Fair Funding for our local Police

It was good to meet earlier this week with fellow Devon & Cornwall MPs, PCC Tony Hogg and Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer. I do not want to see the number of police officers in our communities reduce. Our local police have coped well with reduced funding thanks to their professionalism and dedication. I understand that as D&C is an efficiently run police force it will be difficult to make further savings without reducing police officers.

As I don’t want to see this happen, I have met with ministers to push for a review of the way the national funding for police is allocated to make sure we get our fair share. This is going ahead this summer and will be implemented in 2016. At the moment, the allocation formula does not fully recognise the current levels of student households or numbers of tourists visiting our area.

So that police numbers can be maintained before the new formula comes in, I support the PCC and his plans to increase the local police precept. I believe this money raised in Cornwall must be spent in Cornwall on neighbourhood policing. I also think Cornwall Councillors should actively consider using more extensively, the new powers they have on licensing.

Armed Forces Day

This weekend brings Armed Forces Day, offering us the opportunity to celebrate and pay respect to those who serve or who have served our country.

A survey published earlier this week conducted by the country’s oldest national military charity, SSFA shows that 68% of people  think “we do not give enough support to those who have served their country in the Armed Forces”. Listening to the maiden speech of my colleague the Conservative MP for Plymouth, Johnny Mercer I was struck by one statistic: “In 2012 ….more soldiers and veterans killed themselves than were killed in operational service in defence of the realm.” While Johnny spoke very positively of the work undertaken by the last Government to support our Armed Services men and women, including the Military Covenant, clearly more needs to be done.

As a region that has a proud tradition of people serving in our armed services, we have many people in active service and veterans working and living in Cornwall.  I have seen first hand the great work that our Armed Forces do here to support their personnel and the many local charities that support veterans. I want to make sure that our local authority, Cornwall Council, learns from the recent Local Government Ombudsman’s report and fully implements the Military Covenant that it has signed.

I have written to the Leader of Cornwall Council and asked him to enable all staff to have awareness training about the Military Covenant as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As far as I am aware Cornwall Council has money allocated to staff training and there are excellent, local social enterprises such as ActivePlus who could undertake the training. Given how many people Cornwall Council employ and have contact with everyday, it is vitally important they deliver their duty of care.

The Fight against Sepsis

The heart breaking article about William Mead in last week’s edition has prompted me to write about Sepsis. In the last parliament, with the UK Sepsis Trust Chief Executive & Consultant in Critical Care, Ron Daniels, we set up the APPG on Sepsis.

The APPG has made real progress over the past two years raising awareness of Sepsis and securing a range of actions to prevent avoidable deaths. The Health Ombudsman did a very hard hitting report about the scale of the problem and a Parliamentary Select Committee has followed up on the Ombudsman’s report.

Earlier this year, I welcomed the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP proposed measures to prevent deaths and serious harm from Sepsis that included an audit of every GP surgery in England on their effectiveness at diagnosing the condition, which was due to take place by the end of March this year.

Plans also included the creation of new NICE clinical guidelines, the introduction of an incentive scheme for hospitals, the launch of a public awareness campaign and the development of a new diagnostic tool for GPs to recognise symptoms in children under five.

Each year, Sepsis claims around 31,000 lives including around 1,000 cases of children under 5 – more than bowel cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. The cost of treating people with sepsis is estimated to be £2 billion a year. Significant savings of lives could be made with early diagnosis and treatment.

Jeremy Hunt MP said he wants to make tackling sepsis as important to the NHS as tackling the superbugs Clostridium Difficile and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

“Sepsis is a devastating condition that kills more than 80 people in England every day. It’s time to apply the lessons we’ve already learnt on patient safety and reduce the number of lives that are needlessly lost to this silent killer.”

Since being re-elected, I have contacted Jeremy Hunt MP requesting a progress report on the promised actions. Locally, the KCCG have assured me plans are in place to raise awareness and the implementation of NHS staff training.


The Highlight of My Week

A highlight of my week was spending Friday at the Royal Cornwall Show. It was great to catch up with some of our excellent local food producers and discuss our long-term vision for the future of British farming, working with industry to develop a 25 year plan to grow more, buy more and sell more British food.

I was pleased to hear that our plans to enable farmers to smooth their profits for tax purposes over five years, up from the current two years, to help counter the impact of volatility in the prices farmers receive for their crops, meat and milk will help. So will our plans to liberate farmers from red tape by coordinating all visits through a single Farm Inspection Taskforce, which will involve farmers themselves and use data from existing industry schemes, such as Red Tractor.

At the request of Cornwall Young Farmers, I joined a panel of inspiring women in agriculture and highlighted our plans to treble the number of apprenticeships in food, farming and agri-tech, as part of our plan to secure three million more apprenticeships.  Farming and food production is changing fast, opening up new opportunities but we all agreed more work needs to be done in explaining these opportunities. Alongside this, continuing to promote maths and science qualifications in primary and secondary schools so more young people can benefit from not only the enjoyment of studying these subjects but the choices they will open up for them.

Over the next few months, I will be working hard with our inspiring local food producers and even more inspiring Ruth Huxley from Cornwall Food and Drink to make sure we are making the most of the new Great British Food Unit that will help trademark and promote local foods around the world and back British food at home, by guaranteeing that all central government departments purchase food to British standards of production by the end of the Parliament. We will also help consumers to buy British by pushing for country of origin labelling in Europe, particularly for dairy products.