Manifesto CC LGE 2009

Perspectives, Positions and Pledges.

I have never been a member of a political party.

I choose to consider and act upon issues in the best overall public interest without the limitations or directions imposed by party political dogma or whip. In the context of regional government and the need to impartially reflect and represent a broad spectrum of views and needs this, in my opinion, is a good thing and makes standing as an INDEPENDENT entirely meaningful and valid.

Here are the main issues that I feel are the most currently important and in need of ACTION!:

Specific Local Issues:

Port Isaac – road congestion, safety and parking

Port Isaac has become gridlocked in July and August. If elected I would work with the Parish Council to see what potential solutions are most favoured and whether Cornwall Council may be able to assist with edge of village car parking for holiday visitors and resident and delivery vehicle priority access arrangements for the centre of the village. From discussion with residents it appears that a peak season car free beach for other than local working vehicles may also be worth pursuing.

Polzeath – July young people influx/OMG,Carruan Farm proposal/Beach disturbance and management/’Night-time Economy’/Police participation/St Minver Highlands & St Minver Lowlands Parish Councils. – Having been to some of the meetings and visited the beach at these times I am familiar with the problems. It will be interesting to see if the OMG proposal bears benefits. If elected I would get involved with this issue and bring any assistance available through Cornwall Council to help ensure those living around the beach can get a decent night’s sleep with peace of mind.

Rock – estuary beach water quality failure – South West Water and the Environment Agency need to identify the cause of this problem. If elected I would liaise with them to ensure the causes of this problem are understood better and potential solutions identified  and implemented.

General – Poor condition of roads – If elected I would apply pressure to ensure the problem areas are identified and fixed as soon as possible.

The Parish Councils of St Endellion District need to be fully consulted on these and other current issues. If elected, I would consult thoroughly with the Parish Councils in order to identify areas of concern where Cornwall Council can help and aim to resolve them to the general satisfaction of the Parish Councils and affected communities.

CORNWALL-WIDE PRIORITIES:

HOUSING. In the last month it has become very clear why our publicly funded property speculating rachmanite Westminster MPs have done so little about the second ‘home’ scourge of coastal and rural communities. They have had a direct financial interest in maintaining inequitable residential housing distribution.

Rewarding non-residents from more economically advantaged areas who punch holes in the fabric of our rural and coastal communities by removing residential houses from the residential housing pool for taking occasional holidays simultaneously inflating average prices beyond the reach of average wage earners here in Cornwall with 50% and then 10% council tax discounts is anti-community and socially destructive.

The sooner our non-London MPs are housed in HM Government owned buildings to do their Parliamentary work and property profiteering on the back of public moneys is eliminated the sooner they may be able to address housing issues properly and begin to put the shelter needs of the majority above the anti-social multiple residential house acquisition indulgences of an affluent few.

Matthew Taylor MP recently prepared a report for the Government setting out some strategies for second home capping and planning constraint. This should be explored further by Cornwall Council with a view to demanding serious powers for intervention and action from central Government.

Currently our young people and others are being denied the choice of living where they were born and grew up by externally inflated residential housing values and housing trust anti-social social engineering. Young families buckle and break under the strain of servicing mortgages they can’t afford even for the most basic shelter. What is termed ‘social housing’ by housing trust corporations is being allocated to people with no local connection. Local antecedents carry no points. Senior citizens needing to be in town for easier access to services are being denied that choice by prices that bear no relation to local economics.

We must stand up for restoring the living hearts of our rural and coastal villages and hamlets. To abandon them to occasional tourists is socially and environmentally irresponsible.

Social housing projects like those at Pityme and St Minver may be a welcome short term solution for a few but such projects do not address the core issue which is the loss, across Cornwall,  of so much residential housing to non-residents. The environmental losses, flood risk and infrastrucuture cost and pressure consequences of the proliferation of new build social housing on the periphery of established settlements renders that approach unrealistic in the long term and, indeed,  dangerous. Recent years have seen dramatic floods at numerous places across Cornwall. A few weeks ago St Ives was flooded shortly after a new Environment Agency  flood ‘prevention’  scheme was officially ‘opened’. From recent discussions with EA staff I understand they are seriously concerned at the increased flood risk to Cornwall’s towns and villages arising from sporadic peripheral high-ground  housing and hard standing over-development. Cornwall Council will have to grasp this thorny issue and develop a coherent strategic vision that takes full account of overdevelopment flood risk exacerbation.

If elected I would press for a complete audit of Cornwall’s residential housing stock and its use. Only then can we acquire an overview of the current state of affairs and begin to address housing problems in a realistic and environmentally and socially responsible manner.

