Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Panama Papers

I welcome the fact that HMRC is already carrying out an intensive investigation of offshore companies, including in Panama, and has asked the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to share the leaked data. They will act on it swiftly and appropriately. In addition to this I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement that a new taskforce will be established to deal with the so-called Panama Papers.

The Prime Minister has committed to provide resources to ensure that the files are fully investigated, once shared with HMRC, including initial new funding of up to £10 million to support the taskforce’s work. I agree that there is more that can be done to tackle tax avoidance, evasion and other exploitations of the tax system. I am glad the Chancellor is working with other major countries to speed up progress towards sharing beneficial ownership information, so that enforcement agencies can share information on who really owns companies. This would allow for more effective investigation of financial wrongdoing.

The UK will publish its own register of company beneficial ownership from June 2016, making it clear who the real owners of companies are, the first major country to have such a list in place; the information it contains will be free for anyone to access.

Newspaper column St Austell editions - 27 April 2016 - Mountisde planning application

Last week I attended and spoke at the public meeting, organised by Cornwall Council’s Strategic Planning Committee in Par regarding the planning application by Wainhomes for a large number of houses at Mountside. 

As a Member of Parliament I have no formal role in Cornwall Council’s decision-making process when it comes to planning applications. However, with major applications like this, that would have a large impact on their surrounding communities, I can and do make representations to the council to ensure the voice of the people is heard loud and clear.

I am a proud St Blazey boy who was born and grew up in this area and have vivid memories from a young age of the flooding that occurs at Brooks Corner. Sadly this flooding continues to this day. I am continuing to work with the Environment Agency and South West Water to find a permanent solution. In the mean time I believe that any further large scale building of houses in the area without the corresponding necessary infrastructure upgrades is completely inappropriate and should not take place.

My view on housing is that we do need more in Cornwall, but that any built should be appropriately located and have suitable infrastructure and jobs available for the new occupants. Apart from ensuring that the relevant authorities are aware of the public’s view regarding planning applications like this, I also spend a good deal of time working behind the scenes to ensure our constituency receives its fair share of funding for the infrastructure that we need in order to make developments viable. I also promote the creation of good quality well paid jobs for the people who will move into them.

One example of this last week was when I met with the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, to personally present the need for more GP services in the constituency. I meet regularly with healthcare professionals across Mid-Cornwall and am very aware of the need for this, particularly in St Austell. Meetings like this are very important as they allow me to raise these concerns and make the case for these service improvements at the very highest level.

I was also pleased to see the latest unemployment figures released last week which show a month on month and year on year fall for the constituency. There are now 1080 less people claiming JSA in St Austell and Newquay than in 2010, a drop of more than 54%. While the continued drop in unemployment is good news, what we need for our constituency is employment opportunities that will increase local wages and provide career opportunities for our young people. I regularly meet with local businesses to understand exactly what they need and ensure that their voices are also heard and acted upon in Westminster.

As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Newspaper column - Newquay editions - 27 April 2016 - Aviation ambitions

As the UK’s space and aviation ambitions and economy continues to develop, the opportunities available to Newquay continue to be a great source of excitement for me. These are extremely interesting times for the area and I believe the Government is continuing to show its faith in the town’s potential by backing a number of projects.

Cornwall Airport Newquay continues to go from strength-to-strength. The latest news that a year-round air link between Newquay and Leeds Bradford Airport has been secured is just one testament to this. 

From October, Flybe will be operating this service three times a week thanks to the support of the Regional Air Connectivity Fund. This Government fund gives airports, such as Newquay, the ability to introduce early, air routes that are not quite yet commercially viable. This gives airlines time to build passenger numbers and deliver a more sustainable service, therefore hopefully securing them for the future. 

What a great opportunity for residents, students and businesses alike to be able to travel to Yorkshire, a growing northern business hub, within 85 minutes, saving precious hours on a car or rail journey. As a Yorkshireman and a big fan of Cornwall, the Aviation Minister, Robert Goodwill, is on record as saying he is looking forward to making the most of this new service.

