Christmas Lights

Village News

Cllr Andrew Wallis

Syndicate content
THE BLOG OF A CORNWALL COUNCILLOR FOR PORTHLEVEN AND HELSTON WEST
Updated: 21 weeks 4 days ago

New timings for the banning of ‘Dogs on Beaches’ set to come into force

Fri, 07/04/2017 - 11:42

If readers remember, in my role as Cornwall Councillor, I asked for Porthleven West Sands dog banning order to be reviewed in-light of legislation changes in the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005 and Anti-Social Behaviour Crime & Policing Act 2014.

Listening to all sides I put forward an alternative ban period for Porthleven West to Cornwall Council. This was also supported by Porthleven Town Council. These changes have now been legally accepted by the signing of the Cornwall Council Public Space Protection (Dogs on Beaches) Order 2017.

The new Order for Porthleven West will come into force on the 1st May and be as follows:

  • Dogs on beaches will be banned between the hours of 9.00am and 7.00pm;
  • From 1 May to 30 September of each year.

New signage will be installed in the next week or so. This is a change from the 7am to 7pm ban from April till October. There are no changes for access to the beach for dogs East of Blue Buoy Steps.

Timings and periods on all other beaches can be found HERE

There are exemptions as this Order does not apply to any person who:

  • Is registered as a blind person in a register compiled under Section 29 or the National Assistance Act 1948; or
  • Is deaf, in respect of a dog trained by Hearing Dog for Deaf People and upon which he relies for assistance; or
  • Has a disability which requires being in charge of an Assistance Dog registered with Assistance Dogs UK and upon which he relies for assistance.

 

Categories: Local Politics

Loe Bar Footpath set to be closed from 1st May

Thu, 06/04/2017 - 12:15

The Environment Agency have requested to close the footpath crossing Loe Bar to carryout works on their equipment. From my understanding, this is to enhance the culvert that discharges water from the river Cober and Loe Pool and is part of the new flood prevention scheme for Helston.

This footpath as shown on the map below will be The Location of the footpath is: Footpath 6, Porthleven and Footpath 4, Gunwalloe. The path will be closed from the 1st May 2017 to 30th September 2017 (24 hours weekends included)

I am seeking clarification on how much is closed and whether the public can access this area.

Categories: Local Politics

I am an official candidate in the Porthleven and Helston West Cornwall Council Election

Wed, 05/04/2017 - 16:25

Today, the ‘statement as to persons nominated’ to stand for the Cornwall Council Elections has been issued. I am one of four candidates who will be seeking election, or in my case re-election to the Porthleven and Helston West seat.

In the next few weeks, I will be out and about delivering my leaflets and knocking on doors. I really hope residents will know of the work I have carried out over the last few years and vote for me on May 4th.

The official nominations are:

 

Categories: Local Politics

Porthleven has a new Town Warden

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 11:37

Porthleven has been without a Town Warden since Rod Barnes retired. This is a hugely important role and therefore, Porthleven Town Council was very keen to replace Rod.

From an advert placed, five candidates applied and all were interviewed. The field of candidates was strong, but the three person panel of the Mayor, Cllr Bev Plunkett and myself appointed Carol Jewell to the post.

I would like to congratulate Carol on her appointment to this position. Carol will be an excellent Town Warden. I would also like to thank all who applied and made the panel’s decision a tough one to make.

Carol Jewell – The Porthleven Town Warden

Categories: Local Politics

Cornwall will get a child and adolescent mental health unit

Fri, 31/03/2017 - 12:53

NHS England has announced today that there will be a 12 bed child and adolescent mental health unit in Cornwall. This unit will be located in Bodmin and will be available for young people up to the age of 18.  This amazing news will mean that fewer children and young people will have to be placed on general wards, adult units or specialist units outside of Cornwall.

As a long time campaigner for such a unit in Cornwall, I very much welcome this announcement as the young people of Cornwall and their families deserve a unit such as this. I am very pleased NHS England have listened to our concerns and approved the funding for this unit. It has been a long time coming, but I am glad it has finally happened.

Categories: Local Politics

Amended Plans in for the Shipyard building

Thu, 23/03/2017 - 17:02

In light of the comments made by Porthleven Town Council, Cornwall Council and objectors, the applicant for the Shipyard building has submitted amended plans.

The first question most will ask is ‘what has changed?’ According to the plans the building footprint has been reduced in size by 10% (from 855m2 to 770m2).  This has resulted in the rear elevation reducing to 14.4m in width and the length to 33.4m (for reference, the current blue building are 31m in length).

Amended plans

old plans

The building has also been moved nearer to the existing Origin Coffee building enabling the covered walkway and bus stop roof to be attached to the coffee house.  This has resulted in a larger gap between the river fence and the building from 7m to 7.9m. This is to address the issue of manoeuvring boats in and out of the shipyard.

