Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Cornwall needs a stadium

Last tuesday a few of us got together and tried to get #Cornwallneedsastadium trending on twitter (explanation here), and we had a massive amount of support, hundreds of people from Cornwall sports fans, music fans, just want a stadium fans, rugby players, football players, journalists, politicians of every persuasion etc. People literally from all walks of life and all ages. I was taken aback by the large amount of support evident on twitter, unfortunately we didn't manage to knock #Eurovision or #MyBigFatFetish off the most talked about topics but we made fifteenth, which is in itself considerable.

I can't remember who took this photo and posted on fb, but thanks

We are trying again this evening from nine pm, please if you have a twitter account join us. Despite Alec Robertson's decision to not part fund the stadium, we need to persuade him to change his mind. I believe the people of Cornwall have every right to have say in how the capital budget is spent, and if we want £10 million of the £675 million capital budget for the next four years, spent on a stadium then we should articulate these views. If you are not on twitter (and don't want to join for this) or even if you are please sign the stadium for Cornwall petition here and sign the new petition created by Conan Jenkin on the council website here. Obviously individuals are free to tweet what they like with the hashtag #Cornwallneedsastadium but it is a good idea to include the petition links and positive arguments for the stadium as well. See you at nine @cernyw

on the pasty tax climbdown

I am pleased that the government has changed their mind over introducing a tax on warm baked goods. It is really good news for Cornwall. However it's not really a u-turn, firstly because they never actually introduced the 'pasty tax' and secondly because they have amended their plans rather than scrapping them. The revised plans now mean that food kept warm will be subject to VAT whereas freshly baked food that is cooling will not be subject to VAT. I have yet to read what Cornish bakers think to these proposals and how it will effect them, but it most certainly will effect them. They will now be faced with the dilemma whether to keep pasties hot (and sausage rolls etc) or simply let them cool, which granted won't be to much of an issue outside the dinner time rush when most pasties are sold hot but later in the afternoon will change things.

Coming back from the brink is very welcome news but I can't help feel disappointed, that instead of lobbying government to do something positive for Cornwall, Cornish campaigners are constantly on the back foot fighting against proposals and not actually making any headway. Certainly the amount of energy and expertise that has gone into fighting Devonwall, Pasty tax, caravan tax (and who knows what's next?) would be much better spent solving some of the problems we already have. Likewise if Westminster and Whitehall had devoted this energy and resources into doing something positive for Kernow, we'd be in a better place now.

So David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Andrew George, George Eustice, Sarah Newton, Stephen Gilbert, Sheryll Murray and Dan Rogerson thanks for diluting pasty tax but please can Kernow next have some policies that we actually want and need?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

we should grab the Stadium for Cornwall opportunity with both hands

As a Pirates fan I watch with growing incredulity the progress of the Stadium for Cornwall planning process. At stake is the future of sport in Cornwall and in particular the ambitious clubs of Truro City football club and the Cornish Pirates rugby club. Both have seen a phenomenal rise through the leagues from small amateur clubs to fully professional sporting teams, bringing quality sport to Cornwall and providing opportunities here in Cornwall for our young talent to ply their trade. A Stadium for Cornwall would provide an excellent opportunity for this progress to continue, providing not only further trade and hospitality for Truro and Threemilestone but also cultivating pride in Cornwall and proving we can compete in the highest realms of sport. I think Sportva Kernow -to give it it's Cornish game- is a great idea, Cornwall unfortunately is very unique, even backward, in not having modern sporting facilities, whilst most English counties have numerous stadiums we have none, I believe this needs to change. I am not alone in thinking the stadium would be a great idea, sixteen thousand people have signed a petition calling for it.

Despite the obvious benefits of the stadium to Cornwall, many politicians do not support the idea. There have been various arguments made such as, "how would the location effect Truro airfield?" "how would the traffic and public transport infrastructure cope with more traffic?" "is Truro the best location?" "is a sizable development that size appropriate for Langarth/ Threemilestone?" To varying degrees these are all valid arguments and problems to be addressed and solved. This in a nutshell is the biggest problem facing government in Cornwall: How do we address problems find compromise and achieve things? It really puzzles me that developments like supermarkets seem to get planning permission at the drop of a hat, often in the face of little or no political opposition. Take for example Sainsbury's in Penzance, even before the heliport found a new home the council waved through permission leaving the helicopter service in limbo and giving Penzance yet another supermarket within a stones throw of Tesco's and Morrison's. Then there's Hayle it is now very likely a supermarket will be built on the quay, this despite the fact such a construction could cause the whole World Heritage Status to be lost to Cornwall. As well as these unique factors, there are others just like the stadium i.e. traffic, suitability. Yet there is a distinct lack of political opposition to these developments and a lack of public support for them. But there are no councillors resigning from their party jobs over the issue, there aren't scores of councillors blogs or news headlines, yet there is with the stadium.

The question of whether it is wrong or right for the council to invest £10 million pounds in the project is a thorny one. There are equally valid arguments for and against such a proposal, whether the money is found though loans, out of budgets or reserves or through capital spending funds, there is debate. However from my perspective, I think that the lesson I have taken from the Penzance harbour fiasco is that if opportunities are not taken when they are presented we lose out. With any major scheme there will be detractors, I am sure there were people arguing against the University Campus at Tremough in Penryn for really valid reasons  and if they had been listened to and let sway the judgement then we would not have that facility in Cornwall. Neither the University nor the harbour plans are the same as the stadium for Cornwall but we need to bear in mind what happened in these cases. I sincerely hope that Cornwall's councillors do think long and hard about the prospect of funding a stadium and I do hope they have foremost in their mind that not funding some of the project may well see this great opportunity pass Cornwall by. They only need to look to Truro City and the Cornish Pirates and see that risk taking and being bold and can pay great dividends and the only quality needed is ambition.

The cost of the scheme progressing may well be £10 million pounds but what is the cost to Cornwall and to sports fans and players if the scheme does not progress?