Welcoming Record Funding for the St Agnes to Truro Cycle Route

The new road scheme to dual the A30 between Carland Cross and Chiverton Cross could be enabling the greatest single investment in our local cycle infrastructure in my life time.

How? Because new major road schemes also have dedicated government funding to improve the environment for communities affected by them.

As part of the A30 scheme, I have been working with Nigel Blackler, the Head of Transport at Cornwall Council to secure funding, including £20m from the Highways England Cycling Safety and Integration Designated Fund.

This funding would be used to help create a number of trails which could be used for walking and cycling in our part of Cornwall.

Routes include St Agnes to Truro (including a bridge at the site of the current roundabout); Trispen to Idless; Perranporth to Newquay and St Newlyn East to Carland Cross.

The Truro & Kenwyn Neighbourhood Plan developed an ambitious plan for improving opportunities for people to walk and cycle. This in turn has led to recent investment in new cycle paths within Truro. The new network has the potential to connect many more communities to Truro.

It could also help overcome severance of communities caused by the A30 and could complement the new dualling scheme.

It could also create new great cycle routes and trails across Cornwall, that will rival the Camel Trail and Mineral Tramways Coast to Coast route between Devoran and Portreath. The new trials could enable easier access to our iconic Cornish landscape and nature for many more people to enjoy and I want to make sure people with disabilities have access too.

The network will enable more people to safely cycle and walk to work, schools and college, as well as the hospital. It all also help address congestion and air quality issues.

For many years, I have been working with local cyclists, to develop an ambitious new approach to our local cycling and walking infrastructure, connecting people and communities, improving our health and wellbeing as well as the local economy.

I am delighted to see Cornwall Council get behind the dedicated local campaigners, particularly those in Truro & St Agnes who have worked so hard to build public support for new cycle routes, with street stalls and action days in Truro and St Agnes.

We will shortly find out if all our collective efforts have paid off. The hard work begins then. I very much hope that when we have successfully secured the funding, that Cornwall Council will work closely with the dedicated cycling campaigners, local cyclists of all ages and abilities as well as walkers, drawing on local knowledge and wisdom, so the final schemes are something that we can all be proud of.

Landowners will be crucial in enabling the new pathways as will collaborative effort across parishes. In developing these new pathways, I see real opportunity to enhance our natural environment and create new skilled jobs, with Cornish hedgerows restored and built and Perranporth’s award winning business Green & Blue commissioned to design and make bee block route signs.

First published in the West Briton 07/02/19

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Supporting sustainable transport in Cornwall

I recently met with the Truro Cycle Campaign group to discuss the importance of the new St Agnes to Truro cycle route. I am very supportive of the group’s desire to see a bridge for cyclists constructed over the proposed new road junction at Chiverton Cross. We also discussed the huge benefits of enhancing and developing new cycle routes around Truro, enabling more and safe commuting and family recreational activity. The health and wellbeing as well as environmental benefits of cycling are well known. The forthcoming updating of the Truro and Kenwyn Neighbourhood Plan is a good opportunity for everyone interested to get involved in developing new walking and cycle routes.  

Cornwall Council and partners have a range of funding opportunities to implement improvements, including funding related to the new A30. 

In recent weeks the government has announced a wide range of measures designed to protect more vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. These include new measures to combat close passing, training for driving instructors, better collision investigation and £100 million in new investment through the Safer Roads Fund.  

The government is also consulting on new cycling offences, further work on national guidance on cycling and walking infrastructure, and improvements to the Highway Code. 

All these measures are designed to support the continued growth of cycling and walking, with all the benefits they bring to our communities, economy, environment and society. 

In 2016, three pedestrians were killed and 108 seriously injured after being involved in collisions with pedal cyclists. The laws that are currently being used to prosecute cycling offences are ancient and that is why the government has launched a public consultation about proposed changes to the law. 

As part of the Cycling and Walking Safety Review, the government has commissioned the Cycle Proofing Working Group to develop national guidance and best practice for cycling and walking infrastructure, so that all road users can benefit from the best facilities. The government has also announced £1 million will be provided to support the pathfinder demonstration projects for repairing and upgrading sections of the National Cycle Network (NCN). 

