Do you qualify for free central heating in your home?

The question is do you qualify for free central heating? You could qualify if you are a home owner, landlord or private tenant. However, to qualify, you need to meet all three of following points:

  1. Recipient who is in or at risk of being in “fuel poverty” residing in property “G” rated;
  2. A domestic premises (dwelling) which is not currently using gas as the primary heating fuel;
  3. Where a central heating system would be installed for the first time

Looking at data for Porthleven, 10% of households have no central heating. For Cornwall, this is 7.2% of households. So there is need in Porthleven. Furthermore, 195 (15.9%) of households in Porthleven are in fuel poverty.  For Helston, it is 535 (10.3%). The England average is 10.4%

The scheme is part of a Public Health led, £2.3m Central Heating Programme, funded by DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change). Sadly this initial offer is limited to 70 successful applications.  Anyone Social Housing is part of bid already underway and would not qualify under this specific scheme.

To find out more and apply, call Bev at Inclusion Cornwall – 01872 355008, bwilson@cornwall.gov.uk

cental heating fund

 

 

Government confirms final Local Government Finance Settlement 2016/17

The Government has now confirmed its final Local Government finance settlement for 2016/17 with some minor changes to the provisional settlement. In the provisional settlement, Cornwall Council lost a further £6m in funding with some slight-of-hand moving of rural funding into urban areas. Details HERE.

In what could be seen as the Government realising its error, it has increase the pot of money to the Rural Services Delivery Grant (RSG) by £91m over the periods of 2016/17 and 2017/18. For Cornwall Council this equates to a one-off increase in funding of £2.945m in 2016/17 and £1.460m in 2017/18. Allocations for 2018/19 and 2019/20 remain as per the provisional settlement.

Whilst I welcome this slight change of heart, it still means Cornwall Council is still down roughly £1.4m from the previous budget.

financegraph

Furthermore, the New Home Bonus nationally has seen an increase to the final New Homes Bonus allocations increasing the total amount to £1.462bn. This has resulted in a small reduction to the returned New Homes Bonus adjustment grant to a number of authorities.

The bad news is Cornwall Council’s overall NHB allocation reduces by £0.011m in both 2016/17 and 2017/18 and £0.007m in both 2018/19 and 2019/20 compared to the provisional settlement allocations.

Most of the other changes in the final settlement impact on District Council’s apart from the Government will consult on allowing well-performing planning departments to increase their fees in line with inflation at the most, providing that revenue reduces the cross subsidy that the planning function currently gets from Council Tax payers.

 

Origin Coffee have decided not to relocate to Porthleven

I have been asked by the owners of Origin Coffee to make public a letter I received last in which Origin Coffee have made the decision not to be the tenant of any building located in the Shipyard, Porthleven. I have no further details apart from what is contained in the following letter.

OriginPR

As for what will happen with the proposed building and any future tenant will be up to the Harbour and Dock Company. I have no details on this, and no planning application has been submitted for this building. FullSizeRender (3)

Furthermore, the proposed design could radically change because the design was based on the need for Origin Coffee. I guess we will have to wait and see what comes forward from the Harbour and Dock Company.

Leaving the design of the building aside (as everyone has an option on the design) I just hope we as a community do not regret this and the message it sends out to any business wanting to relocate to Porthleven. Or  we might have sent a negative message of we are not open for business to any future business opportunities that are thinking of moving to Porthleven.

 

Rent-a-pitch from Cornwall Council, but at what cost to existing businesses?

I should not have to keep saying it, but the Council has less money to deliver services due to the Government cuts, yet we still have to deliver those services. This means the Council has to look into how it can monetise some of its non-core services. If not, the simple truth is more services will come under pressure for cuts.

Readers, this is not a line, but whilst the banks were bailed out, Local Government was cut, cut and cut again. This brings me into this blogs subject.

Cornwall Council owns a lot of land, some in key locations. Up to now, these areas were not really looked at as a revenue source. Now with the budget pressures, the Council is looking at these areas to see if it can make a shilling or two.