The “look out” or staircase top has been removed from the top of the building.  Access will still exist using a sliding glass top to the stairs. Yet there is still no disabled wheelchair access to the roof.

Old position

I think the previous colour of Blue was universally disliked by commentators and in addressing that the colour of the building has been changed to silver grey.

There is a dedicated bus shelter as the previous scheme did not show clearly the enclosed dedicated space in the current bus shelter location. There will be a defined area with bench seats and a glass weather protective screen with the canopy roof covering the bus shelter.

The public toilets are still there and will be free to Porthleven people and the facilities will be cleaned and maintained by the owner.

The entrance shown on Methleigh Bottoms will be increased to 8.0m in width to ensure boats trailers, cars and HGVs will have improved manoeuvring. In a change to the access to the site the only entrance/exit to the site will be via the new entrance on Methleigh Bottoms. Only boats will be allowed to exit the current site

The lack of sufficient dedicated parking bays has also been addresses with 10 spaces dedicated to the new building

The proposed use of this building is to create jobs or potential work space.  At present almost no office space exists in Porthleven to provide small business with incubator work space / workshops.

These plans will again be discussed by Porthleven TC (date to be confirmed) where anyone for or against can make representations. I would also suggest people who have previously commented to update their view, or want to comment again due to the changes to the application.

Previous blogs can be found HERE

 

Categories: Local Politics

Porthleven’s Great Baulk Auction raises over £40k for the Fishermen’s Mission

Mon, 20/03/2017 - 10:52

Back in 2014, Porthleven was subjected to a series of storms that few will forget. Porthleven seemed to face the brunt of these storms that resulted in substantial damage not only to the harbour, but to the moored boats in the inner-harbour when the baulks that protected them gave-way, and allowed the seas to wreak havoc in the now unprotected inner-harbour.

In a stroke of genius, Julian Waring, who works for the Fishermen’s Mission, came up with the ideal of using the broken baulks to raise funds for the Mission. Artists and craft people both near and far turned the baulk wood into items that included paintings, drawings, benches, candle holders and other wonderful items. In total, over 160 pieces of work were made from the baulks.

The huge crowds gathered.

From this, Julian and his small committee put a plan in place to auction all this work off in one big charity auction. This auction took place this past Saturday on the harbour head. The auction was led by the excellent David Lay – David for near five-hours entertained the hundreds of people gathered in Porthleven CIC’s marquee with a bar and food by the Atlantic Inn and staging and lighting provided by Impact.

Back stage

It was amazing to be part of this auction and see how generous people were in not only having a bit of Porthleven history, but more importantly raising a staggering £40,315 from the 163 lots in the auction for the Fishermen’s Mission. The huge amount of money raised is still sinking in.

Julian and his committee have done an amazing job in pulling this off. They should be very proud of this work, as should Porthleven be proud of them. Whilst the committee deserve our praise, this fundraiser could not have been achieved without the generosity of all those artists and crafts people who turned a bit of wood in to art and gave their time for free. Thanks everyone else who was involved in doing their bit – like helping to set up the marquee and provide internet etc. Huge thanks must go to David Lay and his team for running the auction, especially the online part of it.

Saturday 18th of March 2017 will be one of those days long remembered in Porthleven for doing something great. A proud day for Porthleven, its residents and visitors.

Categories: Local Politics

Do you want to be Porthleven’s next Town Warden?

Thu, 16/03/2017 - 14:46

Porthleven Town Council is seeking a new town warden after Rod Barnes retired. Rod did an excellent job as Porthleven’s first town warden, but we need someone to fill those boots.

The role will undertake regular patrols of the Town in order to ensure it is a safe and clean environment. The town warden will assist visitors with information about the facilities within the Town. The warden will keep the streets litter and graffiti free, will deter anti-social behaviour and support enforcement officers as required. The warden will work with the
police to reduce crime and the fear of crime and work with the emergency services
and others to maintain a safe environment.

Main Objectives:
1. To patrol Porthleven to:
a) Ensure the Town is as clean, green and safe as possible.
b) Identify potential problems.
c) Get to know members of the community and respond to their enquiries and
problems.
d) Encourage responsible behaviour of people visiting the Porthleven.
2. To provide information to the public that will enable them to get the most from their visit to Porthleven. This will include giving directions, information about amenities, shops, food
outlets, licensed premises, car parking, public conveniences etc.
3. Assist with Town events, as directed by the Town Council.
4. To help keep the streets and roads clean and tidy through regular litter picking, weeding,
graffiti and fly posting control.
6. To carry out condition surveys of Council owned furniture, buildings and areas.
7. To undertake training to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for dog fouling / littering offences.
8. To ensure the Council Chamber / Offices are clean and presentable.
9. To complete any minor repairs / decorating as directed by Town Clerk.
10. To conduct daily checks on all public conveniences and report any issues to Town Clerk.
11. To liaise with the local Biffa Street Cleaning Team to ensure a clean and safe environment for both residents and visitors to Porthleven.
12. To liaise with the local Police Community Support Officer to report any problems within Porthleven.
13. To undertake any other duties appropriate which contribute to the general objective of the post.

