On Thursday 13th February, George Eustice, Member of Parliament for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle was appointed Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
"I am honoured to have been asked by the Prime Minister to join his Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment. I am passionate about environmental and animal welfare issues and have been working on future plans for agriculture and fishing for the last few years. As we leave the EU, we will chart a new course and have an opportunity to do even more for our environment and for rural and coastal communities. I am relishing the challenge ahead.”
The government is investing £4.2 billion in the transport networks of eight city regions across England from 2022-23. Funding will be delivered through five-year, consolidated transport settlements.
It will provide £83 million of funding for local road maintenance in the South East through the Potholes Fund in 2020-21.
Thursday, 27 February 2020
- Building the right homes for Cornwall
A few years ago the government introduced a new "Help to Buy" scheme where government would help to underwrite the deposit in order to ensure normal families who work hard but don't have large incomes or even large savings, could be supported to purchase their first home. The scheme was available on certain new build properties and it has been a success with some good examples across Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.
Building on this success, the Government this week announced further details on the new Help to Buy scheme that will run from 2021 to 2023. The scheme will be targeted and continue to help more people onto the property ladder including regional property price caps based on average first time buyer prices. Such caps will take average first time buyer prices for the region and add a further 50% to ensure there is good availability of the scheme. This is a positive step forward and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to building at least one million new homes over the course of this parliament.
There is no doubt that nationally we have a housing shortage. A combination of population growth and issues like family breakdown means that many families are struggling to find a home that delivers their needs. In Cornwall, the issue is exacerbated in some areas by second homeowners. So, as well as helping first time buyers purchase their first home through schemes like Help to Buy, we do also need to build more homes.
However, the homes that we do build should be built to the highest quality. Every year, I have a number of constituents contact my office citing defects to their newly built home that they have just moved into. No one should expect to purchase a poor-quality home or receive poor customer service, but far too many do. That’s why this week the Government announced that it will be establishing a New Homes Ombudsman to protect the rights of homebuyers, holding developers to account when things go wrong, and including legislation to require all developers of new build homes to belong to this Ombudsman. Not only will this ensure a constant access to redress for all buyers of new build homes, it will also help to drive up standards across the country.
However, for most people in Cornwall, it is the local service that matters most and the key to making things work better is to try to integrate or join up the bus network with the rail network more effectively than we have done in the past. This will allow rail and bus timetables to work in tandem to give people more frequent options to get from one destination to another.
I have long pressed for a regular and routine 30-minute local train service through Cornwall with buses then providing onward connections over shorter rural routes to our villages and this is now starting to come together. By joining up commercial routes of buses and trains with smaller, local, shuttle buses travelling shorter distances, you start to get the makings of something that could really work, and you could build more confidence in the public transport network.
Following the General Election result, there are now however some really interesting and important things happening in line with the Government’s commitment to levelling up our towns and ensuring that regions like Cornwall outside of London receive improved connectivity. Earlier in the autumn, I wrote about the plans to introduce Britain’s first Superbus network here in Cornwall. The network was part of the government’s plans to reverse the impacts of dwindling services in local towns and drive forward a bus revolution that will improve access for everyone.
The pioneering investment would direct investment towards more frequent public transport in the countryside, introducing new apps that will improve the information available to commuters whilst also ensuring that the bus fleets will be cleaner, greener and more environmentally friendly.
Earlier this week the Government further committed to improving bus and cycle links announcing a significant £5 billion package of funding to drive forward the reforms needed. The new funding, delivered over the next five years, will see the introduction of more regular and faster bus services while providing cycle routes with a major boost - funding more than 250 miles of new cycleways and introducing at least 4,000 new Zero Emission Buses.
Creating an integrated public transport system for Cornwall is an important step forward in ensuring that our local communities are supported. Investments like those announced this week and earlier in the autumn will help to improve the affordability of transport for local people, improving our regional links and ensuring that we have a more environmentally friendly transport service.
THE ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
WHAT IS AFFORDABLE - The Conservative Party's idea of affordable is not in keeping with the real meaning, it is more a spin to make it appear as if they are working for genuine sustainability. Flatpacks made of timber cost a fraction of the price of a brick built unit, lock up carbon and reduce energy bills. When Margaret Thatcher allowed councils to sell off their housing stocks as a quick-fix to boosting their income, she failed to make sure that they built new social housing.
In fact Wealden have not built any number of genuinely affordable homes, and increasingly encroach on neighbouring council's infrastructure without settling up. We would like to know where all the money collected on the basis of a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is going? Is it another slush fund that is being used to promote the interests of the upper echelon of executives looking to retire with enhanced benefits?
The Government is investing a further £9.5 billion in the Affordable Homes Programme which in total will allocate £12.2 billion of grant funding from 2021-22 to support the creation of affordable homes across England.
