Thursday, 30 August 2007


Last word on Cornish Nationalism, for the moment. The very wonderful Kneehigh theatre are touring this autum with 'Blast', a story of Cornish direct action, and will be at a village hall near you, as long as you have the good fortune to live in Cornwall or the, rather more debatable, good fortune to live in Devon. Tough on the rest of you, but it's your own fault.

The full list of dates is on

Wednesday, 29 August 2007


I've had a couple of anonymous comments on the Newlyn post I put out yesterday. I've published them, but don't intend to publish anything else marked anonymous. If you don't have the balls to put your name to a comment, your views aren't worth reading.

Candy Atherton a good MP? After she visited South Crofty tin mine and asked when COAL production had stopped there, we realised how much she knew about, or cared for, Cornwall. It was then just a matter of time before she packed that big carpet bag of hers, and headed back to Islington.

Signs of Cornish Nationalism aren't hard to see. St Pirans flag flies everywhere these days. The English Heritage rose is generally painted over with the Piran emblem. Graffiti on signs or on walls or even across the road itself, are commonplace. Usually saying 'hope your second home burns' or something similarly cheery. When the Loving Cup of England visited Truro on its tour of the cities of England, in the run up to St Georges day, it was met by an angry flag waving crowd who didn't want it here. I could go on, but take a look at the Cornwall24 website if you want more.

Oh no! I'm dealing with more than one subject in my post! the other anonymous will be tutting! bet he doesn't like exclamation marks either!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007


Down in Newlyn last night for the tail end of the Fish Fair. Couple of pints in the Dolphin, enjoying the party atmosphere. But as today's relates, there's an air of despair settling on this great Cornish fishing port. There are not many places like Newlyn left now, it's still a working port and people live and work there. Most people were drunk last night, but there was no trouble, you can't start a fight in the pub that your Dad and Grandad drink in, and if you do, it's soon sorted.

But the Government is grinding on with legal action against some skippers who went over their quotas, and this could destroy the fragile economy of the town. They don't deny that they broke the law, but they want fair treatment and proportionate fines. This wouldn't happen in France or Spain. A couple of years ago LibDem MEP's campaigned to protect the name Cornish Pasties, so they could only be called Cornish if they were made here. The French Government held the whole thing up whilst they consulted the people of the Cornvoi region. Maybe they would one day in the future want to make pasties - their position must be protected! Can you imagine our Government taking such an interest?

Years ago when South Crofty, the last Cornish tin mine, closed some graffiti appeared on the wall. 'Mining scat, fishing scat, what's a Cornish boy to do?'. The answer seems to us to be that our Government doesn't care. Take away what a man does, and you take away what he is. May be this is part of the reason for the upsurge in Cornish Nationalism, that we've seen lately.

There's growing resentment down here. In the past the LibDems have done great work representing the people of Cornwall and we must make sure that we continue to speak up on behalf of Cornwall and it's people.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Bad Days, Good Days.

Yesterday started well enough. A nice run along the river to Malpas, in the Cornish sunshine, what better way to start the day?. Then pay a few bills, not fun but necessary and off to a meeting to discuss negotiations for the new Unitary Council. That's when things started to go downhill. A really grim meeting. The gulf between District Councillors and County Councillors is huge and a great deal of bitterness exists. It doesn't help that County hoards information and can't bear to tell anyone anything. A nice guy had come down from Portsmouth to give us the benefit of his experience, he's been involved in setting up and running Unitary's, but all he got was moaning and scepticism. It was annoying, when he told us the elections would be in May 2008. Last week we were told by a source in County May 2009. Who knows what's going on. All I know is that it's going to be a struggle to get right and we need to start working now.

And then the Planning Committee. Carrick send an agenda several days in advance, at a cost of about £4 for postage. Its a couple of hundred pages, but its got to be read. Its important to the people involved. But several of the Condependant ( conservatives calling themselves independents) like to keep it all as a surprise for the night. So they constantly ask questions and the Officers patiently answer 'that's covered on page 126' or whatever. It means a 2 hour meeting stretches to 3 hours while they catch up. Perhaps it's me that's the fool for being diligent.

But today's a better day. 3 minutes faster on my run and 3lbs less on the scales. Even better, two mentions in the local papers and a snippet on Radio Cornwall. One was for raising £5000 for Macmillan, in a rally Nick and I did earlier in the year, and the other described how we've found, almost intact, the old stables and parcels office buried within the Railway Club. They've just extended over the years, covering up the old 19th century building with bits of cladding and breeze blocks. But it's still there. The funny bit was that when the Conservation Area was marked out they deliberately left out the Railway Club. But now the County Conservation people are very interested. Which might help in our fight against Wainhomes.

And now my evening meeting has been cancelled, so an evening off when the sun is shining. Oh, and my son did well with his GCSE's, so it'll be Chinese takeaways all round! Best not go near the scales tomorrow.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Newquay Fire

With hoax Great White Sharks and an all too tragically real fire, Newquay's been in the national news this summer. But down here we've been talking about the Fire Service for a while now. The LibDem run County Council has a budget overrun of a million pounds, which is a result of the Government's decision to pay firemen more (quite rightly) but not give the Council any extra money to pay for this rise. This cost has to be covered so how do we want to do it? Put it directly on the council tax or lose full time jobs? The proposed plan was to reduce Falmouth and Camborne, the only two fire stations which have 24 hour full time staff, to retained firemen at night time. It was already a pretty unpopular plan, and now there's hell up.

But a couple of points need making.

Firstly the cuts haven't taken place yet, so they have no bearing on the tragedy in Newquay.