The Town Warden will be expected to wear a uniform, provided by the Town Council, at all times when on duty and protective clothing when necessary and to:
a) Ensure safe working practices in accordance with guidelines laid down by the Health and Safety Executive.
b) Attend training courses and meetings when requested.
The job involves regular evening and weekend work.

The Town Council reserve the right to complete a Criminal Records Bureau check. No formal qualifications are required for this post although, good communication skills are necessary. A good geographical knowledge of Porthleven is also essential.

Any successful candidate for the role will be expected to work at least 20 hours per week and will be paid £9 per hour. It is a permanent position.

Anyone interested in the position will need to contact the Town Clerk for further details at porthleventc@tiscali.co.uk or 01326 573154 (please do not send a pm via facebook) Deadline for submission of completed applications Friday 24th March.

Categories: Local Politics

Cornwall’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan Outline Business Case is damned by Scrutiny sub-committee

Wed, 15/03/2017 - 15:40

In a broadside Nelson would be proud of, Cornwall Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny committee via a specially formed sub-committee have damned the Outline Business Case (OBC) of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan in Cornwall (STP).

In coming to their conclusion, the sub-committee over the past few weeks has taken evidence from more than 40 different organisations and have spoken to a wide range of people. From this, all the information has been taken into account which formed the reports findings today.

The report is as follows:

“We believe that the strategic intent of the Sustainability and Transformation plan is a positive. Very few would criticise the proposed investment in improving health and wellbeing and there is a commitment to the merger of health and social care in the Devolution Deal for Cornwall.

There are aspects of the Outline Business Case (OBC) and the engagement process we wish to comment upon and these are headed individually.  It is expected that these concerns will be addressed in the Full Business Case (FBC).

Finance

We have serious reservations about the accuracy, achievability and viability of the financial plans and these have to be addressed. There was inadequate evidence in the OBC to support the saving figures presented. There appears to be a lack of attention given to capital costs, the cost of transformation and the future proceeds of any property rationalisation.

Engagement with the Public

In our view the process of engagement with the public was inadequate and seriously flawed. There was inconsistency of information provided dependent on the facilitator and this has to be rectified. The questionnaire contained closed questions, was ill conceived and was unprofessional. Members of the public were left feeling alienated, angry and frustrated.

We are disappointed that the report from the engagement events was not available when we were considering this issue.

Engagement with Workforce and Key Stakeholders

We are extremely concerned with the lack of consultation, awareness and engagement with key stakeholders such as GPs and community pharmacists. There appears to have been an absence of any meaningful involvement or engagement with staff across all levels of organisations. It is apparent that there has been limited engagement with the voluntary sector and care providers.

Devon

We want to be assured that there is meaningful consultation with all providers of health services to residents of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and this should include services located in Devon. The impacts of any changes Devon undertake as part of their STP and/or Success Regime should be considered and risk assessed by those responsible for the STP in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This matter should not be retrospective or reactive.

Mental Health

The parity of esteem is not evidenced within the OBC and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Others not Visible in the OBC

It is recognised that the ‘One Vision’ plan for services to children is being developed, but more information regarding this must feature in the FBC. We do not believe that those aged under 25 are visible in the document, and there is little evidence of those who have co-morbidities, who are not frail elderly.

Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group

The Interim Chief Officer at Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group acknowledged that they have severe financial challenges, and are still in discussion with NHS England. The increasing debt level within Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group is worrying and the impact on the whole system needs to be addressed.

Closure of Beds

Any proposals within the FBC to reduce the number of beds across the system must clearly demonstrate that they will meet the criteria for bed closures as set out by Simon Stevens. Whilst the test applies to ‘significant’ bed numbers this does not appear to have been nationally quantified as yet. We believe that reduction in bed numbers across the landscape resulting from the STP process would on the basis of aggregation meet this requirement. We wish particularly that it is unmistakably demonstrated that sufficient alternative provision will be in place alongside or ahead of bed closures, and that the new workforce will be there to deliver it.

Governance and Democratic Accountability

We believe that there is a weakness and a lack of clarity in the governance of the STP. The OBC does not adequately address these aspects. The FBC needs to be clear and will need to evidence how the STP programme is governed and how it will be democratically accountable.

