Thursday, 7 December 2017

Update on Bass

I have received the below response from Fishing Minister George Eustice to my correspondence on behalf of the many people who contacted me about the proposed new EU bass fishing rules.

I will continue to raise this on behalf of both commercial and leisure anglers to ensure your voices are loudly heard.


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Newspaper column 6 December 2017 - my shift with the South Western Ambulance Service

As we head into December, last week was another varied one, with lots going on both in Westminster and in Mid-Cornwall.

In Parliament I was pleased to speak in a number of debates, including questioning the Secretary of State for Transport on regional transport infrastructure investment following the recent announcement of the A30 link road to St Austell, and voicing what I am sure is the opinion of the vast majority of residents of Mid-Cornwall in criticising the reckless and ill-informed tweets made by President Trump promoting right wing hate groups in the UK.

Meanwhile in Mid-Cornwall I attended a great business breakfast event at the Eden Project on Friday, followed by supporting the excellent work carried out by the local foodbank and Tesco, a visit to the B4 Project to discuss their work protecting our bees and a busy constituency advice surgery in St Austell on Saturday.

I was also delighted to attend and give a speech at a charity dinner at The Bristol Hotel in Newquay on Sunday where we raised thousands of pounds for local charities.

The highlight of my week last week was when I joined the night shift with the local Southwestern Ambulance Service crew as an observer.

Since my election I have made time to visit our emergency services to be able to obverse first hand how things operate on the front line and therefore better understand the challenges and pressures they face.

We all know the pressures the NHS as an organisation faces and I am pleased to see the Government has recognised this with a real terms year on year increase of funding for NHS Cornwall since its creation.

I am also aware of the financial constraint ambulance services such as the South Western Ambulance Service face. The South Western Ambulance Services was the first ambulance service in the country to be registered to operate as an NHS Foundation Trust in its own right and as such has different funding arrangements to the other NHS organisations in Cornwall. This means they have a greater freedom to determine their own future and more flexibility to tailor services to the particular needs of the communities they serve – an important distinction that defines it from other services in Cornwall such as the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and Treliske.

One thing that struck me was how busy the shift was. As soon as one case was finished another was assigned within seconds – a constant workload but one that the dedicated and professional staff remained on top of at all times.

One thing the crew did raise with me was the status of the public sector pay cap. I am pleased that the Secretary of State for Health announced in October that the cap is to be lifted, which will benefit the 1.4 million NHS staff who have been affected by the cap and should mean decent pay rises going forward.

One thing that the crew did press upon me was that people need to value this service as a precious but limited resource.  For example, they dealt with 6,159 incidents in the last weekend of November, a 12% rise compared to 2016. The advice given is to only call 999 if the casualty is suffering from severe bleeding, breathing difficulties, chest pains or loss of consciousness, essentially an emergency for serious or life threatening situations.

All in all I had a very interesting time during my observation of the shift. I learned a lot and have nothing but admiration for our paramedics.


My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Newspaper Column for St Austell area newspapers 29 November 2017

The main news last week was the Budget Statement. There was lots of good news for Cornwall including positive changes to Universal Credit, more money for the NHS and cutting stamp duty for first time house buyers. However, there was also some great news locally for the St Austell area. The Budget included confirmation from the Chancellor that the Government would be providing £79m of funding for the dedicated link road from St Austell to the A30.

This is truly amazing news and represents one of the biggest investments ever in our transport infrastructure in mid-Cornwall. In my election campaigns in both 2015 and this year I said securing this funding would be my top priority for this area and I am delighted to be delivering on this commitment.

This road will provide a direct link from the A30 to St Austell - reducing the journey times and will bring massive economic benefits. In a consultation in 2012 this road was the number one priority for local businesses. It will also solve the problems residents of the villages of Bugle, Stenalees and Roche have been experiencing with heavy traffic going through their communities, particularly close to local schools,  using roads that were simply not designed for that volume of traffic In the run up to the General Election this year, these problems were the number one issue raised with me on the door in these communities and I am pleased, just five months down the line, to have delivered what I promised, and secured the funding from the Government to help solve this issue.

This is a road that many people have talked about for years and I am pleased to have finally got the ball rolling on it as your MP and as part of a Conservative Government. I am very grateful for the support of Cornwall Council officers, local councillors Sally-Anne Saunders and John Wood, as well as the St Austell Bay Economic Forum (SABEF) on behalf of the wider business community.

I have already met with the Head of Transport of Cornwall Council to discuss this news and keep the momentum going. We now have to go through the planning process and hope that construction will begin in 2019. Rest assured that I will be doing everything in my power to ensure this project goes ahead as soon as possible and we get the road built for the benefit of the whole community.

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events



Thursday, 23 November 2017

NHS Funding

I believe fully in the NHS and its values, and I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to a tax-funded NHS, free at the point of use, wherever and whenever you need it. As Ministers plan a new relationship with the EU, I know they will continue to ensure that the NHS is given the priority it deserves.

Despite tight public finances, the Government has actively supported the NHS's own plan for the future. That is why it is increasing NHS spending by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years. This will ensure that by the end of this Parliament, everyone will be able to access GP services at evenings and weekends.
At the recent Budget, the Chancellor announced an additional £6.3 billion in funding for the NHS, £335 million will be spent this year on A&Es to prepare them for any winter pressure they may face.

I wholeheartedly support the Government's increase to the NHS budget. However, the NHS is a public service like any other, and local areas must live within their agreed budgets, otherwise they are effectively unfairly depriving other parts of the NHS of much-needed resources. As I understand, the so-called 'capped expenditure process' is part of NHS England and NHS Improvement's financial planning, which examines how a small number of NHS areas could do more to balance their budgets, and remain on a financially sustainable footing for the long run.