In the first wave, 20 locations have been selected to see if a ‘pop-up’ business could operate from these locations. These are:

  • Bude Canal
  • Castle Park, Liskeard
  • Divers Car Park, Pendennis, Falmouth
  • Downderry Beach
  • Grogley Halt, Camel Trail
  • Gwithian Beach
  • Gwithian Towans
  • Harlyn Bay
  • Kit Hill
  • Longstone Park, Saltash
  • Newlyn Green
  • Penrose Amenity Area, Helston
  • Penzance Promenade
  • Poltair Park, St Austell
  • Porth Beach
  • Porth Promenade
  • Porthtowan Beach
  • Land at the Quarter Deck, Porth
  • Scarletts Well, Camel Trail, Bodmin
  • Seaton Beach
  • Seaton Valley
  • Treyarnon Bay
  • Widemouth Bay

On face value this seems a logical way forward to help protect services. The National Trust is a master of monetising its assets. So why not the Council?

However, I do have a concern that these pop-ups could impact on existing businesses in the area. Some of these businesses are leased by Cornwall Council.

As the Divisional Member for Porthleven and Helston West, one of the ‘selected’ areas falls within my Division, the Penrose Amenity Area, or more locally known as the Fairground Car Park. In this area is the much loved Coronation Park, with its boating lake, Skate Park, play area, bike hire and Café. The latter is a Cornwall Council leased Café to a private individual. This operator as part of his tenancy has exclusive rights to sell hot and cold food and drink and ice-creams. This has been a successful relationship between the Council and the past and current leaseholder. Yet, the fairground car park is just a short distance across the road and outside of the exclusive deal.

My concern, which I have raised officially, is it is all fine and good to look at offering a concession in this area, but it must be one that is not already provided by an existing deal. Or by allowing a new venture, you could be putting at risk and existing one which pays rent to the Council.

I do not know the other areas, so I am not really going to comment on them apart to say the same logic should be used as I explained previously.

Any operator like the one on Helston who suddenly sees a pop-up appear with the potential to take trade knowing this pop-up does not have the same overheads like Business Rates etc. as a fixed business. Therefore, that fixed business is at a disadvantage in trade terms. Many of these fixed businesses trade all year to take into account the good, bad and nightmare periods. A pop-up will just be there for the good-times.

As I said, I get the rationale behind this, but care and thought will be needed before any contract is issued to a pop-up.

For more details on the application process, tender period and other information, click on the link HERE. Let’s hope we do not end up robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Cornwall Council is set to become a housing developer

Cornwall Council delivers many services that we all receive as part of our daily lives. In fact you will be surprised just how much the Council delivers. In something that may surprise people, the Council is set to add another ‘string-to-its-bow’ by becoming a house builder. Yep, the Council is set to become a housing developer.

The ambition for the Council is to deliver up to 500 homes a year through cross subsidising developments. This would mean delivering a mixture of affordable and market homes for rent, and homes for sale. The rationale behind it – according to the experts – is Cornwall needs more homes, and the market alone cannot deliver this in the coming years.

The Council is now poised to directly invest and build attractive high quality homes that people can afford, in areas of high demand. The vision is to provide attractive, high quality, energy-efficient homes. New homes through the programme will be healthy to live in and cost-effective to heat and maintain.

The Council has identified two potential pilot sites for this project. The first in Tolvaddon, the second in Bodmin.

The project is very much in the design stage. The Council wants to consult with the target market and local communities to find out what type of homes they would like built. This information will influence the designs that our architects then develop.

Therefore, the Council is hosting engagement events near both of the sites in February so that we can engage with the local community and identify potential customers.

  • On 11 Feb from 1pm to 8pm we will be at Heartlands, Pool
  • On 15 Feb from 1pm to 8pm we will be at Chy Trevail Offices in Bodmin

This is not something new, as other Councils are already doing this. Of course before a home is built you need land. Which the Council owns a large chunk of land in Cornwall. It also needs investment.  My view is tax payer’s money should not be used and therefore, I am content that this will be funded by borrowing and building efficiently without any ongoing cost to the public purse.

