Camborne Lantern Parade

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A great community event last night with Camborne’s school children (and parents) giving us a wonderful Christmas glow with their lantern parade. I hoped they all enjoyed the hours of work it must have taken to produce such a wonderful show – it certainly was fantastic to watch. It was led by Santa and an exuberant group of small musicians.

The spider was my favourite, which is odd as I’d normally shriek and run away at the sight of a 6 foot high arachnid.

A lot of work went into this. Our town clerk, Amanda made sure it was all organised well, the police and PCSOs were there to help and many voluntary stewards – including town councillors – helped to stop the traffic, so the children could parade safely. They are all Christmas stars.

Coalition delays to EU funding – the impact on Cornwall

Impossible to grow the Cornish economy, more NEETs, businesses lost, jobs not created. And what ARE our coalition MPs doing about it? (clue: SFA)

Well done to Labour’s Michael Foster for raising this again.

Produced by Cornwall Council and business representatives.

Assessing the impact of a gap in European Programmes

We are currently assessing the actual costs to our economy of programme delays – including the real risk of a gap in provision between the Convergence Programme contracts ending and the new Programme starting, the additional risk to projects currently in development and the increased risk of not meeting our spend profiles for the new programme and the Growth Deal. We know that this will mean that existing jobs will be lost, new jobs delayed and business support and training will not happen. We know that this will be a real cost to our economy.

A gap between programmes would result in the loss of momentum, continuity and the ability to engage with businesses for business growth and development. With C&IoS only just managing now to sustain its position, and alongside significant growth elsewhere in the EU, we face the real prospect that a gap in support now will lower our GDP to a level from which it will be impossible to grow our economy to the 75% level by 2022.

Support to businesses
We have established strong and effective relationships between the providers of business support and employment and skills, the business community and other communities across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It is these relationships, which are built on trust, that have formed a platform for economic and community development. This ‘people capacity’ will be lost and will be extremely costly to replace – both in terms of time and money. More importantly perhaps, is the impact this loss in service provision will have on those most in need of support and the detrimental impact it will have on our social and economic progression.

In terms of on-going engagement directly with business, we would see collateral damage to the wider local supply chain with the associated delay in bringing the programme back up to speed. The likelihood is that this would equate to a 12 month delay once re-engagement has been established. High growth businesses are periodic by their nature – it is difficult to calculate the impact but it is evident that some businesses will be left unsupported during what might have been periods of opportunity for accelerated growth.

To give an indication of what the gap to delivery in business support means in practice, in just one project alone we are achieving a Gross Value Added (GVA) figure of some £65,000 per month and an output rate £1.3m per month. For this one project, the “lost” economic impact to C&IoS during a 6 month gap would equate to £7.8 million, with some 293 jobs created or saved and 57 businesses lost. In another example, assessing the cost to the economy of a 9 month gap for another enterprise support project (costing £397,000 to the Programme) we would anticipate a cost to the economy of some £11.9m GVA. The anticipated number of jobs that would not be created due to the gap could be as much as circa 420 FTEs.

Support for inward investment
The challenges faced by Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as an inward investment location have always been considerable. European Programmes are doing much to support our activity which has been built up over the last 5 or 6 years. We are currently working with a pipeline of 20 clients, many of whom have been on our radar for a number of months and who have expressed the clear intention to invest in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. From a customer service perspective it is critical that we are resourced to maintain these relationships. Any lapse in continuity increases the chances that the businesses will believe that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is not interested in them and will take their investment proposition elsewhere. These companies need a variety of support from finding premises, staff, introductions to business support services, access to funding and working with the wider supply chain.

Support to young people
The significant drop in services and support as a result of the delays will impact directly upon the current and developing workforce further exacerbating the economic impact. Around 1,000 young people aged between 16 – 18 ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET) would be directly affected. There is good evidence to suggest that if we engage with harder to reach groups such as those outside of the labour force and then lose that engagement it would cost six times as much to re-engage. Over a 6 month period, initiatives such as employer led skills and provision for workforce transformation including redundancy would ordinarily engage with around 750 people. It costs around £1,650 per person to re-engage in employment and retrain.

We are quantifying further detail on the economic impact across all our activity that any delay to the programme would cause. The above examples focus on employment, skills and business support – but the reach of our Programmes extends far beyond this and the impact will be significant and severe.

Coalition ‘twiddling’ to delay A30 Dualling

A few months ago, Michael Foster, our Labour candidate for Camborne and Redruth, said this about the latest round of EU funding for Cornwall:

“This could be Cornwall’s last chance to use EU money to get our economy off the ground and yet the Coalition are twiddling their thumbs at Westminster, trying to find ways to bypass local input. These endless delays could cost Cornwall millions of pounds and Whitehall mandarins can know little about the reality on the ground here.”

It looks as if, sadly, this is happening. Cornwall has failed to secure EU funding for the dualling of the A30 at Temple, because Tory and Lib Dem MPs have ‘twiddled their thumbs’ instead of getting on with it. Though it did not stop the press releases claiming credit.

This is from the minutes of the Extraordinary Cabinet meeting of 4 December:

Delivery of the A30 Temple to Higher Carblake Improvement was given a major boost on 5 December 2012 when the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed a capped conditional funding offer from the DfT of £30m toward the £60m scheme cost at the time. This offer was on the basis of significant spend within the current Comprehensive Spending Review period which expires at the end of March 2015.

The Council had approved a £10m contribution in November 2013 as part of the Capital Programme in the Corporate Business Plan and Budget 2014-19. The Council had also intended seeking the remaining £20m from the forthcoming EU ERDF 2014-2020 Programme; however, the programme is significantly behind its original planned delivery date thus placing the scheme at risk. The Council has, therefore, been working with DCLG and DfT to identify other funding options to deliver the scheme on schedule.

…and …(note the use of the word ‘was’ in this bit)

Subject to funding being confirmed and the granting of the development consent by the Secretary of State for Transport, it was anticipated that work would commence in March 2015 and take 19 months to complete, with two lanes open in each direction for summer 2016.

Michael Foster also pointed out when the Tories and Lib Dems were all over the news recently announcing all the road plans, that they had to get their funding act together if any of these schemes were going to happen.

The A30 dualling scheme at Temple was dependent on a combination of Council, government and EU funding.

EU funding is delayed for months, affecting Cornwall’s future and that will probably mean we cannot take full advantage of the money available to us.

Money from Government was announced in 2012 and (again this year) but is only allocated until March 2015, so if the road has not been funded and started by then, we could lose the government funding.

Depending on what ‘other’ funding streams are identified to enable this road to go ahead (if any), this could cost the Cornish taxpayer more.

Michael Foster saw the problem right away and raised it. He is not the usual kind of politician, like our Cornwall coalition MPs, sending out press releases and twiddling thumbs while Cornwall’s opportunities are lost. No wonder so many people are supporting our campaign to help Michael win.

Tories in knots over St Michael’s

Just what is going on with the Tories in Camborne and the threat to St Michael’s Hospital?

At last night’s Town Council meeting, Adam Crickett proposed a resolution to support St Michael’s Hospital, to oppose the privatisation of services, to write to neighbouring parish councils expressing our support and to invite local GPs to a meeting so that we could talk about ensuring local people were using the hospital.

Surely not too contentious? But our four Tory councillors tied themselves in knots over it. Thankfully the Mayor, Colin Godolphin put the lid on the run down of George Eustice’s diary, the list of people he had spoken to and what they had said to him, how wonderful, etc.

Then there was an amendment to the resolution which I don’t think anyone really understood – what the minutes for that will read, I can only guess but I salute the clerk who had to make sense of it.

That was defeated. Their final stab at it was an amendment to express support for St Michael’s. End of. Not do anything.

Now I would not have thought a Town Council meeting with local GPs to discuss referrals to a much loved and very high quality local hospital was that contentious but apparently it is to local Conservatives.

When that amendment was lost, they stuck at it and voted against any expression of support for St Michael’s Hospital. Along with the Green councillor, who voted with them all the way.

I’m gobsmacked. All our Labour councillors were there to vote for the resolution, the two Mebyon Kernow councillors and two Independents also supported it. It is a shame we could not express this support unanimously.

Seems the Tories would rather vote against support than do anything that might help protect this hospital.

What the ‘back to the 1930s’ means

In the Independent today it is revealed that the Conservatives’ economic plan will reduce public spending to the levels of the 1930.

In George Osborne’s Autumn Statement he claimed huge success for the government and I suppose this future is the Tories’ idea of success. It’s out there at last after years of pretending they want good public services (remember their promise to match Labour’s spending?)

