Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Golowan is saved?


Last night was the Penzance Town Council meeting that decided upon the future of Golowan. Now Golowan has a different future, to recap 7 weeks ago the festival was presumably going to be run under the auspices of the town council. 6 weeks ago the council decided to put the core functions of Golowan out to a private management company. Last night all this was rescinded and we now have a new future for Golowan.


Personally I found myself in broad agreement with the principles that were stated at friday's public meeting at the Ritz. Which were to quote from my earlier blog: "That the budget cuts were unacceptable. That the new organisation must be bound by the original aims of Golowan. That the town council and councillors continues to fully support the festival whatever happens in the future (i.e. not cut it loose). That setting up a new organisation would take too long and not be able to run the 2016 festival."

As I agreed with all of these I would've been delighted if last nights decision reflected all of those points. However it did not, but from from glass half full to glass half empty, the mayors recommendations as set out in the paperwork did not come into place. The incremental budget cuts of 5 thousand per year for Golowan were refused (plan was from the 15k this year to, 19,250 2016 and 14,250 2017 and 2018). There was no mention of the original aims of Golowan and there was no mention of Town Council support for the festival in the recommendations. It could have been much worse.

On the point of a new organisation being set up for next year this was not listened to. Apparently it was impossible in the time-frame for the Town Council to hire a director and getting everything set for next year. (Planning a large event involves a lot of paperwork and jumping through hoops, often months in advance.) It was voted that an interim organisation will be appointed to do this very task for next year and somehow be able to do what the council can not!! It was explained that public concerns about the time-frame were addressed and now the council has moved the dates for deciding and handing over to a new organisation from the 18th of November to the 25th of November. I don't think this did address the anxieties people have one bit.

The full motion passed by council is that: 


This Council acknowledges the vital role the Golowan Festival plays both in life of the community we represent and the local economy.
The Council will continue to actively support Golowan and any future organisation that manages it. 
The Council recognises the importance of Golowan's original charitable aims and will ensure any future management organisation will abide by these.
The Council believes a successful future for Golowan is most likely to be achieved through a not-for-profit community organisation.
Immediately after the conclusion of the 2016 festival, the Council will invite bids from as wide a range as possible of appropriate interested parties to take responsibility for Golowan from 2017.
For at least the first 3 years of operation, the successful bidder will receive financial support from the Council of 25,000 pounds per year.
The Council will facilitate the creation of a Golowan supporters group, on the model of the 'Friends of Penlee House' with the intention of providing a vehicle for consultation on and community engagement with the future of the Golowan Festival.
This Council acknowledges the importance of Golowan 2016 as a transitional year.
This Council recognises that an era of increased responsibilities for town councils requires a higher standard of adherence to administrative and financial regulations than has been the case and that therefore the Council cannot manage Golowan in the way it has done previously.
This Council will therefore appoint an appropriate community organisation to deliver to deliver the 2016 Golowan festival ONLY, according to the timetable laid out below.

2 November – Committee decision. 
3 November – Firm expressions of interest to run the 2016 festival will be sought from the community. Advertised on Town Council’s website. 
20 November – Submissions from Community Interest Companies (or equivalents) returned to Town Council office. 
24 November – Chairs’ Committee meet to review the submissions, decision taken. 
25 November – Successful company informed and transference to begin immediately, to enable an event notification notice to go from the successful company to Cornwall Council before Christmas. Followed by the first SAG meeting In January to present the event management plan to Cornwall Council.

So this is to be the future, quite what it all means remains to be seen....

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Golowan and it's future back before Penzance Town Council

Much has said and been written about Golowan over the last 6 weeks. For it was 6 weeks ago tomorrow that Penzance Town Council voted to put the core functions of the festival out to private management. This resulted in a flurry of press coverage, an explosion on social media, hundreds signing petitions. People were certainly not happy with the behind closed doors decision. Or to put it more simply 859 people have signed a petition that reads:

"Penzance town council have voted to hand the Golowan festival to a private company. We the undersigned believe this decision should be reversed and the public consulted about the festivals future."

https://www.change.org/p/penzance-town-council-save-the-golowan-festival?recruiter=20902901&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink



On friday night (30/10/2015) there was a public meeting held in the Ritz Penzance. Pictured above is Mike Sagar Fenton chairing that meeting. The major thrust of the meeting was twofold, to hear from the Mayor (David Nebesnuick) about his latest recommendation to the full council meeting on monday and to ask him questions and show him the strength of public feeling. The second part was to resolve what the meeting wanted for the future of Golowan. Understandably there was some disagreement between what the public wanted and what the mayor had planned. (if it's of any interest I have complained that the town council papers and recommendation were published before the public meeting and are consequently contradictory and not taking public feeling into account).

Whatever I may think, or other councillors and whatever the mayor will recommend tomorrow night, has yet to be decided. Amendments may well be made, votes won and lost. To say the future of Golowan and it's management is secure and planned is not true.

The Mayor's recommendation is as a result of talking to people involved in the festival over the last few weeks. Is it a climbdown on the privatisation of Golowan? I really don't think so at all. Now it is envisaged that a CIO or CIC (which is presumably yet to exist) will take over Golowan in the coming weeks and deliver the 2016 festival. That the budget will be cut by 5 thousand in year 1 and an additional 5 thousand in year 2. That is £25,000 down to £15,000.

The full text is here
http://www.penzancetowncouncil.co.uk/assets/file/Golowan%202016%20Report.pdf

The meetings response was very clear in it's thoughts on this. There was a later show of hands that indicated; That the budget cuts were unacceptable That the new organisation must be bound by the original aims of Golowan. That the town council and councillors continues to fully support the festival whatever happens in the future (i.e. not cut it loose). That setting up a new organisation would take too long and not be able to run the 2016 festival. It was pointed out that the feasibility of putting this out to tender and making sure any organisation (let alone a bespoke organisation) won the tender would be ultra vires and even judicially re viewable, i.e. unlawful. Clearly a great amount of work is needed before any of these plans see the light of day!

