Promises to rid Cornwall of anti-social behaviour and back farmers as political big hitters visit

With two weeks to go until the election, two political big hitters from opposing parties visited Cornwall today to talk about two very different matters that are of concern to voters in the Duchy - anti-social behaviour and farming.

The morning started with Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron leaving his home in North Cornwall to visit Trevaskis Farm at Connor Downs - which is run by Giles Eustice, brother of Camborne and Redruth's MP George Eustice who stands down at the election. The former Prime Minister also met the constituency's 27-year-old Conservative candidate, Connor Donnithorne.

In West Cornwall to discuss farming issues, Lord Cameron promised that the Tories "have got farmers' backs" and also defended the badger cull, which he introduced as PM.

Read next: Meet the candidates hoping to be Camborne and Redruth's next MP

Read next: Meet the candidates hoping to be Truro and Falmouth's next MP

He said: "I think it's a very clear choice at this election when it comes to farming. You can see a very full farming manifesto from the Conservatives and in that the pledge of a billion pounds more in the farming budget over the next Parliament; you can see the commitment of deregulation of allowing permitted development for opening farm shops; you can see the extra money going into innovative practices.

"You see from the Liberal Democrats, for instance, a commitment to reduce beef and dairy by 30 per cent - that could lead to the closure of 17,000 farms. From Labour, almost nothing - just 87 words on farming, so I think when it comes to farming we have got farmers' backs.

The Rt Hon Lord David Cameron, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, visits Trevaskis Farm near Hayle, Cornwall, on Wednesday, June 19, and is given a tour by owner Giles Eustice and joined by Conservative candidate for the Camborne, Redruth and Hayle constituency, Connor Donnithorne

Get the best stories and latest news delivered to your inbox every day. Choose what you want here.

"We know there are lots of issues and difficulties but we're putting in the money and the support, and crucially for the first time we're going to legislate on a food security target for our country. Alongside border security, energy security and national security, food security is a big issue."

He was asked about Bovine TB crippling a lot of small family farms and causing not only financial problems but emotional distress. Labour is saying it will end the "ineffective badger cull".

"I think they are completely wrong," said Lord Cameron. "I was the Prime Minister who introduced the badger cull and I remember how intense the arguments were, but I think the evidence is clear that it has worked. We haven't eradicated Bovine TB but we have definitely reduced it and the badger cull has played its part. I think it's important we keep that up as one of a range of measures that we take.

"Only the Conservatives were prepared to take the tough and necessary decisions to protect Britain's farmers. I live next to a beef farmer and it's heartbreaking when a herd gets infected. In politics you've got to be prepared to make unpopular decisions. I knew the badger cull would be unpopular and upset a lot of people, but it was the right thing to do because ultimately we've got to help our farmers have healthy cattle."

Does he think the Westcountry's Conservative MPs will hold on to their seats?

"It's a tough election, there's no doubt about that. We had Covid hitting the economy, we had the Ukraine war pushing up prices. What Rishi's done is getting the economy back to growth and get inflation back to two per cent and I think that's proof of what an effective leader he is.

"What I would say to everyone here in the Westcountry, we don't know whether these polls are right or wrong. The only thing we know is that if you go out on July 4 and vote for one of your hard-working Conservative MPs, they'll be in Parliament standing up for you, standing up for our farmers, standing up for our fishermen, standing up for the importance of getting housing for local people, standing up for the importance of the tourism industry.

"If you want people like Connor Donnithorne representing you - he's a local lad, Cornwall born and bred. I met him when he was seven years old and said he wanted to think about politics and I'm very glad that 20 years later he's making good on it, having already been a very effective councillor."

A few hours later and Yvette Cooper, Shadow Secretary of State for the Home Department, was meeting local community groups at the Cornwall Neighbourhoods For Change building in Redruth to discuss anti-social behaviour, with Labour’s Parliamentary candidate Perran Moon.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper visits the Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change community hub in Redruth on Wednesday, June 19, and is joined by Labour candidate for the Camborne, Redruth and Hayle constituency Perran Moon
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper visits the Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change community hub in Redruth on Wednesday, June 19, and is joined by Labour candidate for the Camborne, Redruth and Hayle constituency Perran Moon -Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

She told us: "I'm here talking to families - people who have suffered awful domestic abuse and crime; the way people have been let down often by the criminal justice system and why that needs to change. Labour has a plan to change overall the way in which policing responds to domestic abuse and to violence against women and girls."

Ms Cooper also visited Truro where she talked about anti-social behaviour with businesses, residents and Cornwall Council's anti-social behaviour wardens. "We talked about persistent shoplifting and street drinking and the way in which it can end up intimidating people. This is happening in town and city centre high streets right across the country.

"In Truro they don't see the neighbourhood police anymore. Across Devon and Cornwall the neighbourhood policing has been cut by around a third over the last eight years. That's not good enough. We need to bring neighbourhood policing back and tackle that anti-social behaviour, not just in Truro but right across the South West."

She talked about Labour's plan to put 13,000 additional neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on our streets, "particularly in our town centres, city centres and local communities and we would fund it by work based on the Independent Police Foundation that found if you bring together the procurement across 43 different forces we can make major savings that we can then put back into frontline policing".

How confident is Ms Cooper that she will be this country's next Home Secretary?

"We have to earn every single vote. I was talking to a gentleman in Truro today who said he had been a lifelong Conservative voter but now he was voting Labour because he said it's time for change and he'd had enough of all of the chaos. That change will only come if people vote for it."

Mr Moon added that anti-social behaviour is a "driver of quite a lot of fear for people" in his constituency. "It is a challenge and it's one that we as a Labour government would have to meet head on. The party is talking about 13,000 more officers across the UK - we want our fair share here. We will also look at how we can revive our high streets with policies that attract back business that we need in towns like Camborne, Redruth and Hayle."

There was also a third political visit today. Steve Reed, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, visited Fentongollan Farm and Argal Lake with Truro and Falmouth Labour candidate Jayne Kirkham to discuss clean water projects and the importance of nature in the area with members of Cornwall Wildlife Trust and local carp fishermen.