Middle Management

We need to be assured in the FBC that there is full engagement with middle managers and they reflect the needs of the final plan. This cannot be ignored as it will increase insularity.

Accountable Care System/Organisation

There is a lack of clarity with regards to the mandate to create, and the future development of, an Accountable Care System/Organisation. We acknowledge that the current structure split by purchaser and provider is not suitable however; we are concerned about the lack of detail about how the Accountable Care System/Organisation model would be applied to the NHS and Social Care provision for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  The FBC needs to evidence how this model would work and what differences it would make, including for those who do not use Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust as their main provider. If there are legal or national organisational barriers to the progression of the discussions regarding an Accountable Care System/Organisation, these should be progressed through the Devolution Deal negotiations.

Strategic Workforce Planning

We are anxious at the apparent dichotomy of workforce planning and the strategic direction being set in the OBC. The forecast reduction in the workforce across the system, especially within primary care, does not seem to be considered as responsibilities and service provision alters. There must be a comprehensive and long term strategic workforce plan within the FBC.

Definition of System Models

In evidence we received, there was obvious concern about replacement service models to those that currently exist. The FBC must contain details about the services and facilities that will be offered to localities across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This detail should include clear specifications for urgent care centres and locality hubs in order for patients to fully understand the options they are being given.

 

 

Comprehensive Impact Assessment (CIA)

We are concerned that a CIA was not progressed with the development of the OBC. This should be completed and made publically available with the FBC.

The Use of External Consultants

We are worried about the use of external consultants and have concerns that funding has been taken from local NHS and Social Care budgets in order to pay for this work. We suggest that if such work is required in the future, instead of taking money from the system and spending it externally, the allocated monies should instead be invested locally to release experts within organisations to take forward the work.

Timeframe

The currently proposed timescale for the publication of the FBC is unachievable if it is to be the document required to effectively take forward the programme. We need clarity on when the FBC will be available, and information on any risks or impacts that a delay in its creation will bring. We will need assurance that the timeframes being given are realistic and whether there are alternative plans in the case of any significant risks.

Conclusion

Therefore, as a result of our considerations, concerns and research and the compelling information provided to us, we conclude that the OBC was not fit for purpose as a public document although it met NHS England requirements.  The engagement process was poor and ill judged.

The FBC must answer our concerns and have solid, clear, evidence for any proposals.

The role of scrutiny is as a critical friend, and we request that as the FBC is drafted, interim reports are brought at relevant intervals. These reports should include financial information”.

This goes to the heart of the matter, as the whole Government STP process is flawed and is not based on improving people health and giving a better service, but it is about cuts to the NHS. The Government wants Cornwall to save over £264m on what is spends on health.

I have long argued for a question to be answered. Are we doing the STP for the residents, or the Government? I believe it is the latter, and we should tell the Government to do their own dirty work if they want Cornwall to find all £264m worth of savings.

It is also not right to blame those professionals in Cornwall who are having to deliver the STP, as it is hard to deliver when the Government plan is so flawed in the first place.

Categories: Local Politics

Recycling plastic pots and tubs in Cornwall

Thu, 09/03/2017 - 16:22

Back in 2016 Cornwall Council tested the impact of adding plastic pots, tubs and trays to the existing kerbside recycling service. The trial included 46,000 properties, which I am pleased to say Porthleven was part of. From this trail, the results were very positive and because of this Cabinet, supported by all Members voted to extend the service across the whole of Cornwall in a phased approach during 2017.

It has to be phased because this is a major service change that will affect all aspects of the collection. It is essential in this roll-out to maintain a high level of customer service and have enough time to deliver more recycling equipment, and collect additional items. Therefore, the Council will be phasing the new service in five areas.

The first collections will begin in April and the Council hope to have the final area on board by end of year, depending on any issues that may arise. For those residents who are already in the trail, nothing changes. The initial plan to extend the service and commence collections in partnership with the Council waste contractor Biffa in the most practical order for them, and goes like this;

April – Continue collecting in the area used in the trial (half of what was Carrick and Kerrier districts) and start collecting in the other half of that area which includes Falmouth, the Lizard peninsular, Camborne, Redruth, St Agnes, Perranporth, Tregony and Truro.

Phase 2 – Central area 2 including Newquay, St Austell, Mevagissey, Lostwithiel, St Columb, the China Clay area and Fowey.

Phase 3 – East area 2 including Liskeard, St Cleer, Looe, Torpoint, Saltash and Callington,

Phase 4 – East area 1 including Bude, Launceston, Bodmin, Wadebridge, Padstow, Camelford, Delabole.

Phase 5  – West area 1 including Penzance, Hayle, St Ives, St Just.

