Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Newspaper column 3 January 2018 - Looking ahead to the New Year - my priorities

As we enter 2018, I have been pleased to spend time with my friends and family over the festive period in Mid-Cornwall. Parliament returns next week and I have been thinking about what my priorities are and what I want to accomplish over the next year.

Firstly the two big projects in terms of infrastructure and potential economic expansion are the A30 link road to St Austell and the bid for Cornwall Airport Newquay to become the UK’s first Spaceport.
With the announcement that the Government is committing £79m of funding to the road I will be working with Cornwall Council and others to ensure the commencement of the scheme moves forward, and aim for work to start in 2019.

I am hoping to see a positive announcement regarding the excellent bid put forward by Cornwall Airport Newquay, the Cornwall Local Enterprise Partnership and Cornwall Council for the Spaceport. This has come a long way since my election and is something I have championed at all levels of Government. If successful it will unlock previously unseen levels of investment and new hi-tech jobs for Mid-Cornwall and I hope to see good news on this in 2018.

Meanwhile I have been pleased to continue to work with colleagues in Westminster and Cornwall Council to move forward the St Austell Resilience Regeneration (STARR) project which will help combat long-running flooding issues in the Par and St Blazey area. I recently met with the Minister about this and have been making the strong case for more funding to allow the project to reach its full potential.

We also have several new schools planned for St Austell and Newquay and I look forward to seeing these start construction: once they are in place they will ease the burden on existing schools.
In the light of the success we have had in getting funding for the A30 link road to St Austell I will also be redoubling efforts to attract funding for the much-needed Newquay Strategic Route, which is of such importance with so many new houses being built on the edge of the town.

I also continue to follow the exciting news about the discovery of Lithium, an important metal used in batteries for everything from electric vehicles to mobile devices, in Cornwall and will certainly be working with Cornish Lithium to ensure the potential of lithium in Mid-Cornwall, both for extraction and processing, is fully explored, in order to bring mining in Cornwall back to prominence.

There are other long term issues that need addressing. The lack of affordable housing remains a concern. Announcements to make it easier for our young people to buy their first home were a good step in the recent Budget, but more needs to be done. I will continue to do all I can to ensure the houses that we do get in Mid-Cornwall are appropriately located, with the right infrastructure and jobs to go with them.

Anti-social behaviour is also still an issue that concerns many people in our constituency and I will continue to work with Cornwall Council and our police to ensure all appropriate steps are taken to deal with both the offenders and to work to reduce the number of incidents.

Finally, on a national level, the Brexit process will continue throughout 2018. In my role as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Visitor Economy I will do all I can to ensure the tourism and hospitality sectors, which are so important to us in Mid-Cornwall, get their voice heard and are able to take full advantage of the benefits of our leaving the EU.  I will also continue to be your strong Cornish voice in Westminster and push for Cornwall to get our fair share of funding, with the Shared Prosperity Fund due to replace the EU funding and that our important farming and fishing communities get a good deal and do not lose out in a post-Brexit world.

2017 has certainly been a busy and exciting year, and I look forward to continuing to work for you to make Mid-Cornwall a better place to live, work and grow up in, for 2018 and beyond.