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.


23 February 2008

Quietly, without trumpets, a revolution has taken place in Cornwall.

The amount of money spent in the six Cornwall district council areas on free bus travel – largely free bus travel for the elderly – last financial year was nearly £4.4 million, a vast leap up of about 340 percent over the previous year. This is the measure of the success of the new free travel benefit within a bus traveller’s county of residence and which began in April 2006. Before that there was a half-fare scheme.

The free bus travel scheme was introduced by our central government, by Labour.

Elderly people of Cornwall are getting about, visiting friends, visiting shops, getting out and engaging with their environment. That is good for mental, emotional, and physical health and independence; those are goods in themselves but additionally in economic terms likely reduce the call on the help services and perhaps increase spending in now-accessible local shops and on local services. The scheme also helps those elderly with meagre pensions.

For users the scheme is simplicity, just a plastic ticket.

The scheme applies all over England and includes some disabled people too. “County of residence” is my shorthand way of naming the travel areas in an England with various local government areas. There are separate schemes in the rest of Britain.

This April the scheme is extended beyond county borders and applies to travel on local, not scheduled, bus services across county borders. Hardy elderly people in Cornwall, using a succession of local buses, could travel free to Berwick.

Around eleven million elderly people and disabled people benefit from free bus travel.

Free bus travel is a civilised benefit. Of course in rural counties like Cornwall there are not and never will be the bus services that there are in large urban areas. Of course it can take a long time to get between distant places here on rambling buses. But this is a great and simple socialist scheme.

Celebrate it.

Now ask yourself: is this something the Conservatives would have introduced?