Thursday, 11 December 2014

Regional Pay

As many of you may have seen, our current MP has published literature and emails claiming that he stopped ‘Tory Plans’ to introduce regional pay. These proposals were raised in 2012 and would have seen local public sector pay linked to regional private sector pay.

I have considered carefully whether or not to respond to these inaccurate claims but felt in the end the people of this constituency deserved to know the facts.

The issue revolves around the linking of public sector pay to regional private sector pay.  Public sector pay is currently set centrally but the proposed change would have adversely affected public sector workers in lower paid areas such as Cornwall. It was the last Labour Government who introduced regional pay into our Court system and the reforms proposed in 2012 were an extension of this policy.

However, I can state that the Conservative Party are not and will not be introducing regional pay. This is desperate scaremongering by our Liberal Democrat MP and it is really disappointing to see him using our hard-working nurses and teachers to play party politics in this way.

Personally I did not support these proposals when they were first mooted and I still don’t.

The argument for such a policy has two main thrusts.  Firstly, linking the two pay scales would help the private sector to be more competitive.  Secondly, a lower average wage would allow for the creation of more public sector jobs for the same total wage bill.

For me this is the not the answer, it is a backward and punitive step that would negatively impact many people in this Constituency. The way to address the underlying issue is to work to raise private sector wages in order to close the pay gap. This is something I care about deeply and would be one of my top priorities if I am elected.

Conservative MPs in Cornwall have confirmed to me that it was in fact Conservatives in Government, who persuaded Her Majesty’s Treasury, where these proposals started, that these proposals were unacceptable to places like Cornwall and as a result they were dropped.

Far from this being just a Conservative policy, this was just as much a policy promoted by senior Liberal Democrats, including the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, who championed the regional pay proposals in 2012 as demonstrated here

It appears that, as is typical of our Lib Dem MP, he is spinning stories to suit his own anti Tory agenda. He also conveniently ignores the point that he has supported the Conservatives in Government, voting with the Tories 95% of the time – a record even some Conservative backbenchers would be proud of. 

Sadly, this part of Cornwall has suffered for too long under the ineffective political representation of the Lib Dems as we have watched our towns decline and good jobs disappear. I am sure we would prefer that our MP focussed on growing our local economy and working to raise local wages rather than trying to score political points at every opportunity.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Stamp Duty reform a boost to Cornish homebuyers

In a bold move on Wednesday Chancellor George Osborne ended the old “slab” style Stamp Duty system and replaced it with a progressive system that will help more local people become homeowners.

Buying a home is the most expensive purchase most of us will ever make. I believe it is right that this government has reduced the amount it takes from house buyers. One of the biggest issues facing our local communities is the cost of homes, especially for first time buyers. So any help the government can give to make that first house purchase more attainable gets my vote.

This move, I believe, will be an excellent boost to the local housing market that has been implemented in a fair, progressive manner.  Stamp duty is now levied via a sliding scale, much like income tax.  Homes costing less than 125,000 remain free of stamp duty.  For homes above this amount, the extra cost is now taxed, not the whole sum but only on the amount above the threshold.  The vast majority of house purchasers in this area will now pay significantly less when they buy a home. It is only those buying homes of almost £1million that will be paying more.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday George Osborne said, “Mr Speaker, there has been a debate in this country about taxing houses. The system I introduce today replaces a badly designed system that has distorted our housing market for decades.”

The Labour Party has long been advocating a “mansion tax”, an unpopular idea that would not solve the problem it seeks to address. Taxing assets rather than income or spending, in my view, would be a detrimental move.  The Chancellor on the other hand has not only addressed the problem but has circumvented the need to introduce yet another tax and the accompanying bureaucracy. 

The Chancellor continued, “It reduces the stamp taxes for 98% of people who pay them in this country.  It increases the taxes on the most expensive 2% of homes.”

This is a great example of the Conservative Party once again delivering fair and needed reforms that benefits the people who need them most.

If you would like to discuss this or any other issue then please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Friday, 28 November 2014

Small Business Saturday - 6th December

Small businesses form the heart of our local economy, especially in this part of Cornwall where we have only a few large employers.

I am keen to support our local businesses all year round. However next week there is a particular opportunity for us all to think about this, through Small Business Saturday, which this year falls on Saturday 6th December.  Small Business Saturday exists to support, inspire and promote small businesses in the local area.

