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Showing posts from 2013

Happy New Year/ Blydhen Nowydh Da

So that was 2013, barring anything interesting or life changing in the next few hours, the year is done and dusted. We can all look forward to 2014 and a new year of challenges and opportunities, I certainly am. Many years I've reached this time of year with more of a desire to see in the new year and say good riddance to the old one. Thankfully this time around, I'm looking forward to 2014 and looking fondly back at 2013. I hope my readers feel the same. 

In a lot of senses a great deal of my life and certainly my blog this year have been dominated first by the elections themselves and my election to Penzance Town Council. (And of course my unsuccessful Cornwall Council election bid for Penzance East as well.) I hope this is a welcome development for readers, certainly a lot more people have read my blog this year than other years. But I do feel sometimes that I should be focusing on politics and society elsewhere. 

Not that I would have the time to blog on everything but still…

The unfair funding of Cornwall continues with renewed vigour

The further cuts to local authorities has been announced, it's unfair across the board. Although the job of local authorities is the front line of public service they have faced cuts of 8.2% whereas the average across government is a 1% cut. I don't think it's of a great surprise that government has chosen to protect it's own budgets for it's own departments and palmed off the cuts to others.

But in the case of Cornwall specifically we know we are hugely underfunded, unfortunately these cuts have increased this situation. Cornish residents and Cornwall itself now face a situation where council tax will rise next year and yet even statutory services are at risk of not being delivered, specifically care for the most vulnerable. Alongside the level of services, such as public toilets and libraries are reducing, welfare benefits are being slashed. Due to cuts in local government finance and the Tories and Liberal Democrats choosing to offload the harshest cuts and the …

Do as I say not as I do, Eric Pickles wants to stop councils criticising central government

Eric Pickles far from being the champion of localism as per his rhetoric is increasing central government's control over local government. After 3 years of trying to micro manage council policies, controlling what services they provide by slashing funding, he now wants to control what they say too. Enforcing rules onto local government that he himself flouts again and again. Enforcing standards that take from local government the right to criticism or even have anything but the most sterile of opinions on central government policy.


Tucked into the Local Audit and Accountability Bill is a new Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity, which vests in him the right to monitor and veto Council's press releases. In particular it allows him and his successors the right to enforce the following:

And the following:


Consider section 16 above and the points about objectivity and influencing public opinion and section 15 above and the last sentence in particular:

"...should avoi…

Cornish success! Waitrose yield to flag pressure

Tis a bright day in Kernow, after the saga of Waitrose flying English flags on Cornish sardines they have relented and will fly the correct flag. A real step forward for Cornish identity in general and Cornish food identity in particular.  Hopefully (although at this stage it's unclear) Cornwall's produce will be identified as such. After dozens of facebook posts on Waitrose's page, dozens of tweets to them and no doubt a similar amount of emails.  They replied yesterday to the Kernow branch of the Celtic League with an email, copied on to their website http://kernowcelticleague.weebly.com/1/post/2013/12/waitrose-withdraw-english-flag-from-cornish-pilchards.html Well done everyone! If only politicians were so willing to change in the face of public pressure!

Should Cornwall impose a supermarket levy

The organisation Local Works are lobbying for councils to impose the so called 'Supermarket Levy'. This is already done in Northern Ireland, Scotland and recently Oxford. But recently other councils have rejected the idea such as Bristol. I want to know people's views on the matter, there are real advantages and disadvantages to the idea, I'll explain some of it below, provide some links and encourage you to vote in the poll on the right.

Basically the levy applies to large retailers, so it's dubbed the supermarket levy but does apply to all retailers with a rateable of £500,000 a year, this is a tiny proportion of retailers. After a quick search on the VOA website, the shops with the highest rates in Penzance town centre are New Look (£158,000) Poundland (£116,000) and Poundstretcher (£121,000) with the others being considerably less. Sainsbury's isn't listed, nor Morrison's, but Tesco's is and is valued at £730,000. This gives some indication of h…

Finally some progress on Wavehub

Well not six months (more like over 3 years), in ten days time will be the second anniversary of the government centralising control of Wavehub. Well not the term they used, proving they have a sense of humour they announced: "The future of Wave Hub is secure", 2 years later we draw nearer to some progress. Whether this is due to the fact the government have lots of plates to spin (Iain Duncan Smith is busy sweeping up his dropped ones as we speak), or the fact they care little for development in Cornwall or perhaps that the "Greenest government ever" rhetorical fad has ended, is anyone's guess.

