Penzance and west Cornwall have been enjoying the week of the Golowan festival. This year the festival culminated in a gathering of 8734 people dressed as pirates at Penzance; apparently a world record for a pack of pirates.

Local culture is alive and well as Golowan and the many other festivals in the county show. From Padstow to Helston people are celebrating their customs and lives and their Cornishness. The pirates also show that live culture changes, expands, takes in the new, keeps the best of the old, and nods at the world far away from here.

There are pictures here. And here’s an account by Dick Cole of a festival at Indian Queens.


VORSPRUNG CORNWALL 5

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)

VORSPRUNG CORNWALL 3

25 June 2008

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 2008 from January to June 2008. Vorsprung Cornwall 1 and 2 cover 2007.

* For several months people have been fund raising for a proposed children’s hospice in Cornwall: the nearest one at present is in north Devon. Now Howard and Shirley Rosevear have given land near St Austell as a site for the hospice. This will be for children from Cornwall and Plymouth.

You can read this heart-warming story here in the Western Morning News for 25 June. There are good people in Cornwall.

* June 2008. The government is contributing £34 million as part of transport improvements for the regeneration of the Redruth-Pool-Camborne area. In all the regeneration project is intended to produce 2300 new jobs and six hundred homes.
(Source: egov monitor Rosie Winterton announces £34 million transport improvements for Cornish regeneration area)

* May 2008. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published data for individual institutions about MRSA and C difficile deaths. The data comes with caveats. For the period 2002-06 the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust performed creditably in this difficult sphere: better than average for the listed institutions for C difficile and average for MRSA.

* 13 April 2008. There’s an upbeat article in the Observer describing Penzance as now the premier art place in Cornwall and a place to visit and enjoy. Perhaps Penzance is beginning to see a cultural and economic resurgence and outshine St Ives. (Source: Observer 13 April 2008 Penzance turns regeneration into a fine art)

* April. The county record office at Truro has begun to put its parish tithe maps and their accompanying apportionment/survey books onto compact disks. This will save the original printed maps from wear and tear, will make them available in a more user-friendly format than microfiche, and make the survey books more easily searched. Additionally, the record office is selling the disks (map and survey book) for £20. This is excellent news for everyone interested in local and family history in Cornwall.

* In Cornwall in 2007/08 £3.362 million was spent on warm front measures for vulnerable households. The details are here , look for DEP 2008-0881.xls for 17 March 2008.

* March 2008. Caradon district council is receiving £5.95 million for affordable housing from the first round of the national affordable housing program 2008/09. This will build ninety six houses in the district and create a care village for the elderly out of the the Passmore Edwards hospital in Liskeard. This is capital news and a significant help to people there in need of affordable housing. Rejoice. Read more here . (NOTE. The original article is no longer available online but the cached version is still available: type “caradon £6m affordable housing” into google and open the cached version.)

* There has been a significant improvement in waiting times for NHS hospital patients in Cornwall. The figures are subject to caveats and fluctuations but the waiting time for all specialties for patients still waiting for hospital admission in the period ending March 2007 in Cornwall and Isle of Scilly primary care trust (CIOSPCT) was 7 weeks; March 1997 in the corresponding Cornwall and Isles of Scilly health authority (CIOSHA) it was 12.9 weeks.

Examples of reductions in the specialties are cardiology with 4.6 weeks at March 2007 and with 14.6 weeks at March 1997; gynecology 7.2 weeks and 13 weeks; and ophthalmology 7.2 and 17.7 weeks.

With all the caveats these are impressive reductions.

You can read the details and the data explanations and caveats in Hansard 27 February 2008, columns 1754W-1756W.

* The figures for breast and cervical cancer screening show that in the area of the present Cornwall and Isles of Scilly primary care trust the screening program is being well used and is reaching a high proportion of women. We are slightly higher in percentage reach than the average for England in cervical screening. In breast screening the proportion of eligible women who have attended screening here was higher than the England average in the last given year, 2005-2006, a very large improvement over two years previously when Cornwall was way below the England average. The lives of women in Cornwall are being saved through timely screening. (Hansard 31 January 2008, columns 596W-602W and 618W-624W.)

* 30 January 2008. The EU investment program, called by the unromantic name of the Convergence program, now begins in Cornwall and will make available about £300 million over the years 2008-2013, plus £140 million from the British government.This is in effect a ‘continuation’ of the 2000-2007 Objective One program which made about £350 million available to Cornwall.

* 25 January 2008. The Healthcare Commission has published the results of its assessment of 148 maternity units. The assessment stressed women’s reported experiences. The maternity unit at Treliske Hospital, Truro (Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust) has been assessed as among the “Best performing,” a category in which 26 percent of the units fall. In fact it is seventh best of the units. That is an excellent performance.