I believe the granting of this funding continues to demonstrate the firm backing of the Government and their commitment to Newquay. It is clear that they consider the airport to be hugely important to our local economy. With this backing, we can continue to drive investment both in and around Newquay, the airport and Aerohub, as well as the wider mid-Cornwall economy.

This news follows an agreement last year between the Department for Transport, Flybe and Cornwall Council for a 118 seat jet aircraft to operate between Newquay and Gatwick. Securing support from aviation ministers in Westminster was vital for this and I remain extremely proud to have played a part in it.

Meanwhile, recent figures show the airport carried over 250,000 passengers last year and the forecast for this financial year is 370,000. This is great progress. I have always been a supporter of the airport and will continue to work with its management and Cornwall Council to ensure it continues to strive for more and reach its full potential.

Additionally, the bid for the spaceport continues. I truly believe Newquay is in a very strong position and final criteria depending, is set to be able to put a very strong case forward. I never miss an opportunity to remind ministers in Westminster of Newquay’s merits and to push for progress in narrowing the final six down even further. I am hopeful that we will make progress on this in the very near future. I am very excited by the prospect of a Cornwall Spaceport and truly believe if Newquay wins the bid, mid-Cornwall could be transformed by new jobs and opportunities.

As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

My vote on taking child refugees from Europe

A number of constituents have contacted me regarding last night's vote on taking child refugees from Europe. You can find my reasons for how I voted below. 

Although I understand why this amendment was tabled and why you support it, I decided to vote against it for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it's important to point out that the UK Government has already pledged to take in 3,000 extra child refugees directly from Syria and the region. These will be children who are deemed the most vulnerable and need to be relocated to a safe country.

Our policy of taking refugees needs to be in a managed way. I know some people think the relocation of 20,000 refugees plus an additional 3,000 child refugees by 2020 is not adequate, however, we need to look at this situation taking into account the current landscape of net migration into the UK and what services and homes are available for refugees.

We need to make sure that refugees who come here have a roof over their head, clothes to wear and food to eat. This is easier said than done when we have tens of thousands of people still waiting for a home on their local authority housing lists. Further to this, with 300,000 people net coming into the country, there is extra pressure on housing.

If we were not legally obliged to take part in the EU's freedom of movement and could therefore sensibly manage the number of EU migrants coming into the UK, there would an ability to take more refugees and a lot more freedom for local authorities and their social service departments to help.

The second reason I voted against this amendment is because I do not think a policy of taking in refugees should be incorporated into a Bill that will eventually become an act of law.

Taking in refugees should be a Government policy rather than a law. Turning this policy into a piece of law would be the wrong way to go about addressing the refugee crisis, and could also set a precedent for further acts of law to be amended for the relocation of refugees. Political parties or governments make manifesto commitments or policy targets for immigration numbers, but not laws that set them in stone.

The Government has made it clear from the outset that it will focus on relocating refugees directly from the region. Those who have entered Europe are no longer in a war zone, and UK efforts should be focused on helping people in the region. For those unaccompanied children who are in Europe and who this amendment focuses on, they can be helped by the countries in which they are already situated. EU countries are safe, and relocating them here would mean less children being helped who would come directly from the region.

One of the reasons why we are taking people direct from the camps in the Middle East is down to the pull factor. If we take people from Europe, you will create an incentive for more to take the risk of travelling across the Mediterranean, thus fuelling the people trafficking gangs who make money by taking vulnerable people, at great risk across the sea.  

The UK is the second biggest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid for the crisis in Syria and Europe, having already pledged £2.3 billion. Our contribution is almost as much as the whole of the rest of European Union.

The Government is also donating £14.5 million to provide aid in countries that refugees and migrants are leaving from and travelling through. This includes £3 million to provide aid to migrants and refugees and support to governments in managing registration in the Western Balkans; and £4 million to provide life-saving assistance and protection in Europe, including Greece and Italy.

An additional £30 million for shelter, warm clothes, hot food and medical supplies has also been announced, including for 27,000 children and babies.