As I have written before here and here, the centralisation of this project has been to it's detriment, it should have always been controlled in Cornwall with a dedicated team. On the subject, Vince Cable never replied to my email back in February and the question I posed to him "Can you provide justification that having the management of Wave Hub centralised i…

Waitrose management think it's "correct" to use an English flag for Cornish fish

There's been image circulating social media for a few weeks now, of Cornish sardines (pilchards) displayed with an English flag, along with the caption "spot the mistake". It's something I'd not noticed until this week, so I asked them on twitter why it wasn't a Cornish flag (as did many others on their facebook page and twitter). The same stock answer came back for ease of identification an English flag is used, any questioning of this was answered with a stony silence. I even asked their twitter operator if they knew what a Cornish flag looked like, no reply.  The customer is always right unless their Cornish? So I sought a more considered response and some dialogue, so I emailed their ceo. Explaining Cornish pride in our flag and our food. I also pointed out the significance of the quality of Cornish produce and that Waitrose should take pride in that.  I pointed out the trend toward labelling the origin of food and it's food miles.  All good arguments…

A passionate plea for a Cornish assembly

I don't usually post other people's opinions on my blog, I have far too much to say for myself. But a great and passionate argument from Penryn Town Councilor Dave Garwood for a Cornish assembly deserves a share here:

Post by Mebyon Kernow- the Party for Cornwall.

Well said! Please sign and share http://www.change.org/petitions/the-uk-prime-minister-and-cabinet-create-a-cornish-assembly

A great milestone for my blog

Today my blog reached 100, 000 page views. Which I'm more than chuffed with. I've no doubt this figure is dwarfed by other blogs and news/ views outlets in Cornwall and beyond. But I'm pleased that so many people read my views. I've tried to use it to lobby for positive change and to defend things I think important. Since I've started this blog,  I've joined Mebyon Kernow and become very active in the party. In May I was elected to Penzance Town Council. I have tried to use my blog to provide insight into my party, the council I serve on and my views on these and other subjects. I passionately believe in encouraging engagement in politics and having frank debates with the public and I hope my blog is helping me achieve this and helping people better understand my party and my role as councilor. Anyway thanks to my readers and I'm sure with the increasing readers month on month I'll soon be at another milestone.

The Cornish Assembly Petition

This week the online variant of the assembly petition was launched. 2 days in and it's already over 550 signatures, which is fantastic news and a clear sign that many people want Cornwall to have a greater say in our own affairs.

I really hope people do get behind the petition and sign it. Personally I did have fears that Mebyon Kernow launching a petition would put off people from other political persuasions. Thankfully this hasn't been the case and although politicians from other parties are a bit thin on the ground, I have already noticed the Lib Dem Cornwall Councilor Jade Farrington share the petition online. Hopefully this will be the first of many and people will put aside their differences and recognise that a Cornish assembly will benefit One and All. I hope they resist the urge to snub the petition -despite their views- because it was started by a political party.

It's heartening to see the fabulous comedian Kernow King supporting it online:
https://t.co/AIf5Pwyo1…

Free Christmas parking for Penzance

Great news, Cornwall Council car parks will be free all day on December saturdays and thursday evenings for late night shopping. This is a real boost for the town centre in this important period and great news for shoppers and is paid for out of the Section 106 money from Sainsburys.

This is something I have lobbied for as vice chair of the town council's general purposes committee and lobbied councilors in the town to get behind. Along with others including Penzance Chamber of Commerce and other town councilors. Credit and thanks to the town clerk (Simon Glasson) for meeting with Cornwall Council officers and getting the 106 process sped up and getting this parking money used for the festive period. And finally credit to Sally Bodinar of the shop Anella's on Chapel Street, who has doggedly campaigned for there to be free parking for the festive period, thanks Sally.

