A new helicopter link to the Isles of Scilly from Penzance

After months of very careful planning and consideration we now have a genuine commitment and proposal to reinstate the helicopter service between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly.

I am in full support because this investment will be a significant boost for our economy, both in West Cornwall and on Scilly, and help to address many of the concerns that people on the Isles of Scilly have regarding transport particularly during winter months.

The proposed site for the Heliport is shown on the map below.

The following is a section from the Penzance Heliport Ltd website (http://penzanceheliport.co.uk):

Penzance Heliport Ltd is planning to reinstate the popular scheduled helicopter service between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly.

To operate the service, it proposes to build a new heliport at Jelbert Way, Penzance near to the site of the former heliport on Eastern Green.

The helicopter service will complement existing transport services to the Isles of Scilly, re-establishing a multi-modal, weather resilient transport system to the islands. The flights will serve all the islands through St Mary’s Airport and will also restore a direct link to Tresco.

A planning application to Cornwall Council will be submitted at the end of September 2016. There will be a public exhibition between 2pm and 8pm on Thursday the 8th of September at The Acorn, Parade Street, Penzance – this is an opportunity to learn more and ask any questions.

You can also ask any questions or comment on the proposal by emailing info@penzanceheliport.co.uk.


Recognition for Chris Goninan

The work of a retired teacher from St Just who has long campaigned for better health services for people in West Cornwall has been recognised by the Department of Health.

Chris Goninan, from St Just, had been recognised as an unsung public health hero by Jane Ellison, just prior to moving from her role as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health.

The minister said the initiative to celebrate Public Health Excellence in 2016 was particularly focused on “the people who are quietly getting on with it, and who deserve to be in the spotlight.”

Chris Goninan has received “deserved recognition from the Department of Health” for his contribution to improved healthcare in West Cornwall.

I have worked alongside Chris for many years going back to my days as a Penwith district councillor on a number of projects including intergenerational initiatives, health campaigns and charity fundraising events. He has always impressed me as someone who is focused on what he can do to help people improve their lives.

As a champion for older people at Penwith District Council, he set up the Older Peoples’ Forum, which still runs today and has been at the forefront of a number of initiatives, including a fuel poverty scheme to help those in needy households in Cornwall to cut their fuel bills, the much-acclaimed Living Well Penwith pioneer project and in helping to set up Penwith Community Radio a few years ago.


Refugees welcome in Cornwall

Providing a home in Cornwall for refugees from the Middle East and in particular Syria is a challenge but is something that the majority of people I speak to fully support and are keen to help.

I met with a lady today who is heading up this effort. We discussed what is needed to ensure families feel welcome and can adapt to our culture and feel part of the local community. Cornwall has provided refuge to a small number of families and more are to be welcomed soon.

The Home Office provide a basic list of essential items to help the families.

There are groups that are helping to compile welcome packs such as Cornwall Refugee Resettlement Network.

You can also go to Cornwall Council’s website to find out more.

You can also email me if you want more information.

MP’s Column

Our coastline is what makes Cornwall so special and attracts thousands of visitors each year. However, the tragic loss of six lives along the British coast, including that of Rudy Bruynius who died in Newquay last week, serves as a wake-up call to the dangers of our coastline.
When I heard the news I was reminded of an online service called BeachWise that was launched at the start of this summer’s season. BeachWise is supported by a number of organisations including Cornwall Council, the Environment Agency, RNLI, South West Water and Visit Cornwall.
The website offers advice on the best ways to enjoy a safe trip to the seaside and encourages all of us to do our bit for the beach. You can visit this new online tool (with ’20 top tips to help beachgoers enjoy a safe, fun, healthy and relaxing day by the sea’) at www.beachwise.uk.
Our coastline provides the opportunity for all of us to pursue outdoor activities but we can never take for granted the dangers associated with the coast and the sea.
Please excuse me for using this column to go further afield and bring attention to one of the great unsung success stories of our time.
Polio is now all but eradicated worldwide after a concerted international effort to rid us of this disease. Polio remains in Afghanistan and Pakistan (largely due to tribal groups opposed to this international programme) and in Nigeria where two cases have occurred in two years. However, in the past, hundreds of thousands of people had been crippled or killed every year by polio and, thankfully, we are close to reaching the target to vanquish polio forever by 2019. This is something to celebrate and it should spur us on in our efforts to address other preventable conditions and illnesses.

On the 9th and 10th of September I am hosting health fairs in Helston and Penzance and our emergency services, Cornwall Council, health professionals and a number of community organisations will be on hand to offer advice and help, particularly as we head towards another winter.

Further details are available from my office.

Derek Thomas

Member of Parliament for St Ives

MP’s Column

Congratulations to Helen Glover for her Olympic gold medal win with rowing partner Helen Stanning. This is no mean achievement and to retain Olympic Gold from London 2012 must be a particularly proud moment for her and her family. It’s good for West Cornwall to have our sporting champions. I missed most of the coverage of the Olympics because it clashed with an adventure camp that some friends and I started 20 years ago.

Survivealive Outdoor Adventure Camp is a residential activity for young people from West Cornwall. This year we ran a ‘mini-Olympics’ of our own with twenty different challenges such as shot-put with water balloons, long-jump with tiddlywinks and horse-riding with pantomime-style horses. There were some energetic activities such as high-jump into a water pool, indoor hockey and hurdles over straw bales.

We also went paddle-boarding with Vertical-Blue in Porthleven, played rounders on Perranuthnoe Beach, built a shelter and stayed overnight in woodland, and ran our 25 meter water slide which is always popular.

Many of our leaders are past campers and this year two were undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential Award. The DoE is an incredible programme and over the years the contribution of these Gold Award candidates has been invaluable.