The Government is already putting a lot of work and money into helping refugees, and I hope you understand my reasons for not voting for this amendment.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Newspaper Column - St Austell edition 20 April 2016 - SABEF event

Areas of Cornwall such as Falmouth, Camborne, Pool and Redruth, and Truro have received significant investment in recent years and many people feel that St Austell has been left behind.

So I was happy to learn last year that there are over 70 projects in the pipeline in the St Austell area that could help grow our local economy.  The St Austell Bay Economic Forum (SABEF) commissioned an investment report that summarized these projects and was delivered late last year.

In order to spread the word wider, SABEF is leading an exhibit at the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce Business Fair at the Eden Project on 11th May 2016.  There are then plans to move the exhibit to other locations including St Austell town centre to ensure that as many people as possible can see these exciting projects.

SABEF was established to support economic growth and brings together local businesses, community groups and councilors. So, the message for the Business Fair is that St Austell is talking with one voice and is open for business.  This is a far cry from two years ago and I am delighted that we can give this message.

St Blaise Town Council, Par Bay Big Local, Big Lottery Fund, St Austell Town Council, Cornwall Council, The Environment Agency, St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce, St Austell BID, St Austell Brewery and my team are supporting the SABEF exhibit in the run up to the Fair and representatives from these bodies and the major projects will be in attendance on the day.

Obviously each individual project has its supporters and opponents, and needs to stand on its own merits. Many of these projects are well known; the Carlyon Bay development and the West Carclaze Eco-community are two projects that have received a lot of publicity.  Less well known are the heritage projects such as the plans for Luxulyan Valley and the St Austell Market House.  

New to many people will be The St Austell Bay Resilient Regeneration project (STARR), which aims to address the flooding issues in Par and St Blazey in unique and innovative ways.  The geothermal project planned for Eden may also be new to many people.

Many of the projects are in the process of applying for funding from a variety of sources such as the LEP and the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The exhibit will demonstrate to these funding bodies that St Austell is serious about its future.

Both at the exhibit and after, you will have a chance to have your say about "Brand St Austell".  We do not yet give a consistent message to the outside world and some work on the brand could help.

The Business Fair is free to attend, there is free parking and entry to the biomes is also free that day.  Pre-registration is available at Eventbrite and tickets are also available on the day.
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 01726 829379 or on

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Newspaper column - Newquay editions 20 April 2016 - Tolcarne Beach

Not only is Newquay a fantastic place to live and work in, it is also one of the county’s most popular holiday destinations. Rightly so it is often considered the jewel in Cornwall’s tourism crown. Attracting around 100,000 visitors in the summer alone, it is important the town is kept looking at its best and appropriate funds are ploughed into the area to ensure this happens.

So with this in mind, I was saddened to be contacted about the poor state of the area at the top of Tolcarne Beach. Benches, which should give people the perfect opportunity to enjoy the stunning view from Narrowcliff Road, have been left to deteriorate to a point where layers of paint are flaking away, wood is visible and some benches are broken all together. One constituent even found two screws exposed on one of the seats. This is an accident waiting to happen and is simply not good enough.

Furthermore, the paint on the blue railings is peeling away and in some instances, revealing the metal underneath. Weeds are getting out of control, snaking their way up and across the railings.

To this end, I was encouraged to see the community coming together at the weekend to stage a public protest against the state of the area and to raise awareness of the issue. The well attended event gave people the chance to air their views and discuss a way forward.

 While as a Member of Parliament I cannot force Cornwall Council to take action, I can – and will – back residents in their calls to see this area improved. I believe historically Cornwall Council has not served Newquay well and this is evidenced here. The town has some of the highest car parking charges in the county, yet year after year we fail to see fair investment back into the town from these funds.

This is an issue affecting several points across the town, so I am pleased residents are taking the time to stand up and say enough is enough. I am keen to play a part in getting this put right and will make representations where appropriate, having already contacted Cornwall Council about this specific issue, urging them to take immediate action to improve this area in time for the summer season.