In the meantime, at the last count, there are around 5,000 houses standing empty across Cornwall (1,200  in North Cornwall). Cornwall Council should immediately use existing statutory powers  to take steps to enable their refurbishment for the benefit of Cornwall’s housing heritage, the owners and Cornwall’s residents in need of a roof over their heads.

If elected I would press for that process to begin immediately.

Overall, our moral priority must be to find ways of restoring access to Cornwall’s existing residential housing stock by Cornwall’s residents, whose best interests Cornwall’s councillors will be elected to serve.

HEALTH. The cost of car parking at Treliske Hospital is exhorbitant and mitigates against the less well off. It also undermines holistic health care and patient morale. Bona fide patients and visitors should be able to come and go for treatment and visiting sick friends and relatives without charge. These exhorbitant charges undermine the concept of a free National Health Service at the point of delivery. Cornwall should adopt free hospital car parking policies as applied in Scotland and Wales. If elected I would join with others to press Cornwall’s Primary Health Care Trust to rearrange their contracted out car park arrangements in the best interests of patients and visitors. There are many ways to resolve this problem. They should be explored with the interests of patients and visitors as the top priority.

Recently, Cornwall’s Primary Health Care Trust opted to decentralise certain specialist cancer surgery out of Cornwall to the consternation and distress of many of Cornwall’s residents. Any further moves to dilute Cornwall’s ability to care for the sick must be resisted. If elected, I would seek to ensure that Cornwall’s ‘Primary Health Care’ means what it says.

EMERGENCY SERVICES. The recent serious fire at Polzeath highlighted the continuing need for a well-funded Cornwall Fire Brigade with optimum retained firefighter cover and a full set of tools. A delaying factor at the tragic Penhallow Hotel fire in Newquay was clogged up water hydrants. The maintenance of these had been sub-contracted. ALL of Cornwall Fire Brigade’s essential tools should be under their direct responsibility – including vital water hydrants. If elected I would seek to ensure that the proper funding of Cornwall Fire Brigade is made a long lasting top priority.

Currently there are plans to decentralise Cornwall’s emergency switchboard out of Cornwall to Taunton. This must be resisted. Local knowledge is key to reliable and rapid deployment of emergency services.

POST OFFICE PROTECTION. Our post offices are the commercial heart and a social focus of many of our villages. The recent swathe of closures of Post Offices across Cornwall by the Labour Government is scandalous and fundamentally anti-community. Many of these Post Offices were commercially viable in their own right and did not warrant closure, providing an essential service and often a social and communications lifeline for the elderly. Surviving Post Offices such as those at Rock and Polzeath need to be vigorously protected and as many as possible of those recently closed Post Offices should be reinstated at their original or other suitable locations within the communities they serve. If elected I will take a special interest in protecting this vital component of rural life.

BUSINESS. As an agent of business support Cornwall Council’s predecessor did much to help the small scale businesses that form the backbone of Cornish enterprise. However, Objective 1 funding was not always put to best use and was sometimes squandered on poorly qualified speculative ventures. Cornwall’s councillors will need to ensure that the current tranche of ‘Convergence’ funding is spread evenly and efficiently to benefit all areas of Cornwall and not just the central belt. In addition,there is a big challenge to extend Cornwall’s economic repertoire to focus on year round employment paying more viable wages. We must aim to substantially increase  the proportion of GDP generated by robust primary economic activity. .

AGRICULTURE, FISHING & HORTICULTURE. In 2003 Cornwall’s Council representatives voted to declare Cornwall a GM free zone. Given the risks of unpredictable cross pollination, the illusion of ‘ buffer zones’ and the potential political loss of control of seed and food supplies to a small number of large international corporations this position should be maintained.  Should the subject come up again I would seek to maintain that position.

Our farmers are the providers of our food and the stewards of our landscape and should be supported fully in their endeavours. The farms that belong to Cornwall Council offer an opportunity for  Cornwall Council to take a greater lead in promoting models of best agricultural practice and providing opportunities for our next generation of Cornwall’s farmers.  These farms must be protected (including the threatened Predannack Manor Farm at Mullion)  and, where appropriate,  given a greater role in Cornwall’s public agricultural life.

The recent indications that ‘bycatch’ and ‘discard’ fish may become permitted within quotas is good news for both our fishermen and fish stocks. As well as supporting our fishermen wherever possible, Cornwall Council should take a continuing interest in the causes of dolphin and cetacean mortality off Cornwall’s coast and facilitate further study into the causes and lend support to the exploration and development of effective solutions.

Cornwall Council has a statutory duty to facilitate community allotment schemes. If elected I would take an interest in ensuring that communities across Cornwall are actively and quickly helped to secure plots to grow their own fruit and vegetables and enjoy the social benefits that come with that activity.

