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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Redruth and District AGM

It was the Redruth & District branch of MK AGM last night.

There was a brief business part to the meeting where we received a report from the retiring chairman, Lawrence Molton, and then elected offides for the coming year.

Following the business part we welcomed guests to a social event - A Cornucopia of Cornish Cinema. We were treated to several short films all made in Cornwall. May thanks to Rod Toms for providing the show and for keeping this archive of films ranging from wing walking at St Austell to Will Coleman's award winnin, Horn of Plenty.

I was elected as chairman, with new officers Loveday Jenkin (vice chairman) and Chris Lawrence (treasurer).

Over the coming year I hope to coordinate our efforts to build on the sound economic position that the branch has been able to build over the last year and to increase our active mebership.

One of the most urgent tasks that faces us is the selection of a candidate for the Westminster elections in 2015 - a task that will be shared with our Camborne and Hayle MK neighbours.

Many thanks to Lawrence Molton for all the hard work that he has put in during a Cornwall Council election year.

If you live in or around Redruth, and would like to see a better deal for Cornwall, please get in touch.

Friday, 16 August 2013

.... and so it begins

The poor global economic conditions have protected us, to a small extent, from the hyperdevelopment projects over the last few years. Many developers have simply not been building because they know that the ridiculously expensive prices that they would want to charge would mean that their houses would not get sold.

But recently that seems to be changing and the bulldozers and construction gangs seem set to return to a green field near you very soon.

Last Tuesday I attended a public meeting in Park Bottom. The meeting was both encouraging and frustrating.

It was encouraging because there were a large number of people who were prepared to get together to fight the concreting over of open spaces in their community. It was frustrating because, whatever the strength of feeling in opposition to the two latest schemes that are being mooted to blight Park Bottom and Illogan, you know that the odds are stacked very heavily in favour of developers and against residents.

This is ConDem localism. You can paint the colours of the front doors whatever shade of suburban homogeneity you wish - but you will get the houses - whether you want them or not.

Big national and global development organisations spend millions of pounds lobbying Westminster. They demonstrate the need to build hundreds of thousands of new homes and to provide 'affordable' houses for the hard pressed hoi polloi. At the same time the people of Park Bottom will find it hard to resist the leviathan of central government, convinced to act by the construction lobby groups, as it dictates that the concreting over of Cornwall should resume with even greater vigour.

Illogan is represented by a Conservative Cornwall Councillor, Terry Wilkins, and a Conservative MP, George Eustice. Both are on record as supposedly opposing development in their own back yards. George Eustice famously criticised the 'bonkers' housing targets of the now defunct Labout government Regional Spatial Strategy. Cllr Wilkins spoke with eloquence on Tuesday about how he was opposed to the developments coming forward in Illogan.

Now don't get me wrong. I will be grateful for any help that Messrs Eustice and Wilkins might be able to provide in resisting the destruction of our community's open spaces. I wil be grateful if they can hep to prevent the joining together of separate villages into a single suburban sprawl - but what we need is action and not rhetoric.

People tell me that there is no room for party politics in local politics.

I say that is nonsense. If our local political representatives, members of the Conservative party, were serious about combatting hyperdevelopment they would lobby their central office more rigorously. They would shout in the corridors of power that 'presumption in favour of sustainable [sic] development' is taking away the ability of people to shape their own living spaces. Instead they indulge in populist rhetoric at home while they toady obsequiously to their bosses in Lys Kernow and Westminster.

Of course they tell me you shouldn't have party politics at a local level - lack of opposition enables Westminster politicians to stand with feet firmly planted on both sides of the fence. To 'support' their local community with one breath in the village hall and undermine it with another at central office.

In the meantime what can we do to protect our towns and villages?

We need to get Neighbourhood Plans in place. Though they can't reverse development, or even stop it in its tracks, they can make it harder for developers to go over the the amount of housing alloted to us by Westminster.

And we need to become more savvy with the planning language and jargon of the local government officers and Westminster ministers. We need to learn how to play the game by their rules without relying on our local London representatives to do it for us. If our local Westminster politicians won't act to change the rules more in our favour then we can either accept our fate or develop a more potent arsenal. We can learn more about 'material planning conditions' and where to get the informatuion and data from to back up our fears and concerns and demonstrate the folly of hyperdevelopment.

Most importantly, though, we need to act now - tomorrow may be too late.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Mebyon Kernow - Cornish Assembly Policy (update)

I have had quite a few responses to the members consultation paper.

There seems to be a consensus around most of the main points with some different ideas coming forward in a small number of areas.

The first stage consultation ends in September when a draft policy will be produced for further consultation.

The plan is to produce a final draft for our conference which will incorporate various options for members to debate on the day. The debates will be around the few areas where there have been substantially differing views expressed.

If you are a member of MK and want to have a say in your party's policies then get in touch before the end of the consultation period. We are a party of democracy. We don't employ 'thinktanks' or expensive consultants to create populist policy which has electability as its main priority rather than political principle.

This newly configured policy will be the first step in a codification of our policies and principles for use by our branches and individual candidates.