Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Newspaper column - St Austell edition - 26 August 2015

I am extremely happy to be supporting the on-going process for a Heritage Lottery Fund application.  St Austell has been given the opportunity to submit a plan for a Townscape Heritage Scheme to improve the external structures of historic buildings in the town.

The Historic Environment Department of Cornwall Council and St Austell Town Council are jointly leading the work on the application.  The Cornwall Council officers have a track record of delivering heritage schemes in Cornwall and St Austell Town Council brings local knowledge and expertise to bear. 

While success is not guaranteed, it has been heartening that the key organisations in the town have been working together to ensure that we submit a high quality application.  As well as the Town Council, the Business Improvement District, the St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Market House team have all contributed to the process. 

The Heritage Lottery Fund grant money will enable owners of historic buildings to restore the facades of the buildings to their former glory.  The standard of the work will be carefully monitored and controlled to ensure that our important buildings are preserved. 

While many building owners keep their buildings to a high standard, the recession has impacted other owners negatively, meaning that essential repair work has been delayed.  Next time you are in the town centre look above the shop frontages and you will see the challenges that we face.

Many buildings in the centre of St Austell tell the story of our history and we should protect them.  The architect Silvanus Trevail designed buildings such as the Red Bank, and the building that is now Sports Direct was once Public Meeting Rooms.  One of the outcomes of this scheme will be that education about the town centre history will increase.

The application is in its final stages and the town could benefit by up to £1 million. The scheme will also progress pioneering energy saving and skills training initiatives which will be led by local businesses and education centres.  These will upskill local contractors in traditional and new sustainable building techniques.

No-one is under any illusion that improving buildings is the silver bullet that St Austell needs; we need more, better paid jobs to stimulate the economy which in turn will bring prosperity back to the town.  But, the Townscape Heritage Scheme will form one of the building blocks that we need to improve the town centre and it is for this reason that I am lending my support to this application.

If we are successful, the whole scheme will take a number of years to deliver and I look forward to watching the townscape change for the better.  I wish the project team good luck in their application.

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and seek to make a real difference to the lives of everyone who needs help and support in any way.
If there is any issue that we can help you with then please contact us on either 07555069714 or on

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Newspaper column - 19th August 2015 - My first 100 days

This week I passed the milestone of my first 100 days as your MP.  It remains the biggest honour of my life that I have this role. Although I am aware that that this is a five year marathon, I was also determined to get off to a positive start. I have worked hard to live up to the trust that you placed in me.

It was especially important to me that we worked to keep our promises both personally and as a party.  Prior to the election the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made pledges to Cornwall and I was keen to ensure that these became reality.

Therefore I am delighted that both David Cameron and George Osborne have come to this constituency in the first weeks of this Government to demonstrate our commitment to deliver on our promises.

Some of the things I have worked on in the past 100 days include:

·       Worked with George Osborne to secure £1.5m to develop the plan for a new road from St Austell to the A30 by-passing Bugle and Roche

·       Hosted a meeting with the Prime Minister to launch the new Tourism Strategy

·       Worked with the PM, Government Ministers and Cornish MPs to secure the ‘Deal for Cornwall’

·       Held meeting with ministers to address local concerns regarding wind turbines and solar farms and work to develop geo-thermal energy

·       Raised questions in the House of Commons to address concerns regarding the school holiday rules and the impact on tourism – and have now secured a meeting with the Treasury

·       Raised the concerns of local people with the Government regarding aggressive seagulls

·       Held eight Advice Surgeries and handled hundreds of pieces of casework

·       Visited 5 schools and welcomed 3 local schools to visit Parliament

·       Visited numerous local businesses and met with business leaders in Newquay and St Austell

·       Held meetings with the local NHS providers to raise local concerns and work to improve services

·       Met with local farmers and the NFU in Westminster to understand the challenges they face and provide support

·       Met with local Parish Councils to understand their concerns and raised the issue of public toilet closures with the Prime Minister and sought his support to change the rules of businesses rates

·       Met with fellow West Country MPs to lobby for better funding for our local services

·       Elected Chair of Protect Our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group and chaired the first meeting.

I have also recruited my team of excellent staff to work with me in serving the people of mid-Cornwall.

I am under no illusion that there is a great deal more to be done. This area has be overlooked for too long and I am determined to do all I can to make sure we deliver positive change and economic growth.

The first 100 days of this Parliament have seen the first Conservative Government in 18 years move forward confidently with the new brand of modern, One Nation, compassionate conservatism.  Six Conservative MPs who operate at the heart of this new Government now represent Cornwall.  We have made great strides in the first 100 days, but this is only the beginning; there is much more to do in the next five years.  

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Newspaper column 12 August 2015 - Dairy farmers

The issue of falling milk prices and the impact this is having on our farmers has been in the media this week.

Whilst it is natural for us all to want to pay the lowest possible price for our food, it is important that we remember that often it is our farmers who bear the brunt of cutting the prices we all pay.

In the run up to the election I stated that I would actively support our local farming community. I have begun to do this by meeting with farmers and their representatives such as the National Farmers Union, both locally and in Westminster.  

On Monday this week I met with group of local dairy farmers and I was able to learn first hand the impact that these price reductions have on our local economy. 

They shared with me how tough it has been as the price of milk has dropped by 25% in the last year.  The price they are now being paid is below the cost of producing the milk. It is important to remember that all farmers are small businesses. No business can sustain receiving less than it costs to supply a product for very long.

The price reductions come against the background of the perception that dairy produce is unhealthy, a perception that has led to falling demand thereby increasing pressure on the industry.  The farmers also spoke of the challenges they face from imported dairy products, especially yogurt and cheese. 

