Thursday, 2 July 2020

West Briton column 2 July 2020 - Recovery

Last week it was great to see so many of the ‘non-essential’ retail shops re-open across Truro and Falmouth with social distancing measures in place.

As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic from Saturday this week further restrictions are being lifted to enable holiday accommodation, restaurants and pubs and further services like hairdressers to re-open if they are safely able to do so.

Last week was another busy one in Parliament. Among other things, in the Chamber during Health Questions I asked the Minister about more support for people with mental health, loneliness and isolation issues in rural areas, something which has been highlighted during the recent lockdown with a rise in these issues in rural areas like we have in Truro and Falmouth.

On Wednesday I joined the Cornwall MPs in a virtual meeting with our Prime Minister. We spoke about what the recently announced Lockdown easings will mean for Cornwall and why it is so important that we allow our seasonal tourism and hospitality businesses every opportunity to have a decent remainder of the season while extending a warm and positive welcome to Cornwall.

We also spoke to him about the need to continue investing in Cornwall, our jobs, infrastructure and farming and fishing communities through Brexit and beyond. It was good to see the Prime Minister in agreement with us and so positive and upbeat about the future of Cornwall.

On Thursday I was pleased to see the Government announcing a further £105 million to support local authorities in ensuring that people currently accommodated in emergency accommodation do not return to the streets.

Cornwall Council has done a tremendous job in quickly housing nearly every rough sleeper in Cornwall at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I hope that this money will allow them and their providers to continue to build on this work and ensure that rough sleeping is ended in Truro and Falmouth.

On Friday I took part in a meeting with the Cornish MPs and representatives from the holiday industry to talk about their Save our Summer Season campaign. As with our conversation with the PM, the message given is that it is crucial that as we rebound from the past few months that Cornwall is able to send a united positive message that we are open for business so that that the many businesses that are directly or indirectly linked to our tourism economy are able to trade successfully in what is left of the season.

Finally on Friday it was great to get back to physical meetings, albeit socially distant, with a visit to see Chris Jones’s Cornwall Beaver Project with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Apart from the merits of reintroducing a native species like the beaver to its original natural habitat, there is also a myriad of potential in looking at the natural work to alleviate flooding in the area that could provide a natural solution to this tricky issue in the future. I look forward to seeing the project continue and depending on the results there certainly could be the potential to reintroduce them in other suitable sites in Cornwall too.

Please continue to stay safe. If you need my assistance with anything, please get in touch at, or on 01872 229698 or you can write to me by letter at Lemon Chapel, William Street, Truro, TR1 2ED.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

West Briton column 25 June 2020 - Covid-19 update and more on anti racism campaigning

We are now in the fourteenth week of lockdown. Restrictions continue to be eased as the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and people who have sadly died from this terrible virus continues to fall.

As of the time of writing, at the beginning of the week, the Health and Social Care Secretary confirmed that from Monday 6 July people shielding will be able to spend time outdoors in a group of up to 6 people including those outside of their household, while maintaining social distancing.

Those who are shielding and live alone or are single parents with children will also be able to create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household of any size, following the same rules already in place for the wider population.

This comes as the latest scientific evidence shows the chances of encountering the virus in the community continue to decline, but the government is committed to continuing with the unprecedented package of support until the end of July to give those shielding time to adjust to these changes.

From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will then be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, but support will remain available from NHS volunteers and local councils. People will retain their priority for supermarket delivery slots, and still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.

Combined with the reopening of ‘non-essential’ retail across England last week, and the anticipated announcement on the reopening of accommodation for holiday purposes which is probably due this week, for July, it is good to see that the sacrifices we have all made in the fight against this virus are working, and that we continue to be able to loosen the restrictions and return to some sense of normality.

Away from COVID-19, since last week I have also continued to look at what I can do locally to support those people campaigning against racism, following the protest in Truro last Monday, and the laying of flowers at the war memorial on Sunday

Since my statement from last week, I welcome the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of a national cross-Parliament inquiry into the cause of inequalities.

Earlier this week I also wrote to the CEO of Cornwall Council about expanding the council’s working group on the Cornish national minority status to include looking at better inclusion and diversity in Cornwall for our BAME communities.

I will feed my own experiences into the Government’s Inquiry as it happens, and am pleased to be working with Cornwall Council to ensure better inclusivity for minority groups in the future.

I remain committed to listening to and acting upon all concerns regarding racism, inequalities or anything else raised with me by residents of Truro and Falmouth, should they wish to contact me.
Please continue to stay safe. If you need my assistance with anything, please get in touch at, or on 01872 229698 or you can write to me by letter at Lemon Chapel, William Street, Truro, TR1 2ED.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Newspaper column 18 June 2020 - Protests, more funding, and support for seasonal business

This week is the thirteenth week in lockdown measures, although we have seen further easing take place at the beginning of the week, with non-essential retail shops being able to open, as long as they can put into place rigorous social distancing measures.