Also the town council had already found money out of it's own budget to lay on free parking for the Decembe…

Cornish language nursery needs your help

I've just pledged to support Cornwall's -indeed the world's- only Cornish language nursery. A few years back I used to attend with my daughter Elsie, my wife Kristin and when Mazey was born she came too. Back then it was just saturday mornings and we adults would learn some Kernewek whilst the little ones learnt and of course played. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Now Skol Veythrin Karensa has grown, expanded and thanks to the hard work of volunteers and the support of Cornwall College is ready to step up a level and become full time.  To do this and to make the vital Cornish language resource have a secure future they need your help.  If you can please please pledge here through the Crowdfunder website. More details here on the Nursery World website

A comparison of how shoddy Cornwall's rail network is

The government has a flagship project High Speed 2, I can't criticise the thought, investment in the rail network is long overdue. Not sure that investing all that money in one place is the right thing. I'm glad Mebyon Kernow has called for money instead to be spent in Cornwall and on the rail link through South West England. I thought I'd like at a quick comparison at how our train line stacks up in terms of times and cost, using the journey planner on the National Rail website. It is quite shocking.Penzance-Paddington about 5 hours 30 minutes at the cost of £58. London-Paris about 2 hours 20 cost varies from just over £100 to £200.Penzance-Birmingham about 6 hours costs around £140.London-Birmingham about hour and a half cost between £40 and £70.Penzance-Edinburgh enough to lose the will to live in time 11 hours + and money £210+. London-Edinburgh between 4 and 5 hours cost around £150.Being realistic London and these other cities have more people than Cornwall and more …

Living wage week and the approach of Cornwall Council and Ed Miliband

As many of my long term readers are aware, I am a big supporter of the Living Wage, because I don't think pay is fair and the minimum wage isn't enough to get by on. However I'm not blind to the fact that there is a cost to raising wages, in any organisation the wage bill is always one of the biggest costs. So I'm interested to explore the options, the other week my suggestion that Penzance Town Council become a Living Wage employer was thankfully passed (blog here). In this case the cost didn't have a severe impact upon the budget of the council, but for bigger authorities and organisations how can it be done?

In the last week Ed Miliband has come out and announced the Living Wage as a key stone policy for the Labour party, congratulations to him I think one of the great mistakes of the Labour government was not keeping minimum wage in line with inflation. Throughout the period of the minimum wage, the gap between the lowest earners and the highest earners has dra…

UPDATED Cornwall Council might not be pulling out of Pengarth

Below is the post I wrote about Pengarth and the loss of grant funding from Cornwall Council.  I have since been contacted by Alex Folkes who informs me that this is not necessarily the case. To quote: "I'm afraid that the blog you have posted about Pengarth is not true. The amount that CC has provided to the centre has been cut (I don't have the precise figures, but have no reason to doubt those you have used). However, no decision has been taken to cut funding altogether."I'm still wary that funding might still be cut, I hope not as this is a vital service to the old people of Penzance and one that saves the wider health and care services money. Definitely one to watch.Below is my original post.
At this evenings Penzance Town Council meeting we were unexpectedly met with the news that Cornwall Council has pulled the grant funding from Pengarth. According to the figures they supplied Cornwall Council took over the grant funding from Penwith in 2009 and gave £15, …

Sainsbury's million pound 106 money, where is it?

I'm sure many of us remember back in May, that our new Cornwall Councillors, Tim Dwelly, Cornelius Olivier and Jim McKenna fought to change the 106 agreement with Sainsburys. Rather than spending the £1.2 million, gained to Cornwall Council from the supermarket, on a park and ride they felt the money would be better spent in the town centre.As Cllr Dwelly told the Cornishman:"I don't think a park-and-ride is the best way to spend the money," he said."We know that it's possible for Cornwall Council to spend it in a different way than what's in the agreement."What we're now exploring with them, and hopefully with Penzance Town Council and the Town Team, is a better way of spending the money."Penzance is in crisis and needs some urgent help, not just long-term improvement."With the supermarket opening it's petrol station tomorrow and the store on a week wednesday (13th of November). Where will the money be spent? The simple answer is …

The Scottish Independence debate and how campaigns beat political parties on social media

Just now I cam across a staggering statistic from Yes Scotland, they over 100,000 'likes' on their facebook page. Understandably they are quite happy about this, as this photo lifted from the page demonstrates. 


Congratulations to them this is a huge feat, as they themselves are keen to note "We have now reached 100,000 likes on Facebook. Thank you very much for engaging in discussion with us - whether you agree with Yes Scotland or not." So likes on facebook and followers on twitter is not a completely accurate barometer of support, you may 'like' but that might be to actually disagree, as they concede. Although I dare say the fact that the rival Better Together campaign's facebook following of 91,000 is a lower is encouraging for the pro independence movement. On twitter the split is 14,544 to Better Together and 24,380 to Yes Scotland. Again the Yes campaign has a greater following and reach, again cause for concern for unionists. It's a well talk…

Penzance Town Council votes to be a Living Wage employer

Great news, a while back I suggested to the town clerk that the town council that we become a Living Wage employer. This came to committee last week and was thankfully voted through, with only one opposing which is fantastic. Although it was my idea, I can't take too much credit as I don't sit on the Finance and Property Committee, so I wasn't there to speak on behalf of the recommendation nor to vote on it. Thanks are due therefore to the town clerk and the other office staff for drawing up the proposal and the committee members for voting it through.

