Sunday, 20 September 2009

An early morning

The things I do for the cause of Cornish nationalism. I have just finished my latest interview for the BBC. This time, it was Radio 5 Live and the time 6.35 on a Sunday morning. Quite a grilling, with the same and predictable old chestnuts as 'why not Lancashire?'

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Talking to the BBC

I have just got back from the Radio Cornwall studio, where I spent the last hour crammed into a small studio with Professor Philip Payton (Institute of Cornish Studies) waiting to participate in a debate on Cornish Identity for the Night Waves programme on Radio 3.

It was quite a truncated debate and lasted 12 minutes or so, with Andrew George MP also involved but from a different studio. At this stage, I am not sure if people will be able to isten to the programme again on the BBC website.

I was also interviewed by the local Spotlight team today concerning the campaign for a Cornish tickbox on the 2011 census, which will be featured on the Politics Show on Sunday.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Climate Change - the Cornish Declaration

At yesterday’s meeting of Cornwall Council, I was one of five members who sponsored a motion to endorse the Cornish Declaration. It calls on the Government to help forge a global agreement to keep the increase in temperature of the planet to below 2 C.

The Declaration, which is being spearheaded by Truro Cathedral, encourages people and organisations in Cornwall to support action to ensure that Cornwall is part of a planet which lives within its means.

The motion was proposed by Julian German, the portfolio-holder for the Environment, who stated that it was his “ambition is to turn the concept of a green Cornwall into a reality” and for Cornwall to send a strong message to Copenhagen in December.

The meeting did not go as planned. The Lib Dems moved an amendment, to the already-agreed cross-party motion. This was for the Council to support the 10 / 10 campaign which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.

Cllr Julian German was happy to incorporate this into the original proposal, but it soon became clear that many members were not willing to support the campaign without further information.

In my second speech in the debate, I made it clear that I backed the 10 / 10 campaign and that I would vote for it. But realising the tone of the meeting, I suggested that we focus on the Cornish declaration and bring the 10 / 10 campaign back to a future meeting with more information.

This was not taken on board by the Lib Dems and the Council voted not to support the 10 / 10 initiative at this time. It has since been made clear that a report into the potential implications for the Council of adopting the 10 / 10 targets would be prepared and brought back to a future meeting.

I hope that the proposal from the Lib Dems was made for the correct reasons, but sadly they are already trying to make political capital out of the vote at the expense of the Conservatives. The PPC in my area has already tweeted that “Conservative-led Cornwall Council voted today to reject a motion for 10% carbon cut in 2010 - They're still the same old Tories ...”

Nonetheless, the Cornish Declaration was unanimously supported by the councillors present at the meeting.

I am pictured above with (left to right): Mike Clayton (Deputy Leader of Independent Group), Doris Ansari (Leader of Lib Dem Group), Kevin Lavery (Chief Executive), Alec Robertson (Council Leader and Leader of Conservative Group), Julian German and Independent councillor Bob Egerton.

What a difference a meeting makes!

It was following this debate that I thought back to the previous Council meeting when the Lib Dems had moved a motion to freeze councillors’ allowances and not to undertake the independent review that the Liberal Democrat-run County Council had agreed was necessary.

The three MK members did not support the motion. I will not go into detail on the many reasons for this, but we felt that it was important that the independent review went ahead.

In the campaigns for two Camborne Town Council by-elections, a short time after the debate, the Lib Dems put out a range of leaflets which misrepresented the issue and were not particularly pleasant. Literature was even circulated on behalf of Julia Goldsworthy which claimed “MK promised to stand up for local people at the last elections. Instead we find them jumping into bed with the Conservatives at the very first opportunity …”

But now that we have supported a Liberal Democrat amendment, I must ask, will the Lib Dems in the Camborne and Redruth area now be putting out a leaflet to express their anger that – shock horror – MK councillors have “jumped into bed” with the Lib Dems!

