This week has been busy.
The Devon and Cornwall Local Resilience Forum has finally set up a ‘test, track and trace cell’. We haven’t had our Health and Social Care Scrutiny formal meetings but have still been asking questions and have been briefed by the various different ‘cells’ who are running Cornwall’s Covid response and I was relieved that our local Public Health team look to be taking the initiative here. Labour have been pushing for local authority Public Health teams to be involved in testing, tracking and tracing rather than leaving it to Serco! At last Regional Public Health has been asked to get involved, but it still seems painfully slow and it will be amazing if the whole system is up and running by 1 June as Boris Johnson rashly promised under questioning at PMQs.
Testing in care homes is also beginning to happen. Tests are being couriered to and from homes and results times are speeding up now. There is still a way to go to have everyone in care homes and working there tested by early June.
It still knocks me sideways that people were discharged from hospitals to care homes in early April with their Covid status unknown due to the government guidelines.
Cornwall Council’s Policy on schools restarting for Yrs R, 1 & 6 has been to offer help to schools but not give them any firm guidance. Labour’s policy is that schools should not open until it is safe to do so and we have made that clear locally and nationally. It was lovely to get a letter from the shadow education secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Labour Local Goverment lead, Nick Forbes, supporting councillors in this last night.
The council has started the business grant scheme mark 2. If you know of someone with a local business who is suffering due to Covid and may need to apply through the scheme, please direct them here - https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/smallbusinessgrant
I have been working with local businesses about waste collection during the crisis which has led to the idea of waste/resource collectives as part of the Circular Falmouth initiative. We are also looking to open up the town centre during recovery to people and businesses and use public space and highways for people to safely social distance. This will also hopefully happen in 4 other Cornish towns.
Labour Councillor for Falmouth Smithick
Centrally run, temporary, mobile testing sites are being established for keyworkers at Bude and Penzance this week. Careworkers and care home residents should be able to access testing by delivery or at a mobile site. They should all be tested by early June. Please let me know if you have information that suggests this is not happening. We are not hearing good reports about the speed of getting results.
Tracking and tracing is going to be organised by central government too, although some help has been requested from regional Public Health. Labour have suggested that local authority Public Health staff, with all their local knowledge and expertise, should work on this. Cornwall’s Director for Public Health has offered Cornish staff to carry out tracing here. We were told by our Public Health Director at Cornwall Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on 11 March that although we then had 5 cases of Covid19 in Cornwall, wecould not use our own resources to make sure the people who may have been infected were warned and told to isolate. Now we hear that the contract for the 18,000 staff to work on tracking and tracing across the whole of the UK is to be given to one company. The tracers will receive one day’s training. That company is Serco. Memories of their out of hours doctors’ service in Cornwall do not inspire great confidence in their ability to keep us safe from coronavirus.
To date, Cornwall Council has had to spend £1.6 million on PPE for Cornish workers due to supply failures in the central system and a lack of stored PPE and have distributed it free of charge. The supply chain is still not firm, but is stabilising.
The council is waiting for container units to arrive for Penzance and Truro so that more people who are homeless can be accommodated. The government money was paid in one chunk and there will be no more funding. However, the people who are housed now will be hopefully be able to access move on accommodation when this is over. The containers are likely to be permanently bought by CC to provide some extra emergency accommodation.
There is another £14 million of business grants coming for businesses who share workspace or B&Bs or who missed out in the first round. We are waiting for details of eligibility.
Household waste recycling centres open from 19 May on a quite complicated arrangement - https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/recycling-rubbish-and-waste/household-waste-and-recycling-centres/household-waste-and-recycling-centres-covid-19-update/
Labour Cornwall Councillor for Falmouth Smithick
Blog 5th April 2020
I am dedicating this blog to holding the Government to account over its handling of the Coronavirus. It must do better.
My message to this government is straight forward - get on with a testing programme and contact tracing otherwise we are going to lurch from lockdown to lockdown and more people will die as a result.
As a retired health care professional, (nurse and Director of Public Health), I have become ever more worried over the government’s response to the pandemic.
