Recycling mixed-plastics in Cornwall – my experience 

It has been nearly six-months since Cornwall Council started its trial collecting mixed-plastics in certain locations.

There was in the beginning some resistance to collecting mixed-plastics because of the costs. However, the Cabinet, backed up by the PAC committee which looks at waste related issues etc, felt this was the right way forward and approved the trial. 

As this was a six-month trial, there will soon be a report published on how well it’s going. The question which needs to be answered is: has this trial increased recycling rates? I hope so; but for me this was not just increasing recycling rates, it is about stopping so much of our waste being put into landfill. 

In a household, it is hard to measure just how much rubbish you produce as we have general waste collections weekly and recycling collections fortnightly. So unless you want to be seen as Stig of the dump, you dutifully put out your waste out on those allocated days. 

However, I did not. In fact, for four months I collected all the mixed-plastics I could from the various food products I brought. I was staggered at just how much I collected.  I initially aimed to collect for six-months, but just run out of room to store it. So, I recycled it at the four and a half month period. 

They say a picture paints a thousand words:


This is a one adult (and child) household. If I did not recycle this packaging, all of it would have gone into landfill. The generally accepted time for a plastic bottle to biodegrade is at least 450 years. Yes you read that right, 450 years. 

The following chart gives averages of degradable years for different items.


A few things need to change. Food producers need to look at the types of packaging they used. I was staggered at the number of different plastics in use for packaging. We as consumers need to accept everything does not have to look pretty when we buy it. 

The reality is those two previous point are  going to be tough to change. So in the meantime, we need to recycle more, and that means rolling out the mixed-plastic collection to the whole of Cornwall. 

Cornwall Council opposes the Government plan to force all schools to become Academies

Today, at Cornwall Council’s Full Council meeting, Councillors debated a Motion on the principle of the Government’s plan to force all schools to become academies by 2020. This motion was proposed by Tim Dwelly, seconded by myself, and supported by a group of cross-party Councillors which include Councillors Atherton, German, Kenny, Kirk, Long, Andrew Mitchell, Olivier, Hanna Toms, James and Frank.

The motion is as follows:

  • This Council disagrees with the Government’s plans to force all schools to become academies. It also notes widespread opposition to this proposal among parents and education professionals;
  • The Council welcomes the excellent work Cornwall’s schools in who are working co-operatively and believes some small schools will struggle to survive if such a system is imposed as proposed in the White Paper;
  • This Council believes that transferring supervision of all Cornish schools to Whitehall is centralisation and is at odds with the Cornwall Deal agreed with government;
  • This Council is also opposed with the proposal to remove the valuable role of parent governors from the schools governance structure;
  • The Council against the forced transfer of council-owned assets and land to Whitehall;
  • It resolves to ask the Secretary of State for Education to allow Cornwall’s schools and their parents to decide for themselves whether they wish to remain with the local education authority or become academies.

I seconded this motion on the principle of the Government forcing schools to convert is based on a seriously flawed White Paper. The government say changing the legal administrative status of a school will improve standards is not backed-up by evidence.

Furthermore, the White Paper allows Academy Trusts no longer be required to reserve placed for parent governors on their governor boards. These governors play a very important role (as do all governors) in a school structure. This is a retrograde step, and again has no evidence to back up the justification this role to be removed.

I also have a serious concern over the lack of accountability in the White Paper proposals. Accountability is an important part of the educational system. With LA schools, parent have a direct mans of raising issues after they have exhausted talking to the head teacher and governors. In the academy system, parents concerns are dealt via the Regional Schools Commissioner, and then the DFE. This was highlighted in the recent All Party Parliamentary Group report on the role of the Regional Schools Commissioner.

After a debate, the a staggering 95 Councillors voted in favour of the motion of opposing the Governments place to force schools to convert to academies, with three Councillors voting again and one abstaining.

To put the icing on the cake, both the Leader, Deputy Leader, Cornwall Council Chairman and vice, all the Council’s Cabinet voted in favour to oppose the Governments plans

This sends a clear message to the Government about its plan to force schools to convert, rather than leave it to parent and governors who know their school and what is best for the young people who attend.

Cones for Porthleven

Ok, this is not the most exciting subject, but on Friday, I took delivery of 150 cones from Cornwall Council for use in Porthleven.

The simple reason for this is Cornwall Council gets many a request from communities for cones, and therefore, it becomes costly for the Council to keep delivering and picking up cones from various locations. The logic is therefore to give a community to use as they see fit.

