Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Support for Palestine

I don't tend to write a lot about international politics, which is peculiar as it's a subject I know well. One of the things that prompted me into politics was the international situation of the Blair-Bush era. A lot of what happened then really angered me and I still think the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan were a great mistake. I don't think they solved any problems and I think they made many others worse. Further I think many of the debt problems that UK has arose from the billions spent in both wars.

More than that I really didn't like Tony Blair's government's approach to Israel and Palestine. I remember one of the most infuriating headlines I've read was back in 2002 when Blair told the press that if the UK did not sell arms to Israel someone else would. There was a real opportunity for the UK government to put pressure on Israel to find a peaceful solution and end the intergenerational cycle of violence between Israel and the Palestinians and indeed Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

There is no greater example than Palestine for a people betrayed so callously by the international community. I am strongly in favour of two state solution, I do believe Israel and Palestine can live in peace. I think the ideology on both sides that one political entity needs to be destroyed is dangerous. I have recently been contacted by dozens of people from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign asking the following questions:

Could you please email me to indicate if you agree with the following statements:
  1. I urge the UK Government to uphold the principles of equality, human rights and international law in all its relations and dealings with Israel.
  2. I consider the construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be illegal and unjustifiable.

    In achieving these principles, what are your views on the following steps that a future UK Government could take:
  3. Do you agree that one of the first acts of the next UK Government should be the recognition of Palestine?
    Yes/no/don't know
  4. Do you agree that the blockade on Gaza should be lifted immediately?
    Yes/no/don't know
  5. Do you agree that we should stop trade with Israel's settlements on Palestinian land, and stop settlement goods being sold in Britain?
    Yes/no/don't know
  6. Do you agree that the EU Israel Association Agreement should be suspended until Israel meets its human rights obligations?
    Yes/no/don't know
  7. Do you agree that the government should stop supplying arms to Israel until it complies with international law?
    Yes/no/don't know

My answers were as follows:

I shared the dismay felt by many when Israel attacked the Gaza Strip. It is a cause of great concern that the Palestinians have been treated in such an awful way for so long. Suffering in several asymmetric and terrible wars.
To answer your points one by one:

1. Yes I would if elected urge the government to uphold those principles in regard to all states and non state entities. Including the Palestinian territories and Israel itself.

2. The illegal settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem should be stopped. It ought to have been the priority of the international community to stop them. This needs to change and become a priority for the UK in it's relations with Israel and to put pressure on the international community to further this aim.

3. I believe it should be a priority of the next government to recognise the state of Palestine (in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank).

4. Yes the blockade of Gaza should be lifted it brings untold suffering to the people and keeps the flames of resentment alive.

5. One of the practical steps to stopping the illegal settlements would be to review trade agreements and imports.

6. I partly agree with this, I recognise that all forms of political and diplomatic pressure should be put on Israel to work towards a peaceful two state solution. However I think severing all ties with the Israelis is not necessarily that productive. We need to offer both a carrot and a stick.

7. I have a number of fundamental issues with the arms trade generally. This is also the position of Mebyon Kernow- the Party for Cornwall. My answer in this case would be unequivocal, yes I agree arms should not be sold to Israel.

There needs to be a foreign policy that doesn't work solely in the interests of the state or alliances. It needs to be based principles and morality. 

As I finished the email: if you have any questions or comments do so below or email me robscornishblog@gmail.com

Monday, 30 March 2015

Cornwall loses out on fuel discount in the budget, unlike other areas

In the next budget 17 areas across the UK will benefit from a fuel duty rebate. The justification for this is due to the rural locations of the areas, the lack of public transport and the higher price of fuel. We have to ask ourselves why has Cornwall missed out yet again? Can we afford to be ignored by voting for the apathy and lack of influence of Tory and Lib Dem MPs?