We are not adhering to the World Health Organisation’s advice and we will have catastrophic consequences to following our own path. We must test, test and test.
To begin with we had too slow a response and the heinous herd immunity approach taken at the beginning was genocide for older people and those with health conditions.
I am hugely concerned that we are being told lies and misled daily. To all those who would say this is no time to criticise the government and we must all pull together, I say not at the expense of lives. The government must be made to change tack and held to account. That’s down to each and every one of us. Where the right approach has been taken its right to acknowledge that. I applaud our local MP Steve Double for working hard to try and stop visitors and second homeownerscoming to Cornwall. Unfortunately, we do have a higher number of cases in Cornwall than some other areas of the SW and this may well be to people migrating here before the partial lockdown.
So how are we being misled?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Staff have said they haven’t got PPE either of the right sort, any or not enough, the government assures us they have got PPE. There’s too much evidence to show that staff haven’t got it. Staff are working in incredibly difficult and dangerous situations they must be supplied with the right kit to do their job and not be made to put themselves and others at a higher risk than necessary. The public health system that would have made sure that pandemic supplies of PPE were where it was needed no longer exists. Under the governments 2012 healthcare reforms local public health is no longer part of the NHS. In addition the regional public health bodies were abolished. During the swine flu pandemic a tried and tested distribution system was in place for distribution of PPE. It worked. Distribution system and daily situation reports made sure kit was where it needed to be.
The pandemic supplies were not as complete as they should have been. The costs of visors and eye protection was considered prohibitive and therefore limited to highly specialised areas of the NHS, which was in contradiction to the findings and recommendations of the pandemic flu planning exercises and reports. The costs of PPE should not be a consideration in protecting our brave and much needed NHS and social care staff. The Treasury have not been so penny pinching when it’s come to protecting business.
Knowing that they didn’t have the right kit what did the government do? Not a lot until more recently when they have involved the army in getting supplies where they are needed. Good move but why not earlier? Surely this should have appended as soon as the first reports came in that staff didn’t have the kit they needed? There are schools, colleges and local communities banding together to make sure staff have the PPE they need. If you can sew please get involved. Yes,local people are buying material and making up scrubs andface masks for our wonderful NHS staff – Cornwall Cloth Masks and Cornwall Scrubs. Find them on Facebook.
Staff are being disciplined if they speak out about a lack of PPE. This is totally unacceptable and not to be countenanced. We must know so we can help, that is what we do well and can do together.
There has been a lot of confusion about ventilators. There are not sufficient numbers within the NHS for what we are expected to need. They weren’t ordered in a timely fashion and there is still confusion over who has been asked to make them and who hasn’t. A public appeal went out much later than it should have and now many teams are creating ventilators and other novel forms of aiding lung function and oxygenation. We should have clear information about what has and hasn’t been ordered and the numbers of ventilators we now have on a daily basis. A big thank you to China who sent 300 ventilators to the UK today.
We are not as a country testing enough and are not following the World Health Organisations recommendation to test, test and test. We need to contact trace all contacts of people who are found to be positive and isolate those contacts to contain the spread of the virus, to prevent further outbreaks. We also need to have community testing on a widespread scale to manage the pandemic and understand its pattern and effect. Once we have more knowledge on levels of resistance that develop following recovery from having Covid19, we will be able to determine whether that would enable people to go about their business and lives as normal.
The information on what tests we have and haven’t bought and the missing of targets the government have itself set are woefully inadequate.
Like the NHS the public health system in this country has been reorganised, cut and underfunded. The system has been decimated and the command and control structures that used to exist have been demolished. That is not to say there aren’t exceptional people who still work in public health but their numbers and budgets are mightily reduced.
Financial aid for those most in need.
I can’t write a blog without failing to mention the Government’s economic assistance during the pandemic. The Government must do better for people who are now left with no money. People on zero hours contracts, part time workers and the self-employed. It is good there is a package for people who are self-employed, but it won’t start till June and won’t be available for everyone. Most of the measures theGovernment have introduced have benefited the already wealthy and the economic divide is widening even further. A universal basic income could have a cut-off point and therefore not given to all and certainly not to people who already have sufficient.