The wording of the recommendation was as follows: "that the principle of the Penzance Town Council being a Living Wage Employer is supported and that we work with the Living Wage Foundation in achieving Accreditation." More on what the Living Wage is from the Foundations website here.

I think this is an important step in recognising that decent wage is the right thing to do. For the town council the implications ar…

2150 houses for Penzance in the next 20 years

Following on from my earlier post and ny confusion to the numbers Labour's Tim Dwelly and Cornelieus Olivier wanted. I've had some clarification from Tim.  Also, the total for the Community Network Area was voted on today at committee, so what they wanted and what we'll get is a step closer. The total for the West Penwith CNA will be 3850 houses over the next 20 years up from 2500 planned previously. The total for the Penzance are will be 2150 up from the 1400 previous figure. The 350 Tim Dwelly had written on his fb page is the difference between what they wanted (2500) for PZ and what they got (2150).So to work it out in housebuilds a year, as per the Labour fashion, we will get on average 107 houses built. So Tim's figure was how many on top of that an extra 350 would be. I recognise the need for housing but I do fear these figures are too high. The argument that affordable housing will come with mass house building. Is not one I think proves itself.  Look around Co…

What housing numbers do Labour want for Penzance??

There is a lot of talk at the moment about Penzance and the Cornwall Local Plan. It is being decided up in Truro how many houses Penzance and the wider West Penwith Community Network Area should have in the next 20 years.  So what exactly are our Labour duo Cornelius Olivier and Tim Dwelly scheming behind closed doors? I'm asking because I have no idea at all.

Cornelius Olivier is quoted in the Cornishman seeking to dramatically increase the number for the Penwith Community Network area by 54% from the original 2,500 to 3,850. You have to question the mathematical research of this housing number, when in the same article Cllr Olivier is quoted as saying:

"This (extra 1,350 new homes) would only result in around 50 extra new homes a year being built in the area over the course of the plan."

Unless I'm missing something, 1350 (number of new homes (on top of the 2500)) divided by 20 (years of the local plan) equals 67.5. The original number of 2500 would equal 125 a year…

Should Penzance create a Neighbourhood Development Plan?

Last week I attended a training session hosted jointly by Cornwall Council and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) about the subject of Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP). Here I want to outline objectively what this process is and whether this part of the world ought to set to this task or indeed not.

The main thrust of NDPs is localism they were introduced as part of the localism bill, with the view to
handing local authorities and local communities more power and say in planning the future of their area. Something I greatly agree in, I think the future of Penzance should be more powers and services devolved to the local level and less reliance on distant decision makers. So at the outset the whole process is very attractive to me and my view of politics.

So what is a Neighbourhood Development Plan? It's a bit of a slippery eel when it comes to definition. It's ultimately up to those who work through it, consulted on it and ultimately who vote on i…

The future home of Penzance Town Council

The main subject of the last full town council meeting was spent deliberating the options for the siting of the town council's office. Cornwall Council have offered PZTC space in St John's Hall when it is refurbished.  I was wondering what people thought to this? As there will be another meeting hopefully with more information soon, it would be good to get input now. The debate raged (no literally raged), over three options put to the council. Take up the offer and be a small part of the building.  Maintain the status quo and stay in the same building (rented from Cornwall Council). Alternatively look to purchase the present offices. There are various pros and cons presented to the council, quite fairly and impartially by the town clerk it must be added. The pros of moving across the road to John's are that local government would then be centralised in one place. The town council would effectively be placed in the nearest thing Penzance has to a town hall. The town council…

Western Greyhound bus services pull out of Penwith

Earlier today I had a conversation with someone concerned about rural bus services in Penwith. Rumours were abounding that as a result of Cornwall Council's cuts bus routes in West Penwith would be severely effected. Now the story has broken and Western Greyhound are due to pull out of Penwith and are closing their Penzance depot. (See here for statements from Cornwall Council and Western Greyhound on the ITV website). It remains to be seen what Cornwall Council will do to make up for this abandonment of the west by the bus company. Whether they will continue the short sighted policy of not funding bus routes, which must have played a big part in Western Greyhound's decision.

