2014 comes to a close in Cornwall
2014 comes to a close in Cornwall and as with previous years, I cannot believe the year has passed so fast! I’m sure we are all far too busy for lengthy pieces or any in depth Politics but I will try to capture simply the key issues in the year, as I see them, and set out a few of my hopes for 2015.
The cuts to local government funding have continued to dominate my work as a Councillor. When I stood for election in 2013, I knew I would not be part of a Council able to throw money around but the harshness of the cuts we are having to impose, is not something I enjoy. Each Councillor, just like everyone in the community, has slightly different priorities for the limited money but the truth is, nothing the Council provides can be the same in 2015 as it was in 2014 or the years before that.
My priorities have been our young people and our Library. I spoke up during the budget debate to try to delay the cuts to our youth services to give local people and voluntary organisations passionate about youth work, time to make plans to fill the gaps. To balance the budget I had to say that something else the Council does would have to suffer a bit, to give just a little protection to our local youth clubs. I chose to say our young people are more important than the conditions of our roads but not enough Councillors agreed and it maybe, as you read this, you agree with them rather than me. I just felt that many Councillors and members of the local community are champions of our elderly and disabled but very few people stand up for our young folk, who are crucial to the future of our area and Cornwall as a whole. The budget was meant to protect the most vulnerable and yet youth clubs work quietly with many trouble youngsters and help them make better choices, at a difficult time in their lives. I hope that you will agree that supporting those running our own Youth club, Nancherrow, is important and if you have not been in there recently, why not discover what it offers and see if there is anyway you can help the team there to secure the clubs future.
I said the Library in St Just was at risk of becoming a building storing books, rather than a resource for local people, if the hours reduced. Despite my best efforts and huge support from the Friends of St Just Library (and our fantastic staff) I could not stop the doors being closed more than they are open. I am determined that 2015 will see an increase and not a further reducing service and am delighted that the Town Council has begun some constructive conversations. Given their achievement for the community with the toilets and car parks, I am optimistic we can do the right thing for St Just and Pendeen. In my personal view, the Friends group are a vital resource and I hope they too will be part of the solution. Listening to the radio 4 during the week, there was a piece about Libraries becoming cafes; I feel that would not be a solution here as we have many businesses offering that and I would not want the Library to put them at risk. Each of our cafes and pubs provide a slightly different character making our town an interesting and eclectic mix.
A major National Campaign has been my petition to try to trigger a debate in Parliament to cancel the Police and Crime Commissioner elections scheduled for 2016. I just think the whole idea was flawed and whilst people elected into the role are trying to make something of it, the sizes of their offices have grown and it is hard for any of them to really provide evidence that things are better with rather than without them. In my view, they have struggled to become valued by the public and as they were set up to give local people a voice, what’s the point? When every day we are hearing of cuts, people are more interested in front line policing and not bureaucratic or democratic ways of managing the police. So if you have not signed but agree Police and Crime Commissioners ought to go, click the link on this website and tell a friend!
As for 2015, well, there is a General Election in May. I would ask anyone thinking of not voting or considering making a protest vote, to think very carefully. At the moment it seems unlikely that either the Conservative party or the Labour party will be able to control alone. That will mean that other parties will be able to influence the next Government so check out exactly what your party of protest stands for! As for young people, and I mean the under 30’s, look and see what party offers you the best deal and vote for them. With so few young people voting, politicians do not have to listen to their voices and, as they are the future of this country, we need them to start shaping what it looks like! Locally, in living memory, this constituency has only had Conservative or Liberal Democrat MPs. Based on the result in 2010 and all that has gone on Politically since, it will be an extremely close race so think very carefully about what influence you want your vote to have locally.
Finally, the Community Land Trust I chair will be celebrating the completion of our first homes for local people, in January. Look out in the local press for time you can come and have a look around the lovely homes at the end of Moorland Close, Pendeen. For 2 bed houses, with gardens, I think they will be good value at £116,500. Contact me if you want to find out how you could buy one.
I have rambled on enough so it is time to wish all my readers, whether supporters or critics, a good Christmas and I hope that together we can make our community stronger and more resilient in 2015! Look forward to seeing you all very soon.