If you are, like me, a small business owner, how are you promoting your business?  Are you aware of the website that gives you promotional material – find it here  Social media is also being used extensively to promote local businesses.

How are you as a customer supporting local businesses?  On Saturday could you use a local retailer rather than the big national chains?

The idea for Small Business Saturday came from American Express in the US in 2010 and is a reaction to the excesses of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this year on 28th November and 1st December respectively.  So it is a new idea that grows every year.

Lets all work together to make sure we support our local small businesses as much as we can and maybe use this Small Business Saturday to consider what more we may be able to do.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Why I have pledged to improve our roads

This week has been another busy week on the road to 7th May. We have received delivery of my latest newspaper, which our army of volunteers will be out distributing over the coming weeks.

As well as dodging the showers whilst out delivering, I have also had a number of meetings with local residents helping them with issues ranging from planning and benefits to highways.

Issues relating to our roads are one of the most common concerns raised by constituents with me.  As well as the frequent concerns about the state of our roads, the number of potholes and issues such as parking and speeding, it is clear that many local people are also concerned at a more strategic level about the effect of the huge growth in traffic on the roads. A recent report highlighted that we also have the two most dangerous roads in Cornwall here in St Austell and Newquay. Yet there has been woefully little investment to improve the situation.

As I travel around the area I often hear how concerned you are about the congestion on the roads.  There was a time that the roads of Cornwall were quiet in the off-season; we all know this is no longer the case.  The roads are busy throughout the year; the number of people living in the county has grown and this has added to the burden on the infrastructure.

The Road Safety Foundation recently issued their annual report that highlighted the only two roads in Cornwall to receive “medium to high risk” status.  These are the A3058 between St Austell and Summercourt, and Par Moor Road, and both lie within the boundaries of our Constituency.

Our current MP warned us to be careful in the festive season and urged Cornwall Council to take note of the Road Safety Foundation’s findings.  But I am afraid this simply isn’t good enough, we need action.

It is clear that a large investment is needed to allow the quality of Cornwall’s roads to catch up with the increased traffic, especially here in mid-Cornwall. I have already been lobbying on your behalf, highlighting the issue to David Cameron, George Osborne and Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport.

The following projects are already receiving my full support:

The Newquay Strategic Route – this is a key building block in the plan for the Newquay Growth Area and the airport, but it has stalled in recent months.
A new road linking St Austell to the A30 that also provides a by-pass for Bugle and Roche.
A new by-pass for St Austell, probably to the north, to ease congestion on the A390 from Holmbush to St Mewan.
Appropriate remedial work to ensure the A3058 and Par Moor Road are made safer.

The good news is that I am not on my own in this. The next Conservative Government will back these aims with hard cash.

On Monday 10th November, speaking at the CBI, David Cameron announced;

“The biggest, boldest and most far reaching road improvement programme in four decades: over 100 improvements to our major roads. And all underpinned by over £15bn worth of investment. This will be nothing less than a roads revolution – one which will lead to quicker journey times, more jobs, and businesses boosted right across the country.”

So if we form the next Government there will be funds available and I will be pressing the case for investment in mid-Cornwall.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference last month, Patrick McLoughlin laid out his vision for rebuilding Britain’s transport system and highlighted the team already in place in the South West fighting on your behalf.

“Our great team in the southwest. People like George Eustice M and Sarah Newton MP backing Cornwall with better transport links for both locals and tourists.”

I would be honoured to join that team of people delivering better roads to this Constituency, but I can only do this if I am elected and so I ask for your support next May.

I would be happy to discuss this issue, or indeed any other, with you so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

25 weeks to go!

Once the dust had settled from the great result in the Mevagissey by election, I was back out on the campaign trail.  With only 25 weeks to go until the General Election everything is focused back on 7th May.

The highlights of my week were:

Enjoying a breakfast at the Fowey Yacht Club hosted by Fowey Parish Church
Judging the St Blazey and Par School Christmas Card competition in aid of Chicks
Helping local residents with a number of planning issues including a proposed Gypsy                   Traveller site at Scredda
Supporting our newly elected Cornwall Councillor for Mevagissey James Mustoe in his               new role
Attending the Lions Club of St Austell Victorian Afternoon tea in aid of the Sensory Trust
Chairing the Carclaze School Governors meeting
Meeting with a local GP to discuss issues of local health care provision as well as national         NHS issues
Attending the St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast

Anne and I took the day on Sunday to pause the campaign and attend the Remembrance parades in Newquay and St Austell.  It was an honour to be able to actively participate in both of these events and to join the strong turnouts in both towns.  As usual the parades and services were extremely well run and the organisers should feel justly proud of their success.  As we travelled between the two services we took up the invitation to join the Remembrance Day lunch in St Dennis and we were made to feel very welcome. 

