MP's Column

If your business produces or sells Cornish or Scillonian goods then I want to hear from you.

On March 8th I am hosting a 'trade show' in London where you have the opportunity to promote your wares to some of the top hotels, retail outlets and chefs.

There are just a few stands remaining for producers based in the St Ives Constituency.

This event has three simple objectives: to support local businesses to grow and expand, to promote Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and to nurture and develop the 'Freight on the Rails' initiative.

Already local businesses are using the new freight service to get their goods to customers in London and it is hoped that the event in March will create new business opportunities for local producers and demonstrate that the freight service is a reliable, safe and environmentally friendly method of transporting both fresh and non-perishable products.

Following the fuel poverty conference at Penwith College last week, it was encouraging to see the determination locally to help people in West Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly to have warm homes and affordable energy.

At the conference we identified a list of priorities which include, securing funds to insulate homes properly; bring an end to prepayment meters (that force people on low wages to pay extra for energy); work to ensure people pay the lowest cost possible for electricity, gas and oil; use renewable energy solutions to replace inefficient heating systems; secure funds to externally insulate park homes and argue for a green deal equivalent to help private landlords improve their housing stock.

It would take just 3% of the Government's infrastructure spend to bring every home in the UK up to a Band C energy rating (which the Government has committed to by 2013). This is money well spent if local small businesses secure the contracts to deliver the work and, in Cornwall, we have the businesses and skills to do this work.

The benefits are healthier homes for all ages, reduced hospital admissions, lower energy bills, new skilled jobs and lower carbon emissions.

Derek Thomas
Member of Parliament for St Ives