MP's Column

Saturday is Small Business Saturday. The weather last weekend was disappointing for shop-keepers and trading groups who worked hard to mark the real start of the Christmas shopping season. Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to reclaim lost ground (or at least lost sales) and this is helped by free parking in Cornwall Council car parks.

It's possible to buy pretty much every gift you need in our town centres and pre-Christmas sales help to sustain our shops in our quiet post-Christmas months. Please choose your high street before you shop online.

The Autumn Statement included good news for Cornwall and for Scilly.

The news on police funding should reassure many people including our Police Officers and PCSOs. Devon and Cornwall Police still has some internal funding challenges and measures other forces have taken can be replicated to reduce costs whilst retaining frontline personnel.

A new funding formula will increase the amount our Cornish schools receive from 2017.

More money for the NHS, mental health services and an uplift to the Better Care Fund helps with the integration of health and social care and, along with the other Cornish MPs, I will work hard to get as greater share as possible of this extra funding for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

More skilled jobs and higher wages are also priorities for me so I was glad that science and innovation is to get more money. There will be a direct benefit to West Cornwall and on Scilly as we continue to support the development of highly skilled jobs in the technology sector.

Finally we have reason to be proud of our small businesses. I am not sure that we fully appreciate how many high quality things are sourced, grown and produced here. In this I include games, chilli sauces, soaps, fish, clothing, flowers, health aids, beverages, fruit, veg, meat, crafts and the list goes on!

All of which can be sold in London and beyond if we improve access to these markets. We do what we can and, as a start, our pilot freight service into the heart of London was launched on Monday.

Derek Thomas
Member of Parliament for St Ives