We've seen throughout this government the unwelcome reduction in public transport due to austerity. The fuel duty rebate would have helped make up for how these cuts have affected people's lives and the local economy. It would have provided a welcome boost and a compensation for public transport cuts. 

The more eagle eyed among you may notice a trend in the 17 areas announced, as announced by Danny Alexander MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey link:

"The 17 areas which will benefit from the price cut are:
IV54 (Highland – Scotland)
IV26 (Highland – Scotland)
IV27 (Highland – Scotland)
NE48 (Northumberland – England)
PH41 (Highland – Scotland)
KW12 (Highland – Scotland)
PA80 (Argyll and Bute – Scotland)
PH36 (Highland – Scotland)
IV22 (Highland – Scotland)
PA38 (Argyll and Bute – Scotland)
PH23 (Highland – Scotland)
PH19 (Highland – Scotland)
IV21 (Highland – Scotland)
LA17 (Cumbria – England)
EX35 (Devon – England)
IV14 (Highland – Scotland)
Hawes (North Yorkshire – England)."

Note that not a single part of Cornwall is eligible for the scheme. Despite similar problems of high costs of fuel and rural locations, particularly places like North Cornwall, the Roseland, West Penwith and the Lizard Peninsula. Why?

Friday, 27 March 2015

Penzance votes yes to a Business Improvement District

Today was the day the Penzance town centre Business Improvement District poll results were revealed. The vote was confidently a yes with 76.79% in favour and the turn out was 55.72% (224 votes).
I'd like to congratulate the Penzance BID team for their work and their well presented documents and arguments. They certainly deserve the strong mandate from town centres businesses they got in today's result. I really hope this helps turn around the fortunes of our town centre.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A welcome u turn by Andrew George on planning echoing MK policy

Plagiarising MK's recent policy announcement Andrew George has spoken in parliament about how planning should be devolved to Cornwall. Which goes to show if MK can exert this pressure without an MP imagine what we could do with proper representation for Cornwall in parliament.

No doubt with a keen eye on this announcement by MK:

"All planning decisions should be taken in Cornwall: The leader of Mebyon Kernow has challenged central government to democratise the planning system and for all planning decisions to be taken in Cornwall." Link

Or these words from my Conference speech:

"Mebyon Kernow wants a planning system that Kow Tows not to developers and the interests of profit but Kow Tows to the people of Cornwall. So we can be masters of our own destiny, decide what planning policies we want and what housing numbers suit us.

The present centralised planning system favours developers and works hard for their needs and wants. Yet it ignores the needs and wants of our communities. The present planning policies do nothing to stop unsustainable development on green fields of houses unaffordable on the average Cornish wage." Link

The present St Ives constituency MP, Andrew George, had this to say:

"I hope you don't think I am damaging you with faint praise when I say that you are the best party leader by far, and therefore you will recognise that Cornwall will benefit a great deal from the proposed devolution enabling act.

"But would you agree that under these proposals that Cornwall and places like it could redesign their planning and housing system to put local need above speculators' greed and the growth of second homes?"

Anybody thinking the Lib Dems were serious about devolution to a Cornish Assembly should note Clegg's answer:

"If in Cornwall it is felt that a Cornish assembly borne out of the existing county council - not inventing yet another talking shop for politicians, it could cut the number of politicians if it wished to - if it wanted to have powers in the planning areas you suggest, that is something I hope we would empower the future Cornish assembly to do." Link

Quite how Cornwall Council could morph into an assembly, have more powers and less elected councillors is patently ridiculous. Especially when on an issue like planning where most decisions are taken by officers. This happens partly as there are not enough councillors, quite how this would be more democratic is ludicrous. It reminds me greatly of the last time the Lib Dems fiddled with local government, centralising everything in Truro and slashing the number of democratically elected representatives,  it is clear by devolution they only wish to continue on this trajectory.