Lovely cones…

The cones will be free to use, but to make sure those who borrow them, bring them back, there will likely be a small deposit required to make sure all the cones come back. As Cornwall Council will not be replacing the cones if they go missing/lost.

If interested in using these cones, please contact the town clerk.

Update –  I think I need to clarify that these cones are for use for community events etc. with the right traffic management approvals in place.

They cannot be used to ‘cone off’ certain parts of the highway. 
For cones to be in this way, you need to apply for permission to highways, and then cones can be placed on the highways. Furthermore, cones can only be placed on the highways only for a certain period of time. 
If you do not have official permission to place cones on the highway, you are in fact falling foul of the law. 

Nansloe School will get a school crossing patrol on Meneage Road

Several months ago, I requested to Cornwall Council to see if Meneage Road would qualify for a School Crossing Patrol (SCP). This is due a large number of children attending Nansloe Academy from other parts of Helston.

This road is busy, and therefore, parents choose to drive their children to school rather than walk. So a solution needed to be found to allow children to cross safety and reduce traffic in and around the school.

After various site monitoring visits to see how many people with children cross Meneage Road on the way to and from the school,  I am very pleased to say, a SCP will be put in place on this road.

In simple terms, to qualify for a SCP, there has to be a certain number of children crossing (with or without their parent) at the peak school times.

Before the site is operational a small amount of engineering works will need to be undertaken, and someone will need to be recruited to the position.

I am very pleased there will be a crossing here. It is something I and the school have wanted for some time. Thank you Cornwall Council for finding the money for this.

It does not stop there either. As I am talking to Cornwall Council Highways to look at a more permanent solution of a fixed crossing. This will all depend on the type of crossing allowed on this road, and the funding for it.

Cornwall Council develops innovative approach to recruitment of children’s social workers.

In the news today, the BBC suggest that with almost a fifth of all children’s social worker posts in England are currently vacant, with many councils are reporting problems in recruiting and retaining their staff. Is this the case in Cornwall?

Cornwall’s children’s social care service currently has 225 full-time equivalent children’s social workers, with vacancies filled by agency social workers. Around 10% of Children’s social workers are agency staff, which is lower than both the South West and the national average.

In trying to address any potential problems in recruitment Cornwall Council has developed an innovative approach that provides local solutions to a national issue.

The recruitment of social workers who have the values, motivation and passion to make a real difference to families in Cornwall has been at the heart of the reform programme within Children’s Early Help, Psychology and Social Care Services over the last four years.

In Cornwall Council are committed to those who want to work with our most vulnerable children and young people and have developed a ‘grow your own’ approach where the Council offers opportunities for local people who are living in and are committed to Cornwall to train to become social workers. This has proved to be very successful, with around 18 people training to become social workers at any one time.

The success of our “grow our own” scheme means that we have been able to recruit and retain high quality staff who are working very hard to keep our children and young people safe.  We are also seeing applications from experienced staff in other parts of the country who are impressed by what we are doing in Cornwall.

As well as offering placements to students and running our trainee programme, the Service also attracts experienced social workers through its excellent skills based, evidence-informed learning and development programme, with access to post-qualifying accredited learning in our partnership with Plymouth University. 

The Council has established Career and Qualification Pathway that promotes learning and practice, and rewards the most experienced social workers who stay in practice. This summer we will launch our ‘Return to Social Work’ scheme to offer opportunities for those who have had a break in their career to refresh their knowledge, skills and practice.

As the Lead Member for Children’s Services at Cornwall Council I want to acknowledge the fantastic job in what can often be difficult and challenging circumstances and I would like to publicly thank them for their hard work and commitment.

Thank you.

 

The 2016 Porthleven Food Festival tops 30,000 visitors!

A view of the festival

Yet again, the Porthleven Food Festival was a huge success. This festival now in its eight year has become one of the major festivals in Cornwall. This year saw the event being held over two full days. And boy it was busy. Initial estimates on the number of people attending this year’s festival is looking at 30,000 plus. An amazing number of people for a relatively new festival in Cornwall.

This festival is made possible by the dedication of the band of volunteers who are part of the festival committee. On top of those hard-working committee members who start to be involved with the planning starting at least eight-months before the event itself; an equally important group is the  band of volunteers who help out on the days. This festival is a truly community led festival. Well done to all who make this happen.