Separately, the Department for Transport has also announced that it is gathering evidence on the effectiveness of current laws on pavement parking to address safety issues concerning cyclists, pedestrians, and disabled people using mobility scooters who have all raised their concerns with me about this practise. 

In June, the DfT announced plans for a £500,000 pilot scheme offering driving instructors bespoke training to ensure cyclists’ safety is at the forefront of their minds when they teach new drivers. 

Earlier this year, the department also awarded more than £7 million of funding as part of the first response to the Cycle and Walking Safety Review to fund improvements and new schemes promoting safe walking and cycling.   

So there is a lot going on and I urge as many local people as possible to join these important consultations so that we can all be safer as we use local roads and cycle paths.  

First published in the West Briton 16/08/18

Delivering Investment in Cornwall

You would be forgiven for thinking the only thing happening in Government is Brexit. But as the Chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership writes this month, this is far from the truth.

In his most recent blog Mark Duddridge says : “I’m delighted to report that in recent weeks the LEP has met with a veritable feast of HMG’s finest, including Secretaries of State for business, transport and local government, the Science Minister, Minister without Portfolio, and even the PM herself at the inaugural Council of LEP Chairs at No 10.” 

Local Enterprise Partnerships were introduced by the Government in 2011 to enable local businesses, rather than regional quangos, to shape and drive local, sustainable economic growth. 

As Mark Duddridge goes on to say “And I’m not namedropping for the sake of it. Government wants to know how LEPs are contributing to local delivery of the UK’s Modern Industrial Strategy, supporting business, innovation and investment, and making sure people have the skills they need to play their part in the growth of our nation.” 

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP works constructively with me and my colleagues and partners in Cornwall to drive sustainable growth in employment, skills and wages and is making a really positive impact on the quality of our lives and opportunities in Cornwall. 

The LEP reports that over the last few weeks we have seen the announcement of a partnership agreement between Cornwall Council and satellite launch company Virgin Orbit to bring horizontal satellite launches to Spaceport Cornwall at Cornwall Airport Newquay by 2021. 

This was a massive achievement and marked the culmination of over a year’s hard work by a team led and funded by the LEP, in partnership with Cornwall Council. The agreement has been warmly welcomed by Science Minister, Sam Gyimah, who said the Government would work with Virgin Orbit and the Council to support our region’s spaceflight ambitions as part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy. 

The space economy is one of the key growth sectors featured in the LEP’s recently updated 10 Opportunities investment prospectus, that spells out in the Space Action Plan –  an ambition to create a £1 billion space economy in Cornwall by 2030. 

There has been more good news from Goonhilly Earth Station which recently secured a £24 million private sector funding injection on the back of the LEP’s £8.4m investment to support deep space communication from Cornwall. 

The LEP has also just signed an agreement with Edinburgh-based satellite launch operator Skyrora to use Cornwall Airport Newquay’s rocket testing facilities with support from the LEP’s Enterprise Zone Infrastructure Fund. 

While we have record levels of people of all ages and backgrounds in employment, there is still more to do to increase local household incomes. I am determined to continue to do everything that I can to enable local people of all ages to acquire the skills they need to make the most of the new opportunities and new industries growing up in Cornwall.  

First published in the West Briton 02/08/18

Securing investment in Cornwall’s transport infrastructure

The past week has very much had a transport theme. Given our geography, we are probably more aware than most of distances and time travelled in connecting us to each other in Cornwall, the rest of the U.K. and the wider world. With the many wonderful local sailing events taking place, including the recent Falmouth Classics, we are constantly reminded of our maritime heritage and the importance of ships, ferries and barges in transporting people and goods around our coasts and beyond.

Making it easier to get around Cornwall and improving transport infrastructure more broadly has been and remains an important part of my work for you as your local MP. Last week, I was pleased to welcome the Secretary of State for Transport back to Cornwall, to meet with our local bus and train operators and the head of Transport for Cornwall Council. We are benefitting from effective partnership working between these organisations and our Local Enterprise Partnership and the Department for Transport, with major investment in improving our local bus and train services, introducing more Park and Ride facilities in Truro as well as road improvements and new cycle paths.