As this develops, I will keep you updated through my Facebook page ‘Steve Double MP’ and through this newspaper.

As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Newspaper column 13 April 2016 - Potholes!

One of the issues that is raised most often by you across our constituency, are potholes and the state of our roads. These things are at best a nuisance and at worst a real health and safety risk for road-users across Cornwall.

When I receive a complaint about a pothole or road fault I report it to Cormac, who act on behalf of Cornwall Council to repair highway issues. I have achieved some success with this process across St Austell and Newquay, the most recent being considerable repairs to the A3058 at Summercourt. However, due to the volume of traffic using our roads and the current weather patterns, there are always more appearing and it costs a lot of money to fix them and stay on top of the situation.

I was pleased then, to see the Government at the beginning of April provide funding of £50 million dedicated to fill millions of potholes across the UK. This includes £1,267,000 to fill an estimated 24,000 potholes in Cornwall. It is thought around 8,431,000 potholes will be repaired across the South West – the largest amount given to any region in England.

This significant funding has been made available as part of the Government’s £250 million Pothole Action Fund included in last month’s budget, which will see over four million potholes fixed by 2020/21 and is part of the Government’s plan to invest in infrastructure to secure a better future for our economy. 

This new funding is welcome news for families and businesses in Mid-Cornwall who rely on our roads to get around. I have been campaigning for a long time for greater investment in road repairs and I’m encouraging the council to make full use of their allocation. 

I am glad that the Government is investing both nationally and locally to improve the standard of our roads. It shows that we are delivering on our commitment to invest in infrastructure to attract businesses and secure Britain’s future.

I have previously used the real-time pot hole reporting app available at to report faults direct as this is a quick and easy way to help Cornwall Council deal with them as soon as possible. I would encourage all residents to do the same when they come across such issues.

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 01726 829379 or on 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Newspaper column 6 April 2016 - More funding for our schools

I was delighted with the announcement that several schools across Mid-Cornwall will be receiving investment from the Government’s Condition Improvement Fund for 2016/17.  More than £3 million has been awarded to schools in our constituency for building repair and improvement work. 

This year Newquay Tretherras, Bishop Bronescombe School in St Austell and St Dennis Primary Academy have all made successful bids for the funding, of which £435 million has been released for 1,276 projects at 1,030 academies and sixth-form colleges across the country. These awards follow recent funding that has enabled other local schools such as those at Nanpean and Charlestown to expand.

The core priority of Condition Improvement Funding is keeping academy and sixth-form college buildings safe and in good working order. Most CIF funding aims to address significant issues with school facilities that other funding streams cannot meet. These include issues with poor building condition, building compliance, energy efficiency and health and safety.

The Condition Improvement Fund grants are awarded on a competitive basis so the individual schools are to be congratulated for their successful bids.  I look forward to seeing these improvements come to fruition.

While improvements to buildings are important and necessary, a bigger task lies ahead.  For far too long school children in Cornwall have been on the losing side of an out-dated funding formula.

I was pleased when the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan announced consultation on a National Funding Formula for schools across the country.  As she said herself, the current system is “outdated, inefficient and unfair”, a statement I wholeheartedly agree with. 

Constructing the new funding formula will not be easy and I see it as my job to fight for the issues that impact Cornwall.  Funding needs to reflect need and deprivation and the challenges of rural areas as well as basic cost.  Many assume that the provision of education is cheaper outside London, but of course in rural areas, it is often more expensive not cheaper.

Cornwall has fallen behind other areas and so we not only need equality, but also the chance to catch up with other areas.  I know that many of my Conservative colleagues across the South West have constituencies that find themselves in similar circumstances to St Austell and Newquay.  This is another opportunity for us to work together to influence the Government for the good of our region, and I look forward to working with them to make that happen.

Cornish school children have been short changed for decades.  Children who learn in a safe and well-funded environment learn with confidence, are given the chance to aspire to a better life and will be better placed to succeed in the adult world.  It is time that all our children have this chance and I will continue to work hard to that end.

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 01726 829379 or on