Over the next couple of weeks I will be making the final push to secure the investment in my constituency and Cornwall that I want to see the Chancellor announce in the Autumn Statement on Truro Fatstock Day. This is the culmination of months of hard work.
I have been working with my Conservative colleague Graham Stuart MP, leader of Rural Fair Share Campaign, which is a group of MPs whose constituencies contain “super sparse” (or “R80”) local authorities. We will be meeting with the Chancellor in advance of the Autumn Statement calling for a fairer deal for rural local authorities. Currently urban authorities receive more in local government funding per head than their rural counterparts, despite the fact that rural residents on average earn less than those in cities, pay more in council tax, and face greater costs to access services.
Following our campaigning ahead of the 2014/15 Local Government Finance Settlement, the Government gave £11.5m to the sparsest rural authorities via the “Rural Services Delivery Grant”. Whilst it is welcome that the Government recognised the additional costs of providing services in sparsely populated areas, the amount is inadequate when divided up, adding just £1.10 per person in each authority.
I don’t agree with those Cornwall Councillors that want to increase your Council Tax and remove Business Rate reliefs. I want you to keep more of your hard earned money. I do want Cornwall Council to be fairly funded. Since 2010 my colleagues and I have made real progress in closing the historic funding gaps in other public services, most notably our local NHS funding and per pupil funding for our local schools.
I am delighted that Conservatives have pledged to increase the amount of money anyone earns before they start paying income tax to £12,500. I don’t think anyone working full time on the minimum wage should pay income tax.
I am also pushing to close the deal on funding further improvements to our transport infrastructure. I am delighted that we have enabled a public service obligation on our Newquay to Gatwick air service that has secured the service for at least the next four years. With firm plans for investment in local rail services agreed, including more and upgraded carriages, an upgraded sleeper service, free internet and upgrading of signalling that will pave the way for thirty minute train services through Cornwall, as well as historic levels of investment in the rail network up country that will greatly improve our connectivity with the rest of England. I am very much hoping that my calls for an upgrade for Truro Station’s car park will be heeded and the Chancellor will announce that work can begin next year.
The Chancellor has agreed investment in the dualling of the A30 at Temple, so now I want him to announce the dualling of the A30 between Carland Cross and Chiverton Cross. With careful consultation and planning, this road improvement would make a significant difference to local people and businesses alike.