Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Being based St Austell way I am only too aware of the plans to build an eco-town in and around the town - except this isn't an eco-town is it? It's a spread out series of developments which appear to just be a licence to print money for wealthy developers.

Don't get me wrong, if this was really a step towards creating a sustainable, environmentally friendly development which would provide homes and jobs for those that need them I would be all for it. But it isn't. There will be some affordable housing, although you can almost guarantee that less than 40% will be affordable and even then it is "affordable" in the sense that anyone on an average salary in Cornwall would never have a hope in hell of buying one.

Again there will be housing which will be environmentally friendly, but will it really be at the forefront of the techniques and technology available? The homes at the top of the range might be but I bet not all of them are.

Then there is the issue of funding - we have already seen that govt funding provided to launch some initial projects has not exactly gone to the areas where these developments will be - in fact most of it has been ploughed into St Austell town centre. Yes, it needs all the help it can get, despite having a shiny new £75m shopping centre, but surely that money would be better spent, or saved, to provide the infrastructure which will be needed to support the new development? A community cafe in the town run by Eden might be great, but who will really benefit from that? Some of the shops in the town maybe, but it will really be just another chance for Eden to do a bit of self-promotion.

We also have to look at the credentials of Orascom, the Egyptian firm which is working on this with Eden, Imerys and Cornwall Council (although it's still unclear how much influence CC will have in all this). Take a look at their website and they specialise in luxury developments mainly in the Middle East. One of the sites for the eco-town is at Nanpean, need I say anymore? From the comments I've seen so far from Orascom it would appear that it is a marina at Par that most interests them...

There have been comments from St Austell members of Cornwall Council who say they haven't been consulted on the initial projects - that looks set to change, but it makes you wonder who decided what the initial projects would be. Was it officers? Was it Orascom? Imerys? Eden? Whoever it was, it doesn't seem the best way of allocating public money.

Ignoring the opposition....

Like many I am still undecided about where my little cross will go on the ballot paper come May 6 (or whenever the general election might be) but one thing that is sure to turn me off a candidate is anything which suggests a candidate might be completely arrogant. This election it would appear that certain candidates are actually proud of what I would consider to be a hindrance.

I have mentioned here before that I am fed up of the blustering statements which have been spouted by candidates. But looking at those leaflets which have piled through my door from the Conservatives and the Lib Dems there is one thing in common - they both seem to think that this is a two horse race and they are the only runners.

Now, let's consider this for a moment, living in the St Austell & Newquay constituency, I'm fairly sure that if I suggested to Stephen "call me Steve" Gilbert that the race for No 10 was a two horse race between Cameron and Brown he would presumably protest that his leader Nick Clegg is also in the running.

Would seem that it is one rule nationally and another locally with his literature proudly claiming that this is a straight battle between himself and his Tory rival Caroline Righton (and she does the same vise versa). Apparently the others, Mebyon Kernow, Labour, UKIP and Green included, are out of the running.

Now, from my amateur perspective I consider that the St Austell & Newquay seat will be a close run thing, however I see it as a three-way battle. Yes there are a lot of loyal Lib Dem supporters who will be voting for Steve and yes there are a lot of Conservative voters out there keen to see Caroline elected. But I can also see that there are a lot of people who know Dick Cole very well, have seen how he has worked well as a councillor both at Restormel and County Hall and will be giving their vote to MK. Then there are those who are unsure where to go - with the MPs expenses scandal still fresh in the mind it is unlikely that they are going to choose one of the big three. So why not MK? They're local, they have a respected candidate and they have not go their snouts in the trough. I think that is probably the more viable option than going for the one issue party that is UKIP. Or for that matter the Green Party or (shudder) the BNP.

I would suggest that the Lib Dems and Tories write MK (and others) off at their peril. I am still as yet undecided - but there is nothing like a Lib Dem or a Tory leaflet to push me in one direction....

Saturday, 13 March 2010

nothing changes...