I have a further fundamental problem with the plans, the Mayor justifies the decision to take Golowan out of the Town Council's hands because there were failings in the management this year. To quote:

The stimulus to take action arose from Cornwall Council’s loss of confidence in Penzance Town Council’s management of the festival in 2015 and their plans to undertake a special review of the management of Golowan under an independent chair provided by Plymouth City Council. 
Cornwall Council’s review took place in Camborne on 25 Sep 2015 and involved most of the members of the Council’s Safety Advisory Group. The Mayor, Acting Town Clerk and Festival Director were invited to attend the meeting which lasted 3 hours. Penzance Town Council was debriefed on its failures and weaknesses in preparing for the 2015 festival and the changes required for a successful festival in 2016. It was made clear that the status quo could not continue into 2016 because unless substantial improvements were made it was unlikely that the necessary road closures would be approved putting the festival in doubt.
(I've requested the minutes and notes from this meeting and not had any response whatsoever)

So there were failings apparently, the lesson for Penzance Town Council is apparently to get rid of the hassle and give it to someone else. What were the lessons from this time round and how can these obstacles be surmounted? More pressingly how can a brand new organisation or company learn these lessons. It greatly concerns me that if the challenges of delivering Golowan are seen as too much on the town council, what confidence can there be that any new provider will be ready for these challenges. I'm very much used to ways of working, whereby evaluation is done and mistakes are learnt from and things get better, I have little confidence that any of these proposed plans actually address the supposed failings of 2015 and has a vision for how 2016 can run smoother.

I'm still greatly perplexed at the seeming rush in all this. We have a festival that has survived, albeit with a revival, from antiquity, Even since the revival there has been 25 festivals. Yet we are giving ourselves such a short time-frame to reorder and reorganise this massive festival, the question is why?




As I wrote above the Town Council meeting will be held tomorrow night. Until then nothing is settled and I know there are various alternatives and amendments being proposed. Quite what the end product will be is far from certain. The meeting will be held in the Lecture Theater, Zennor building, Penwith College, 7 pm start. If you live in Penzance and wish to contact your councillors the contact details are here:
http://www.penzancetowncouncil.co.uk/councillors

Tomorrow's agenda:
http://www.penzancetowncouncil.co.uk/assets/file/Town%20Council%202.11.15.pdf

Monday, 5 October 2015

Penzance Town Council issue statement on Golowan

Coming hot on the heels of a widespread social media campaign to keep Golowan public, the front page of the Cornishman and a lot more going behind the scenes. The Chair of the Finance and Property Committe Dick Cliffe has issued a statement approved by the Mayor David Nebesnuick on behalf of the town council about the decision made 3 weeks ago today.

I've had no input into the content of this letter and I was sent it after it was finished. I do not agree with many of the points and would like to see a lot more clear facts to back up some of the sweeping statements.

Here's some brief comments.

There is a statement that: "Indeed the Council would prefer the event (Golowan) to be independent of the Council." This is not the policy of the town council, it may well be the views of some councillors but it has never been discussed let alone decided upon by the council. I certainly do not agree with it.

It continues: "Should an organization come forward at some point in the future, and expect significant Town Council grant funding to deliver Golowan, then we would want to see an established track record of delivery of large public events to a budget." Again never been discussed quite who 'we' is therefore is unclear. Again the town council has not discussed other options only to put it out to private management, let alone set parameters for another organisation to run it. It is only the town council in a meeting that can make such decisions. Again I do not agree with the statement, it's specifically and carefully written to preclude any community group or organisation within Penzance having anything to do with the running of Golowan and leaves only the private sector available.

On another tack my previous blog, I criticised the taking of this issue in private. The reasons given was because it was confidential. I've asked the question why if this statement is public and a varied argument made for the future management of Golowan, could the meeting itself not also have been public? I await an answer from the authors of this statement. I suspect the answer is because public pressure is telling and that many people feel that this is not an issue for the town council alone and there is a huge public interest, keep up the good work folks...

The open letter is here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6TN2L9M
The poll asking for a public meeting is here https://fans.vote/ACjkiqbudBQ/?wid=&ref=voted

Full Penzance Town Council statement is here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2m8p_rrHuXtZm50dXB5MGcyMjVhWTlZZElCUnZnc0lfVmhj




Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Golowan no longer a community festival after a Penzance Town Council meeting behind closed doors

With some of us still pondering our way through the Penzance 400 report and trying to discover what to read between the lines, we all have a fresh cause for consternation, another festival involving Penzance Town Council; Golowan. Now I will be clear at the beginning that this was discussed in private session by councillors, that I am hamstrung to say much more on the subject.



I can however talk around it, a motion was brought before the town council on monday 21st September after the press and public had been excluded from the meeting. The public face of it is these words, as taken from the public agenda: "(b) Future Management of the Golowan Festival 2016 (see attached)". The attachment is of course private. I can confirm that this was the first and only time this matter was considered by the town council, since I was elected. I like other members had only 3 days from receiving the agenda to consider the item. Obviously due to the fact that it was considered private, councillors had no opportunity to speak to people involved and consider the arguments from those on the ground nor have a chance to canvass the opinion of the people that voted us into office. 

The last full council meeting, was a packed agenda and the usual rule for a 3 hour meeting maximum had to be suspended for the last items to be considered. As you can see for yourselves from the agenda it had 18 reports for decision that doesn't even include minutes or reports for information, including a future home for the town council, a proposal to reduce the number of town councillors, devolution priorities year on year for the next few years, CCTV, Morrab Gardens, Isles of Scilly parking, Poltair hospital and so the list goes on. Matters vital to the future of the council and the town itself, incurring budgets of millions and affecting a huge swathe of public services. As there was such a great rush, members were written to and asked to read papers carefully to facilitate less questions and more speedy voting at the meeting. It is in this context that we have to realise that the Golowan decision was made at the end of a very very long meeting with a packed agenda. 

Add to this the abject lack of consultation by the council itself to members of the public, interested parties and even councillors themselves. Is it any wonder that we now have an open letter signed by over 300 people, calling on the council to rescind that hastily made decision?  

Here's a link to the open letter which provides some insight to what the decision was: 

For what it's worth, I do not agree that the motion should have been discussed in this manner. The future of a such a pivotal community festival is most definitely a matter of public interest and not to be packaged up with sensitive matter and hidden behind the veil of commercial sensitivity. Or in other words the decision to put Golowan out to commercial management, should be a matter of public debate, careful consideration and have been put before councillors as a simple question in the interests of openness and transparency. In the current climate this would seem to radical!


Thursday, 6 August 2015

Penzance 400 over spend report

After much mud slinging, hand wringing, press coverage and the like. The report into the over spend for the Penzance 400 celebrations has been published and placed in the public domain. Here I want to draw attention to some of the points but as it is 35 pages long and available online for those willing to go through it, I won't here. Although of course I have been through it and am willing to talk about either in the comments section below or via email robscornishblog@gmail.com.