The Lib Dems can't be allowed to damage Cornwall in this way again, if voters want more powers to Cornwall and devolution  within Cornwall,  then MK is the clear choice. Further if voters want a party committed to devolving issues like planning rest assured MK MPs would not sit on their hands for 5 years and start listening to the public on the eve of an election....

P.s. anyone else noted the way Tory, Lib Dem and Labour worry about more politicians in a Cornish assembly, yet do nothing about the very expensive and hugely bloated House of Lords?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

my speech to the #MKconf

I’m here to introduce the policies Mebyon Kernow- the Party for Cornwall will fight this election on. The principles upon which we will use to show the people of Cornwall that we are a serious party, presenting serious policies and a serious alternative for voters in this crucial general election.

One of Bodmin’s most famous sons was Thomas Flamank. Despite the fact he probably wasn’t a firebrand, he was a lawyer by trade. Flamank came to lead the great Cornish uprising of 1497, with a man from west Cornwall called Myghal Josef An Gof. A St Keverne man, a black smith. We can easily conjure an image of a passionate, determined and strong man.
A smart and gentle man from the east and a brave man from the west joined together, united Cornwall and led a fearsome army of One and All. They marched on the English capital and struck fear into the heart of the establishment.

Although in Bodmin today we might not be handing out swords and bows. Mebyon Kernow is planning with your help, in uniting the people of Cornwall once again and striking the same fear as 1497 into the establishment.

Thomas Flamank that famous son of Bodmin was legendary for his last words:

“Speak the truth and only than you can be free of your chains”

518 years on from our great forebears, we conference, gathered here today, are aiming for these same ideals.

Mebyon Kernow policies address the truth of the political and economic situation in Cornwall today, and we speak it loud and clear. Exposing the truths the other parties will not face up to.  
The Westminster parties will tell tales of how they are so different from each other. That a vote for one will keep the other out. Ignoring the fact that on the key issues in policies and records there is little difference between these parties. All of them lack ambition for Cornwall and the desire to change policies to forge the Cornwall that the public are crying out for.

They say no speech is complete without a joke, well here’s one: the Westminster parties are all, at this election in favour, of devolving more powers to Cornwall. If you believe that you’ll believe anything!

Despite years of centralisation to Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol and of course London and taking more and more public decisions into private hands, they make these hollow election time promises. Despite their records of trying to impose the pasty tax and Devonwall onto Cornwall, are we now seriously to believe that the Conservatives an Liberal Democrats recognise we are different? and that they will respect this?

The truth is, none of the other parties are serious about devolution. They know the people of Cornwall desire to be free of the dead hand of central government, yet in power they continue to protect the structures and elites that harm Cornwall.

Mebyon Kernow recently launched our plans for devolution in the document Towards a National Assembly for Cornwall. Despite not having the millions of the Westminster parties, we put them to shame by showing professionalism and maturity producing this great document and campaigning on issues *unlike them* outside of election time.

We passionately believe that devolution to a national assembly will unlock Cornish potential. It will allow Cornwall to spread our wings, to find our own solutions and to grow together as a community. There are so many rich opportunities to be developed, with our natural resources and the talents of the people of Cornwall, we need to take powers from central government and bring them home, to unleash this potential.

MK has always been at the sharp end of positive change for Cornwall, for example, we were arguing for a Cornish university before anyone else. We are the ones with a vision of forging a new Cornwall, a just society, with decent public services, decent affordable housing and decent opportunities for One and All.

We need to shout loud and clear at this election, that a vote for Mebyon Kernow is the only real prospect of getting more powers for Cornwall.

One of the central themes of both our assembly document and our recent policy announcement is our desire to devolve the planning system to Cornwall. To take all of the decisions taken by politicians, ministers and planning inspectors, to here west of the Tamar where they belong. To remodel planning policies and procedures to suit Cornwall and work in the interests of the people.

