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Steve Knightley wins Wadebridge East 6 September, 2013

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Cornwall Councillor Steve KnightleySteve Knightley has won the Wadebridge East by-election for the Liberal Democrats. The vote was triggered by the resignation of the Independent Collin Brewer. In the end, the result was close:

Steve Knightley (Lib Dem) 408
Independent 399
Conservative 217
UKIP 202
Labour 58

It was a particularly disappointing night for UKIP, who slipped back from their result in May, and the Tories, who would have hoped to have made more of an impact given this was on their PPC’s doorstep.

It was a great result for Dan Rogerson MP and the North Cornwall Lib Dems and I am sure Steve will make a great Councillor for Wadebridge and Cornwall as a whole. I’m looking forward to working with him.

Changes to rubbish collections 26 March, 2012

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in Local Matters, News.
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As you may already be aware, there will be changes to rubbish and recycling collections in Cornwall from 2nd April and in many cases this will involve different collection days and different containers for recycling.

To find out how the changes will affect you follow this link and to find out your new collection day use the postcode checker on the Cornwall Council homepage.

St Eval Community Centre – Grand Opening 7 January, 2012

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Some time ago I wrote a post about the facilities the Americans left behind at Trevisker St Eval. I reflected at the time that it would be a tragedy if these buildings were left empty while the local community faced the closure of its Post Office, shop and community facilities.

Two years on, after an astonishing amount of hard work from members of the community, I was invited to attend the opening of new facilities – on the site of the former US buildings at Orion Drive.

No one should underestimate what an amazing achievement this has been for the local community. There have been numerous occasions when everything seemed to be lost and it appeared that St Eval might head the way of so many other rural settlements and fall into slow decline. The local residents had other ideas. Their determination has been outstanding. They have fought their corner with the Ministry of Defence, worked up business plans and put in the hard, unpaid labour to produce a social club, kitchen, meeting venue and a new Post Office. Most crucially of all, they have never given up.

There will still be many obstacles in the future, but the local community was proud to open the doors today. It is an amazing achievement with an incredible community spirit at its heart – local residents have every right to be proud.

(You can read more about the community at St Eval here.)

St Eval 8 December, 2011

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David Parsons wins Bude North and Stratton for Lib Dems 27 October, 2011

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in News, Politics.
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Huge congratulations to David Parsons, who has scored a resounding victory in the hotly contested Bude North & Stratton by-election. The Result was: David Parsons (LD) 958 (61.17%), Con 395 (25.22%), Lab 120 (7.66%), Ind 93 (5.94%).

David is a talented campaigner who will be an excellent representative for an area which seems to have been forgotten by Tory-led Cornwall Council. I’m very much looking forward to working with him.

A future for Camelford Leisure Centre? 12 October, 2011

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As my colleague Alex Folkes writes, the Council’s Cabinet met this morning to debate the future of leisure services in Cornwall. Inveitably, part of that involved a discussion about Camelford Leisure Centre, which has been under threat pretty much since the Tory-led administration first started to look at leisure services last year.

In the end the Cabinet tried their usual trick of pulling a rabbit (or half a rabbit, as I described it to the Leader’s disgust) out of the hat to give the local community a little more time to put a business case together to save their facilities. It bought them a little time and kept the public gallery off their back, but most people in the room were sceptical of the Cabinet’s commitment to Camelford and the possibility of the local campaign receiving the support and assistance they need to meet the new deadline of 31st December.

Throughout this whole issue there has been no real indication that the Tory-led administration in Truro has any understanding of the serious issues facing rural communities. Camelford Leisure Centre serves a large geographical area which includes a number of small schools. Cornwall Council on the one hand claims to be working to improve the health of its residents while on the other hand showing no commitment where it really matters.

Residents in Camelford and the wider area can be forgiven if they take this morning’s concession with a pinch of salt.

Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network 8 June, 2011

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in Local Matters, News.
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On the 23rd May the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) elected its Board of Directors, the next stage in the plan to make the town and surrounding area a national beacon for electricity generation and the reduction of carbon emissions.

I attended the event as an observer and was struck by the level of enthusiasm for an AGM which was essentially just a technical business meeting. Such a display of interest shows how much impact the dedicated group of people who have managed to lift this idea off the ground have had on Wadebridge and the communities around it.

The board of twelve which was chosen at the AGM represents an excellent cross-section of skills and very much looks like a team with the talent to make the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network a tremendous success. In addition to Stephen Frankel and Jerry Clark – pioneers of this idea – the board members also bring expertise in the fields of planning, accountancy, local government and good old fashioned life experience. They also included Wadebridge Town Council’s youngest ever member, Harriet Wild, who will be leading the group’s efforts with young people. The future looks very bright!

