Thursday, 29 November 2012

West Briton Column 29 November 2012

Last week I had the great pleasure of joining the ReGen South West annual meeting of renewable energy producers. It was good to talk to local companies and academics from Exeter University and learn of recent renewable energy developments, particularly in the marine sector. I believe that businesses in the South West will continue to lead the way in developing technologies that will turn the power of tide and waves into electricity. I was delighted that Falmouth Harbour Commissioners’ FaB test won a prestigious South West Green Energy award last week. The test, developed by the Harbour Commissioners and partners, including the University of Exeter, Wave Hub, A&P Group, Cornwall Marine Network and Mojo Maritime, enables marine energy producers to test new marine energy devices in a controlled area.

This week in Parliament we will be debating the Energy Bill which introduces measures that will enable large scale investment in our energy infrastructure. Investment in renewable energy is essential for our national security and economic prosperity. At the moment we are far too reliant on oil and gas produced in other countries that has to be imported. I do not need to remind readers the price we are paying for such over dependence on imported energy as our ever increasing bills are a regular reminder.  Renewable energy such as heat from geothermal and the sun are already delivering substantial quantities of energy and have the potential to deliver even more. I am a firm believer in community led micro generation of energy and we have some good examples locally of people working together to generate their own power. National infrastructure needs a long term and consistent approach I am pleased that after many years of short term-ism, this nettle is finally being grasped.

These measures will enable real progress to be made towards the target of 15% of UK energy consumption coming from renewable sources by 2020. Enhanced investment in our energy infrastructure will not only help us achieve our energy targets and drive down energy bills, it will also help the economy to grow; last year 25,000 new jobs were created by the UK’s green economy.

I understand that some readers do not believe that the government should be investing in renewable energy because they either don't believe our climate is changing or that if they do it's not a result of carbon emissions from burning oil and gas to make electricity. This is why I have asked the Science and Technology Select Committee to hold an inquiry into the evidence that is used to support climate change arguments, to establish the facts on behalf of the public.

As debate about our climate future continues, extreme weather continues to affect Cornwall. A very big thank you is due to the Environment Agency for all they have done to combat this week’s flooding, and to the emergency services for all their work. I would urge any constituents affected by flooding and facing difficulties to contact me on 01872 274 760, I am always happy to help as best I can.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

University College Falmouth awarded University Title

 I congratulate all at University College Falmouth on this accolade. This is great news for students, staff and the town of Falmouth- it is fitting that the muse of artists from Henry Scott Tuke to John Dyer is now home to the first university based entirely in Cornwall.

South West Water £50 bill reduction

 I campaigned on lower South West Water bills for years before the general election and have continued to push since elected. This confirmation of a £50 reduction for household customers from April 2013 is a significant step forward and one which I welcome.

Paying tribute to flood-response partnership

Yesterday I spoke out in Parliament to praise the response of the emergency services and the Environment Agency to the flooding in my constituency.

Outset Cornwall Conference

It was a pleasure to attend this year’s Conference and to learn more about the work of Outset Cornwall. It was encouraging to learn about the support on offer to entrepreneurs and inspiring to meet some of the people setting up new businesses in Cornwall

Monday, 26 November 2012

Record-breaking year for Maritime Line

I am pleased to see that the maritime line, which provides valuable to access between Truro and Falmouth, appears to be set for a record-breaking year in terms of passengers carried

Southwest Coast Path named one of world’s greatest walks

I am delighted to the recent and ongoing success that the beautiful South West Coast Path has enjoyed

Friday, 23 November 2012

£3m grant for wildlife research

I am pleased to see that the Exeter University Campus at Penryn has secured grants of £3m to fund pioneering research into wildlife

Health and Wellbeing Business Hub to bring jobs to Truro

It is excellent news that the Health and Wellbeing Business Hub, due to open next year, will create more than 80 jobs in 2012

Maritime Museum wins Cornwall Visitor Attraction of the Year

I am delighted to see that Falmouth’s Maritime Museum has won Cornwall Visitor Attraction of the Year at the 2012 Cornwall Tourism Awards

Thursday, 22 November 2012

West Briton column 22 November 2012

Last week was Enterprise Week so in addition to my usual work I made time to talk to people in my constituency involved in setting up new businesses, or supporting those who do. There is exciting talk of the UK being at the start of an entrepreneurial renaissance-since the general election more than one million new jobs have been created by companies around the country.

