Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Who is standing up for Cornwall in Westminster?


It was the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons today, while my article in the Cornish Guardian addressed the post-election turmoil as the Prime Minister attempts to court the DUP. It is as follows:

As I sit writing this week’s column, it is ten days since Theresa May’s snap General Election gamble destroyed her majority in the House of Commons.

Having spent much of the election scaremongering about a possible “coalition of chaos” with Jeremy Corbyn and others, it is now the Conservatives who are engaged in lengthy discussions with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to reach an agreement that will prop up Theresa May as PM.

As one Scottish National Party MP wrote this week: “In the past two General Elections, the Tories raised the spectre of the SNP controlling a Labour-led coalition, enticing fear in voters that the SNP would force our policies on the rest of the UK. Yet they are now climbing over themselves to get the DUP to sign up to some form of a deal to ensure their continued survival.”

The leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, says that their ten MPs want to focus on bringing “stability to our nation.” But most of all, it is clear that the DUP is demanding massive investment in Northern Ireland through a new “economic package.”

Arlene Foster told the media that: “I make no apology for wanting the best for Northern Ireland” though one newspaper put it more bluntly: “Give us billions to back you.”

I cannot criticise the DUP for seeking to use the Conservative’s lack of a majority to the benefit of the residents of their province.

Likewise, it is also telling that the 13 Conservative MPs in Scotland – up from one in 2015 – are flexing their muscles and their leader, Ruth Davidson, has made it clear that they intend “to vote as a bloc to protect the [Scottish] nation’s interests at Westminster.”

Here in Cornwall, we still have a group of six Conservative MPs and the outcome of the General Election means that their votes are just as valuable as those of MPs in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Isn’t time that they were also throwing their weight around in the palace of Westminster, just like Arlene Foster and Ruth Davidson, in order to secure more investment in the Cornish economy and to devise new policy initiatives which meet Cornwall’s specific needs.

They now have a chance to show that they are Cornwall’s representatives in Westminster, rather than Westminster’s reps in Cornwall. The question is: will they rise to the challenge?

Symbolically, they could start by showing their commitment to Cornwall, as a political and economic unit, by using their influence to end the parliamentary boundary review, and stop the creation of a cross-Tamar Devonwall seat.

MK news update and Cornish Nation no. 75


Mebyon Kernow has just published the latest edition of Cornish Nation, which has been emailed or posted to all MK members.

If you are not already a member and would like a complimentary copy, please get in contact via dickcole@btinternet.com. Please specify whether you would like a paper or digital copy.

This edition includes a detailed summary of the recent local election campaign in which MK’s four Cornwall Councillors were re-elected to the unitary authority. It also includes a summary of the reasons why MK’s National Executive took the decision to not put forward candidates for the snap General Election which took place on 8th June. It was not an easy decision, but we concluded that it would not be possible to prepare or finance a meaningful campaign while our immediate priority had to be the local elections.

As you will see, we felt that we needed to focus our immediate efforts on “building local support and boosting our all-year-round campaigns for Cornwall, while supporting the key work of MK councillors recently re-elected onto the unitary authority, along with our representatives on town and parish councils.”

If you are not already actively involved with your local branch, I would appeal to you to get in contact to find out more about what you can do:

- For Mid Cornwall, ring me on 07791 876607.
- For North and East Cornwall, ring Cllr Andrew Long on 07812 597257.
- For West Cornwall, ring Cllr Loveday Jenkin on 07718 763566.

And if you live outside of Cornwall, please consider how you might be able to assist us through social media or some other means.

It is also the case that the failure of the Conservatives to secure an overall majority on 8th June has raised the prospect of another General Election. With this in mind, MK‘s National Executive will be meeting within a couple of weeks or so to discuss how we would approach such a contest. We will, of course, keep all members informed about our plans.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Soundbites and policy chaos

My article in this coming week’s Cornish Guardian is unsurprisingly about the General Election. It will be as follows:

In the pages of this newspaper, I have already expressed my exasperation at the cynical manner in which the Prime Minister called this snap General Election.

The Conservatives had certainly honed their soundbites in advance and it sometimes seems to me that they are struggling to utter a single sentence without saying “strong and stable.” I am likewise fed up with the ever-present and deceptive claim that other parties believe there is a fictitious “magic money tree.”

But I am astounded at how the policy basis of the Conservative campaign has been shambolic. This is very disturbing as they are the present party of government, but have nonetheless chopped and changed their policies during the election campaign.

First up, there was the announcement of their new approach to adult social care, which fell into disarray when it was widely branded a “dementia tax.” The Tories did a dramatic u-turn, but further let themselves down by repeatedly claiming that nothing had changed.

And then there was housing. I was quite surprised – but also pleased – when the Conservatives pledged they would build “a new generation of homes for social rent.” But they have already backtracked, saying that the properties would have to be “let at significantly less affordable rents.”

Worryingly, the Government’s housing minister tried to downplay the change which left professionals questioning whether he understood his own brief to provide genuinely affordable homes for local communities.

The extent of funding cuts to the Police has also been a massive issue during this most recent campaign, particularly following the terrible events in Manchester. The Chairman of the Police Federation has even gone public to raise concerns about the level of resources for local constabularies, while other officers have claimed that they are “desperately understaffed.”

Government MPs claim that since the 2015 Spending Review they have protected “overall police spending in real terms.” But they seem to forget to mention the massive cuts since 2010 which led to loss of 20,000 police jobs.

I am afraid that I cannot forget or forgive them for their broken promises from the 2010 General Election. In one local leaflet, the-then shadow Home Secretary claimed: “It is dishonest to claim that we will cut police officer numbers. In fact, our plans to cut bureaucracy and red tape mean that there would be more police on the street …” The local candidate in St Austell and Newquay added that her party did not “make any uncosted promises” adding “we have done the sums and will … put more police on patrol.”

As a councillor from the China Clay Area, who is presently campaigning against the loss of local Police Community Support Officers, I feel it is unconscionable that representatives of the present government failed to live up to their past election pledges and claims.

More representative sport for Cornwall?


My article in the most recent edition of the Cornish Guardian took its start from the “county championship final.” It was as follows:

Along with many other Cornish people, my wife and I were away from Cornwall last weekend. We made the trek to Twickenham to watch rugby’s “county championship” final between Cornwall and Lancashire.

Having won the title in 2015 and 2016, the Cornish boys sadly fell at the final hurdle on this occasion. But throughout the whole of this latest campaign, the players were truly magnificent and played their hearts out. The 45-28 victory over Hertfordshire in front of 3,500 people at the Recreation Ground in Camborne – which secured this latest final appearance – will certainly live long in my memory.

It was great to see a large amount of black and gold on display at “Rugby HQ” – a wonderful display of Cornishness. It was also heartening to be part of such a good-natured contingent from the Duchy, making a massive amount of noise and taking over the “Line Out Bar” for a raucous sing-song lead by our very own Betty Stogs.

The team in black and gold has always been an important part of our Cornish identity, but there have been some recent reports – quoting senior figures at the RFU – that question the value and very existence of the championship.

In years past, Cornish teams even played a number of games against other national teams, including Japan and Russia, but opportunities for representative rugby have become much more limited following the advent of professionalism in the sport.

And I think that any attempt to dismantle or undermine the present championship would be a very sad day for Cornish rugby.

In this column, I often write about our campaigns to secure greater political recognition for Cornwall and the 2014 recognition of the Cornish as a national minority and the ongoing fight to get central government to act on its obligations.

But this need not just be about politics, economic matters and culture. Why shouldn’t it also be about sport? Why shouldn’t this greater recognition for the historic nation of Cornwall also lead to more opportunities for sportspeople to play representative sport for Cornwall?

Just look at the 71 nations at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. As well as contingents from Scotland and Wales, there were also teams from other parts of the British Isles such as Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man – all with populations much less than that of Cornwall!

Indeed, Cornwall was the only Celtic part of the United Kingdom without a team at the 2014 Games.

Surely it would be right for the Cornish nation to be represented at future Games, with our national team in black and gold playing in the rugby sevens competition, and our flag flying proudly alongside those of other Commonwealth countries, both large and small.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Where do the Westminster parties stand ...