The Council will send a leaflet out to every household to let them know when they can begin to use the service a few weeks before the service begins enabling them to order more recycling equipment if they need to.  The Council will then send a second leaflet just before the service starts to remind residents that the service is beginning and how to order containers.

Plastic pots tubs and trays will be collected on the same day as the current recycling collection in the same bag as the one used already for plastic bottles, tins and cans.

It is important to know what can they recycle as part of the new service? Please remember to rinse and squash any dirty plastic pots, tubs and trays before recycling them.

Yes please No thank you Plastic margarine tubs Plastic bags e.g. carrier bags, sandwich bags Plastic ice cream tubs Plastic film e.g. Cling film Plastic yoghurt pots Plastic oil or pesticide containers Plastic biscuit and cake trays/box inserts Black plastic trays, pots and tubs Plastic meat trays Expanded polystyrene (burger boxes) Plastic fruit and vegetable trays Any plastic containers larger than three litres Plastic moulded fruit containers Pet food pouches Plastic fresh soup pots Film lids from pots, tubs and trays Plastic sweet/biscuit boxes Crisp/sweet packets Plastic cream pots and tubs Rigid plastics e.g. toys, furniture, ‘Tupperware’ Plastic salad bowl/pot   Plastic premade sandwich packet   Plastic lids from containers and bottles (excluding film lids)  

 

Why are we not collecting any of the other plastic? To make the collection of these items as cost effective as possible, we have to have the ability to sell the material that we collect for recycling. Sadly the Council cannot recycle films, polystyrene, black plastic or ridged plastic at this time.

A question I am often asked is why can we not take black plastics? These plastics are predominantly sorted with lasers that can identify the different types of plastic. The lasers cannot “see” the black plastic and it ends up in the reject pile at the end of the process and is not recycled.

If anybody doesn’t have any recycling equipment then this is the opportunity for them to order it. For everyone else we hope they can use their current bag for recycling pots, tubs and trays. However, the Council have factored in time to be able to order additional containers before the service starts.

Containers can be ordered either over the phone, or order recycling containers online

 

 

Categories: Local Politics

You must forget there is a pre-app for Shute Lane/Harbour Rd complex

Wed, 08/03/2017 - 20:35

In true Men in Black style residents and readers of this blog must totally forget a previous post on a pre-app for development of Shute Lane/Harbour Rd. It did not happen.

It did not happen as you should not know this pre-app was being discussed and how I as the local Councillor should not have informed the public about this. Well, this is according to the applicant, who sent me a rather curt email (which I replied to) me that I had somehow ‘breached what is normal practice by placing a pre-application in the public realm and in doing so, you have deliberately prejudiced further discussion.’

The trouble with this is the applicant failed to ‘tick the’ confidential box in the pre-app, therefore, by the rules, a pre-app is a public document and as the local Cornwall Councillor I am well within my rights of keeping the public informed. It was also on the public planning portal…

However, I must now ask you to forget this pre-app as the applicant has now ‘ticked’ the confidential box and this pre-app is no longer a public document. So you MUST forget it.

If an application does indeed come forward, you MUST all act very surprised as you have not seen it before. The following pictures are a figment of your imagination and you have just dreamed it.

Thank you…

 

 

Categories: Local Politics

The March 2017 Budget and its impact on education

Wed, 08/03/2017 - 20:02

The Government’s Budget is one of those announcements where people take a sharp intake of breath in anticipation of the pain it will inflict. We all know those who smoke and drink will from the announcement pay more.

So how will this Budget affect education and children’s social care? The Chancellor has announced a one-off fund of £320m will be made for the creation of 140 new free schools, 30 of which form part of the 500 already pledged to be created by 2020. These new free schools could in areas where they are not need, whereas this money could be better spent on improving/expanding existing schools that are in dire need of money.

This announcement of new schools is where the Government introduces its plan for expanding Grammar School or providing new Grammar Schools – or as they should be called selective education (which does not actually improve outcomes, especially for the most vulnerable or on Free School Meals).

Another worry is the Government has also said that free school transport will be extended to all children who receive free school meals and who attend a selective school. Yet they have not said if this extra costs will be met by the Government. I expect, in reality, it will be the local authority who will have to find the money to pay for this. How will this work? What happens if the nearest selective school is many miles away and is not their nearest designated school? That impacts on Admission as well as Home to School Policy

There will be a £216m investment to rebuild and refurbish existing schools. Seems a lot of money, but it is not; as to put it in perspective and show how little it will really mean for schools, Cornwall has a  school maintenance backlog that tops over £90m because of historic under-funding. So £216m million is not going to go far split between England and Wales’ local authorities.