As a short summary of what happened. The council had agreed to hold events to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the town receiving a charter last year. Although a number of events including a charter fair, a beating the bounds ceremony, theatrical performances, a Penlee exhibition were organised the big event was the 'Pirates on the Prom' Guiness World Record Attempt. To cover the costs of running these events the town council budgeted for £22,850 (which came from £12,000 sponsorship and £10,850 from council budgets. There was a HLF bid to pay for the rest. Unfortunately and what was a rather embarrassing mistake picked up in the report, there was another bid being entered for Penlee House, the problem being one organisation can not apply for 2 grants simultaneously. Therefore the PZ 400 bid was withdrawn, the rest of the narrative is picked up in the report:

"When the clash of bids was finally realised (late February 2014), the bid from PZ400 was withdrawn, with less than three months before the event. By then a substantial number of contracts had been issued and considerable advance publicity arranged – not least the event was being featured in First Great Western’s onboard magazine. 

It is clear cancelling the event at such short notice was not a practicable option available to the Council or the Director of the event, without causing serious damage both to the reputation and financial standing of the Town and the wider area. 

Finally, with only days to go before the event, both Cornwall Council and Devon & Cornwall Police raised their requirements for Health & Safety and Policing the event. There had apparently been insufficient advance dialogue with these parties to plan for these eventualities. 

The day itself, although it did not break the Guinness Book of Records figure, was by all accounts a success and went off without a hitch. The event brought a large number of people to Penzance – who spent a considerable amount of money in the town." Page 17 

This is where procedures went out the window. The council remained committed to the total spend which had rocketed to £63,622.75, therefore £55,846.81 over the agreed budget. This money was duly spent and recorded through the Finance and Property Committee. However there was no official decision to spend this extra money (as demanded by the Council's Standing Orders and Financial Regulations). The report unfortunately did not apparently uncover record of who made these decisions although the money was spent. It neither reveals what council and other members of the Penzance 400 Organising Committee had to say when it was reported to them that the HLF bid would not be submitted. Certainly staff and members of the council were aware of this problem and surely aware of the increasing potential financial liability for the council.

There are a number of recommendations and conclusions in the report, they are well worth a read (as is the whole report). For me, my culpability and the reason I should apologise is for not paying better attention and asking more questions. The Good Councillor Guide is clear in the following statement: "As a councillor, you share collective responsibility for financial management of the council." (page 3) The report notes that the Penzance 400 spend went over budget it also notes that only 1 councillor picked this up, this is clearly not good enough with any amount of money let alone £55,000+. This is even though clearly in black and white to 3 committee meetings it was in the papers the difference between the budgeted and actual expenditure. It's with little surprise that one of the report's recommendations is this:

"Councillors in Penzance Town Council have, on this issue, abdicated their responsibility to scrutiny. This is a fundamental duty and should be carried out regularly and within the public domain. If scrutiny had been regularly exercised this issue would never have arisen." Page 31

Draw your own conclusions from the report available online here, There is various levels of blame levelled at people in authority and those more involved in the day to day matters of this. But for myself even though I was not in a position of authority within the council relevant to this over spend, I have to be aware that the major role of councillors is to ask questions, to not show complacency to always be listening, reading and scrutinising and acting accordingly.

I hope this report will be ultimately a good thing for the council and councillors will consider what is asked of them more readily, I also hope that the Report's recommendation of healing differences between members is listened to. We have this huge devolution agenda coming up and Penzance Town Council seems eager to have more powers, responsibilities and bigger budgets, I feel for this to happen we need to show the people of this town that was can deal with what we do now, in a professional and competent manner.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

the Cornwall Devolution Deal and the continuing centralisation to Cornwall Council

With the Cornwall Devolution Deal announced last week, we must ask what about powers within Cornwall. The fact is Cornwall is one of the most centralised local government areas anywhere in the UK. Lacking the middle tier of local government in districts and boroughs. Although there is lots of talk of localism and 'double devolution', what does this all actually mean? What do the current plans entail?

To turn first to the Case for Cornwall, as readers are probably aware this is the document put together by Cornwall Council asking the government for more powers. (available here). This is where the term double devolution comes from as the document explains:

"Together the Case for Cornwall and the Council’s continuing ambition to devolve embrace the notion of double devolution. Getting powers and responsibilities devolved to as low a level as possible, subject to sound governance and delivery arrangements being in place, demonstrates the common commitment of the Government and the Council to empower communities and ensure true local ownership and accountability." p.18/19

Here there is a great deal on principle and mighty fine it is too. There isn't a clear commitment to address the issue of centralisation in Cornwall and to take some of the powers and facilities and bring them back to local control. 

Nailing down what this actually means is harder to find. There are few mentions of town and parish councils in the document. They overwhelmingly talk about towns and parishes in reference to the council tax referendum cap. Which was placed on principle local authorities by the government to force a referendum if they sought to raise council tax by more than 2%. Interestingly it also includes police authorities, so far Bedfordshire police has been the only authority of any kind to call a referendum, lost overwhelmingly 69.5% against. The reason other authorities haven't is they obviously fear this result, so the coalition government effectively created a block on council tax rises.

However towns and parishes have not, so far, been included in the cap. Which allowed Penzance Town council for example, to raise the precept by 5% for the last year and 35.53% for this year. This is quite common in Cornwall and elsewhere as a result of budget cuts the principal authorities have shed services due to budget cuts and towns and parishes have taken on services and raised their precept to pay for it. Although this is a huge issue and leaving towns and parishes out of the referendum cap and I can understand why Cornwall Council included it in the Case for Cornwall.

However it is the only mention of towns and parishes in any substance in the whole of the Case for Cornwall document. I can understand to an extent that devolution should be bottom up not top down that it shouldn't be Cornwall Council's role to dictate devolution, I still feel it doesn't bode well for how seriously devolution within Cornwall is taken.

As we know the Case for Cornwall was not accepted by government and instead we now have the Cornwall Devolution Deal. If we can criticise the Cornwall Council devolution ideas for not considering devolution downwards then the government's announcement is deplorable. It doesn't even mention town and parish councils.

It does seem like we now will have devolution that gives more power to Cornwall Council. That takes more decisions and puts them in fewer hands. Although I firmly remain in favour of devolution it does trouble me that the Cornwall Devolution Deal does not deliver on 'double devolution'. In 2009 local government was centralised into Cornwall Council and it seems this process of concentrating power and decision making has picked up pace...