The unit at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which serves some women in east Cornwall, is in the “Least well performing” category. That is unacceptable but the assessment has been influenced by incomplete information from the trust.

The complete details are here.

* 8 January 2008. Cornwall county council is considering, through consultants, the development of a park-and-ride for seven hundred cars at St Erth railway station. This, along with longer trains, would be to improve the service for people on the St Ives branch line, which is much used in summer, and to reduce congestion in St Ives.

Such a development has long been advocated by locals.

Read the details at Transport briefing here.

SEVEN CORNISH BRAVES

20 December 2007

In 1854-55 seven men from Newlyn sailed to Australia hoping to make their fortunes in the gold fields. Although not used to distance sailing, they made the journey of about ten thousand miles to Melbourne in their thirty-seven foot long lugger Mystery. They had no engine and no twenty-first century navigation equipment.

Pete Goss is going to re-enact their voyage next year. Read about it here and here.

The seven Cornish braves should be noted as among those who sought fortune with courage: Richard Nicholls (captain), Richard Badcock, William Badcock, Charles Boase, Job Kelynack, Lewis Lewis, and Philip Curnow Matthews. Let their names live in fame.

People in Cornwall should be – are – proud of these men and welcome Goss’s adventure.

VORSPRUNG CORNWALL 2

19 December 2007

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 2007 from July onwards. Vorsprung Cornwall 1 covers February-June 2007 onwards.

*December 2007: Newquay Airport continues to expand its services. Ryanair are increasing their flights to London Stanstead and flights to Spain, from March 2008 Skybus will be operating two additional routes, and in summer 2008 Flybe will be operating five new routes.

These expansions will help the airport, create jobs, and help the Cornwall economy. Welcome them.

* 26 November 2007: A parliamentary answer has revealed that the proportion of 16-18 year olds in Cornwall who are not in education, employment, or training (NEETS) is 6.1 percent of the Cornwall age group. This is much lower than in many places; for example the figure for Hackney is 13.1 percent, for Liverpool 13.2, for Birmingham 11.4, and for Plymouth 7.4. Cornwall is in the bottom third of the figures, where bottom is best. This is good news about young people in Cornwall though 6.1 is still too high.

Read the details in Hansard 26 November 2007, columns 141W-144W. Similar information is given in Hansard 21 November 2007, columns 958W-964W.

Addendum February 2008: Hansard 25 February 2008, columns 1284W-1290W gives NEETS figures for 16 and 17 year olds. At December 2007 the figure for Cornwall was 5.5 percent of the age group; this puts Cornwall at the 64th percentile of the 149 local authorities.

* 7 November 2007: Starting in September next year Cornwall, along with thirteen other local authorities, will begin to offer fifteen hours of free early education to all three and four year olds for thirty eight weeks of the year. This is to help to give every child a good start in life and to help parents work out a life/work balance. The scheme will be funded by the government. Details are in Hansard for 7 November 2007, columns 3WS-4WS.

* 2 November 2007: today is the official opening of the new heart centre at Derriford Hospital, Pymouth. There’s an account of it in the Western Morning News.

Yes, I know Plymouth isn’t Cornwall but patients from east Cornwall use the hospital and the heart centre will be used by people from all over Cornwall. This cardiothoracic unit is very good news for people in Cornwall who no longer have to travel as far as London for treatment such as a heart bypass.

* 25 October 2007: the future of Newquay airport is assured after investment of around £44 million has been agreed to change it from an RAF to a wholly civil airport. This involves money from the EU, British government, and the regional development agency. The airport is important to Cornwall’s economic development. Read more here.

* 10 September 2007: Kerrier district council has deservedly been named by the government as a champion for homelessness. It will share with other councils its expertise and good, successful practice in reducing the use of temporary accommodation and in helping people to avoid homelessness. See here for more details.

*From September 8-22 St Ives, Cornwall is holding its annual festival. Music, poetry, painting, film, talks, everything to enjoy in the arts from Cornwall and the wider world. Not a time to be gloomy about this place.

* From 6th to 12th August Newquay is hosting its annual rip curl boardmasters (RCB) surf contest. Okay, Cornwall isn’t Hawaii but one estimate is that surfing brings £40 million into the Cornwall economy and this RCB contest attracts thousands of visitors each day. The rip curl boardmasters is actually a surfing, skateboarding, and music festival/competition. See here for vigorous details. Oh, and there is a bikini competition too.

Cornwall: a fun, energetic place for talented people and great for unenergetic spectators.

* August 2007- a regeneration of the centre of St Austell is going ahead. The cost will be £75 million, of which £31.5 million will be from the south west of England regional development agency (SWRDA) and the rest from the developers, David McLean Developers.