My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian addressed the failure of the largest Westminster parties to mention Cornwall in their manifestos and MKs challenge to all General Election candidates. It was as follows:

The decision of Mebyon Kernow not to contest the General Election has been quite widely reported.

This year, our focus was on the local elections and the timing of the announcement during these council contests meant that, with our level of resources, it would have been frankly impractical to put together and finance a meaningful campaign.

MK will not be formally endorsing any other political party though, of course, our individual members will be making their own choices as to how they engage with the election.

As an organization, we will be actively lobbying would-be MPs on those issues which we believe are important for the residents of Cornwall. With this in mind, I have looked at the manifestos of the three largest Westminster parties.

I was very disappointed – but not surprised – that the Conservative Party (even with six MPs in the Duchy) did not once mention Cornwall in its policy document. The Labour Party manifesto likewise failed to mention Cornwall at all, though in both documents there are plenty of references to Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, London and a host of other places.

To be fair to the Liberal Democrats, in their manifesto, Cornwall does get a couple of mentions in their sections on constitutional reform. But it is all a bit garbled and mixes up local and regional government – they promise” devolution on demand” and “greater devolution” of powers to “Councils or groups of Councils working together – for example to a Cornish Assembly …”

This week, I have written to all candidates standing in Cornish constituencies and asked what they would do on four key issues if elected.

The first issue is fair funding. It is well known that public services in Cornwall have received less funding than other parts of the United Kingdom for many years. This situation has been worsened by massive cuts from recent governments, and surely local people need to know how would-be MPs and their parties would tackle this issue.

Second, Cornwall’s economic performance is less than 75% of the EU average. Brexit means that Cornwall will lose structural and other funds, causing great uncertainty for local businesses, farmers and others. We need to know which parties will guarantee investment to Cornwall in lieu of the EU funds and not just in the short term.

Third, many people in Cornwall are frustrated at the lack of local control over a host of issues. MK has long campaigned for greater self-government for Cornwall through the creation of a National Assembly, but we have called on would-be MPs to campaign for the devolution of all aspects of planning to Cornwall.

And fourth, in 2014 the UK Government recognised the Cornish as a “national minority” and agreed to a wide range of obligations through the Framework Convention. But sadly, it has since failed to act on these duties and our question to the candidates is simple. What will you do for the Cornwall’s unique identity?

My latest monthly report

At last week’s meeting of St Enoder Parish Council, I presented my latest monthly report. It covered the time period 27th March to 14th May 2017. It was as follows:

1. The result of the election

The last few weeks have been dominated by the elections to Cornwall Council and I am very pleased to have been re-elected to serve my home parish on the unitary authority.

I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who voted for me, and I would also like to thank the many people for their kind comments and support throughout the election campaign.

The full result was as follows:

Dick Cole (MK) - 1,090
Rachel Andrews (Con) - 143
Kate Martin (Lib Dem) - 74

This level of support is truly humbling and I will continue to work really hard for St Enoder Parish and do my best to repay the faith that local people have shown in me.

2. Council meetings

There have been a limited number of formal meetings in recent weeks, principally because of the unitary authority elections. I have attended three Cornwall Council meetings: Full Council, Constitution and Governance Committee, and the “national minority” working group tasked with the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and how it affects the Cornish. In addition, I have attended a range of informal meetings about local issues.

Since election day, I have attended two induction days for councillors and a host of training sessions are being arranged for members of the unitary authority in the coming weeks. Indeed, it has been a bit “déjà vu” since I was re-elected and last week I attended meetings with planning officers about (i) the ongoing issues relating to the biogas plant at Higher Fraddon and (ii) the planning applications relating to the Carvynick – see below for more detail.

In the same period, I have also been at three meetings of St Enoder Parish Council and the Annual Assembly, at which I presented my annual report for 2016/2017.

3. Other meetings

I have also attended three meetings of the board of ClayTAWC at St Dennis, of which I am Chairman.

4. Fraddon Post Office

Fraddon Post Office closed on 24th April and the Parish Council Clerk and I are continuing to put pressure on Post Office Ltd to reinstall provision in the eastern end of the Parish. We met with two representatives of the organisation on 3rd May.

The situation was little changed from the meetings in March and Post Office Ltd is still adamant that the provision of a local Post Office needs to be in partnership with a local retail unit. We continue to point out that such options are not apparent in the Fraddon / Indian Queens / St Columb Road area at this time.

There were also discussions at that meeting about the need for outreach to serve the eastern part of the Parish, though Post Office Ltd are still stating that they would be looking to only do two three-hour sessions each week. A number of local Post Office branches (with the relevant equipment and trained staff) have been approached to provide the outreach but all have declined.

Post Office Ltd is looking at where the outreach services might be provided and the options as to who might provide the actual service.

In addition, we have asked Post Office Ltd to liaise with Royal Mail about how they deal with mail that could not be delivered. We expressed concern that local people are having to drive to Newquay to pick up post and they stated that they thought it would be possible to involve a Post Office branch that was much closer to our area.

The Parish Council has also launched a petition which will hopefully show the strength of local feeling on this issue.

5. Update on biogas plant and pig farm at Higher Fraddon

I attended a meeting with planning officers on 12th May for an update about the above planning permissions and the discharge of various conditions.

In terms of the consent for the biogas plant, which was granted on 6th September, the update is as follows:

Condition 1 states that, “within 9 months of the date of this permission,” the height of one of the secondary digester should be reduced. It is highly unlikely this will be achieved within the above time-frame, and Greener for Life have tried to submit a further planning application to reduce the amount by which the height must be reduced. I have however since heard that the company no longer intend to submit such an application.

Condition 4 states that “within four months of the date of this permission, a detailed `Construction Management Plan' (CMP) … shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) … for the reduction in height of the secondary digester and other necessary construction works including surface water drainage and the commissioning phase of the anaerobic digester plant.” A CMP has not been agreed and the Council is looking to serve a “breach of condition notice.” Greener for Life has just submitted further information for the discharge of this condition.

Condition 5 states that “prior to the reduction in the height of the secondary digester and other works, a scheme for the control of pollution during the works shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority (LPA). This should take the form of a Construction Environment Management Plan (CEMP) …” This has not yet been done, even though the timetable states that the works on the dome should be completed by June 6th 2017. Greener for Life has just submitted further information for the discharge of this condition.

Condition 6 which sets out the “details of a scheme for the provision of surface water management” has been agreed, but cannot be actioned because the CMP (condition 4) has yet to be agreed.

Condition 14 states that the “definition of Heavy Goods Vehicles shall be agreed between the applicant and the Local Planning Authority [and] within one month of this decision a list of vehicles types (including dimensions) of this class that will service the plant.” Cornwall Council has twice refused to discharge this condition as, even though Greener for Life has repeatedly promised to use the douliner vehicle, they did not wish to have any restriction on what sort of HGVs could access the plant. The Council is looking to serve a “breach of condition notice” in relation to this condition.

Condition 16 (approval of a Vehicle Management Policy) has been discharged.

Condition 17 (approval of a scheme of landscaping) has been discharged, but the condition states that “all planting … shall be carried out within six months of the date of this permission …” Because this deadline has not been met, the Council is looking to serve a “breach of condition notice” in relation to this condition.

Condition 20 (agreement of an Odour Management Plan) has been discharged.

Greener for Life also submitted a Section 73 application which sought to modify condition 14 to allow an increase in the number of smaller vehicles accessing the plant, which the Parish Council objected to. Cornwall Council is still accessing this application, though it is clear that more vehicles are travelling to the site than specified in the condition, which the owner repeatedly said was appropriate at the Planning Appeal.

There are also some outstanding issues with the redevelopment of the pig farm, in terms of the insertion of biofilters, surface water drainage and landscaping.

The following letter was received from a representative of the pig farm in late April.

“Progress in respect of the full implementation has been delayed due to a number of factors mainly associated with the procurement and availability of sub-contractors and issues with the availability and delivery of the bio-filters. I am now able to confirm the following:

“Condition 2 – The work on the construction of the surface water drainage and attenuation has now commenced and will be completed in due course.

