Voices In Politics: Falmouth Penwerris 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.

Jayne Kirkham – Labour Party

I’ve been a Labour Cornwall Councillor for Falmouth for 3 years and am up for election again on 6 May for Falmouth Penwerris. 

I moved to Falmouth 15 years ago just before having my son. Before that, I was a lawyer who helped people with their employment rights or who had accidents at work. I retrained and got a job as a teaching assistant at Falmouth School while my son was little, but when the chance to stand for Parliament and then Cornwall Council came up, I took it. I’ve been in the Labour Party for 27 years because I believe in fairness and making sure a safety net is there for everyone, and I believe politics is the best way to make that happen. 

I work with local youth centres, food banks, schools, charities and businesses. I sit on committees that represent the people and businesses of Falmouth, including Plastic Free Falmouth and the Falmouth Place Shaping Board, which are making positive changes. We have recently been successful in getting funding to regenerate Falmouth town centre and to encourage walking and cycling in the town.

I am the deputy leader of the Labour Group on Cornwall Council so have done Cornwall-wide work too. Some of the things I am most proud of are:

  • Declaring the Cornwall Council Climate Emergency with a 2030 target for a carbon neutral Cornwall
  • Securing £3.5 million towards mental healthcare in schools, the first ever successful budget challenge of this Council.
  • Successfully supporting Marcus Rashford’s campaign on child poverty and free school meals.  
  • Fighting for Cornwall’s Local Government Pension Scheme to make commitments to drastically cut its investments in carbon.

If elected, I would:

  • Turbo charge social/council housing provision and fix the homes we’ve got.
  • Maximise the huge opportunity to invest in our green infrastructure like windpower, solar and geothermal and the future of energy in Cornwall. 
  • Continue my work towards making Falmouth carbon neutral by 2030 on Circular Falmouth – buying a composter; getting Cornwall an anaerobic digester. Make Falmouth an active travel town.
  • Carry on & regenerate Market Street and Falmouth Town centre.
  • Push the government to close tax loopholes for second homes. Use those taxes for truly affordable housing.
  • Push hard for fairer health and care funding for Cornwall. Our buildings are run down and we need more staff

James Miller – Green Party

I joined the Green Party five years ago because I realised that business as usual won’t save us from the climate emergency or even provide basic services that we need. I’m from Cornwall so I understand the local culture and I experience the problems people face living here. I have a Renewable Energy degree from the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus in Penryn and have lived in Falmouth since 2014.

As a Cornwall Councillor, I’ll work hard for:

  • Democratically accountable planning and an end to destructive ‘development’. This means making sure that Cornwall Council provides proper transparency and engagement for local people rather than decisions being stitched up behind closed doors for the benefit of large companies.
  • A joined-up approach to health and wellbeing – not just to ensure that health services are available to people who need them, but also to treat the causes of ill health, such as loneliness and physical inactivity.
  • Public transport that’s regular, affordable and reliable, by better integration of ticketing between different bus services for instance. I’d also press for a 20mph speed limit in urban areas and for better cycle lanes for commuter routes, such as between Falmouth and the Penryn Campus.
  • Housing policies that address local needs rather than the just developers’ profits. We would also like the Council to support a renters’ union to stop abuses by private landlords providing overpriced and poor quality accommodation. And we’d press for a major project of retrofitting old cold homes to make them warm, healthy and affordable.
  • A Green recovery that supports local businesses and jobs. Cornwall is over-reliant on tourism and Cornwall Council can help rebalance this by using Cornish based companies and skills for its activities.
  • Protecting climate, nature and biodiversity. Cornwall Council has declared a climate emergency and as a Green councillor I’d help make sure that Cornwall actually transitions to carbon neutrality and the regeneration of nature.

Students should vote for me because:

  • I will work hard to make sure actual green polices are introduced to Cornwall Council rather than the greenwash put forward by other parties.
  • Improved public transport, making travelling to the university affordable and making cycling easier and safer.
  • More power for student renters for higher-quality accommodation.

The Green Party wants Cornwall to become a place where both people and nature can thrive – and for that to happen, we need people to vote Green on 6 May.

