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Showing posts from February, 2013

Wavehub and looking enviously at the other Celtic Nations.

Last week I blogged and included my letter to the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation about the lamentable lack of progress with Wavehub. Since then I haven't had a reply from the department, last week I was on BBC Spotlight explaining my position and asking why Scotland had wave and tidal projects already operational creating energy jobs and growth yet here two years we have nothing yet to show for this massive investment. I should have mentioned that not only has the Scottish government led the way in delivering renewable marine project but also Northern Ireland has too and so does Brittany.


I read just now that Wales even has a major scheme in the pipeline, so the only Celtic Nation to not have devolution and control of our own energy strategy is Cornwall. It's easy to draw the conclusion, give the area concerned devolution and things get done, centralise it to London like they did here and you're left waiting. The Welsh scheme off Anglesey stands to create en…

The coalition comes to Cornwall Council

Well there's stranger things that have happened certainly, but bucking the trend of putting clear water between Westminster's bosom buddies has so far been the norm for the Cornish branch of the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. Today however they spoke as one voice, kneeling at the altar of austerity and leaving Cornwall to pray for the future of our public services, they agreed a set of job cuts and a tax freeze. The bottom line of this is that Cornwall Council will not raise the amount of council tax it demands from the people, although parish and town precepts may rise and Devon and Cornwall Police want more money so council tax will go up. As I blogged before rebel factions of the Tories and the Lib Dems took on the mantle of finding alternative budgets and I predicted the consultant and temp budget would be targeted. What I wrote less than two weeks ago:
Which brings me to consultants and temps no one really knows what they do outside of the council. A prime target…

Is the government preparing a u turn on A30 dualling at Temple?

In the Autumn statement, George Osborne announced funding for the dualling of the A30 between Temple and Carblake. This was created by much fanfare, previous requests to get the work done have all been denied by central government. See here for the Department of Transport's summary of previous appeals to dual the remainder of the A30 including this small section.

At the time the Liberal Democrats announced their chancellor's generousity as a triumph:

"The Coalition Government today announced that they will be providing the funding to upgrade the A30 between Temple and Higher Carblake to dual carriageway." St Ives Liberal Democrats

Now however the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP (uncharacteristically shifting their attention away from Newquay enterprise zone/ Aerohub) is asking for help to lobby the government for funding. A30 Temple Improvements we need your help:

"The government has only given provisional approval subject to a business case and a strict timetable…

My email to Vince Cable pleading that his department take action over Wave Hub. Copied to Andrew George and George Eustice.

Dear sirs,
I am writing to you to plead for action over Wave Hub and to question why it has taken so long for anything to actually happen with the project. Cornwall has been at the forefront of industrial development over the centuries and we take pride in our excellence in engineering and innovation. As such the Wavehub project off the coast of Hayle was widely welcomed here in West Cornwall. In the past we were at the cutting edge of the last industrial revolution and everyone welcomed the idea we'd be again at the cutting energy of another revolution this time in renewable energy. However unlike Cornwall in the industrial revolution, Wavehub has stalled. 
Over a year ago (22/12/2011) the ownership and management of Wavehub was centralised to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The press releases and headlines proudly proclaimed that the 'Future of Wavehub was Secured'. Considering Wavehub itself was ready and awaiting users over a year before that, many p…

The Lib Dem and Tory alternative budgets

The ruling administration at Cornwall Council has outlined their budget. As a response to yet more cuts from central government their response is to both raise council tax and cut services. There's less money so they're spending less and asking for more, its a terrible situation from my recollection the recession didn't start from Cornish schools overspending, or Cormac fixing too many potholes or Cornwall having too many libraries. But alas the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition sees funding the Royal Family, Trident replacement, a high speed railway to better connect the capital and shielding Whitehall budgets as the important things to fund. Local government here as elsewhere has had drastic cuts local government is at the forefront of recession. It may have been bailing out the banks that caused the government's financial woes but rest assured your local social workers, fire fighters, teachers, road cleaners, librarians etc are bearing the brunt. This is t…

The scandal of the second home water subsidy

Credit to the Western Morning News and their journalist Phil Godwin on uncovering the fact that the water rebate will also apply to second homes. As a further kick in the teeth to ordinary people the rebate will not apply to small businesses where owners live in the property of business. The story is in todays WMN and the preview here online.

I'm staggered frankly that this is happening. We were told the water rebate was to help one of the poorest parts of the UK pay the highest water rates in the UK. Whether this situation has come about by poor legislation, scrutiny and forethought which is likely or another policy for the rich and big business (like the 50p tax rate cut and corporation tax falling) is unclear. What is patently clear is that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat flagship policy here will exasperate existing problems for small business owners and provide  subsidy for second (and third etc) home owners. I await eagerly the opinion of Cornwall's MPs and whether…

Seabed mining off the North Cornish coast, why not a trial

I've read with interest plans revealed that the sea bad off Cornwall could be mined for minerals. On the one hand it promises jobs, investement and crucially Cornwall exporting and bringing money in. On the other there are widespread concerns that dredging style activity could have an adverse effect on wildlife, the fishing industry and beachgoers.

This is a great dilemma Cornwall shouldn't spurn economic development and a possibly emerging industry but neither should it sacrifice the environment to do so. Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Surfers Against Sewage are right to be cautious, sediment from centuries of mining churned up uncontrollably could have a long detrimental effect. To be fair the company behind the plan Marine Minerals ltd claim that their methods don't risk churning up the seabed and wouldn't pose the risks feared. (see this This is Cornwall article for example). This is claim and counter claim and its hard to know personally who is nearer to the mark. So…

South West Water, should the supply of water be such a profit intensive business.

Although it must be welcomed that water bills in Cornwall will drop. It must be welcomed that the coalition government has recognised the problem of people here paying much much more than everywhere else in the UK. It also must be welcomed that South West Water are announcing investement in sewerage works, flood defences and the water system. But lets be realistic we're getting ripped off still and the government needed to do more than divert taxpayers money to subsidising not only bills but the parent group Pennon's profits.

Water should be a human right, we can't live without fresh clean water and there are obvious health benefits to a modern sewerage system. Its reprehensible that we still regularly have raw sewage entering the sea from overflow drains during storms and heavy rain. I don't believe water should be a profit making venture. I'm no fan of privatisation I don't think public services and utilities should have shareholders and investors interests a…

Will Cornwall Council keep Lavery's hyperdevelopment agenda

For a start this isn't a blog outlining some conspiracy theory over the concreteing of Cornwall. The push for more and more house house building might be viewed as a conspiracy I suppose but its based on a seemingly rational argument that increasing the population of Cornwall is for our own good and would protect us from austerity. I think actually this logic is deeply flawed and naive but the argument is not without merit.

At the Councilor fair the other week Kevin Lavery gave his view of the council and what he saw as the future. I found this approach disappointing, I don't believe its the job of civil servants to espouse visions of the future. I firmly believe that politicians need to do this and that long term strategy needs to be democratically based. In simple terms explained to the electorate and decided by them at the ballot box. At the event it was very useful to hear various councillors explain what they do and the challenges they face as elected representatives. At …