I hope by the time of my next blog many of these issues will have been resolved.
The news has just come in that Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital for further tests. I wish him a speedy recovery. As I do everyone who has been affected by the virus.
St Austell & Newquay Labour Party Press Release
Following the announcement that Flybe has gone into receivership, blaming the coronavirus for making a difficult situation worse, the St Austell and Newquay Labour Party calls on the Government to take urgent action to restore the routes and address Cornwall’s poor connectivity by rail, land and air.
The loss of Flybe from the SW and in particular for us from Cornwall airport Newquay is a devastating loss of jobs for local people and for connectivity for Cornwall. The sudden closure of Flybe has caused 2,500 job losses in all, and without warning for staff.
The impact on the local economy, the jobs, workers and their families of the loss of economy from those flights is going to hurt our area, without question.
New providers are likely to be found for the protected Public Service Obligation flight from Newquay to Heathrow/Gatwick by Cornwall Council and the Department of Transport.
But this will not compensate for the loss of other flights which are not protected to Manchester, Leeds and Amsterdam among many other destinations, which provided such a boost to our local communities.
The loss of this airline will be keenly felt by Cornwall in particular as our rail services are slower than many other parts of the country and we are restricted to one rail line out of Cornwall, which itself can be closed due to high tides at Dawlish.
Plymouth airport closed 9 years ago. We are very poorly served already and that has just got a lot worse.
Whilst we should be trying to reduce the amount we fly to lower our carbon impact we are without viable alternatives here in the South West.
For Steve Double to blame the EU laws for failure to save Flybe from administration is beyond bizarre. This is another example of how we live in the era where truth plays no part in reality. The Government has not learnt the lessons of the collapse of Monarch and Thomas Cook. The Government promised to ensure regional investment and connectivity to support us in the post Brexit economy – but have yet again failed to protect our Region from the damage.
Labour will be working with local Unions to see what support we can offer to local people who have lost their jobs at very short notice and who are frightened about the future in such a period of uncertainty.
In Steve Double’s column in last weeks St Austell Voice of the 12th February, he has included information on funding for the NHS. He says ‘by the end of the Parliament the NHS will receive an additional £33.9 billion every year. This amounts to an additional £651 million per week’
This Government is increasing funding for the NHS by 3.1%, it is fantastic to see an increase, but this will not fill the gap left by ten years of underfunding by this Government. It’s not a record breaking increase unless you measure it against previous Conservative years in Government. The historic average yearly increase for the NHS Is 3.7% per year.
The NHS is short of 100,000 staff, care is being rationed, we've got the worst ever performance in A&E, corridor nurses, growing waiting lists, half of all NHS trusts are in debt including the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, and we still have no social care white paper, that incidentally we were told by Johnson was oven ready.
The NHS and social care are in crisis, and things would be even worse if it wasn’t for the amazing NHS staff.
The £33.9 billion Mr Double is quoting is actually a spending increase in real terms of £20.5 billion, but we won’t get that amount until 2023/24. Expert think tanks are clear this will not be enough to address future issues in the NHS.
But to come back to Mr Double’s figures what does that mean year by year rather than giving us a figure five years hence?
The NHS budget is currently £119 billion for 2019/20 rising to £122 billion in 2020/21. So the NHS is getting a £3 billion increase in April 2020. That makes It closer to £57 million a week not quite the £651 million Mr Double is saying we will get per week, and nearly £300 million less than Mr Johnson promised us on his bus.
It’s not good enough to mislead the public over what this government is giving the NHS, by using figures that are not costed for inflation and are five years hence. Do better Mr Double.
Steve Double has surpassed himself and scored a nasty own goal. He was on the cover of St Austell Voice talking about ‘ridding the town of this blight’ talking about people who are homeless in St Austell.
There’s been a rise in the number of people who are homeless in this country in the last ten years and one of the main reasons is universal credit. The current system makes people wait five weeks before they can receive any help and penalises and sanctions them too. Universal credit has forced people into being homeless. It was introduced by the Conservative Party and Mr Double has voted every time for it.
