Thursday, 22 September 2016

Hayle Harbour and Foundry Day

Last week, I had the pleasure of formally opening Hayle’s first Harbour Festival. Hayle Harbour and Foundry Day is a celebration of local business, local talent, Hayle heritage and our community. The organisers deserve huge credit. There was great entertainment throughout the day, and it showed that Hayle really is on the up.

There has been an event in Foundry for several years, but this was the first year it has been broadened to cover the harbour. The day aimed to bring Hayle Harbour back to the forefront of the community, and to bring different businesses, charities and clubs together to show off what Hayle has to offer.

When I became an MP I said I wanted to see Hayle Harbour regenerated. It had been left derelict for too long and plans had been talked about all my life time. It was time for action.  While a lot of work needed to go into planning something that local people could get behind, and we needed government grants to put infrastructure in place, like the new bridge into North quay, great progress has been made.  As well as the new harbour walls, we now have a marine energy park on North Quay.

The next stage is to complete sensitive development at the end of South Quay, put in place the footbridge to link the quay to Penpol Terrace and get things moving on North Quay.  There are now two new developers who have bought the harbour from the Dutch bank, ING, and I will be working with them to ensure we get the rest of the development right.

Hayle is going from strength to strength and there is a new confidence in the town but we have to see through what has been started.
On a less optimistic note, this week saw a reminder of the threat of flash floods in Cornwall. Homes, businesses and schools have been affected. We can't legislate for the weather but we can prepare. In the last parliament, the Government spent over £1.5 billion on investment in flood defences. During the current parliament we plan to invest an additional £2.3 billion, supporting around 1500 schemes that will help protect some 300,000 homes.  

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Annual Pasty Festival

Last Saturday I attended the annual Pasty Festival in Redruth, where we celebrate the international home of the Cornish pasty. The weather was glorious, and I even tried my hand at making my own pasty!

When we think of the mass Cornish migrations of the late nineteenth century, we tend to think of the moves to Australia, South Africa or the US but Cornish miners fanned out across the world taking their mining and engineering expertise to new countries. Wherever the Cornish miners from Redruth went, they took the Cornish pasty with them.

Cornish miners also settled at Real Del Monte in Mexico. I have previously met local representatives from the town when they visited the Heartlands project in Pool and there were other Mexican pasty makers in attendance last Saturday and there was a Mexican band.

Cornish miners were responsible for developing silver mining in Real Del Monte during the nineteenth century. They also introduced football and other sports to Mexico. Hundreds of Cornish miners ended their lives in the area and many are to be found in one of the local cemeteries, apparently facing home to Cornwall which was a common request at the time.  This cemetery was damaged by storms earlier this year and credit is due to Mike Kiernan from the Cornish Global Migration Programme who helped raise funds to repair it.

Today the Cornish heritage is evident in some of their architecture and in their love of pasties.  

Four years ago, I and Cornwall’s other MPs, were in the middle of a battle to reverse the government’s decision to put VAT on freshly baked pasties. The traditional exemption from VAT was what civil servants described as an “anomaly”. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and George Osborne intervened to reverse the measure and ensure that the Cornish Pasty continued to be given the special treatment it deserves. Last Saturday was really well attended with a buzz about the town.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

National Citizenship Service

During the Summer Recess, I have enjoyed spending time in the constituency. A particular highlight was a visit to a group of young people taking part in the National Citizenship Service (NCS). NCS was set up in 2011, and is open to all 16-17 year olds in England. It aims to bring together young people from all sorts of different backgrounds, helping to break down social barriers and develop self-confidence. 

Programmes like this have a crucial role to play in giving opportunities to young people when they are on the cusp of adulthood but will be finding their feet socially and emotionally. 

This year, the group I visited were taking part in a variety of community projects: contributing to the development of a sensory area at BF Adventure, participating in a project at the Dreadnought Centre (which provides a range of support programmes for children and young people who are facing emotional and behavioural problems) and a beach litter clean.

NCS is a residential course, so it gives participants the opportunity to leave home behind for a couple of weeks and immerse themselves in a fresh environment and make new friends. This can be a great way to develop their confidence and independence as it means those taking part are all in the same boat.

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. Huge congratulations to all those young people who took on the challenge and for delivering something in their community.  It was clear from speaking to them that they enjoyed it and made new friends.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Exam Results

Getting exam results can be a nerve racking experience because, for many, the results they achieve at A level and GCSE can have an important bearing on where they go to university, and their future career paths.

In the last fortnight, we have seen some exceptional A Level and GCSE results from our local schools. Redruth School has had its best ever year for GCSE results, and a 98.5% pass rate at A Level. Camborne Science and International Academy achieved a 100% pass rate at A Level, as well as topping GCSE league tables in Cornwall. Hayle Community School and Pool Academy have both seen their GCSE results improve this year and they are all achieving more against a backdrop of a curriculum which is tougher and more rigorous than ever.

I am really proud of all of our schools, which are some of the best schools in Cornwall. They have each made tremendous progress in recent years. When I am visiting them, I always find that there is a sense of pride from students and teachers alike.

 Clearly, our secondary schools are going from strength to strength.  Earlier this year the Maths department at Pool Academy was short listed for a national teaching award for the success of their innovative work teaching Maths.  Hayle continues to do excellent work on modern languages; Camborne boasts impressive international exchanges and work on science and Redruth has a particularly strong sports department and as been on the way up over the last few years.  I am proud that our schools cooperate and learn from each other, whilst maintaining healthy but friendly competition.

I think it is important to create a culture of excellence in the education system where schools are constantly striving to achieve more for all children. You only get one education, so we must do all we can to make it a success. I wish all of our schools the very best for the 2016/17 academic year, and look forward to working with all of them to continue the success that we have seen this summer.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Software Cornwall

Over the last two or three years, we have seen growing momentum behind the embryonic computer software industry here in West Cornwall.  A recent national study identified Camborne and Redruth as one of the fastest growing computer software clusters in the country with huge growth in jobs and turnover. 

Companies like Headforwards Software from Pool which develops software solutions for the telecoms industry are growing exponentially.  In Redruth we have the Barncoose Gateway centre which hosts other home grown local success stories like Blue Fruit and Netbooster.  Earlier this week I visited SCSL at Tolvaddon which is another rapidly emerging company in this new industry.  It was founded by Dr Mark Sullivan, a former GP, who spotted the need for better data monitoring to assist doctors in managing the medication of patients in need anticoagulants to reduce their risk of stroke.  Over the last twenty years they have been developing sophisticated software for use by the NHS which makes them one of the world's cutting edge technology companies in their field.

Software Cornwall is a grouping that now has over sixty members both large and small and Mike Barritt, the Managing Director of SCSL, is heavily involved in organising the annual "Agile on the beach" convention which takes place at Falmouth next week and is now judged to be among the top three such events in the world. "Agile" is a new management concept which can be applied to many disciplines including even in financial management but is especially used in software development.  It is about removing rigid processes, targets and management plans and replacing them with something more flexible, holistic and iterative so that complex challenges can be overcome by natural adaptation.

 I have always said that I wanted to see new industries and higher paid jobs in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle. The ingredients of success are the right infrastructure, like Superfast broadband, and the raw talent of bright individuals who can make things happen.  Then you need critical mass so here is local resilience which we are now starting to get.  Previously, people had to choose between leaving Cornwall and taking a well-paid career up country, or taking the lifestyle choice to live in the most beautiful part of the country but accepting a lower salary.  Increasingly, the young people who have grown up in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle and who are receiving their exam results this week will not be forced to make that choice. 

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.