 Anne and I with Cllr Tom French at the St Austell Remembrance Parade

On Monday I discussed politics with the student council and history students at Treviglas School in Newquay.  It is always good to see the younger people engaging with today’s issues. 

On Friday afternoon I was honoured to attend the signing of the Charter for Compassion at the Eden Project.   The Charter for Compassion is a global initiative and is;  “a cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action to the center of religious, moral and political life. Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and lies at the heart of all religious and ethical systems.”

The campaign team met in the week and I am pleased to report that our band of enthusiastic volunteers continues to grow.  But we have room for many more so if you are keen to get involved then please contact me and we can discuss how you can help.  

This week has seen storms hit the county once again, so stay safe and warm.  If there are any particular issues that you think I could help with then please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Mevagissey and beyond

What a great week for the Conservative Party in mid-Cornwall. 

I have spent most of the week in Mevagissey, as Thursday was the by-election for the Cornwall Council seat, left vacant in August following the resignation of Michael Bunney, the Labour councillor.

Although I disagreed with Michael’s politics, he was a very good local councillor and someone I have a lot of respect for as a person. When Michael won the election in May last year it was pretty clear this was largely a personal vote, rather than a resounding vote for the Labour Party.

With James in Gorran Haven

The challenge for the Conservative Party was to work hard to secure that personal vote, a factor that is always important in local elections, especially in this part of Cornwall.

In 2013 we came 3rd, after UKIP, and this is an area that UKIP would expect to do well in.  With all of these factors in play, our selection of a strong local candidate was critical and so we selected James Mustoe, the 2013 candidate, again.

James is a local Mevagissey man who grew up in the village and has strong local connections.  He was an obvious candidate to champion the concerns of the people of Mevagissey ward and it was a pleasure to campaign alongside him.

I am therefore delighted to confirm that James won the by-election and is the new Cornwall Councillor for the Mevagissey Division.

The result was
James Mustoe (Conservative) 348
UKIP 281
Labour 204
Lib Dem 197
Green 50

James and I are very grateful to everyone who voted Conservative on Thursday. 

Local by elections are often difficult to predict with low turnouts so this was also an important test of our campaigning team as we build up to May next year.

The result is a testament to James and the team supporting him, not only did we come from 3rd to win the seat, leapfrogging UKIP, we also saw the UKIP share of the vote drop. I am also sure the Lib Dems will be very disappointed to be kept in 4th place behind Labour.

This result shows that we are well on track towards being in a position to win this seat in May next year and see me elected as the MP for St Austell and Newquay.

I also want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped with the campaign. We had a small army of people delivering leaflets, knocking on doors, making phone calls and putting up posters.  The weather was atrocious and we all got wet but the engagement from people in the ward kept us going.  Politics is always a team game and this week we showed we have the passion and commitment to win next year.

With just some of our excellent team on polling day in Mevagissey

The focus now firmly shifts back to my campaign. It is now less than six months until the election. New people are coming forward to volunteer to help each week and if you would like to join our army of local people working with me then please do get in touch as we would value your active support.  Help us become the winning team in May.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

My thoughts on the Recall Bill

A number of local people have contacted me to ask for my views on the Recall Bill that was voted on in Parliament on Monday this week.

The Bill aims to strengthen the accountability of MPs and establish new grounds for them to be held to account, and ultimately recalled and a by-election held if the circumstances warrant it. Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith proposed a number of amendments which in my view would have made important changes to the Bill to make MPs more accountable to the people they are elected to serve.

I am happy to place on record that if I were currently the MP for St Austell and Newquay I would be supporting Zac Goldsmith’s amendments to the bill.
I believe that we need to rebuild trust and respect between Parliament and the electorate and the amendments Zac is proposing, I believe, would go some way in helping to achieve this.

Too often MPs make promises at election times which are then glossed over once they get elected. If I am given the honour of representing my home constituency at the election next year, I will never forgot that my first priority is to serve and represent the people of mid-Cornwall. You, the electorate will be my boss and I will always be willing to be held to account by you. The proposed amendments to the bill would ensure that all elected MPs will be more accountable to the people they are elected to serve. In my view this can only be a good thing.

