Friday, 28 September 2012

More great apprentice news

I was pleased to see so many young people enthused by the varied programme of work put together by FC Fund Managers, which culminated in the award ceremony which I attended earlier this week

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Britannia Royal Naval College visit

I was delighted to spend time last week visiting Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, and see some of the hard work that goes into the training of our officer cadets

West Briton Column 27 September 2012

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of welcoming members of the Mid Cornwall Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to the House of Commons. It is always a pleasure to see individuals and groups from Cornwall in Parliament, and is an excellent way in which I can keep in touch with local views and concerns when parliamentary business keeps from my constituency.

On this occasion I was able to listen to FSB members detail the challenges their businesses currently face, ranging from difficulties accessing business loans to the commercial strangulation by too much red tape.

These are concerns I have heard again and again from local business people since my election, and concerns that I have continually pressed the Government to address. Two years on, I am pleased to say that some progress is being made.

The Funding for Lending Scheme has been introduced to give small businesses better access to finance; under the scheme banks have been given a strong incentive to increase the availability of business loans and mortgages. The National Loan Guarantee Scheme complements this increase in lending by driving down the costs of the loans offered to businesses; since March this year over 16,000 small business have benefited from the cheaper loans secured by the scheme.

Meanwhile the costs that excessive red tape imposes upon businesses are also being tackled. Minsters across Government are signed up the ‘Red Tape Challenge’ which has seen hundred of unnecessary regulations scrapped over the past year. The Challenge continues, you can learn more and suggest regulations to scrap by visiting

However I am concerned that much this excellent work to support small businesses could be compromised by suggestions that this summer’s temporary relaxation of Sunday Trading Laws could be made permanent. I oppose this for many reasons and believe that it would have a real impact on small independent retailers, who in the past few months have experienced an average 20% drop in sales as shoppers have taken advantage of supermarkets’ newly-extended Sunday opening hours.  The Government has stated that, whilst it will look at any benefits the change could bring, it has no plans to extend the relaxation of Sunday Trading Laws beyond this Summer. I doing all I can to hold Ministers to this commitment and am keeping a careful eye on the situation.

I am also working to promote the range of advice and support that is now available to small businesses.  The FSB visit to Parliament marked the launch of a business directory that I have been working on with Federation members, detailing the organisations and schemes that can provide useful help, advice and support to small businesses. Copies of this directory can be obtained by visiting my website or by calling my office on 1872 274 760. 

In Truro and Falmouth we are blessed with some outstanding independent  businesses, providing quality goods and services to their customers.  Ensuring that these local businesses have the support they need to thrive and grow remains a top priority for me.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Monday, 24 September 2012

Truro flood prevention scheme

I am delighted to be opening the much needed Truro flood prevention scheme at Lighterage Quay on 25 September. The new defences have transformed the quay and will be a real asset for the city.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Robert Owen Communities Welcome in Truro

I am attending  this event at The One Eyed Cat in Truro on 3 October.  I would encourage anyone with an interest in ROC’s vision, to create a hub of social opportunity for people with learning disabilities, to come along and see what ROC are all about.
For more information, please see ROC’s website below:

West Briton Column 20 September 2012

I believe that most people want to buy locally grown food and failing that want to buy British. Unless I am buying direct from a farmer, like everyone else I rely on food labelling to let me know where the food was produced. This seems pretty straightforward, however despite the good intentions of those involved, some very misleading information is often included in labelling. For example, while we produce most of the liquid milk that is consumed in the UK, we import dairy products like cheese and butter that are made from overseas milk but because they are packaged in the UK, they can carry UK labelling. In my opinion this is quite wrong and something that has to change. This is just one of the steps that need to be taken to help our dairy farmers, to make regulation work  both for them and the consumer. In a comprehensive debate in Parliament last week, a number of important steps to help dairy farmers, agreed over the summer between supermarkets, milk processors and dairy farmers were discussed and further action agreed. I will continue to do all I can to enable more of our food to be produced here and in the rest of the UK.
After another well supported debate last week, the Government also agreed to a comprehensive review of the transport fuel market. Regular readers will be aware of my continuous efforts to get the best possible deal at the pump for local people. It is worth remembering that as a result of Government action to date, pump prices are 10p less than Labour had planned.
Finally, I was probably not the only reader that was filling up at the pump last week to take my daughter on an unforgettable  journey – to start university. A big step for her parents and even bigger for her! While I am in no doubt that education has great value for your whole life whatever you end up doing, I appreciate that not everyone is so confident about the value and price of a higher education today. I hope that the steps taken by the Government last week will go some way to provide helpful information and reassurance. Crucially as of this month students can visit the website  to compare key statistics about prospective universities, including information about the current employment of graduates.
A university education is not for everyone, so I am pleased that both apprenticeships and other types of skills based learning are going from strength to strength locally. I also welcome the fact that, despite these very difficult times for our economy, funding for community based learning has been protected. Skilled people of  all ages, held back by a lack of formal qualifications, are able to learn informally from a range of providers, or through local learning groups, all funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. More information about community-based learning can be found by visiting the Business, Innovation and Skills website or by calling my office on 01872 274 760.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