“Condition 5 – Biofiltration – The retrofitting of the biofilters for buildings 4 and 5 will commence very shortly. However it is not proposed to install the biofilters on buildings 2 and 3 until the biofilters have been installed on buildings 4 and 5 and to allow sufficient time to assess their performance. My clients need to be certain that the biofiltration system on buildings 4 and 5 is fully functional before making any commitment with any further installation. We will therefore provide an update on the performance of the biofilters in respect of buildings 4 and 5 in due course.

“Condition 11 – Landscaping – The work to implement the landscaping scheme has commenced on site and this work will be completed in the current planting season.”

6. Update on Carvynick

I attended a meeting with planning officers on 11th May for an update on progress with the application to remove holiday conditions on the holiday park complex. The meeting was also attended by three representatives from Kingsley Developers.

There was a significant difference in perspective between the planning officers and the owners of the complex. I understand that discussions will be continuing and I will update when there is more clarity.

7. Broadband in Summercourt

As reported at the Annual Assembly, the eastern part of Summercourt around the primary school has had a very poor broadband signal for many years. On behalf of the School and local residents, I made representations to British Telecom on this matter and I am is pleased to be able to confirm that BT has confirmed that the improvement works will be carried out within this financial year and hopefully prior to Christmas.

8. Out and about

One advantage of an election campaign is that you get to stomp around every bit of the Parish and to review progress on matters that have been reported in previous weeks and months. I am presently chasing up on a number of issues and will report in more detail in my next monthly report.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that the issue most often raised with me during the election was traffic, parking, etc. I will be submitting further information to Cornwall Council about concerns at a number of locations and will also report in more detail in my next monthly report.

9. Inquiries


During the couple of months, I have also helped numerous people with advice and guidance on a range of problems which have included anti-social behaviour, housing problems and traffic concerns.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

News from Full Council; 23rd May 2017


The first meeting of the new Cornwall Council took place today.

It was a relatively subdued affair which commenced with a minute’s silence for the victims of the terrible attack in Manchester. This was followed by a series of heartfelt tributes to Cllr Steve Rogerson who passed away suddenly during the local election campaign. A further minute’s silence was held in his memory.

Mary May (Penryn) and Hilary Frank (Saltash) were elected to serve as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council. Their’s were the only nominations and both votes were unanimous.

The contest for leader of the Council was between Adam Paynter, representing the Liberal and Independent groups, and the Conservative’s Phil Seeva, who proposed a minority Tory administration.

Adam was successful – with 70 votes against the 44 secured by his Tory opponent. There was one abstention. I can confirm that the MK group voted for the Liberal and Independent administration.

And obviously, there was also time for the “first day at school” group photograph.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The absurdity of election coverage …


As someone who has fought a lot of elections for Mebyon Kernow, both at local and parliamentary level (Westminster and European), I have worked ridiculously hard to generate coverage in the mainstream media. And it has been very, very difficult to get fair coverage for MK.

Today, MK announced that it would not be contesting seats at the 2017 General Election. It was not an easy decision. The statement can be found at: Statement on General Election

As a consequence, I have spent much of the day dealing with the media. I did a live interview with Radio Cornwall at 7.00 this morning, and I have also recorded interviews with both ITV (top left) and BBC Spotlight (top right).

It all seems so strange. We pretty much got zero coverage of our local election campaign on television and really struggled to get meaningful coverage during previous elections - even when we announced candidates!

And yet we announce we are not going to do something – we get much more coverage.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Mebyon Kernow is top choice in Clay Country


MK activists in the St Austell and Newquay constituency focused resources on five seats for the Cornwall Council elections on May 4th and the results show that, in the local elections, MK was the most popular choice for voters.

A summary of the popular vote in the China Clay Area was as follows:

Mebyon Kernow (five candidates) – 2,383 votes
Conservatives (six candidates) – 1,739 votes
Independents (six candidates) – 1,712 votes
Liberal Democrats (six candidates) – 973 votes
UKIP (one candidate) – 100 votes

Matt Luke and I successfully defended our seats, and we achieved two second places. The others seats were won by the Conservatives (2) and independents (2).

The full results were as follows:

Bugle
Conservative – 488
Garry Tregidga (MK) – 360
Liberal Democrat – 354
Independent – 84

Penwithick and Boscoppa
Matt Luke (MK) – 397
Conservative – 381
Liberal Democrat – 174

Roche
Independent – 601
Brian Higman (MK) – 369
Conservative – 140
UKIP – 100
Liberal Democrat – 72

St Dennis
Independent – 363
Independent – 271
Independent – 199
Conservative – 103
Liberal Democrat – 39

St Enoder
Dick Cole (MK) – 1,090
Conservative – 143
Liberal Democrat – 74

St Stephen
Conservative – 484
Liberal Democrat – 260
Independent – 194
Jerry Jefferies (MK) – 167

In the town and parish council election, five members were elected unopposed. These were Michael Bunney (St Goran), myself (St Enoder), Brian Higman (Roche), David Holman (St Mewan) and Matt Luke (Treverbyn).

Matt Facey stood in Mevagissey and topped the poll for the Parish Council with 515 votes, while Julie Fox polled 348 votes for a seat on St Austell Town Council – missing out on election by only 22 votes.

Well done all for your hard work and support.

Friday, 5 May 2017

A thank you to all MK candidates


As the leader of Mebyon Kernow, I would like to personally thank all the MK candidates who stood in the elections yesterday. Thank you for always having the best interests of Cornwall at heart, and thank you for having the courage to put yourselves forward. I am proud of you all.

It was another difficult election, largely because of the decision of the Westminster Parliament to call a General Election which, as someone who has been on the campaign trail across Cornwall, I know completely overshadowed local considerations.

And in this political context, I am very pleased that MK’s four existing councillors (Loveday Jenkin, Andrew Long, Matthew Luke (above) and myself) have been re-elected. This is especially so given what has happened to other “small” political parties in Cornwall and across the UK, and maintaining our strength at "County Hall" is not an insignificant achievement.

I am though gutted for Zoe Fox, who missed out on election to Cornwall Council (in Camborne Trelowarren) by only six votes, but I am pleased with strong showings in Clay Country (two second places), Breage, Germoe & Sithney (another second place) and Harrowbarrow, St Dominick & Kelly Bray (a solid third place).

[A more detailed update on the election results (including the town and parish contests) will follow in the near future].

Thank you also to all MK members and supporters who have helped out on the campaign trail. Your help and support has been greatly appreciated.

1,090 VOTES ... THANK YOU

It has been a long day at the election count and, now that I am home, I would like to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me on Thursday. I would also like to thank the many people for their kind comments throughout this day via facebook, text and phone.

For those of you who may nor have seen the full result, it was as follows:

Dick Cole (MK) - 1,090
Rachel Andrews (Con) - 143
Kate Martin (Lib Dem) - 74

This level of support is truly humbling and I will continue to work really hard for St Enoder Parish and repay the faith that you have shown in me.

THANK YOU

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Update on situation with Fraddon Post Office


As everyone is aware, Fraddon Post Office will close on Wednesday, due to the shutting of Kingsley Village in advance of its redevelopment into a retail park.

The Clerk of St Enoder Parish Council and I have had a number of meetings with a local representative of Post Office Ltd, though this organisation has not yet sorted anything in terms of a replacement local Post Office.

Post Office Ltd have approached retail units in the Indian Queens and St Columb Road area, but none have felt themselves to be in a position to take on the service.

As a short-term alternative, Post Office Ltd states that it will look to provide an outreach service (perhaps in a local village hall), but the Parish Council has been told that they would only look to provide a total of six hours a week spread over two sessions. It is also the case that none of those existing Post Offices (with the equipment to do outreach) have yet expressed an interest in the work.

We have challenged the “offer” of six hours, which is “inadequate.” We have also pointed out that other communities have a greater amount of outreach, such as Mevagissey which has 18 hours spread over four days.

The Parish held its Annual Assembly on 11th April at which councillors fostered a discussion on the situation. As well as parish councillors, this meeting was attended by parishioners and representatives of local groups, and there was considerable anger which is reflected throughout the wider community. A resolution from the floor to make additional representations to senior management of Post Office Ltd was agreed.

