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Chancellor to unveil plan's to boost countryside economies

George Osborne speaking at Appledore Shipyard in May. Credit: ITV News

The Chancellor George Osborne is visiting the South West today and is expected to unveil a new ten-point plan to “unleash the full potential” of Britain’s countryside.

He's also expected to announce more support for villages and towns wanting to build starter homes on currently so-called exception sites.

A range of other measures including better broadband and transport links will also be included.

For too long the British economy has been reliant on businesses based in our cities and towns. We want to create a One Nation economy that taps into the potential of all parts of our country. That means setting the right conditions for rural communities and businesses to thrive, investing in education and skills, improving rural infrastructure, and allowing rural villages to thrive and grow.

– Chancellor George Osborne

Ben Bradshaw talks the Labour leadership battle

Ben Bradshaw says checks must be made to ensure supporters are genuine Credit: PA

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw has told ITV West Country that up to ten per cent of new party members in his constituency have no record of supporting the Labour Party.

He made his comments as ballot papers started arriving through the letterboxes of the 450,000 people registered to take part in the vote.

It's great we are getting all these new people joining the party and registering as supporters but we do need to check that they are genuine supporters and not supporters of other parties that are just trying to take part in the leadership election to do us damage. We found in Exeter that around ten per cent of the new registered supporters have always been people who've been very hostile to Labour - we know this from our canvassing records - and have voted for other parties.

– Ben Bradshaw
Mr Bradshaw said he was prepared to work with any of the leadership candidates Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Mr Bradshaw insisted he was prepared to work with any of the leadership candidates, including left-winger Jeremy Corbyn, the overwhelming leader in the contest.

But he backed Gordon Brown's comments at the weekend.

I thought it was an excellent speech - Gordon was making the very obvious point that principles and values are essential in politics but they are impotent if we are not prepared to and can't win elections.

– Ben Bradshaw


Cameron commits to defence workers in Devonport

Prime Minister David Cameron visited Devonport Navy base this afternoon Credit: ITV News

The Prime Minister has promised there won't be any further cuts to our defence budget on a visit to Devonport Navy base this afternoon. This comes at a time when the number of warships in our navy has fallen to a record low.

The number of ships and the numbers of people working at the naval base has been in steady decline for decades. The fleet has shrunk hugely since the end of the Cold War. Twenty years ago there were around fifty major warships, in the surface fleet - including three aircraft carriers. That's now been cut to two, only one of which will operational.

In terms of staffing, the number of people in the Royal Navy has dropped below thirty thousand. That means a lot less work for Babcock, and the civilian dockyard workers where numbers have falled from twelve thousand twenty years ago to fewer than four thousand now.

But today the Prime Minister told ITV News the defence budget won't go below two per cent of GDP, Britain's total earnings.

Michael Foot memorial unveiled in Plymouth

A memorial to former Labour Party leader Michael Foot has been unveiled in Plymouth.

The memorial, in Freedom Fields Park, was paid for by donations from a public appeal.

The former Labour leader died in 2010 Credit: Seth Conway/ITV News

"The support the appeal has received from Plymouth businesses has been incredible and testament to how popular Michael was" said Luke Pollard, one of the organisers.

Chairman of the Michael Foot Memorial Appeal Peter Jones at the opening of the memorial Credit: Seth Conway/ITV News

Mr Foot served as MP for the city from 1945 to 1955, before going on to win a seat in south Wales in 1960.

"Michael loves benches where he could sit down in a park and read" said appeal chairman Peter Jones.

"It's fantastic that the memorial overlooks Plymouth Sound... he felt that the sea defined the city".

Michael Foot memorial appeal raised £40,000

A memorial to former Labour leader Michael Foot will be unveiled in Plymouth later today at 3.30pm, five years after his death.

£40,000 has been raised for a memorial granite bench which will stand in Freedom Fields.

Labour leader Michael Foot on his morning walk. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Mr Foot who passed away in 2010, was the MP for Plymouth Devonport for many years and was born in a house which overlooked the park.

The Labour leader was also a keen Plymouth Argyle fan.