Anyone who has ever taken part in a residential activity will know that there is something special and precious about spending this time with a group of young people. The leaders learn so much from them and this year was no exception.

Our Fire Service can easily be overlooked, largely because it has been so effective in educating us on how to prevent fires. As a result we rarely have firsthand experience of the essential work they do. The fire at the recycling centre in St Erth last week was an exception (thankfully) and I want to use this opportunity to thank all our fire fighters for their courage, skill and expertise.

Whilst none of us want to be in a position where we need them to respond, we can all rest more easily because of our fire fighters and other emergency services.

Derek Thomas
Member of Parliament for St Ives

MP’s column

This year’s Cape Cornwall Art and Crafts exhibition is well worth a visit. The exhibition’s 50th anniversary, at Cape Cornwall School, was opened by Lady Banham on Tuesday and, over the years, has raised over £800,000 for Cancer Research UK by displaying and selling local art of all descriptions.
The exhibition runs until Friday 19th August.
Post Offices offer important services. However, in my view, Post Office Ltd lacks a clear positive direction regarding the delivery of services in West Cornwall. Both services at The Lizard and St Keverne are at risk and retailers are not convinced that hosting post office counters within their business is an attractive or financially  rewarding concept.
The process around the relocation of Penzance Post Office to WHSmith is reminiscent of a bull in a china shop rather than a sensitive study of the needs of the local community. The WHSmith representative at the recent consultation made no effort to visit the Post Office or the WHSmith store before the event.
He was unable to answer any perfectly reasonable questions regarding how the post office would work within the existing WHSmith store. This did nothing to reassure people who are concerned. Communities are working extremely hard to make town and village centres thrive.
Post Office Ltd does not appear to see itself as an active partner in this and in Penzance, the move looks like a simple asset-stripping exercise. In communities like ours commercial success is dependent on goodwill which the Post Office Ltd and WHSmith have severely compromised.

Beds at Edward Hain Hospital remain closed. I’m reliably informed that a local contractor will be appointed by the end of August to carry out the fire safety remedial work. £150,000 will be spent to make the building, in its current layout and form, more resistant to fire and smoke. The intention of NHS Properties is to carry out works that would enable CFT to reopen the inpatient unit at the hospital. When the beds will reopen is still not clear. People have waited long enough and further delay only leads to further confusion which helps no-one.

Derek Thomas
Member of Parliament for St Ives

MP’s Column

Air Day at RNAS Culdrose may have been fog-bound and disappointing for aviation enthusiasts as the intended air display did not take place, however, it gave the opportunity to say goodbye to Captain Adrian Orchard who has now left with his family to take up a post looking after our F-35 jets in California.

Captain Orchard’s time in charge at Culdrose has been brief (just 19 months) but he has made a significant impression on the base. I have met him on a number of occasions. We walked together for civic parades in Penzance and Helston, danced the Flora together (as a set of four) and enjoyed a meal in his home earlier in the year.

The real work has been the charge, led by Captain Orchard, to increase the number of skilled apprentice places on the base. We have met with businesses and training providers to progress this and I was pleased to take the then Apprenticeship Minister, Nick Boles MP, to RNAS Culdrose to meet the apprentices and their trainers in April this year.

The loss of the Search and Rescue 771 Squadron from Culdrose was disappointing but Captain Orchard was always quick to impress on people the continued significance of RNAS Culdrose. He regularly talked of a bright and rosy future as the base develops the capability of the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carriers.

In Cornwall we are often guilty of talking ourselves down but the rest of the UK and the world is looking our way as we prepare for the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales Aircraft Carriers.

Both on time and on budget these huge aircraft carriers will be in service soon and without our air station, its aircraft, people and training facilities, these new ships will not be able to operate.

Culdrose is central to a future Royal Navy with its newest 700X Squadron and emerging unmanned aviation systems and the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm F35 Lightning jets.

I am told Captain Orchard’s replacement is equally keen to see a growth in skilled jobs on the base and create more apprenticeship opportunities.

Derek Thomas
Member of Parliament for St Ives

Cape Cornwall Art and Craft

I’ve just attended the opening of this year’s Cape Cornwall Art and Crafts exhibition at Cape Cornwall School. This year is its 50th year and was opened by Lady Banham.

The event, displaying and selling local art of all descriptions, has raised over £800,000 for Cancer Research UK and the target this year is £50,000.
It’s a great exhibition and well worth a visit.

The exhibition runs until Friday 19th August.

Battery Rocks

I attended a meeting at the Acorn Theatre this evening to rally support for our efforts to get Cornwall Council to repair the steps by Battery Rocks (that many people use to access the sea).

These steps have been in need of repairs for sometime now and we had been led to believe that the steps would be repaired whilst contractors were carrying out the work on Jubilee Pool. This has not been done.

The Council have more work to do on the pool to create access for disabled people and our hope is that this relatively minor work can be done at the same time. The thrust of the argument seems to revolve around the ownership of the steps and who should pay. So far Cornwall Council have taken responsibility for repairs to Newlyn Green, the Prom and the Jubilee Pool using large amounts of Government cash following the storms of February 2014.

People that use the steps are of the opinion that these steps are all part of the same Infrastructure and the Council should have done the work before now.

Low tides in September and October present the best opportunity to carry out the repairs required.

Sgt Friday

Sgt Friday is a popular community policeman in St Ives and has, over the years, built up an impressive repport amongst people of all ages in the community he has served for so long.

The strength of feeling about his removal from frontline policing (due to changes in numbers of community police officers) in St Ives is considerable and I support efforts to reverse this decision.

Years of local knowledge and intelligence is at risk of being lost.