Added to the issue of falling milk prices is the ever-present fear of bovine TB.  The cost financially and emotionally of living with the stress of continued testing and regularly seeing cattle destroyed as a result of TB adds to the challenges dairy farmers face.

Farming remains one of the cornerstones of the Cornish economy, we have a proud farming tradition and as a county we continue to contribute significantly to national food production.  As a nation we currently produce less than 70% of the food we need.

We cannot afford to continue to lose farmers and it is essential that we have a significant successful and sustainable farming sector. The Government is playing its part in reducing red tape and seeking to open up overseas markets for export.

But we can all do our part to support our local farmers by consciously trying to buy local.   Local produce is not always more expensive than supermarket alternatives, and is often of a much better quality.  It may not be always practical or possible to buy local, but where we can we should try to support our local producers and retailers.

As consumers it is difficult for us to always be certain of the origin of the goods we are buying.   Look out for the Red Tractor logo – Red Tractor is the largest food scheme in the UK, which covers all aspects of the food’s lifespan. The Red Tractor logo indicates that food is safe to eat, and has been produced responsibly - from farm to fork.

Whilst I am confident of a positive future for our dairy farmers in the long term, we need to do all we can to support them during this current crisis. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Newspaper column - St Austell edition, 5 August 2015 - improving healthcare in St Austell

I was delighted to attend the opening of the Carlyon Road Health Hub in St Austell last week.  The re-opening of the old Polkyth Surgery under a new banner, with a new function, represents a key step forward for healthcare in St Austell.

Since the financial failure of the Polkyth practice, residents have been all too aware of the impact of reduced facilities in St Austell.  Many of you have contacted me asking me to help with these issues.

GPs and staff at the Hub are to be congratulated on the speed that they have re-opened the facility.  This is a testament to their hard work and dedication.   The surgery has undergone a face-lift and now boasts state of the art medical equipment.  We should be proud that St Austell has seen an innovative solution rise from the remnants of one of the biggest GP practice failures in the country.

The Hub forms part of the St Austell Healthcare Consortium, which was set up during the course of 2014 following the merger of four existing practices into one.  Bringing the number of sites to five, the Hub is designed to deal with acute care – patients needing same-day care.  This supports the other four surgeries in the consortium, which provide the more traditional appointment based GP service.   These four practices should also see a lessening in appointment pressure.

The five sites offer an exciting opportunity for GPs to specialize in areas of interest and I look forward to healthcare in the area improving in the coming months and years.

The consortium operates under one system and telephone number and as with any new process there have been teething problems.  The team has assured me that sufficient GPs have been recruited and that the consortium will be locum-free by September.  The innovative nature of the solution has meant that the consortium has been able to recruit high-quality young doctors and this bodes well for the future as well.

The opening of the Hub represents a step forward, but it is not the end of the journey.  As more and more new houses are built we run the risk that pressure on GPs builds again. There will always be a challenge in trying to keep ahead of the curve in this area and this is a concern local residents often raise with me.

I recently met with Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, who oversee the provision of primary health provision in Cornwall, including GP services. I made the case for another GP surgery in St Austell in light of the growing demand. I will continue to press for more GPs in the area and work with local health service providers to do all I can to ensure we keep pace with demand.

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and seek to make a real difference to the lives of everyone who needs help and support in any way.
If there is any issue that we can help you with then please contact us on either 07555069714 or on

Newspaper column - Newquay papers 5 August 2915 - New jobs for Newquay area

I was delighted to attend the official opening of the King’s Service Centre at the Quintdown Business Park, Quintrell Downs on Friday last week.  The Service Centre specialises in IT support for staff and students of King’s College, London.  As an IT support centre the company has been able to bring 25 new IT jobs to Cornwall, the type of jobs we desperately need.

King’s College, London, is one of the top 20 universities in the world and among the oldest in England. King's has nearly 26,000 students from some 140 countries worldwide, and more than 7,000 staff.

Quintdown Business Park was selected as the preferred location for the Centre after a competitive tender process that pitched Newquay against other areas in the South-West.

The Service Centre has been made possible by a number of factors; European funding, specifically the ERDF investment in Quintrell Downs business park; and the regional improvements made to Cornwall’s IT and transport infrastructure.  The investment in superfast broadband and the proximity to Newquay airport were also both cited as key factors that led to the successful bid.

The 25 new jobs are only the beginning, the Centre hopes to grow the total staff to 100 within the next year.   The Centre will also be taking on apprentices.   The overall size of King’s College will give any new staff member access to a variety of career paths. 

Gareth Wright, Director of IT Services, King’s College was recently quoted as saying;

“We aim to be an employer of choice in the region, offering vocational training and development for local staff, to complement the world class academic education and research the university already provides.”

I wish the Centre success in the future, the atmosphere on Friday was one of hope and optimism and I look forward to watching this business develop.

This is exactly the type of business and jobs that we want to attract to mid-Cornwall.  It is also heartening that the investment we have made in our infrastructure to date is reaping rewards.  We need jobs like those offered by King’s Service Centre so that our young people can build rewarding and challenging careers here in Cornwall.

King’s College is leading the way; other universities are watching this project with interest.  The factors that drew King’s to Cornwall are still in place; the superfast broadband connection, the airport that brings the major cities of the UK within a journey time, and the existence of a stable, skilled workforce. 

These new jobs are a good first step, but there is much more to do.  I will continue to press for investment in infrastructure across mid-Cornwall so that we can build on these qualities and attract more of the same kind of businesses and jobs. 

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and seek to make a real difference to the lives of everyone who needs help and support in any way.

If there is any issue that we can help you with then please contact us on either 07555069714 or on