I know from my regular visits to local businesses that many new Cornish firms are growing, and existing companies thriving, especially those involved in manufacturing or producing food and drink, the green economy and the digital economy. Thanks to the dynamism of such businesses progress is being made in rebalancing our economy away from dependence on financial services in London and the South East to producing more goods and services, food and energy in all parts of the UK. 

For those of us who have lived through previous recessions, we know how devastating high levels of unemployment are. I very much appreciate how tough it is for anyone who wants a job and can't find one, however, I do think there is reason to be hopeful for more and better jobs here.

One of the reasons I am hopeful is that more of our businesses are exporting to new markets overseas. Over the past year UK exports to growing world economies, such as Brazil and India, have risen by over ten percent.

The Government is doing all it can to encourage this, and last week launched a new resource for businesses looking to explore their export options- ‘Open to Export’.  The service can be accessed through  and provides information and advice for businesses of all shapes and sizes.  

I would encourage local businesses to have a look. In Cornwall we have some great examples of export success, from Tregothnan teas that now exports their award winning blends to China, to Blackwater-based Teagle Ltd, which provides high quality farming machinery to a global market.

Oak trees from acorns grow is an adage often used when I grew up in a small family business near Falmouth. So I was pleased to spend a morning last week with some acorns, joining an event hosted by OUTSET, an organisation that helps and inspires people to start businesses in Cornwall.

At the Outset event I met people of all ages and backgrounds setting up businesses. Mums who want to balance working from home with raising their family, older people who have lost their job or taken early retirement, people with disabilities. Their enthusiasm and 'can do' attitude was inspiring. OUTSET work with the DWP so if you have a good idea that you think you can turn into a business I suggest you contact OUTSET on 08009174324 or get in touch with your local Job  Centre Plus.

As the national effort to rebalance our economy continues, it is good to see Cornish innovation leading the way - to a generation of new businesses, and to new export markets.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Additional funding available to help low-skilled workers in Cornwall

I am pleased to see that additional funding from the Workplace Learning Project has been made available to help thousands of workers in Cornwall

Business rates

I have recently supported in Parliament proposals that will prevent above-inflation increases to business rates over the next five years.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

£££s for People campaign

I would encourage local voluntary community groups interested in applying for a share in £20,000 to assist their organisations to contact the Cornwall Community Foundation on the second link below:

Outset Cornwall ‘Anchors Away’ conference

Last week I was delighted to be able to attend Outset Cornwall’s Anchors Away conference. Outset Cornwall offers tremendous help to small and start-up businesses in Cornwall. For more information, see their website below:

Monday, 19 November 2012

Cornwall College graduation ceremony

I was delighted to be able to attend the Cornwall College graduation ceremony at Truro Cathedral on 17 November. This really was a tremendous event and I was privileged to see so many young people being given the opportunity to celebrate the rewards of all of their hard work through their time with Cornwall College.

Falmouth Dementia Action Alliance

I am delighted to see that Falmouth is set to become one of the first dementia-friendly towns in the UK.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Executive women in the workplace

Last week I joined fellow members of the Conservative Women’s Forum to launch an inquiry to study the barriers women in the workplace face in reaching executive positions.

Post Office Ltd awarded DVLA contract

I welcome the recent award of the DVLA contract to Post Office Ltd.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Police and Crime Commissioner election results

Congratulations to Conservative candidate for the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner elections Tony Hogg on his successful campaign.  I look forward to working with him in the future.

Food labelling information

I welcome comments to on whether you think there is too much or too little information being shown on the labelling of food at present

Friday, 16 November 2012

Royal Cornwall Hospital expansion gets underway

Royal Cornwall Hospital expansion gets underway
It is great to see the start of the modernisation and expansion programme of the Royal Cornwall Hospital Emergency Department

Thursday, 15 November 2012

West Briton Column 15 November 2012

Some people ask me, " Why is the government spending money on armed forces and defence rather than social services?" On Sunday I joined Penryn residents at the town’s remembrance service, where the Revd Ian Froom gave the best answer to that question that I have heard. During his sermon, to paraphrase, he said that the best social service a government can deliver is the protection of citizens. I agree. The defence of our freedom and values as a society are worth protecting. While trying to ensure peace in the world without recourse to conflict should always remain the top priority sometimes it is necessary to defend our country and way of life with armed force.

