Conservative and Independent Councillors in Camborne and Redruth today voted to make some of the poorest people in Cornwall – their own electors – worse off by agreeing the new Poll Tax.
At Cornwall Council, the motion to impose a 25% increase in payments on disabled people, those working for low pay and those looking for work, was passed by a clear majority of the Conservative and Independent administration.
Jude Robinson, Labour Councillor for Camborne North, said:
“Local councillors should have thought more about people in the wards they represent. Ill health and low wages are higher in this area than anywhere else in Cornwall. People are desperate and the local Food Bank is already stretched. Cuts to housing benefits and working tax credits by the coalition government have hit people hard. Now the council will demand up to £20 a month more from people who have nothing to spare. This will cause even more hardship in Camborne.”
Party delegates and visitors from across Cornwall will be attending the South West Labour Party Regional Conference today (Saturday) in Exeter.
Cornwall Labour Party chair Candy Atherton said “This important conference brings together Labour members from across the wider south west. Speakers include Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, a frequent visitor to Cornwall, as well as regional Labour MPs such as Ben Bradshaw.
“Resolutions to be debated include campaigning for a Living Wage, so vital to us in a low wage economy like Cornwall, to the importance of sustaining and improving our transport links to the county. After the problems we have had in recent weeeks this has never been more important.
“I have no doubt that fellow delegates will be asking about the shambles that is Cornwall Council ranging from the loss of Tory leaders during the joint venture saga through to the more recent lie detection revelations. I am sure that, like me, many will feel this debacle must end.”
Yesterday at Cornwall’s full council meeting and today at Cabinet, it became crystal clear that the Conservative / Independent administration is over and no longer in charge at the Council. Portfolio Holders cannot even agree with proposals that are putting forward themselves and are more comfortable deciding to defer decisions until some distant point in the future.
Labour Councillor Jude Robinson said:
“The Conservative and Independent administration is over and they are putting services at risk as their top priority is arguing amongst themselves.
“The most shameful aspect of this shambles is that responsibility to the public has been completely lost in a welter of failure and excuses.
“This so-called administration spent all day yesterday at full council avoiding decisions at great expense to the public. They are leaving the next Council with a financial black hole of at least £21 million and more cuts are on the way. It is clear that front line services to people in Cornwall will suffer and the longer this goes on, the worse it will be – with the public again picking up the tab.
Jude Robinson, Labour councillor for Camborne North, has attacked David Cameron’s plan to scrap housing benefit for under 25 year olds, saying:
“David Cameron’s proposal this week to scrap housing benefit for under 25s is another kick in the teeth for low paid workers. Most young people who claim housing benefit are not ‘feckless’: they are working for low wages and paying high rents.
“This government of millionaires has created a double dip recession, failed to build affordable housing, given tax cuts to the rich and now wants to scapegoat young people trying to make their way in world.
“This does not even make sense. Young people are told to get on their bikes to look for work and take whatever job is offered. This Tory plan means that if they do move away from home and take a low paid job, they can’t get help if their rent is unaffordable.
“Parents are being told to ‘downsize’ their homes and at the same time house their grown up children.
“David Cameron wants to make it harder for young people to take jobs or apprenticeships and then calls them ‘feckless’.”
The coalition government’s proposals to introduce regional pay are unfair, unworkable and an unwanted ‘blast from the past’ according to the Labour Party in Cornwall.
Candy Atherton, former MP for Falmouth and Camborne and Chair of the Cornwall Labour Party said: “I am proud to have been a member of the Labour Government that introduced the national minimum wage in 1999. At the time, the Tories said it would cost jobs and the Lib Dems wanted a regional minimum wage. Both were proved wrong then and they are just as wrong today.”
Jude Robinson, Councillor for Camborne North said: “Wages are already too low in Cornwall. Paying teachers and nurses less will not help that – it will only give bad private sector employers an excuse to reduce pay as well. Working people in Cornwall already face a double whammy of high costs and low wages. If low pay was good for the economy, ours would be booming but we are still one of the poorest regions in Europe.”
The introduction of regional pay would mean that workers would be paid different rates for doing the same job in different parts of the country and lead to difficulties of staff recruitment in low wage/high cost areas like Cornwall.