A third of children in St Austell and Newquay are now officially living in poverty. Many are likely to be the homeless people of the future.
It’s not just universal credit and the way it is applied it’s also cuts to drug and alcohol treatment services; it’s cuts to drug prevention programmes; it’s cuts to public health; it’s cuts to schools budgets (over £20 million in Cornwall); it’s underfunding the NHS; it’s cuts to police and probation budgets, a loss of 21,000 police staff, all on the Conservatives watch.
All these cuts have been introduced, voted for and overseen by Mr Double and his party. This is what has caused the rise in the number of people who are in dire straits.
Let’s help people back on their feet when they hit hard times, so they don’t need to be living on the streets. Other countries, towns and cities have done it.
I don’t hold people who are homeless to blame for their plight I blame this Conservative government and Mr Double. Austerity has been a political choice and it’s not over. Meanwhile MPs get a pay rise and huge companies making millions in profits pay little or no tax. These Conservative policies are a blight on us, not people who have fallen on hard times.
I’d also like to see the Voice celebrate the kindness and care a homeless man gave someone who collapsed in St Austell, by printing that news on their front page next week, not this awful unkindness and vilification.
St Austell and Newquay Labour Party
Felicity Owen the Labour Party Candidate for St Austell and Newquay challenges Steve Double to stick to facts in his campaigning and in his campaign literature.
Steve Double, the Conservative candidate, has stated in his campaign literature that the proposed link road for St Austell is only safe in his hands and that people who want the link road must vote for him and that Labour will not take it forward.
Felicity challenged him on this at the BBC Radio hustings saying that Labour would support the link road and that Steve was misleading the voters. Labour would support the link road, to reduce air pollution in St Austell, to take heavy goods traffic away from the town and residential areas, for public transport, to promote safety and because local people want it. During the radio hustings Felicity was curtly told by Steve to look into her party policy on this and that Labour would not support the road and that she was wrong.
Felicity was not given a chance to make a rebuttal at the hustings but has released a video of her with the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner talking about the manifesto and the link road and all three agree it fits with Labour’s policies for the future.
Felicity is demanding a retraction and apology from Steve Double and is very clear she will not be letting him mislead local people. Felicity said “I want a different sort of politics. One that is not about shouting down your opponents but behaving with courtesy and common decency. We may hold very different political views. Steve and I totally disagree on most Conservative policies especially their austerity policies during which the rich have got richer and the poor poorer. The number of children in St Austell and Newquay living in poverty has shamefully increased under this Conservative Government which is an abomination but I see it serves no one’s purpose to be discourteous. I want a future of politics where the public can trust politicians to tell the truth. I’d very much like that in the national media too’.
The Conservative party is failing future generations. Britain is at a crossroads with uncertainty over its political and economic future. As the generation that will have to live with and manage the outcomes of Brexit going forward, young peoples’ voices need to be listened to and acted upon.
Brexit will have an impact on all age groups in our society, but in particular on young people who are currently in education or beginning their journey in the world of employment. This is because they will inherit the post-Brexit world.
Growing up as a young person in today’s society is not easy. The odds are often stacked with the tripling of tuition fees, an unaffordable housing market, lack of proper jobs, the numbers of jobs with zero hours contracts and the rising cost of living.
I am keenly aware of what these challenges are and the solutions that can help to make the post-Brexit Britain a positive place for young people. So one of the main things that I am campaigning for is to give young people a voice on Brexit.
Young people feel their views aren’t being listened to and many of them feel that this government won’t be able to deliver a Brexit that will work for future generations. What I often hear on the doorstep is that my vote won’t count so I am not going to bother. Labour policies offer hope for all and for young people in particular.
One of the key issues for me now is how we dispel this anxiety that many young people have about the post-Brexit period and what this means for their life opportunities.
I believe that the Labour Party is taking the right decisions on Brexit, stopping a No Deal Brexit which would have disastrous consequences for everyone but especially for young people. We must build a society where young people can help to change the political landscape and get involved in a way that will deliver results for them.
