Last week saw the final stages of the Localism Bill. This is a landmark piece of legislation that enables more decisions about the shape of towns and villages to be taken by local people. It enables the scrapping of centrally imposed housing targets. Instead, Cornwall Council will work with local parish councils and communities to shape the places where we live and work. This is a very significant shift of power from Westminster to Cornwall. With this power comes responsibility and it is now down to each of us in Cornwall to engage in the planning process to make sure that as far as possible, plans developed deliver the hopes of each community for sustainable and genuinely affordable homes, jobs and a good quality of life. This won’t be an easy process as not everyone will agree but it is vital that everyone gets involved, informs themselves and makes their opinions known. The plans developed over the next few months will shape where we live for many years to come.
In the West Briton last week it was reported that the Government is cutting the NHS budget in Cornwall this year. This is not the case. Spending in the NHS will increase in cash terms this year as it did last. This does not mean, however, that everyone working in the NHS does not face huge challenges as demand for services is growing faster than the budget increase. For example, demand for more expensive new drugs and treatments. The NHS in Cornwall is a group of organisations providing everything from your GP and dental services to emergency care at Treliske. Within a framework, the management of the NHS in Cornwall decides what services are provided and where. There will be changes, making efficiency savings and responding to what people have told them, as they have a plan to deliver more NHS services, closer to peoples’ homes.
On the letters pages and elsewhere in the West Briton there has been mention of cuts to benefits for the most vulnerable in our society. There is a great deal of mis-information about the Coalition’s plans to reform the Welfare system. The Editor decides what to publish and cannot always publish my response to these stories. If anyone has any concerns at all, please contact me directly and I will answer your questions and discuss your concerns. I understand how vitally important the welfare state is to many people living in my constituency.
Finally, on Saturday, I was delighted to join the second annual Falmouth Community Alive Event in Falmouth as well as visiting the new British Heart Foundation Shop, selling used furniture and electrical items. The latter is a great example of recycling. Good quality items that might well have been discarded are given a new lease of life while raising money for charity. Both enterprises in Falmouth demonstrate the creativity and commitment of volunteers in enhancing the quality of all our lives.