Thursday, 31 March 2016

Today's election results

Mebyon Kernow contested two council by-elections today and Linda Lemon missed out on a seat on Camborne Town Council by only 14 votes. First-time candidate Bruce Townsley meanwhile came second, out of four candidates, in a contest for a seat on Carn Brea Parish Council.

Camborne Town Council
Trelowarren Ward

Labour - 270 (51%)
Linda Lemon (MK) - 256 (49%)
17% turnout

Carn Brea Parish Council
Four Lanes Ward.

Independent - 106 (41%)
Bruce Townsley (MK) - 61 (23%)
Labour - 41 (16%)
Independent - 54 (21%)
14% turnout.

Well done to Linda and Bruce and all their helpers for such very positive results.

MK to meet with BBC South West

A few months ago, on behalf of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall, I wrote to the BBC to formally complain about the BBC’s coverage of MK in relation to the 2015 General Election campaign, as well as the historic under-representation of MK on regional television in the years prior to 2015.

I have chased this up in recent weeks and I can report that I have been invited to meet Leo Devine, the Head of BBC South West, to discuss our representations.

It will take place on 11 April, and I will update one and all with the outcome of the meeting.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Examination into Local Plan to resume on Monday 16th May

Like many other people, I have received confirmation that the examination into the Cornwall Local Plan will resume at 2pm on Monday 16th May 2016. The venue will again be the Atlantic Hotel in Newquay.

The message from the programme officer also included the following:

“Hearings will be held for the whole of that week, including on Friday 20th May. Thereafter, the hearings will continue from 2pm Monday 23rd May to Thursday 26th May. No hearings will be held in half term week (30 May - 3 June). If further hearings are necessary they will take place between Monday 6th – Thursday 9th June.

“A draft programme of hearing topics and participants will be prepared by the Inspector during the first half of April. However, he anticipates that issues relating to the overall need for housing in Cornwall and the overall economic strategy will be discussed on Tuesday/Wednesday, 17th/18th May.

“In relation to matters discussed at the hearings in May 2015, the focus of the resumed hearings will be whether the Council’s proposed changes would make the plan sound. The resumed hearings are not an opportunity for matters previously discussed and on which the Inspector has drawn preliminary conclusions to be discussed again, unless there has been a significant change in circumstances/evidence.

“The Inspector will need to consider carefully how to structure the hearings in relation those parts of the plan not previously discussed, taking into account the Council’s proposed changes.”

I will update further when I have more information.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Will Cornwall lose out if Brexit wins?

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian looks at promises from Conservative MPs who happen to be pushing for Brexit. It will be as follows:

In recent weeks, many people have commented on the possible consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union should voters choose exit in the referendum on 23rd June.

And quite rightly, much has been said about the financial impact on Cornwall and the loss of the structural funding that we receive because of our low levels of economic performance.

Local Conservatives campaigning for “Brexit” have claimed that Cornwall will not lose out, but I find their arguments much less than convincing.

They have pointed out that Cornwall would continue to benefit from EU funding in the two year period during which the UK’s departure from the Union would be negotiated – which I would not challenge.

But they are also claiming that in the future, Cornwall would receive additional monies from central government to make up for the investment that would otherwise be lost to Cornwall, its institutions and local businesses.

Steve Double MP (speaking on behalf of himself and Scott Mann MP and Derek Thomas MP) claimed that reclaiming the money “we currently send to the EU each year” would cover “any funding withdrawn by the EU.”

And yet where are the guarantees? Where is the evidence that the present Government is looking to prioritise investment to boost Cornwall’s economy?

It is an unacceptable state of affairs that Cornwall’s GDP is less than 75% of the EU average, and past governments must all take some responsibility for the fact that Cornwall has not fared better in recent years.

But just look at George Osborne’s recent budget, when he made announcements about investment across the UK. We were, once again, informed that Cornwall would receive much less investment than elsewhere with, for example, additional money being pledged for London’s Crossrail 2 project which could cost up to £32 billion!

It is telling that the Chief Executive of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce described the new monies for Cornwall as “paltry,” while a representative of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council said it was “chicken feed!”

It doesn’t fill one with confidence does it, should these politicians be challenged to put the needs of Cornwall first and replace our structural funding?

The Conservative MPs have also claimed that farmers who “rely heavily on CAP payments” will be protected and, in their words, they “won’t be left to fend for themselves.” And last week, George Eustice MP claimed that, after a “Brexit” vote, funding for the agricultural sector would be maintained or increased.

But where are the guarantees and it was ironic that his announcement came on the same day that farmers took to the streets of London to protest at the failure of central government to get to grips with the present crisis in their industry.

Again, it doesn’t inspire confidence, does it?

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

"Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall" to be launched at Spring Conference

A revised and updated policy document setting out the case for greater self-government for Cornwall will be launched at Mebyon Kernow’s Spring Conference, which will take place on Saturday 2nd April. 

