Thursday, 21 October 2010

Devonwall issue not even debated

Like many people, I watched much of the debate on the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill yesterday and found that the whole “spectacle” made me extremely sad and angry.

Amendments relating to Clause 9 were grouped into two blocks; the first relating to the number of MPs and the second to constituencies and related issues (including the protection of Cornish integrity). But MPs took so long talking about the total number of MPs that they did not get around to debating the other amendments.

I have already spoken to Stephen Gilbert and his frustration with the archaic approach of the House of Commons was palpable. The relevant clause has been agreed by the House, even though key elements have not been debated, but I understand Cornish MPs are already working to ensure that the importance of Cornish integrity can be addressed at a future date, perhaps at the Report Stage of the Bill.

The fight must continue, and I will blog again when I know more.

MK condemns "destructive" Comprehensive Spending Review

Mebyon Kernow has condemned the savage spending cuts outlined in the Comprehensive Spending Review as “destructive." We have consistently opposed the extent, severity and speed of the Coalition Government’s cuts, which we believe could undermine the economic recovery, lead to significant job losses, and hit the less-well-off and the vulnerable.

MK remains concerned at the savage extent of the average 19% four-year cut across departmental budgets, the estimated 490,000 jobs likely to be lost in the public sector and the knock-on effect to the wider economy.

Cornwall Council will also see an annual 7.1% fall in its budget for each of the next four years, leading to severe local cuts and job losses.

We are also angry that George Osborne has announced that he intends to further slash welfare spending by a massive £7 billion and cut social housing budgets by more than 50%, with new tenants having to pay higher rents.

We agree with the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that the Coalition's cuts are "too fast and too deep" and risk stalling any recovery.

Many economists are expressing concern that these harsh cuts could undermine the fragile economic recovery and even lead to the possibility of a double-dip recession.

I agree with my colleague Cllr Stuart Cullimore, MK’s Social Justice spokesman and the Cornwall Councillor for Camborne South, who has remarked that the Comprehensive Spending Review marks a return to the politics of Thatcher and is "more about ideology than dealing with the public debt."

Monday, 11 October 2010

"Respect the Tamar" Rally a great success

The Jubilee Green at Saltash was today awash with Cornish flags, as over 400 people protested at the likely creation of a cross-Tamar constituency.

The Rally was addressed by a range of speakers. These included Adam Killeya and Edward Andrews, mayors of Saltash and Torpoint, Andrew Long on behalf of Mebyon Kernow, Mick Paynter Grand Bard of the Cornish Gorseth, Chairman of Cornwall Council Pat Harvey, Conservative MP Sheryl Murray and Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert, Jen Forbes from the Cornwall Labour Party and UKIP MEP Trevor Colman.

It sent a clear message to London about the growing cross-party consensus to protect Cornwall's integrity.

I will blog in more detail about the Rally soon.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Latest from the Incinerator Inquiry

Today was the penultimate day of the Public Inquiry into the proposal for an incinerator at St Dennis. I had the privilege of presenting the closing statement on behalf of the “Rule 6 Party” representing local people including St Dennis Parish Council and the St Dennis Against Incineration Group.

Our statement was quite long at 13,000 words and it followed statements by the Power of Cornwall, the Transition Cornwall Network and the Cornwall Sustainable Waste Network.

Just to give a feel of the arguments we made, I have listed below a few extracts from the statement.

1. “We may primarily represent the people of this area, but we do not consider this to be simply a local issue. SITA’s application for an incinerator has been vigorously opposed by people from all over Cornwall and further afield. Over one thousand individuals and groups objected to the proposal during the period of the planning application. It was opposed by county councillors, district and parish councillors, MPs, parliamentary candidates from across the political spectrum, local residents, business people, and campaign groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.”

2. “This Rule 6 Party still holds the view that waste management, focussed around a single centralised incinerator with an annual capacity of 240,000 tonnes, does not represent a sustainable solution for Cornwall’s domestic waste in the 21st century.”

3. “SITA has presented documentation, dating from 2006 onwards, claiming that the Appeal Site is the most appropriate location for the incinerator, but the reality is that the site was selected before this documentation was even produced. Frankly, the consultants employed by SITA have not sought to investigate the best alternatives or the best possible sites for such a development, but to conjure evidence in support of a pre-conceived position and a pre-agreed location.”

