Just a few short months away from daffodil-picking time and the Home Secretary has still not confirmed that the Seasonal Agriculture Workers Scheme (SAWS) will be extended to include daffodils and other ornamentals. In fact she still hasn’t confirmed that SAWS will be extended at all leaving farmers up and down the country unsure whether they will have the opportunity to recruit the workforce they need in addition to those who have the default right to work in the UK under settled status.
I don’t understand her reluctance to extend SAWS for another year. It is not a new scheme and is an effective way to manage so-called ‘unskilled’ workers on our farms. Furthermore, it has nothing to do with immigration so has no impact on immigration numbers if this is the concern in the Home Office.
The simple proposal we have put forward is to continue SAWS with the current cap at 30,000 workers but to extend the visa from 6 months to 9 to include daffodils. If Churchill was here I suggest he may be of the same view. In the war he said (and I quote) ‘These people must be enabled to grow their flowers and send them to London –they cheer us up so much in these dark days.’
I’ve previously raised this with the PM and did so again with the Deputy Prime Minister at PMQs on Wednesday. It is ridiculous that the Home Office is so tone deaf when it comes to opening our borders to legitimate workers under time-restricted visas. The battle continues and I have had personal encouragement from several senior members in the Government to press on!
Readers will know that we continue to press for upgrades to the A30 down to Penzance and this is a critical year for making the case and winning the argument. Please help by recording your lived experienced on the National Highways portal which is live until November. Please go to https://routestrategies.highwaysengland.co.uk/ and urge everyone else to!
It is great to be fully back to face-to-face working again. I’m now partway into my regular autumn series of ‘drop-in’ events with these taking place in St Ives and Sennen this week. The full list to the end of this year is available on my website. I also have a face-to-face meeting regarding my push for a low carbon transport plan linking St Ives, Hayle and Penzance and I get to go back to school for the first time in 20 months for a visit to Newlyn School and the school’s student council.
I’ve decided you can’t really do this job unless you can interact with people, listening to their priorities and concerns and then raising these with Ministers in Parliament. Which I have been able to do in recent weeks as Parliament is quickly returning to pre-covid days!
One virtual meeting I did have was with Cornwall NHS, NHS Dentist commissioners and local dentists to continue to grapple with how to solve a problem of access to dentistry in Cornwall. We began to make progress in 2020 but tripped over the pandemic restrictions. We have revived the effort focusing primarily on children but adult dentistry is not forgotten.
The title isn’t that helpful and it would be easy to think Cornwall’s MPs have lost the plot given our enthusiasm for Cornwall’s application to be designated the City of Culture. Unlike the title, the criteria have changed and now Cornwall is the obvious choice for this prestigious title. Under the new rules a region or groups of towns can apply with the specific requirement to set out how a region can rebuild after the pandemic. We will hear next year whether Cornwall is to be the ‘city of culture’ in 2025 and personally I am all for it.
I have been since the competition was announced and I was privileged to a sneak preview of our application at Cornwall House in Falmouth right in the middle of the G7 Summit. Senior Cornwall Council figures and those from the Local Enterprise Partnership were working feverishly whilst protests were taking place outside and world leaders were chewing over the Carbis Bay Declaration just a few miles away.
As I looked at their presentation it was clear to me that if there was ever a time to determine the kind of Cornwall we want for the future it is now. The very application process has sharpened our minds as to where the challenges and opportunities exist. To be awarded this prestigious designation would be to take everything that is good: our culture, our heritage, our passion and our identity, and use it to create opportunities for all our residents in a way that celebrates, protects and enhances our natural environment, heritage and culture.
Having hosted the G7 Summit and, more recently the start of the Tour of Britain we have proven that we are brilliant at showcasing who we are and what we can do. Hats off to the team who, amidst the extraordinary graft of delivering the G7 Summit, made time to get this submission together to ensure we keep pushing forward!