Mebyon Kernow wants a planning system that Kow Tows not to developers and the interests of profit but Kow Tows to the people of Cornwall. So we can be masters of our own destiny, decide what planning policies we want and what housing numbers suit us.
The present centralised planning system favours developers and works hard for their needs and wants. Yet it ignores the needs and wants of our communities. The present planning policies do nothing to stop unsustainable development on green fields of houses unaffordable on the average Cornish wage.

Planning also presents us with so called affordable housing. There is no better indicator that the housing system is completely broken, than this farce. We need fundamental changes to have real affordable housing. To stop the brain drain of young people moving to England were house prices bear some relation to wages.

Then there’s second homes, a problem that gets worse year on year. We suffer from politicians that seem either unwilling or unable to actually sort this abomination out.
The truth is we need to make our own decisions here in Cornwall to stop this extravagant use of our housing. We can not rely on decision makers, hundreds of miles away. That, let’s face it are a lot more likely to own a second house in Cornwall than know what the affect on our communities and house prices are.

The truth is the planning and housing policies of Westminster fail Cornwall. We need at this election to send a clear message, that we the people of Cornwall have had enough and we will not be ignored.

All of the Westminster parties and I include UKIP in this, are signed up to austerity. Despite the obvious fact that it does not work for the people of Cornwall and is not bringing us growth. The cuts continue to widen the gap between rich and poor. Here in Cornwall, our own inequality gap between average earnings and house prices continues to widen.  Cornwall is still one of the least economically active parts of Europe. Yet the cuts continue.
Cornwall’s front line public services are paying a heavy toll for this neo liberal cuts agenda. That the Tories, Lib Dems, Labour and UKIP embrace with such zeal, blind and deaf to the damage it is causing. Leaving places like Cornwall with public services that are not fit for a first world country.

Mebyon Kernow MPs will join with our sister parties Plaid Cymru and the SNP and plead, argue and fight against more damaging cuts. Say no to austerity and yes to fairness, equality and decent public services.

Compounding the affect of the cuts is the fact that Cornwall has suffered from underfunding by successive governments for decades. All of our public services suffer from this unfairness. From our schools, to our social services, our NHS, our Devonwall police force. The time has come to say enough is enough and demand fairness for Cornwall.

I have not gone through every MK policy line by line. I could be here all day talking about the policies Cornwall needs to fight low wages and high house prices. To address the fundamental inequalities in our society. To bring more decisions under democratic control. To say no to the great sell off of our public services. Deliver a stadium for Cornwall. How we need a zero waste strategy. Deliver a public transport network fit for this century, Scrap trident and so the list goes on.

I started off this speech quoting the great Cornishman Thomas Flamank:
“Speak the truth and only then can you be free of your chains.”
We may not be fighting a rebellion and risking our lives in this election campaign. But Mebyon Kernow is fighting for Cornwall and the stakes are just as high, for the life and soul of the Cornwall we all love. We need to free Cornwall from the dead hand of Westminster and devolve power here, and we need free our nation from the dead hand of Westminster politics.

We need the freedom to grow, to allow imagination and ambition into decision making and free ourselves from the uncaring central government and it’s policies and prescriptions that are apathetic to Cornwall’s needs and wants.

CORNWALL NEEDS CHANGE, we all know that, it is why we are all here. I urge all of you to look in your hearts and whether there you find a ferocious character like An Gof or a gentle one like Flamank. Ask yourselves what you can do to embody their spirit and what you can do to fight for Cornwall and join Mebyon Kernow in this election campaign in breaking the chains.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

We need a NHS that is in public hands, well funded and close to home

The NHS is a crucial issue, understandably so many of us would not be here on this earth without it. It is understandable that so many people hold it in such high regard and view it as a crucial election issue. It is no surprise that I receive so many emails from constituents asking my views on the future of it. Whether if elected as the MP for St Ives will support the marketisation of the NHS started under Labour and accelerated under the Tory and Lib Dem coalition and whether I would oppose the NHS being part of TTIP.

