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George Eustice | George's Online Diary

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News and views from Camborne, Redruth and Hayle
Updated: 9 years 6 days ago

Cornwall Deal

Fri, 17/07/2015 - 15:00
Plans for a new Cornwall Deal could take a big step forward this week with the Government expected to outline some areas where it plans to give more responsibility and power to Cornwall.

Cornwall has its own unique identity and being a peninsula at the end of the line, I have always said we should have more control over the way we configure key services.  Last month I spoke at the Cornish Constitutional Convention and made the case for Cornwall having more of a say over culture and heritage policy.  I also think that we can do more to ensure our bus routes work effectively by joining up bus services with train timetables and exploring the possibility of franchise models to make sure that rural routes link in with the main trunk routes.

Another area where we could join things up more effectively is in the area of health and social care.  The problems we have had with black emergencies at Treliske have largely been driven by the fact that Cornwall Council have been slow to roll out care packages for people waiting to be discharged from hospital. If we could join up funding streams more effectively by looking at increased joint commissioning of services we could reduce the tendency of different institutions working in the field of health and social care to operate in silos.  

We also need to look at how we can make things work more effectively within the NHS.  As people live longer there will always be growing demands on the NHS Budget.  That is why George Osborne was right to commit in to an increase in NHS spending of £8 billion.  However, we also need to make sure that funds are distributed fairly so Cornwall gets its fair share.

One of the ways you take pressure of A&E departments is through supporting alternatives like the minor injuries unit currently being piloted at Camborne and Redruth Hospital.  We also have a fantastic tradition of hospice care in Cornwall with charities supporting people with end of life care and support.  These hospices mainly run on charitable funds but, without them, there would be a lot more pressure on NHS services.

Categories: Local Politics

The Budget

Fri, 10/07/2015 - 16:57
By the time you read this article, George Osborne will have presented his first budget of this new Parliament.  Good progress has been made in the last five years reducing the deficit, but there is more work to do.  

In Britain we have earned credibility, which means we have incredibly low interest rates at the moment which is a respite for those paying mortgages and a stable economy increases confidence in business which has contributed to a sharp fall in unemployment here in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.

As I write this article, there is a lot of speculation about what the Budget will hold. We are likely to see a further clampdown on wealthy individuals claiming non-dom status in this country as part of a wider £5 billion crackdown on tax avoidance while the personal allowance threshold is also likely to move closer to £12,500. This will be especially important here in Cornwall where we have a higher number of people on lower incomes.  

To help balance the books, George Osborne has been clear that we will need to look again at the amount of benefits some households receive.  He has already said we will continue to protect the most vulnerable in society such as the disabled. However, where people can work, they should work and it is simply wrong that some families not working are better off financially than those who do work and pay their way. 

In addition, there could be good news for Cornwall with speculation that a new growth deal could be on the way that would give Cornwall some additional investment in infrastructure, the ability to manage more of its own services and with funding for the NHS and social care being more joined up to make sure that the money we have is used effectively.

The economic situation today is very different from the one inherited in 2010. Britain has the fastest growing economy in Europe, the deficit has been halved and we have record numbers of people in work.  I hope this Budget will help sustain that momentum.

Categories: Local Politics

Tougher Rules on Wind Turbines

Thu, 02/07/2015 - 16:56
I have written previously about how the proliferation of wind turbines across Cornwall is a blight upon our countryside, which is why I welcomed last week’s statement by the Department for Communities & Local Government announcing a shake-up of planning law that will now give local people the final say on wind farm applications.

Under these new rules, Cornwall Council will only be able to grant planning approval for new wind turbines if the proposed site has been identified as suitable in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan and if, following consultation, the concerns of  the communities affected have been fully addressed.

I think this is good news for Cornwall. When one of the country’s first wind farms was built at Carland Cross, it seemed like there was potential for these kind of developments, so long as they were of uniform design and concentrated in one area. However, since then it now feels like we have reached saturation point with the random proliferation of single wind turbines that have no uniformity in their design.

To be fair to Cornwall Council, where a wind turbine application has been shown to have too great a cumulative impact on the countryside, a planning committee has been able to refuse planning permission. However, too often Cornwall Council’s decisions have been overridden by appeals to the Planning Inspectorate. This is why I feel these new regulations are important as they put power back into the hands of local communities and gives them the ability to decide what wind developments are built in their area. The next step should be to do more to prevent field scale solar farms damaging our countryside and scarring the Cornish landscape.  