All Party Parliamentary Group for Deep Geothermal Energy launched

 I am delighted to have been one of the founding members of the All Party Political Group for Deep Geothermal Energy. Wind, solar, marine and other technologies already have powerful lobbies within Parliament and I feel that deep geothermal needs to have its case made and its voice heard in order for the UK to have a healthy and diverse mix of energy supply.

New guidelines issued on domestic abuse

I welcome the Government’s announcement today of the widening of the definition of domestic abuse to encourage a wide range of coercive or threatening behaviour

Sir John Major on Europe

This article by former PM, Sir John Major, from the Telegraph on 14 September on why the euro crisis is an opportunity to change the relationship between the UK and the EU for good, raises a number of excellent points:

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Police and Crime Commissioner Election information events

I would encourage anyone who wants to know more about the upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections, to attend one of these events, which will be held shortly

Monday, 17 September 2012

The first glimpses of a sustainable economic recovery?

In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show former PM Sir John Major has pointed to the data that suggests that our economy is starting to recover from the consequences of the 2008 crash:

Whilst there is still much more to be done, it is encouraging that the economic information now emerging seems to show that economic rebalancing of the UK is underway, with over one million private sector jobs being created in the past two years, industrial output growing and exports and business start-ups reaching record levels. These are encouraging signs that progress is being made in building a sustainable economy, not focused on financial services concentrated in the South East, but rather UK-wide and multi-skilled, with businesses providing current edge goods and sevices to markets across the globe.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Government takes steps to secure fair deal for British lorry drivers

 I welcome the Government’s decision to levy road user fees on foreign lorries using British roads. As British lorries have to pay to use most roads in Europe, this is only fair and will raise revenue that can be used for further investment in our road network:

Friday, 14 September 2012

Funding added for Truro projects

I am delighted that additional lottery funding has been allocated to enable the Malpas village hall and community hub projects to move towards completion

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Christian Aid campaign comes to Falmouth

Christian Aid’s ‘Tax Justice’ campaign, drawing attention to the impact tax evasion has in the developing world, came to Falmouth last week.
Chancellor George Osborne has committed the Government to being ‘as tough on tax evasion abroad as we are at home’; more information on what the UK is doing to combat international tax evasion can be found through:

West Briton Column 13 September 2012

Let's examine some of the specific actions that council’s and communities can take if they work together to address local housing need.

First of all, we need to look at housing need itself. Understandably local residents can look twice at proposals that suggest very large developments be built in their local area, developments that seem disproportionate to local housing need. Such developments will often be opposed, with residents believing excessive housing numbers, set in London, are being forced on the community. 

It is important to stress that this no longer the case. The Coalition Government  has abolished housing targets set in London. Councils are now free to determine themselves the level of housing need in their area. In most cases councils do this by looking at their housing waiting lists, using the number of people registered as looking for affordable housing as a gauge of housing need.

However, in Cornwall some people feel that our housing register records more people as in need of affordable housing that is actually the case. It is certainly true that, according to the latest figures, 56.6% of people on the register are on Band E, meaning that they currently live in accommodation assessed to be suitable for them, with no overcrowding or welfare issues. A proportion of these applicants have savings of over £75,000. This situation has resulted in claims that excessive housing numbers are still imposed on Cornish communities, the only thing changing being that the imposition comes from County Hall rather than Whitehall.

These concerns have to be listened to and have to be addressed. Councils set up their own housing registers and are free to amend them as they see fit. It is therefore possible for Cornwall Council to work with local communities to establish a new housing register, aiming to more accurately define the numbers of people in need of affordable housing. I believe that If local communities are assured that any development will be for local people who genuinely can’t afford open market prices, it is far more likely that this much needed genuinely affordable homes can be delivered.

