On Saturday, I attended  the second Family Fun Day organised by Action for Children, Kernow Young Carers service at The Wadebridge Showground. The day was enjoyed by almost 150 children, young people, aged 3-18 and their families. I have to say the day was seen to be a huge success with plenty for everyone to do from cuddling a snake or holding a giant owl to face painting, a dance workshop, climbing wall and BBQ. As well as being staffed by members of the team from Action for Children, local volunteers from the service were also there to lend a hand.

During the event it was good to see two of Cornwall’s MP’s attend. Thanks to Dan Rogerson and Sarah Newton for taking the time to visit and see the good work by Action for Children and Kernow Young Carers.

The event would not have been the success without the support of  various organisations and performers.  Music was provided by Tom James, entertainment by Swamp Circus and Flava as well as stalls from Cornwall Food Foundation and the Wave Project as well as a range of arts and crafts activities, a climbing wall, skate ramp and bouncy castle.  Thanks should also go to Mark’s Arc and is animals. I saw many children and their families getting to hold some of Mark’s animal. The most popular was the python. snake

Particular thanks go to Wadebridge Rotary Club who provided the BBQ, food (free of charge) and the volunteers who worked hard all day to make sure everyone had drinks and food. The Flava Dance group provided both entertainment and a dance workshop which were hugely popular and to top it off, The Moorlanders Motor Cycle Club drove in on their motor bikes and presented a cheque to Action for Children for £1000.

Kernow Young Carers service is commissioned by Cornwall Council and NHS Kernow and is a service which is growing day by day as more children and young people are supported by the service. As well as the fun day, there are holiday activities, support in schools, local support groups and some one to one support for those who need it most.

If you would like to know more than please visit our website: www.kernowyoungcarers.org.uk

I had the great pleasure to recently visit Caradon Observatory; a little gem tucked away in the countryside near Upton Cross.  To be honest, I never knew it existed, but I am glad I do now, as the geek inside me really enjoyed the visit.

During the visit I was shown a picture taken by the observatory which showed a star cluster. I was blown away with the quality of the picture. However, I was completely stunned when I was told the imagine contained in the picture was actually 12 million years old and it took that long to reach earth for the picture to be taken. WOW.

The Caradon Observatory

The Caradon Observatory

During the visit, I got to view the sun through one of smaller telescopes. It may seem odd, as we see and feel the sun every day, but when you look at a telescope and see the sun in all its glory with sun spots and solar flares you really get a feeling how powerful the sun is.

During the visit I also learned more of the plan for Bodmin Moor to have the status as an International Dark Sky Park. This sounds like a worthy aim. The main benefit is the protection of the exceptional night sky. In addition if promoted right it could have a significant tourist and educational bonus. Other key areas in the UK are Exmoor; Dartmoor; Brecon Beacons; parts of Northumberland and parts of Scotland.

The plan for a Dark Sky Park

The plan for a Dark Sky Park

The Council is looking to submit an application next spring. More details on the project can be found via the Cornwall Council website HERE. Further details on the dark sky project are HERE. I found the visit very interesting and can see the benefits of the Dark Sky project in this area. In fact, I think we should be doing more to reduce unnecessary lighting in our towns and villages.

It is great news that a devolution project between Cornwall Council and Porthleven Town Council can now be announcement after the town council approved the deal last night. The deal between the two authorities, is for the playing field known officially as Horseshoe Playing Field, but also known locally as ‘top park’, along with the adjoining field and Shrubberies Hill car park will be transferred to Porthleven Town Council on a 99 year lease for one peppercorn (if demanded) per year.

As part of the devolution project I have been working on for sometime, I have negotiated with Cornwall Council a one-off grant of £25,000 to help replace the equipment. As anyone who has visited the park will see the current children’s play equipment it is in need of replacement.  This is really good news, as the town council gets to administer and safeguard the future of the area, but has a large grant to help replace the play equipment.

However, the £25,000 from Cornwall Council is not enough to build a new play park. So on top of this, and as part of the planning consent for the development of Shrubberies Hill, £10,000 of section 106 money will be added to the £25,000 from Cornwall Council. However, this is still a little short of the total amount needed for a new play park.  So as part of the recommendations I put to the town council (at the September meeting) to accept the transfer of assets, the town council has committed a further £5,000 to make this new park deliverable.

The proposed new play equipment at Horseshoe

The proposed new play equipment at Horseshoe

This play park will be build in a new area and has two elements, one for the younger children which will be fenced off, and another for older children. The ‘sand’ area is an idea, but it was deemed better to infill this, and place the benches and tables nearer the park. Included in the deal is new fencing.

The play equipment for older children

The play equipment for older children

 

I believe this is a great deal between Porthleven Town Council and Cornwall Council in how a devolution project can and should work. This is the second devolution project between Porthleven Town Council and Cornwall Council. The first one being the land between the Cricket Club and the Amenity Area. It sometimes takes time, and there is a lot of hard work for both parties, but it just proves something positive can be done if everyone is working for a common cause.

Well done Porthleven Town Council for being a proactive council. Well done Cornwall Council for helping a local community have more control over the assets in their area.

