Saturday, 29 March 2008

Cornwall 17 Durham 3 (1908)

This weekend marks an important anniversary that I could not let pass without comment on my blog.

One hundred years ago, over 17,000 people crammed into the Recreation Ground at Redruth to watch Cornwall beat Durham by 17 points to 3 to win the rugby county championship (28th March 1908). As champions, the Cornwall team was then invited to represent Britain in the 1908 Olympics – losing to Australia in the final.

It is my understanding that the Barbarians have invited the Australian rugby team, who will be touring Britain this Autumn, to play a game at Wembley to mark the anniversary of the Olympic final in December.

The successes of Cornwall’s team in their black and gold have always been an important part of Cornwall’s national identity, but sadly the opportunities for representative rugby in Cornwall are now very limited following the advent of professionalism in the sport.

As a Cornish nationalist and keen rugby follower however, it remains my hope that we will win greater political recognition for the historic nation of Cornwall and our national team in black and gold will be able to represent Cornwall on a greater stage.

That said, if the Barbarians game does get the go-ahead this year, I see no reason why the team should not be made up of the best rugby players that Cornwall has produced to properly mark the Olympic anniversary.

For information, the above photograph is from the recent Tamar Cup (Cornwall v Devon) game at Polson Bridge which we won 10-7.

Monday, 17 March 2008

A week in my life

Many newspapers and magazines run features in which they allow individuals to recount 24 hours or a week in their lives. It is something I have been contemplating for this blog for a while now and I thought – why not do it for the period around the St Piran celebrations (5th – 12th March).

This year, I did not get to attend the traditional St Piran’s Day march in Truro because, as is so often the norm, I was at Restormel Borough Council attending a series of meetings on planning-related matters. I did get to work in the afternoon and spent much of the evening on the telephone and catching up with paperwork.

On Thursday, I managed a full day at work and spent the evening at more meetings. At 5 o’clock, I attended a meeting of Governors at Summercourt Primary School before moving onto a meeting at St Dennis where local residents had got together with a small number of councillors to discuss the County Council’s forthcoming application for an incinerator to be built in their area.

Friday was also hectic. It was work in the morning, followed by the first meeting of the ‘Local Development Framework (LDF) – Member Group.’ Due to the forthcoming imposition of a unitary authority on Cornwall, the six district councils are unable to progress new planning policies and this new panel has been set up to ‘advise’ the Implementation Executive and take forward aspects of the work necessary to produce a Core Strategy for a Cornwall-wide LDF. I am Restormel’s representative on this group and found the first meeting to be quite frustrating. I was even on the losing side of a vote when we suggested that the meeting be held in public. A single Lib Dem and I voted for open meetings which was opposed by two Liberal Democrats and three Conservatives. One independent abstained.

In the evening, I attended a gathering at Truro Museum where a group of Truro College students had prepared an exhibition of artefacts from the excavation at Glasney College, Penryn, which I had carried out in 2003. The presentation is still there in the Museum and is worth viewing. Entrance to the Museum is free.

By this point, I was very glad to get home and light the fire and then share a bottle of wine with my wife Ann.

The weekend

On those Saturdays when Redruth RFC are playing at home Ann and I always go to shout for the boys in red. As there was no game this Saturday, and we had been away in London the previous weekend, I spent most of the day catching up with correspondence relating to MK and my council work, while working on some MK press statements. I did however treat myself to watching the Wales-Ireland game on the television.

On Sunday morning, I visited a number of parishioners to give help and advice on a range of local issues and concerns. In the afternoon, I took a break and Ann and I joined several hundred people to process across the dunes near Perranporth to celebrate St Piran and mark Cornwall’s wonderful and distinctive heritage.

After a visit to my parents, I spent the evening doing some detailed preparation for a meeting of Restormel’s planning policy committee which I chair and would be meeting on Wednesday night to consider the latest draft of economic strategies for the China Clay Area and St Austell.

Two strategies and an eco-town meeting

The new week began with a briefing for the local media at Restormel offices on Monday morning in advance of Wednesday’s meeting. A full and uncomplicated day’s work followed with an evening once again spent staring at a computer screen.

On Tuesday it was an early start (7.30) as I set off for a seminar on housing growth and eco-towns at Exeter. Individuals addressing the seminar included Richard Omerod of Government Office South West and I could not help but have my say.

I questioned him on a number of points. One was about the recent suggested increase in housing numbers which equated to an increase of 23% on the figures contained in the 2006 Regional Spatial Strategy – but would be an increase of 53% in Cornwall and 83% in my district of Restormel. I asked him about whether the suggested plan for an eco-town of 5,000 properties in and around St Austell would be included within the Restormel allocation of 15,700 properties or would mean even more housing on top of that figure. I also moaned about the fact that the government is putting together a shortlist for eco-town proposals at the present time, but has not even asked the democratically-elected local council for its views.

It will surprise no-one that the questions were not really answered. What did surprise me though was the number of people who sought me out in the break to agree with me. This even including the Chair of the Board of the SW Regional Development Agency!

Back in Cornwall for the evening, I attended a meeting of the Trustees of Indian Queens Pit (a non-conformist preaching pit). It is a wonderful asset for my local area, but much of the meeting sadly had to focus on the consequences of recent vandalism in and around the monument.

My priority for Wednesday was obviously the meeting to consider the regeneration strategies for the China Clay Area and St Austell. I was quite pleased to get through a very positive meeting in around two and a half hours, as it followed a rather busy day’s work.

So there it is – an average week in my life. I hope this latest blog entry gives a balance of what it is like to be a local councillor whilst holding down a full-time job and also leading a political party!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

E-petition launched on St Piran's Day

To mark this year’s St Piran’s Day, Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has launched an online version of its petition against proposals to massively increase house-building in Cornwall.

The petition has been placed on the Downing Street website and reads as follows:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to reject the plan from unelected South West quangos to construct 68,700 new properties in Cornwall over the next twenty years and agree that Cornwall's housing strategy should be determined exclusively by democratically elected Cornish politicians, responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people whom they are elected to serve.”

It can be accessed at:

Do join us in opposing this ridiculously unsustainable proposal and also the undemocratic way in which it is being promoted.

Sign the petition today.

The original paper petition is also available from MK at Lanhainsworth, Fraddon Hill, Fraddon, St Columb TR9 6PQ and can be downloaded from the Mebyon Kernow website at: