Thursday, 18 August 2016

Structural and Investment Fund Projects


I am pleased that the Chancellor has announced that the Treasury will ensure that all structural and investment fund projects signed before the Autumn Statement will be fully funded. Philip Hammond has also confirmed that agricultural funding will continue until at least 2020. Horizon research funding granted before leaving the EU will also be guaranteed by the Treasury after the UK leaves.  There will also be further announcements in the autumn statement about how the government intends to secure some continuity and consistency of the funding streams currently managed by the EU up until the point we actually leave.

This move will ensure stability and certainty in the run up to our exit from the EU. However, I believe that we now have a wonderful opportunity to design our own domestic policies to run regional policy, support businesses and sectors such as agriculture and science.

In terms of regional policy, in areas such as Cornwall, over the last couple of years the British government has operated a highly successful economic fund called the Local Growth Fund. This has funded the successful Devolution Deal for Cornwall and has had nothing to do with the EU. It is nationally funded, and is audited in a consistent and proportionate way by the National Audit Office. Following problems relating to procurement around EU funding and grants, Cornish businesses have increasingly questioned the risks of EU funding when they could instead benefit from a stable, national regeneration fund implemented property and consistently.

Research carried out in 2012 by the independent think tank Open Europe has shown that there are huge dead weight costs to sending money out to Brussels and then bringing it back again with lots of pointless bureaucracy and strings attached.  We now have a chance to do things differently and more effectively so that the money we spend really delivers jobs and growth.

For example, by expanding the existing Local Growth Fund, which would be properly managed by national government in conjunction with the Local Enterprise Partnership, we would be free to invest in projects that really deliver for Cornwall.

I am currently enjoying spending Summer Recess in the constituency. On 23rd August, I will be holding a pop-up surgery at Asda, South Quay, Hayle, between 2pm and 4pm.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Man Engine


In recent days, it has been fantastic to watch the progress of the Man Engine's tour of the county. In July 2006, the Cornish Mining Landscape became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Man Engine, a 10-metre mechanical giant, celebrates the 10 year anniversary of our World Heritage Status and the successes and struggles of the people whose lives shaped the Cornish mining story.

I believe that this part of Cornwall must make the most of its amazing industrial heritage, and make the most of Cornwall’s World Heritage Status. Camborne, Redruth and Hayle together make up the heart of the county’s industrial heritage. There are also around 8 million people around the world who are part of the Cornish Diaspora, with ancestors who can be traced back to Cornwall. They took mining technology around the globe to places such as Australia, the United States, Mexico and South America. The growth of the internet has made it easier for people to trace their family history and there has been a surge of interest in such research.

A few years ago I organised a conference in Redruth that culminated in the decision to build the Cornwall Archive in Redruth. It has transformed the old derelict Redruth brewery site into a centre for holding the world’s largest collection of maps, photographs and manuscripts relating to Cornwall.

Cornwall has always been unique.  We have a strong identity and our own language and culture. Many of us consider ourselves Cornish before English and in recent years we have seen a renewed interest in learning the Cornish language. I have always believed that we should give more decision making powers to Cornwall, and this week I have had some encouraging meetings regarding the Devolution Deal.

I am enjoying taking the chance to spend time in the constituency over Summer Recess. On Monday, 15th August, I will be holding an open surgery at Trenithick, Mount Hawke Residents Association Club between 10am and 11.30 am, followed by another open surgery at my office on Commercial Street, Camborne, between 2pm and 4pm.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Olympics 2016


Team GB look set to have a very successful Olympics in Rio. It seems only yesterday that we were preparing for the start of the London 2012 Olympics, in which Mo Farah made history by being the first British man to win gold in the Olympic 10,000 metres.

Cornish athletes have often played a huge part in the success of Team GB. In 2012, Ben Ainslie won his event for the fourth time and Helen Glover took Britain’s first gold of the Games. She will defend her title in Rio. I am also enormously proud that paratriathlete Melissa Reid, from Porthtowan, has been selected to participate in the 2016 Paralympics. I wish her the very best of luck.

The legacy from the London 2012 Olympics is often described as economic, encouraging trade, inward investment and tourism. However, I hope that the most important legacy is that a generation of young people has been inspired to take up sport thanks to the emergence of new role models from various backgrounds, all of whom are about achievement and excellence through hard work.

Locally, I am always very impressed by the efforts of students participating in the Cornwall Schools Games. This allows young people to take part in a huge variety of sports, and is a great way to raise the status of sport in our schools. I am a keen runner, and used to be a member of Cornwall Athletics Club. It is great to see that the club continues to thrive.

I recently watched part of the Cornwall BMX Racing Club Summer Racing Series. It was great to see so many participants, and I am hugely supportive of plans for new and improved facilities which are supported by both British Cycling and Sport England.

I am encouraged by the legacy of London 2012, and optimistic that Rio 2016 will ensure a continuation of this new era for British sport.

 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Summer Recess


Parliament has now dissolved for the summer recess. I am looking forward to taking the opportunity to spend more time in the constituency and catch up on some of the exciting projects in Cornwall. I am looking forward to meeting people around the constituency, and I have a packed and varied diary over the next few weeks.
Next week, I will be having a meeting to catch up on the Cornwall Devolution Deal. Cornwall has its own unique identity and being a peninsula at the end of the line, I have always said we should have more control over the way we configure key services.
Among the more unusual visits is one to Cornish Edible Insects at Carnkie. The company offers insect-based products for human consumption, and is a unique enterprise for the region. I am also looking forward to several “out and about” days in Mount Hawke, Portreath, Hayle and Constantine, where I meet as many local people and local groups as possible.
will also be catching up with young people who are taking part in the National Citizenship Service (NCS). NCS aims to bring together young people from a range of backgrounds, helping to break down social barriers and develop self-confidence. I have met groups participating in NCS previously, and it has always been clear to me just how beneficial the scheme is. I was working for David Cameron when he first came up with the idea over a decade ago and it is good to see the scheme growing.
I will also be catching up with local companies including Rodda’s, and visiting the Kresen Kernow Archive Centre at Redruth.  I am very proud of what has been achieved at the Archive Centre. Redruth is the most international of Cornish towns. Of the 8 million strong world-wide Cornish Diaspora, around a quarter can trace their roots back to Redruth. We exported mining expertise around the globe from Australia and South Africa to California, South America and Mexico. Redruth Town Council has shown tremendous enthusiasm for the archive project and credit should also go to both existing and former local councillors for their support.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Government reshuffle


I am delighted that I have been re-appointed as Minster of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I said during the EU referendum campaign that I hoped to be the first Farming Minister in over 40 years with the power to design a new national agriculture policy starting from first principles, so I am delighted to be offered this opportunity.
 
We have an enormous task ahead of us. I do think it is important now to bring the country together, put the campaign behind us and all work together to implement the collective will of the nation.  I am pleased that a government has now been formed, giving us the certainty to move forwards and put in place new agriculture, fisheries and environment policies.
 
Rather than having lawyers coming in to my ministerial office to tell me that nothing can be done because of EU law, instead my office can now become a vibrant hub of discussion with farmers, fishermen, scientists, ecologists and volunteers talking about how we can try new things and do better for our agriculture, fisheries and environment.
 
I want us to put in place a very close partnership with the EU based on friendship and cooperation and I want the UK to be a generous and outward looking country that is a good global citizen.  I will strive in the months ahead to ensure that we get our approach right.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Development


When it comes to development around our towns I have always been clear that we should prioritise building on brown field sites over green field sites.  The industrial legacy that we have around Camborne, Redruth and Hayle means that we have a large number of heritage buildings but many of them are falling down.  If we spend the time and effort getting things right, we can save these buildings and the unique features that make them special while providing new homes and employment for families who grew up in the area.

There are always complications to developing brown field sites with the extra costs of thinking about unique designs as well as the costs of remediation and land decontamination.  To make things more complicated still, we are never far from a mine shaft in this part of the world and that can add to the cost in unexpected ways.  But the prize is worth the extra effort.  Consider how the old Holman's site around Camborne Train Station has been transformed or how Heartlands in Pool has really started to take shape. Consider the transformation of Hayle Harbour and the major changes taking shape at the old derelict Redruth Brewery with the new archive project.  We have made great progress but there is further to go.

In recent weeks I have had meetings with several of the key developers who own remaining difficult sites at Tuckingmill, South Crofty and the old Avers garage site.  I want to get things moving at Tuckingmill.  I have also met local planners to ensure that the latest version of the Cornwall Council local plan will retain a strong preference for brownfield development in the existing footprint of our urban area.   We need to keep up the momentum and focus on solutions to these difficult, derelict sites so we can make Camborne, Redruth and Hayle the place of choice to live and set up a business in Cornwall. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

Leadership


I have never known a more turbulent time in politics.  Scarcely a day goes by without another resignation of some sort.  We are in the eye of the storm.  However, it will settle down in time and clarity will eventually prevail.  By the time you read this article the first two rounds of the Conservative leadership contest will have been completed.
 
I wish that David Cameron hadn’t resigned.  He did not need to in my view.  It was quite possible for him to put together a negotiating team to manage the outcome of the EU referendum while staying on to provide some continuity and to help with relations with other EU countries.  However, he didn't want to carry on so now we must calmly choose a new leader.

I worked for David Cameron for almost three years including during his own campaign for the Conservative leadership. From the very beginning I could see that he had the judgement and temperament to become a really great Prime Minister.  It has been fascinating to see him catapulted from an unknown MP twelve years ago to become leader of the party and then leader of our country.  I have seen him grow at each stage and as each challenge presented itself.  No one is born to be Prime Minister and there is no special training.  You have to learn it from trial and error on the job.  You either have the aptitude to do it, and manage to overcome obstacles and become stronger after each and every setback or, rather like Gordon Brown, the job overwhelms you and you get gradually eroded by it.

While David Cameron will be disappointed at the way things have ended, I think that history will judge him well. He took the helm in desperate times and steered the country back to economic recovery. He was the only Prime Minister I can think of who had the temperament to make coalition government really work for a full five years.  I am very sad to see him go but it has been a real privilege to have worked with him.