In the subsequent wide-ranging letter, which also sought an urgent meeting with senior figures in Post Office Ltd, it was stressed how Fraddon Post Office serves the eastern part of St Enoder Parish (with a resident population of over 4,000 people) and that is incomprehensible that this area would not have its Post Office.

The letter also formally requested that Post Office Ltd is more proactive and that “urgent talks” are held with the new owners (CPG) of Kingsley Village, who were agreeable to a Post Office remaining at Fraddon in the new complex. The planning approval for the site even states that: “A Post Office shall remain within the development,” and it is clear that we need to understand how this might happen and what the timetables will be.

The MP for St Austell and Newquay, Steve Double, has also been contacted and his office is making representations to their contacts within Post Office Ltd.

We know that, at this time, it is vitally important that local people put pressure on the Post Office Ltd to do more to ensure a decent Post Office service in the eastern half of St Enoder Parish. A petition on this important issue is presently being prepared and will be considered at the next meeting of St Enoder Parish Council (Tuesday 24th April).

In addition, we can report that it has just been confirmed that we have secured a meeting with the External Relations Manager from Post Office Ltd on Wednesday 3rd May.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Statement on General Election

As the leader of Mebyon Kernow, I have published the following statement on the announcement of a 2017 General Election.

“Theresa May’s decision to announce a General Election for June 8th represents a political cynicism of the worst kind. Her decision is manifestly not about Brexit; it is all about the self-interest of the Conservative Party.

“In recent months, the Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that there would be no snap General Election, but today’s declaration shows that she has been deliberately and shamefully misleading voters and other political groups - giving the Conservatives a massive organisational advantage.

“It is also disrespectful to call a General Election during the local elections presently taking place in Cornwall, Scotland, Wales and across much of England.

“The lead-up to the June contest will inevitably over-shadow the elections to Cornwall Council and shift the focus away from important local issues and onto Westminster party politics. It also reflects the disregard that the UK government has for local councils and the work that they do.

“I have no wish to hide from the simple fact that such a snap election is very difficult for a political party such as Mebyon Kernow, which lacks the financial resources of the large Westminster political parties.

“At this point, I can confirm that MK’s Executive Committee will be meeting in the near-future to consider the 2017 General Election and our approach to it.”

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

My annual report to the St Enoder Parish Annual Assembly

Last night, I attended the St Enoder Parish Annual Assembly at Summercourt and presented my annual report to local residents. 



At the meeting, my good friend Arthur Trenerry was rewarded with the Parish’s Honourable Service Award (see above with Parish Chairman Michael Bunyan - thanks to Charlotte Cowburn for the photograph). And everyone present supported a proposal that a representation go from the meeting to Post Office Ltd emphasising the desperate need for a Post Office in the eastern end of the Parish.

My report was as follows:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has assisted me with my work over the last twelve months.

My role as the Cornwall Councillor for St Enoder Parish is a full-time job and I produce regular reports, which are presented to (monthly) Full Council meetings of St Enoder Parish Council. Normally, I do ten reports each year as the Council does not have Full Council meetings in August and December. These can still be viewed on the Parish Council website [www.saintenoderparishcouncil.org.uk] or on my blog [http://mebyonkernow.blogspot.co.uk].

Listed below are a few examples of my activities during this period, though I must add that the list is selective and not exhaustive.

1. Roles at Cornwall Council

I served as Chairman of the Planning Portfolio Advisory Committee for the 2016-2017 council year. I have also served on the Constitution and Governance Committee, Electoral Review Committee, working group on National Minority status, and have I attended a wide range of other committees as a non-voting member.

I have attended more than 150 formal meetings and briefings at Cornwall Council and St Enoder Parish Council (including the work of the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group), as well as a significant number of informal meetings with council officers, local parishioners and groups.

2. Other organisations

I have also served on a number of other organisations, both Cornwall-wide and locally. These include: South and East Cornwall Local Action Group, St Austell Bay Economic Forum, China Clay Area Training and Work Centre at St Dennis (Chairman), Fraddon Millennium Green (Secretary) and the Indian Queens Pit Association (Trustee).

3. New play equipment at Indian Queens Recreation Ground

The biggest highlight of the 12 months has been the installation of the new play equipment in the Indian Queens Recreation, and it was a pleasure to work with the Parish Clerk and fellow parish councillors on this project.

I was pleased to be able to secure a grant of £35,000 from the Cornwall SITA for the play equipment and an additional £10,000 grant from the National Lottery’s Awards for All programme for a tarmac path to the improved park.

It is particularly pleasing to see how many young people and their families are really enjoying the new facilities.

4. South West Water works at Trevarren

As reported at the last Annual Assembly, I had been making representations to South West Water – for 13 years – on behalf of the residents of Trevarren about problems with the foul sewer that runs through their community. During periods of heavy rain, much additional water gets into the sewerage system and waste is often discharged onto the highway in their village.

Over the years, there had been numerous meetings with South West Water which, in 2015, finally agreed to carry out works to make improvements and to eliminate all risk of local flooding. The works were completed last summer and included the realignment of part of the foul sewer and the construction of an associated attenuation tank, which could hold up to 280,000 litres of water during periods of high rainfall. The cost of the works was over £450,000.

5. Bus services between Summercourt and Truro

At the last Parish Assembly, I reported how I had been in regular contact with First about the need to reintroduce services between Summercourt and Cornish capital (that had previously been run by Western Greyhound).

The new services to serve Summercourt (Mondays to Saturdays) were restarted on Monday 30th May 2016.

6. Fraddon Post Office

The impending redevelopment of Kingsley Village means that the Post Office is due to close on 25th April 2017.

When the planning application was being dealt with, I sought specific assurances that a Post Office would continue in the new complex and as a temporary set-up in the interim construction period.

This is all proving to be extremely difficult and the Parish Clerk and I have had a number of meetings with Post Office Ltd and Kingsley Developers about what happens next. The Post Office Ltd has told us that one option would be “outreach,” which would consist of a temporary Post Office run from a venue such as a local village hall.

We are continuing to put a significant amount of pressure on all concerned to make sure that a Post Office in the eastern end of the Parish is retained.

7. Planning matters

Planning matters have dominated much of civic life in St Enoder Parish over the last twelve months, once again. I have made representations on dozens and dozens of applications. Some applications have been refused by local planners, though developers have often appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol. Each time this has happened, Dick has produced a detailed representation, on behalf of the Parish Council, to ensure that the views of local people were put forward to the Inspector.

Three of the more significant and / or controversial applications were as follows:

- Three turbines on Pines Tip, Fraddon (PA15/00955)

This application was refused (unanimously) at the Strategic Planning Committee meeting in March 2016. The reasons for refusal were the lack of local support (now expected by central government for wind farm applications), along with the visual and cumulative landscape impacts. The applicant went to appeal, which is still being considered through the written representations process. I produced a 9,500 word representation for this appeal.

- Mobile homes on the Kelliers (PA15/06186)

The applicant for this part-retrospective application also went to appeal. I produced a statement on behalf of the Parish Council and represented local residents at an informal hearing on 16th August. The Inspector dismissed the appeal and upheld the enforcement notice to remove the caravans from the site.

- Higher Fraddon biogas plant (PA15/03073 and PA15/05220).

The two applications relating to the biogas plant also went to appeal. One had been refused and the applicant went to appeal for non-determination on the other. I produced another representation for this appeal, which stretched to 13,500 words. It was heard at an informal hearing on 6th September at Kingsley Village, and the inspector approved the consent(s) but did add additional conditions.

Since the decision was published, there has been considerable “toing and froing” between the owners and the unitary authority in terms of the discharge of conditions. Much of the information submitted to Cornwall Council has been lacking and work continues on what can be agreed.

8. Cornwall Local Plan

As the Chairman of the Planning PAC, I was heavily involved with the work that led to the production of the Cornwall Local Plan. Following the Inspector’s amendments after the first session of the Examination in Public (EiP) held in May 2015, the revised document was referred to a second session of the EiP in May 2016.

The Plan was formally accepted by the unitary authority in November 2017 and sets the policy framework for the production of our Neighbourhood Plan.

9. Neighbourhood Plan for St Enoder

Along with other members of St Enoder Parish Council, I have been heavily involved with the work towards a Neighbourhood Plan for St Enoder.