I share the disappointment and frustration of many people who have contacted me since Monday’s vote that our local MP did not represent what I believe are the views of the majority of local people and support the amendments proposed by Zac Goldsmith.  I am pleased that many of my Conservative colleagues currently in Westminster did vote for his amendments but sadly not enough to win a majority.

We are certainly living in interesting times in British politics. If I have the honour of being elected as your MP on 7th May next year I will never forget who my real bosses are – you the local electorate. Those who know me will confirm that I am someone who can be taken at his word, I do not make promises to then go back on them, I say what I mean and do what I say I will do. I can show a track record of being accessible and accountable and this is something I will always maintain.

I do hope to be able to win your vote at the next election. If there are any other issues you would like to raise with me then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

People and Gardens

In a week when the debate about the role of people with special needs and disabilities in the workplace has been in the news I was delighted to be able to visit People and Gardens.

People and Gardens is a Community Interest Company (not for profit) based at Watering Lane Nursery between Porthpean and Pentewan. It was set up and is still run by Ken Radford, and supported by The Eden Project, providing work opportunities for people with special education needs.

People and Gardens truly is an inspiring place. It was set up to enable people with learning disabilities or emotional impairments to be able to develop as individuals, to learn work and social skills and to have equality of choice and opportunity in the workplace.

Although the business receives financial support from Cornwall Council from their adult social care budget, the aim is to become self-sufficient. All of the staff are dedicated to providing a positive and worthwhile work experience for those that come and work there. It gives people a sense of purpose and fulfilment as well as growing some very nice veg.

With the current budget pressures facing Cornwall Council I am concerned that this type of project is an easy target for cuts in funding. However, I believe the value of the service People and Gardens provides goes way beyond the amount of money they receive from the Council. I will certainly be supporting them and doing all I can to ensure they continue to get the funding they need to be able to continue the brilliant and vital work they do.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there and found it to be an inspiring example of what can be done to help people in our communities who need this type of support. You can find more details of People and Gardens here One of the ways we can all support the work they do is by signing up to receive one of their veg bags.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Bricks and Bread

Last week I was delighted to pay a visit to Bricks and Bread at their new retreat base in Tywardreath.

Bricks and Bread is an inspiring Social Enterprise which works to support small businesses and start-ups grow and development. It does this through mentoring, training and advice, as well as providing access to Government loan schemes. They moved their base from Surrey to Tywardreath earlier this year and have been fully up and running here since May.

With Trudy and Josh at Bricks and Bread

Run by Trudy and Josh, it is just the sort of facility we need to see in Cornwall. Cornwall has always been a place for enterprise and our history is full of examples of people who took the opportunities to innovate. We have a higher than average number of small businesses and self-employed here in mid-Cornwall. One of the keys to growing our local economy will be to support these existing businesses and see new small businesses started so that they can grow and create the jobs of the future.

Trudy and Josh were refreshing in their people focussed approach to business development. It was also encouraging to listen their story and their reasons for coming to Cornwall. It will be interesting to watch how their work can help our local businesses and I look forward to visiting them again sometime soon to see how things have progressed.

If you are interested in the work they you can find out more about Bricks and Bread here

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Small business support

One of my priorities should I be elected next year as the MP for St Austell and Newquay will be to support local business.

Small businesses really are the back bone of our local economy. Although we need larger companies to invest and create jobs and career opportunities here in mid-Cornwall, it is also vital that our small businessmen and women get as much support as possible from both the national Government and their local MP.

I have been self-employed and a local businessman myself for almost 25 years so I really do know first-hand the joys and challenges being your own boss brings. However, even with my experience I happily acknowledge that I there is so much more to learn about the local business community. Therefore one of my aims between now and the election on 7th May is to visit as many local businesses as I can. I want to do this in order to listen to the concerns and desires of the local business community. To make sure I have as broad a view as possible of our local businesses, large and small, new and well established. I also want to understand direct from them the big issues that they face and how I can best represent and serve them as their MP.