Free copies of the document, titled “Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall” and pictured above with Cllr Michael Bunney, will be available at the event.

The Spring Conference is a half-day event and will take place at Lys Kernow (“New County Hall”) in Truro. Doors will open at 9.15, with Conference business taking place between 10.00 and 1.00.

So why not come along and find out more about the compelling case for meaningful devolution to Cornwall?


An invite to MK's Spring Conference

It is just ten days to MK’s Spring Conference, which will take place on Saturday 2nd April.

It is a half-day event and will take place at Lys Kernow (“New County Hall”) in Truro. Doors will open at 9.15, with Conference business taking place between 10.00 and 1.00.

It is a wonderful opportunity to meet up with MK members, the leadership team and MK councillors.

Debates will include MK agreeing its position on the EU referendum and there will be a series of updates on various MK campaigns.

These will include feedback on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, our opposition to the proposed Devonwall parliamentary seat, MK’s support for greater local control over planning, and our ongoing campaign for a Cornish Assembly.

Members will also be looking ahead to the 2017 Council elections.

So why not come along? More information available from me on 07791 876607.

Monday, 21 March 2016

My latest monthly report to St Enoder Parish Council

Tomorrow night, I will be tabling my monthly written report to a meeting of St Enoder Parish Council. It covers the period 22nd February to 20th March 2016, and will be as follows:

1. Council meetings

I have attended a range of formal meetings at Cornwall Council over the last month. These included: Strategic Planning Committee (plus an associated technical briefing), Central Sub-Area Planning Committee, Planning Policy Advisory Committee (2) plus two additional pre-agenda meetings, an all-member briefing on housing, the Remuneration Panel, a training session for PAC Chairmen, and two preparatory sessions for a meeting with a visiting Advisory Committee from the Council of Europe to discuss the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the Cornish.

In addition to the meetings listed above, I have had numerous informal meetings with council officers and others to discuss a range of issues.

2. Other meetings

I have also attended meetings of the Incinerator Liaison Group and the Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Rural Partnership, as well as the Annual General Meeting of the St Piran Trust, which is responsible for St Piran’s Oratory near Perranporth.

3. Indian Queens Recreation Ground

Over the last month, I have continued to work with Amanda Kendall, the Clerk of St Enoder Parish Council, on consulting local people on the layout of our proposed new play area in the Indian Queens Recreation Ground.

A drop in session for children and parents took place on Friday 4th March at the Indian Queens Victory Hall, at which Cllr David Hearl also helped out. I also sought feedback from both the Indian Queens Under-5s and the Wesley Pre-School.

A separate update report on this project setting out a proposed way forward has been produced and will be tabled at Tuesday’s Parish Council meeting.

4. South West Water works at Trevarren 

As reported at previous Parish Council meeting, South West Water will soon commence works to realign part of the foul sewer near Trevarren and construct an associated attenuation tank (with a capacity of 280,000 litres) to prevent flooding in the area.

I understand that South West Water will be on site from Monday 4th April.

5. Planning and related maters

I have been actively involved with a large number of ongoing applications, as well as related planning matters. Listed below are a few examples, though this list is by no means exhaustive:

- Pines Tip, Fraddon (PA15/00955)
The application for three wind turbines on Pines Tip was considered by the Strategic Planning Committee on 10th March, following a technical briefing on 1st March.

In advance of the meeting, I prepared a letter for the residents of Pedna Carne which was forwarded to all members of the Planning Committee.

At the actual meeting, the Parish Council was represented by Cllr Michael Hopkins, while local residents Mel Morcom and Jenny Pickles spoke against the development.

The officer recommendation was for refusal, which was supported by councillors by twenty votes to nil. The two agreed reasons for refusal were as follows:

1. It is considered that the proposal is contrary to planning guidance contained in the Written Ministerial Statement issued on 18 June 2015 and paragraph 14 of the National Planning Practice Guidance by reason that the proposal does not have the backing of the affected communities and their concerns in respect of the harm to the historic environment and landscape including cumulative impacts have not been fully addressed.

2 The proposal by reason of its size, scale, location and proximity to other operational wind turbine development within the vicinity would generate an unacceptable cumulative visual impact on the wider landscape, to the point where turbines would become the dominant feature of the local landscape detracting from public views of the locality and cumulatively increasing the perceived human influence on the landscape resulting in a wind turbine landscape. The proposal is therefore contrary to Paragraph 97 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 and Polices 6, 10, 11, and 24 of the Restormel Borough Council Local Plan 2001-2011.

An application for a further three turbines on Scarcewater Tip in St Stephen Parish was also refused on 10th March, by twenty votes to nil.

- Pig farm application (PA15/04252)

The range of conditions for this application have almost been agreed and the decision notice will probably be issued this week. As previously reported, the conditions will include the insertion of bio-filters or equivalent odour treatment measures into all the livestock buildings and enhanced measures to control surface water.