I was able to secure a grant of £3,950 for the work, which went towards the production of a comprehensive consultation document, freepost envelopes, etc. The consultation was undertaken during January and February, and included three consultation events held at Indian Queens Victory Hall (Tuesday 31st January), Fraddon Village Hall (Tuesday 7th February) and Summercourt New Memorial Hall (Thursday 9th February).

10. The Kelliers

I have often reported on the saga surrounding the transfer of the land known as the Kelliers (located to the rear of the old Indian Queens School) from Restormel Borough Council to St Enoder Parish Council, so that it could be improved as a nature area for local residents. Sadly in 2010, that decision was scuppered by council officers and senior councillors on the unitary authority.

I am pleased to be able to report that having pushed for the original deal to be honoured, the land finally passed into local ownership in February 2017, along with a grant of £4,950 to enhance the area.

Work will soon be able to commence on the improvements to the area.

11. Open spaces

In addition, the open space at Lindsay Fields has been transferred into the ownership of Cornwall Council for future maintenance. I am presently seeking clarification from the environment section at the unitary authority about their likely maintenance regime.

The open space at Fairview Park has meanwhile been transferred from Kingsley Developers into the ownership of the Parish Council.

12. Highway works

I have spent a lot of time lobbying Council officers with regard to a range of traffic issues, ranging from pot-holes to flooding, issues around Indian Queens School, speeding and road safety issues. This has been reported in detail in many of my monthly reports and I also reported back on upcoming tarmacing works in my most recent monthly report (March).

13. PCSOs

As a Cornwall Councillors, I have also made representations to the Police and Crime Commissioner following the publication of the new Police Plan for 2017 – 2020. This states that more than half of the Police Community Support Officers working across the force area will be “phased out” during the next four years. I was particularly concerned to read a statement in the Cornish Guardian which stated that “no decision has yet been taken on which communities are likely to lose a PCSO” but that “large towns and cities are expected to see little change.”

I am continuing to question what this all means for community policing in our local area, which does not happen to be a large town or city.

14. Stop press … some good news

The eastern part of Summercourt around the primary school has had a very poor broadband signal for many years. On behalf of the School and local residents, I have made representations to British Telecom on this matter and I am pleased to be able to report that BT has just confirmed that the improvement works will be carried out within this financial year and hopefully prior to Christmas.

15. My Community Fund

I have awarded the £2,000 in my personal Community Fund for 2015-2016 (allocated to all Cornwall Councillors) as follows:

· Fraddon Millennium Green – £500
· Indian Queens Pantomine Society – £500
· St Enoder Age Concern – £500
· Wesley Under-5s – £500

16. Inquiries

I continue to help local people with advice and assistance on a daily basis. This covers issues as diverse as traffic to housing and planning, environmental concerns, dog mess and local facilities.

I can be contacted on 07791 876607 or dickcole@btinternet.com. 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Standing for election in St Enoder division


The nominations for the elections to Cornwall Council have been published today and can be found at: Candidates for Cornwall Council

My nomination to defend the division of St Enoder has been accepted and I will soon be out delivering my main election address.

There are a total of three candidates for the St Enoder seat. As well as myself, there is a Conservative candidate (from Mevagissey) and a Liberal Democrat candidate (from Bodmin).

In addition, I can confirm that there have been a total of 14 nominations for the 14 seats on St Enoder Parish Council. Everyone who was nominated has therefore been elected unopposed and there will be no parish election.

MK candidates for the 2017 local elections

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has nominated a total of 32 official candidates for the upcoming local elections. Of these, 19 will be contesting seats on the unitary authority.

Many of the candidates for Town and Parish Councils have been returned unopposed. The full list of candidates is as follows:

Candidates for Cornwall Council 

St Ives Constituency Party
Breage, Germoe and Sithney - Mike Tresidder
Crowan & Wendron - Loveday Jenkin
Helston South - Alice Waddoups
Penzance East - Rob Simmons

Camborne & Redruth Constituency Party
Camborne Pendarves - John Ellery Gillingham
Camborne Roskear - Linda Lemon
Camborne Trelowarren - Zoe Fox
Camborne Treslothan - Alan Sanders
Four Lanes - Chris Lawrence
Lanner & Stithians - Matt Blewett

Truro & Falmouth Constituency Party
Falmouth Boslowick - Jenny Booth

St Austell & Newquay Constituency Party
Bugle - Garry Tregidga
Penwithick & Boscoppa - Matt Luke
Roche - Brian Higman
St Enoder - Dick Cole
St Stephen - Jerry Jefferies

North Cornwall Constituency Party
Bodmin St Petroc - John Gibbs

SE Cornwall Constituency Party
Callington - Andrew Long
St Dominick, Harrowbarrow and Kelly Bray - Mark Smith

Candidates for Town and Parish Councils (27)

St Ives Constituency Party
Crowan Parish Council (Praze ward) - Loveday Jenkin [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Penzance Town Council (East Ward) - Rob Simmons [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]

Camborne & Redruth Constituency Party
Camborne Town Council (Pendarves Ward) - John Ellery Gillingham [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Camborne Town Council (Roskear Ward) - Linda Lemon [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Camborne Town Council (Treslothan Ward) - Jane Barclay & Alan Sanders
Camborne Town Council (Trelowarren Ward) - Zoe Fox
Carn Brea Parish Council (Four Lanes Ward) - Chris Lawrence
St Day Parish Council - Roy Gill [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]

Truro & Falmouth Constituency Party
Falmouth Town Council (Boslowick Ward) - Jenny Booth
Truro City Council (Boscawen Ward) - Conan Jenkin
Truro City Council (Redannick Ward) - Lance Dyer
Newlyn East Parish Council (Newlyn East Ward) - Rod Toms [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]

St Austell & Newquay Constituency Party
Mevagissey Parish Council - Matt Facey
Roche Parish Council - Brian Higman [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
St Austell Town Council (Poltair Ward) - Julie Fox
St Enoder Parish Council - Dick Cole [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
St Goran Parish Council - Michael Bunney [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
St Mewan Parish Council (Polgooth & Sticker Ward) - David Holman [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Treverbyn Parish Council (Boscoppa Ward) - Matt Luke [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]

North Cornwall Constituency Party
Bodmin Town Council (St Petroc Ward) - John Gibbs

SE Cornwall Constituency Party
Callington Town Council (Callington Ward) - Maria Coakley, Andrew Long & Mark Smith [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Callington Town Council (Kelly Bray Ward) - Debbie Smith [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Pillaton Parish Council - David Floyd [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Saltash Town Council (East Ward) - Clare Ellison

More information to follow.


Friday, 31 March 2017

Next meeting for MK St Austell & Newquay Constituency Party: Wednesday 5th April.


The next meeting for MK members and supporters in the St Austell & Newquay Constituency Party will be taking place on Wednesday 5th April.

The venue will, as usual, be ClayTAWC in St Dennis and the meeting will start at 7.30.

The focus of the meeting will be campaign planning for our five Cornwall Council candidates; Dick Cole (St Enoder), Brian Higman (Roche), Jerry Jefferies (St Stephen), Matt Luke (Penwithick and Boscoppa) and Garry Tregidga (Bugle). There will also be an update on those other members standing for town and parish councils.

This meeting will give everyone an opportunity to find out more about our plans for the period up to the 4th May and how you can get involved. We will be planning our next set of leaflets.

All are welcome at the meeting. Call me on 07791 876607 for more details.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Speeches from MK councillors at today's Strategic Planning Committee

Matt Luke and I both gave speeches at today’s meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee (when the “eco-community” was approved). We are pictured looking out over some of the green fields which will now be lost.



The speeches  were as follows:

 Speech by Cllr Matt Luke

As the councillor for Penwithick and Boscoppa, I am here to put forward the views of local people.

The majority of the proposal lies within my division and I do not support this “eco-community” application. The vast majority of local people that I speak to are also opposed to the development.

I would refer councillors to paragraph 140 in the committee report. This states that there have been 1,179 letters of objection, but only three letters of support.

And even though the update report shows that there have been two extra letters of support, this is next to nothing – especially compared to the massive level of local opposition to the scheme.

There are a number of important issues that I would like to raise.

First, I am fed up being told this is a brown-field development. It is a fact that much of the housing will be on green fields to the south of Penwithick.