Thursday, 16 July 2015

Devolution for Cornwall a nod in the right direction


Today David Cameron will come to Cornwall and outline a devolution deal for Cornwall (Council). As always the devil will be in the detail and we have to be cautious of what is said and what actually comes to pass.

However it would be churlish of me to dismiss the deal out of hand. I've written before and spoke at hustings earlier this year, about freeing Cornwall from the dead hand of Westminster. Allowing us to be free from policies that don't suit Cornwall. Although there is much progress talked about in the media, there is still work to do. As much as it gladdens me that Cornwall will gain back control of European funding, be free to develop renewable energy, integrate and join up hospitals and health care, to make public transport make more sense by aligning bus and train times. 

My criticisms are about what it does not include. Planning and housing are not included, the promise of being able to develop a Cornish planning policy framework and redefining affordable housing to mean something to people on local wages are sorely lacking. As is powers to define here what housing numbers are needed and of course the option to limit second homes. In all these areas one size fits all policies from Westminster will continue to reign. Housing and planning is just one area and there are similar comments to be made about others.

I do think it was a grave mistake for the government's deal to not be debated in the public realm. It falls well short of Cornwall Council's Case for Cornwall, although many such as Bernard Deacon have criticised it's lack of public engagement. It is at least a great deal more than the government's deal which hasn't even had the pretence of public consultation and wasn't even discussed by Cornwall Councillors in public session. 

Fundamentally it must be said it means giving Cornwall Council more powers. It is already the largest unitary authority in the 'country'. I still do not feel that the centralisation of local government to Truro was a process that was completed satisfactorily and that the unitary authority ever really found it's feet. What makes the Cornish devolution deal a landmark case is not the fact that it is the first "rural area" i.e. non city, it is the fact that it is devolution without any new structures or institutions. Wales got an assembly as did London, Scotland got a parliament, various cities got new mayors. It looks as though Cornwall Council will be given a whole raft of powers without anything new, no new politicians and no elections. 

As anyone that's ever read my blog before will know I am wholly in favour of a Cornish assembly. Devolving power to a new body with a strategic focus and the ability to set funding priorities and make new laws. Underneath that having local government to do what local government does. My fundamental criticism is that the Cornwall Council deal will be a fudge of both being neither a national strategic government nor a local administrative one. Perhaps I will be proved wrong, I wait with baited breath... 

Over all though this must be welcomed as a step in the right direction, even for it's flaws. A brief chink in the armour of the overly centralised state in which we live. I sincerely hope the freedoms that are given to Cornwall Councillors are utilised to the best possible advantage. The Welsh politician Ron Davies said that "devolution was a process not an event" I think we have to see this in that context and hope it is true in our case...

See also the Mebyon Kernow press release on the devolution deal here

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

We can't let the Tories take away the hard won freedoms of the human rights act

With the election barely over the Tories are starting the way they mean to go on, determined and uncaring. Vying for first place in their priorities with more punishing cuts the Tories are determined to do away with the Human Rights Act. Not content with joining up with the Lib Dems in their first term to do massive damage to welfare, public services and remove morality from decision making entirely. Content with taking away many of the things the state can do for citizens, David Cameron now wants to go one better and attack liberty itself and attack the protections in law.

For information these are the rights in the HRA

Right to life
Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment

Right to liberty and security
Freedom from slavery and forced labour
Right to a fair trial
No punishment without law
Respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence
Freedom of thought, belief and religion
Freedom of expression
Freedom of assembly and association
Right to marry and start a family
Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms
Right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
Right to education
Right to participate in free elections

You have to come to a point where you wonder what will be left in the wake of the Tories? Which of these rights they wish to do away with? I find it perplexing in the extreme to even imagine which of these principles could be that bad, Right to life? No punishment without law? Freedom of expression? 

Human rights have developed internationally over the last few centuries. When people started to consider that individual freedoms should be explicitly protected in law. To temper the power of governments and to make them be held to account, so they can't act like they wish. So people can't be discriminated against, imprisoned of have their individual freedoms and liberties threatened without cause. One of the reasons human rights even exist, was the collective horror of people over the activities of dictatorships, Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany chief among them. People came together fought in world wars so we can live in a better world, a fairer world and a freer world. We must be very wary of a government that wishes to give itself more power, by taking power of off it's citizens. The Tories latest move threatens to attack the very nature of liberal democracy and the rule of law.  

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The election, the morning after the night before, some thoughts

Firstly many thanks to those of you that supported me at this election. My agent who as wonderful and a real rock for me to lean on. My helpers who delivered almost 20 thousand leaflets. Everyone that sent me messages of encouragement. A special thanks to all those that showed faith in me and put their x next to my name and my party.


It has been quite an experience, I've thought and done little else these last few weeks. I've lost a stone in weight and I'm struggling to remember what it's like to wake in the morning and do normal things. I've given everything I've got at this election, I've over come fears and pushed myself hard. As have my small but dedicated election team.

I'm a bit sore that the MK vote did not match all this hard work. I'm glad we got 518 votes and I'm happy that we made progress on the 387 from last time. It may not seem a lot but when you have such a small base to work from but it is a large percentage increase and a definite sign of progress, however painfully slow. It's much the same picture for the rest of MK a small but steady increase in the vote. I think the party deserved more but that didn't happen.

The inevitable reckoning has come, many are talking of what the party needs to change and I welcome that debate and look forward to taking part of it, when I've rested a little of course. I would however like people to consider a tale from the American civil war, when after the event the Confederates got together and lambasted all the mistakes they made, a general Pickett piped up "I've always thought the Yankees had something to do with it."

You have to consider why in any contest one side did not succeed but also why the other side did succeed. Throughout the UK we could ask why did Miliband and Labour not win? and why did Cameron and the Tories get a resounding result against the grain? Same here in Cornwall why did Mebyon Kernow get a tiny share of the vote and why did the other parties succeed?

I told the press at the count yesterday that being a small party in a marginal is tough. Marginals are where parties concentrate money and resources. All of the party leaders bar Miliband came to this constituency at least once and got useful media coverage for their candidates. They spend a lot of money and they are determined in their aim of gaining as much votes as they can and they do that by attracting voters from other parties like MK.

If I compare my campaign with the other 5 candidates there are obvious disparities. All delivered more leaflets than me, all were on tv more than me, all were in the press more than me and all of them spent more money than I did. Politics is about reaching out to the electorate, engaging them and their fear and hopes and showing how your principles, ideas and policies would make a difference to their lives. We had the least opportunities to do that.