I try to respond to every email I receive asking my views as candidate, I can't say it's easy with dozens of emails every day, but I try and it's a no brainer for me that we have this technology that allows freedom of communication. That the future for democracy is to utilise the internet to get closer to voters. I'm always very glad when people respond to the comments I send to them and more than a little disappointed when people express their frustration that none of the other candidates reply.

I think three things need to change with the NHS in Cornwall. We need proper funding and end the decades of underfunding, no to privatisation and control by undemocratic bodies and bring/ keep health services close to the people.

Cornwall's NHS has been underfunded for years, I wrote a few years back: NHS funding boost, meagre crumbs for Kernow on the 6.2% gap in 2010/11 between the money the government determined we needed and what they paid. This is a shocking situation, especially as the incumbent Cornish MPs all stood on platforms of fair funding and have done very little to progress this situation. It is little wonder with such underfunding that Cornwall has only one major hospital and cottage hospitals like Poltair have closed down.

The NHS like all public services should be delivered publicly and with care as it's priority. As we saw with the Serco out of hours debacle, it does not present what is best for care. We must say no to privatisation and in my view this is whether it is Cornish, UK, European or US companies bidding for services. Also the managment of the NHS should be done in a democratic and accountable way. The MK devolution document Towards a National Assembly for Cornwall calls for the various trusts and boards to be brought back under public control and I fully support this.

Unfortunately the debate about centralisation of health services is no longer in the public eye. Perhaps in part as it has happened less under this government than the last, but the problem still remains. For far too long in the name of efficiency, services have been centralised to Treliske and Derriford and people can not go to their local hospital for even the most basic of treatments and appointments.

Successive governments have played politics with health and unfortunately in some cases patient care has suffered as a result. We need a health service that is publicly owned and run, modern and efficient with patient care at it's core. As the NHS was originally intended to be, these are my views and those of MK and this is why I was happy to sign up to the NHS Reinstatement Bill campaign. They have a great website and a great facility to contact general election candidates, check it out here.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Penzance TC votes yes to BID, for weed spraying and no to MCZ

An interesting and animated town council meeting this evening, with a full agenda covering a diverse range of topics.  Hereafter the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Starting with the good, there were 2 presentations beforehand one on Jubilee Pool and another on the Business Improvement District. The pool continues to progress well and there still on track for an Easter 2016 opening. With the final details and engineering problems to fix and finalise Cornwall Council are assuming a 10 month construction period. 

The BID seems to be progressing well and the businesses of Penzance are voting (by post) at the moment.  As the town council owns 2 non domestic properties that are above the minimum threshold, Penlee House and Gallery and Penlee car park, we got to have our say. Councillors were pretty much all in support and voted yes (as did I).

The bad, well weed spraying is and isn't bad. It is dissapointing that Cornwall Council no longer do it, thanks to Conservative and Liberal Democrat austerity. Personally I'd prefer good old fashioned weeding to chemical spraying and I don't really object to weeds to be honest and if I was that bothered I'd buy a trowel. But this is a democracy and I know from the emails I receive people do care about it, so I did join with all those councillors present to vote to take on weed spraying and appoint a contractor.

As for the ugly, it was put to the town council to respond to the consultation about the proposed Maritime Conservation Zone for Mount's Bay. Which will encompass the area around St Michael's Mount from Cudden Point west and inland to Long Rock. In order to protect key inshore species of sea grass, rare jelly fishes and giant gobies. Which would manage this are but not necessarily restrict leisure and fishing activities and should not affect what already goes on.

The debate at council revolved around the need for weight to be given to the harbour and a possible break water. The recommendation I feel reflected these views with support for the MCZ so long as it didn't impact upon infrastructure, something I spoke in favour of and voted for. This was not passed however and instead the council voted to not support the MCZ as it might (or indeed might not) impact upon future dredging and dumping of that spoil at sea. I don't agree that dredging spoil should be dumped into inshore waters as it is at the moment. The debate then descended into a farce as councillors couldn't work out whether we were voting on a new MCZ or an extension to an existing one. So much for informed debate!