Young people have suffered disproportionately under the Conservative and Conservative and Liberal Democratic Coalition governments of the last ten years. With for example a 73% cut in youth services, multi-million pound cuts to schools’ budgets and tripling in the cost of University tuition fees.
A Labour Government will transform the lives of young people, tackle the climate crisis and introduce socialist policies. Labour pledges to make things better for young people under the banner ‘Only Young Once’
Labour has 200 policies that will improve life for the many and put people before privilege. The following policies are just some of those that will make a difference for young people giving them hope for the future.
Votes at 16
Ending zero hours contracts and unpaid trial shifts
A £10 an hour minimum wage for all workers from age 16
A network of youth clubs and services for young people
Rent caps, security for renters and new council homes built
Our radical green industrial revolution to tackle the climate crisis
Restoring schools funding and EMA for students staying on past 16
Developing a national education service
Scrapping Uni tuition fess and reintroducing maintenance grants
Free bus travel for under 25’s
Developing a people’s access to food fund
Ending child poverty
Scrapping Universal credit
Protecting the NHS and developing mental health services in particular child and adult mental health services that are so lacking.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that the Conservatives continually try to hoodwink the public with their spins and lies to get a deal through parliament which, although it will have the greatestnegative impact on us for generations to come, they do not want it scrutinised. If it is such a fantastic deal then why not have it scrutinised in the proper manner? I think the reasons are obvious. They do not want the public to see that they have removed the level playing field as I mentioned last week. How can any government change worker’s rights from legally binding to non-legally binding? Johnson cannot be trusted.
Johnson has failed to deliver Brexit by October 31st as he promised to do.
The Labour Party are standing up for truth and honesty and we want the best outcomes for the many not the few, but especially for young people, the future.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she is fighting
‘For working people
For the poor
For economic mobility
For our planet
We fight for a green new deal’
Just as Alexandria is in the US so Labour is fighting for these same things in the UK. My email is email@example.com if you want to contact me.
In a major speech in Northampton on Thursday last week, Jeremy Corbyn, condemned Boris Johnson’s “cynical stunt” Queen’s Speech and laid out Labour’s alternative for “real change” across the country.
Jeremy Corbyn called Boris Johnson’s Queen’s Speech “a farce” as no programme can be delivered with “a majority of minus 45”. The Labour leader called out Mr Johnson for “using the Queen to deliver a pre-election party political broadcast for the Conservative Party”.
Jeremy used his Northampton speech to lay out “a preview” of Labour’s “most radical, hopeful, people-focused programme in modern times: a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild and transform our country”.
• A £10/hour minimum wage for all regardless of age
• Banning fracking
• Free personal care for the over sixty fives and free prescriptions
• Scrapping tuition fees
• An end to rough sleeping
On the farce of Boris Johnson’s Queen’s Speech, Jeremy Corbyn said:
“On Monday, we will be treated to the farce of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, amid full pomp and ceremony, setting out an agenda to parliament that it has no intention or means of delivering.
“This government isn’t going to put any legislation before parliament. It has a majority of minus 45, a 100 per cent record of defeat in the Commons and is seeking a general election which will end the parliamentary session the Queen is about to open.’ The state opening of Parliament will cost us, the tax payers £220,000. Given that Boris Johnson cannot put any of his ideas into action because he does not have a majority in the House it is an expensive, complete and utter waste of time.
On wanting an election, Jeremy Corbyn said:
“It wasn’t long ago that Johnson was pretending not to want an election. Now he is pretending that it’s Labour that doesn’t want one.
“So let me address this directly: Prime Minister, we can’t trust you not to break the law because you’ve got form. We can’t trust you not to use the period of an election campaign to drive our country off a No Deal cliff edge that will crash our economy destroy our jobs and industries cause shortages of medicine and food and endanger peace in Northern Ireland.
“So it’s simple: obey the law, take No Deal off the table and then let’s have the election. We’re ready. There’s only one reason it hasn’t happened yet – we can’t trust you.”
On Labour’s “real change”, Jeremy Corbyn said:
“We might be just weeks away from the first Queen’s Speech of a Labour government. And in that Queen’s Speech, Labour will put forward the most radical, hopeful, people-focused programme in modern times: a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild and transform our country.