Today I was delighted to visit Mark Hollis of Finesse Chauffeurs based in Par. Finesse Chauffeurs is a relatively new business that Mark has recently launched just over 2 months ago. They offer a chauffeur service and private hire taxi service for local businesses, visiting business people and travellers, as well as a wedding car service. More details of the services they offer can be found here

With local businessman Mark Hollis

It was great to meet Mark and listen to the reasons why he decided to leave his former employment and launch out in business. I was also able listen to the challenges he faces and the things he wants from the Government and his local MP.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Double time

Well it has certainly been a scorcher this past week in St Austell and Newquay, and with the schools breaking up and the annual surge of visitors, this has really kicked the annual summer holiday season off with a bang!

With some of my team at Par on a blazing hot Saturday morning

While some of you may be gearing up to get away from it all, my own schedule is getting busier and busier. I have taken advantage of the glorious weather and spent most of my time getting out and about across the constituency, meeting people and finding out what I can do to help sort out the issues that are important to you. From job opportunities for young people in Newquay to changes to local bus services in Par, via wind turbines in Gorran and St Ewe and the increased parking charges in Fowey, this past week you have shown me a number of local issues specific to particular areas, as well as some (with the initials ‘WT’) that seem to have universal unpopularity wherever I go.

Looming wind turbine at Gorran

As well as the important business of meeting local people, with the end of summer term as Chair of the Carclaze School Governors I attended the final meeting of the Governors for the 2013-14 school year and was then privileged to join the Carclaze School Leavers Assembly, to congratulate and send on their way another fine class of young people ready for the next stage of their lives. 

As well as these educational activities, amongst other things I also went along to the opening of the new Lloyds Bank premises in St Austell and met with many local businesses at one of the regular St Austell Chamber of Commerce Networking events.

Finally, with it being summer I have been lucky enough to go to several great evening events, the highlight being my presentation of half of the total £6,780 raised during my Walk to Westminster to the Cornwall Air Ambulance at their Summer Ball, which is fast becoming one of the charity occasion highlights of the year. I also participated in a very interesting auction at the Sea Cadets Summer Ball (check my Facebook for more), and finally ended the week on a high at the always exhilarating Charlestown Regatta. 

In Charlestown for the Regatta 

Hopefully this lovely weather will be with us for some time now, so if you see me out and about, whether it be in one of the towns and villages or on the beach, please do stop and say hello, I am always keen to hear from you as my journey to get elected in May 2015 continues!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Rowing at the Double

On Sunday I got to spend the afternoon out on the water. We entered a team from the local Conservative Party in the 15th annual Children’s Hospice SW Charity Gig Race at Newquay Harbour.

This was the second year we had entered a team and it was once again a great time. Our team this year was made up of myself, Richard Pears - my campaign manager, Adam Harris and Jack Berry (our cox) who are part of my campaign team. We were joined in the gig by three regular rowers from Newquay Rowing Club.

Newquay Rowing Club is one of the largest and most historic clubs in Cornwall (and probably the planet). They do a great job of putting on this annual event which is well run and fun to participate in. The conditions this year were almost perfect; calm seas and sunny but not too hot.

This year we came in a credible 4th out of 7 in our heat. This is, in my view, the best place to finish as the top three go through to the final which means you have to row again!

The event is a great way of raising the profile of the hospice and raising much need funds for the charity. I am delighted to do my little bit again and can highly recommend the event for anyone who  fancies entering next year.   

Sunday, 6 July 2014

On the Double - Blog for 5th July 2014

Well our first week back following our Walk to Westminster has certainly been busy. After all the unpacking and catching up with the mountain of post and emails we threw ourselves into a diary full of community events.

We are certainly in the feast week/carnival week season. This past week we have spent time joining in with the events in Mevagissey, St Austell and St Dennis and there is more of the same in the next few weeks.

At the St Dennis 'It's a Knockout'

I am always amazed at just how good Cornwall is at putting on these weeks of community fun and entertainment. Many of them have been going on for many years and the traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. Each one is unique and has its own particular style and flavour. But at the heart of each of them is a group of dedicated people who work tirelessly to organise the events and a small army of volunteers who give their time to make sure everything runs well.

At the St Andrew's Church hymn singing on Mevagissey harbour

As we have been out and about we have continued to be overwhelmed by the number of people who have come and congratulated us on our walk. Everywhere we have been people have come and spoken to us about it. We really appreciate all the support and we are now at £6500 raised for the Cornwall Air Ambluance and Children’s Hospice SW which is just amazing.