That's something for us to consider. I'm not bitching about it, I knew this all along I knew I wasn't entering a fair fight. For next time though I would only stand if I had more support, more members and supporters to help and a lot more resources to throw at it. Till 2020 :)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Fair funding for Cornwall would be my number one priority if elected in St Ives

“If you are elected what will be your number one priority for your constituency and why?”

My number one priority as MP would be to get a fair deal for Cornwall’s funding, not only because it would be the right to do, but also the public are crying for decent public services.

As I see it, there are 3 major problems that need to be addressed by government and have been ignored by politicians for far too long. 1 this constituency has the lowest wages in all of Cornwall and some of the worst across the UK. 2 Cornwall is one of the poorest parts of the European Union and second poorest in the UK. 3 We are given a raw deal for government on funding and this makes the first 2 problems so much worse.

Here’s some examples, recently John Pollard said that Cornwall Council was short changed by £48 million a year by government. Our school child funding per head is £154 less than the national average. In the years 2006-2013 our NHS got £220 million less than the funds government even declared they needed. We need fair funding and I am proud to represent the only party which has addressing this issue as a manifesto commitment. This would be my priority.


Three things that need to change in politics in this next parliament

There's a lot said in a political campaign and certainly I've written and spoke my fair share. On ideas and policies that matter to me. But my ability to pick out a bad policy and build an argument about it is not a reason to elect me. If that logic ran true it'd be Owen Jones fending off coalition advances, but that's not true.

Electing an MP is about electing someone for their ideals, policies and principles but also electing an individual to represent them both in terms of policy and in terms of locality. I'd happily be an MP at the heart of the debate, trying to hold reason, sending constant missives to the press on how I'm right and everyone else is wrong.  But that's not enough, being a talker and thinker is great but we also need a doer and someone with an eye not just for high politics but an eye to the grass roots. 

I've tried to be this way with my blog, I often write and campaign about lofty ideals, devolution, privatisation, austerity and so on. In between those times I've  campaigned on specific issues. Against the pasty tax and Devonwall. For Superfast Broadband in Penzance town centre. For government investment and attention in Wave Hub, among others. I don't pretend for a minute that it was me alone that shifted these issues. I do feel however I can take credit for inspiring debate and getting the situation into the media and further up the political agenda.

I guess my personal plea to you is this, I feel I can have an impact, I feel that I already do. I've had this impact as a blogger, a tweeter and more recently as a town councillor. If I have a bigger mandate from thursday's vote, I will have more influence and more people will take note of me. More importantly than all of that pay more attention to Cornwall and the issues MK has raised time and again in this election, the failures of centralisation, our poorly performing economy, our low wages and Cornwall's affordable housing need. The opportunities of rethinking politics, having the chance to set our own, new, priorities in Cornwall, the chance that by doing things differently Cornwall can be a better place to live, work and play.

I've raised these three truths at this election a number of times, 1. we don't get fair funding for our public services in Cornwall, 2. the St Ives constituency has the lowest wages in Cornwall, 3. Cornwall is one of the poorest parts of Western Europe. Tory, Lib Dem and Labour have had a chance to sort these out and they haven't. I think the time has come to change that, we must change that. The more of a vote I and Mebyon Kernow get on thursday, the more of a say, MK can have in getting the focus of political minds to address Cornwall's fundamental problems head on and unlock the brighter future that we all know is possible. 


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

We must end the trend of privatising public services and return services to public ownership

“Is it inevitable that in future more and more public services both locally and nationally will be privatised and/or outsourced or should this policy be reversed and services put back into public ownership?”


I must admit that some weeks answering these questions is tricky in the 200 word limit, but this week
it is deceptively simple. No! it is not inevitable that public services are run for profit.


The manifesto of Mebyon Kernow is very very clear on this, public services should be publicly owned and run, not privatised, and further they need to be under democratic control, not managed by undemocratic and unaccountable boards, trusts and quangos.


There has been a trend under Tory, Labour and Tory Lib Dem governments for more and more involvement in the private sector and it is obvious who has benefited from these policies: share holders. This has often been to the detriment of public services.


This has increased the power of corporations and the natural extension of this policy of giving the private sector more and power is the TTIP. This is despite the fact that polling shows people want public services owned by the state. We need everything from the NHS, libraries to the rail companies run for the public good under democratic control and delivering first class services to the public not first class profits for the private sector.

Monday, 4 May 2015

How government should support Cornish fishing and farming, but don't

“What would you like to see done to provide more support to the agriculture and fishing industries and enable them to continue and thrive?”


It's very welcome to see this question featured, people often underestimate the importance of food
production to the Cornish economy. Both farming and fishing are very important to the local economy. It's a shame that both are part of the same question as they need different things to support them grow as industries.

Cornwall does not have a strong voice in the EU and UK, as a result the CAP and CFP and UK government policy do little to help our fishing fleet and farmers. This is because ministers treat our input into these policies as an afterthought. Both industries need a greater say in policy, it is scandalous this does not happen.

In order to reduce food miles, reduce traffic and help the Cornish economy. I believe that retailers should be offered tax incentives to stock local produce and source it locally without the scandal of trucking it up country to return the produce back to Cornwall. As well supermarkets should be regulated in the price they offer for goods, we can’t continue the economic insanity of milk pricing and it should be the responsibility of the state to intervene in situations like this for the common good.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Devolution is coming to Cornwall, how you vote on thursday will have a huge effect on how ambitious our settlement will be


Devolution is an idea often talked about and little understood. What does devolvement mean? What will change? 

The simple answer to all these questions is a "great deal", the complicated one "that's up to you?"

In the last year or so all of the political parties have addressed the issue of Cornish devolution.
Labour Tory (and UKIP) say a Cornish Assembly would be too costly. Both concede powers should be devolved from the centre. Whether that means to local government? to mayors? Or perhaps to new bodies, both are keen on authorities working with each other, perhaps the ever fated Devonwall or Westcountry devolution will happen and we'll be ruled by Bristol...

The Liberal Democrats talk of devolution on demand, unfortunately unlike say Netflix, there is no preview button. They have committed to a Cornish assembly  (rather vaguely and half heartedly it must be said). They've also pledged to reduce the number of politicians in Cornwall. So they both want more powers to Cornwall Council with less councillors. Bigger budgets and responsibilities with less, oversight, scrutiny and accountability, a true example of Cleggism, being neither liberal nor democratic....

