Let me start by wishing all those that read my posts a Happy New Year! Some will be thinking of New Years resolutions to make and some of the challenges might influence your thoughts. Others that have had struggles in 2018 will just be hoping that 2019 deals them a better hand. Whatever is preoccupying you at the moment, I hope that you have had a chance to relax with family and friends so that you can take on whatever 2019 has in store for you.
I’m now going to set out what I think the challenges are going to be for 2019. Some will be global, others very local.
I will be very honest here and say I have reached that ‘Bored of Brexit’ (BOB) stage! I tend to think that whatever happens over the next few weeks and months, communities, friends and families will remain divided over what should have happened and what the end game is. Speaking as BOB – the end game, even if it is the last thing I wanted at the start – at least we will know where we’re going …. maybe!
CLIMATE CHANGE EMERGENCY
Probably almost as controversial as Brexit, in my opinion more important, and until very recently getting very little attention of the media. I am very much a follower of evidence and believe scientists, with no Political axes to grind, are telling us we have 12 years to at least slow and start turning the climate change juggernaut around.
We can play the game of who is going to blink first and not act until …….. We can expect someone else to solve the crisis or we can all do what we can when we can! So, on a small personal scale, as a meat eater I can give up meat for at least a day a week, I can work with others to increase the number of trees in Cornwall and I can lobby to ensure that the most vulnerable and poor (probably least polluting) do not suffer the consequences most.
As a Politician, I do accept that I have responsibility to give some leadership and plan to bring a motion to Full Council on 22 January* but I already know that I will make as many enemies as friends by doing so! I do want us to reduce our net carbon emissions in Cornwall but that does not mean that I will lobby to close Newquay Airport or want to ban petrol and diesel vehicles from our roads. I do aim to constantly listen and learn on this topic, throughout 2019 and beyond and will strive to do as much as I can as regularly as possible to reduce mine and the Council’s carbon footprints.
*Later updated – seems I made enemies of ‘friends’/ Political colleagues, faster than I thought so I had to withdraw my motion calling for a Climate Change Emergency but another motion, from Liberal Democrats has been submitted in it’s place. Seems I took on an issue others are not quite ready for but hopefully a debate on 22nd January will move most to an understanding that to do nothing leaves the most vulnerable to be the most at risk from global warming.
I will write a blog devoted to Climate Change and publish it on 22 January (or very soon after).
This is the invisible Public Health issue that hardly anyone discusses but should do. It is estimated that there are 40,000 premature deaths a year due to poor air quality. In Cornwall the figure is put at over 200 a year.
The major cause is older diesel engines but pollutants from household chimneys and from industrial processes are a factor.
Cornwall has 9 Air Quality Management areas and I hope that 2019 will not see me having to announce the tenth!
If this is a subject that you have not come across or you thought it was ‘just an environmental issue’ and you want to read more, follow the link: Health Matters and Air Quality
Although the recent count of the numbers of street homeless in Cornwall showed a continuing reducing trend, even one person having to sleep on the streets is one too many. Some in Penzance have been campaigning to rid their streets of homeless people and drug users and whilst there are problems there, proportionately it is not significantly worse than any other town. There are excellent staff and volunteers that do their best to support and care for those troubled street folk, many of whom have complex needs and poor experiences so find it hard to trust those wanting to help.
Continuing austerity and benefit changes are likely to bring this issue into further crisis in 2019.
Cornwall Council will award the 2020 waste contract in 2019. Work will then start in earnest to get residents ready for the new scheme, expected to be weekly collections of recycling and food waste and fortnightly collections of other rubbish. A 180 litre wheeled bin is being proposed for the residual waste but recycling will be collected largely as it is today with the addition of a food caddy. The challenge and potential barrier to this is cost as early figures suggest the annual cost might be beyond the money allocated so some tough negotiations are going to be necessary and we may have to compromise on our ideal domestic waste collection specification.
ST JUST LIBRARY
Matters will conclude on the future of St Just library early in 2019. Either the current discussions with the Town Council will deliver a devolved library service, run by the Town Council, or a much scaled down service in community buildings or pubs will be provided. I will continue to work for the best deal achievable for St Just as I know how important it is to many in our community.
ST JUST SKATE PARK AND RECREATION GROUND
Subject to grants being obtained, I hope that 2019 will see a new and improved skate park for our young (and even not so young) users. There are also conversations around other improvements as some of the other play equipment is getting a little old and dated.
The next challenge, once the facilities are improved, might be looking to move responsibility for the Recreation Ground from Cornwall Council to the Town Council or the community. I suspect this might come up in 2019!
PENDEEN COMMUNITY CEMETERY
My fear for 2019 is that, with no more burial spaces in Pendeen, someone with a strong wish for a local burial will die before the community cemetery can be established. I am hopeful permissions can be in place by the end of 2019 but more money will be needed to establish a community interest company with the capacity and funds to set it up and run it. Longer term, I’m sure it will be self-financing but set up costs are the challenge.
Happy to meet and discuss any of the topics raised!