MPs Column

More than two million people in the UK are living with sight loss. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) estimates that around 50% of sight loss is preventable. This means that many people in West Cornwall and on Scilly are living with failing eye sight which in turn reduces their quality of life, their independence and will lead to greater demand on NHS and care services. While the NHS recommends an eye exam every two years, 63% of those eligible for the free test don’t take it up. I was privileged to formally open the Vision Express Store in Helston and learn about the ‘Eye Tests Save Lives’ campaign which spreads the message about the significant risks posed by drivers with impaired vision. In November, they successfully managed to secure a commitment from Government that the DVLA will include an eye test reminder in future licence renewal letters. Much more must be done to ensure people take advantage of regular eye exams to avoid the reduced quality of life caused by poor eye health.

Many things contribute to what I describe as the heartbeat of a local community. A school would feature high on such a list. I was glad to hear that Cape Cornwall School can enjoy a secure future now that it has passed the final hurdle to becoming part of TPAT (Truro and Penwith Academy Trust). A year ago the school was placed into special measures and after about three years of uncertainty staff, parents and pupils have every reason to be confident of the schools future. The school is small compared to most secondary schools and I’ve worked closely with the school, the Regional Schools Commissioner’s Office and the Education Department to secure the maximum funding available to support the school’s ambitious plan to increase the opportunities available to pupils and to continue to support the community of St Just and surrounding villages. I’ve visited Cape Cornwall School a number of times including to discuss with pupils the Sustainability Development Goals in the run-up to the Commonwealth Summit in April and I’ve found it to be a happy and positive environment. I wish the staff and pupils the very best for the future.

Since the start of the year I have been working closely with key figures in Helston to identify and understand what improvements can be made to ensure Helston is a great a place to live, shop, visit and to be entertained. It has been very encouraging to see so many people engage in these discussions and this week I’ve launched a survey designed to enable even more people living around the town to say what improvements they would like to see in their closest town centre. 42,000 people live in and around Helston so there is every reason to concentrate our efforts in this way and work to ensure the town can respond to the needs of this considerable number. The online survey can be found: https://survey.derekthomas.org/ Hard copies can be requested from my constituency office on 01736 363038.