So even at these difficult times, I believe we do need to invest in our armed forces to make sure they are well trained, equipped and supported.

On Sunday we remembered our fellow countrymen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. We also reflected on the dreadful cost to humanity of war. At the services I joined across my constituency I was very pleased to see more young people participating from schools, cadet forces, the scouts and guides as well as the St John’s Ambulance. This seems to be a welcome trend of growing numbers each year, indicating that as the years go by, and generations pass, we will continue to remember them.

I know many of you will be concerned by the news that the Royal Cornwall Hospital is reviewing the work of one its former employees, an obstetrician and gynaecologist who treated a great number of local people over the years. I would encourage anyone with worries about treatment they received to contact the helpline specially set up by the Hospital on 0800 180 4514.

It is important to note that these concerns have only come to light due to the actions of other staff members at the Hospital, who came forward to report what they had seen. I commend the bravery of those staff members who came forward with their concerns, this can be a daunting thing to do. Last year I was contacted by people working for the SERCO after hour’s GP service who had concerns about the service’s ability to respond to people in need.

Thanks to the information supplied by these staff members I was able to refer the service to the Care Quality Commission who, following a full investigation, are now overseeing improvements to the after hour’s GP service.  In this instance, and at the RCHT, the flagging up of issues by staff is serving to drive up the standard of health care available to local people.

I feel that it is important that we recognise the beneficial impact of staff coming forward with concerns about patient care without fear of retribution. I am pleased that the Coalition Government has changed the NHS constitution so that all NHS organisations or those providing services for the NHS patients have a responsibility to fully support staff members who raise concerns.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Community Energy Plus to offer energy-saving advice events

I encourage those who would like more tips on how to save energy to contact Community Energy Plus to attend one of their upcoming events being held throughout Cornwall

Community energy fund will help perpetuate projects in Cornwall

Cornwall Council’s new scheme will help community groups bring their renewable energy projects to fruition.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Falmouth shortlisted in Academy of Urbanism awards

 I was delighted to attend the Academy of Urbanism awards last week, in which Falmouth was shortlisted for the ‘Great Town’ category for UK & Ireland.
  • 70 towns and cities (20,000-150,000 pop.) were in the longlist, whittled down by the 500 Academians who make up the Academy of Urbanism - these are experts in their fields of urban design, planners and architects from across UK & Europe
  • That list got down to 20 then 3 towns which the judges then visited and Richard Gates and I co-ordinated  
  • The judges then compiled a report for each finalist and circulated this to the aforementioned 500 Academics who then voted.
The criteria the judges were looking for:
·         Evidence of effective management partnerships/Town Teams driving a town forward
·         Evidence of creative marketing that helps a town and its businesses
·         Evidence of proactive and growing events programme

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Cornwall Together

I am glad to see that the Cornwall Together initiative, to help people save money on their energy bills, is progressing

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Friday, 9 November 2012

Falmouth nominated for Great Town award

I was pleased to join a delegation from Falmouth at the Urbanism Awards today. The Awards, given by the Academy for Urbansim, recognise and celebrate urban environments that enhance the lives of local residents and inspire visitors- Falmouth had been nominated under the ‘Great Town’ category.

Although Falmouth missed out on the award, nomination is a great honour which recognises the hard work so many people have put in to get Falmouth to where it is today.

Launch of the 'Home Truths: South West 2012' Report

This week I had the opportunity of sponsoring an event which saw the launch of the National Housing Federation’s report, ‘Home Truths: South West 2012’.

The report highlighted the difficulties that people are facing in finding housing in the South West as rate of house building across the country fell to the lowest peacetime level since the Second World War. At the same time, house prices have continued to rise making it far more difficult for young people to get on the first rung of the housing ladder.

I was very pleased, therefore, to have the opportunity to host the report’s launch in the House of Commons. Although there is far more that the Government can do to increase the numbers of affordable housing in the South West, I welcome the NHF’s opinion that the Coalition is moving policy in the right direction.