ROADS, ROAD SAFETY & TRANSPORT. Too many people have been hurt or killed in recent years on Cornwall’s roads. There is an urgent need for in-depth analysis of the causes and the development of preventative measures. The RAC Foundation recently proposed such an initiative.This should be supported and encouraged and the findings acted upon.

In addition there appears to be a real problem with road maintenance, locally and across Cornwall. The amount of damage caused to vehicles must be considerable and claims against the Council an unconstructive drain on resources all round. The road maintenance regime must become more rigorous.

ENVIRONMENT. Care for our environment underpins our quality of life and the sustainability of our economic activities. In recent years a tide of concrete, over-ambitious and self-defeating construction projects and proposals has appeared to descend on Cornwall from beyond the River Tamar. The epitome of this profiteering recklessness has been the wallowing, over-ambitious and inevitably doomed Ampersand scheme at Carlyon Bay. This scheme was clearly non-viable from the outset and Restormel Borough Council was right, in its remaining days earlier this year, to impose an order requiring Ampersand to clear their sea ‘defences’ (damaged twice by storms) off the beach within two years. If elected,  I will  aim to ensure that Ampersand comply with that order so that Carlyon Bay beach may become an agreeable recreational area for the enjoyment of the people of St Austell once again.

Across Cornwall there are community groups fighting tooth and nail to protect their corner of Cornwall. These groups are often described derogatively by profiteering opportunists and overdevelopers as NIMBYs.  Often they are, in fact, NIMBYANIYBYEs – ‘Not in my back yard and not in your back yard either’s and lend one another assistance and advice. This is all to the good in protecting Cornwall from some of the least imaginative or sensitive ideas that have ever come this way. Most of us are comfortable with balanced, reasonable, broadly beneficial and proportionate projects. Most people only take on the  displacement of their lives into protest in extremis and when there is clearly a need for action and resistance in the face of clumsy, inappropriate or disproportionate overdevelopment impositions. These groups are fighting for a Cornwall that is looked after, respected and nurtured. We should stand by them.

St Endellion – ‘The Climate Friendly Parish’ – is an exemplar of environmental awareness put into practice. If elected, I would seek to facilitate and assist networks of projects such as these,with St Endellion as a flagship community project, to enable knowledge sharing, technology testing and the wider dissemination across Cornwall of successful practices, applications and outcomes.

ENERGY. In a world of finite and rapidly declining fossil based resources and a currently compounding population it is important to maximise energy conservation and put in place alternative energy supply systems now. I would like to see Cornwall become a photo-voltaic powerhouse with discrete photo-voltaic cells and tiles on as many available and appropriate south facing roofs as possible. All renewable energy systems have their pros and cons but this would seem far preferable and more consistent with environmentally aware intention than cluttering Cornwall’s skyline with a forest of industrial turbines.

I also take the view that ‘repowering’ windfarms with new, more efficient turbines should be done within the landscape impact profile previously agreed or even less but more powerful rather than by an increase in scale by a factor of 3 as currently proposed at Delabole.

RoughtorRocksThere is yet another turbine cluster proposal in the offing that would, if permitted,result in an extensive cluster of wind turbines on Davidstow moor that would be taller than Roughtor and Brown Willy,Cornwall’s iconic twinBrownWillyBigSnow peaks. This is clearly a completely unacceptable imposition on Cornwall’s landscape. That proposal should be enthusiastically resisted and rebuffed by all. If elected, I will resist it. If not elected I will still resist it.

There are many ways of generating energy that don’t desecrate the things we claim we want to protect. If elected I will resist the further cluttering of Cornwall’s skyline with massive, fickle and unreliable industrial scale wind turbines – we have more than our fair share already – and, instead, seek to focus attention on discrete low visual and other impact domestic/agricultural/business park wind power, solar, geo-thermal, ground heat, water and wave power sources and technologies coupled with intensification and consolidation of energy conservation strategies.

WASTE.Now that the massive incinerator at St Dennis has been turned down by the same councillors who promoted it in the first place Cornwall Council must perform a rapid change of course towards a modern localised waste management strategy that maximises re-use, recycling and composting and minimises residue. Waste is a valuable asset not to be squandered in a puff of smoke!

EDUCATION. If elected, I will press for the benefits of Cornwall’s emerging University at Penryn to be spread more widely in the form of a network of colleges across Cornwall,smaller in scale but along the lines of the University Of Wales.

ADULT CARE AND SOCIAL SERVICES. Funding needs to be more focused on where it is needed most – at the point of delivery – rather than diverted to the lavish salaries of middle management.

YOUTH & POLICING. Cornwall’s PCSOs do a great job working with young people who might otherwise go off the rails. They are generally respected by the young people they work with. Their role in the community has increased in value over time and warrants our continuing support.

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