- AD plant at Penare (PA15/03073)  

Since the decision of Cornwall Council’s Strategic Planning Committee to defer the above application on 11th February, officers have been in regular contact with representatives of Greener for Life for additional information about the nature of the application and the scope of their requested traffic movements.

It is my understanding that the planning officers have not received all the information that they had requested, but have re-written the report and referred it back to a meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee on 7th April.

Greener for Life have also written to me stating that they no longer wish to take part in Forum meetings and have proposed a new arrangement to liaise with local residents and other. The email was as follows:

As you know GFL decided not to attend any further residents liaison group meetings as these had regrettably reached a point where the meeting itself was causing more problems that it was resolving and we thought it best to have a re-think.

We are still very committed to having a regular dialogue with residents both to provide a means for us to give updates on activity at the plant and also for residents to raise issues. 

We feel that the best way to achieve this is to have a smaller group which would involve people directly involved with the plant working together to resolve issues but also to plan new initiatives such as educational visits.

Our proposal is as follows:

- less than 10 attendees
- no audience
- chaired by Greener for Life, most likely Darren Stockley or a senior manager from our operations team
- other attendees to include:
1) one member of existing liaison group (we would welcome a new face to represent this group)
2) one member of the Fraddon supporters group
3) one or two immediate neighbours
4) yourself
5) Dan Johns from the pig farm
6) Nigel Doyle, CC (as required)
7) Sarah Taylor, EA (as required)
- deputies could be nominated when it was not possible for someone to attend.
- the meetings could be in a smaller venue
- the group could set its own terms of reference at the first meeting
- it would be incumbent on members to feedback to their respective groups

We would like you to consider this new approach as we feel that it could provide a fresh start and ensure that we provide a forum where things can be openly discussed. Assuming you agree, we would make the necessary arrangements.

We would also like to propose the first date for this group to meet as 12 May 2016 at 5pm

It would be understatement to say that the residents who have regularly attended the Forum meetings are less than pleased with the suggestion.

- Outline application for three houses on School Road, Summercourt (PA15/03068)

It is quite some time since I produced a statement on behalf of the Parish Council for the [written representations] appeal for the above application. I am pleased to be able to report that the appeal has been dismissed.

The conclusion of the Inspector included the following:

The harm to the open countryside setting to the village that I have identified would breach the core planning principle to take account of the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside set out at paragraph 17 of the [National Planning Policy] Framework, leading to environmental harm. On this basis the proposal could not be considered a sustainable development and the presumption anticipated at paragraph 14 of the Framework does not prevail.

I conclude therefore that while there would undoubtedly be some benefits that the proposal would bring, these are significantly and demonstrably outweighed by the considerable harm I have identified in respect of countryside character. The proposal would therefore amount to an unsustainable development that conflicts with criterion (2) of saved Policy 3 of the [Restormel] Local Plan and the sustainability objectives of the Framework taken in the whole.

- Redevelopment and extension of Kingsley Village (PA15/04129)

The relevant Section 106 has been signed for the above application and the planning consent has been issued.

 - Mobile homes on the Kelliers (PA15/06186)

In January I reported that, following the refusal of the second (part-retrospective) application for mobile homes on the Kelliers, a series of enforcement notices were served by the unitary authority in the first week of January 2016.

Now that the landowner has appealed against both the refusal of planning permission and the enforcement notices, I am working on a detailed statement on behalf of the Parish Council which must be submitted by 28th March. The appeal would be heard through a hearing.

- Former Post Office, Fraddon (PA15/08012)

This change of use application to turn the former Post Office in Fraddon into a takeaway was considered at a meeting of the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee on 14th March.

It was recommended for approval, with the case officer arguing that the former Post Office already had consent as a shop and the change of use to a take-away was a limited shift.

At the actual meeting, the Parish Council was represented by Cllr Jackie Baker, who raised concerns over traffic and parking problems, as well as the potential adverse impacts from the take-away being open late into the evening when there would be fewer options for parking available in the general area.

I gave support to the Parish Council’s objections but added that, if they were minded to approve the application, they should consider modified or additional conditions about traffic and opening hours.

The application was approved by ten votes to four, and though the councillors declined to add controls on traffic they did slightly limit the requested opening hours. The applicants requested 11.00am to 11.00pm, but the following was agreed:

Monday – Thursday 11.00am to 9.30pm
Friday – Saturday 11.00am to 11.00pm
Sunday 11.00am to 8.00pm

- Pre application advice for energy storage facility at Higher Fraddon (PA16/00186/PREAPP)

A company called AES recently submitted a request for pre-application advice for a large energy storage facility at Higher Fraddon – which is not related in any way to the AD plant at Higher Fraddon. The case has given advice to the applicant which is less than favourable. Part of the conclusion was as follows:

I would have concerns regarding the location of the proposal in terms of accessibility of construction traffic and the close proximity to a number of residential properties.

