Wednesday, 30 November 2011

And then there were five

Plenty of people were talking about the "Fantastic Five" on Tuesday as Loveday Jenkin joined fellow MK Councillors Stuart Cullimore, Andrew Long, Neil Plummer and yours truly, for her first Full Council meeting.

For the record, the MK councillors voted against the proposed 2012-2013 budget which was pushed through by the Conservative-led administration, even though it did not need to be agreed until February. We considered the budget premature and were critical of the lack of scrutiny of its content, the limited information in certain areas and the uncertainty surrounding the funding of various services.

The MK Group also backed the motion to support a public holiday for St Piran.s Day and it was in this debate that Loveday made a very assured debut as Cornwall Councillor for Wendron Division.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Loveday Jenkin wins Wendron for Mebyon Kernow

Great news! Loveday Jenkin has been elected as the new Cornwall Councillor for Wendron Division. It was also a resounding win, and was as follows:

Loveday Jenkin (MK) – 427 (36.4% - up 16.5%)
John Martin (Lib Dem) – 262 (22.3% - up 12.3%)
Linda Taylor (Con) – 227 (19.4% - up 3.9%)
Phil Martin (Ind) – 177 (15.1% - down 16.6%)
Robert Webber (Lab) – 80 (6.8% - up 3.8%)

For information, in the previous election in 2009, there was a second Independent who polled 6.9% and a UKIP candidate who polled 13.0%.

Well done to everyone who supported and played their part in the campaign. A massive well done to Loveday. More comment and party to follow!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Public funding for political parties - MK not included

The Committee for Standards in Public Life has today published a report titled “Ending the big donor culture.” Recommendations include an annual cap of £10,000 on individual donations from 2015 and increased state funding for political parties.

MK is not in favour of state funding, but I find it unacceptable that Sir Christopher Kelly’s proposal only applies to political parties with at least two MPs or two representatives at the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland Assembly.

The state funding would be based on the number of votes from the previous General Election as well as elections to the devolved assemblies.

The BBC has estimated that if the proposals were implemented, based on the 2010 General Election, the Conservatives would benefit to the tune of £32.2 million, Labour would get £25.8 million and the Lib Dems £20.5 million.

By contrast, Mebyon Kernow and other political parties such as UKIP would not get a single penny.

The main London parties are speaking out against the proposals, having spent the last few months jockeying for position in order to protect their own self-interests in the discussions.

I just find the whole thing a sham!

Monday, 21 November 2011

MK Conference - caption competition

My good friend Chris Bowden took a number of photographs at Saturday's Mebyon Kernow Conference. Not sure about the one shown below!

So it's caption competition time.

Jonathan Edward's speech

Jonathan Edwards has posted his speech from Saturday’s MK Conference on his website. It was a truly fantastic speech. You can enjoy it at:

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Thanks to everyone who supported the MK Conference

Thank you to everyone who attended MK’s Annual Conference at Bodmin this weekend and made it such a success.

I would particularly like to thank Jonathan Edwards, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, and Kenneth Gibson, the Scottish National Party MSP for Cunninghame North, for travelling to Cornwall, delivering truly inspirational speeches. and giving us their support.

I would also like to give special thanks to Cllr Stephen Richardson for all his hard work in co-ordinating the organisation of the event.

The picture above shows some of the speakers at the event (left to right): Jonathan Edwards MP, Cllr Andrew Long, Cllr Loveday Jenkin, your truly and Kenneth Gibson MSP.

Can do Cornwall ????????

Speaking at this weekend’s MK Annual Conference, I drew everyone’s attention to the “Can do Cornwall” document that has just been published by Cornwall Council.

It is a bid to central government for Cornwall to become a pilot to pool public sector budgets across Cornwall.

And do not get me wrong, there may be some merit exploring greater co-operation between all parts of the public sector, but this document includes proposals that have not even been discussed by Cornwall Council, never mind agreed by the authority.

As the MK group leader, I was asked add my support to it, once it had been finished. I declined the opportunity.

It starts by asking: “What is special about Cornwall?” It provides the answer – “We have solid partnerships and political cohesion.”

