Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 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 Last night all this was rescinded and we now have a new future for Golowan.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 i…

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…

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…

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, counc…

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 f…

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…

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 housin…

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…

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 defini…

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 the…

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 s…

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…

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 tr…

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 w…

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 a…

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…

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 …

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 privatis…

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 …

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,…

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 su…

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, …

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 full…

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 …

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 th…

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 polic…

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 wi…

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 slas…