This blog post on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is not going to be an easy read for some. I make no apology for this, as Child Sexual Exploitation is a distressing subject and it is natural that few wish to talk about it. Some believe that CSE does not happen in their area. The truth is it does happen.

Before I go on, you might want to refresh yourself on what is CSE by reading this previous post HERE.

We all must do everything within our powers to prevent this abhorrent crime. Doing nothing to tackle CSE is to fail our young people, as was shown in the Rotherham Report. If we really want to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation we all need to be honest that is does happen and only after we acknowledge this, then we can tackle this crime.

It is also wrong to say CSE is committed by males on females. It is also females on males and same sex incidents. Though the media often narrows this down on male on female.

The only way that CSE can be prevented and tackled effectively is through local agencies, particularly the Police and Children’s Social Care and Health agencies working together. The CSE Forums bring together professionals to discuss suspicion, allegation and evidence of concern that children are at risk of or have experienced sexual exploitation.

The multi-agency Local Safeguarding Children Board has responsibility for overseeing agencies and checking that everything that can be done is being done to keep children as safe as we can. They hold us all to account.

Post the Rotherham Inquiry, there has been a lot of interest in CSE. So much so, Cornwall Council is receiving FOI’s on the subject. A recent one released asked the number of CSE issues in Cornwall for 2014 and the types of CSE. This is in effect now a public document and I feel it is right to share this.

A question asked in a recent FOI is:

What is the total number of children who were referred this year (2014), or became known, to the council amid concerns that they are, or at some stage have been, at risk of sexual exploitation.

The answer is:

31 requests to consider concerns about possible sexual exploitation at the Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Forums have been dealt with since 1 January 2014.

For the purposes of understanding the categories of concern discussed at the multi-agency Forums in 2014 theymay be described as follows:

  1. Missing and/or suspicion of association with other young persons/adults where there are concerns
  2. Suspicion or allegation of coercion/sexual favours within a relationship in return for ‘gifts’ including alcohol/drugs

  3. Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

  4. Suspicion, allegation or evidence of a young person meeting a person believed to be grooming

  5. Suspicion, allegation or evidence of sexual activity/assault arising from 1, 2, 3 or 4.

And here are the Summary of Concerns in 2014:

Female 14 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Female 14 – Missing and/or suspicion of association with other young persons/adults where there are concerns

Female 15 – Missing and/or suspicion of association with other young persons/adults where there are concerns

Female 14 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Female 14 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of sexual activity/assault arising from 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Female 13 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Female 14 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of a young person meeting a person believed to be grooming

Female 15 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Male 17 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of sexual activity/assault arising from 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Female 15 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of a young person meeting a person believed to be grooming

Female 14 – Missing and/or suspicion of association with other young persons/adults where there are concerns

Female 16 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Male 17 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Female 19 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Male 15 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Male 16 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Female 16 – Suspicion or allegation of coercion/sexual favours within a relationship in return for gifts, including alcohol/drugs

Female 15 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Male 17- Suspicion, allegation or evidence of online/face to face grooming

Female 16 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of a young person meeting a person believed to be grooming

Male 16 – Missing and/or suspicion of association with other young persons/adults where there are concerns

Female 17 – Missing and/or suspicion of association with other young persons/adults where there are concerns

Female 15 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of sexual activity/assault arising from 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Male 16 -Missing and/or suspicion of association with other young persons/adults where there are concerns

Female 15 -Missing and/or suspicion of association with other young persons/adults where there are concerns

Female 14 – Suspicion or allegation of coercion/sexual favours within a relationship in return for gifts, including alcohol/drugs

Female 16 – Missing and/or suspicion of association with other young persons/adults where there are concerns

Female 14 – Suspicion or allegation of coercion/sexual favours within a relationship in return for gifts, including alcohol/drugs

Male 15 – Suspicion or allegation of coercion/sexual favours within a relationship in return for gifts, including alcohol/drugs

Female 17 – Suspicion or allegation of coercion/sexual favours within a relationship in return for gifts, including alcohol/drugs

Male 17 – Suspicion, allegation or evidence of a young person meeting a person believed to be grooming plus suspicion or allegation of coercion/sexual favours within a relationship in return for gifts, including alcohol/drugs.

Finally, If you have concerns that a child you know may be at risk of CSE please contact the MARU without delay:

Main public number – 0300 1231 116

Secure email address is: MultiAgencyReferralUnit@cornwall.gcsx.gov.uk

Intake (non-secure) email address is: cscintake@cornwall.gov.uk

Let’s do all we can to protect our children.

Over the years Porthleven has grown from once a small fishing village to now a small town; thought the heart and soul of Porthleven still is has a village feeling. With a larger settlement, the need for services in Porthleven is similar to our neighbouring town, Helston, but it could also be argued it is different. Therefore, we can and should look at how services are delivered to the benefit of Porthleven and not having to compete with services with other areas. One area that I believe Porthleven could be better served is by having its own Youth Support Worker.

The idea of Porthleven having its own Youth Support Worker is in part of changes to how youth work is delivered both by Cornwall wide and nationally. Therefore, these changes should be seen as an opportunity for Porthleven. With this in mind, I put a proposal to Porthleven Town Council to fund out of the precept, a Youth Support Worker who would be dedicated to supporting young people in Porthleven. The costs of this post are much less than you would imagine, but I firmly believe this is money well spent.