Some thoughts on local government, Penzance Town Council and next years budget

Five months ago! going into the elections I prepared a great deal, I spent a good amount of time preparing how I would canvass, what I would say to electors and what I wanted to do in office. I thought at the time that I had a good grasp of what local government does and the roles, responsibilities and indeed limitations of being a councilor. I had the benefit of being friendly with a number of town councilors and Cornwall councilors some Mebyon Kernow and some not. Despite this, becoming a councilor, attending meetings, the phone calls, chats, emails, not to mention meetings has been an eye opener.

One of the things that concerned me about Penzance Town council was that not a lot of people knows what it does and I am sure this is true of all local government not peculiar to here. It's something I'd like to change (or more modestly play a part in changing on this blog.) There are misconceptions, about what the council can do and can't do and which decisions stem from here…

Government gives the go ahead to Penzance and St Mary's harbour.

The first steps to securing the maritime link with the Isles of Scilly look to be underway. The governments press release (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/green-light-for-harbour-project) is triumphant in it's tone, but sadly lacking in any detail. The Penzance side only has dredging named,  the suspicious part of my mind wonders why Cornwall Council's plan finalised with Penzance Town Council is not named. Neither is rock armour... Perhaps parts of the plan will be left out? Time will tell. It does appear works on St Mary's harbour will finally go ahead, thankfully. The town needs this to be the first step in the regeneration of our harbour. Dredging and traffic improvements (if they are included) is a start to the kind of harbour and Scilly sea link we deserve. There needs to be better facilities for cargo and passengers to name but a few things.  There needs to be a better deal for harbour users. That's certainly my view and that of the town council and thankfull…

Is the Alexandra Trawler saved thanks to the National Citizen Service?

Over the last few weeks the Alexandra Play Park has taken a turn for the better with thanks to the volunteers at NCS Cornwall. A while ago I started a petition after it was revealed Cornwall Council planned to take away the wooden trawler,which is the centerpiece of Alexandra Play Park. When NCS Cornwall got wind of it, in a phenomenal whirlwind, got permission from Cornwall Council, raised some funds, rounded up some volunteers and refurbished the trawler and the other wooden play equipment. Well done to them and the businesses and pubs listed as donating to the refurbishment: The Dolphin Tavern, Mermaid Boat Trips, The Navy Inn, The Lugger Hotel, The Yacht Inn and the Bath Inn.

Here's some photos I took on friday, unfortunately if you don't know it it's hard to get a feel for how much better it all looks now.

As a small example here's what the trawler did look like:
And what it looks like now:
The trawler from the front:




So I guess the Trawler is saved, I wish I had …

Saturday night with Penzance Street Pastors my view

Last night I spent a good part of the evening with the Penzance Street Pastors team. For me this was very illuminating, firstly because I was intrigued to see what they do and what drives them and secondly to see PZ after dark on a saturday night. The former I knew little of and the latter i haven't experienced for quite a while. I very much enjoyed my evening and learnt a great deal about the Pastors, Christians, faith, duty and service as well of course as about drunkeness and debauchery.


I am the town councils representative for the Street Pastors which means I sit on their Management Committee and report back to the council their work. The Street Pastors -in Penzance at least- is a relatively new thing and receives financial support from the town council. There are many groups and organisations (all not for profit) who receive grants and other assistance from the council. So it was important for me to see first hand what they do, although I must confess to sloping off about h…

Business attitudes towards Golowan and Mazey day, my survey

Following a number of comments on my blog and twitter about Golowan and it's effect on the town, it's funding and the effect on business, I thought I would investigate some of these claims for myself. I spoke to 20 business in Penzance East and asked them some questions about Golowan. Politicians of all varieties,
spend a great deal of time justifying their views, opinions and policies on what people think, or more precisely what they say people think. Phrases like 'the majority of people in my constituency', 'the people of...', 'people I speak to', 'ordinary decent people' and the like abound. In truth without talking to thousands of people, which in itself would be a full time job, we can't for certain say one thing or another. It became clear to me that the comments about Golowan were originating from a small number of sources. Myself my opinions were formed from what I knew or what I thought I knew, so in effect I was just as bad. All p…