Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A short film about the Indian Queens Play Area

The Cornwall Rural Community Council (Perran Tremewan and Diane Taylor) has just produced a short film on behalf of the Cornwall County Playing Fields Association. It looks at how we managed to get the new play area in the Indian Queens Recreation Ground.

If you would like to have a look, it can be found at:

I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The crisis in the NHS

My first article in the Cornish Guardian since my Christmas break looks at the problems being reported in the National Health Service. The article will be in Wednesday’s paper and will be as follows:

It was truly shocking to hear the British Red Cross claim that the NHS is facing a “humanitarian crisis.” Chief Executive, Mike Adamson, said his organisation was “on the front line,” and they had been “called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much needed beds.”

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has somewhat predictably rejected the claims. She preferred to acknowledge there were “huge pressures” on the health service, while arguing that funding had been increased.

But the Nuffield Trust thinktank has found that, in the period leading up to Christmas, “fifty of the 152 English trusts were at the highest or second-highest level of pressure.” The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) has meanwhile expressed its concern that “emergency care in the NHS is at crisis point with the worst performance across the country's hospitals in almost 15 years.”

Here in Cornwall, a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for the local NHS is being prepared – one of 44 STPs across the “NHS England” area.

A number of consultation events have – and are being – held. There was a presentation at the recent meeting of the China Clay Area Network which I chaired and I was impressed with the medical professionals who were present. But it is extremely concerning that the whole process is essentially budget driven and central government has set the NHS in Cornwall a ridiculous target of “saving” £264 million in the period to 2020/21.

One former MP has warned that STPs will “merely rearrange the diminishing deckchairs of the NHS” and are a “largely irrelevant diversion into the challenges NHS managers face … and mask the covert political intentions of the Government; a Government which knows full well that it is both starving the NHS of the cash it needs and is recklessly forging ahead with ‘reforms’ which risk undermining patient safety.”

One telling contribution I saw last week came from columnist Steve Richards. He has argued that we should have a referendum on the level of state funding those goes into the funding of health and social care.

He described the present situation as perverse, adding that “nearly all voters recognise that modern health provision is worth paying for … the government needs to raise additional revenue … .yet the obvious cannot be delivered. The government – any government – cannot deliver because it is too scared to raise taxation or is not trusted to do so. With the UK’s uniquely hysterical pre-election tax-and-spend debates no party can win a mandate to raise taxes in order to provide the necessary levels of investment. Before a general election there is pressure on parties to show how they will cut taxes and reduce public spending.” He has a point.

For me, the question is not whether we increase funding for health and social care – it is how we do it!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Next MK meeting in St Austell & Newquay Constituency

The next meeting for Mebyon Kernow members in the St Austell & Newquay Constituency has been arranged to take place this Friday (13th January).

The meeting will take place at ClayTAWC in St Dennis and start at 7.30.

It is the first branch meeting of 2017 and we will planning our approach to the upcoming elections to the unitary authority, and local town and parish councils.

In addition, we will giving updates on a range of issues that local activists have been involved with.

Anyone from the St Austell & Newquay Constituency, who would be interested in attending the meeting and / or finding out more about MK and its local campaigns, can call me on 07791 876607 or email me on

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Charter for Cornwall campaign - launched today

A new campaign has been launched today about Cornwall’s “excessive housing targets,” the need for “genuinely affordable housing,” the need to “reduce the number of second homes” and secure the “devolution of strategic planning to Cornwall.”

It principally seeks to influence people standing for election to Cornwall Council in May 2017 and advise voters about the views of sitting and prospective councillors.

Full details can be found on the website:

In launching the campaign, the group has stated the following:

“The Cornish countryside is disappearing at an alarming rate. Our landscapes are being degraded and urbanised and the character of our towns and villages is changing forever. Tranquility, the environment and our heritage are ruthlessly ignored. Our young people are finding it more and more difficult to find an affordable home yet, meanwhile, housing continues to be sold off as second 'homes.' Our hospitals and schools cannot cope and our roads are ever more congested. Unfortunately, Cornwall Council seems determined to ramp up housing and population growth even more.

“There has to be a better way. But to change the actions of the Council, we have to change the actions of the councillors. We will be calling on candidates seeking election to Cornwall Council in May 2017 to sign up to the four pledges of a Charter for Cornwall.

- reduce Cornwall Council's excessive housing targets and put local needs first
- restore social rented housing and increase genuinely affordable housing
- reduce the number of second homes
- support the devolution of strategic planning to Cornwall

“We will then see who best to vote for to obtain a council more committed to Cornwall, its countryside and its culture.”

As the leader of Mebyon Kernow and a long-standing campaigner on these issues, I welcome this campaign and I sincerely hope that it has the effect that the organisers desire.

Monday, 2 January 2017

“Eco-town” / “Eco-community” in Clay Country rebranded as “Garden Village”

The UK Government has today announced that it has given their stamp of approval to 14 new Garden Villages, which would each contain between 1,500 and 10,000 new properties.

The official press release states that these “Garden Villages” will “have access to a £6 million fund over the next two financial years to support the delivery of these new projects.”

Included on the list is the so-called “eco-town” or “eco-community” at West Carclaze.

The following statements were also included on the press release.

Apparently this announcement would “continue the government's commitment to support locally-led development …”

The money would also be used to “unlock the full capacity of sites, providing funding for additional resources and expertise to accelerate development and avoid delays.”

And “in addition to funding, the Government will provide support in terms of expertise, brokerage and offer of new planning freedoms.”

As someone who has opposed the top-down imposition of the “eco-town” for the best part of a decade, I have already done an interview for Radio Cornwall and set out my continuing opposition to the development. I have been featured in an article in The Guardian.

Make no mistake, this latest announcement simply confirms, once again, that central government and various vested interests are determined to make this development happen.

And they couldn’t care less what the people of the China Clay Area think.