Voices In Politics: Falmouth Arwenack Cornwall Council candidates

On May 6th, voters will head to the polls in large numbers for the first time since the pandemic began. Over 4000 elected positions will be contested in England alongside elections across the rest of the UK. For voters in Cornwall, this will include Cornwall Councillors, Parish Councillors, Truro City Councillors, Falmouth and Penryn Town Councillors and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The Anchor is pleased to offer a platform to the candidates for Cornwall Council in divisions around the Penryn Campus to make their pitch to voters. The views expressed in this piece are not representative of The Falmouth Anchor, but of the candidates.

You can find more information about the candidates standing in your area here.

Laurie Magowan – Labour Party

Without doubt, being a student in Falmouth is tough right now.

In working and studying at the University of Exeter, I have seen first-hand the pressure on students and staff as everyone has done their best to respond to virtual teaching and lockdown conditions. These challenges are felt most acutely by you, maybe living away from home for the first time and not being able to fully enjoy the student experience you had hoped for.

I moved to Falmouth in 2006 and it took time to find my feet, make friends and get established. This journey was challenging enough, and I can only imagine how hard this must be for you during a global pandemic which has been so badly managed by our national government.

There are a number of ways in which I can support you as students and residents of Falmouth;

  • Addressing any concerns regarding community safety and adequate housing, whether it’s provided by the universities or private landlords. Everyone has the right be feel safe and secure in their home.
  • Working with FXU and Student Guild representatives, supporting campaigns on accommodation refunds and paying full price tuition fees, despite limited face to face teaching during the pandemic.
  • Promoting integration with local communities through innovative social and business-related activity that include intergeneration learning opportunities and electric car share schemes.
  • Working with local businesses and voluntary sector organisations to provide work experience, employment and new business start-up opportunities.
  • Amplifying the student voice and championing wider causes with the universities, Falmouth Town and Cornwall Council. Environmental concerns, community safety and transportation being key priorities.

I am involved in the University of Exeter’s Community Engagement Strategy and Civic University Agreement in partnership with Falmouth University. These initiatives aim to strengthen the relationships across different elements of our community and are more important than ever as we all recover from a traumatic twelve months.

With a proactive and creative approach from all parties, we can really shape the place we live. Falmouth is an amazing place to study and despite the difficult year we’ve had, I’m sure we will see a real improvement in all of our living and studying conditions over the next few months. I can offer you a wide range of community and business engagement experience, good access to university leaders and a strong voice to help you thrive during your student life in Falmouth.

Finian McCormick – Liberal Democrats

My name is Finian McCormick an almost lifelong Falmouth Arwenack resident and a University of Exeter mature student on the Penryn Campus. I have just been elected for a second term as BSc Business Subject Chair and am now looking forward to giving students a chance to have a local government representative that actually experiences and understands some of the issues we face.

I believe being able to give a balanced view on local issues from both a local and student perspective is exactly what Cornwall and Falmouth Town Councils need. Beyond that, I believe that Cornwall Council needs the views of young people in Cornwall being represented. The voters of Falmouth Arwenack have a unique opportunity to elect a representative under the age of 30 to shake up, what can often be, an out of touch and slow-to-change institution.

The Liberal Democrats have run Cornwall Council for the last 4 years in coalition with the Independents with some great successes. In Cornish local elections the residents of Cornwall have a choice between the Conservatives, the Independents or the Liberal Democrats. I am proud to represent the leading progressive party in Cornwall.

Moreover, I have already begun some of the work I hope to continue if I get the genuine honour of being elected to represent my hometown. I have spoken to both the SU Presidents and the Cornwall Council Portfolio Holder for Transport in an attempt to re-establish affordable student transport options between Penryn Campus and Falmouth by utilising Transport for Cornwall. Shockingly, none of the existing town or county councillors had raised this issue despite how much it effects such a large proportion of Falmouth’s community.

I am fortunate enough to know a lot of the student body personally and hope that I am a local government representative that students would feel comfortable reaching out to. I can be regularly seen around town so please do come and say hi if you recognise me. Alternatively, you can follow me on Instagram or Facebook.

I promise that properly representing you at Cornwall Council is something I am hugely passionate about. Local elections have such small electorates that each individual vote counts so much. Please consider voting Finian McCormick on 6th May.

Tom Scott – Green Party

I’ve lived in Falmouth for 20 years, lecturing at the university and working as a freelance writer. I came to the Green Party through campaigning on local environmental issues – things like pedestrianisation of our shopping streets and stopping the destructive dredging of Falmouth Bay.

The climate emergency is a truly existential crisis. And the Greens are the only party that isn’t about business as usual –  because business as usual is what’s got us into this mess.

At local government level, there’s a lot that could be changed for the better. Planning decisions, for instance. At present, these benefit the big developers much more than local people. We want such decisions to be fully transparent, and we’ll firmly resist any “development” that harms our natural environment and pours more carbon into the atmosphere.

Greens want housing policies that work for ordinary people, not just for developers. We’d like to see a double rate of Council Tax on all second homes, with the money raised invested into affordable zero-carbon housing. We’d also like to see a Council-supported renters’ union to help control abuses by private landlords.

We want a joined-up approach to health and wellbeing. We’ll fight to make sure that local health services remain publicly run and accessible to all, and we’ll work to promote things that actively help people’s well-being, like community gardens. These are really effective ways of tackling drivers of ill-health such as physical inactivity and loneliness.

We’ll make cycling and walking safer, and public transport more reliable and affordable. That means more investment in bus services, but also a joined-up system that offers integrated ticketing between different bus and train companies. We’d also introduce ‘car free’ days on which local bus and train transport is free across Cornwall.

To help Cornwall build back Green after the Covid crisis, we’d press for a ‘tourist tax’ –  a small levy on accommodation booked by Cornwall’s 5 million visitors a year. We’d invest this in creating sustainable businesses and jobs, and in training for the industries that are key for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy.

For too long, economic growth has been seen as the only measure of progress for Cornwall. But what’s so much more important is the wellbeing of Cornwall’s people. And that’s what our Green vision for Cornwall is all about.

Geoffrey Evans (Conservative Party) and Sean Stratton (Mebyon Kernow) could not be reached to comment.