Cornwall Council and the LEP delivers on Cornwall Expo 2015

Over the last two days, Cornwall Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have jointly staged Cornwall Expo 2015 at the Aero Hub, Newquay Airport. This showcase event has highlighted some of the key projects which are currently being delivered and to outline plans for the future.

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The fact is Cornwall will see up to a billion pounds due to be invested in growing the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly over the next five years

The two-day event has been split into the economy on the first day and tourism on the second. I attended the first day and was mighty impressed with the set-up. There was a real buzz that Cornwall is going places.

Transport in Cornwall was one of the key themes on display, whether that was road, rail, plane or sea. With this key theme is was welcoming to see Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport stay for most of the day, which gave key players from the transport industry that are operating in Cornwall the chance to talk.

The Chief Executive of FirstGroup, Tim O’Toole talked about improvements to his companies rail franchise like offering free WiFi at all train stations in Cornwall within 6 months; solving the WiFi connection on the trains; and building new lounge facilities at the following three stations of Penzance, Truro and Paddington which will offer shower and changing facilities. On display at the event was Great Western Railways (formally First Great Western) new Night Riviera Sleeper Carriage which included carriage improvements to both first and standard class.

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The was a strong message about Cornwall’s Devolution Deal and the £8m of Growth Deal funding awarded to the Council in March 2014. This money will help will help deliver new and refurbished vehicles and a network of smaller, more appropriately sized vehicles in Cornwall.

There is also plans for better Infrastructure with high quality and accessible interchange and waiting facilities improve the waiting experience and connections between services and Smart ticketing with contactless/cashless ticketing across bus, rail and ferry with a flexible range of projects better suited to the way we travel.

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One of the new buses in operation (free Wifi too)

Other themes included:

Culture Zone: Cornwall’s creative industries employ 12,000 people and are worth £500 million to the local economy.

Cycling Zone: The case for investing in cycling is clear. For every pound invested in cycling in the UK in 2010 there was an economic benefit of £19.

A 10% increase in people cycling to work could save the Cornish economy £16.9m a year in Cornwall from NHS savings and reduced mortality. It could also save £4.7m from reduced traffic congestion and lower pollution levels.

Digital and Superfast Broadband Zone: This included the pioneering £132m superfast broadband partnership, funded by the EU, BT and Cornwall Council, and managed by Cornwall Development Company, has built a fibre based network that now covers 95% of premises, with nearly 90% able to connect with superfast speeds of over 24Mbps – making Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly some of the best connected places in the world.

Electric Vehicle Zone: Cornwall Council received £1 million in Government funding in 2013 to provide electric vehicle charging points across Cornwall.

The aim is to create a reliable charging network to allow drivers of electric vehicles to travel throughout Cornwall and encourage more people to consider owning an electric vehicle; helping to reduce vehicle noise and combat air pollution.

Employment and Skills Zone: This area included the LEP Employment and Skills strategy and sets out the priorities for developing the employment opportunities and the skills of our people, bringing together the needs of businesses across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. One of the key principles is to provide great careers here by nurturing and developing the talents of our young people to gain the right skills and ensuring they have access to great career opportunities

Environment Zone: This zone encompassed Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Nature Partnership and Cornwall Sustainability Awards (CSA) with the overall focus being on Environmental Growth. Key facts include 80% of Cornwall’s land is in agricultural use – with just 5% of Cornwall’s land developed. There are 48,000 km of Cornish hedges. The South West Coast Path contributes £177m to the economy of Cornwall each year. And Surfing contributes around £153m to the Cornish economy each year.

Highways Zone: As well as working in partnership with Highways England and the Department of Transport to deliver strategic transport schemes, including improvements to the A30 and A38.

In the evening guest were treated to an excellent presentation by Richard Noble, the genius behind the UK’s attempt at breaking the land speed record (which we currently hold) and his teams plan to reach a speed of 1000 mph. The presentation was not just about the marvelous engineering feat that is Bloodhound, but how we must have more engineers, especially female, in the UK if we are going to be able to compete in the word of engineering and technology.

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The Bloodhound

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For me, it was a great event and you not only got to listen to some excellent speakers during the day, talk to those who are delivering improvements in Cornwall, and see what sort of investment Cornwall will see over the next five-years.

Huge credit must go to those who organised the two-day event. I certainly got a lot out of the event from my day there.

 

2 comments

  • Dear Andrew

    All very fine in theory however the practice may be somewhat different.

    Fact 1 First Group operate a virtual monopoly on both PCV and rail transport within Cornwall, where is the healthy free and fair competition?.

    Fact 2 I run a transport / distribution operation which is a Cornish based operation where profits are retained within our community, when we invest in vehicles we get no grants of subsidies of any kind, (as a small family business we have recently invested £1.5 million in new vehicles) while first Group is a huge very profitable corporation based elsewhere which takes the profit it makes in Cornwall elsewhere while the vehicles it invests in are heavily subsidised by Cornish funding.

    Fact 3 Even allowing for the eventual (most welcome) improvements to the A30 the rest of Cornwall’s road network is already saturated with traffic at present population levels, the inevitable delays thus created are harming businesses like mine on a daily basis and driving up our costs, with no real improvement to basic road infrastructure proposed or even possible in the foreseeable future the 50000+ more houses in the pipeline will add an absolute minimum 100000 cars to this already unacceptable congestion.

    Fact 4 The ‘Case for Cornwall’ is weak and riddled with flaws, like Cornwall Council itself it has been conceived in haste as a political expediency to probably be repented at leisure in much the same manner as Cornwall Council itself and the appalling BT contract currently the subject of costly unbudgeted litigation, this does nothing to inspire great confidence in the business acumen of those within Cornwall Council who negotiated these deals on behalf of the People of Cornwall to spend in a prudent effective manner the billion pounds of European Funding currently due in a prudent effective manner if dire past performance is any guide.

    Fact 5 Cornwall Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) does not have the unqualified support of those like myself deeply involved in Cornwall’s real economy who over the years have seen it all come and go in the form of SWERDA and Cornwall Development Company being profligate with OUR MONEY while Cornwall’s traditional trades have been allowed to languish and be replaced by mass speculative housing developments, employment in supermarkets, fast food outlets and call centres which seems to be the best these use QUANGO’s and NGO’s ever seem capable of dreaming up.

    Fact 6 The constant mantra of growth at any cost will do nothing to solve the long standing problems of low wages and high house prices stifling Cornish people by denying them a house of their own in their place of birth while the mass housing that is going up everywhere is snapped up by prosperous inward migrants many of whom are economically inactive and already a rapidly increasing burden on already stretched health and social care resources.

    Fact 7 Messrs Pollard and Pomfret can pontificate until the cows come home while in reality what they are going to deliver with the European funding that is burning a hole in their pockets will be little more than an eye wateringly expensive revamped version of the Emperors new suit as time and circumstance will surely prove.

    Working for a better Cornwall for Cornish People?

    Best regards as ever

    Kevin Bennetts

  • John Gibbs, MK Councillor, Bodmin

    California: waiting for a major earth quake, fog bound and plagued by forest fires and land slips. Not enough money in the bank to buy Arnies cigars.

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