This week Barclays reversed its decision to stop customers withdrawing cash from post offices. This follows intense pressure from MPs, including myself, Post Office Ltd and Treasury Ministers. Barclays is in no doubt as to the strength of feeling against their initial decision. A key campaign of mine has been to increase the money Sub-Postmasters receive for bank transactions and I was delighted that we achieved this. Post offices must remain open as so many rely on them for banking services, especially as banks continue to desert the high street. On post office branches please take your opportunity to complete the ‘Investing in Cornwall’ survey distributed last week and take it to your nearest post office branch or the mobile service in a sealed envelope.
Cornwall Council processes all applications for ‘major works discounts’ for Council Tax (this is when a house is empty during refurbishment) and it make sense for them to supply applicants with a ‘cheat sheet’ of environmentally-friendly, efficiency-improving building/housing measures, subsidies and funding schemes available. Then applicants can see what green improvements they can make while undertaking their major works. This makes sense for a council who has demonstrated a commitment to the green agenda through promoting environmentally friendly housing initiatives for existing homes (at little or no cost to the council). It is one way of helping get older buildings and houses considered for retrofitting using green technology. At the moment the onus is on the homeowner to research what is available, so people might not necessarily know or realise what they can do to make their home more eco-friendly. I’ve written to the leader of Cornwall Council asking for this to be implemented.
During the Environment Bill debate I referred to a Rewilding Britain report that demonstrates how investing in nature is an extremely cost-effective way to draw millions of tonnes of CO2 out of the air whilst also providing alternative economic opportunities for rural areas post-Brexit. Regenerating six million hectares of woodland, peatland and species-rich grasslands would sequester about 47 million tonnes of CO2 per year, which is more than a tenth of current UK greenhouse gas emissions at two thirds of the cost of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. I was delighted to argue during the debate on behalf of West Cornwall farmers who are keen to support the Government’s policy of providing them with public money for public good once we leave the EU. As part of pledges made in the 25-Year Environment Plan, the Government aims to plant millions of trees in England by 2022. Cornwall has an ambition for a Forest for Cornwall and, ahead of this, my office (if afforded the opportunity) is co-ordinating volunteers in the planting of 20,000 trees by the end of 2020.
There will be a General Election in December and this will break the deadlock over Brexit. Either way we must find a way to get Brexit done and start a new relationship of trade and co-operation with our EU friends!