A number of objections have been raised form the residents within the area concerned regarding visual impact and highway safety.

The Parish Council have also raised an objection to the proposal and have highlighted that there is land at Indian Queens substation big enough to accommodate the proposed building and therefore area questioning the siting of the proposal.

The proposal site is not located within any settlement or within an allocated or existing employment/industrial site and therefore the proposal would be considered development within the Countryside.

A justification would therefore need to be submitted as to why the application has to be sited in this location and should be supported with site selection information. Due to the constraints regarding the location of residents and the highways infrastructure and the pressure on that at present I would not consider this to be a suitable location for the development.

Any submission would need to demonstrate how the development would be considered a sustainable form of development. I would also advise that significant mitigation and landscaping provision would be expected in this location to limit any impact.

6. Highway and related issues

In my last monthly report, I updated members of the Council on a range of traffic matters. And last week, I separately met with the headteacher of Indian Queens School (15th March) and a local representative of Cormac (17th March) to discuss a range of traffic and parking issues. I am taking forward a number of action points and I will report more next month.

I can also report that Barton Lane, Fraddon, has just been resurfaced and similar works on Beacon Road, Summercourt, will be taking place this week (21st-24th March).

7. Indian Queens Under-5s

I helped the Indian Queens Under-5s to submit a funding application to the China Clay Area Community Fund towards the cost of the new surface in their enclosed play area. I am pleased to be able to report that we were successful and secured a grant of £1,000.

8. Inquiries

In the last month, I have also helped numerous people with advice and guidance. Issues have included housing problems, speeding traffic, various enforcement matters and more.

The Government is failing the disabled and the vulnerable

The resignation of the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, because of cuts to benefits for disabled people, has certainly focussed attention on the failure of the Government to protect the most vulnerable in society.

Many claims have been made about other possible reasons behind Duncan Smith’s resignation, such as personal disputes with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and / or the politics of the EU referendum.

But, be that as it may, the growing injustice at the heart of the cuts is undeniable.

Duncan Smith’s resignation letter to the Prime Minister pulled no punches and centred on George Osborne’s announcement of £4 billion of benefit cuts for the disabled when, at the same time, he pledged tax breaks for the better-off.

He challenged the Government to look again at the “balance of the cuts” to make certain “enough has been done to ensure ‘we are all in this together’.”

Others have used much stronger language to condemn the cuts.

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards slammed the “aggressiveness” of the Government’s “deliberate targeting of disabled people, the most vulnerable people in our society.”

Parkinsons UK meanwhile described the changes as a “big backward step for the welfare system” and one which would have “devastating consequences for claimants.”

One newspaper editorial simply said it was “cruel” to reduce funding for the “personal independence payments” for disabled people, which often cover the “extra costs of living with disability, such as wheelchairs and help getting dressed and going to the lavatory.”

At the time of writing this article, it has been reported that the Conservatives have agreed “not to proceed with the policies in their current form,” but that claim has even been ridiculed by prominent Tories.

Bernard Jenkin, Chairman of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, made it public that the “£4 billion savings in the budget from welfare still stands” and that “similar cuts from other benefits for working age people, including for disabled people” would have to be found. He added this was what his colleague found “morally indefensible.”

In a separate but related development, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has analysed recent Government announcements to “highlight the disingenuousness” of claims by George Osborne that he was helping the less well-off.

In assessing the impact of all post-2015 policy changes, it found that by 2020, on average, the poorest fifth of households would be £550 a year worse off while the richest fifth would be over £270 better off.

This is simply wrong and shows that the present Government needs to change direction and put social justice at the heart of everything that it does.

[This is my article in this week’s Cornish Guardian].

Friday, 18 March 2016

Another interview on the so-called “eco-community”

This morning, I did a live interview on BBC Radio Cornwall about the relaunch of the so-called “eco-community” by Eco-bos, and their “consultation” over the next two days.

I challenged much of the spin from Eco-bos, including the claim that they were to increase the amount of affordable housing (but it is less than previous promises of 40-50%) and that the sky-tip had never been under threat (when we all remember a previous consultation that suggested the monument should be removed).

If you didn’t hear it, you can listen to it on Radio Cornwall’s website at:

Scroll to about 7.45 (ie. 1 hour and 45 minutes into the programme) to hear what I had to say.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Today's article in the Cornish Guardian: The Framework Convention

My column in today’s Cornish Guardian reports back of the recent visit of the Advisory Committee to consider compliance with the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The article is an extended version of an earlier blogpost, but is here for the same of completeness.

The article is as follows:

In April 2014, the UK Government bowed to years of pressure and recognised the Cornish people through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Without doubt, it was a landmark ruling that the Cornish should be afforded the same protections as the other Celtic peoples of these Islands, namely the Irish, Scottish and Welsh.