Cornwall Council have the most enthusiastic campaign, the Case for Cornwall. Which has it's merits, it's well presented and has some support in the council. Probably a bit dissapointing for the council that no political party at this general election has come out in support of the campaign. Which is odd as most candidates in Cornwall speak in favour of it and could have taken up this document to champion.

Meanwhile Mebyon Kernow have a policy document, Towards a National Assembly for Cornwall. It has been widely consulted on and spells out what powers we think Cornwall needs. It is by far the most ambitious in the powers and responsibilities it calls for. 

My argument is this, devolution will be a huge issue with the next government. Whichever of the coalitions takes office, power will be devolved. What shape that will be and how effective that could be in forging a better Cornwall, is undecided.

Parties will offer various pitches about how this election is crucially about tuition fees, austerity, climate change, the NHS, the economy, housing, low wages. I've heard all my fellow candidates utter these things. They've made some very good arguments. Clearly explained the problems of these things and why they're such vital issues.

My counter argument is this, yes we must address these vital issues and now, of course we must. However, rather than fight a pitched battle here and a pitched battle there against the entire government system. Vote for MK and push with us for devolution for these vital issues to Cornwall. So the people we need to influence, to change policy, live among us and are elected by the people and held to account by them. So we can look to a future where the privatisation of public services is a Cornish decision. So the definitions of affordable housing and actually building some genuinely affordable housing, is not ruled out by a ministerial decree. So we can have the tools to fix our communities by dealing with second homes. So we can have buses that work in unison with trains, where we can adjust our fares and timetables without meeting central government disapproval. So we can finally have the tools to deal with the problem of being one of the least economically productive parts of Europe and actually improve the Cornish economy. 

It's obviously up to you how you vote on May the seventh. Do be wary though, that devolution will be a massive issue and it will be led by MPs. My view is we need to be ambitious with the future. We need to aim higher and get the most powers and control over funding that we can. If you vote for Mebyon Kernow candidates on thursday you will be voting for the most ambitious people determined to win the most powers, freedoms and funding from central government. 


https://www.mebyonkernow.org/pages/cornish_assembly.php

How Cornwall can benefit from superfast broadband and better connections with the world

“The rollout of superfast broadband has been hailed as a catalyst for creating new high skilled, high paid jobs in Cornwall – what else can be done to help develop and encourage this kind of employment in the county?”


Having world class superfast broadband is a very positive thing for Cornwall and more must be done 

to fully realise the potential it can have. I was recently in a campaign to get this into Penzance town 

centre on time and FTTP installed rather than much slower FTTC. I took part in this campaign after 

businesses in the town asked me what the delay was. 






From them and a survey I did of companies and organisations in the town, it was clear that superfast 

was a very important asset and would enable growth. We live in an increasingly connected world 

and it was a real eye opener to me how many organisations in Penzance trade and communicate 

with partners throughout the UK, Europe and the whole world. 


Although I believe in the need to do more trade locally and reduce food miles and other unnecessary 

transports. The next step for West Cornwall and Scilly in my opinion is taking advantage of how the 

internet and superfast broadband connects us with the world. We need government to help and 

enable companies take advantage of the internet. Look to how to expand existing companies and 


bring more to Cornwall to unleash our potential.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Free schools are not pushing up standards, we need to address the key issues on education

“Are free schools the best way to push up standards in education or should the resources being used for these new schools instead be used to provide for improvements in existing schools?”

It goes withour saying that education is important. We need a school system that delivers first class education. We need pupils to leave education armed with the knowledge and the ability to think for themselves,  in order to get on in life, both in work and life itself.

These are the things politicians should bear in mind when they consider education, how to defend what is good and how to improve what is bad and constantly strive to make education better.

Unfortunately Free Schools, seemed to be based more on ideology than on improvement. They have centralised the funding away from local authorities and to the hands of Whitehall. How this makes schools free is unclear. I fear that if changes or cuts to funding are made (the ideological axe still hangs ominously over public services) how will schools make representations to a distant unaccountable bureaucracy?

Our schools need investment, as we've seen over the last few years in Helston, with the c block fiasco, the government have avoided the main problems from the coal face and focused on top down solutions. I believe that the funds diverted to the Free School experiment would be much better invested in schools.

Friday, 1 May 2015

The government needs to do more to improve transport in Cornwall

“What can be done to improve transport links to and from Cornwall 
as well as transport within the county?”

Transport links in Cornwall are not ideal and I’m glad the question addresses the vital issue of getting 

around Cornwall not just getting up country. Fundamentally one of the key issues for our next MP 

should be getting fair funding for our transport network and to get the crucial decisions devolved to 

Cornwall, as we know best the problems we face and how to solve them and this is true not just for 

roads but also public transport including of course the links with the Isles of Scilly. 


Recently the  government was unwilling to pay for A30 improvements, despite the fact they are responsible 

for it, Cornwall Council is contributing. This is an unwelcome development as we in Cornwall and tourists, 

pay road tax to central government, where is this money going? We need some of Cornish taxpayers 

money back from the Treasury to pay for transport. 


We need to rethink how we deliver it and should  seriously consider renationalising the public transport 

network that we already subsidise and look to improving it by making train and bus times schedules in 

relation to each other. We need well-funded  public transport that is quick, efficient and doesn’t costs 

travellers the earth to travel.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Statement on the need to pause the privatisation agenda in Cornwall

We the undersigned recognise that:
The privatisation of public services is not working in Cornwall.
There is little mandate from the people for outsourcing
Public services must be about effective delivery not profit
Therefore we the undersigned call upon the authorities in Cornwall and the next government to pause the privatisation process in Cornwall. To have a wide ranging debate with the public about the shape and future of public services and to scrutinise the practices of privatisation. To work towards public services that deliver as they are supposed to and that the public have confidence in. We all believe in efficient good quality public services and wish to see a system in place in Cornwall that delivers that.
Will you sign this statement? Share it online, tell your friends and push for better public services at this general election?
It's not often politicians listen to the people, but they are now, at this election, let's make our voice heard to end this privatisation scandal.

A call to pause privatisation in Cornwall and have a rethink


Again the question of privatisation is in the news, this time Mitie getting fined for not meeting targets on their cleaning and catering contract with RCHT. Also this week the BT contract with Cornwall Council is not producing the jobs and other targets upon which the contract was made. Add to this the growing public disquiet about profit in public services. Something has to change.