Secondly, this was the worst hotel fire in the UK for 32 years. Do people really want us to double expenditure so that every town has full time crews and the best equipment, and then wait another 30 years for it to be used. If it's about saving lives, cutting the speed limit to 20mph across Cornwall would be cheaper and very much more effective.

A lot of the problem is that we have such massive population jumps in the summer. Newquay has a winter population of 20,000, but a summer population of 100,000. How can our infrastructure cope without Government support? Is it fair to ask local residents, many of whom are not involved in the tourist industry, to pay for this extra cost?

And why am I, a Truro Councillor, making these points? Well despite Radio Cornwall appealing on the hour every hour for David Whalley, LibDem Leader of the Council, to come and answer listeners' questions, nobody from the County Council could or would come forward, leaving the opposition free to blame the LibDems for the tragedy.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Council Tax Collections

Figures are out for uncollected Council Tax for 2004/05. Here are the numbers and rankings for the Cornish Districts, for 03/04 followed by 04/05

149..... North Cornwall...... 701,000 .......1,176,000
226..... Carrick ....................804,000 ..........796,000
243..... Restormel............... 634,000 ..........718,000
256 .....Caradon.................. 494,000........... 676,000
286 .....Kerrier.................... 733,000........... 526,000
327 .....Penwith................... 277,000........... 356,000
351 .....Isles of Scilly............. 19,000.............. 22,000

Totals for 03/04 0f 3,662,00 and for 04/05 of 4,270,000

What does all this mean. Well the residents of Carrick and Kerrier have benefited from improvements in collections, but something shocking seems to be going on in North Cornwall. I've alerted LibDem Councillors up there to this, and they are asking questions.

But there's still a awful lot of money outstanding, just as we seem to be needing to cut budgets. And could it be about to get worse? In 2009 we go Unitary. The total outstanding for all of Cornwall puts us on a par with Southampton, also a Unitary, and ranked 32nd. But the population of Southampton is only half that of Cornwall, making the average debt per Southampton resident twice what it is here. There is a very real danger that people might take their eye of the ball, during the reorganisation, and we could end up with double the debt here, and a whole load of budget cutting as a result.

Lets make sure we keep a careful eye on this one.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Amarillo (Royal Cornwall Hospital)

Well they may be umpteen million pounds in debt, but they heven't lost their sense of humour. Way to go Doc!

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Tories criticised by Police

Inspector Mark Richards has criticised the Tory PPC for Truro and Falmouth, ex Wimbledon Councillor Sarah Newton, after she put out a press release showing big increases in crime locally. Amongst other stats she claimed robbery had increased 25%, but Inspector Richards said this actually meant an increase from 12 incidents to 15 in the year. He went on to say this is one of the safest Districts in the Country, and accused the Tories of scare-mongering.

We carried out a survey in the Barrack Lane area of Truro last year, and were surprised to find crime topped peoples list of worries. Barrack Lane is a pleasant, almost suburban, part of the City. So I went to see Inspector Richards. He couldn't remember the last time they had dealt with a crime in that part of town and asked me to try and reassure people that they lived in a very safe part of the country. That's called having a working relationship.

But it seems that with the wheels coming off the Tory campaign wagon, they're resorting to trying to scare people into voting for them. Here's a tip Sarah, next time talk to local people who know what's going on. Or better still, bugger off back to Wimbledon.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Railway Club

I've been working on the railway, all the day long. Or so it seems as I rush about gathering evidence for the Planning hearing. It can all get a bit impersonal, just filling out forms, typing out statements, hurrying to get stuff done in time. Or it was until my wife looked over my shoulder, as I was typing out details of a young lad, 8 years old, suddenly diagnosed with leukemia. The people at the Railway Club had collected £500 to help out the family, who are really in turmoil. All great evidence of the Clubs community spirit, to be typed out and sent off to the Barrister. Until my wife said 'Oh that poor lad. He's in the class below ours, his brother is in our class, they are really struggling, it's a desperate desperate situation'. Real people. People ask why I'm a Councillor and I always joke ' the money and the glamour'. But here's the reality. I can fill out forms and deal with Barristers, or whoever, for people who either can't, or have other priorities. Sometimes it's a privilege.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Being 50

I've put on weight! I can't believe it. I ran five times last week, and proper running, five miles each time, that's from my house to Malpas and back. Well four and half at least, certainly not less than four. So I approached the scales with some degree of confidence. How can I have put on a pound? It's hard being fifty.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

The Railway Club

For those who don't know Truro, the Railway Club started life about 70 years ago as the Great Western Railways Staff Club, but now is more of a Social Club, occupying a ramshackle old building by the Station. Over the years many people in Truro have been touched by the Club, they run all sorts of activities for the elderly, have several youth football teams and do loads of charitable stuff for local people, but now it's under threat. The nice people at Wainhomes want to knock it down and earn another million building flats. Are they offering proper compensation?. Course not. We've knocked them back at three Planning Meetings so far, but they've appealed to the Planning Inspector in Bristol and it's going to be all or nothing at big a hearing in City Hall on 5th September. But we are gathering support, lots of dignitaries turned out at an exhibition of Railway memorabillia they opened on Friday. The Mayor of Truro, Chairman of Carrick Council, Lady Mary Holborrow and assorted Councillors, including myself, all came to support. No sign of Joan Bayez and surely this struggle is right up her street. There's never a folk singer about when you need one. Anyway the Club needs all the support it can get so make a note in your diary to come along and give us some support on the 5th.

Off to see the Simpsons movie tonight. My teenage son has consented to me accompanying him, on certain conditions. I have to pay for the tickets and the popcorn and mustn't try to talk to any of his mates, should he meet any. And definitely don't mention I'm a Councillor. Not cool apparently.