There are many aspects of the job of Member of Parliament for West Cornwall and Scilly that are rewarding and worthwhile but not much tops the opportunity to meet constituents at the drop-in events, the latest of which I hosted in various pubs last week. It is important to me that people feel they can raise any concern or idea face to face and topics raised were certainly varied! I was petitioned (rightly so) regarding plans to restrict access of foreign labour, plans to reduced access to fuel for wood burning stoves, sewage discharge into local harbour areas, the removal of the free TV license, future support for farmers, speeding traffic, access to housing and enquiries regarding the new bus service. These are just a few examples of issues raised and I am now working through this in order to help where possible and ensure Government policy helps rather than hinders our local communities.
How central Government funding for Cornwall Council and the Isles of Scilly Council is allocated is an important issue for us all as it has a direct impact on what services can be delivered. I was pleased to be elected as the Chairman of the Rural Fair Share Group in Parliament. This group (which I have been a member of since 2015) has long campaigned for a fairer allocation of central funds for rural councils and has had success in the past including achieving a significant uplift in the Rural Services Delivery Grant which Cornwall benefitted from in recent years. The Government is introducing a fairer funding arrangement for councils next year which will see a move towards measuring the cost of delivering services in sparsely populated areas. This is described as the Area Cost Adjustment (ACA) and is designed to compensate authorities for longer travel times (principally in sparsely-populated areas) and where remoteness results in higher costs. Both favour rural authorities such as Cornwall and Scilly.
A company car can appear to be a valuable perk but as this is viewed by the taxman as a benefit in kind, tax is payable based on a calculation of carbon dioxide emissions and the list price. However from April this tax is 0% for pure electric vehicles. This is a saving to both the employer (who currently pays a NI contribution when providing a car) and the employee (who pays extra income tax) and offers a real incentive for people who use company cars to switch to fully electric vehicles.
HGV movements from the quarry at Castle-an-Dinas through Ludgvan are the bane of people’s lives and urgent measures to prevent the lorries mounting the pavement are needed. This is a matter for Cornwall Council but little has been done to rectify the situation. Last summer I helped Highways England as they commissioned a report to investigate traffic issues throughout Crowlas and Ludgvan (ie not just the A30 but the surrounding roads as well) and, although I have yet to see it, I believe the completed report is now with Cornwall Council; hopefully, this report will contain recommendations will have been made on how to deal with this specific concern.