John Spargo – Liberal Democrats

I have been a Falmouth Smithick ward Town Councillor for the last 4 years with my main interests being Planning, The Environment, Events and Tourism. I sit on the Plastic Free Falmouth Board and am Vice Chair of the Falmouth Town Planning Committee. I also sit on the Finance and General Purposes committee, The Falmouth and Penryn Conservation committee, the Tallships, Christmas and Sea Shanty Festival committees and the Kimberly Park working group. I also attend Traders, Save our Falmouth, and Extinction Rebellion meetings along with Safer Falmouth and Climate control meetings. My attendance at council run meetings averages around 95%.

I first got involved in politics in my early teens when I delivered leaflets for my Uncle in West London where he twice stood in General Elections as a Liberal Party candidate. His positive, caring approach made a lasting impression on me. One of my Cornish Uncles was also an inspiration and shared the same values in caring for the community. He was a Cornwall Councillor for around 40 years including spells as Chair and Vice Chair of Kerrier District Council. It was only at our last local council elections that with more time available to me I decided to stand for election. Since being elected I have become even more committed to making Falmouth a better place for us all to Live, Work and Study.

My family have run Tallships Trading in Church Street for the last 25 years. I have also many years experience first as a Retail Designer and Project Manager and more recently as a Designer and Project Manager for both a large local Property Developer and also the Ocean Social Housing Group. This experience will be invaluable to the council at a time when we are working hard to revitalise the town centre and our residential areas. A key element in this will be our relationship with Falmouth and Exeter Universities and their students. I am very keen to be involved in developing this relationship at an exciting time for Falmouth. 

As a student in the 70s I was very interested in the environment and wrote my Design Thesis on ‘Solar Energy and its potential effect upon Architecture and Society’. I am still as interested and have closely watched the development of Renewable Energies along with energy saving changes to design and construction methods.

It has never been a better more receptive time for young people to take control of their future and that of our Environment. There are many opportunities being created for new businesses relating to the Councils commitment to creating a circular economy with waste materials being recycled locally for reuse in local businesses. The Universities have a big role to playing the creation of this circular economy and hopefully many of you will be involved.

John Whitcher – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

I’m a 36 year-old ex soldier/stay at home Dad. I have lived in the area for over a year now and I’m tired. I am tired of a Tory government which gives its friends billions and attacks the most defenceless in society. I am tired of the state of housing in Cornwall. I am tired of students getting the blame for the housing problems when hundreds of homes owned by wealthy second home owners lay vacant. Cornwall needs to be more than a bed and breakfast for the rich and we need a council that puts its residents (wherever they come from) first.

I decided to run as a councilor as I believe the people in Falmouth Penwerris deserve a genuine left candidate. Until earlier this year I was a Labour Party member but left in disgust. Disgust at a party under Keir Starmer’s leadership has embraced empty nationalism and anti-traveller bias in place of principles. As a person of Roma origin I find this unacceptable. I am now proud to be a Socialist Party member and part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. Our platform is simply that we will never, under any circumstances vote for cuts in services or privatisation of services.

Year after year, Cornwall Council increases council tax while providing fewer services. It’s a scandal that Cornwall Council has made £380 million in cuts since 2010 while squirreling away £326.5 million in reserves. Cornish people deserve better than the current bunch of elected representatives at County Hall who seem to allow developers to get away with anything while taking a relaxed view of the desolation, demoralisation and destitution in its communities. Sadly, I have to include Labour candidates in this. Year after year they have had the chance to vote against cuts and privatisation and they never have.

Instead of being something remote from the people, A TUSC-controlled Cornwall Council will be the epicentre of a grassroots, democratic, upsurge. Community groups (subject to provisos about openness and inclusivity) will be encouraged and funded. Services will be designed by the people who use them, together with the workers who provide them.

Vote for TUSC. Vote for a future for our children. Vote for dignity and security for our elderly people.

Vote for a genuine Socialist not a Starmerite pretender.

Jo Philpott (Conservative) and George Adamson (Independent) couldn’t be reached.