This years festival kicked off on Friday night with the newly created Golden Oyster Awards. The Golden Oyster Awards’ were formed to celebrate and recognise the wealth of all things food that Cornwall has to offer. I had the privilege to welcome Daphne Skinnard from BBC Radio Cornwall and Malcolm Bell from Visit Cornwall to present the awards. The Ship Inn and Kota were two of the award winners which are based in Porthleven.

Though-out the weekend there was so much fantastic food on offer to sample and to buy. Also in the Shipyard Marquee, you had two days of talented chefs from Cornwall showcasing their culinary skills to large audiences. And then in both evenings, you could be entertained with music from a wide variety of musical tastes.

This year also saw the return of  the food festivals floating mascot.

Like previous year’s this festival was not just about food and music. The Moors field hosted the first Porthleven Literary Festival, as well as the young persons area which was hosted by Swamp Circus.

On Saturday evening, the festival goers were treated to a fantastic firework display that seemed to go on for ages.

Finally on Sunday saw the eagerly awaited Porthleven Food Festival Auction. This years auction had 46 lots, which had been kindly donated by businesses and individuals. The auction raised a massive £3,800 which will be shared between the festival itself and the Porthleven Lights Committee. Huge thanks have to go to my fellow auctioneer, Tom William and the glamorous ladies Suzie Williams and Ness Wellz!

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Ness, Tom, me and Suzie, the auction team!

A great festival organised by great people. Thank you and well done.

92% of reception age children in Cornwall are offered place in first preference school

Today, parents of reception age children across Cornwall were sent details of which school their child is due to attend in September, with the majority of children being allocated a place in their first preference school. Furthermore, all reception age pupils who applied for a school place in Cornwall have been allocated a place.

This year Cornwall Council received 5839 applications for new reception school places for pupils in Cornwall to start school in September 2016.  Of those, 5399 (92.5 %) have been offered a place at their first preference school.  Of the 440 pupils who were not allocated their first preference school, 220 pupils have been allocated their second preference school and 46 pupils their third preference school.  These figures show that 97% of children have been allocated one of their three preferences.

Sadly, 174 pupils (3%) have not been allocated a place at either their first, second or third preference school, but at the nearest school to their home address with room. Of the 174 not allocated their first, second or third preference, 82 of these only expressed 1 preference and 39 only expressed 2 preferences on the application form.

I am delighted that 92% of children in Cornwall have allocated their first choice of primary school and I would like to thank the School Admissions Team for all their hard work.    

Of the children who have not been allocated one of their three preferences, the process has been made more challenging because 121 of these families did not express a second or third preference.

it is again very important to highlight that we always advise parents / carers to submit three preferences on their application form to ensure that they are allocated one of their preferred schools . We understand that some parents / carers believe that by submitting only one preference this will increase the likelihood of getting their first / only preference – however this is not the case, as can be seen by the figures previously. 

This year sees a slight improvement compared to 2015 New Reception admissions, when 91% of children were allocated a place in their first preference school, with 96% being allocated one of their three preferences.  181 pupils (3%) were not been allocated a place at either their first, second or third preference school, but at the nearest school to their home address with room. The Council received 5782 applications for new reception places.

In 2014 94.2% of children were allocated a place in their first preference school, with 98.3% being allocated one of their three preferences.

In Cornwall we have 235 primary schools, of which 227 have reception classes (with the remaining 8 junior schools); of these, 104 are currently full.  This number is expected to increase as late applications for places are processed over the next few weeks.  The number of primary aged children in Cornwall requiring a school place continues to grow, this picture is mirrored nationally.

Among the areas in Cornwall which are experiencing particular pressures on reception age school places are St Austell, Saltash, Helston, Falmouth, Pool, Camelford, Truro and Newquay.

To meet the increasing demand for school places in primary schools, Cornwall Council has commissioned expansion schemes at a number of schools across Cornwall to ensure that children can be accommodated in New Reception, and other primary classes, in time for the start of the new academic year in September 2016.

The Council has been working closely with schools in pupil place pressure areas in Cornwall to identify the best solution for expansion and is very appreciative of the support offered by schools, both maintained and non-maintained, to meet the continuing demand for primary places. School expansions are funded from the DfE/EfA either by Basic Need, or Targeted Basic Need.

