There is plenty going on in Parliament and much gets lost behind more inflammatory news stories. The discerning reader will want to know the plans to support farmers as we move from the Common Agriculture funding Policy towards the flagship Public Money for Public Good Government funding agenda. Eventually farmers and landowners will be supported to produce food, improve animal welfare further and support the natural environment through the ELMS (Environment Land Management Scheme). This week my friend and colleague George Eustice set out a three-year plan to enable this transition. The EU model (largely based on rewarding a landowner for the area they farm via a subsidy) will go and farmers in West Cornwall and on Scilly have the potential of being part of an exciting new era of profitable farming harnessed with environmental recovery. Discussions I have had with farmers convince me that they are prepared to make this work. For more information on the Agricultural Transition Plan 2021-2024, visit: www.gov.uk/government/publications/agricultural-transition-plan-2021-to-2024
This week I met with the Home Office Secretary to discuss the need to adjust the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme to allow workers from abroad to harvest our daffodils next month. I support measures to move away from our dependency on workers from overseas. However, the Government generally agrees with me that this is a process over several years rather than just a few.
On Saturday we celebrate small businesses. As we come out of lockdown we can certainly do our bit to support these businesses. It’s incredible so many businesses have survived and I hope that, despite the continued environment of face coverings and social distancing, we will support our town centres and pubs etc. All public-facing businesses have gone to great expense and effort to ensure we enjoy them safely. On Saturday morning I’m taking part in a cake sale in the Wharfside Shopping Centre to help raise money for tree planting across West Cornwall and to celebrate our town centre. To find out more about the project: https://www.derekthomas.org/news/volunteer-call-help-plant-20000-trees
We have reason to be relieved that Cornwall and Scilly is in Tier 1. This is where we should be and this made voting for the Tier System replacing National Lockdown a little more palatable. I have no appetite at all to vote to impose restrictions on anyone. However, tiers will be reviewed in two weeks and we have the incentive to do what we can to continue to keep coronavirus at bay. Check out www.gov.uk>guidance>local-restrictions-what-you-need-to-know
The sad news that Edward Hain Community Hospital is to close permanently brings to a close four years of effort by the NHS, Friends of the Hospital, volunteer groups, myself and many others to find a way to repurpose this building for modern-day community healthcare. My thanks go to all those who have tried so hard and to those who have been engaged for several years to identify what kind of community hospital West Cornwall needs. This work continues.