Today we Mebyon Kernow are using this election period to call for a pause in privatisation. We will later release a statement calling for support from the public and other political candidates, activists and parties to have a pause in the privatisation process in Cornwall. The present system is not working there is no public faith in it, time and again we see providers failing in the basics of providing public services. We are calling on one and all to say no to this continued farce, to join with us in opposing this. To call on the next government to pause the privatisation process and hold a debate with the people of Cornwall, over the future of public services.

We feel we can not continue on this path,we encourage people to read the statement and think whether they want change or whether they really want to defend privatisation.

Sport is a good thing and the government should do more to promote it in Cornwall

“Do you think Cornwall needs a Stadium for Cornwall 
and how should this and other sporting facilities in Cornwall be funded?”

Like many members of Mebyon Kernow, I've long been a supporter of a stadium for Cornwall. We need a stadium for the community, we need a stadium to unleash Cornish sporting talent and a stadium would help build our economy. The same benefits are true of other sporting facilities from the grass roots up.

I think the ideal way of funding Cornish sport is through public- private partnership, with authorities such as the government, Cornwall Council and one day soon a Cornish Assembly, teaming up with sports organisations and other institutions like colleges and communities to deliver it.

I feel so strongly about the benefits of sport that I recently wrote to sports teams in the constituency asking for their opinions on how government could work better for them. I believe government could, and indeed must work better for Cornish sport. For too long Westminster, like so much in Cornwall, has shirked any responsibility. I think it should be the job of our next MP to lobby for investment and help for all our sports, to help put clubs and organisations on an economically sustainable footing. To unleash our sporting talent and help communities across this constituency.

The alternative to the austerity consensus of the Westminster parties

There's a brilliant piece in the Guardian featuring Paul Krugman, attacking the Tories and Labour on their post election austerity budgets. How the distance in economics is so close between the two "major" parties. To quote from the article :

"Cameron is campaigning largely on a spurious claim to have ‘rescued’ the British economy – and promising, if he stays in power, to continue making substantial cuts in the years ahead.

“Labour, sad to say, are echoing that position. So both major parties are in effect promising a new round of austerity that might well hold back a recovery..."

It's a sad thing in a democracy that major issues like this aren't dominant in political debate. How we spend money, what the state chooses to spend and how it spends it. It is not this issue alone this is being ignored look at privatisation, Trident, foreign policy, the royal family, the House of Lords, Europe, tax dodging. When was the last time a politician brought up these subjects to debate, to offer choice to explain advantages and disadvantages? The answer sadly is democracy is too rare in this regard.

As for austerity itself, we must bear in mind like Trident and so much else. Labour, Tory and Lib Dems agree on the matter and share values in common. They may well want a cheaper system or a bigger  system, but they agree on the desire for a system.

The truth is post the election we will get more cuts if one of the three big parties Tory, Lab & LD,  takes power alone or in coalition with another.

On the ground the scale of the austerity drive will be fearsome.

The omens are not looking good, councils are cash strapped being at the sharp end of the Coalition’s austerity drive, but there not out of the woods yet, whether a Tory government alone or with Clegg's Liberals again or UKIP, or a Labour government propped up by someone else and/ or the Lib Dems. Whichever will bring more cuts.

I checked the Party manifestos of Labour, Lib Dem and Tory. None mentioned local government finance and what money's go out of the general taxation pot and out to communities... none also mentioned the referendum cap which is effectively, a public service cuts guarantee.

Things have been bad in Cornwall the public face off it is libraries on reduced hours and public toilets closing. Behind the scenes it's not enough money for social and care workers. Less and less road safety inspections. Less school repairs and maintenance than ever before. If we continue on this austerity trajectory all this problems will become much worse.

This election is more open than any before it. People have their ears open, a record number have political support and alliegence to parties outside of Labour, Tory and Lib Dems. You have to wonder if there was more choice in the established parties, if the crucial things the things that matter were actually discussed by those parties in a public manner? That policy might heaven forbid, flow from public to public servant. Rather than dictated in a speech!

The big 3 don't want to make this election about austerity they have fixed in their minds that more public services will be cut and yet more privatised. If you think this is wrong then you need to use your vote wisely against this continued austerity agenda.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Mitie and the impotency of the NHS in face of private profit

Today the BBC are reporting that the private cleaning firm Mitie are being fined by the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust. The service being provided is not up to scratch and there were 50 incidents that left RCHT the only option they have and that is to fine Mitie 51% of their profits. This is the fallacy of privatisation, even if it goes wrong, the firm still gets 49% of the profit. The firm does cleaning and catering services at Treliske, St Michael's in Hayle and the West Cornwall Hospital here in Penzance. It is horrific to think basic things like cleaning, so important in health care, can be falling below required standards across West Cornwall.

It's high time we revaluated the profit motive and what it is doing to public services in Cornwall. We can't carry on with services falling below standards. We saw with the Serco Out of Hours service, that things fall below what is necessary and nobody can do anything about it. I strongly believe we need an NHS in public hands, accountable to the people and delivering the highest standards of care. We are not getting that at the moment.

There is an election coming up and people need to think long and hard about the kind of health service that they want and recognise that all of the three big parties Tory, Lib Dem and Labour believe that the future is more and more privatisation of the health service and other public services. If like me you think that is the wrong direction, please vote MK in May and send a message to the cosy pro-privatisation consensus of the establishment parties that you've had enough.

Cornwall needs wages to go up and employment conditions to improve


“New figures suggest that in some parts of Cornwall as many as 40% of jobs are not paying a living wage – what can be done to tackle the problem of low pay levels in Cornwall and should employers be allowed to continue employing staff on zero hour contracts?”


This is a very topical question, the TUC is running a Fair Pay Fortnight campaign at the moment, raising the issue of low pay and this week in the news, low wages across Cornwall has featured
heavily. That said, although it is higher on the political agenda and we should be grateful that politicians are showing an interest, it has been a problem in Cornwall for certainly all of my life time. Combined with high house prices, the low wages in Cornwall are a blight and contribute to the brain drain of young talented people moving from Cornwall. 

Government needs to take action to make pay fair and protect workers rights. There is a wide disparity between the minimum wage and the living wage, this wide gap needs to close. I'm fully supportive of the Living Wage and I'm proud that I put it forward to Penzance Town Council and that we are now a living wage employer. I think we need to live in a society where work pays and it is fair, abuses of 0 hours contracts needs to be clamped down on. The next government should introduce the living wage for all public sector workers. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

On the unfairness of austerity

“Is it fair that people in Cornwall who rely on public services are being made to suffer to help the national effort to cut the budget deficit and should more be done to ensure that local services are protected from cuts in public spending which are being enforced by austerity?”