Having advised the Prime Minister on energy policy in the last parliament, I am well aware there are no easy solutions when it comes to our future energy supply. In reality we will probably need to have a mixture of different technologies, including gas, nuclear, wind and some solar on roof tops.  However, it is vital that these developments are done with local communities not to them.”

Categories: Local Politics

Cornish Devolution

Thu, 25/06/2015 - 11:44
Last weekend I attended the Cornish Constitutional Convention in Truro to discuss the prospects of devolving new powers to Cornwall and the importance of passing powers down from Cornwall Council to parish and town councils.

Cornwall has its own unique culture and, as a peninsula at the end of the line, also has unique challenges. While I don't agree with those who want to have a costly new "assembly" and pay for another tier of politicians, I do think there are areas like transport and culture and heritage where there is a case for more decision making powers for Cornwall Council.

As a Cornish unionist, for me there are three things that we should aim to achieve when discussing devolution in Cornwall.  Firstly, any new devolution settlement should strengthen the union and should be founded on a solid agreement within the UK, rather than relying on vague recognition by European institutions.  Secondly, it should not just be about giving power to Cornwall Council.  We also need to find ways of transferring control from Cornwall Council to town and parish councils and to the head teachers and governing bodies of individual schools.  Finally, we should remember that devolution should be about empowering people so finding mechanisms such as local referendums which give communities the power to block unpopular decisions are important.  

The Government is currently giving thought to the next wave of "growth deals" which are all about giving responsibility (and also the funding that goes with it) to Local Enterprise Partnerships so they can implement measures that will help their local economy.  There is a good case for more "enterprise zones" in Cornwall to nurture new industry.  As a peninsula, we also have unique challenges making bus services work effectively and there is a case for looking at whether a stronger franchising model could better develop coherence to services.  Finally, We have a unique culture with our own identity and language so there is a case for looking at whether Cornwall should take on more of a role promoting and managing its own heritage assets instead of the existing arrangements with English Heritage. 

Categories: Local Politics

Planning in Hayle

Fri, 19/06/2015 - 13:31
I have always said that, when it comes to building new homes, we should focus on brownfield sites before greenfield sites. That is why this week I have asked the Secretary of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government to consider calling in the planning appeal currently being considered for over 220 houses on St George's Road in Hayle.  

The proposal is opposed by many Hayle residents. The Town Council opposed the scheme and Cornwall Council had yet to reach a decision when the developer, Linden Homes, decided to by-pass the Council and go straight to appeal based on the fact that Cornwall Council had failed to determine the application.  Although there is no guarantee that the Secretary of State will agree my request, I think it is important that decisions of this magnitude are subject to democratic oversight and scrutiny.

I have supported some other local projects from Linden Homes. The work they have done at Pool on the site opposite Cornwall College is impressive and it completes the regeneration work started through the Heartlands project and many of the new homes have been offered through the 'help to buy' scheme for first time home owners.  Linden also do some really good work with apprenticeships in the area creating careers for young people in the construction industry.

However, when it comes to Hayle, I think there are many other sites that should be developed before we start building very large developments on green field sites.  We have just spent several million pounds putting in a new bridge and flood infrastructure at North Quay precisely so that it would be possible to build new homes around the harbour.  There is now room on this site for several hundred homes.  There are also plans for new homes on South Quay and work on the remaining phase is due to start soon.  We should be prioritising building homes first on these brownfield sites which will complete the regeneration of the harbour area.