The recent introduction of contactless payment on our buses has been warmly welcomed by passengers and will be rolled out to our local train services. We are working hard to integrate the bus services with increased frequency local rail services.

As regular readers will know I have been campaigning for some time for improvements at Truro Station. The new roof looks good and the new carpark surface and lighting even better. The new Sleeper Service customer hub will be open at the end of July. This will enable Sleeper Service customers to rest and refresh in a beautiful new space on the platform before and after their journey. I was delighted to have helped secure the Sleeper Service and this new investment in upgrading not only the carriages but the new hubs at Truro, Penzance and Paddington.

I believe that it is vitally important that Cornwall has regular scheduled flights to London, especially for our local businesses. I was pleased to have helped secure the government subsidy for the flight. We are currently in the process on securing that ongoing subsidy and am confident that we will get it. Last week I voted for a new runway at Heathrow. While I understand the objections to it, on balance I feel it is the right thing to do. Compared to the alternative at Gatwick, there is much better rail connectivity to Heathrow for Cornwall. During his recent visit to Cornwall I pressed the Secretary of State for Transport for a Newquay to Heathrow link.

I was delighted to meet in Parliament our magnificent air ambulance staff. Since being elected I have been pleased to have helped secure some of the funding for this invaluable service. I support the effort to buy a new helicopter that will have longer flying time and increased capacity for carrying life saving equipment.

First published in the West Briton 28/06/18

Prime Minister’s Visit to Cornwall

Last week I was pleased to welcome Theresa May on her first visit to Cornwall as Prime Minister. While she is no stranger to Cornwall, it was fantastic that she started her SW tour with a visit to Newquay Airport.

She met with business leaders, including the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership as well as Cornwall Council to discuss plans for local economic growth.

It goes to show how important our Duchy is to her plans of creating a society and an economy that works for everyone.

Connecting Cornwall to the rest of the UK and the world is essential for growing well paid jobs here. I am delighted that the PM recommitted to record levels of investment in our rail and road infrastructure. Air links to Cornwall are important too. While I understand my London colleagues’ concern for their constituents, I support the expansion of Heathrow Airport, so long as we secure a Newquay to Heathrow service at least as good as the one we now have with Gatwick.

I was also delighted to see the government welcome the Bill to reduce homelessness, introduced into Parliament by my Conservative colleague Bob Blackman MP. This is something I campaigned for in the last Parliament and discussed with the Housing Minister when he visited Cornwall recently.

This Bill will significantly reform England’s homelessness legislation, and ensure that more people get the help they need to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place. The Bill will place a duty on councils to help people at risk of homelessness secure accommodation before they are threatened with homelessness. Those who are homeless will be supported for 56 days to help find them accommodation.

The Government also announced £40 million additional funding for homelessness prevention.

Local Infrastructure

I was delighted to join Highways England, Cornwall Council Highways team and local people at the first day of public consultations on the new section of the A30 between Carland Cross and Chiverton Cross. I am pleased that the proposals include keeping the existing A30 and building a new section of dual carriageway nearby. Following the current consultations, I am sure improvements will need to be made before the final road scheme is agreed. I understand that people along route will have lots of questions and I encourage them to engage fully with the Highways England project team.

I worked hard to help secure the funding for this important road improvement and am determined to see work start in 2020. It’s important to get it right but it’s also important to maintain momentum. As Cornwall Council is  allocating  land around Truro, Newquay & St Austell for considerable numbers of new homes, work and retail spaces, ensuring we have the right transport infrastructure is essential.

Alongside this significant investment in our road infrastructure, I continue to press for more investment in our rail services. Last week, Network Rail published its plans to improve the resilience of our main line and future proof the track near Dawlish. I will be doing everything I can to secure the necessary investment.

Finally, in last week’s West Briton, the editor made a compelling argument – that Truro would benefit from one stadium, a home for both the Pirates and Truro City Football Club. Last summer I was unsuccessful in trying to get the leadership of both clubs to work to this end. While it is very much for the clubs to decide, in light of recent events, I hope that conversations are reopened. It may not be possible but I think it is worthy of further consideration.