There also needs to have the right infrastructure in or put in place if you want to deliver 500 homes a year. There is no point in putting homes in a certain place if it will have a negative impact on areas like school places.

I would hope the affordable/open market ratio is right. I would hate to think – if this plan happens – there will be a temptation to build more open market homes due to the profitability over affordable homes.

However, if the Council was to become a housing developer, home should be built on need rather than profit which drives most, if not all, housing developers.

I am sure these plans will be met by horror by some quarters, but then again, it could be seen as the Council tackling the housing issues in Cornwall rather than waiting for developers to dictate where a housing goes on profitability over need.

 

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet recommends to Full Council a 3.97% raise in Council Tax for 2016/17

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet has today recommended the amount each household will pay in Council Tax for the 2016/17 period. The final approval for the Council’s budget rests with all 123 Cornwall Councillors at a Full Council meeting.

Any reader of this blog will know the austerity imposed on local authorities like Cornwall Council has resulted in services being reduced or stopped. Even with the latest Spending Review, the Government in a rather underhanded way reduced Cornwall Council’s grant by a further £6m.

A slight positive in that Spending Review is local authorities can opt for a four-year funding settlement rather than a yearly one. This gives the Council scope to plan better rather than waiting each year to play the guessing game on how much funding the Council will lose. We will be accepting the Governments offer of a four-year settlement.

Also in that review, the Chancellor introduced a new levy of a 2% increase in Council Tax to be spent on Adult Social Care. My annoyance with this is there is more to social care than adults. Children’s Services pay a large and important part too. Yet, the Government has again forgotten about this very important element in this levy.

As I said the 2% can only be spent on Adult Social Care services. At face value this is good, as more funding will go towards Adult Social Care. However, the £21m this will raise over the next four-years, £16m will go towards implementing the Governments living wage in this sector. I am a firm believer in the minimum wage, but this should be funded correctly by the Government, and not left to local taxation. This also means you end up with a postcode lottery on the amount of money it raises due to the Council Tax base rates which differ between each local authority.

Yet, this will improve this service area not only in wages, but it will protect some of the services. If the social care precept was not added, then these services would be at risk because of the cuts to the Government’s grant.

In the Council’s four-year budget plan, Cornwall Council’s Council Tax rate will raise by 1.97%. This is not because we want to, but because many millions have been taken away by the Government by means of the grant.

The next step, subject to Full Council approval in February, Cornwall Council’s element of the Council Tax (CT is made up of Cornwall Council, Town/Parish Precept and Police) will rise by 3.97%. The true percentage will be higher once you add in the police and town/parish precepts.

The current level of Council Tax for a Band D property is £1,293.92 and will rise to £1,345.29 in 2016/17. This equates to a £51.37 per year, or £4.20 per month, or 98p per week rise on a Band D property if you just include Cornwall Council’s element.

As I said previously, raising taxes is not something we want to do. However, the very fact Cornwall Council has had its budget cut slashed by Government so much, there is little other option but to raise Council Tax.

 

If you see something, say something – Safeguarding is everyone’s business.

Cornwall Council has commissioned a short film highlighting the importance of Safeguarding for both children and adults. The title of the film is simple. If you see something, say something.

Possible new sculpture for Porthleven to commemorate the storms of 2014

The owner of Porthleven’s Harbour, Trevor Osborne, wants to commemorate the storms of 2014 with a sculpture by using one of the broken wooden baulks that are used to protect the inner-harbour and the moored boats. Two of these baulks shattered by the immense power of the those storms, which led to the sea to reign havoc in the inner-harbour.

The sculpture is being designed by Lucinda Burgess. Subject to planning, the position of the sculpture is set to be on the Quay over near Black Sands, in front of  The Ship Inn.