You only get one chance to get major planning decisions right so we should take time to consider them carefully

Categories: Local Politics

Fiber Park Plans

Fri, 19/06/2015 - 13:26
Last week I met Toby Parkins, Chief Executive of Headforwards Software in Pool to discuss the innovative idea of a new Fibre Park in the area.
In recent years we have seen an embryonic but vibrant computer software industry taking root in this part of Cornwall. The big leap forwards came with the introduction of super-fast broadband.  It means that software companies can now compete around the world from a digital connection in Cornwall.  Previously, people often had to choose between a high flying job in London or the lifestyle choice of Cornwall.  That's changing. Today, new industries like software producers can run world beating operations from Camborne and Redruth offering people the best of both worlds.
Headforwards now employs over fifty highly skilled people and is expanding.  Down the road at the new Barncoose Gateway office block, NetBooster have established their main European headquarters and BlueFruit, another highly successful local company, is also moving in.  Between them, local computer software companies are now employing hundreds of people in Camborne and Redruth and they are paying good salaries.  I want to see them grow and prosper and I also want to ensure that young people taking their GCSEs are learning to write computer code so that they can take up these new opportunities.
The concept behind the fibre park proposal is simple.  You create a hub near the Pool Innovation Centre which offers a mixture of state of the art business space and educational space.  It means that up and coming enterprises who have outgrown the innovation centre can move to larger premises and you can also establish an academy in computer software co-located on the same site so that you can have a partnership between, say, Cornwall College and local businesses.  Young people taking computer courses at Cornwall College will be able to develop their talents within real working environments rather than in a classroom detached from front line innovation.  It will take a lot of work to move the idea from being an interesting concept to a real venture, but I think we should give it a shot.
Categories: Local Politics

Royal Cornwall Show

Fri, 05/06/2015 - 15:31
This week is Royal Cornwall Show week and on Friday I will be attending a debate as food and farming Minister on the potential for growth in the food industry in Cornwall.  Few people realise it but food is our largest manufacturing industry, employing around half a million people and contributing some £100 billion to our economy.

The question being debated is whether the food industry has the potential to become a key driver of prosperity in Cornwall.  We have seen great progress in recent years. The Cornish pasty industry has grown exponentially and is now to be found throughout the country.  We have seen many new companies like Lynher Dairies creating new markets with their highly acclaimed Cornish Yarg.  Companies like Roddas Cream are creating new export markets and developing a really strong brand synonymous with Cornwall.  Last and by no means least,  companies like Falfish have ensured that Cornwall is the market leader for many fish species.
Over the last decade or so there has been growing interest in food provenance. People want to know where their food has come from and how it was produced.  Cornwall has definitely managed to carve out a niche in that new market through attention to detail and commitment to the values that make Cornwall unique. The Government has just designated parts of Cornwall a "Food Enterprise Zone" to try to provide additional support to the industry and maintain momentum.
I have many childhood memories of the Royal Cornwall Show. When I was growing up my father was one of the many volunteer stewards who gave up his time each year to make the event possible, with an early start at 5 am for days in a row to get to the show and manage the gates before any of the traffic started to arrive. For many years we used to show our South Devon Cattle there and my brother and father will be there again this year with the family's prize winning Lop Eared Pigs, which is a rare breed native to Cornwall. I am very much looking forward to it.
Categories: Local Politics

My Plan For The Next Five Years

Thu, 14/05/2015 - 09:59
The election last Thursday delivered a very good result for Cornish Conservatives and I want to thank all those in the Camborne, Redruth and Hayle constituency who placed their confidence in me for a second term. Now the election is over, I want to be clear that I intend to represent everyone in this constituency whether they voted for me or not.
In these last five years I have prioritised the regeneration of our towns. I grew up here and hate the way some people talk down Camborne and Redruth. We have an industrial heritage to be proud of and the housing development at the old Holman's site in Camborne shows we can create new housing as well as protect some of the beautiful architecture that we have. Work to do the same to the old brewery site in Redruth is underway and the transformation of Hayle Harbour is finally taking shape. In the next five years, I want to get things moving on some of the other derelict sites we have like Avers roundabout and Tuckingmill. 
We also need to attract new industries and better paid jobs. Unemployment has halved here in the last five years, but the next step is to increase wages and create more opportunities for young people. The new Barncoose Gateway building will provide space for twenty companies employing 500 people. There are already two software companies moving in who between them will employ around 200 people and our schools are now putting more emphasis on maths, physics and computer coding so young people here will be better equipped to take these well paid jobs when they leave school.
Next on my list of priorities is to help those on the bottom rung of the ladder. When people lose their self confidence or get trapped in debt, it can be incredibly demoralising. We need support and advice for those trapped in debt to help them get their life back on an even keel.
Finally, I want to ensure Cornwall gets its fair share of funding for public services. Just because we are a long way from London doesn't mean we should get less than our share. Progress has been made in re-balancing the funding formula so it recognises the challenges faced by Cornwall which has to contend with an older population, increased visitors in the summer and the difficulty of being a peninsula at the end of the line.
Categories: Local Politics

