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Showing posts from July, 2014

A progressive case for a Cornish Assembly

I'm on holiday at the moment in Aberystwyth, but here's an article I wrote a while back for Country Standard which features in their latest magazine. I was trying to present an alternate argument for devolution to Cornwall, let me know what you think?Just firstly to introduce myself I am Rob Simmons a member of Mebyon Kernow- the Party for Cornwall a town councillor in Penzance and the party's general election candidate for the St Ives constituency next May. Like many people in MK I see myself as a progressive and I am proud that one of my first initiatives on the town council was to persuade the council to introduce the living wage for employees. But of course I am as well as a de-centralist. Many of the things I would like to change in Cornwall are to do with social policy as much as they are to do with constitutional change, below is my argument that a Cornish Assembly would be progressive and ought to be supported by people who want fundamental change where ever and wh…

Some thoughts on the recent Cornwall Council by elections

Over the last few weeks there were 2 by elections in the space of 2 weeks the first in Illogan and the second in Mabe, Perranarworthal and St Gluvias. I've had some time to think about the campaigns and the results and now find time to write about them. For what it's worth my thoughts on them. I'll talk about each by election separately and then the meaning for the various parties involved as I see it.(I have copied and pasted result tables direct from http://www.cornishelections.org.uk/ with many thanks to @KristoferKeane.)

Illogan:

Illogan was an interesting contest as a by election and there was always a lot at stake for all of the parties and their candidates. In the contest in the Cornwall Council election in May 2013 the Tories had topped the poll, with Mebyon Kernow second and UKIP not far behind in third with a 31% turn out.

2013 Result

PartyCandidateVotesVote %ConservativeTerry Wilkins33128.8%Mebyon KernowStephen Richardson29025.2%UKIPDon Armstrong25922.5%Lib DemsDa…

An update on the lack of superfast broadband in Penzance town centre

I have been busy working away at contacting businesses and organisations in Penzance. I have learnt a great deal about how superfast broadband works and the various incarnations ie. FTTP, FTTC etc. Also a great deal about how it effects a number of businesses. There is so far a mixed reaction some would like superfast broadband and it would make their organisation more efficient, whereas others need faster internet to allow their companies to grow. The vast majority think super fast broadband is a good thing and the roll out is needed for the town centre.

As you would expect from the diversity of businesses in the town centre. I have so far contacted local companies only (about 70) and avoided contacting chains based outside Cornwall and pubs. But I know that there are a large number of companies that have forgotten (I keep thinking of more and more). So if you are a company that I have forgotten please fill out the form here: Penzance Broadband Survey. I have also included an option …

Getting superfast broadband into Penzance town center

Superfast broadband was hailed as a great thing, superfast Cornwall was to bring lots of benefits and give us the fastest internet connections in the world. Although the fibre optic cables have been laid in Penzance there is a remarkable situation whereby parts of the town center can't get access to it. A couple of businesses have spoken to me expressing their frustration at this. I think this needs to change and I have been busy this morning emailing around town center businesses trying to understand what problems this is causing and building the argument that the economic benefits of a business having superfast broadband are not being felt here. Leaving one of Cornwall's biggest town centers in a 'chocolate fireguard situation' of being among the 5% not able to utilise this technology that was seen as key to revitalizing the economy. As Superfast Cornwall explain on their website:

"Funded by the European Union, BT and Cornwall Council, and managed by Cornwall Dev…

The silliness of painting lines over the Hayle A30 roundabout problem

You may have missed it whilst driving but the Loggan's Moor roundabout has had the 'Chivvy treatment' and the problem of congestion met with subtle reorganisation. Now at the cost of £200,000 there have been lines painted demarcating where drivers should be when negotiating the roundabout. As the Highways Agency explained:

What are the benefits? The scheme improvements will result in improved flow through the junction by increasing it's traffic capacity and improving identification of traffic routes and so reducing waiting times, especially during peak tourist times. The proposals achieve wider benefits in supporting growth in the surrounding area, such as development at Hayle. http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/a30-loggans-moor-roundabout/
I was waiting with baited breath to see how much this did change things and has so far only been through at less than peak travel hours and found not a great deal of difference. Sure not being cut up at the roundabout was…

The Penzance plan starts here, with myself on the board!

This is of course the neighbourhood plan for Penzance, more properly and in the words of a former Cornwall Council planner (Andy England) the process of 'planning for a plan' is well and truly in the offing. Last night at the town council I was elected onto the Penzance Neighbourhood Plan Board. Regular readers of the blog will now I have written on this subject before, back in October last year Should Penzance create a Neighbourhood Development Plan? I think it gives my initial views on the process and also some of the limitations I think it holds. For a more generic description try this from the DCLG.

Briefly a Neighbourhood Plan (NP) guides and informs planning decisions for the length of the plan (typically 20 years). Within the constraints of planning law (i.e. the National Planning Policy Framework) and the local plan (currently being devised by Cornwall Council). Unlike those policies that have already decided crucial matters like number of houses the NP will have the co…

Glass half full and half empty, some thoughts on the big rail news

I think in this world there are pessimists and optimists but there is also the majority of us between those two poles optimistic about some things and pessimistic about others. I find myself firmly in this category with this announcement. I don't mean to pour scorn on the massive investment, it is a really good thing but my view is tempered by what we are not getting. Perhaps I want too much from our politicians and I'll never be happy?


In that vein I'll sandwich the sections of this blog with the optimistic, pessimistic and end with some optimism. My sort of compliment sandwich for the government. Firstly the really good news there will be a new 'train care center' at Penzance (or Long Rock to be more geographically correct) the present yard will be extended. There will be 60 new jobs created there. This situation has come about as the Old Oak Common train maintenance depot is closing in it's present form as part of the High Speed 2 works. Apparently the presen…

Just when you think we're getting somewhere, Devonwall and South West regionalism both rear their ugly heads

You'd think things were all fine and dandy, the Cornish have recognition now, the government might just keep it's hands off Cornwall's Euro money and the Cornish Assembly campaign gathering pace. But no were dealing with Westminster so nothing is ever that simple.

Devonwall may well come back to haunt us, it seems the powers that be are still intent on redrawing parliamentary boundaries. Much like the Euro funding u turn, it's not exactly clear what is going on. With some of the ruling coalition telling us Devonwall will return and others saying it won't. So perhaps I'm scaremongering about nothing, but with this lot and their other great policy ideas, I wouldn't be surprised. I don't think it's a coincidence that people are talking about it.

On to the other lot and their "great" ideas, rebranded New Labour have rebranded their old regionalist ideas. Digging through the archives we find John Prescott promising regional powerhouses through t…

Cornwall Council in the eye of the storm of austerity

A story is doing the rounds in the press, that a Cornwall Council officer expressed the opinion that services did not need to be gold plated and that the bare minimum would do. This is the latest in the government's austerity drive, four years in and the pressure continues to fall on the smallest authorities.

Back in May the Local Government Association was warning of the consequences of all of this pressure on local councils:

Research carried out by the Local Government Association (LGA) suggests that the impact of spending reductions will start to become increasingly visible over the next two years, as councils tackle a further £10 billion cut in Government funding. In many areas where the well of efficiency savings has run dry, councils are on the verge of a tipping point where they will not have enough money to meet all their statutory responsibilities. Government funding given to councils to run local services will have been cut by 40 per cent by May 2015. LGA modelling, whic…