellent.

Thank you to the performers and thank you to the friends that made the night a huge success.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

King for the Day

It's everyone's dream isn't it - to be King (or Queen) for the Day. Well if you want to be a King on Sunday March 2nd why not pop along to Seiners, Perranporth. The first rehearsal for the St Piran Play will be taking place at Seiners at 7:00pm on Monday 3rd February - and the company is still looking for someone to play the part of one of the Kings (other roles also available).

I'm looking forward to the  St Piran Play this year even more than usual. The hard work of the St Piran Trust is finally beginning to pay off with the excavation of the oratory commencing on February 17th. We're hoping the oratory will be visible to the pilgrims for the first time in thirty years!

If you can't be in the play come and watch - Sunday 2nd May - Gear Sands. Around 1:30pm.