In an interesting move, and what  could potentially be a good idea, the Government has provided an extra £500m for vocational and technical education, as an alternative to A-levels (T-levels). This is in a bid to train more skilled workers and boost the economy. However, this is not a new idea and has been around under a different name.

Maintenance loans will be made available for students pursuing technical education at
higher levels. Though there are no real details on how this will be run.

There is news for tax-free childcare for children under 12 providing up to £2,000 a year for each child: and from September 2017 the free childcare offer will double from 15 to 30 hours a week for working families with 3 and 4 year olds worth up to £5,000 for each child. The latter has already been announced and was subject to a campaign in Cornwall to change the funding amounts.

Yet there was no news on the Governments Funding Formula….

Categories: Local Politics

Application for 75 affordable dwellings at Nansloe, Helston is given conditional approval

Mon, 06/03/2017 - 18:14

The application for 75 affordable dwellings on pasture near the Bulwark Estate was given conditional approve by the West Planning Committee of Cornwall Council. A conditional approve is where the principle of development is accepted, but further works and details need to be sorted prior to full permission is given. Councillors voted eight in favour, four against and there was one abstention.

The applicants, Coastline Housing has three-months to complete this work, which includes the Section 106, and the Deed of Easement to name a couple of points. If these is not completed within three-months, then the application is refused.

For those following the application, the Deed of Easement happened because of the strong objection by the MOD and with this Deed, the MOD withdrew its objection. Highways did not objection to the plan.  Nansloe Academy, which had major concerns about the access, withdrew their objection after an agreement has been reached between Coastline and the School. Basically, in short, the school gets land for a car park, money to build the car park and will work with the developers to make sure the drop-off point is safe.

This left only Helston Town Council and 26 residents objecting to the plan. One of Helston TC objections was on highway safety and supporting the schools concern. However, that no longer stands as the School’s objection had been removed.

If the plans are given final approval, the area of Bulwark will receive £22k for open space provision. Those people living in Helston will be given priority for these homes.

Categories: Local Politics

Pre-app for a building complex for Harbour Rd and Shute Lane

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 09:34

Ok, I hope you are sitting when you see this, but following on from the Shipyard application, there is another application for another large building that will fundamentally change the harbour area. The pre-app plan is for a merchant hall, shops, artist lofts, restaurant, 10 flats, a tower and what looks like a ‘gate house’.

This is not a full application, but a pre-application which aims to establish the principle of development and what could be accepted in an area. The development of this area is nothing new, as there was plans for this site back in 2000.

For those who do not know what a pre-app is, basically, an applicant puts in their plans (have to pay for it) and they are given advice on whether it would be acceptable in planning terms. From this advice, the applicant can then submit a plan with any changes (or not) that have been suggested. It is important to note, there are no public comments, but I wanted to let residents know.

Pre-apps are generally public documents to view, and details on this pre-app can be found HERE

Harbour Rd view


The floor plan


The view along Shute Lane

Categories: Local Politics

Cornwall must have better funding for schools.

Thu, 02/03/2017 - 15:24

In December and January, I made comment about the potential good news for Cornwall to get an overall increase of funding for schools. I did clarify the devil is always in the detail, and there would be no-doubt be winners and losers. There is no getting away from it, but historically, Cornwall has been one of the worse funded areas for education. Not just this current Government, but previous Governments too.

Whilst I welcome the additional £10m to Cornwall under the current proposals, this change does not address the historic differences between richest and poorest authorities. This is in part because one of the proposals in the new funding formula is to ensure no school nationally will face a per pupil funding drop of more than 3% – the same goes for Cornwall schools if there is any reduction in an individual school budget.

The best-funded authorities get around £9.5k per pupil even with a full 3% reduction they will still receive much more than the poorest authorities whose starting point is about £4.5k per pupil. Yes the gap, is slightly narrower, it is light-years away from being closed.

The Council, with the Schools’ Forum (who manage the Dedicated Schools Grant; the forum is populated by head-teachers from all sectors of education) have robustly commented on the Stage 1 Consultation by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and highlighted a number of issues with the proposals. The first issue is the EFA have not sufficiently clearly demonstrated the true impact on their proposed funding formula. Too many figures are being used without clearly identifying the elements included for comparison, potentially resulting in misleading comparisons being made.

Furthermore, against the Council’s and Schools Forum’s advice in response to part one of the consultations, the EFA are basing calculations to fund the children with greatest needs on Free School Meals take-up rather than on more sophisticated and more reliable deprivation measures. The EFA are also proposing to reduce the amounts allocated by IDACI bands (income deprivation affecting children index) so additional funding will be skewed in favour of the free school meal take-up. It is very important to note this is take-up of and not eligibility for.