It is also the case that the existing landowner already has planning obligations to restore the clay workings in this area.

I am also very unhappy at the level of housing growth being forced onto the China Clay Area. It is so much greater than other parts of Cornwall. It is excessive and unsustainable. It is certainly not “eco.”

The development of this “eco-town” will also put great pressure on the local infrastructure, such as the NHS which is already creaking in the wider St Austell area. And the cars from 1,500 houses will increase congestion on local roads.

This development will change the very character of the local area, and I also share the concerns of local people about how the sewage might be dealt with.

It is unacceptable for the committee report to say that waste from the site will be “likely to go” to the Luxulyan treatment works. Sewage is a massive concern for residents and this lack of certainty is unacceptable.

Various documents have been produced by the promoters of the eco-town proposal over the last ten years. The documents made numerous promises about the environmentally-friendly nature of the development, “low-carbon living,” affordable housing and even cable-cars!

For example, in the past, the promise was for 40% to 50% affordable housing, but the present proposal is for only 30%.

I therefore cannot believe that any promises associated with this application will actually happen. I mean, of course, the commitments which relate to the school, the community hub, the open space and sewage treatment.

This outline application is full of “what-ifs,” and I do not think it should be allowed to go through.

I would ask you to refuse this application and, given the detail in the committee report, it is premature to entertain any thought of approving this scheme at this time.

I would like to return to the issue of affordable housing. I am disturbed that the residents of Treverbyn Parish would not have priority when the affordable units become available.

You will see that the proposed area for “local connection” extends from Summercourt to Roche, and all the way down to Par and St Blazey.

If you do support this proposal, I would ask that you make sure that a significant percentage of the affordable housing does go to those residents of Treverbyn Parish in housing need

After all, this development is in Treverbyn Parish, in the China Clay Area. Yet the repeated references to the St Austell Community Network Area in the committee report show that the needs of the China Clay Area have not been to the fore, when this application was being written up for approval.

Members. Would you be happy to see a development of 1,500 new properties – opposed by one thousand-plus letters – in your divisions? I doubt it.

Would you be happy to see such a development close to Looe or on the Roseland, for example? I doubt that as well.

It is equally inappropriate for the China Clay Area. Please have the courage to reject this application.

Speech by Cllr Dick Cole

It is well known that I have been a long-standing critic of the so-called “eco-community.” And I have found the whole manner, in which it has been brought forward, to be extremely frustrating.

In the summary on page 26 of the committee report, it is stated that “approval would be a genuine plan led decision.” I do not agree with this conclusion.

The “eco-community” has only been brought forward because a Westminster Government decreed that an “eco-town” should be built in Cornwall, in the Clay Area.

This was encoded in a Planning Policy Statement, titled “Eco-towns - A Supplement to PPS 1.” The existence of this top-down document meant that Cornwall Council had little option, other than to include the “eco-community” in the Cornwall Local Plan.

Members will also be aware that, following the cancellation of the PPS on St Piran’s Day 2015, Cllr Luke and I unsuccessfully attempted to persuade this Council to remove the “eco-community” as an allocation in that Local Plan. And last year, we made the same arguments at the resultant Examination in Public.

Here today, we are being consistent and true to our roots in Clay Country.

Members, when the PPS was cancelled, the Government Minister stated that the “eco-towns programme” had been a “total shambles” and was “unsustainable and environmentally damaging.”

I agree. It is just a shame that the same government has now rebranded this “eco” proposal in mid Cornwall as a garden village.

It will come as no surprise to you that I do not agree with the case officer that the merits of the scheme outweigh the harm. There is much which we should be concerned about.

Between 1991 and 2010, the China Clay Area experienced faster housing growth than any other part of Cornwall. According to Cornwall Council’s own figures, housing growth was a very significant 47%.

If the level of housing presently proposed for the China Clay Area in the Cornwall Local Plan (including the eco-community) was allowed to go forward, it would mean that the housing stock of Clay Country would increase by 82% over four decades (from 1991 to 2030).

This amount of new housing growth is not sustainable, and it represents a level of growth, much greater than other parts of Cornwall.

It would, for example, be three times that of the Cornwall Gateway CNA and significantly more than double that of a number of other areas including West Penwith, Falmouth & Penryn, and Wadebridge & Padstow.

I would add that I share the additional concerns raised by Cllr Luke in his contribution today about how (i) this development is largely on green-fields but continues to masquerade as a brown-field scheme, (ii) would have an adverse impact on the infrastructure of the local area, and (iii) the uncertainty over numerous elements of the proposed scheme.

As a democrat, I also give great weight to the fact that it does not have local support.

As already stated, more than one thousand representations have been received in objection to this proposal – from local people in places such as Bugle, Penwithick and Boscoppa. I am saddened that more weight has not been given to these objections.

It is my view that this planning application has influenced this Council’s emerging policy – for example, in the Allocations DPD – more than this democratic body has influenced the shape of the application in front of you.

There are two additional letters of support, which are referenced in the update sheet. But it is not like they are from residents in Carluddon or Scredda.

It is telling that one appears to be from a governmental representative in Switzerland, while the other is from this Council’s Director for Economic Growth.

This all seems to be about doing things to Clay Country – and never mind what local people think.

It is also the case that this application has been live for over two years and we have been waiting additional information. That information was only received a few weeks ago, and yet this application has been pushed through to this meeting with undue haste amid great uncertainty.

I see that there are also references to the new Technology Park near Carluddon. This development has been consented, the funding is in place, and work has started.

I object to the notion that this initiative somehow justifies the construction of 1,500 new properties in such a prominent location and, I say this as a archaeologist, within a landscape of significant historic interest.

In particular, I note that the Local Plan states that “all landscapes matter.” Reading the impact of the development on landscape and landscape character (page 101 onwards), it seems to show that this is not the case in Clay Country.

This is just one of the large number of adverse and potentially adverse impacts, which are most certainly not outweighed by any perceived benefits from the scheme.

To conclude, I would ask that you to reject this application today.

So-called “eco-community” development passed at today’s Strategic Planning Committee Meeting

This morning, the members of the Strategic Planning Committee voted by 17 votes to three to approve the planning application for an “eco-community” near Penwithick.

At the meeting, opposition to the proposal came from a representative of Treverbyn Parish Council (Peter Clemo) and Mebyon Kernow’s two Cornwall Councillors from the China Clay Area; Matt Luke (Penwithick & Boscoppa) and myself (St Enoder). 

Obviously, it is well-documented that Matt and I have opposed the scheme for a decade.

In our speeches we covered a wide range of planning matters and focussed on the massive level of local opposition, but it was to no avail.

The main argument stated for approval was that the scheme was allocated as a development site within the Cornwall Local Plan, but these were the same councillors who rejected a call from MK to remove the “eco-community” allocation from the Local Plan in 2015!

In terms of the vote, the scheme was backed by seven Liberal Democrats, five Conservatives, four independents and one Labour councillor.

The three who opposed the “eco-community” were Andrew Long (MK), John Fitter (Conservative) and Malcolm Harris (Independent).

Monday, 20 March 2017

Not on the Daily Politics!!!!!!!


Care-free Dick Cole is not a happy boy tonight.

At 10.00 this morning, I received an invitation to appear on BBC2’s Daily Politics Show to talk about the recent Council of Europe opinion. I drove to the BBC offices in Plymouth, arriving at 12.15, getting into the studio at around 12.30.

There was then an almighty cock-up. The camera that would normally be in the newsroom was not in place, so I was lined up to speak from the main studio. BBC Plymouth thought that I would be interviewed in advance of the studio being needed for Justin Leigh’s news headlines at 1.00. But BBC London had me down as the last item – and before they got to me, I was shifted out of my seat for the “local” news headlines and was unable to take part.

BBC Plymouth did record some film with me on the issue, in case they needed it in the future.

But all in all, what a wasted day.

I left home at about 11.00 to travel to Plymouth and, after apologetic phone calls and grabbing some dinner, I didn’t get back home until nearly 4.00. All that time … to not do an interview.

I have just seen the actual programme on iplayer and I am now really annoyed with how the panellists Eric Pickles and Caroline Flint handled the issue. Flint, in particular, was very disparaging towards MK, wanted to talk about Cornish independence and I was not there to respond!