At present, there is no formal planning application submission, but a pre-planning application has been submitted that would advise if this type of structure is in-principle supported by planning policy. From this advice, the applicant can submit a formal planning application, taking on board any suggestions by amending the design, or not submitting at all. So at present, I am just sharing this for information.

Here is the design that is currently subject to the pre-app process.

FullSizeRender

The prefered location of the sculpture

The prefered location of the sculpture

Now the concept is that a seat will be placed against the wall and as you sit a look out towards the Institute, the box that is formed by the metal and wood ‘frames’ and puts the most iconic building in Porthleven in a picture against the broken baulk. I will say I am no art expert, but I would say this is very contemporary in its design.

So what do you think of the concept? Like, hate or left a little confused on the message?

For me, if there was something to remember the storms, this isn’t what I would have imagined. It does not tell the story of the community. Then again, I am no artist.

 

Devonwall is still an option in the Government’s Boundary review that starts in Spring 2016.

devonwall

All the hubbub on the possibility of a boundary reviews has been on whether the number of Cornwall Councillors should be reduced or kept at the existing levels, but tucked away on the Boundary Commission’s website and which it seems most people have missed, is fact the Boundary Commission for England and its three other counter parts will be starting a review of parliamentary seats this Spring

The aim of the review – as laid down in legislation – is to reduce the number of MP’s from 650 to 600. Most people though the review was killed off in 2013 when the Lib Dems and Tory’s fell out over the Lords reform. However, reducing the number of MP’s was in the Tory manifesto policy, and the review is enshrined in legislation, which means it still counts unless you repealed it. Which it was not, just suspended.

The reasoning behind the review is firstly to save money. The estimated savings could be as much as £12m. And secondly, the aim is to have parliamentary seats that are roughly equal in electoral size. Currently, there is no equal size for parliamentary seats which results in parliamentary seats having as few electors as 22,000 to over 110,000.

Under the boundary proposals, no parliamentary seat will be smaller no smaller than 72,810 and no larger than 80,473 electors per Parliamentary seat. Though there will be at least four  parliamentary seats which will be exempt this requirement due to their geographical nature – like the Isle of Wight.

The boundary review is set to start in spring 2016 and needs to be completed by October 2018. Then after a series of public consultations on the recommendations, the new boundaries will be approved in time for the next General Election in 2020, subject to parliamentary approval.

Using the max/min electors per seat numbers measure, the South West is set to lose at least two seats. This very much brings back the likelihood of a Parliamentary seat that crosses the borders of Cornwall and Devon. How or where this cross-border seat will be set is anyone’s guess at the moment. But one thing is for sure, there will be two sitting Tory MP’s fighting for one seat.

This boundary review will needs to address the proverbial Elephant in the room in that the new seat will again open the Devonwall debate on the historic border between Cornwall and Devon again.

More details on the review can be found HERE and HERE.

 

 

Andrew

 

Sanctuary Housing attempts again to turn car park at Albion Road into private car park

The proposed changes to the public car park

Sanctuary Housing have formally requested Cornwall Council for a Stopping Up Order under the Highways Act 1980 – Section 116. You can learn more about this order HERE. The simple aim of this request is to turn this car park from a public car park, to a private one.

Readers of this blog will remember the last time this was (illegally) attempted and how a private car park enforcement company was hired to enforce the restrictions. This cause a lot of distress to people. Luckily as the actions by Sanctuary Housing were illegal, I got all the tickets cancelled and the car park reverted by to a public one.

As part of the process for stopping up orders, I have been asked for my views. However, I want to hear Bulwark and Albion Road residents views. Like last time, I have objected to the proposed changes because losing such a public large car park will add to the parking issues in this area. I would also be very concerned with the use of a private car park enforcement company to make sure the rules are enforced.

Therefore, I am asking residents to contact me at: awallis@cornwall.gov.uk to give their views. If there is a limited response, then it might be harder to resist the changes. We have till the 22nd February to express those views.

The proposed changes to the public car park

The proposed changes to the public car park

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