But it must be said that many people in Cornwall, myself included, remain frustrated that central government has not been more proactive in acting on the various “articles” of the document.

It was good that, last week, the Advisory Committee from the Council of Europe visited the United Kingdom to meet with politicians, cultural activists and others (from Cornwall, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) to assess how the UK Government and public bodies were adhering to the Framework Convention.

The Committee were in Cornwall on Wednesday 9th March.

In the morning, the delegation met with about a dozen representatives of various Cornish language and cultural groups; and in the afternoon they met with representatives from Cornwall Council.

This afternoon session was attended by council officers with responsibility for areas as diverse as equality, culture, the Cornish language and planning; as well as a number of elected representatives (Council leader John Pollard, Bert Biscoe, Julian German, Ann Kerridge and myself) who serve on the Council’s working group on the Framework, along with Ed Rowe and Ian Saltern.

Cllr Bert Biscoe, who was the principal driving force behind the campaign for some twenty years to secure this recognition for the Cornish, took the opportunity to thank the Advisory Committee for its past assistance and support, when he and others were making representations for national minority status.

The afternoon session was a positive meeting and the participants were very honest about what has transpired over the last two years.

We repeatedly made the point about the limitations of the political set-up in Cornwall, compared to Wales and Scotland which obviously have their own governments and significant powers to act on the behalf of their residents.

Issues discussed included education, the Cornish language and the uncertainty around central government funding for its growth and development, the inclusive nature of Cornish society, the need for meaningful devolution, the lack of respect for Cornish territoriality and the ongoing threat of a cross-Tamar parliamentary constituency.

The Advisory Committee were very engaged with the issues raised in both sessions, and clearly had a very strong commitment to cultural diversity and the rights of national minorities.

One of the members of the Advisory Committee stated that the Framework Convention needed to be mainstreamed into all aspects of Cornish Society.

This is a strong message which, I believe, was welcomed by all present, and I sincerely hope that the outcome of the visit will help build momentum for all aspects of Cornish identity, culture and language, as well as political progress for Cornwall and its people.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

MK meeting in St Austell & Newquay constituency: Wednesday 23rd March

The next meeting for Mebyon Kernow members in the St Austell & Newquay Constituency has been arranged to take place on the evening of Wednesday 23rd March.

The meeting will take place at ClayTAWC in St Dennis and start at 7.30.

Anyone from the St Austell & Newquay Constituency, who would be interested in finding more about MK and its local campaigns, can call me on 07791 876607 or email me on for more details.

Friday, 11 March 2016

SNP’s Westminster leader “wishes Cornwall well”

An interview with the leader of the SNP at Westminster has been featured in today’s Western Morning News.

One extract from the interview with Angus Robertson is as follows:

Mr Robertson admits he has only been to Cornwall once, when he played the violin at Truro Cathedral with the Edinburgh Secondary School orchestra. But he says he “wishes Cornwall well” in its bid for greater devolution.

“It is for people to decide their own future and I don’t think anyone should stand in the way of people’s aspirations,” he said.

“There has been a long-standing campaign for more decision-making in Cornwall and if that’s what people want, that’s what people in Cornwall should have.”

The full interview is at:

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Notice of MK Spring Conference … 2nd April 2016

Mebyon Kernow members will be gathering at “New County Hall,” Truro, on Saturday 2nd April 2016 for a Spring Conference.

It will be a half-day event between 10.00 and 1.00.

The Conference agenda is being finalised at the moment and will be published for members next week.

If you are not already a member, I would like to extend an invitation to anyone interested in finding out more about MK to attend the event. If you are interested, please contact me via

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Short report on visit of the Advisory Committee (Framework Convention)

Today, I had the privilege to meet the Advisory Committee from the Council of Europe, which was visiting the United Kingdom to assess how the British Government and other bodies were adhering to the various articles of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

It is, of course, the first visit of the Advisory Committee since the Cornish were recognised under the auspices of this Framework Convention in April 2014.

In the morning, the delegation met with about a dozen representatives of Cornish language and cultural groups.

I attended the afternoon session, when they met with representatives from Cornwall Council. These included officers with responsibility for areas as diverse as equality, culture, the Cornish language and planning; the leader of the Council John Pollard; other elected representatives who serve on the Council’s working group on the Framework (Bert Biscoe, Julian German, Ann Kerridge and myself) as well as Ed Rowe and Ian Saltern (who also serve on the working group).

It was a positive meeting and the participants were very honest about what has transpired over the last two years.

We repeatedly made the point about the limitations of the political set-up in Cornwall, compared to Wales and Scotland which obviously have their own governments. It was also noted how central government often has a blindspot when it comes to Cornwall.