I was not around in the 1930s. But I know my family history. My maternal grandfather died in 1932, when my mother was a toddler. He died of a chest infection but the family did not have the money to call a doctor. The NHS did not exist.

Left alone with two small children, my grandmother could not survive financially and she soon married again. He was a bully and he died when my mother was 13. As she told me: ‘The whole family breathed a sigh of relief.”

I’m not going into detail about the impact of his behaviour on my mum and to an extent, on me but it has been significant.

That was not the end of it, though. The children had to leave school and go out to work. My mother spent days and nights weeping as she had to go to work in a factory. There was no choice, her older brother had to work as well and there were two more smaller mouths to feed.

She always loved learning and passed exams at night school in her 30s and 40s. Supported by public spending. But like so many of her generation, she never got the opportunities she should have had in life. I was the first in my extended family to go to university. Public spending expanded higher education.

My Gran was a woman who always saw the brighter side of life. But when, as a small child I asked her if she was going to marry again, a shudder went through her whole body. She was a cleaner until she retired, well past 65 and said she had never been so well off in her life as when she got her pension. By then it was the 1970s. Public spending was a lot higher.

This is what it means to drive down public spending to the levels of the 1930s. I do not want my country and my community to be created according to the Conservatives’ world of greed, inequality and poverty.

That’s why I’m Labour. Other parties can dress it up as much as they like. It has always been Labour and the Trade Unions who have fought for working people.

George Eustice’s Misleading Leaflet

One little leaflet, one big mistake.

A few days ago, I had a little leaflet through my door from George Eustice, the current, Conservative MP in this constituency.

Apart from banging on about his former life as a Ukip candidate (worried??) George Eustice makes the astonishing claim that funding for the East West Link Road between Camborne and Redruth was cut by the Labour government.

This is absolutely untrue. We all know the Conservatives like to blame Labour if the weather changes but it is well documented that the funding for the East West Link Road was cut by the incoming Coalition government.

As it is reported on the Cornwall Council information page, the original permission for the road was given in two stages in 2008 and in January 2010.

However, the coalition government spending review in 2011 (the year after the Tory/Lib Dem coalition took office) halted the project and the council was invited to put in a reduced funding bid for a reduced scheme. Which is what, in the end, we have got – or nearly, building continues.

Given the government’s record on transport investment in the south west, it is not surprising that a decent road seemed a step too far for the coalition. Especially when they were saving up for a massive spree just before the 2015 election.

But it is just plain wrong to claim that it was the Labour government that cut the funding – Labour had authorised a better scheme and instead we are stuck with a compromise delivered by the coalition. George Eustice should apologise to constituents and withdraw this leaflet.

Ukip tops poll?

Two newspaper headlines yesterday screamed at each other across the stands. One, the Western Morning News, was ‘Ukip on course for first Westcountry MP’ (in Camborne and Redruth) and the West Briton led with ‘Former Ukip candidate jailed for shocking animal welfare offences’ (i.e.the candidate for Camborne and Redruth).

Here we go again. Why are the media so obsessed with foisting the appalling Ukip party on us? Their policies are as straightforward as the shifting sands in Morecambe Bay – and as dangerous. The ultimate protest: cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Yet they are constantly touted as poised to win everything despite it looking as if even St Nigel (the really different wealthy former stockbroker, who has been an MEP for years but does not even bother to turn up at work when he has put forward a motion) is floundering in Thanet South.

Every week, some manufactured scandal hits the headlines. Ukip candidate says ‘bongo bongo land’, thinks Westminster Cathedral is a mosque, ‘no employer with a brain would imply a young, single, free woman.’ there is no such thing as marital rape, etc etc. Free publicity, air time for Farage and lots of stories about how Ukip are storming to victory everywhere.

I doubt the appalling neglect and death of hundreds of sheep was part of the publicity plan but what it does show is that Ukip are not serious about representing people. They chose an elderly farmer from North Cornwall, with animal cruelty offences hanging over him, by his own admission struggling to cope with day to day life, as their representative for the one of the poorest constituencies in this country.

That is contempt for the people who live here.

And the silly poll? Commissioned for a media project. Says it all. Only 500 people out of 67,000 questioned, no detail on what exactly was asked and out of kilter with every opinion poll that has been done. Unbelievable but straight on the front page.

If so many people want to vote Ukip here, how come their vote has gone down in both of the recent Unitary Council by elections in Camborne and Redruth? And why can’t they get anyone in this constituency to stand for them?