Chair of Cornwall Labour Party Candy Atherton today welcomed the news that Nicky Williams will be the Labour candidate for Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner.
“I welcome Nicky to what will be a great campaign for Labour in the 2 counties. Nicky will be a strong candidate in a region with a strong record in innovation in policing. At a time when the Tory led coalition is cutting police numbers while crime rises a strong candidate fighting for local people is what we need.
“While the Lib Dems dither whether to stand at all and the Tories rub their hands to cut ever more Labour will work to protect local communities and I wish Nicky every success in November’s elections.”
Speaking in Chacewater, Labour MP for Exeter Ben Bradshaw called on the people of Cornwall to send the Lib Dems and Tories a strong message when they vote for their Cornwall councillors next May.
“This omnishambles of a government needs to be shaken up” he said “and here in Cornwall local people can really send a strong message that they should go. Whether it is the pasty tax, granny tax, caravan tax or rising unemployment – all their policies hit Cornwall hard. And this is the area the Lib Dems like to call their heartlands – a fine way to treat Cornwall!”
Clutching his own pasty, Ben highlighted the difference between life in Cornwall with a Labour government and life under the Tory-led coalition;
“The Labour government worked hard to bring investment into Cornwall – the University, Objective One, new roads, the medical school – the list goes on and on. Yet under the Toriues and Lib Dems Cornwall has gone backwards. Schools have not been rebuilt as we planned, hospital waiting lists rise and now they are even planning to bring in a regional wage which will leave Cornwall even poorer.”
Jude Robinson, Labour and Cooperative Councillor for Camborne North has written to Council Leader Alec Robertson, asking for an apology over a misleading Freedom of Information response on the Council’s liability for Sita’s legal costs.
In 2009, Jude asked the Council several questions about the agreements between Sita and te Council, including questions on whether the Council would have to pick up the tab for Sita’s legal action against the Council decision.
Jude said: “The Council avoided a direct question and basically split hairs to avoid giving an honest answer – that it would have to fund both the planning appeal and the fight against.
“As the Leader of the Council is also responsible for communication and the Council’s reputation, I have asked for an apology, an assurance that the FOI responses have improved under his leadership and if not, that he now makes sure this department becomes genuinely open and transparent.
“When people in Cornwall ask for answers, they should get answers – not wriggling and squirming, half truths or evasions.”
The local election results this week are good news for Labour in the South West and show the party is making up lost ground in the region. With Unitary elections in Cornwall only a year away, the Labour Party believes there could be big changes at Cornwall Council.
Candy Atherton, Chair of Cornwall Labour Party said: “Around 1 in 3 Lib Dems could lose their seats in next year’s unitary elections here, if this year’s election results are repeated. We believe people want real opposition to the Tory led government, not hollow promises from councillors keeping the Conservatives in power, whether that is the Lib Dems at Westminster or the Independents in Cornwall. Here, as in Devon, Plymouth and Exeter, Labour can make a real difference, giving a strong voice to local communities and defending people from unfair coalition cuts.”
Cornwall Councillor Jude Robinson, currently the only Labour member of the authority said: “The election results were a victory for the hard work of Labour Party members across the South West and we want to make sure that people in Cornwall know the Labour Party is on their side here as well.”
Labour campaigners Hanna Toms and Jude Robinson have today condemned Cornish Liberal Democrats, dishonest election leaflets, which claimed to oppose the “Pasty Tax”.
The Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg made it clear yesterday (Sunday 22nd April) that the tax is an official Lib Dem Policy, which he supports. He publically disowned his local candidate and party activists.
In a live television broadcast, Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg disowned Cornwall Lib Dems, who fought a recent Truro by election (and lost to the Tories) on the claim that only the Liberal Democrat candidate could ‘Stop the Tories Taxing Our Pasties’.
This has now been proven to be wholly untrue and in fact was a Lib Dem policy.
Recent changes contained in the Coalition Budget mean that VAT will be payable on all hot food which is purchased for consumption. Previously only food consumed on the premises of the supplier or certain take away foods were liable for VAT. The new proposals will cover all hot foods. It is argued that this will hit many firms in Cornwall because the “Cornish” pasty is unique to Cornwall and represents a significant part of the local economy.