The proposed funding model focuses very heavily on pupil led funding. The problem with this is that Secondary Schools currently still have to deal with reductions in school population. The protection mechanisms in the formula only protects the funding allocated to each child rather than the total amount of funding received by a school, so reducing pupil numbers results in reduced budgets.  This fall in pupil population is set to be reversed in the next few years. So in effect, schools will receive more, but does not make it right due to the vast differences of AWPU between local authorities.

In a slightly ironic twist, small schools were very worried about their funding, but with the proposed lump sum allocations our very smallest schools will suddenly be considerably better off. Good news for small schools, not so good for larger.

The EFA consultation runs to the 22nd March. There is a stage two for this consultation and all concerns have been put into Cornwall Council official response to the second part of the consultation. This is currently in draft format and will be agreed with representatives of Cornwall Schools’ Forum before we submit it.

I have always been clear and fair that whilst I welcome the additional funding that will be allocated to Cornwall’s pupils, the review does not go far enough in redistributing resources to traditionally underfunded areas like Cornwall.  I will add that I see no justification for the vast differences in AWPU between local authorities. Our schools in Cornwall can only dream of having almost double the amount of funding like other local council have.  I just hope the EFA listens to the views of Schools’ Forum, the Council and head-teachers in making sure our schools are funded properly.

(this article is also featured in the West Briton etc).

Categories: Local Politics

97.8% of young people in Cornwall get their first choice secondary school

Wed, 01/03/2017 - 16:01

Near 98% of young people get their first choice of secondary school. That is a great achievement for not only for those parent, carers and young people, but to the School’s Admission Team at Cornwall Council who have processed 5,426 applications this year.

Of course I have total sympathy to those 155 parents who did not get their first choice. However, 99.2% of applications have been given one of their first three preferences. They can still appeal that process. This year we had more applications for school places than in 2016.

A few reasons why not everyone will be satisfied is whilst each area has what is called a designated school, a parent can apply to another school not their designated one. However, a child with a closer tie to a designated school will be given priority. Furthermore, even know we say this each it is important all three boxes filled in, and not just one. As it makes the team’s job more difficult if there are no second/third choice.

Another issue is we face – each year – is late applications. we are currently dealing with 170 late applications. Late application often end in disappointment, especially if a school has school place pressures.

This continued performance is good news for children and families in Cornwall at this time but the Council is closely monitoring the pressure on primary school places which is expected to start affecting secondary schools from 2018 onwards.  I can assure you the Council is working to mitigate this with capital funding for additional school places, including new schools.

Transferring to secondary school is an important and exciting step for Year 6 children and their families and we know that it is an anxious time waiting for confirmation of a school place. I am delighted that, once again, the Council is able to offer a very high number of children a place at their preferred school.  I was in London recently, and according to the media, over 30% of children in London will not get their first choice. We have near 98%

The Council will continue to plan for the demand on places to ensure that as many children as possible can attend their preferred school now and in the future.

Well done Schools Admission Team, and the Appeals Team who will be busy with any appeals.

Categories: Local Politics

The Parliamentary Boundary Commission makes its decision on Devonwall

Tue, 28/02/2017 - 10:28

The Parliamentary Boundary Commission has today confirmed –  as expected – that it is recommending a new cross-border parliamentary constituency of Bideford, Bude and Launcestonbetween that will straddle the historic borders of Cornwall and Devon.

This decision has formed part of the part of the 2018 review of parliamentary boundaries and the plan to reduce the number of MP’s from 650 to 600. 

In a statement issued by Cornwall Council in response to this news: 

“As we said in our robust submission to the Commission, we strongly object to this proposal which would create a new constituency crossing the historic border between Cornwall and Devon for the first time in Cornwall’s history.

 As well as destroying the integrity of Cornwall’s historic border, which would cause great distress to numerous residents , this proposal also conflicts with the spirit and intent of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

 We strongly believe there are cultural, legal, geographic and political reasons to maintain our border in terms of Parliamentary representation and we will be lobbying Parliament and calling on the Boundary Commission to rethink this proposal.”

From this announcement, there will be a second round of consultation on these proposal by the Commission; then following that, the final recommendations will be laid before Parliament in September 2018. If accepted the new boundaries will be active for the General Election in 2020.

More details can be found HERE

 

Categories: Local Politics

European Capital of Culture bid is passed by Cabinet, but I did not support it

Mon, 27/02/2017 - 14:09

Being the lone voice in a Cabinet is sometimes difficult, but when you cannot support an item you need to make sure your voice is heard and standby those views. The case in question is the European Capital of Culture bid (ECoC). My previous post on this issue is HERE.