In Parliament last week I was pleased to once again highlight how important our seasonal industries are in Cornwall, not just the traditional tourism and hospitality trades but also for those who work in the festival industry, musicians and outdoor theatre performers.

I asked the Leader of the House of Commons if he would find time for a debate on supporting seasonal businesses, including people who work in the festival industry and musicians, who are facing what has been described as ‘three winters’ of poor or no trade at all.

It is crucial that these vital sectors are not left behind as we come out of lockdown and I will continue to do all I can to highlight their cause and ensure that they are not forgotten.

A sad consequence of lockdown is that we have seen some types of crime go up. Domestic abuse is a terrible crime, and it is sad to see that reports of it have increased by more than 10% in Cornwall during lockdown.

I have been pleased to see the Government release funding to combat this and earlier this week it was good to see that the Cornwall Refuge Trust, based in Truro has received £39,451 of Government funding to help it continue to provide support to survivors of domestic abuse at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic

Groups like The Cornwall Refuge Trust do absolutely vital work in helping the survivors of domestic abuse find safe havens from their abusers and then rebuild their lives. I am pleased to see the Government provide additional funding for it at this difficult time.

Finally, I wanted to touch on the various protests that have occurred as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, both nationally, and in Truro on this past Monday.

Unfortunately, racism does exist in Cornwall. I have witnessed it several times and people close to me have been hurt by it. I will play my part to ensure voices are heard. People are listening – I am listening, and the government is listening. Attitudes are changing. Racism plays no part in my world and I do not tolerate it in others.

We must do more, so let’s stand together to tackle racism and ensure Cornwall is as welcoming as it can be to one and all. Only by working together can we tackle this issue head on.

That being said I absolutely disagree with all the violence that has erupted from public protests, but particularly the destruction and threats of damage to statues of figures from our past.

Removing references to elements of our past that we find offensive today does not change the past. Drastic removal makes it more likely that we will not learn from the past.

My view is that instead of destroying elements of out past that are now objectionable, we should instead where-ever possible flood the debate with more information.  Give controversial characters depth and set their actions in the context of their time.  We should not shy away from an uncomfortable past, we must ensure we can have a fully informed debate on the actions of these people and recognise them, both for what they are, and also for how far we have come as a society since.

We must ask questions, we must challenge and debate and we must listen. But most of all, we must move forward together

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Newspaper column 11 June 2020 - Tourism support and World Ocean Day

This week marks the twelfth week in lockdown measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has its response to the pandemic constantly under review and signs are encouraging, with Monday having the lowest number of deaths in all settings declared since lockdown began in March. It is clear that the measures we are taking and the sacrifices we have all made are working. We need to keep going and keep following the latest guidance to finally beat this virus.

Last week as Members of Parliament we returned to the House of Commons. As I said last week, there is no substitute for being in Parliament as an MP  - it is easier to debate and scrutinise the legislation, which is a major part of our jobs, and I was pleased to see, after some early teething problems, the voting system with social distancing work smoothly.

On Thursday I sought assurances from Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden MP that the Government will be taking additional steps to support the tourist industry as the country comes out of lockdown.

In response the Secretary of State confirmed the Government would be investing extensively in the tourist industry with a major campaign. The tourist industry is so important for Cornwall, with 1 in 5 jobs reliant on it, and with Truro and Falmouth constituency featuring heavily in Cornwall’s tourist offer, I will certainly be pushing for us to have a leading role in the national campaign, when it is safe to start running it.

On Monday I hosted a virtual event on Ocean Recovery to mark World Ocean Day.

The webinar was organised by the Wildlife & Countryside Link Marine Working Group, representing over thirty organisations engaged in marine conservation and over 250 people attended from afar.
Up for discussion was the role ocean recovery can have in building natural resilience in the wake of Covid-19. As the Government looks to foster the nation’s resilience against future crises emanating from the natural world, healthy oceans can play an important part - including the storing of carbon and the provision of a sustainable food supply.

A group of experts chaired a discussion panel and DEFRA Minister Rebecca Pow MP spoke about the Government’s plans to ensure ocean conservation remains at the heart of environment policy.
As Deputy Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ocean Conservation I work with colleagues in Parliament from across the political spectrum to ensure ocean conservation remains high on the agenda.

This was a fascinating event and I was bowled over by the enthusiasm and ideas from the panel about our positive future for our oceans. We spoke about issues ranging from plastic pollution to sustainable fishing and what shone through was the willingness of everyone at every level to come together and do what’s best for our marine ecosystems, coasts and fishing industries. I think we all came away with a positive impression and fired up to do more for our precious seas.

Please continue to stay safe. If you need my assistance with anything, please get in touch at, or on 0207 2193713 (messages will be picked up).

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Campaign Response - Black Lives Matter

Thank you to the many constituents who have contacted me regarding Black Lives Matter and the tragic death of George Floyd.  