The programme can be viewed at:
BBC Daily Politics

Looks like there will be yet more calls to the BBC tomorrow.

On the “Cornish 50" List


The Cornwall Live website (for the Cornish Guardian, Cornishman and West Briton newspapers) has just published its “Cornish List,” which gives their take on the top 50 people who “lead the way in campaigning on Cornish issues” and “flying the black and white flag for Cornwall.”

Such lists are always controversial, but it is nice for yours truly to sneak in at number three, just behind Will Coleman (no. 1) and Ed Rowe (no 2).

The full list can be seen at:

MK Spring Conference ... Saturday (25th March)

 
MK’s Spring Conference will be taking place this coming Saturday at Roche, in the heart of the China Clay Area.

The venue will be in the lounge bar of the Roche Victory Hall Social Club in Victoria Road. The lounge bar is to the rear of the main hall and there is also ample parking at the site.

It will be a relatively informal morning event and will focus on the upcoming elections to the unitary authority and town & parish council elections across the whole of Cornwall.

It will give you a wonderful opportunity to meet some of our election candidates and to find out how you can help them in their campaigns.

The doors will open at 9.30 and the event will commence around 10.00. It is anticipated that the Conference will close before 12.30.

The agenda for the meeting will include:

- short speech by Party Leader Cllr Dick Cole.
- introduction of numerous MK candidates.
- discussion of MK pledges for the upcoming elections.
- question and answer session with the MK leadership team.

We hope you will be able to join us and we look forward to seeing many of you at this get-together.

But it won’t just be about talking. In the afternoon, we will be inviting MK members and supporters to join us in some leafleting sessions around the China Clay Area.

Why not come and join us on the campaign trail.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Tory election spending scandal shows we need urgent reforms

Today’s announcement that the “Conservative Party has been fined a record £70,000 for breaking election expenses rules” shows that the rules around election spending need to be reformed.

The BBC has reported that:

“The party broke spending rules by moving campaigners and staff from its national headquarters to boost local party efforts and not properly declaring their hotel bills and expenses.”

“The Electoral Commission found the Conservative Party also failed to correctly report all expenditure on a national battlebus campaign, which helped David Cameron win a majority at the general election.”

“It has referred a possible criminal offence - of whether Simon Day, the Conservative Party's registered treasurer until April 2016, ‘knowingly or recklessly made a false declaration’ - to the Metropolitan Police.”

This links to the ongoing scandal about the “battlebus” which has been linked to at least two Cornish MPs.

It is clear that the Conservative Party spent more than the allowable limits in a number of marginal seats, because much money was spent on local campaigns but was classified as “national” expenditure.

But all the large Westminster political parties habitually target their expenditure into target seats but do it in such a way that the spendng is deemed part of their state-wide messaging.

In addition to the battle buses, and hotel costs of their volunteers, which only seem to appear in target seats, here are a few examples of things that are often not counted as “local expenditure.”

Massive billboards in prominent locations – which do not mention the name of the local candidate – are often deemed “non-local” by the parties. However, the Billboards tend to appear in the seats that particular parties think they could win – and not across the UK as a whole.

Likewise, the cost of election poster-boards which do not have the name of the candidate on them – but simply proclaim “Conservative,” “Labour” or “Liberal Democrat” – have, on occasion, also been classed as “national” expenditure, even though the signs inevitably appear in greater numbers in existing or target seats.

And targeted maildrops to individual voters from prominent members of political parties (such as Party Leaders, Prime Ministers or Chancellor of the Exchequer) also often forget to mention the actual names of the local candidates – allowing them to, ridiculously, be termed “national” expenditure.

This is all so wrong and we should all be pushing for really far-reaching and more comprehensive reforms to better control election expenditure, in order to ensure fairer elections in the future.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Update on Fraddon Post Office

Local residents will be aware that planning permission has been granted for a new retail complex at Kingsley Village. The ownership of the site will soon pass from Kingsley Developers to CPG, who intend to redevelop the area for a number of stores including Marks and Spencer. 

St Enoder Parish Council has been informed that the Post Office presently located within Kingsley Village will, as things presently stand, close at the end of April.

When the planning application was being dealt with, I sought guarantees that a Post Office would continue on the site. The company (CPG) which is in the process of purchasing the site agreed that this was acceptable to them and it was even written into the planning consent that: “A Post Office shall remain within the development.”

In addition, the present owners (Kingsley Developers) promised they would ensure that, during the construction of the new retail park, a local Post Office would continue at the eastern end of the Parish. Indeed, it was stated that there would be the provision of a temporary unit within the car parking area at Kingsley Village.

In recent days Amanda Kendall, the Clerk of the Parish Council, and I have had meetings with a representative from the main Post Office Ltd and the present owners, who we have been pressing to make good on the promises they made during the planning process.

The Post Office Ltd has told us that another option, in the short-term, would be “outreach.” This would consist of a temporary Post Office run from a venue such as a local village hall, and we are pushing for further information about how many hours such a service would be open.

We know how important the provision of a Post Office for the Fraddon / Indian Queens and St Columb Road area is, and we are putting a significant amount of pressure on all concerned to make sure that this local Post Office is not lost between now and when the new development is opened.

It is also the case that Post Office Ltd will be consulting on the future of this local Post Office in the near future. Please make sure that you impress on them just how important it is for the local area.

I will report back more when I have further confirmation on what will be happening.

Friday, 10 March 2017

"British Government accused of neglecting Cornish culture"


Yesterday's publication of the Opinion from the Council of Europe (Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities), and the paucity of the Government response, has been covered in an article on the website of the Guardian newspaper.

It features comments from Cornwall Council, Merv Davey and myself.

The headline is: "British Government accused of neglecting Cornish culture" and it can be viewed online at: The Guardian

Hopefully the article will be featured in tomorrow's newspaper as well.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Please support petition against “Devonwall” seat


I have lodged a petition on the UK Government's website, which objects to the creation of a cross-Tamar "Devonwall" parliamentary constituency. Please sign, and please share as widely as you can.

The petition can be located at:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/188271

The full wording of the petition is as follows:

No to a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” parliamentary constituency

The “Boundary Commission for England” is carrying out a review of the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies. The review follows guidelines in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act. This does not recognise Cornwall as a political unit and the BCE has proposed a cross-Tamar seat.

We demand that Westminster politicians amend the legislation to “Keep Cornwall Whole” and ensure parliamentary seats lie entirely within the historic boundaries of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

It should be noted that the Government has recognised the Cornish as a national minority through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and it is evident that the creation of a “Devonwall” seat would be in conflict with the articles of the Framework Convention.

Thank you for your support.

Government ignores recommendations in Council of Europe Opinion

The UK Government response to the Council of Europe Opinion stretches to over 9,700 words, but the Cornish are hardly referenced at all. The document also fails to address the recommendations drafted by the Advisory Group.

 There is a single and inadequate section on the Cornish language which reads as follows:

“The Government recognises the importance to people in Cornwall of their proud history and their distinct culture and heritage, including the language.

“The Government has provided substantial funding of over £650,000 since 2010 to support the development of the Cornish language and is keen to work with Cornwall Council and its partners to encourage the further development of Cornish culture and heritage, complementing the devolution deal already reached with local partners. 

“On 2 February 2017, the Government announced the launch of a Cornish Culture Fund of £100,000 to be paid to Cornwall Council which will encourage the further development of Cornwall’s distinct culture and heritage, including the language. This latest funding is in addition to Cornwall Council’s core spending power of £1.7 billion over four years, from which they can allocate resources to their local priorities, including the Cornish language.”

And it is telling that the section on broadcasting notes “each language included in the Framework Agreement” but then goes on to list “Welsh, Gaelic, the Irish language and Ulster-Scots” – but Cornish is ignored.

 The full text was as follows:

“The new Charter commits the BBC to continued support for the minority languages of the UK with a clearer commitment to each language included in the Framework Agreement. This sets out the need for the BBC to continue to deliver output in Welsh, Gaelic, the Irish language and Ulster-Scots. There is a new commitment for the BBC to continuing their partnership with MG Alba for the next 11 years and arrangements for the continued partnership with S4C are also in place.”