The Mount's Bay MCZ consultation pdf is here.

Mebyon Kernow Cornish Assembly plans unveiled

On St Piran's day, MK launched our document Towards a National Assembly for Cornwall availble here as a pdf. In it we outline the powers that Cornwall needs, there are arguments for these responsibilities and an explanation of how things will work. This document was originally launched a year ago. In that time it has been out to consultation with party members and these comments were considered. After that it went out to public consultation and the same process happened. As a result the document is much more robust as it has had a collective input into it.

The broad outline for a Cornish Assembly in the document is that it should be a national legislative assembly, not giving more powers to Cornwall Council. Instead a fundamental rethink of how services are delivered in Cornwall, and many policy areas devolved from Westminster and Whitehall to Cornwall. This isn't about renaming local government it's about bringing real powers to Cornwall and having the crucial decisions made here in Cornwall by people elected and accountable to us not by bureaucrats hundreds of miles away who can act with impunity.

In this way Mebyon Kernow's plans present a whole new slant of devolution. Not simply devolving existing government powers and functions to Cornwall, but also bringing public services and their administration back into public hands. Ending privatisation and abolishing the various quangos and trusts that have an increasing say on public services but are neither elected by nor accountable to the people.

I had intended to review MK's devolution plans alongside the Lib Dems also announced on St Piran's day. However I can not find anything concrete (save for press releases) from them. Slightly disappointing really, as they are an established party of government and as such get millions of pounds of taxpayers money to develop policy, perhaps this lack of commitment and substance is indicative of their approach.

I'm sympathetic to the opinions expressed by the academic Ben Gilby in his article "Cornish Assembly - Can we sit down and talk about this, please?" and of a similar thrust from the Western Morning News London editor Graeme Demianyk in his "Why 'divide and rule' could scupper a Cornish Assembly".  However nearly 5 years in government and Cornwall has watched on as Wales has been given more power, English cities too and Scotland offered a whole host of devolution. I really have to question whether the Liberal Democrats are serious about a Cornish Assembly?

Further when Cornwall Council discussed their version of devolution aka "a Case for Cornwall" the MK group proposed an amendment that this be extended to be more ambitious and the document changed to include the option of a Cornish Assembly. This did not pass, if the Liberal Democrat group had supported this it certainly would have. Further if they had got this into the original case for Cornwall (as they part of the ruling coalition) then it would be a truly a case for Cornwall and not a request for a few more powers for Cornwall Council. The minutes are here.

More missed opportunities for the Lib Dems to push proper devolution to Cornwall onto the agenda. Much like the latter part of the first decade of this century, when the Lib Dems had control of Cornwall County Council and all of Cornwall's MPs, there was little progress on furthering their stated aim of devolution to Cornwall. The real sad thing is that the only conclusion to be drawn is that this is electioneering, sad because many people vote Lib Dem and indeed are members as they think they are the kind of brave radicals that will support positive change like a Cornish assembly. The reality is they are quite scared to be brave and promote radical change and if they'd had the desire this could have been 5 years of successful government for them. I urge people that want more powers for Cornwall to vote Mebyon Kernow a party that is serious about it year round whether there is an election looming or not.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The good work of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Penzance, my visit last week

I was very grateful to be invited to the Citizens Advice Bureau in Penzance and to learn more about their work last week. It was a great insight into the kind of problems people in the St Ives constituency, gratitude to Phil Jacobson the Social Policy Co-ordinator for showing me the statistics and answering my questions. Congratulations to the CAB for taking the lead and inviting candidates from all parties to come along and find out about the issues that face the CAB and the people they help, I certainly hope all of the other candidates take this opportunity.