In the UK thousands of houses have been built after the floodgates were opened to unsustainable development in the countryside, meaning that fat-cat landlords gained more of a foothold, not less - so promoting financial slavery. The idea was to blackmail developers into building 30% of the new stock as affordable. It never happened because there were no too many loopholes for kleptocratic councils to make a fast buck - never mind the climate emergency they were helping to fuel in building expensive houses devoid of solar panels, water heaters and charging points, etc.
The Nolan Report was supposed to change council practices to outlaw cozy positions of trust being abused. That did not work. Greg Clark made an effort to secure land for affordable housing with the 2012 National Planning Policy Document. But that did not work either. The fact is that young families cannot get on the housing ladder at genuinely affordable prices because land is not being compulsorily purchased, or otherwise earmarked for affordable housing (only). The definition of affordable is that an ordinary working man might purchase such a unit on his wage.
As an example of councils behaving badly, Wealden have proven themselves to be one of the most corrupt councils over many years, leading to a Petition in 1997, where the police did not investigate the misuse of authority. The situation remains largely unchanged, where some of the old staff are still in residence, clearly passing on their bad habits, infecting newcomers. Lord Nolan QC was wasting his time suggesting routine flushing of the system, though Boris Johnson has seen the light in suggesting examinations of competence, where clearly many civil servants in positions of trust, have strayed from what they should be doing in the interests of what is good for them.
Tom Slingsby, chief executive of property developer Southern Grove, says: “Only sufficient provision of affordable homes in the right areas can prevent the sort of social inconsistencies that appear when high property prices put key areas of UK cities off limits to younger workers and their families. We know from conversations we have constantly with housing associations that the appetite is there to keep building through economic cycles and this fund will ensure that will happen.”
The Conservative Cabinet says that there will be almost £1.1 billion allocated from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to build nearly 70,000 new homes in high demand areas across the UK.
A new £400 million Brownfield Housing Fund aims to create more homes on brown-field land in areas such as the West Midlands.
13 Commercial Street
Camborne, TR14 8JZ
London, SW1A 0AA
We are particularly concerned with climate change, transport and affordable housing as issues that need urgent attention. Where the coastline is a feature of the United Kingdom, Blue Growth is a food security issue, especially where this side of of our local economy is under-exploited and at the same time under threat. There is no Planet B.
CABINET MPS -MARCH 2020
CONSERVATIVE MPS 2017-2020
The United Kingdom has many political parties, some of which are represented in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Below are links to the websites of the political parties that were represented in the House of Commons after the 2015 General Election:
DEMOCRAT UNIONIST PARTY
SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC AND LABOUR PARTY
UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY
ULSTER UNIONIST PARTY
SIX (SUGGESTED) STEPS TOWARD A COOLER PLANET
1. TRANSPORT: Phase out polluting vehicles. Governments aim to end the sale of new petrol, and diesel vehicles by 2040 but have no infrastructure plan to support such ambition. Marine transport can be carbon neutral. Zero carbon shipping is gaining ground with offshore solar boat racers reaching 35knots (Delft University @ Monaco 2019). The first solar powered circumnavigation record was set in 2012 by PlanetSolar. That record could be halved by another contender on the drawing board.
2. RENEWABLES: Renewable energy should replace carbon-based fuels (coal, oil and gas) in our electricity, heating and transport. We are well on the way to that with solar and wind power now price competitive to fossil fuels.
3. HOUSING: On site micro or macro generation is the best option, starting with new build homes that are affordable and built of wood for improved insulation and carbon lock. New units might not need planning consents if energy self-sufficient, or very nearly so. Planning consents should be struck for genuinely affordable/sustainable housing and self builds where cost is below £50,000. See letter to Nus Ghani July 2019.
4. AGRICULTURE: We need trees to absorb carbon emissions from a growing population, flying, and to build new homes. Reducing food waste and promoting less energy intensive eating habits such as no meat Mondays.
5. INDUSTRY: Factories should be aiming for solar heating and onsite renewable energy generation. This could be done simply by making it a 106 type (mitigation) condition of new builds that they include solar heating and photovoltaic panels. Too many units were built in the last 3 years without climate friendly features, such as EV charging points.
6. POLITICS: - National governing bodies need to adopt rules to eliminate administrative wastages, restrain local authority empire building, scale down spending on war machines, educate the public and support sustainable social policies that mesh with other cultures transparently. Ban kleptocratic policies. Open your doors to transparency and a new era of honest politics. Local authorities are famous for finding the loopholes to keep on doing favours for mates. Simply close those loopholes with binding statute. Any gray areas should be made black and white in writing. Even then councils will break the law, so introduce a task force to prosecute offending local authorities..
LINKS & REFERENCE
CLIMATE CHANGE COP HISTORY
DESERTIFICATION COP HISTORY
BIODIVERSITY COP HISTORY
UN CLIMATE ACTION PORTFOLIOS