To put it in polite terms, I am totally bewildered at the UK Government’s failure to meet their obligation with regard to the Framework Convention.

Recommendations from Council of Europe report

The fourth Opinion can be found on the Council of Europe’s website at: Council of Europe report

Listed below are the actual recommendations from the report:

Principal recommendation for immediate action:

Take all necessary steps to ensure access to the linguistic and cultural rights provided by the Framework Convention to the Cornish minority, in particular by reconsidering the decision to cut all funding for the Cornish language in view of the disproportionate impact such a measure will have on the delicate process of revitalising a minority language when access to other public financial resources is limited.

Further recommendations (the numbers refer to the paragraphs in the actual Opinion):

19. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to take all the legal, policy, and financial steps necessary to ensure access to the rights provided by the Framework Convention to persons belonging to the Cornish minority, irrespective of any constitutional set-up.

24. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to take the necessary measures to include the possibility to self-identify as Cornish, through a ‘tick-box’ in the next census, and to facilitate the expression of self-identification of any other group because data collection is relevant to the application of minority rights.

58. The authorities should reconsider their decision to cut all funding for the Cornish language in view of the disproportionate impact such a measure can have on the delicate process of revitalisation of a minority language when access to other public financial resources is limited.

59. The Advisory Committee also calls on the authorities to engage in a dialogue with representatives of the Cornish minority to ensure that cultural policy is developed in a way respectful of the traditions and identity of the minority.

96. The authorities should take resolute action to ensure that revision of the BBC Charter improves access to the media for persons belonging to national and ethnic minorities, increases funding, ensures a variety of programmes in minority languages, in particular the Irish language, involves minorities in their production and introduces BBC support for the Cornish language.

97. The Advisory Committee also calls on the authorities to establish an independent press regulator, responding to the criteria enunciated by the Leveson Report, and to ensure that training is regularly carried out and there is access to and presence in the media of persons belonging to minorities, including in supervisory organs.

109. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to take measures to improve the use and visibility of Cornish in public life, and it calls on the UK Government to reinstate immediately the previous level of funding and to consider the possibility of adopting a Cornish Language Act.

122. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to ensure that, in co-operation with minority groups, curricula, textbooks and other teaching materials reflect appropriately the ethnic diversity and historical presence of all national and ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom. Staff of all schools shall be effectively trained to accommodate diversity in the classroom and promote intercultural respect and understanding in schools.

128. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to renew and intensify their efforts to develop Irish-medium education and Irish language teaching. They should also engage in a dialogue with the Cornish minority to consider flexible and pragmatic solutions to allow for a more systematic provision of teaching in and of the Cornish language, as well as taking measures to develop the teaching of minorities’ first language.

136. The Advisory Committee reiterates its call to the authorities to enhance opportunities for persons belonging to national and ethnic minorities to participate in public affairs, and this should include measures that facilitate their engagement in broader political processes and mainstream political parties. Similarly, their recruitment into public service, in particular the police at central and local levels, should be promoted to send a clear message that diversity is valued across the UK.

137. The UK Government should continue the good dialogue with the three devolved administrations and ensure that negotiations progress in a transparent and democratic manner. It should establish permanent ongoing dialogue with Cornwall Council and the Cornish people through consultative and advisory mechanisms.

141. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to intensify targeted initiatives to maximise the participation of persons belonging to national and ethnic minorities in employment, training and career progression, in line with the Vision 2020 targets, and to allocate sufficient funds.

146. The Advisory Committee urges the authorities to ensure that any administrative and constituency border reform follows an inclusive process, which takes into account the presence of persons belonging to a national minority in the territory, their meaningful participation and respect for their rights.

150. The Advisory Committee calls on the British-Irish Council to address actively the Cornish language in its work and to endeavour to involve the Cornwall authorities, in part by creating an institutional presence for Cornwall in the Council and by promoting bilateral relations between the Cornwall authorities and other language communities’ administrations.

MK WELCOMES COUNCIL OF EUROPE REPORT ON NATIONAL MINORITY STATUS, BUT CONDEMNS INADEQUATE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE


The Opinion from the Council of Europe on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was published today. Printed below is the press statement issued by MK.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has welcomed the publication of an Opinion from the Council of Europe which includes a number of recommendations which relate to the Cornish as a National Minority.

The Opinion was produced by the relevant Advisory Committee from the Council of Europe which visited the United Kingdom in March 2016 to assess how the UK Government and other public bodies are complying with the articles of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

It is the first Opinion on the Framework Convention published since the Cornish were recognised as a national minority in April 2014.

MK Leader Cllr Dick Cole has described the findings of the report as being of “far-reaching significance.”

The report:

-  Recommended that central government reconsider “the decision to cut all funding for the Cornish language in view of the disproportionate impact such a measure will have on the delicate process of revitalising a minority language when access to other public financial resources is limited.”

-  Raised concerns that the present constitutional set-up mitigated against Cornish recognition as “Cornwall is grouped together with Devon and other counties in the Southwest region ...”

-  Called for a Cornish “tick-box” on the 2023 census.

-  Called for a “dialogue with representatives of the Cornish minority to ensure that cultural policy is developed in a way respectful” of its traditions and identity.

-  Recommended that the BBC Charter be revised to safeguard broadcasting in minority languages and to “introduce BBC support for the Cornish language.”

-  Suggested that the UK Government “consider the possibility of adopting a Cornish Language Act.”

-  Recommended that the authorities “engage in a dialogue with the Cornish minority … to allow for a more systematic provision of teaching in and of the Cornish language.”

-  Criticised the ongoing review into parliamentary constituencies at Westminster which would adversely affect the Cornish national minority.

-  Called for the creation of an “institutional presence for Cornwall” at the British and Irish Council (which presently includes the representatives from the UK and Republic of Ireland, plus the governments of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.”

Also published today was the UK Government’s comment on the Opinion Report, but sadly it ignored all the recommendations which related to the Cornish.

Cllr Dick Cole stated:

“The UK Government’s recognition of the Cornish through the Framework Convention was a landmark decision, but the Opinion demonstrates that the Cornish are not being treated in the same manner as the other national minorities within the UK such as the Scots and the Welsh.

“The Opinion shows a great deal of empathy and understanding for the situation in Cornwall, for which we are grateful. But we are bewildered at the response from the UK Government, which fails to address the recommendations produced by the Advisory Group.

“We would challenge Cornwall’s MPs and the UK Government to show due respect to Cornish culture and identity by supporting all the recommendations contained within the Opinion, wholeheartedly and without reservation.”

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Cornish Culture Fund announcement comes with attacks from Conservative MPs

Cornwall’s six Conservative MPs this week issued a press release which confirmed that the UK Government will be awarding Cornwall Council a £100,000 grant (spread over two years) to create a Cornish Culture Fund.

Strangely, this announcement was accompanied by quotes from Conservative MPs which were somewhat confused, contradictory and geared more to election sound-bites than support for Cornish identity.

Sarah Newton MP stated that “Cornwall has a distinct culture and heritage which is vital to our way of life as well as the local economy, jobs and tourism,” but felt the need to slam Cornwall Council by stating that culture monies had “not always been well spent by the council.”

Steve Double MP meanwhile launched an assault on the Cornish language by slamming the unitary authority for “spending money on teaching council officers to answer the phone in Cornish when only 300 people list it as their primary language,” which is a gross distortion of reality.

He then went on to demand that Cornwall Council “spend this money … sensibly on promoting Cornish culture in a tangible way” and “not on one of their madcap schemes or vanity projects, which they are so fond of.”

Not sure what this means and I do not see how the promotion of our national language can be dismissed as a vanity project!

It is all a bit distasteful, and Cornwall Council was right to have pointed out that the level of funding, while welcome, was less than adequate, and to have criticised the MPs for their negative attacks on Cornish identity,

At this time, it is worth pointing out that the Opinion from the Council of Europe on how the UK Government and other public bodies are meeting the articles of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (including the Cornish) will be published this week..

There will undoubtedly be a range of recommendations. And I would challenge Cornwall’s MPs to show they really care about Cornish culture and identity by supporting all the recommendations contained within the Opinion, wholeheartedly and without reservation.