It's been a long time since I have been into a CAB and had to ask them for help (thankfully), but I know they do good work and I know they offer great advice and point people in the right direction and help those most in need and often with nowhere else to turn, in this regard it seems little has changed. That's not to say that the issues people go to the CAB for help about remain static. The amount of benefit cases rises every year and goes to show the impact that Coalition 'reforms' have had on people's lives. Particularly the ATOs Work Capability regime, which is widely reported to be overly harsh and punitive.

The statistics reveal that debt is the most common issue and in the St Ives Constituency 3,489 problems were dealt with, followed by benefits 2,122 problems, employment 406 and housing 310. Obviously government policies (or lack thereof) vitally effect these issues and people's lives. Debt is very troubling not only does it represent 47% of cases locally but it also outstrips the Cornwall average of 42% of cases. We might draw the conclusion that being the lowest paid constituency in Cornwall accounts for our difference.

It was also interesting to learn of the challenges facing the CAB locally. As with all organisations budget cuts hit them to and funding from government (e.g. in 2013 for Legal Services Commission) is decreasing. Although the annual Performance and Impact Report for CAB Cornwall reveals a healthy financial situation for the charity. It is easy to imagine how cuts to funding and increased demand puts pressure on the CAB's work. Especially when Cornwall Council itself is cutting front line staff and rumours abound that here in Penzance the benefits advice desk at the Council's One Stop Shop will close. Where will this people turn?

I was also intrigued to learn more about the CAB's role in influencing policy and trying to make a difference. Certainly they are in a prime position to know what the pressing issues are and what needs to be done to deal with them. Across the UK the CAB tries to influence party policy and I certainly think their 'Citizens Manifesto' and their document 'Manifesto Sentences Citizen's Advice Would Like to See' are both very good documents and reveal some great policies. Some they'd like parties to be pledging in the short term such as "We will ask the Low Pay Commission to consider how the National Minimum Wage can increase back to the real-terms value it held prior to the financial crash." and some for the longer term: "We will ensure that no household on a low income should have to live in a cold home (measured below Energy Performance Certificate level C) by 2025." Both documents available here and a must read for politicians.

I'll finish with a quick request, the Citizen's Advice Bureau does great work, they are a charity and they rely on volunteers. If you can help them either with a donation or to volunteer, click this link to go to their website, thanks.

Monday, 2 March 2015

The housing and planning policies that Cornwall needs to address affordability

To say housing and planning is an important issue in Cornwall is a gross understatement. No one is happy with current policies whether affordability, second homes or over development. I am pleased that Mebyon Kernow is leading on this and has today called for planning policy and the whole process from planning to appeals to be devolved to Cornwall. This coincides with my piece in next weeks Cornishman which addresses the issue of affordability.

The question put to all candidates in this general election is:

“The cost of housing - whether it is renting or buying - is becoming out of reach for a vast number of people in Cornwall – what can be done to solve this pressing problem?”

My answer (within a strict 200 word limit) is as follows:

Housing is a huge issue for people in Cornwall, most people of my generation struggle with high prices of both renting and buying, coupled with low wages, it’s a perfect storm, forcing people out of Cornwall.  Yet thousands of houses are being built, unaffordable to the majority of the local population and even those supposedly affordable are fair higher than the average wage can afford. Second homes are ever increasing and thus further increasing demand and prices. The current Labour, Tory and Lib Dem doctrine is developer led resulting in a building boom swallowing up green fields and not addressing our pressing problems of lack of affordability.

This is why I am delighted that this week that my party Mebyon Kernow has called upon planning to be devolved to Cornwall, the ‘Westminster knows best’ one size fits all approach of central government is not working here. The problem of affordability has not been resolved by successive governments and has in fact got much worse. The time has come for a fresh approach to housing in Cornwall. Empowering us to look at new ways of funding and delivering housing that the people of Cornwall both want and can afford.

Dick Cole's recent piece on Cornwall taking control of planning is here