MP's column

Suggestion week two as Cornwall Council considers the plan to be Carbon Free by 2030 (each week I’m including an idea to contribute to this worthy ideal):

We know that energy efficient technology cuts carbon emissions and reduces energy bills. Salix Finance is an existing central government and regional government fund providing 100% interest-free capital for schools, higher and further educational institutions, emergency services, hospitals, leisure centres, local authorities and the NHS to reduce energy costs by enabling the installation of modern, energy efficient technologies. The savings achieved in reduced energy bills initially repay the loan. The organisation then reaps the benefit. Salic Finance state that ‘over 120 technology types are supported by the funding programmes, some of which include building energy management systems, cavity wall insulation, combined heat and power systems, evaporative cooling, heat recovery systems, LED lighting, lighting controls, loft insulation, pipework insulation, server virtualisation, T5 lighting and Variable speed drives.’ This is a ready-made solution that reduces carbon emissions, improving the environment for everyone using these buildings whilst reducing the running costs. The Council’s Carbon-Free Plan should include support to access this fund and calls on Government to introduce and extend further initiatives of this kind to include other properties including homes.

It was a privilege over the weekend to meet with people engaged in working to create a better environment for others. I met with representatives of Extinction Rebellion to discuss how we can genuinely get to grips with the need to reduce carbon emissions quickly. This followed a meeting with residents worried that health concerns are not adequately considered prior to the roll-out of 5G. 

I was grateful to LiveWest for organising a small meeting with tenants explaining their experience of moving from what are known as legacy benefits to Universal Credit. As a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee I am acutely aware of the challenges some face during the transition to Universal Credit. The transition at a local level must be as smooth as it can be. There is clearly room for improvement. 

A school visit took me to Germoe to meet with the School Parliament and the class groups who are equally engaged in caring for the environment. I then joined the Board of Trustees of Cornwall Hospice Care to discuss improvements they plan as people come to the end of their lives. During Porthleven Food Festival it was a pleasure to meet with Samaritans volunteers spreading the word about how to get hold of them.

On Monday evening I took part in a cross-party discussion chaired by Jake Berry, Minister for Local Growth, on the future of the High Street, something that has occupied our minds in St Ives, Helston and Penzance. Within the retail sector the greatest source of tax take for the Government is also the most valued aspect of high street DNA. High street businesses pay high taxes on the people they employ and high taxes on the building they occupy. The things we value the most. We are biting the hands that feed us. Government must commit to town centres by reforming tax to support growth rather than bleed them dry.