Issues discussed included education, the Cornish language and the uncertainty around central government funding for the language, the inclusive nature of Cornish society, the need for meaningful devolution, the lack of respect for Cornish territoriality and the threat of a cross-Tamar parliamentary constituency.

The Advisory Committee were very engaged with the issues raised in our session and clearly had a very strong commitment to cultural diversity and the rights of national minorities.

I do remember that one of the members of the Advisory Committee stated that the Framework Convention needed to be mainstreamed into all aspects of Cornish Society.

This is a strong message which, I believe, was welcomed by all present, and I sincerely hope that the outcome of the visit will help build momentum in terms of progress for the Cornish national minority.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

ITV: “New eco-town for the west?”

The proposal for the so-called “eco-community” was featured on ITV Westcountry tonight, with local MK councillor Matt Luke setting out his opposition to the scheme.

A written report can be found at:

An extract of the interview with Matt can be viewed within the report.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Local opposition to so-called "eco-community" in "Local Plan"

The consultation on the recent changes to the Cornwall Local Plan closed at 5.00pm today.

It is a strange consultation, in that local residents have been invited to only comment on the modifications to the Local Plan agreed by Cornwall Council, following instructions from the Inspector at the first session of the Examination in Public (EiP). All new comments will be sent direct to the Inspector, prior to the EiP being reconvened.

Cllr Matt Luke, on behalf of a number of local residents, and the St Austell & Newquay Constituency Party of MK, have submitted specific objections to the proposed "eco-community," which had been modified during the recent deliberations.

Extracts from Matt’s representation were as follows:

I am writing on behalf of a number of residents in the Clay Country and St Austell areas to express our opposition to the inclusion of the proposed “eco-community” at West Carclaze & Baal in the Cornwall Local Plan.

Policy Statement: Eco-towns – A Supplement to Planning Policy Statement 1

It is our view that the allocation for an “eco-community” stems from the policy direction contained within the above document which was published on 16th July 2009. This statement specified that an eco-town should be built at St Austell.

This document gave significant momentum to the proposal for an eco-community at West Carclaze & Baal, in spite of significant local opposition. It is also our view that there has been a resultant lack of scrutiny for the proposal which was, in effect, being driven forward by central government.

However, on 5th March 2015, Brandon Lewis announced in a written ministerial statement that the “Planning Policy Statement: Eco-towns - A Supplement to Planning Policy Statement 1” was cancelled for all areas except north west Bicester.

An extract from the statement referred to the “eco-towns programme” being a “total shambles” which had “built nothing but resentment.” It also referred to the proposals as being “unsustainable and environmentally damaging.”

We are disappointed that Cornwall Council failed to remove the allocation from the document, following the cancellation of the PPS supplement.

Indeed, we consider that the proposed eco-community would, in the words of the ministerial statement, be “unsustainable and environmentally damaging,” and we would request that the Inspector at the Examination in Public removes the eco-community proposal because of the information set out below.

Lack of popular support

An application for a 1,500 unit eco-community at West Carclaze & Baal (PA14/12186) was validated in January 2015. We consider this application to have been premature and we also believe that its submission has inappropriately influenced the development of planning policy for Mid Cornwall in the draft Cornwall Local Plan.

But the application has shown that the proposal does not have local support. It has been opposed by over 1,000 representations and two local parish councils, as well as St Austell Town Council.

The reasons for opposition to this proposal are multi-faceted.

The development is masquerading as a brown-field development, for example, but much of the housing will be on the few remaining green fields in between St Austell and the village of Penwithick.

Local people are also opposed to the level of housing growth being proposed for the China Clay Area (see below), the pressures on the local infrastructure, concerns about flooding, the impact on nature conservation interests, and much more.

We would formally request that the objections to the development, which can be viewed on Cornwall Council’s planning portal, are forwarded to the Inspector for the next stage of the Examination in Public, so that he can fully appreciate that the eco-community is an unsustainable development which is not worthy of support.

A development that will not live up earlier promises

The various documents that have been produced in recent years, by the promoters of the original eco-town proposal, made numerous promises about the environmentally-friendly nature of the development and “low-carbon living” (Clay Country Eco-town Summary Booklet; July 2009).

Local people were also variously promised 40-50% affordable housing (Clay Country Eco-town The Facts; 2008) or 40% affordable housing (see Clay Country Eco-town Summary Booklet; 2009).

Though we are fully against the principle of this development, we do acknowledge that Policy 3 of the draft Cornwall Local Plan does contain some policy guidelines for the development of the eco-community. But these are frankly inadequate and are only a shadow of past promises.

For example, the target of 40% affordable housing is unacceptable and shows that this proposal lacks the very environmental credentials that have been used in the past to justify the development of a so-called eco-community.

We would request that the Inspector acknowledges the paucity of environmental credentials behind this proposal and removes the eco-community from the Cornwall Local Plan.