The regeneration will be mainly retail and includes new shops, cafes, a cinema, and an underground car park, but also seventy flats.

For several years now St Austell has been the forgotten town of Cornwall with an uninspiring town centre. Things can only get better.

Details are here and here.

* July 2007 – A group restoring the Steeple nature reserve on Worvas Hill, St Ives was given £36 000 by the heritage lottery fund. The money will help to fund restoration, improvements, tree planting, and educational work.

* An architecturally impressive new art gallery has opened in Penzance in July. St Ives has its Tate and now Penzance has its Exchange. See details and pictures here in the Daily Telegraph for 21 July.

* Marks and Spencer opened a new store on 19 July at the shopping site by the roundabout on the eastern outskirts of Hayle. As well as shirts and skirts and the usual M and S things, it will sell food and has a cafe, and has created nearly a hundred jobs. This is very good news for Hayle and western Cornwall. There are other shops on the site (Next, Boots) though I’m not sure if there’s enough car parking there. On the adjacent site there are other shops selling fabric, tiles, cars, etc; it’s all a good shopping area now.

* July 2007 – A fast computer network which links all the hospitals and doctors’ surgeries in Cornwall and Scillies has been launched.
This enables information to be shared among medicos speedily; for example, doctors will be able to see patients’ xrays from hospitals in their surgeries.

This technology is clearly a beneficial way of meeting the medical difficulties of a spread-out rural county.

See here for details from PublicTechnology.net.

I shall update this post from time to time. The original post was dated 23 January 2007.

Cornish nationalists use petitions to promote their views on the political status of Cornwall and Cornish ethnicity. Here I shall try to keep an eye on what they are signing up to on the web, along with other petitions about Cornwall. Unless stated otherwise, these petitions are on the pm website. The website does not say which signatories live in Cornwall.

There are today about 410 000 adults in Cornwall.

It looks as though most online petitions about Cornish political issues do not attract many signatures and none, so far, have got more than a thousand (about 0.25 percent of the adult population of Cornwall). As a means of rallying and demonstrating support these online petitions are failures.

Ended petitions

Cornwall, the fourth nation
A petition, which ended on 20 January 2007, called for the recognition of Cornwall as the “fourth nation of Great Britain.” It got seventy three signatures, about eleven percent of them women (based on forenames).

Cornwall separate
When it ended on 15 February 2007 a petition which said the duchy of Cornwall should be “a separate state within the UK” had attracted 276 signatures, of which about a fifth are from women judging by the forenames.

Stop building unaffordable housing in Cornwall and elsewhere
This petition ended on 30 April 2007 with thirty five signatures.

Determine own government
The petition called for Cornwall to determine its own future government and ended 5 June 2007. There were eight signatures on closure.

Extant petitions
The number of signatures in mid-April, three months ago, are in parentheses.

Independent Cornwall
A petition ending on 8 January 2008 calls for “the Celtic nation of Cornwall” to be granted “independence.” On 19 July 2007 it had fifty nine signatures (50).

2011 census
On the pledgebank website there is a petition which began on 15 January 2007 and ends in 2011 saying that unless there is a tick box for Cornish ethnicity on the 2011 census the signatories will not complete the census form. The signatories’ pledge is conditional on another one thousand people signing up. At 19 July 2007 there were 393 signatories (255).

Deliberately not completing a census form is an offence here under the Census Act 1920, section 8 (1).

1549
There is a petition asking for the 1549 uprising, which the petition calls the “Cornish genocide,” to be recognised. It ends on 1 February 2008 and on 19 July 2007 it had forty six signatures (37).

5 March Bank holiday
A petition to make St Piran’s Day, 5 March, a bank holiday had 849 signatures on 19 July 2007 (762). It ends 30 January 2008.

Assembly
On the petitiononline website there is an undated petition calling for a vote in Cornwall about establishing a Cornish Assembly. At 19 July 2007 it had 931 signatures (890) and a random look in March suggested that about two-fifths of the signatories were not electors in Cornwall.

Keep and restore full facilities at Penzance and Hayle hospitals
This petition, which ends on 19 January 2008, had 213 signatures at 15 June 2007 (206).

Allow Cornwall to be known as a duchy not a county of England
This had fifteen signatures on 19 July 2007 (11), and ends on 9 August 2007.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
By way of contrast the following crossparty petition signed by more than 38 600 people was presented to the House of Commons on 29 November 2006 by Andrew George, the MP for St Ives:
“The People of West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly declare our support for the cross-party (and non-party political) campaign to oppose any plans to reduce or close hospital services at St Michael’s or Penzance; express our dismay that NHS money is being used to build up and support private hospitals while the Trust is contemplating the closure of the excellent St Michael’s Hospital; object to the waste of money on administrative gimmicks rather than frontline public services; demand an Independent Review of hospital services and for fair funding; support an increase in emergency as well as acute and diagnostic services in the West of Cornwall” (Hansard 29 November 2006 column 1184).