We need to be similarly bold in finding the ways in which this new housing can be provided. I am pleased that the Government last week revealed a new housing strategy that will extend successful schemes to get empty properties back into use, meaning that over 5000 additional formerly empty properties will become homes once again. It will also now be easier to convert disused offices and other commercial buildings into residential properties, helping people to live once more in town and city centres.

It is by such creative solutions to our housing crisis that the genuinely affordable homes we need in Cornwall can be delivered, without huge developments on valuable farm land acting to damage our precious natural environment. There doesn’t have be a stark choice between keeping green fields and building really affordable housing- if communities and councils work boldly together we can enjoy the benefits of both.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Sarah Newton appointed Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party

Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton been appointed as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.

Commenting on her appointment Mrs Newton said:

‘‘It is an honour to be asked to serve as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.

‘‘My constituents will continue to be my first priority and I am delighted that my new responsibilities allow me to make sure that their voices are heard louder and clearer than ever before. The role enables me to build on what remains the key focus of my work as Truro and Falmouth’s MP; helping hard working families to overcome the pressures they face to improve the quality of their lives, and the communities in which they live.

‘‘The Conservative Party is at its best when it stands shoulder to shoulder with ordinary people trying to realise their potential, from helping first time buyers onto the property ladder, to giving people of all ages the chance to learn new skills and gaining employment, to giving parents greater choice over their children’s schooling.

‘‘I know these are the ambitions that my constituents work hard to realise; my new role will allow me to help make sure that the Conservative Party listens to these aspirations, and acts on them. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Westminster, Party volunteers across the country and above all continuing to work for the people of Truro and Falmouth, as together we establish what more we can do to help men and women change their lives for the better, and shape their communities for the future. ‘’

Friday, 7 September 2012

Employment schemes are a success in Cornwall

I am pleased to see that the Government’s Apprenticeship and Work Experience schemes have met with so much success in Cornwall.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Working together to solve the housing crisis

We have a housing crisis in Cornwall. This is a fact that cannot be said too loudly, or stated too often. The vast majority of those looking for a decent home are hard working local people, priced out of the open market not through any fault of their own, but by house prices that are now thirteen times the average annual wage in Cornwall.

What can we do to tackle this? There isn’t one simple answer. We need to make sure that as many as possible of Cornwall’s nine thousand plus empty homes are brought back into use and build more genuinely affordable homes to rent or buy. In order for this to happen two things need to be in place, consent from local communities and support from government.

There is a tendency amongst some to label people opposed to new local housing as ‘nimbys’. This is wrong, here in Cornwall we are blessed with a magnificent natural environment; concerns that this precious natural resource could be lost forever under concrete should be listened to.

 However alongside our environment, we are fortunate in Cornwall to possess another key asset- a vibrant sense of community. I believe that if local people can be assured that a development will be to the benefit of their community and that they will have influence over the location and character of it, new housing will be supported.

The advent of neighbourhood planning is an excellent way in which residents can constructively engage with local government about developing their communities for years to come, ensuring that their views on what their village or town needs directs any future development.

No longer do councils have to build a set number of houses decided in Whitehall, instead the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework sets councils free to draw up their own plans,  encouraging them to work with local communities to draw up a ‘collective vision and a set of agreed priorities for the sustainable development of the area’.

It is only by working together in this way that we can utilise the support for delivering genuinely affordable and decent homes now on offer from the Coalition Government’s policies. That support is considerable, ranging from the New Homes Bonus, which financially rewards Council’s for building more affordable housing, to new community building powers , to the revitalised right to buy scheme. This scheme will see the money raised from people buying their council houses used to build like for like replacement housing. Concerns have been raised about how the scheme will work in Cornish villages with particularly high property prices, months ago I put these concerns to the Housing Minister and have been assured that Cornwall Council can now apply for extra exemptions from the scheme.

At the heart of all the housing initiatives now on offer is the principle of a consensual, community-led focus on delivering genuinely affordable homes for local people. I will continue to press for Cornwall Council to work together with each community to tackle this great Cornish challenge.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Cornwall College shortlisted for Health Award

I am delighted that Cornwall College has been shortlisted in the Active Workplace of the Year Category in the awards organised by Cornwall Sports Partnership

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

MacMillan Cancer Support

I am glad that the vital work that MacMillan do in our communities is being highlighted. MacMillan Cancer Support is a very worthy cause and one that I will continue to support in my Parliamentary work.