17 June 2009

I shall post here continuing good news for Cornwall, developments which will positively help the people of Cornwall and the local economy and everyday lives. Everyone who wants the people of Cornwall to succeed in the modern world will welcome them. This post covers the first half of 2009. Vorsprung Cornwall 1 and 2 cover 2007 and Vorsprung Cornwall 3 and 4 cover 2008.

* The claimant count figures for 14 May 2009 show a fall in Cornwall to 8847 compared to April 2009. This is the number claiming jobseekers allowance and is the usual quoted measure of unemployment (there are other figures for unemployment). The drop is welcome, especially as unemployment is rising in Britain, though perhaps in Cornwall we are now in the weeks of seasonal work. However, the May 2009 figure was twice that of May 2008, a sign of serious job losses.(17 June 2009)

* The Southwest regional development agency (SWRDA), established in 1999, has announced its budget plans for the next two years, 2009-2011, after having its money cut by the recession. Cornwall is doing very well indeed from the new SWRDA plans. About £52.2 million is available for capital projects in the county, much the largest share of any of the SWRDA areas. Of course, Cornwall also has around £415 million EU Convergence Program money available for viable projects 2007-2013.

A list of the Cornwall projects supported by the SWRDA is given here. A briefing by the SWRDA is here. (9 June 2009)

* Way back in 1997 the Labour government promised to end mixed-sex wards and facilities in hospitals. It has been very slow progress. This January the government acted decisively to settle its promise throughout the country this year; and in April the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) was granted £750 000 from the Department of Health’s privacy and dignity program for its plans to end any mixed wards and facilities in its three hospitals at Treliske, Hayle, and Penzance. For patients in Cornwall that is excellent news.

* At the urging of the government, doctors (GPs) have been extending the opening hours of their practices. This is a progressive move which makes consultation easier for people who work in the day and cannot easily get time off, and for their employers and work colleagues too. The Department of Health has released the figures for the incidence of extended hours in primary care trusts, including the Cornwall and Isle of Scilly (CIOSPCT) one: in March sixty eight of the seventy GP practices in CIOSPCT were operating extended hours, that is 97.1 percent of the practices. This is much above the England average, 73.5 percent. The details are here. (April 2009)

* Since February 2007 the Vorsprung Cornwall posts here have been crying up the positive concrete things happening in Cornwall. Now a new project, Confident Cornwall, has been set up by others, supported by the local newspapers and business groups. It is to “showcase the good news” about Cornwall. This is excellent news. There is much to celebrate in Cornwall. (March 2009)

* There are plans to turn the site of Glasney College, a medieval Christian monastery at Penryn, into a garden, thus preserving the monastic ruins which are below the surface. The monastery was demolished during the religious reforms of Henry VIII. A range of facilities, such as arts and crafts, is possible at the garden. (12 March 2009)

* Small businesses in construction Cornwall, plumbers and electricians for example, have been helped by the government’s decision to bring forward £6.889 million of spending in schools from 2010/11 to this year, 2009/10. This is part of a total of £919 million spending brought forward for schools in England to help defeat the effects of the recession.

It’s good news for Cornwall businesses and for schools, though the money will be deducted from 2010/11 school allocations. It is spending brought forward not additional spending.

The education department explains it here and there is a list of which education authorities get what here. (4 March 2009)

* St Michael’s hospital at Hayle, part of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT), is to undergo a £6 million renewal. As part of that there will be two new operating theatres for breast surgery and orthopedics and these will be the largest and most up-to-date in the RCHT. This is excellent news for the NHS in Cornwall and for patients. See here for more details. (17 January 2009). The two new operating theatres are funded by the national Department of Health through the exceptional public dividend capital scheme. (Hansard 23 March 2009 column 162W).

* Let me begin the new year with a hopeful and positive report in today’s Western Morning News. The Peninsular Medical School is looking to establish a major research institute on the environment and health at Treliske, Truro. EU funds are being sought and jobs for locals and work for local businesses will follow. (1 January 2009)