Unsustainable levels of growth in Clay Country

Between 1991 and 2010, the China Clay Area experienced faster housing growth than any other part of Cornwall. According to Cornwall Council’s own figures, the level of housing growth – based on the existing housing stock – was a very significant 47%.

It is our view that the imposition of an eco-town or eco-community on the China Clay Area, in addition to other planned housing, is truly unsustainable.

If the level of housing proposed for the China Clay Area in the Cornwall Local Plan (including the eco-community) was allowed to go forward, it would mean that the housing stock of Clay Country would increase by 87% over four decades (from 1991 to 2030).

It is our view this this amount of housing is “excessive,” with greater percentage growth than any other part of Cornwall. It would, for example, be three times the level of housing growth experienced in South East Cornwall and much more than double that of a number of other areas including West Penwith, Falmouth & Penryn, and Wadebridge & Padstow.

We would therefore formally request that the level of housing growth for the China Clay Area is reduced through the removal of the allocation for the eco-community.

Remembering Jack Clemo

Last weekend, thousands and thousands of people from across Cornwall, and much further afield, celebrated all aspects of Cornish identity to mark St Piran’s Day on 5th March.

It was certainly great to see the explosion in the number of events, involving all manner of music, poetry, dance, food, sport and the greater use of the Cornish language.

All in all, it shows a growing confidence in Cornwall’s national identity and our wonderful culture, which is something that we should all be delighted about.

This coming week meanwhile marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of Cornwall’s most iconic cultural figures, the poet Jack Clemo.

He was born on 11th March 1916, in a small semi-detached granite cottage in the very heart of the China Clay Area at Goonamarris near Nanpean. The poet himself described the cottage as a “fitting birthplace” for himself, “dwarfed under the Bloomdale clay-dump.”

It remained Jack’s home for the majority of his life, and it was here that he produced the greater part of his poetry and prose, much of which is set within the culturally distinct and geographically unique world of Mid Cornwall’s Clay Country.

He himself wrote in the poem “Clay-Dams” that he “had never been a ‘meadow, grove and stream’ poet” but that his land was of “gaunt walls and spilled sand.”

But he is not only remembered for his writing. He suffered considerable turmoil in his life because of health issues. Deaf for much of this adulthood, he had also become blind before he was forty.

Dr Philip Payton, the former director of the Institute of Cornish Studies, has described Jack as an “international poet” who was also “hugely important in a Cornish context” and “one of the greats.”

Jack died in 1994 and, by the early 2000s, his former home at Goonamarris was under threat of demolition from the china clay firm which owned it.

I was among the many people who hoped that the cottage could be preserved as some form of memorial to him.

At the time, Dr Payton rightly opined that: "to obliterate the cottage would be to erase [Clemo] from the landscape of Cornwall. There is something about Jack Clemo's cottage that says so much about him as a person. It is so humble and in such a bleak place and it speaks volumes about his disabilities and achievements."

Attempts to list the building fell on deaf ears with the (upcountry) statutory agencies, though I am sure the response would have been very different if Jack has been a Home Counties “meadow, grove and stream” poet!

His cottage was sadly demolished in 2005 and a wonderful opportunity to commemorate Jack Clemo was also lost forever.

Many people have been striving to protect Jack Clemo’s legacy, for example, with displays at the Wheal Martyn Museum and Country Park, while other arranged literary events.

But at this time of his centenary, surely we need to be asking what more we can do to celebrate the achievements of this truly remarkable individual.

[This will be my article in this week's Cornish Guardian].

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Pirantide celebrations near Perranporth

It will surprise no-one that I today spent the afternoon on Gear Sands near Perranporth, supporting the annual St Piran’s Day commemoration with hundreds of others progressing out to St Piran’s Oratory and the medieval church.

As has been the tradition for many years, a play was performed along the route of the procession. Written by Alan M Kent, the play was extremely well received and it all rounded off a lovely weekend of Pirantide celebrations.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Happy St Piran’s Day

I would like to wish everyone a Happy St Piran’s Day.

Each year, the celebrations of our Cornishness seem to get better and better, with more and more people using the opportunity of March 5th to celebrate what is fantastic about Cornwall and our distinct identity.

So this weekend, please enjoy yourselves.

But don’t forget, we need to stand up and demand a better deal for Cornwall, its identity, economy, environment and political future, each and every day.

Why not join MK today to do just that. You can join online at:

Friday, 4 March 2016

MK representation to Advisory Committee on Framework Convention

Many people will be aware that an Advisory Committee from the Council of Europe will be visiting the United Kingdom next week with regard to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

The Committee will be in Cornwall on Wednesday and will be meeting with a range of individuals to discuss what has happened since the Cornish were recognised as a national minority in April 2014.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has sent a letter to the Committee asking them to look beyond issues of culture and language, and to focus also on issues of territory and governance.

