I was sad to read of John Le Carre’s passing in the press this week. He lived not a million miles from me and the St Buryan Community House will be a local legacy for us to remember him by. I know that he did many other generous things to support the local community mostly in secret. He will obviously be missed for his works of fiction also!
The Government has proposed far-reaching reforms to planning and house-building and MPs had the opportunity to debate some of the proposals such as the algorithm that has massively increased the numbers of new homes needed (I’m certain this will be abandoned as the paper is worked through). We also had the opportunity to flag things that the Minister may be minded to consider. Fundamentally the purpose of the planning reforms proposed is to increase access to and ownership of homes. This is supported by the many families that come to me with tales of high rents and no access to an affordable mortgage. However, even if we were build all the houses the UK could hold it would not necessarily result in the homes being available for those who need them. With high house prices and relatively low incomes families will be left to carry on paying high rents - a model that prioritises local ownership is needed. I used the opportunity to press the Government to promote ways to support local home ownership, possibly requiring Cornwall Council to use the ‘rent to buy’ model to support local secure and affordable home ownership - to date the Council chooses to deny local families the opportunity to rent (at a reduced rate) a new home whilst they save to buy the property. Finally I took the opportunity to encourage the Government to be more ambitious in its plans to reduce carbon footprint of new homes.
The Speaker was gracious and granted me a debate on Tuesday - marking the 125th year of the National Trust. The National Trust is a fantastic British institution, a protector of our heritage and countryside and an important part of our offer to international visitors. It was on National Trust sites that I served large parts of my apprenticeship as a Cornish Mason. However, I have reason to call on the Government to ensure the Trust does not lose sight of its core principle and charitable aims. From some well-documented mismanagement at Levant Mine to some regrettable examples of poor service and broken relations with both property owners and tenants in West Cornwall I’ve too many cases in my office to not seek some form of intervention either by Government or the Charity Commission. I believe the issues can be addressed and the Trust can prioritise its core duties. It is vital that it does because members and volunteers are so important to the work the Trust does. The Trust, working as intended, can be an effective force for good as we accelerate effort to enhance and protect our natural environment. Those that have covenants on their land are also essential in this effort and deserve to be treated fairly.