The first thing Labour will do is to get Brexit sorted, get a deal that protects rights, protects peace in Ireland, protects industry and jobs. Have a referendum with this new deal and remain on the ballot and give people a choice which will be adhered to.
Grotesque inequality is not a given and has been hoisted on us by the Conservatives. Labour will end austerity, protect our services like the NHS, and enable everyone to reach their full potential with a right to education throughout life.
This is why I am a Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate. Labour policies can unite and transform the country in a way that has not been done since Clement Atlee introduced similar radical policies (like forming the NHS) in 1945. Labour won then, and we can do so again if people want a fairer country.
Labour – #PeoplebeforePrivilege
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to contact me
This article was first published in the St Austell Voice on 11th September 2019
Johnson (and Cummings) have made their move, Parliament is to be prorogued, a highly controversial plan which basically (despite what the Tories will try to argue) shortens the timetable for MPs who want to scrutinise a no-deal Brexit, which we know will be harmful to people and businesses in the UK.
I am outraged by this action and I think that we can all see it for what it is, a deliberate restriction of democratic engagement.
Jacob Rees-Mogg calmly explaining “move along folks, nothing to see here…” gives me cause for concern. Johnson claims that the decision to suspend parliament is not linked to his Brexit strategy, and is instead needed because this session of parliament is late being prorogued. Our very own MP has tweeted that the overall loss is “only 4 days” so why should we worry. Unsurprisingly this was quoted by all Conservative MPs indicating that this was the “mantra” of the day to be used by all.
The government has announced that it would suspend (or 'prorogue') parliament from a day between the 9 and 12 September to 14 October. The period includes the traditional recess of around three weeks for party conferences. However, the insult to parliamentary power is clear. Parliament gives its assent to the conference recess each time. Had MPs wanted more time to debate Brexit, they could have decided not to support the recess this year (and there are indications that this was being considered). The five-week prorogation will be the longest in history; if it was just about bringing a new Queen’s Speech it could have been much shorter.
Large numbers of people have taken to the streets to protest about the proroguing of Parliament and I know that many people are very angry about this move, as am I. We took to the streets in a cross-party peaceful demonstration in St Austell this Tuesday and I am sure there will be many other protests. If this was a Labour government that had taken this action, does anybody imagine that Rees-Mogg would be saying “this is all perfectly above board”. Of course he wouldn’t, he would be outraged.
Recently cabinet members Sajid Javed, Amber Rudd and Matt Hancock were on record as being against proroguing and now they face criticism (rightly) for backing the plan. Hypocrites, being made to bend to the will of Cummings. Sajid Javid’s aide Sonia Hussain was suspected of leaking information and summoned to the office of Dominic Cummings for interrogation. He then sacked her with no evidence of wrongdoing and had her escorted away by the police. Only later, was Javid informed and he wasn’t happy apparently, because he confronted Johnson. So this is what the Tory government has come to in the midst of handling what has become a national crisis. Truly shocking.
More than 50 cross-party MPs have vowed to sit in an alternative House of Commons if Johnson carries out his suspension. They have said that the suspension is an unconstitutional coup and that parliamentarians must not allow the government to avoid scrutiny at this time of emergency.
So this is about seizing power from the people’s representatives and handing it to a non-elected Prime Minister. The government seems to have learnt from President Trump; nothing is about principle, but focusing, not on the ethics of what you are doing, but simply how you can win. The latest announcement from Johnson/Cummings is that they are going to bar any Tory MP who doesn’t go along with their plot to force a “No Deal” Brexit; they will not be allowed to stand as Tory candidates at the next election. In taking this decision Johnson/Cummings have shown a complete disregard for the most fundamental of our democratic traditions.
Proroguing parliament goes against the spirit of democracy.
We must ALL fight this downward slide into something that resembles dictatorship.
My email address if you wish to contact me about any issues is email@example.com
This blog will be created by members of the Exec committee on topics of interest to the St Austell & Newquay Labour Party