The truth is that, on both occasions, we did what we thought was right. And that is what we will continue to do!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Planning Policy Panel

I am very pleased to report that I was elected Chairman of Cornwall Council’s Planning Policy Advisory Panel on Monday. This panel will make recommendations to cabinet concerning the Local Development Framework for Cornwall and a range of related planning and other documents.

It will be a massive amount of work and extremely important for the future direction of Cornwall.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Responding to Piran Pascoe

In last week’s Cornish Guardian and West Briton newspapers, Piran Pascoe wrote a column entitled ‘Cornwall is in England, not next to it – and the Cornish cannot be allowed to control our own affairs.’ Among other comments it referred to, for example, ‘bored individuals who refuse to grow up … insist on living on fantasy island, calling for Cornwall to become an independent nation that governs itself.’

They have allowed me to produce a response which I understand will be printed later this week. The response is shown below.

Piran Pascoe’s piece in last week’s paper was a deliciously mischievous piece and clearly written to generate a reaction.

Sadly, the press statement from Mebyon Kernow featured within the article was misrepresented and I would like to put the record straight. The point of the MK statement was that although constitutional reform has re-emerged as a political issue, following the scandal over MPs’ expenses scandal, there has been much grandstanding and political point-scoring, but Government proposals thus far have been a sadly timid series of measures on the fringes of the present arrangements.

Our press statement unsurprisingly called for the devolution of powers to a National Assembly for Cornwall and an end to the influence of unelected and unaccountable quangos based outside of Cornwall. It also included wide-ranging demands such as fixed-term Westminster Parliaments, proportional representation (Single Transferable Vote), an end to the unelected second chamber, the relocation of various government bodies and institutions away from London and the South East, as well as the strengthening of local government.

It was therefore more than a little disappointing that Mr Pascoe chose to caricature what I considered to be a balanced statement. And for our call for greater powers for Cornwall to be misrepresented as a demand for ‘Cornish independence’ is especially frustrating.

Mr Pascoe – why shouldn’t decisions about Cornwall be taken in Cornwall? Why do key decisions about housing and jobs and the environment have to be taken by unelected quangos outside of the Duchy? I truly believe that Cornwall deserves better from the present democratic set-up and that is what Mebyon Kernow will continue to campaign for - greater powers for Cornwall.

I also found it disappointing that Mr Pascoe wished to ridicule people who are passionate about their Cornish identity. I, for one, am glad that Cornwall is not an identikit English county but a historic nation, like Wales and Scotland, with a strong identity and a wide range of wonderful cultural traditions including the Cornish language.

This is something to celebrate and be positive about – both now and into the future.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

At the flower show

Today was derby day on the rugby field with Redruth RFC taking on Launceston at Polson Bridge.

I was one Redruth supporter who could not make it this year. I had the privilege to be handing out the prizes at the flower and produce show in my local Parish.

It was a well-supported show and the committee who organised the event should be congratulated on their success.

I was particularly chuffed to win a white teddy bear in the ‘guess the number of marbles in the bottle’ competition. My suggestion was 516. I was only two out - there were 518 marbles!

Well done to Launceston on their win - I am already looking forward to the rematch in January when, hopefully, the result will be different.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

SITA takes incinerator to appeal

Yesterday it was announced that SITA plan to appeal the decision of Cornwall County Council to refuse their application for an incinerator near St Dennis. Since then, press statements have been flying thick and fast, some of them very political. I made the following statement with my fellow councillors. Fred Greenslade and John Wood (above), from the China Clay Area.

“We are disappointed that SITA has chosen to go to appeal.

“The incinerator application was turned down for a multitude of sound planning reasons. We remain convinced that this was the correct decision for the people of St Dennis and Treviscoe, and Cornwall as a whole. There must be better ways to deal with Cornwall’s waste.

“As elected members for the China Clay Area, we have already sought and received assurances from the administration of Cornwall Council that they will properly resource and robustly defend the appeal. We will also do our utmost to make sure that this is the case.

“We are also actively working through the Council’s Waste Advisory Panel to explore alternatives to a single incinerator. As part of this work, we are also investigating the scope and limitations of the contract (signed by SITA and the previous Council) in order to understand what options are available to the Council.”