Each week my constituents contact me with a wide range of housing problems and I do appreciate the urgency that is required in resolving them. We need to build more genuinely affordable homes that are available for local people. I will continue to work with the Government to ensure that we build on the work we have already done in making sure that far more homes are constructed. I will shortly be meeting with the new housing Minister and colleagues to discuss the NHF’s report and its recommendations.

Truro and Penwith College celebrates!

Congratulations to the many hard-working students who recently celebrated their graduation at the Truro and Penwith College Higher Education Graduation Ceremony hosted at Truro Cathedral on 26 October

Truro City of Lights parade 2012

Although I will be unable to join this annual tradition, due to Parliamentary commitments, I always look forward to the City of Lights parade as one of the many highlights of Truro’s festive calendar.

Truro research centre secures major funding

I am delighted to see that The European Centre for Environment and Human Health, based in Truro, has been awarded a second phase of funding to help continue its important work in Cornwall.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Cornwall wins at British Tourism Awards

I am delighted to see that Cornwall has been recognised in the British Tourism Awards, the most important awards in the UK for the tourism industry.  Fal River also scooped best Coastal Town/Area bronze award.  Congratulations to Tim Light and his team at Fal River Links for winning UK Boating Operator Silver award and to the Fal River  area which won best Coastal Town/Area bronze award. 
Cornwall’s achievements in full:
·         Best UK Holiday County or Region: Cornwall – gold
·         Best UK Visitor Guide Website: – gold
·         Best UK Coastal Town: St Ives – gold, Fal River - bronze
·         Best UK Leisure Attraction: Eden Project- gold
·         Best UK Heritage Attraction: Minack - bronze
·         Best UK Waterways/ Lakes Boat Operators: Fal River - silver

West Briton Column 8 November 2012

Last week I welcomed Lord Heseltine's review into what more the Coalition can do to help businesses and entrepreneurs grow their businesses and create jobs. As part of his review he visited Cornwall to talk to the Local Enterprise Partnership. I am sure what he learned while he was in Cornwall helped inform one of his key conclusions- that more decisions that support business in Cornwall should be taken in Cornwall.

Cornwall Council already plays an active role in driving economic development locally with the Rail Partnership and Local Enterprise Zone at Newquay Airport being good examples. This role will get even stronger as the full potential of the community infrastructure levy, localisation of business rates and the new homes bonus – which has already delivered £5 million for new, genuinely affordable homes to Cornwall - is realised.

Another of Lord Heseltine’s findings, that we need to get finance on favourable terms to creative, technology and science based companies, of which we have great local examples is just what the Select Committee on which I serve recently concluded.

Along with my Coalition colleague Andrew George MP I am working with Ministers to develop the 'Cornwall Deal' which could see an acceleration of the Government's Localism plans, that return power, responsibilities and resources to people and communities in Cornwall.

Since I was a young person in Cornwall, I have seen huge improvements in the range and quality of job opportunities. Cornwall has benefitted from the EU funds which were designed to help incomes in poorer regions to grow faster. They have helped fund large investments in the Combined Universities in Cornwall, the Medical and Dental Schools, the Eden Project and some local businesses.

However I have long felt that not all of this money was spent wisely. In future, if Cornwall secures more EU funds, decisions on how it is spent should be made with the Local Enterprise Partnership and local communities.

In Westminster I am a member of the Fresh Start Project that is looking at how the UK can transform our relationship with the EU by cutting out waste and bureaucracy and returning powers to the UK.  In fact getting us back to the type of relationship with our European neighbours that I believe most people voted for when they decided that we should join the EU.

There is no doubt in my mind that the EU budget of more than £100 billion a year of which the UK contributes £12 billion is unaffordable. I support the Prime Minister's determination to persuade other EU countries to agree to cut the budget and at worst freeze it. This will be an historic achievement, when every year under Labour the budget grew to is current bloated level. Labour gave up the rebate that Conservatives worked so hard to secure.

This was money was sorely needed in the UK during the aftermath of the 2008 Credit Crunch. I am pleased that the Government will stop this haemorrhage of your money to the EU.

Forecasts show UK to fastest growing major economy in Europe in 2013 and 2014

 I am pleased to see that the latest global forecasts by the Centre for Economics and Business Research show that although UK growth is likely to be held back by the weakness in its Continental trading partners, UK GDP growth for 2013 and 2014 is likely to be faster in each year than in any of the major European economies.