The death of George Floyd was extremely distressing, and my thoughts are with his family and friends at this extremely difficult time. I cannot believe what happened to George Floyd and the police officer in question must face the appropriate punishment.  

I completely applaud the intent of the peaceful protests but am disappointed when I see the small minority of protesters using this as an opportunity to loot businesses and properties.  

The language being used by the U.S. President Donald Trump has been particularly unhelpful and I completely condemn this.  

Police violence in any form against anyone is completely unacceptable and must stop. Whilst of course the death is sad, my hope is that this can be a key turning point against police violence across the world.  

I am proud to be a Member of Parliament in a country which is and always will be the most welcoming and friendly in the world.  

Black Lives do matter and have always mattered. 

Newspaper column 4 June 2020 - COVID-19 Update 11

We are now in the eleventh week of lockdown and I hope you are all well.

I have returned to Parliament this week and am already down to speak in the Chamber of the House of Commons today, representing Truro and Falmouth in asking about support for our tourism and hospitality sector as we look to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

My thanks goes to all primary schools and early years settings that have increased the numbers of children allowed back to school this week  - my own daughter has returned to school, and it is vital that where we are able to, we ensure that our children are able to access education in an appropriate environment.

Last week Parliament did not sit in any form because it was the Whitsun Recess. I did take the opportunity to virtually meet with a number of local organisations.

I met with local Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to talk about the funding recently announced for them to spend on projects to provide vital coordination and help, both for businesses getting back on their feet and for communities that will need guidance and reassurance to return to the high street. There are three excellent BIDs in the Truro and Falmouth constituency, Truro, Falmouth and Newham and I look forward to seeing what they will be doing with their allocated monies.

I also met with Rev Jeremy Putnam of All Saints Highertown and Baldhu to discuss his church’s commendable work in the community both before and during the pandemic, as well as plans for the future. While our churches are all currently closed, it is good to see they are spiritually still very much a part of our communities during lockdown, providing pastoral care and support for parishioners as well as often being key parts of the volunteer groups that have played such a crucial part in assisting` vulnerable people at this difficult time.

On Friday I was pleased to see the Chancellor announce that those eligible under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which has so far seen 2.3 million claims worth £6.8 billion will be able to claim a second and final grant in August.

The Chancellor also set out more details on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will continue to support jobs and business as people return to work, following the announcement of an extension of the scheme on 12 May.

So far, the CJRS has helped 1 million employers across the UK furlough 8.4 million jobs, protecting people’s livelihoods.

From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time. This is a month earlier than previously announced to help support people back to work.  From August 2020, the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. That means that for June and July the government will continue to pay 80% of people’s salaries. In the following months, businesses will be asked to contribute a modest share, but crucially individuals will continue to receive that 80% of salary covering the time they are unable to work.

My team and I are here to help during this crisis. You can email me at, call me on 0207 2193713 (messages will be picked up), and my website and Facebook page are all regularly updated with matters relating both to the current crisis and other useful news and information. Please do get in touch if you need any help or have questions for me.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Newspaper column 28 May 2020 - COVID-19 Update 10

In the tenth week of lockdown and next week I will be returning to actual Parliament rather than the virtual one we have been working in over the past month or so. While the virtual Parliament was acceptable in getting the job done, I think most of my colleagues would join me in preferring to be back in Parliament itself, albeit with strict social distancing rules in place.

This week is half term and over the recent Bank Holiday Weekend things in Cornwall were not as busy as some thought they would be. That being said, last Thursday I did raise concerns about the numbers of people sleeping in vans overnight at places like Perranporth with the local police and was pleased to see them taking action promptly to help stop this breaking of the lockdown rules.

However despite the warnings it was very sad to several deaths and injuries in Cornish waters over the weekend – this shows why it is so important to heed Coastguard advice and take extra care while in the water at this time.

I was pleased to see at the end of the week that Cornwall will be receiving a £759,000 share of the £250 million for new cycling and walking infrastructure announced earlier this month. The council can use this money to fast-track plans for new walking and cycling lanes in Cornwall.

I have long been a supporter of investing in new and existing cycling infrastructure such as we have seen come forward to link Perranporth and Newquay. This announcement will allow people to continue to walk and cycle more as has been the trend during lockdown and will encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport when they need to travel.

On Saturday the Government also announced that Cornwall will be receiving a share of more than half a million pounds as part of a £50m Government boost to support the recovery of our high streets in introducing measures to allow them to reopen safely.
In connection with this, on Sunday the Prime Minister announced that outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing.

The Prime Minister also confirmed that all other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.

Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.

My team and I are here to help during this crisis. You can email me at, call me on 0207 2193713 (messages will be picked up), and my website and Facebook page are all regularly updated with matters relating both to the current crisis and other useful news and information. Please do get in touch if you need any help or have questions for me.