Perhaps we can see in the difference in the number of signatures, making every allowance for the different circumstances of collection, a comment on what the people of Cornwall are really interested in. Perhaps petitions with signatures collected on the street and so forth get a larger number of backers – though a few petitions on the website have thousands of supporters.

Incidentally, a petition to keep Cornwall “as part of England” had at closure on 24 March 2007 forty signatures.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I looked at five of the nationalist petitions which together had 360 signatories at the time. Some people are legitimately signing more than one petition; judging by identicality of names forty seven people have done this, making up between them 113 signings.

I shall update this post from time to time. The original post was dated 23 January 2007.

Cornish nationalists use petitions to promote their views on the political status of Cornwall and Cornish ethnicity. Here I shall try to keep an eye on what they are signing up to on the web, along with other petitions about Cornwall. Unless stated otherwise, these petitions are on the pm website. The website does not say which signatories live in Cornwall.

There are today about 410 000 adults in Cornwall.

It looks as though most online petitions about Cornish political issues do not attract many signatures and none, so far, have got more than a thousand (about 0.25 percent of the adult population of Cornwall). As a means of rallying and demonstrating support these online petitions are failures.

Ended petitions

Cornwall, the fourth nation
A petition, which ended on 20 January 2007, called for the recognition of Cornwall as the “fourth nation of Great Britain.” It got seventy three signatures, about eleven percent of them women (based on forenames).

Cornwall separate
When it ended on 15 February 2007 a petition which said the duchy of Cornwall should be “a separate state within the UK” had attracted 276 signatures, of which about a fifth are from women judging by the forenames.

Stop building unaffordable housing in Cornwall and elsewhere
This petition ended on 30 April 2007 with thirty five signatures.

Determine own government
The petition called for Cornwall to determine its own future government and ended 5 June 2007. There were eight signatures on closure.

Extant petitions
The increase in signature numbers since mid-April, three months ago, are in parentheses.

Independent Cornwall
A petition ending on 8 January 2008 calls for “the Celtic nation of Cornwall” to be granted “independence.” On 19 July 2007 it had fifty nine signatures (50).

2011 census
On the pledgebank website there is a petition which began on 15 January 2007 and ends in 2011 saying that unless there is a tick box for Cornish ethnicity on the 2011 census the signatories will no complete the census form. The signatories’ pledge is conditional on another one thousand people signing up. At 19 July 2007 there were 393 signatories (255).

Deliberately not completing a census form is an offence here under the Census Act 1920, section 8 (1).

1549
There is a petition asking for the 1549 uprising, which the petition calls the “Cornish genocide,” to be recognised. It ends on 1 February 2008 and on 19 July 2007 it had forty six signatures (37).

5 March Bank holiday
A petition to make St Piran’s Day, 5 March, a bank holiday had 849 signatures on 19 July 2007 (762). It ends 30 January 2008.

Assembly
On the petitiononline website there is an undated petition calling for a vote in Cornwall about establishing a Cornish Assembly. At 19 July 2007 it has 931 signatures (890) and a random look in March suggested that about two-fifths of the signatories were not electors in Cornwall.

Keep and restore full facilities at Penzance and Hayle hospitals
This petition, which ends on 19 January 2008, had 213signatures at 15 June 2007 (206).

Allow Cornwall to be known as a duchy not a county of England
This had fifteen signatures on 19 July 2007 (11), and ends on 9 August 2007.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
By way of contrast the following crossparty petition signed by more than 38 600 people was presented to the House of Commons on 29 November 2006 by Andrew George, the MP for St Ives:
“The People of West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly declare our support for the cross-party (and non-party political) campaign to oppose any plans to reduce or close hospital services at St Michael’s or Penzance; express our dismay that NHS money is being used to build up and support private hospitals while the Trust is contemplating the closure of the excellent St Michael’s Hospital; object to the waste of money on administrative gimmicks rather than frontline public services; demand an Independent Review of hospital services and for fair funding; support an increase in emergency as well as acute and diagnostic services in the West of Cornwall” (Hansard 29 November 2006 column 1184).

Perhaps we can see in the difference in the number of signatures, making every allowance for the different circumstances of collection, a comment on what the people of Cornwall are really interested in. Perhaps petitions with signatures collected on the street and so forth get a larger number of backers – though a few petitions on the website have thousands of supporters.

Incidentally, a petition to keep Cornwall “as part of England” had at closure on 24 March 2007 forty signatures.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I looked at five of the nationalist petitions which together had 360 signatories at the time. Some people are legitimately signing more than one petition; judging by identicality of names forty seven people have done this, making up between them 113 signings.