Felicity Owen: My first twenty days as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in St Austell & Newquay Constituency Labour Party
Day one started with a contact from the St Austell Voice which came through Andrea Lanxon, St Austell Town Councillor. A telephone interview followed by a photo shoot at the top of East Hill for a photo to go with the interview and for the top of the weekly column we’d asked for. We’ve since got a column in The Newquay Voice and the first column will be on the 10th July. We’ve mentioned austerity, a call for items for the foodbank in St Austell that were very low, education, supporting the new development at the Bank and the NHS will be the focus in this week’s column.
A press release drafted by Bill our press officer and edited by Matt from the Labour Regional Office and myself was sent out by Region.
I’ve Contacted with Catherine West MP to take her up on her offer of canvassing training for us here in STAN, and Mike Chapman, chair of Truro and Falmouth CLP to see if he could give us some training on the doorstep app. Both agreed and dates are to be confirmed.
I’ve asked Unite, the Union I belong to, if they would sponsor any of our campaign literature and they’ve agreed. We’ve also had a £3000 donation from a local member to kick off the first leaflet for all voters in StAN. The fundraising group have also been very busy and this will all help to deliver the long campaign plan that Ryan and I have agreed. Ryan has also drafted a snap election plan so we can be ready for any eventuality. It seems like we shall have a general election in October so we have a lot to do to get ready.
Tim Jones has volunteered to be my agent and I’m delighted. Kay has started my initial blog on our StAN Labour website. I’ve got a new email for PPC business which is email@example.com and I’ve just set up a new Facebook page where I’ll post what I’ve been up to. I’ve been registered to use Organise, the party’s volunteer management and communications tool, and Lesley has kindly been giving me some training on getting my first all member message out, which went out on Sunday 7th July.
I was asked for a quote by Graham Smith from Cornwall Reports on the potential Spaceport at Newquay which will be a Branson led initiative of firing commercial satellites into orbit. I am struggling to see how the spaceport will balance with Cornwall Councils zero carbon target by 2030 but appreciate we need all the work opportunities we can. At the moment they have one employee.
We had a very interesting meeting at the Bystro at the Bank in St Austell on the 28th June, called by Graham Walker, Town Councillor and Tarn Lamb from Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (Cn4C) and a group of interested parties (mostly Labour members). Cn4C have taken on the lease of the Old Bank in High Cross St with an option to buy and they want to hear from the community about what they want to take place there to improve things for people in St Austell. Before it has even started our current MP, Steve Double, has criticised the project. He is wrong to do so on so many levels. It has the potential to help so many people and provide a welcome positive focus in the town. There will be consultation events across the summer.
I went to the STARR event which was held on the 28 & 29th June which was the multi-agency presentation of the works to prevent future flooding in St Blazey and Par. All the agencies bar SW Water were present. The work still has to secure EU finding but should make an enormous difference to residents who have suffered from many floods and their associated problems. The work should be completed by 2023.
I attended a meeting of the Keep our NHS Public Cornwall group on Sunday 30th June. It was a very helpful meeting and well worth attending. The next meeting with be held in Lostwithiel at The Platform at 13:30 on the 21st July. Everyone is welcome so if you are interested in the NHS this is a very good albeit non-political group to be a part of.
I attended the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny meeting at Cornwall Council on the 3rd July primarily to hear the discussion on integrated care services. The NHS sub group of the CLP, that Sharon Sisson chairs, and I’m a member of, have had long held concerns about what started out as accountable care organisations, then changed in name to integrated care services. At present the CCG are saying it is about integrating health and social care, which is a good thing, with a view to all providers sharing one contract and one budget and keeping this all in the NHS, but the models are very close to Health Care as it’s provided in the US. One to keep a watching eye on.
Other items of particular interest on the agenda were:-
The meeting started with a question from a member of the public about why as a friend of the hospital and belonging to a patient participation group they hadn’t been involved in any of the meetings about its future.
There is a public meeting about the Hospital on the 8th July and CPFT are looking at ways to deliver an overnight service despite having insufficient staff, and they have been advertising.
Scrutiny have asked for a letter to go to the Secretary of State about the lack of NHS dentistry but will collate facts first. Information was presented on NHS dentistry in Cornwall which is provided to 51% of the population and 60% of children in Cornwall which is very slightly above the national average. Scrutiny were concerned about the NHS dentistry contract and how it doesn’t pay dentists to deliver it, to such an extent dentists hand back commissioned hours which NHS England say require 30 full time dentists to deliver and this would meet the waiting list for people wanting NHS dentists. It is however very difficult to find dentists and Brexit and the strong Euro are reducing the number of dentists from Eastern Europe who have made up numbers of dentists previously. The committee were very concerned about the direct correlation between inequalities and decayed, missing & filled teeth in children and the number of children having extractions under general anaesthetic. Further research will be coming back to Scrutiny.
SW Ambulance Services
Info was presented on category one ambulances times which are highly variable across Cornwall. St Austell has the largest number of call outs (largest population) with the best response times. Newquay has slightly fewer call outs but is still in the top five areas with the highest number of call outs and an average response time of seven minutes. The committee wanted more information about other categories of calls having heard people with broken legs fell into category two and reports of people waiting four hours or more to be taken to hospital. They also wanted more information than averages on responder times.
All the Scrutiny papers can be found on Cornwall Council’s website.
In the evening Lesley Rikard and I went to the Green Industrial Revolution (GIR) meeting in Redruth, where we joined members from the Camborne, Redruth and Hayle CLP, St Ives CLP, Truro & Falmouth CLP and ourselves from St Austell and Newquay CLP. The meeting was a follow up to the GIR conference on the 22nd June. CRH CLP have the support of the community organiser Katherine See and some work had already taken place since the conference to choose a priority before the meeting which was focused on a local issue in Hayle. However, what they have chosen is something about which we also have an issue in StAN. I’ll share more when I’m able to.
On the 4th July I went for a visit with Mandy Gregory, parish councillor St Enoder, to the incinerator at St Dennis. It’s an amazing piece of engineering with furnaces getting to 1000°C. The resulting ash is used for aggregate. Visits are free and they have a good interactive education section for schools. It was disappointing to see how many black bags contained items that could be recycled. Suez, who run the plant, say things that could be recycled make up about 22% of what comes into the plant. The Environment Agency monitor the output from the chimneys. I would be interested to know how local people feel about the incinerator now it’s up been and running for a while.
I gave a talk to the St Austell Branch of the CLP on the NHS and the issues it is facing due to the Conservative and Coalition underfunding. I will share a summary of the talk separately. We need a Labour government to get the NHS back on its feet, properly fund it and reverse the privatisation that’s been encouraged.
Issues that arose during the questions at the end of my talk were a lot of concerns about the care people are personally getting from St Austell Healthcare, the long wait to speak to a doctor sometimes as long as seven days, prescriptions being sent to the wrong surgery, and the difficulty of being triaged by someone without any clinical experience. Another issue was for people with long term conditions, many of whom were finding that health issues were being blamed on their long-term conditions and not being investigated or listened to properly.
We always need new members in the NHS sub group so if you are interested have a chat with Sharon or myself.
I’ve joined the CLP executives meeting group and we had a very exciting meeting talking about the snap election plan and the long campaign.
Continue with the weekly columns.
Continue to visit places of interest and impact on residents and attend meetings of relevance to people in StAN.
Attend CLP branch meeetings
Draft candidacy leaflets for the long campaign.
This blog will be created by members of the Exec committee on topics of interest to the St Austell & Newquay Labour Party