Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Some of my work for Penzance or why I'd be an effective Cornwall Councilor

This blog intends to illustrate some of my work for Penzance and to show the kind of issues I have supported and argued against, over the last few years. In this time of great political turmoil and with Brexit looming large on the horizon, it is more important than ever to have representatives that will stand up for issues, knows how to campaign effectively and gets things done. There are 2 sections below; 1 being an effective councillor and 2 standing up for local issues, these are the reasons why I think I am a very credible Cornwall Council candidate and why with a greater platform I could be more effective in making things happen. This is only a glimpse of my work for Penzance East, please read some of  my older posts for more and as always any questions or comments find me on twitter @cernyw or drop me an email robscornishblog@gmail.com.

Being an effective councillor:

I was elected onto Penzance Town Council back in 2013, when I also stood for Cornwall Council for Penzance East. I was elected as Vice Chair of the General Purposes Committee at my first meeting and held that post for 2 years,  I was then elected Chair of the same committee. In this time I managed meetings, held agenda setting meetings with officers and chased up items. A big part of that committee was Christmas Lights and I was pleased to be one of the councillors pushing for the town council to provide lights for Causewayhead, the Causewayhead traders had previously funded their own lights. I also chaired meetings to organise the festival that went with the switch on and working with the Chamber of Commerce, Causewayhead Traders Association, Chapel Street Traders Association and Penzance BID. It was also through this committee that the town council condemned plans to close Penzance Police Station front desk and wrote to the Police and Crime Commissioner asking them to reconsider.

I have supported devolution at every turn on the town council, although I've been reluctant to do so when there was an undue burden on the rate payers of this town, lobbying instead for a better deal from Cornwall Council, some of this is covered in my last blog here. I supported the devolution of Jubilee Pool and welcomed the chance to regenerate the great seafront of Penzance. I joined with town councillors in opposing the closure of the post office in town and the closure of Poltair Hospital. I've been the sole councilor to keep arguing against the use of glyphosates in weed spraying, unfortunately unsuccessfully... so far.

Superfast Broadband, I've always seen the benefits of faster and more reliable internet and welcomed the introduction of fibre- optic broadband. However as Cornwall Council and BT were proclaiming the success of the scheme a number of businesses in the town centre approached me about the lack of progress for properties directly connected to the exchange, months past the scheduled completion date. Superfast had been rolled out outside the town centre but not within it. I quickly took up the challenge of this and spoke to a great number of businesses in this ward and found out that it was a great problem for many of them. BT at the time were trying to figure out how to connect the town center and were looking into frankly compromised solutions such as satellite, which would not deliver the same quality and speed as fibre. Thanks to the pressure of local businesses, the Cornishman and the town council, superfast broadband is now here in the town centre.

One of my proudest achievements on the town council (so far) was to bring the idea to councillors that the authority become a Living Wage employer. With the unanimous support of councillors we did so in 2013 and I hope, set an example to other employers that fair pay is not only just and right but it also helps to get the most out of employees. It was very pleasing to see Cornwall Council follow suit especially as a lot of their workers, particularly in health and social care were paid well below the Living Wage.

Standing up for local issues:

I got into politics as I was frustrated with the state of politics and matters like: the lack of affordable housing, centralisation, Cornwall's under-performing economy and the abject lack of (actually) affordable housing. These problems and the realisation that politics could work better for the people of Cornwall still drives me today. Back then it made me become an activist and I quickly realised that social media and blogging was a very useful way of reaching large audiences and agitating for change and lobbying the people in charge.

It was through blogging that I first appeared in the media. Well before I was elected I was featured on the BBC Inside Out programme, talking about the gaps in the various affordable housing schemes, introduced by the coalition and although the equity schemes were very good eligible properties were so few and far between and there were none in Penzance at all. Affordable housing is a key thing that needs to change and although there have been a few increases in affordable housing availability in Penzance East recently, much much more action is needed.

Wavehub and it's potential was always one of the projects that I always admired, there is obviously great opportunity for more renewable power in Cornwall and looking to the sea to generate power again is obvious. But I felt a great sense of frustration that the coalition government quickly centralised its management but did not want to seem to do anything with it and sat on their hands. So I wrote to the minister then in charge of it Vince Cable enquiring as to what the hold up was with the aim of giving them a kick up the jacksy. The local media picked up on the story and was featured widely, including myself on the tv, this did prompt some action from the government and eventually Wavehub was devolved back to Cornwall and is now up and running trailing renewable devices and we are now back on the front foot with green energy and innovation.

Cornwall Council's privatisation plans, back when the Tories and Independents were in charge, they dreamed up a Shared Services scheme with BT. I argued and argued against this and promoted the petition that was massively successful. However a slimmed down scheme was introduced, the joint Cornwall- BT scheme however was destined for failure after legal action by CC it was stopped and services, rightly brought back in house.

I think I would be a good Cornwall Councillor. I care about this area, I am passionate about change. I know how to be an effective councillor and work with various groups, businesses, residents and other councilors. I know how to get issues that other parties don't want to talk about onto the agenda and I know how to get a big platform through the media and otherwise. Please consider voting for me on May the Fourth and give me a a better chance and a bigger voice to lobby for change, thanks for reading.

Below is a post from the Mebyon Kernow facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MebyonKernow/, check it out for more of the policy pledges that MK is fighting this election on.

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