You may be happy to hear that the Commonwealth Fund, a respected healthcare think-tank which works to improve access to healthcare around the world rated the NHS as the best healthcare system in the world, in an authoritative, comparative study of healthcare systems in developed economies. Whilst there is no room for complacency, I am encouraged that the NHS is performing well, despite many years of difficult financial circumstances.

More money is being invested in mental health than ever before, with an estimated record £11.4 billion this year and investment continues to rise. Additional mental health funding has been invested since April 2017, rising to £1 billion by 2020/21 for mental health to support crisis care and perinatal services, and respond to the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. For children and young people, £1.4 billion has been committed to transform mental health and eating disorder services over five years. In Cornwall will have our first adolescent mental health unit build in Bodmin over the next few years. No longer will young people have to travel out of county to get the care they need.

The NHS will earmark an extra £2.4 billion a year for GP services by 2020/21, a 14 per cent real terms increase. This investment includes a £500 million Sustainability and Transformation package to help GP practices add to the workforce and tackle workload.

On top of this, to secure the best value for taxpayers, tough new financial controls have been introduced to cut down on waste in the NHS, including introducing caps for agency staff and management consultants, and introducing central procurement rules. I am glad to say that the limits on agency spending have saved the NHS roughly £1 billion between 2014 and 2016, and the NHS believes there is still significant progress to be made.

I understand that the NHS is putting into practice the Getting it Right First Time scheme, first piloted by orthopaedic surgeon Professor Tim Briggs. In 2016, the Health Secretary announced new plans to reduce infection in the NHS and improve surgical practice, which aims to save the NHS a further £1.5 billion per year, which can be reinvested in patient care.

In recognition of the pressures facing social care in local areas, the Chancellor has announced a package of measures in the recent budget which go even further to help the health and care system. Local Authorities in England will receive an additional £2 billion for social care over the next three years. This will help to ease pressures on the NHS by supporting more people to be discharged from hospital and into care as soon as they are ready.

It is also important to note what’s happening Cornwall. The NHS budget has increased and is budgeted to continue increase as you can see from the table below.


 














Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Newspaper column 22 November - the fight against plastics in our seas

This week Parliament is focussing on the Budget, which the Chancellor will be giving today.

I spent the run up both in Mid-Cornwall and in Parliament, including a busy constituency advice surgery in Newquay and the Anti-Social Behaviour summit in St Austell

I had a packed time in Parliament, speaking in a number of debates, including one on Fatherhood and the importance of the role of fathers in today’s society, and on the role of the UK in combatting marine pollution.

Along with this second debate, I was also pleased, in my capacity as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Protecting Our Waves, to host the Plastic-free Coastlines Reception in Westminster. Those who have followed my work will know this is an issue I have been campaigning on since I was first elected.

Along with Surfers Against Sewage, the reception took place to highlight the issue of marine plastic pollution and promote innovative government, business and community based solutions to protect our oceans and beaches from the rising tide of plastic.

In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; in 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. This is set to double by 2034. Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans and there may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean, altogether weighing up to 269,000 tonnes.

UK-wise, approximately 5000 items of marine plastic pollution have been found per mile of beach and on average over 150 plastic bottles litter each mile of UK beaches.

On top of this, recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species examined. 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.

These are all shocking statistics and clearly something needs to be done. With this in mind, it was great to get so many inspirational charities, businesses and government agencies together in Parliament to see just how far we have come in our fight against plastic pollution of our seas.

The Government is listening to the hundreds of thousands of people who have got involved and is taking forward ideas including the consultation on the deposit return scheme for single use plastic bottles and we are very much hoping for more news on this issue in the budget. There is still much more to do, both in terms of raising awareness of this issue and the serious nature of the problem, and in providing solutions to the tide of plastic that is blighting our seas.


My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Child refugees

I strongly support the principle of family unity, but it is important to note that there are already legal routes for families to be reunited safely that are not dependent on our EU membership. The UK's family reunion policy is generous, granting over 23,000 family reunion visas over the last five years, and I can assure you that the Government will continue to reunite refugees with their immediate family.

The EU Dublin Regulation determines the Member State with responsibility for assessing an asylum claim. Under the Regulation unaccompanied children present in another EU Member State can be transferred to the UK to have their asylum claim assessed where they have a qualifying family member or relative legally present and transfer is in their best interests. I do expect cooperation on asylum and migration with our European partners to continue after the UK leaves the EU, and will follow this topic with interest as the exact nature of this cooperation becomes clear during the negotiations.


Britain has a proud record of helping the most vulnerable who are fleeing conflict and danger, and I know the Government is committed to upholding this fine tradition. That is why its response to the migrant crisis has indeed been to establish resettlement schemes from the refugee camps in the region. This allows support to be targeted to the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis, while not creating a strong incentive for refugees to undertake dangerous journeys. By 2020, the UK will have resettled 20,000 refugees through our Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, as well as a further 3,000 of the most vulnerable children and their families from the Middle East and North Africa region under the Vulnerable Children's Resettlement Scheme.

Green Belt

I am exceptionally fond of the British and Cornish countryside. While it is up to local authorities to determine the development of new homes through local plans, I would like to reassure you that the Government is acting to protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development.

The Housing White Paper, published earlier this year, emphasised the Government's continued commitment to protecting the Green Belt. Ministers want to amend and add to national policy to make it clear that: Green Belt boundaries should only be amended in exceptional circumstances, when local authorities can demonstrate they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements; and where land is removed from the Green Belt, local policies should require the impact to be offset.


Planning policy also guarantees strong protection for National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The Green Belt also enjoys protection against erosion from caravan and traveller sites. The Government also has an ambitious programme to bring brownfield land back into use in England and is working closely with local authorities to drive this forward. This will ensure that development is prioritised on brownfield sites rather than at the expense of our countryside.