So last time I wrote I was lamenting the fact that we have heard precious little about what actual policies our PPCs are putting forward. Yet it seems they are all still reluctant to do that as the subject has turned now to the matter of election funding. Yes, it's a scandal that Lord Ashcroft has been bankrolling the Tories to the tune of millions and yes I'm sure some of that money has found its way into Cornwall to help the candidates here if not directly but through all those lovely glossy leaflets which show no sign of stopping or the giant billboards which have sprung up around Cornwall featuring "ordinary" people saying they have never voted Tory but why they will now.

However to the average man on the street I'm not entirely sure that this is a key issue - they simply don't care. Speak to most people and while they will agree that it's not right they are also not so daft that a few glossy leaflets are going to dictate how they vote. In fact because of the MPs' expenses scandal of last year most people have heard about Ashcroft and just shrugged their shoulders - it doesn't surprise them that such practices exist. This is particularly the case in Cornwall where many see Westminster as a far away land which has little or nothing to do with them.

If anything it has just shown how out of touch with the general public the main political parties are - rather than stamping their feet and shouting about how unfair it is they would be better off telling us how they would stop it and then tell us something, just something, about what they will do to help Cornwall.

As I said before there is a black hole in the information being put forward by most of the candidates, hopefully once the election is declared we might see something tangible but for now the silence is deafening.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Can you say that more clearly please?

So, the election campaign is full swing - well it is here in Cornwall if the amount of leaflets that are dropping through my letterbox on a daily basis are any indication. They range from the glossy affairs which appear from the Tories all with Dave grinning out in that weird, slightly creepy fashion that he adopts to the faux newspapers which appear from the Lib Dems and look more like a school newspaper project.

However, while they might come in slightly different forms there is something which does unite them - none of them actually tell me in any kind of substance what the candidates are going to do for the constituency that I live in or Cornwall as a whole.

Living in the St Austell and Newquay constituency I have had countless leaflets from Caroline Righton and Stephen Gilbert - and all they seem to want to tell me is how they were born in the county (Stephen) or that they wish they had been born in the county and love it so much (Caroline). Oh and they also both seem keen to tell me that I need to vote for one of them as voting for anyone else would be a waste of time....

And, of course, each leaflet has to have at least 20 pictures of the candidates themselves, in Caroline's case either with Dave or with one of the Tory shadow ministers of whom there appear to be a small army, even shadowing ministers who don't exist...

Admittedly I haven't seen any leaflets from any other parties yet, but I sincerely hope that when they do start to send me any literature they remember to include something in them which resembles some kind of policy should they be elected.

I realise that politics in this country appears to be turning evermore into a popularity contest with elections in the future more likely to resemble an episode of Britain's Got Talent - but for some of us there is no surer way of ensuring our support than actually telling us what you plan to do.

The only issue either the Tories or Lib Dems appear to actually talk about is the incinerator but even then they don't appear to have any practical alternative to offer and just seem to be bleating on about it because they realise that opposing it here is one way of guaranteeing at least some votes.

It's a massive black hole out there at the moment - the lack of detail and information is astonishing.

Another blog?

I know, I know - "not another blog looking at Cornish politics?!" I hear you cry. Well, hopefully this one can be a little bit different. There are a few out there already, but none of them really speak to me or the many others out there like me. They are either penned by councillors or parliamentary candidates who wear their party colours prominently on their sleeves or they are written by random people who claim they are independent but can also be seen to be clearly setting out their stall for which side of the fence they are standing on.

Then there are the rabid folk who inhabit the many message boards and forums of the internet crowing on endlessly about the merits of an independent Cornwall based on medieval law and arguing themselves into ever decreasing circles until they begin to resemble a hyperactive puppy who has just discovered his tail.

So what will I be blogging about - everything and anything that catches my eye here in Cornwall, but mainly the goings on at Cornwall Council as well as anything involving our MPs, MEPs or the aforementioned Parliamentary candidates.

Feel free to comment on any of my posts - whether you agree or disagree I am open to all opinions.

I am not a member of any political party - heck I haven't even decided which way I will vote in the forthcoming General Election - although I'm reasonably sure who I won't be voting for.

Yes I'm writing anonymously, but does it really matter? I want to write form the perspective of the man on the street in Cornwall - the ones who are paying their taxes and asking what they are getting from them, the ones who are filling their ever expanding recycling bags with leaflets from parties of all colours and the ones who shake their heads in disappointment.

Let me know what you think.