You can read more about WREN at their website here and the excellent Wadebridge People site will continue to give updates on this and other stories from the town and the surrounding parishes. (Thanks to Shayne House for the photo at the top of the page.)

Britain’s first solar powered town? Episode one 21 May, 2011

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Is Higher Trenant’s future secure? 17 March, 2011

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Although Cornwall Council’s Cabinet must have hoped this question had been put to bed some months ago, rumours have continually swirled around concerning the future of the authority’s offices at Higher Trenant on the outskirts of Wadebridge. Many people’s assumption was always that any successful supermarket applicant for the land surrounding the offices would eventually seek to acquire the surviving buildings to form part of a future expansion. Indeed, the Cabinet had made their original plans clear by attempting to dispose of the entire site in early 2010.

On that occasion local campaigners won the day and the Tory-led administration was forced to back down. The offices survived and only the surrounding land was declared ‘surplus to requirements’. The Council, as part of their ‘Office Accommodation Vision’, then reappraised Higher Trenant and decided that a staff presence in Wadebridge was probably a good idea after all.

It’s therefore good to see that the Leader has gone on the record to reaffirm his commitment to the Council’s role as a significant local employer. According to a Cornwall Council press release:

Mr Robertson… stated categorically that the Council had no plans to withdraw its presence from the towns of St Austell, Liskeard, Wadebridge and Penzance.  ‘There have been rumours that the Council is intending to pull out of these areas and I want to take this opportunity to put the record straight’ he told the [Cabinet] meeting. ‘Such rumours have a damaging impact on the morale of staff working in these towns and I would now call on local members to give this message to both staff and their local communities’.

Of course the phrase “we have no plans” is always a dubious one, and the Leader didn’t mention Higher Trenant by name, but let’s hope this really is a sign of Cornwall Council’s commitment to Wadebridge and the surrounding area at a time when more and more people are raising concerns about the administration’s perceived bias towards the west and middle of Cornwall.

Higher Trenant is a significant base of employment for the area – let’s hope it stays that way.

Sharp’s Brewery and the Coors takeover – best intentions? 22 February, 2011

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I posted an item a few days ago about the takeover of Sharp’s Brewery by the massive multi-national brewer Molson Coors. As someone who has worked in the licensed trade for the best part of twenty years, with a particular interest in traditionally produced cask ale, the future of my nearest brewery was obviously going to be something I would turn my attention to.

As I wrote at the time, Sharp’s Brewery has been a remarkable success story over the past few years. I remember going into their single industrial unit at Pityme to meet Bill Sharp who proudly offered a sample of his very first brew, Sharp’s Own. A dozen or so years on, Doom Bar (which started life as a simple blend of Own and Coaster) can be found all over the country and is reckoned to account for 70% of the brewery’s total production.

Little wonder then that the ‘brand’ should be so attractive to a company like Molson Coors, particularly since cask beer is not an area they are famed for.

At the foot of my original post my Cornwall Council colleague Andrew Wallis added a comment which drew a comparison with Kraft’s recent takeover of Cadbury’s, articulating the understandable concern that the small-scale practices of local micro-breweries might come under threat from an international giant like Molson Coors. This was swiftly rebutted by Kristy McCready who assured Andrew that the Pityme operation and the Doom Bar brand were safe.

This started me thinking and I looked at the Sharp’s website and the news release they produced when the takeover was announced. The phrase “Doom Bar” or the more corporate “Doom Bar brand” appears ten times throughout the piece but there isn’t a single mention of the brewery’s other ales – Coaster, Own, Special or the range of speciality and seasonal beers produced throughout the year. Are these other ‘brands’ under threat?

Why does it matter, you may ask, if Molson Coors are guaranteeing the future of the brewery? Maybe it doesn’t. Cornwall still has a diverse range of breweries producing a number of interesting real ales with the attention to detail you would expect from a relatively small-scale operation. Indeed, in my opinion you’d have to travel a long way to find a brewer producing ales of the quality of, for example, Skinner’s in Truro.

But, whether or not the Sharp’s range is to your palate, the brewery at Pityme (or Rock, as the marketing people would have it) pioneered a Renaissance of real ale production in Cornwall. In my opinion it would be a great shame if those trail-blazers were completely homogenised by one of the big boys. Perhaps Kristy can put my mind at rest…

UPDATE – Kristy has entered the following comment on my earlier post:

“Hi Jeremy – yes I can. Doom Bar is clearly the jewel in the Sharp’s crown but that doesn’t mean any of the other beers are less important. Sharp’s will continue to brew a diverse portfolio of great beers including the seasonals range (the launch of a new Atlantic IPA was announced just last week http://www.sharpsbrewery.co.uk/news/?id=112) alongside the beers you mention. We will also be investing in the brewery to increase capacity and ensure that Stuart can continue to brew a full portfolio of Sharp’s beers.”

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