Cornwall Council by-elections; Lib Dems take one, Tory’s hold one

Two by-elections were held yesterday for Wadebridge West and Menheniot which were held because of the resignation of Scott Mann MP, and the sad death of Bernie Ellis.

The results of the Wadebridge West are:

  • Sally Marie Dunn – The Conservative Party Candidate 356   
  • Helen Mary Elizabeth Hyland – Independent 111 
  • Adrian Darrell Jones – Labour Party 222
  • Karen Amy McHugh – Liberal Democrats 604
  • Amanda Alice Pennington – Green Party 95

Karen Amy McHugh has been elected as the Cornwall Councillor for Wadebridge West. Taking the seat from the Tory’s. The turnout was 47.85%.

The Menheniot results are:

  • Charles Robert Boney – Liberal Democrats 472
  • Martin Thomas Menear – Labour Party 67
  • Duncan Charles Odgers – UK Independence Party 177   
  • Richard John Sedgley – Green Party 65
  • Phil Seeva – The Conservative Party Candidate 532 

Phil Seeva has been elected as the Cornwall Councillor for Menheniot. The Tory’s hold this seat. The turnout was 42.4%

Congratulations to both Karen and Phil. Welcome to Cornwall Council.  
 

 Cornwall prepares for severe weather on Sunday

Cornwall Council has issued a weather warning for Sunday 10th April

The Met Office forecasts of strong winds and rain co-inciding with high tides due to affect Cornwall on Sunday, Cornwall Council is warning residents to be prepared and take precautions where necessary.

The latest information from the MET Office and the Environment Agency is for south easterly winds gusting up to 60mph to affect Cornwall from 5 am on Sunday morning. As this co-incides with a period of Spring tides and heavy rainfall there is the potential for some localised overtopping of coastal defences by spray or waves on south facing coasts, especially around the time of high water. 

As a result the Met office has issued a Yellow Weather warning for high winds and the public are advised to look out for any changes to Environment Agency Flood Warnings over the coming weekend.

Officers from Cornwall Council’s Highways, Environment, Fire and Rescue and Emergency Management services will be monitoring the situation closely over the weekend and are on standby to deal with any problems.

Agencies are asking people living in areas which are prone to flooding to make sure they take the necessary precautions and are advising them to take care when driving, particularly those driving high sided vehicles. Members of the public are also being asked to take care when walking along the coast path or along piers and promenades, and by cliff edges during the strong winds. 

Cornwall Council has said:

As neither the Council nor the Environment Agency has a statutory duty to provide sandbags, anyone whose property is prone to flooding should ensure they have a supply of sandbags ready to protect their home or business should they need to. Local communities are also encouraged to check with vulnerable neighbours in case they need help with obtaining flood protection materials. Residents are also advised to check that their drains are clear of leaves and blockages. 

Sandbags can be obtained from builders merchants, DIY and hardware stores. Anyone who is unsure if their property is at risk can check on the environment agency website www.environment-agency.gov.uk or call the floodline on 0845 988 1188.

For further advice on preparing for flooding visit the environment agency website www.environment-agency.gov.uk or the Cornwall Council website at www.cornwall.gov.uk/flooding

365 days of Porthleven in Pictures

If anyone got to see the 365 days of Helston in pictures that was recently exhibited at Helston Museum, you would have seen a fantastic display that captures Helston throughout the years, and not just key days like Flora Day. 

Talking to a local resident  – Rita Collier – about the Helston exhibition,  she said to me it would be great if Porthleven could do the same. I agreed.  From this I put it to the Town Council to see if they would support. The good news is the members of the Town Council thought it a good idea too. 

From this, a little working group has been formed to help make this a reality. So far it is just me and Sally-Anne Martyn, and Rita, but we are looking for a few more to help make this a reality. 

The plan is to start collecting images of Porthleven, but not just of the often snapped harbour, but the whole of the parish boundary. It is not just scenic pictures either, but of people (with their permission), events, and day to day life. Simple rule is it has to be contained within the Parish Boundary 

Which as you can see from the picture below, is a large geographical area.

The plan is to have two to four images of each day – though this is not set in stone. Once all the images have been collected, it will be publicaly exhibited.

If you want to be involved in putting this exhibit together, including picking the pictures, drop me a FB message and/or an email to awallis@cornwall.gov.uk 

For those who wish to submit pictures, I will supply another email for where the images can be sent.  So don’t send me any just yet! 

Thank you 365 Helston and those who organised it for the great idea! 

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