A Lot Done, A Lot More to Do

Fri, 01/05/2015 - 08:59
When I was elected in 2010 I made delivering economic regeneration my number one priority. We have an industrial heritage to be proud of and over the last few years I have prioritised delivering major projects like the regeneration of Hayle Harbour and the Cornwall Archive at the old Redruth brewery.  
We have made a good start, but there is more to do. While unemployment has almost halved in recent years, we still have problems with a low wage economy so we need to attract new industries and better paid jobs.  Over the last few years, we have started to see new businesses setting up in industries like computer software and engineering and which have skilled jobs on offer. I will work to ensure that we continue to increase the number of well paid jobs in our economy to provide opportunities for the next generation.
To build on what we have started, we need to fight for continued investment in our transport infrastructure, we need more apprenticeships to help young people find their first job and we need to ensure we have the right support in place to help those who are out of work and have lost their self-confidence.  
Categories: Local Politics

Public Services

Fri, 24/04/2015 - 08:56
A recent report by comparing health systems concluded we have the best NHS in the world.  Its central value is that it is free at the point of need and it is the dedicated staff that makes it such a great institution. We have increased NHS spending by over £12 billion since 2010 and will increase it by another £8 billion if re-elected.
While it is free at the point of need our NHS has always involved some private practices most notably GPs surgeries. Tony Blair extended the use of private providers in the NHS and Gordon Brown introduced PFI contracts which left many schools and hospitals lumbered with appalling contracts where they were routinely ripped off for basic property maintenance.
The use of private providers in the NHS encompasses only six percent of the total NHS budget, an increase of only one percent since 2010. I think the key thing is not to be dogmatic about these issues. Where private providers can help our schools and hospitals cope we shouldn't rule them out.  But the agreements need to be negotiated properly so that our NHS is not ripped off in the way it was under Gordon Brown's PFI deals.
Categories: Local Politics

Farming and Fishing

Thu, 16/04/2015 - 08:54
I grew up at Trevaskis Farm near Connor Downs, studied at agricultural college and worked in the family business for over nine years.  Over the last eighteen months I have been the Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food.  I think it makes sense in politics to bring to the table knowledge you gained in an earlier career and for me that was farming.  
I want to see a vibrant farming industry and my priorities if returned would be to shake up the Common Agricultural Policy and make it easier for new entrants to get into the industry. I also think we should have a much looser CAP with common European objectives, but where national governments legislate to deliver these objectives in their own way.  
All new industries need new talent and farming is no exception. The high cost of land is a real barrier to new entrants so I want to do more to encourage alternative routes in, such as contract farming agreements where a young farmer might manage the crops or livestock on behalf of the landowner for a fee that is linked to outcomes.
Better progress has been made improving the Common Fisheries Policy and we have now banned the shameful practice of discarding perfectly good fish back into the sea which takes effect next January.  
Categories: Local Politics

Superfast Broadband

Thu, 09/04/2015 - 08:50
In order to raise standards of living and wages in Cornwall we need to attract new industries and better paid jobs. The Superfast Cornwall programme has been very successful in getting homes and businesses connected to fibre optic broadband and when the programme ends in 2015, it will have connected 95% of premises in the county.
Improving connectivity is a great way of attracting new businesses to the area and we are now beginning to feel the benefits. I recently visited the Barncoose Gateway Centre where they have opened a new office block with space for twenty companies. Once occupied there will be 500 skilled jobs on offer and already NetBooster have chosen to base their European headquarters there. Elsewhere, the innovation centres at Pool and Tremough play an important role in incubating new start-ups, with Tremough specialising in digital media and green technology.
These are all positive steps forward. However to build on this, we also need to take advantage of our industrial heritage and wave resources. In Redruth, Severn Subsea is a world leader in the development of equipment for the oil and gas industry while in Hayle, Wave Hub has harnessed the powerful Atlantic swell to create the first commercial test facility for wave power in the world. We need to encourage more of this kind of innovation to attract new opportunities to the area.
Categories: Local Politics