Amongst the challenges of the impact of the covid outbreak across Cornwall has been Cornwall Council’s repeated attempts to set itself up as the hero of the outbreak and the Government as the villain - curiously the effort and support the Council has been able to provide has been made possible through funding and legislation by Government. An extremely regrettable example of this is the Council’s tweet recently that stated that Government was not funding free school meals during the February half-term so the Council would step in to fill the gap. This is completely untrue. The Council received £1.8m as part of a Winter Support for vulnerable families to include the provision of free school meals in February. I’ve asked the Councillor responsible how this money has been spent (if it is not available for free school meals). She has been unable to explain this but acknowledges that it will be used for free school meals. This is just one example of a Council that has put tremendous effort to set itself against the Government at a time of national crisis.
On a more positive front I supported a Private Members Bill that would tackle sewage pollution in times of overflow due to high rainfall etc. The Government has responded by establishing an industry-government group to tackle river pollution setting up the Storm Overflows Taskforce. Storm overflows were designed to be used during extreme weather to prevent sewers becoming overloaded with a combination of sewage and rainwater, releasing diluted wastewater into rivers rather than letting it back up into people’s homes. The situation is not entirely bleak across the constituency and I’ve been engaged with South West Water on improvements to the infrastructure in Mousehole, Porthleven, Carbis Bay and St Erth to mention a few. Millions of pounds has been invested in the waste-water system in West Cornwall with more planned.
The rollout of the covid vaccine is definitely in a good place across Cornwall and I’m assured that even the areas that are yet to offer the vaccine at scale will meet the target to offer the vaccine to the top 4 target groups by mid-February. This includes the over-70s, care home residents and staff, health workers and those shielding. The logistics of this is something to behold and everyone involved is doing a remarkable job. Please note, if you have received a letter inviting you to receive a vaccine dose at Stithians Showground please take the offer up if you can get there. If you can’t you will be able to use the letter to receive a first dose at a Community Pharmacy when they begin to offer the vaccine.
It is clear that exporting fish into the EU has been beset with problems for many export merchants. Getting a perishable product to its intended destination quickly is critical and I know that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is offering direct support and intervention where needed to get over the problems faced by merchants. I know that the issues are not fully resolved although there has been an improvement. This week the Government has allocated £23m to support merchants who have incurred additional costs and losses. This is in addition to the £100m set aside to support fleet expansion and infrastructure improvements.