Austerity is not about fairness, it's not about what is right and what is wrong. As we've seen in recent weeks with the the various tax dodging scandals, successive governments have turned a blind eye to the richest individuals and corporations paying their fair share. The present system is wholly unfair. 

At the moment local government is at the front line of these cuts. This is all despite the fact that it was not authorities like Cornwall Council, our public toilets or our care workers, police officers and NHS staff that caused the recession, it was the financial sector. However under the present skewed system who is it that has to pay their fair share of tax?

Tax dodging MUST be stamped out, being rich and donating to political parties should not be reason to be let off tax. Austerity needs to end, ask your self at the next election do you want decent public services? Do you want to hear more stories of austerity driven woe? Sadly the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour are all signed up to austerity and things will get worse if people do not look for alternatives like Mebyon Kernow- the Party for Cornwall.  

Monday, 27 April 2015

The troubling lack of debate over TTIP in this election

TTIP the massive issue that should be being talked about, but isn't. It stands to fundamentally change the EU's relations with the US, give yet more power to corporations and cede sovereignty of governments to companies. It's part of that worrying trend in politics that corporate interests get more and more say behind closed doors.

Dispensing entirely with concepts of democracy and accountability. In this regard it is starting in the way it means to go on. It will give corporations the rights to sue governments for loss of profit and stands to strengthen profit in the post- nationalised world of public services. It's so wrong it should be stopped.

Despite these grave fears, Labour, Tory, Lib Dems and UKIP all support it. (Greens and Plaid Cymru against TTIP and other parties not funded by corporate donors e.g. NHA, Left Unity). No question of a referendum or even something as old fashioned as a public consultation. The only real difference between the lot of them is that Labour and UKIP don't want the NHS included and the Lib Dems want to determine how NHS services are provided, with a privatised system open to international competition I'm not quite sure what that means. Perhaps just being on the fence as usual. The more eagle eyed among you will note that Labour doesn't want to exclude the NHS by renationalising it, they still welcome privatisation, with profit controls.

I must admit Labour (and UKIP's) postion perplexes the hell out of me. Yes include all kinds of public services in TTIP but not the NHS. So libraries, prisons, schools, public transport, utility companies are all fine to be thrown to the wolves of privatisation but not the NHS?

In case it isn't clear I don't agree with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership at all.  As my Mebyon Kernow colleague Stephen Richardson wrote TTIP privatisation of democracy? and I'd agree with that. It may cut against the grain of the Neo-Liberal policies of the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems but I don't agree that multi national companies should be the most powerful bodies on earth. I also don't agree that more and more privatisation is necessary. We need to give power back to the people and end this endless flow to big business.

Policing we need to scrap the commissioners and have the funding in place for decent policing

Another in my daily posts featuring my answer recently in the Cornishman

“Is it right that the number of police officers in Cornwall is continuing to fall, 
what would you do to stem this loss and should the role of Police and Crime Commissioner continue."


It is not right that police numbers continue to fall. Both coalition partners promised to increase police numbers, yet did the opposite in power, no one voted for this. There is increased demand on our police force, not only from crime but as we saw recently mental health patients being put in cells due to lack of resources in the NHS. 
This is one of the ways the police are being squeezed from both sides by the coalition's short sighted spending cuts.

My party Mebyon Kernow did not support the creation of police and crime commissioners.  It was the first election I chose not to vote in, because I felt so strongly it was not neccesary. The post is excessively expensive and worse still there is no evidence it has made policing better, it should be scrapped immediately.

We need an accountable police force and having a centralised Devon and Cornwall force is not in our interest. Let alone the further mergers being schemed about. There needs to be better connections with the public not inefficient phone numbers and front desks closing. We need a properly funded Cornish police force and a refocus on front line policing.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Cornwall and the relationship we need with Europe

My answer printed in the Cornishman, to the following question:

“What impact do you believe current immigration laws have had on Cornwall
 and do you believe Cornwall benefits from the UK being a member of the EU?”

"We live in a global world and being connected with the world for Cornwall's benefit is foremost in my mind. I take
 great exception with the idea that everything and everyone in the world is somehow a threat and to be feared. We must neither turn our backs on Europe nor be scared of changing it. 

The free movement of labour is not a new concept from the miners and labourers that came to work in Cornwall centuries ago to those same Cornish miners who went on to make the world theirs. I think we always need to bear this in mind when the increasingly dangerous prejudice of the right wing rears it's ugly head. 

As for the EU there are obvious benefits for Cornwall through various schemes of funding. We should be wary that if the UK does decide to leave the EU we will lose this money. Although I think the EU is beneficial for Cornwall, it could work for us better. It is an overly centralised and bureaucratic organisation and places like Cornwall have little influence on the EU.  We need more of an influence to change policies like agricultural and fishing that don't work for Cornwall. "

Saturday, 25 April 2015

What we need to do about foodbanks and the scandal of inequality and food poverty

My answer in the Cornishman on the scandal of food poverty answering the following question:

What are you going to do about the scandal of food banks and how do we tackle the issue of poverty
 which is forcing people in Cornwall to require food banks?

The rise in food banks and food poverty is a scandal and people not being able to afford to feed themselves is a scandal anywhere in the world but especially so in one of the richest economies in the world. The reason that foodbanks are increasingly relied upon is due to coalition policies that exasperate inequality. 

The Cornish economy is not recovering, wages are stagnating and however the coalition like to massage the figures, the reality on the high streets of Helston, St Ives and Penzance is decline. We need jobs and investment not a constant barrage of cuts!

The problem of food poverty is a problem of policy, this government knows all too well about wealth distribution policy and putting money in people's pockets. They have slashed the top rate of income tax, slashed corporation tax and pumped billions into the banks through quantitative easing. 

At the same time as slashing benefits, introducing the bedroom tax and putting up minimum wage by an insulting pittance. Tory and Lib Dem priorities are immoral, if elected as an MP common sense and fairness would be my agenda, I firmly believe we can have a society where everyone can afford to eat.  

A breath of fresh air at Penzance Town Council

The election has certainly rung a great many changes at Penzance Town Council. There are now 12 brand new councillors (although Simon Reed...