This coming week we will be getting back out on the doors delivering literature and speaking to residents about my campaign. It’s going to be a busy summer with lots to do. If you would like to help with my campaign to be the next MP for St Austell and Newquay, by delivering some literature in your area please do get in touch. We really do need all the help we can get. You can email me on 

Monday, 30 June 2014

The Double Challenge - #walk2westminster - Arriving Home

Well we are now home. After a couple of days to rest and then a major family gathering to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday, we travelled home on Sunday afternoon, still a bit sore and weary but recovering day by day.

As we now look back on the past two weeks we feel a deep sense of achievement that we have completed the challenge we set ourselves. I am sure we will always look back on this time as something very significant, maybe even a once in a lifetime adventure. Who knows? But we are now back and raring to get on with the next phase as we focus on the General Election and getting me elected as the MP for St Austell and Newquay - 312 days and counting.

The #walk2westminster was something that came about as a direct result of me being selected as the Parliamentary Candidate for this area. I guess it was in some way symbolic of my commitment and determination to get to Westminster. It certainly has been an experience where I have learned a great deal about myself. Maybe I will write more about that another time.

For now the most important thing I want to do is say a big thank you to all those who helped us to achieve our goal. Although Anne and I were the ones who walked the 267 miles, there was a small army of people who helped make it possible.

First of all I want to say a huge thank you to Johnny Hawkins at Hawkins Motors who loaned us the use of his van to be our support truck. It was perfect for the job and we are incredibly grateful.

Also, to Ian Jenkins at Cornwall Signs, who blinged it up for us with the logos and pictures. This made sure we got noticed and resulted in a number of donations from people we met on route. It also helped get us an upgrade in our hotel at the end of the walk! Then there is Lex Dezigns and Tevy (Tony Goodman) who provided our clothing. Again we are most grateful for their support.

We must also thank all those that supported us on the route. The people that came and drove the support van: Neil Bate, Richard Pears, Stephen Rushworth, Jill Bunt, Josh Double, Alan Blasdale and Jeremy Culverhouse. Additionally those who joined us by walking with us for part of the route: James Mustoe, Phil Bunt (who did two whole days) Matt Double and Jacob Double. Along with those who gave us a bed and food along the way: Kathryn Swaffield, Jo Pearse and Jeremy and Sarah Culverhouse. We cannot say enough how much we appreciated their support.

We were overwhelmed by the level of support we had from people from all over the country but especially from Cornwall. The constant messages of support and encouragement made a huge difference and kept us going when the going got tough. We were amazed at the level of interest there was in what we were doing. My website received over 3000 hits from different individuals. We received many hundreds of ‘likes’ and comments on Facebook and I attracted almost 100 new followers on Twitter. Some of the comments we received from people, telling us that Cornwall was proud of us and that we were inspiring others by what we were doing were incredible and completely unexpected. We undertook this challenge primarily as a personal challenge, but we are delighted that it also seems to have struck a chord with so many others.

I must also mention James Mustoe who has been helping me to keep this blog up to date and posting the blog every evening from the rough words and pictures I was sending him. He’s done a great job.

And finally, but most importantly, a huge thank you must go to all those who donated. We are especially grateful to Dave and Mark Simpson who started the ball rolling with £1000 from Kingsley Village. But we have had over 100 individual donations and we are very grateful for everyone, whatever the amount. The total is now approaching £6500. This is incredible and I am sure will make a big difference to the two charities we are supporting. Once again Cornwall has shown what an amazing, generous and community spirited bunch of people we are.

So thank you to everyone who helped make our adventure possible, who helped us along the way and who donated to the cause in whatever way. But for one last time (maybe). If you haven’t yet donated here is where can -

Friday, 27 June 2014

The Double Challenge - #walk2westminster - Day 13- The Final Day

Well we made it! At around 10.45am on Thursday 26th June we walked into Parliament Square. The completion of a challenge, an adventure and an amazing journey.  

Unfurling St. Piran's cross!

The evening before we had walked some of the remaining 8 miles we had left from Richmond to Westminster, in order to make sure we were not under too much pressure on the final morning. These were very painful steps after that day’s walk but we felt it was worth it to make sure we could enjoy the final day as much as possible.

This left us with just 5 miles left to complete and our route took us from Fulham along the King’s Road through Chelsea, past Buckingham Palace and behind Downing Street and The Treasury into Parliament Square.

We were joined on this final leg of the journey by Kevin Werry, an old school friend of mine from Poltair. Kevin now lives just outside London and had offered to come and join in the final day with us.