4. “SITA themselves acknowledge that the materials contained within black bag waste, which would be incinerated if this proposal went ahead, include a large amount of material that could and should be re-used or recycled or composted – such as plastic, paper and cardboard, textiles, food waste, wood, glass, inert substances and metals.”

5. “The proposed chimney [at 120m / 394ft] would be approximately twice the height of the existing stacks at Parkandillick and it would tower over what is essentially open countryside. The height of the stack is much, much greater than the spire of Truro Cathedral (245ft), a structure which dominates the setting of the city of Truro; it is also greater than the Statue of Liberty and its associated pedestal (305ft), and Big Ben (316ft).”

6. “The adverse visual impact of the plume that would emanate from the chimney would also be significant. According to the fourth volume of SITA’s environmental permit application, the average plume length would be 45 metres though there would be occasions when it would extend to a length of 221 metres – almost twice that of the chimney. The document postulates that plumes will be visible at a height of between 100m and 199m for about 145 hours each year.”

7. “It is our view that the incinerator would dominate the communities of St Dennis, Treviscoe and the surrounding landscape – but not in an abstract sense. It would tower over peoples’ homes and the gardens in which they relax with their loved ones. It would tower over a range of facilities, such as the football pitch and the playground, used by young and old alike. And it would mean that a visitor’s lasting impression of St Dennis would not be the historic church built on the site of an ancient hillfort, or the farms of Carsella and Domellick which were both mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Nor would it be the community spirit so evident throughout the area or even the skytips fondly known as “Pointy” and “Flatty” which are a reminder of the local mining heritage. Instead, their lasting impression would be of a massive and overbearing incinerator casting its dark shadow over this part of Mid Cornwall.”

8. “We are extremely angry that the proponents of the incinerator proposal were so keen to locate the incinerator within the China Clay Area, an area they, from an external perspective, perceived to be less worthy of protection from inappropriate development than elsewhere.”

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

"It’s the Tamar – not the Amazon for heaven’s sake!"

I have just seen the interview that David Cameron did for ITV Westcountry yesterday, and the casual way in which he dismissed concerns about the possible creation of a Devonwall parliamentary seat.

In the interview, when asked about the consequences of the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill which, if left unchanged, would lead to the creation of at least one Cornwall and Devon seat, he said:

“I think it is very important to have constituencies that are the same size. That is fair. And in order for that to happen you do need to cross county boundaries. We don’t, for example, say that the Scilly Isles have to have an independent …have to have their own MP. It is right that you cross boundaries in order to have the right size House of Commons and the same size constituencies. That is fair.”

But ITV Westcountry, bless them, have released footage of Cameron speaking before the start of the formal interview. At this point he actually said:

“We have got to have equal-sized seats. It’s the Tamar – not the Amazon for heaven’s sake. But I won’t put it like that!”

What a gaffe! The pressure is now on Cornwall’s Tory MPs to speak to their leader and make sure that he does take Cornwall’s concerns seriously.

See you in Saltash on Sunday

Keep Cornwall Whole has organised a “Respect the Tamar” Rally in Saltash for Sunday 10th October. It is hoped that the Rally will showcase the full extent of opposition to a creation of a Devonwall seat.

Convenor Cllr Adam Killeya, who is also the Mayor of Saltash, says:

“This Rally will strongly make the case against a cross-border constituency, with speeches from a wide range of political figures and civic figureheads. But there will also be music, making it a real celebration of Cornwall and its distinctiveness.

“Please come along and add your voice to the fight to protect Cornwall’s historic border.”

The Rally will take place at the Jubilee Green in Saltash at 2.00. It will be preceded by a symbolic crossing of the Tamar by a flotilla of boats between 1.00 and 2.00. Parking will be available at Alexandra Square (0.3 miles) or Upper or Lower Belle Vue (0.6m) Saltash, with a walk down the hill.

A number of speakers have been confirmed including the Chairman of Cornwall Council, the Grand Bard of the Cornish Gorseth and the Mayor of Saltash.

I hope you will be able to come along and help us put pressure on central government.