Some extracts from the letter are as follows:

“The decision by central government to recognise the Cornish people through the Framework Convention was a landmark ruling, but MK is extremely disappointed with the subsequent attitude and actions of the UK Government since April 2014. For example, at the time of the writing, the Government has not confirmed any funding for the Cornish language, which we find completely unbelievable and disrespectful.”

“We would request that you also consider our additional concerns about how Cornwall is treated by the UK Government in terms of its territoriality and governance.

“Other national minorities in the United Kingdom, such as the Welsh and Scottish, are afforded greater protection because meaningful political power has been devolved to the National Assembly of Wales and the Scottish Parliament.

“However, in Cornwall, the situation is very different. The Government refuses to treat Cornwall as a “nation” and continues to administer it as an English county. There are significant contradictions between the status of the Cornish national minority within the UK and present administrative arrangements, which means they are not treated in the same manner as the national minorities in Wales and Scotland.

“Central Government also fails to treat Cornwall as a distinct unit for the purposes of governance and administration, often perceived as part of a “South West England” region, which masks Cornwall’s specific needs. At the same time, public bodies and, for example, the television media do not serve Cornwall as a distinct unit, which further undermines all manner of aspects of Cornish life.

“Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall would like to bring one, very symbolic issue, to your attention.

"This is the Government’s decision to reduce the number of MPs across the United Kingdom from 650 to 600 – as set out in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act (2011). The legislation makes it clear that new parliamentary constituencies will not breach the historic boundaries of Wales and Scotland with England – but no such provision was included to protect Cornwall’s historic border and the historic integrity of the territory associated with the Cornish national minority. The legislation means that at least one parliamentary constituency will be created of which only 25% would be in Cornwall.

“This is clearly against Article 16 of the Convention which seeks to protect the administrative boundaries of territories associated with national minorities and to ensure that boundaries are not redrawn or gerrymandered to restrict the “enjoyment of such rights and freedoms” as set out in the Framework Convention."

Thursday, 3 March 2016

On the election trail again

I am pleased to be able to report that MK has nominated candidates for two town/parish council by-elections that are due to take place on 31st March. Both the vacancies are within the Camborne and Redruth Constituency.

Linda Lemon will be contesting the Trelowarren Ward on Camborne Town Council. She is hoping to join Zoe Fox who already represents the area on the town council. Zoe is pictured below with Linda, who is on the left. The election will be straight fight with a Labour candidate.

MK is also standing in a by-election for a seat on Carn Brea Parish Council. First time candidate Bruce Townsley will be up against three other candidates – one Labour and two with no description.

Anyone who would like to help out can call the Chairman of the Constituency Party Cllr Loveday Jenkin on 01209 831517.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Cornish Guardian opposes Devonwall seat

The editorial in today’s Cornish Guardian has slammed what it described as the “political abomination known as Devonwall.”

I am very pleased that the newspaper has come out, so strongly, against the creation of a cross-Tamar Devonwall parliamentary seat. It is quite similar to an article I wrote in a recent edition of the newspaper, and this hard-hitting editorial is well worth a read.

It concludes as follows:

“The Cornish people have already been recognised as a ‘national minority.’ As such, we must be afforded the same respect as in Scotland and Wales and not have our boundaries breached by the creation of a bastardised constituency that neither respects nor recognises Cornwall, its heritage, its struggles and its aspirations.”

Cornwall for Sale? ... YourKidsFutureCornwall

A full page advert was placed in today’s Cornish Guardian by a group calling itself YourKidsFutureCornwall. I understand that similar adverts will be appearing in the Cornishman and West Briton newspapers tomorrow.

YourKidsFutureCornwall describes itself as a “group of dedicated people that are passionate about protecting Kernow from the developer's onslaught that it is currently seeing. We can't do it alone, we need the help and support of the peoples of Kernow.”

It is a telling intervention at this time and shows the growing frustration that many people feel about what is happening in Cornwall today. I have seen it described as the “most outspoken expression of grassroots concern seen in decades!”

I believe it is incumbent on everyone who cares about the future of Cornwall, to be active in local affairs.

So have a read, look at the website – – and join in the debate and have your say.

As the leader of MK, I would also appeal to one and all to become active in the Party for Cornwall. It is easy to join – just go to the website at

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Consultation on proposal for new play area in Indian Queens Recreation Ground

St Enoder Parish Council has secured a significant amount of funding towards a new play area in the Recreation Ground at Indian Queens. The funding principally comes from a one-off community payment from the developer of the solar farm near Fraddon, and a contribution from a local developer in lieu of not providing a small play area on a local housing site.

We have also submitted an additional application to a local funding body and will know whether we have been successful at the end of April.

In the meantime, we are finalising the layout of the proposed new play area. Plans have been produced and will be on show at the Indian Queens Victory Hall on Friday 4th March, between 2.00 and 4.30.

Please drop in and tell us what you think of the plans.