I have received some very good news today as DEFRA (administered by the Environment Agency) has previously awarded the Council £7.547m  to help repair the storm damage from last winter.  This money will be combined the Council’s own matched funding of £1.910m. This is goods news for Porthleven – which was badly affected by the storms – will receive some of this money. In total 67 sites will receive some storm damage funding.

Porthleven will receive £40k from this money to help address the flooding problems along Methleigh Bottoms. For the residents along this road there has been a worry every time there is bad weather will this area flood, and during the storms they were flooded, as they had been in previous years.

I am very pleased the Government has listen to the concerns I raised, along with residents and the Council and has awarded this money to address the problems along Methleigh Bottom. I would also like to praise my colleague Edwina Hannaford as the Portfolio Holder and the officers which pressured the Government for this money.

The good news is work should start on reducing if not completely stopping the flooding in this area very soon. I am just waiting for a schedule of works that will be undertaken. Once I have more details I will let people know

The Moors Flood1

Flooding on the Moors caused by the river along Methleigh Bottoms (2012)

The Moors Flood3

A common site during the bad weather with the road along Methleigh Bottoms closed due to the flooding

The Moors Flood2

Monday saw the start of a new school year. For those children in KS1 they will see the introduction of a free school meal (UIFSM) for all in that Key Stage. The reason for this is the Government believes that children having a meal at school is better for their learning and attainment; and anything that helps with a child’s education is surely a good thing?

For Cornwall, the project of UIFSM has not been plain sailing. In fact, implementing this project could have ended in disaster due to the lack of forethought on implementation by the Government. As local authorities and schools across the land pointed out many schools do not have adequate kitchen facilities, or even kitchens at all to implement this new Government policy. This resulted in the Government having to make available funding for new kitchens. However, the award of this funding did seemed without logic and based on pupil numbers rather than what facilities were needed. In Cornwall, excluding most academies who applied to the EFA directly, the Council was given £846k to deliver a project costed £1.4 million. A half a million shortfall in funding. This put the Council in a very difficult position of how to fund this shortfall and still deliver the programme by September 2014.

At first and to make sure the project could be delivered, money was taken from the schools maintenance money to fund this project. Of course the Council asked the Government for this shortfall, but were rebuffed and told to fund it out of existing budgets. Not really helpful when we are delivering their project.

The impact on the school maintenance fund and how that would have affected schools would have not been good. However, so no school was put at a disadvantage in their maintenance programme, the Schools Forum agreed to fund this shortfall out of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). I am grateful to the School Forum for agreeing to fund this. This money is still school money and therefore could have been spent elsewhere, rather than finding a shortfall.

To make this project deliverable the Council undertook a large evolution of surveying kitchens, and from those surveys nearly half needed new facilities and updated facilities. In fact out of those 112 which needed work, 80% needed large-scale works with a couple of schools had to have completely new kitchens. There was an added pressure of most of the work could only be carried out over the summer holiday period.

It is to huge credit to the teams at Cornwall Council and Cormac who delivered all but three schools on time. The three schools who could not be treated on time will be still able to provide a packed lunch as a very temporary measure for a week or so.

Now the kitchens have been provided, the school are now able to provide those meals to the infants. It is up to the schools and the governing body if all infants receive a meal, or it is an opt-in option.

Furthermore, If the Government expands the free school meal programme into KS2, then I urge the Government to talk to schools and local authorities first to see what they need Rather than putting additional pressures on schools and local authorities to deliver in increasing budget pressures again caused by the stinging cuts to local government.

On a calm and sunny day, those brave enough took to the water in their homemade rafts to challenge to be the winner of the Porthleven Raft Race 2014. This race is held every year in the port and this years entries were in fine humour as the rafts battled it out not only in the actual race, but one the start line too with flour and water bombs.

Saturday saw the annual Helston Carnival take place. That means the Friends and Residents of Bulwark Association gets to dress me up in a costume. Their rule is, they make it, I have to wear it. And believe me, I have worn some very interesting costumes.

The association’s float theme this year was Helston 10 million years BC. When I found out the theme I did fear I would be made to dress like Raquel Welch…. and I would have to wear the costume, which would have resulted in a lot of therapy for those who had the misfortune to witness it. However, and to great relief,  my fears were averted when I found out I was to be a caveman.

Cllr Caveman?

Cllr Caveman?

Now you have got over the shock of my outfit, it is  time to see the fantastic float which the association put together. It is not just the float which is fantastic, but all the costumes too. These were made – yes made – by the association. Special thanks should go to the National Trust at Penrose Estate who kindly supplied the trailer and tow vehicle.

The Bulwark carnival float 2014

The Bulwark carnival float 2014

This years carnival saw an increased turnout of floats, so competition for best of class and over all carnival winners would be tight. The Bulwark float still did well, as they came second in the small float category and were beaten by an excellent Alice in Wonderland float. So well done to all who took part.

This event would not be the success it is without the people organising the event and the marshalls. So a huge round of thanks should go to these volunteers for giving up their time to make this carnival such a success.