With Kevin

As we approached the final stretch we first came to a sign telling us we were entering the City of Westminster. This really did tell us we were almost at the end. Then we saw Buckingham Palace and couldn’t resist a quick picture with our St Piran’s Flag. We then heard Big Ben chime. The famous clock tower has been the symbol of our destination for the whole of this walk and I must admit hearing the sound of the world famous bells felt really emotional. We could now hear we were almost there.

Entering the City of Westminster

Then around the next corner and we could see it. It was now in sight.

There it is!

As we walked into the square and stood in front of the Palace of Westminster there was a very strange mix of emotions. A deep sense of achievement that we had completed the challenge we set ourselves, and some had thought we would not be able to do. A sense of relief that it was over and the pain and discomfort could now end. A genuine gratitude for all those who had helped us in achieving our aim.

With my darling wife Anne on Parliament Square

A few minutes after we walked into the square our sons Josh and Jacob arrived along with our friends Jeremy and Sarah. It was wonderful to see the boys and for them to join in the celebrations with us.

We had hoped that the Prime Minister might have been able to spare a few minutes for us to meet him but unfortunately in the end his diary wouldn’t allow for it. So we were greeted at the House of Commons by one of our Cornish MPs and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, Sarah Newton. She had arranged for some of MPs to be there to meet us who congratulated us on completing our walk.

With Sarah Newton MP 

Then we moved back out into Parliament Square where we were joined by a number of friends, some from Cornwall and other parts of the country who happened to be in London, others who lived and worked there. We really appreciated all those who made the effort to come and see us and provided the bubbly!

So that was it. We had done it; 267 miles over 594,000 steps over 13 days. I am sure we will reflect more of what this amazing adventure has meant to us in the coming days.

This walk was always firstly a personal challenge. It was something we felt we wanted, even needed to do for ourselves as a demonstration of our desire and determination for me to become the MP for St Austell and Newquay next year. We wanted to see if we were capable of something we never dreamed we would be able to do and thankfully we found we were. Now bring on the challenge to get elected!

But of course it was also about supporting two really vital charities that provide essential services to the people of Cornwall. We are amazed and grateful for all that who have donated to The Children’s Hospice SW and The Cornwall Air Ambulance. We stand at £5843.75 raised. It would be wonderful to make it to £6000 so please do donate if you haven’t yet done so.

We are now spending a few days relaxing and allowing our feet to recover and also celebrating my father’s 80th Birthday with a big family gathering in Swindon. We will then travel home to Cornwall on Sunday and look forward to being back in the homeland, seeing all our friends who have been so incredibly supportive over the last two weeks, Tom  and of course our dogs!  Then it is back to the election campaign from Monday. For more information on my campaign in general please see my website

And I'm spent!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Double Challenge - #walk2westminster - Day 12

Today was our last full day of walking. I must admit I am feeling quite different to how I imagined I would feel at this stage. The last few days have really been a struggle. Anne's shin splints have been quite debilitating for her. We are both developing more blisters, and now blisters on blisters, and our feet are incredibly sore.

I imagined we would be buzzing as we reached the end of our adventure, but I think we are both feeling quite flat and just wanting the pain to be over.

So we woke up early as usual and packed our stuff. We were leaving Jeremy and Sarah's who have been brilliant at looking after us for the last three days. We loaded the van and set off for Woking. Jeremy had offered to drive to Richmond and drop our overnight bag off at the B&B we were staying in tonight to save us having to carry it - we really appreciated that. 

Our dear friends Sarah and Jeremy Culverhouse

We both started the day feeling thankful we only had about 18 miles to walk. We were both feeling a bit flat but this lifted as someone approached us as we got out of the van and prepared to start walking. A lady came over, seeing the signage on the van and asked what we were doing. She then gave us a £20 donation to the fund. This served as a reminder of why we were putting ourselves through this - to support two vital and brilliant charities. It was just the lift we needed to re-motivate us.

The first part of our route today was along the remainder of the Basingstoke Canal, which took us under the M25. This was a welcome sight as it gave a real sense that we were nearer London.

Passing under the M25

We then picked up the Rover Wey which we followed through Weybridge and up to Thames Lock. There were certainly some stunning properties along this part of the river.

At Thames Lock

We picked up the River Thames path which then took us through Walton on Thames and Sunbury - again lots of very nice waterside homes. 