It is jam-packed with hyperbole, including “Our natural environment is flowing with potential to underpin sustainable growth.”

It talks of “innovative governance arrangements” for the project, but in reality it is the same old suspects in the form of a Leader’s Forum and will include some “senior councillors.”

I have yet to receive a definition of senior councillor, although someone has suggested this is someone who doesn’t disagree with the Chief Executive.

You may remember that a few weeks ago, the administration decided to set a target of 48,000 new properties for Cornwall over the next 20 years.

And yet in this document, they have told central government that Cornwall will build 30,000 new properties in the next ten years.

I pointed out that the 30,000 figure was not Council policy before it was published, but they declined to correct it. (I may write further on this in the near future.)

Monday, 14 November 2011

Mebyon Kernow Conference 2011

Mebyon Kernow’s 2011 Conference takes place on the 19th and 20th November at the Shire House Suite in Bodmin. It will mark MK’s sixtieth anniversary as an organisation.

On Saturday 19th November, the Conference will feature leading members of Mebyon Kernow and showcase a range of guest speakers. These speakers will include Kenneth Gibson MSP from the Scottish National Party and Jonathan Edwards MP from Plaid Cymru.

The event is open to non-members and I would like to extend an invitation to one and all to come along and meet MK members and find out more about our Party and what it stands for.

The doors open at 10.00 on Saturday, with presentations and speeches commencing at 10.30. In the evening, there will be a buffet, bar and entertainment. The cost of tickets for the evening will be £10 per person and can be purchased on the door from 6.00 onwards.

Mebyon Kernow’s formal AGM will take place on the Sunday, when there will also be sessions on campaign strategy and plans for the 2013 elections to Cornwall Council.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Cut Trident - not public services

This week, my column in the Cornish Guardian focuses on Trident. It is as below:

I have been a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) for over twenty years. To me it is a matter of principle. I strongly believe that we should be working to rid the globe of all nuclear weapons, so that we can make the World a safer and more secure place.

I find it indefensible that while central government is forcing through devastating cuts to vital public services, it is continuing to spend billions of pounds on nuclear weapons.

How can a government justify spending £3.1 billion of taxpayers’ money on the Trident nuclear missile system each year?

Just think how much good £3,100,000,000 would do if it was instead spent on social housing, job creation, education, health, policing, community groups, etc?

The Government has also authorised the expenditure of billions of pounds on its scheme to replace the Trident nuclear submarines / weapons system, even though the decision on whether to press ahead with the replacement will not even be taken until 2016.

The original estimate for the new submarines was a massive £11-14 billion, but recently the government published a progress report which shows that the actual costs are likely to be in the region of £25-26 billion. It has also been acknowledged that the total cost of the whole programme, including lifetime costs, will probably exceed £100 billion.

Kate Hudson, the General Secretary of CND has rightly described the weapons as a “ruinously expensive white elephant.”

I agree with her, and her view that it is a disgrace “the government seems willing to pay whatever it takes for these weapons, with the estimated bill almost doubling since they were first proposed.”

It is also the case that, in recent years, runaway increases in costs have blighted almost every major defence project. And yet the Government is still unwilling to rethink its position on nuclear weapons and even consider whether the United Kingdom should develop a non-nuclear defence policy

It is my view that expenditure on Trident equals an appalling waste of tax payers' money and it is little wonder that polls show a majority of the British population agree and are now opposed to Trident.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Another waste update

Yesterday, members of Cornwall Council’s Cabinet appointed Cory Environmental Municipal Services Limited to deliver waste and recycling collections and beach and street cleaning services throughout Cornwall. The contract will last for eight years from April 2012.

Options to increase recycling by collecting mixed plastic, tetra packs and food waste were also costed, but the Cabinet has yet to debate whether to take these forward as well.

At today’s Waste Panel, a number of members, myself included, argued strongly for the Council to do all it could to maximise recycling and composting. This is especially important given the uncertainty around the incinerator proposal and how Cornwall will deal with its residual waste into the future.

Members also backed a proposal from me calling on the Cabinet to allow the Council to undertake works to produce a Plan B (alternative to a single 240,000 tonne incinerator). I think I am correct in saying that the vote was seven-to-five.