May has always been a special month for me, as towards the end of the month, I celebrate the anniversary of my marriage at St Budock Church. While its almost impossible to say when Cornwall looks at its best, weather depending, I think May might just achieve that accolade. Thanks to the great efforts of hundreds of local people both Falmouth and Penryn are looking good after the various ‘Spring Clean’ activities. I believe anyone living here is more aware than most of the natural environment, as a source of inspiration, wellbeing and employment.
Elections play a big part in my life and this May, like most years, brings elections. I am proud of one of our most important manifesto commitments: to work hard to ensure that we leave our natural environment in better shape than when we took office in 2010. Being custodians of the environment for our children and generations to come involves making difficult choices.
While each of us has a responsibility to think about the choices we make and their impact on our environment, elected representatives have particular responsibilities. So one of our important choices is deciding who to vote for in elections.
Balancing the need to grow more of our own food, generate more of our own energy and build more homes and work spaces for a growing local population while protecting our environment is challenging. Ensuring the necessary infrastructure investment is secured is essential too.
The planning system has been reformed by the Government to enable smarter and more local decisions to made about how we use our land and work with our natural environment. Through the Local Plan, people have been enabled to have more control over shaping communities. The LibDems lead Cornwall Council with ‘Independents’ and they have developed a Local Plan that is currently operating.
The next Council, that will be elected this month, will have the vitally important job of evaluating the Local Plan and updating it. Making sure it is delivering for local communities, particularly genuinely affordable homes for local people. The evolution of the Local Plan should take account of the aspirations of the local community as reflected in the Neighbourhood Plans being developed in both Falmouth and Penryn.
With such important opportunities to shape our communities, protect and enhance our precious natural environment and also support the local economy, we need to elect councillors who have the motivation, skills and ability to make the best decisions for Falmouth and Penryn.
Cornwall faces many challenges and significant opportunities. We will soon be marking the anniversary of the date the majority of people in our country decided our future lay outside the European Union. Whatever our feelings about that milestone in our history, I am confident that we can make a success of what lies ahead. We are a strong country with great values including, freedom, tolerance, compassion, respect for the rule of law and characteristics such as creativity and enterprise; all have served us well and I believe will for centuries to come.
We are leaving the EU not Europe and I am determined to ensure we remain an outward facing global nation with excellent relationships with our neighbours and allies across Europe.
Right now, I believe Cornwall needs all its elected representatives looking confidently to the future, not lamenting the decision to leave the EU. People with a positive attitude to work constructively with the Government, united in a shared ambition to get the best possible outcome for our Duchy and our country. It’s really important that you vote not only for the person that you think will be a strong local champion for the immediate area where you live but also someone who is part of a team of people from across Cornwall who have a positive, shared vision for the common good. People who are able to deliver the changes we need to see in Cornwall, particularly working more effectively in partnership to tackle the challenges facing our local NHS.
As a result of devolution of power from Westminster to Cornwall Council, these local elections really matter to you so please do vote. I want to see a double devolution of power from Cornwall Councillors to local councillors so please make sure you vote in both elections. The next few years will shape the destiny of our Duchy and country for years to come, your vote really does count and will make a real difference.