Damian Heholt standing in Boslowick for Falmouth Town Council
Hi, I am Damian. I have been lucky enough to have lived in Swanpool, Falmouth with my partner and 2 kids for nearly 6 years. The stunning beauty of the lake and sea has captivated me. The town as a whole is vibrant and forward looking. My family have benefited greatly from the many fine facilities and opportunities for both adults and children. While enjoying all that Falmouth and Cornwall have to offer, I cannot help but notice that all in the garden is not rosy.
As renters, we are painfully aware of the appalling lack of family homes available. As potential buyers, we are also aware of the huge cost of properties here, especially relative to our income. The homeless people on the streets, in their cars or hidden away in tents at Pendennis Point and other places have not escaped my attention.
I support the introduction of Article 4 but it does not go far enough to resolve the housing crisis. I believe we need a rent cap, an end to the bedroom tax and to provide long term tenancies for all renters. We need to utilise the thousands of empty properties in Cornwall before we consider new developments. At the moment, hundreds of perfectly good houses in holiday villages like Pendraloweth can only be bought as second homes. I would like to see that restriction removed to allow local people the opportunity to buy, rent and live in those houses and provide the school places, health care and transport infrastructure to accommodate their needs. I welcome tourists, but to house them in ghetto villages which are empty for 44 weeks of the year is a shocking waste. I will push for a rethink on Council Tax. Did you know that a billionaire in a Westminster mansion pays less council tax than we do for our 3 bedroom flat in Swanpool?
I will fight, as will all my Labour Colleagues, to save Falmouth Hospital and against any cuts to the budget of NHS Cornwall. The Labour Party locally and nationally is the only hope of saving the NHS from degradation, privatisation and a slow death.
Employment in Cornwall needs a radical rethink. Look in the papers any week and you will typically see half a page of jobs for Support Workers (which is what I do), several pages of voluntary work and the odd job in a café or restaurant. Beyond the tourist, hospitality and health sectors there is very little available. I want to see Cornwall develop an industrial base to generate wealth, employment and connections with the rest of the country and the world. We are uniquely placed here to capitalize on green and renewable energy. With our long coastlines our near constant winds and our high hours of sunshine (compared to the rest of the UK!) and the experience and expertise already here we are ready to become a world-class centre for renewable energy research and implementation.
We are facing cuts to the education budget in Cornwall, a short-sighted continuation of failed Tory austerity. Every school in Falmouth will be affected, the worst hit to be Falmouth School, which is set to lose 12% of funding by 2020. Our children are precious, our teachers are precious and the future is in their hands. I will campaign against any cuts on education. I also recognise the professionalism and dedication of teachers and support staff (many on minimum wage) and will fight for pay to reflect that. I also believe in equality of opportunity and so oppose the reintroduction of grammar schools. A good education is not a privilege, it is a right.
In Boslowick I will work to preserve and enhance the assets we have, such as Swanpool beach, lake and Nature Reserve. Tregoniggie woods are a marvellous urban space and deserve maximum support and protection. Our urban landscapes are filled with houses, but what of community cohesion? Why is there no community centre or pub or café or youth club or even a shop in Goldenbank? If elected, I will campaign for facilities like these in both existing and new developments.
As a widely travelled, relative new comer, I believe I have the energy, imagination and fresh eyes to be able to make a real difference to our lives here in Falmouth.