Open to All
In recent weeks I have held over 40 ‘drop-in’ surgeries taking place in village and town venues across West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It is important to me that I make myself easily available to whoever wishes to speak with me. I will continue to hold these open-to-all events for as long as I am privileged to serve as your Member of Parliament. I also hold ‘traditional’ surgeries (appointment only) on Fridays from 4-7pm and occasionally on Saturday mornings. My constituency office is open from 9.30am – 1pm Monday to Saturday and the phones are manned until late afternoon.
It may seem perverse that I welcome recent research that confirms the St Ives Constituency, (West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly), has the highest level of fuel poverty in England. Research shows that families are paying up to £1,460 extra annually for energy because of poorly insulated homes – the highest of all parliamentary constituencies in England. I welcome this report because it strengthens an argument I have been making since May for the need to tackle the problem of fuel poverty head-on.
Addressing fuel poverty is the right thing to do for a number of reasons – lower energy bills; fewer hospital admissions; more skilled jobs; better quality housing; lower cost of living – and to aid my efforts, I recently welcomed a local student on a work experience placement, Primrose Brechtmann from Penwith College, to help me tackle the issue of fuel poverty during this academic year.
I have written to both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom MP, to stress the economic benefits of addressing the problem of fuel poverty. I have asked for special measures to be considered for homes in the constituency because I believe this is a win-win policy for the Government by generating economic growth and protecting the most vulnerable in society. If the Government invests a modest level of capital infrastructure funding to an energy efficiency programme it can deliver additional economic benefit by boosting energy security and economic productivity. We can also reduce fuel bills and save lives. It can also benefit our local economy.
Photo: With Penwith College student Primrose Brechtmann.
Freight on the Rails
I have made it a priority to help small business succeed and to work to create better paid jobs. One small but important part of this effort is to give local producers in West Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly improved access to London markets. On 30th November we launch our pilot project putting freight on the rails and into the centre of London. We envisage everything from flowers, fish, wines and soaps etc. to find their way to London (and possibly beyond) by rail once again. Whilst our pilot scheme is modest our ambition is unrestrained, and a Labour Peer, Lord Berkeley, who knows a thing about the railway, has offered me his services to help us on our way.
World Diabetes Day
I asked Goonhilly Earth Station to illuminate their Antennas in blue on Saturday evening to raise awareness of this rapidly growing public health problem. Diabetes affects millions of people across the UK and causes terrible problems for those living with the condition.
In Cornwall, 27,467 people have diabetes, 5.9% of its total residents. These numbers are growing every day and 10% of the NHS budget is now spent on this condition.
I am so proud that we have done our part in West Cornwall to raise awareness of diabetes by illuminating Goonhilly Earth Station in blue for World Diabetes Day and being featured in the national campaign to raise awareness of this public health menace.
The Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes, Keith Vaz MP, said:
“This year’s World Diabetes Day has been enormously successful in highlighting the dangers of diabetes. I am delighted that Derek has led such a superb awareness campaign in St Ives.
Goonhilly now joins an incredible list of national and global landmarks which have participated in the Blue Monument Challenge, including the London Eye, the Christ the Redeemer statue, Table Mountain in Cape Town and Number 10 Downing Street.”
Photo: A small crowd joined me at Goonhilly Earth Station to mark the World Diabetes Awareness Day.
Many of you have expressed an interest in getting involved with the various issues I am concentrating my efforts on. You are very welcome and can supply your full contact details by using the contact details as follows:
Address: Derek Thomas MP Constituency Office, Wharfside Shopping Centre, Market Jew Street, Penzance, TR18 2GB
Telephone: 01736 363038