Prior to today’s meeting, there was enough concern about the original decision by Cabinet. This resulted in the decision being ‘called-in’ by scrutiny who felt the process getting to the Cabinet decision was flawed. As Scrutiny felt there was a ‘flaw’ in the process of the decision – and as per the Constitution – sent the decision back to Cabinet for further consideration, and to consider if it made the right decision in the first place. For those who do not want to read on, the Cabinet voted 8-1 in favour of the bid (I voted against it). For those who want to know why, please read on.

I believe the process of getting to the shortlist phase is flawed for many of the same reasons as Scrutiny. Originally, the amount to get to the shortlist phase, was £536k, but now, on ‘relooking’ at the amount, this is now £336k. However, whilst this money is already in a budget (£60m) of EU match-funding, the costs most people seem to be missing is the estimated £10m that Cornwall Council will need to commit for this bid to work. This is not in the Council’s budget plan, and there is no clear way how this could be funded.

There is one thing of using existing budgets for something, but how do you square it when you really need a lot more for this to work. At today’s Cabinet meeting I commented how projects like the ECoC will find the money. Yet, corporately, money cannot be found for vital services in Cornwall. In reference to my point today, I talked about Post-16 transport funding.  Whilst this is a discretionary service of the Council, and it is important to note, the Council receives no support from Government to pay for it; even though they have made it mandatory for young people to stay in education (or training) till 18 years old.

If I had £10m, I could fund Post-16 transport for around eight-years. This is just one case of how money could be spent rather than on this bid. My point is we must fund for the most vulnerable and concentrate on our key services as highlighted in my previous blog.

Much has been made of this is a Cornwall-wide bid and not just Truro. Yet, Truro City Council was not really consulted prior to the bid paperwork going public. Furthermore, the City Council has only supported the ECoC bid by a narrow margin of 9-8. Hardly a ringing endorsement, but a democratic decision nonetheless.

A puzzling question that needs to be answered is how in reality will a Cornwall-wide bid work? Will it just concentrate on the existing sites like Eden and other large tourist attractions? If so, how will those who do not have a site like this near to them feel the ‘benefit’ of the ECOC? If commercial businesses are to benefit, it is a must they have to contribute, rather than the taxpayer footing the bill.

If town and villages are to be involved why haven’t they been asked?  Will it be left to the town and parish councils to find funding? A of example on costs is Helston Town Council made a decision not to have the Man Engine due to the costs of this one day event. If it is Cornwall-wide, then serious consideration needs to be made how these town and parish council will fund it, or will it be only the ones with the precepts large enough to contribute?

Another point I made today was on political support for the ECoC. Cabinet is made up of two group/party, Independent and Lib Dem. Yet the Council is made up of eight groups/party/standalone. I made an amendment for this decision to be made by full council as all 123 members can have a say, especially on the commitment of further funding like the £10m. This was not supported, but I am hopeful when there is money assigned, this can be debated via the capital programme which has to come to full council at a later date. A long-winded route to a simple debate on a yes/no option on the bid.

It is should be noted, the bid rule makes it clear any bid needs to be grassroots and supported from there. No reference has been made of this, or asked the public about their views.

In short, I voted against this because the bid is flawed on the timeline needed, monies could be spent on the most vulnerable, and there is not full political support for the ECoC. Not to mention post Brexit, there is little chance of winning the bid. As I said before, I was the lone voice, and the other eight members of Cabinet voted in favour for a bid and the £336k to proceed.

 

 

Categories: Local Politics

Helston College rebuild work to start in September

Fri, 24/02/2017 - 17:02

It has been a long time coming, but the much needed building work for Helston College is due to start this September – yes really this September! Helston College was part of the successful bid to the Government by Cornwall Council to get much needed money for C-Block and other works. The many posts on this subject can be found HERE.

With the project moving forward, the school will undertake a series of engagement meetings with companies hoping to gain the contract for the new build. This contract will be hopefully awarded in April. At the end of April or early May, there will be public consultation as part of the planning process.

This is really exciting, and something I have pushed for since the previous disappointments. Details on what will be built are still being finalised, but a start date is fantastic.  Huge credit to the College Head, Governors and staff at Cornwall Council for never losing faith in getting this money.

The deputy PM, Head of Helston School, the former MP and me at the official announcement of the rebuild back in the day

Categories: Local Politics

New Goals installed on the Moors

Fri, 24/02/2017 - 15:02

Last week the prep work for installing two new goals on the Moors playing field was started. From this, Porthleven Town Council’s handyman, Phil and his apprentice (me) fitted and installed the goal posts today.

It was good to be able to use my community fund for this, as I know many will have fun and appreciate these new goal posts. Thank to Phil and the town council for paying for the extra materials needed for the installation. Thanks also to the group of parents who helped Phil and I lift the goals in place.

No sooner than we had finished, a group of boys started to play football using the goals.

Phil and his apprentice

Categories: Local Politics