The River Thames

Just as we were leaving Walton, Radio Cornwall phoned and I spoke on air to Laurence Reed. 

By now we were both feeling the strain, especially Anne with her shin splints, we again needed to stop and rest frequently. This slowed our progress.

We made it to Hampton where we left the river and went back on roads. We did get some strange looks as we walked through the centre of Twickenham - I guess we do a look a strange sight to these city dwellers, however we could smell the end and found a bit of energy to march along at this stage.

In Twickenham we found Cornwall Road. A nice reminder of home.

They're right - tis the road from Cornwall!

We were really flagging by now and the final stretch into Richmond was a struggle. ‎Our feet were incredibly painful and our energy was gone. We were almost crawling by the time we made it to our B&B. I was so grateful I didn't have to carry the big rucksack with our overnight stuff. I think that would have finished me off today.

So we are now in London. We have 8 miles to walk to Westminster. We are planning to pop out tonight and knock two or three of those miles off to make tomorrow comfortable.

Thanks once again for all the messages of support today. You will never know how important they have been. One very special message we received today was from the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. He has heard about what we were doing and the two charities we are raising funds for, which he obviously has an interest in. He isn't able to be around when we arrive tomorrow but sent a really nice message of support.

The fundraising continues to grow - very close to £5000. It would be amazing to hit that figure before we finish tomorrow. So here's the link if you haven't yet donated.

If anyone who is in London and would like to come and celebrate the finish of our challenge tomorrow, it would be wonderful to see you. We will be in Parliament Square, opposite what are known as the Carriage Gates at 12.15pm.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Double Challenge - #walk2westminster - Day 11

When we planned our walk today was a day we were looking forward to. The plan was to pick up the Basingstoke Canal and walk along the towpath toward Woking. We expected this to be an easy walk along a level path at the water’s edge with wonderful scenery.  It didn’t quiet turn out that way.

Basingstoke Canal

To start with Anne started today in pain. Most mornings we have found our feet have sufficiently recovered overnight to allow us to start the day relatively pain free, only for the pain to kick back in much later in the day. Whilst I started the day feeling the best I had for several days, it was clear Anne was suffering from the start. Not only were her blisters very painful to start with, but she was also suffering from shin splints that had started the evening before. I suffered from this during our training so know how painful it can be.

Pit stop!

Additionally, what we imagined to be a smooth pathway beside the water turned out to be a very stony and uneven surface. As a result we both were very soon feeling every stone and pebble we stepped on. Our feet by now are very sensitive and every step was painful. Although I am sure there were some lovely sights to behold along our route sadly we were too busy looking at the ground to see what our feet were treading on to notice.

The stony path

We had to keep stopping for Anne to rest her legs and feet. This slowed our progress but we plodded on determined to keep going. As we were on the towpath and at times not near any roads we did not have the support van with us today. We were carrying as much water and food as we could but hoping to find shops and pubs along the way to replenish our supplies. Unfortunately every time we found a pub it was the other side of the canal with no way of crossing over! Therefore we ended up missing lunch and just snacking from what we were carrying.

So near and yet so far...

To add further to our adventures we then found part of the towpath was closed due to a landslide. This meant a bit of a detour along the roads, although at least this gave our feet rest from the stones.

What to do?

Our route was interesting. We skirted around Farnborough Airport, a number of military bases (at one point we could hear large amounts of gunfire) as well as encountering many forms of wildlife including ducks, swans and geese which all had young with them, a heron, various other birds and rabbits.

Cute eh?

In the end today turned out to be much harder than we expected but we pressed on and made it to Woking.  Once we got back to base and inspected our feet Anne found she now has blisters on her blisters. Thankfully only one of mine has grown and there are no new ones.

The main milestone we passed today was that we took our 500,000th step of the walk. It does seem incredible to have taken that many steps in 11 days. 

Our 500,000th step!

We are now only about 25 miles from Westminster. Thankfully tomorrow should be an easier day as we head to Richmond – a distance of only 16 miles or so. Then we are in position for the final push to Westminster on Thursday. A number of people have asked about our ETA on Thursday. At the moment, provisionally, we are planning to be in Parliament Square for 12.15pm.

Before signing off I must again say a huge thank you to all those who have donated, especially today. We are now over £4500. It would be wonderful to get to £5000 by Thursday so if you haven’t yet sponsored us here is the link