Cornwall reacts to plans for devolved powers

It gives us that recognition that we can do things for Cornwall in Cornwall, that we do have the ability to control billions of pounds worth of investment and delivery in Cornwall, and that can be Cornwall decisions for Cornish people.

– Councillor John Pollard, Leader, Cornwall Council

The step is important, it is symbolic but it really really doesn't go anywhere near far enough for Cornwall so we've just got to build on this, keep the momentum up and really just keep pushing until we get really significant powers for Cornwall.

– Councillor Dick Cole, Leader, Mebyon Kernow

When people have had a bad experience it's when services aren't working together effectively, when there are gaps in services or there is confusion about whose providing what, so I think for patients what they want to see is services that are joined up, and that's what we'll be wanting to make sure happens as the plans develop.

– Jayne Howard, Healthwatch Cornwall


Cornish Lib Dems: 'We need to control second home ownership'

St Ives has a high proportion of holiday homes Credit: David Davies/PA

Liberal Democrats in Cornwall have criticised the Prime Minister for failing to give the county powers to put a levy on holiday homes and limit the number of second homes.

The party which comprises the biggest group on Cornwall Council says it welcomes David Cameron's announcement to give more powers locally but says it's bitterly disappointed that they don't go far enough.

Lib Dem Cllr Edwina Hannaford said the Government had failed to address a bias which leaves the county with less cash than urban areas.

“Although there is much to commend in the deal, I am profoundly disappointed that the Government didn’t respond to our demands for powers to control second home ownership by allowing us to charge an additional levy. This levy could be used to delivery truly affordable homes for local people.

“I cannot believe the Conservative Government have ignored our demands for powers to limit the number of second homes. Second homes not only contribute to rising house prices in coastal hot spots, pushing homes out of the reach of local families, but they impact on the viability and vitality of those communities.

“I also can see nothing in the package to redress the unfair bias that central Government shows towards rural areas like Cornwall. We receive £49 million less funding compared to urban areas.”

– Cllr Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council

New Cornish MP: 'South West needs a fairer deal'

New St Ives MP Derek Thomas Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

A new Cornish Tory MP has told the Commons to "watch this space" as his party's bloc of South West colleagues are "untethered" in their ambition to get a better deal for the region. Derek Thomas, who took St Ives in Cornwall from Liberal Democrat Andrew George, said the Tory MPs who represent all South West seats bar one have a shared sense of unity, purpose and determination.

Following the wipeout of the Lib Dems in the region, Mr Thomas said the new group would be a strong voice for farmers and fishermen as well as attempting to improve healthcare and policing.

He was making his maiden Commons speech in a debate on English votes for English laws.

"It is my hope that together we can get a fairer deal for our schools, a better deal for healthcare services and a better deal for policing. Together we can be a strong voice and champion for farmers and fishermen in our beautiful place of the South West.

"Our ambition is untethered and suggest to the world to watch this space."<

– St Ives MP Derek Thomas

PM announces news powers for Cornwall

The Prime Minister has announced new powers for Cornwall Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

The Prime Minister has announced major new devolution powers for Cornwall. They include rights to decide where money is spent on public transport, jobs training and support for businesses. But critics say the new powers are not enough.

Writing in the Western Morning News, David Cameron said he was going to make Cornwall the first county outside a major city to benefit from major devolution. Further details here.

"Powers once wielded 300 miles away in Westminster will now be held right here. Cornwall will decide who runs its buses. It will be able to reshape adult training. When the EU gives money to the county, you will decide how it’s spent.

"You will be able to unlock the geothermal energy under your feet. Your businesses will determine how to support enterprise. There will also be the chance to launch a business case for integrating health and social care here."

– David Cameron
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Government shelves vote on relaxing hunting rules

MPs were due to vote tomorrow on relaxing rules on hunting with dogs Credit: PA

The Government has shelved tomorrow's free vote on relaxing the rules on hunting with dogs. The majority of west country Conservative MPs were due to vote in favour of a motion which would allow full packs of hounds to flush out foxes. At the moment, just two dogs can be used to flush out a fox before it is shot.

The climbdown by the Government follows the SNPs decision to vote en masse against the change. That, combined with opposition from Labour and some Tories, meant there was little chance the new law could be passed.

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