The cost for a Youth Support Worker (Grade Y10) based on gross annual pay of £19,636 delivering 9 hours per week (three 3 hour sessions) based on 52.14 paid weeks comes to a total: £2026.12 actual pay: £1592.11 with a 1% pay award of £15.92 = £1608.03 plus superannuation of £257.28, superannuation deficit of £56.28 plus NI of £104.52. Add in some administration of around £500, you get grant total of £2500 for 52 weeks. This Youth Support Worker could really make a difference to Porthleven’s young people and could be the first steps to having more youth services in the town.

Town councillors at their monthly meeting discussed the proposal and where minded to support such a post – which is fantastic news. Before we get carried away with the good news there is still a lot more work that needs to be done before this post is operational. Work will now be undertaken to look at the role of the Youth Support Worker and their remit. Furthermore, I am also grateful to Cornwall Council who are willing to help set up this position. I am hopeful once all this points have been address is for the position to be in place early in 2015. It is good to see Porthleven Town Council (and Helston Town Council) who are willing to deliver services at a community based level.

Lastly, people may raise the question of what about a new youth centre, and in an ideal world it would be great to have one in Porthleven. The reality of funding such a building is expensive and with limited funding option. However, there are other building available two being the Children’s Centre and the other is the town council meeting room, both would be free to use and could be used to help deliver youth related services in the area. Having a building is one thing, but sometimes you have to go to where the young people hang-out which is often outside. So a balance needs to be struck.

At a recent Porthleven Town Council meeting the local PCSO ‘Paul’ gave his monthly crime report for the area. In the scheme of things, crime is low in Porthleven. During the meeting, Paul mention the police’s crime website. On this site it lists all the different types of crimes in a policing area. It also gives the figures for the whole of Cornwall.

For example in August, Porthleven had 37 crimes reported. These ranged from the most common crime being anti social behaviour with 14 reported to violence and sexual offences which had two. There was also three vehicle offences for the same period.

The information is delivered by means of an interactive map, which also gives the location of the crime down to the street. The site does not only list crimes, but also gives other information like who is your local beat manager, police officer and PCSO.

I have to say I am very impressed with this site. However, there is only one slight drawback to this site at the moment, and that it is slightly out of date with the last recorded information was for August. Still I am sure this will be soon sorted.

The website can be found via clicking this link  Police.uk website

Newquay Airport has always had its supporters, those who think we should get shot of the place as quick as possible and those who question the amount of subsidy the airport receives which allows it to operate. On the latter, the subsidy is a moot point to some (or many?) when it comes to the difficult budget decisions the Council is facing in the next few years.

Before I go on it will be worth doing a quick history of  why Cornwall Council owns the airport. Back in April 2004 the former Cornwall County Council took over responsibility for operating Newquay Cornwall Airport. This was following the withdrawal by the former Restormel Borough Council, which had previously owned the facility. Then in November 2005 the MOD announced that military operations at St Mawgan would end on August 2008 and in December Cornwall Airport Limited took over control.  As a result of this,  the County Council applied for a licence from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to operate the airport as a civilian facility.  This included a new air traffic control landing system and tower, new Aerodrome lighting on the runway and taxiway, a new runway surface, improvements to the terminal building and a new Newquay Cornwall Airport Fire and Rescue Service with purpose-built fire station.

The County Council then spent approximately £76m transforming the former military airfield to a fully compliant civil airport – of this £49m came from European funding, with £27m coming from the Council.  The European funding agreement committed the Council to having an operational airport for the next twenty years. If the airport was to close before the 20 years was up, the Council could have to repay the £49m.

The Airport has been operated by Cornwall Airport Limited (CAL), a Private Limited Company wholly owned by Cornwall Council, since 2008 and the Council currently pays an annual subsidy to support the Airport. In 2009/10 the subsidy was £4.007m but this year is less than £3m, despite the worst economic aviation recession in 60 years. The council commissioned a detailed cost review in 2013 to see if the airport was being run as efficiently as possible. The report showed that over £850,000 had been taken from the cost base over the last few years and said that CAL were doing a good job.

So why not sell the airport? Well you can only sell an airport if there is someone willing to buy it. The Council did test the market to see if anyone was interested prior to the last unitary election, but no buyers came forward. So that pretty much rules out the option of selling. To look at the national context of why no-one was interested could be the reason several airports run by the private sector either closed (Manston in Kent, Bristol Filton and Blackpool is on notice to close) or brought back into the public sector because they were not viable. (Cardiff and Glasgow Prestwick).

Flybe operate three departures a day to London Gatwick. However, in May 2013 Flybe decided to sell its slots at London Gatwick (putting at risk the Airport’s vital London service), Newquay Cornwall Airport held discussions with other possible airlines to service the London route but unfortunately was unable to find a commercial partner. Feedback from possible operators stressed that the route was not commercially viable to them all year round because flight prices would be too high to achieve the required passenger numbers.

As a result of this, the Council and the LEP, with the support of local MP’s have lobbied central government to grant a Public Service Obligation (PSO) for the Airport. Which the Council has been granted subject to the tendering process.  Which means those who operate from the airport will receive a subsidy and therefore make the Newquay / London route viable. This is important as the only air services between London and Cornwall are to and from Newquay. A survey of Newquay Airport carried out by the Civil Aviation Authority and CAL showed that about 30% of the Gatwick route were business passengers – ar ound 30,000 passengers per year.

Of course, Newquay / London route is not the only route this airport services, and each route is important to the airport. The more routes the less subsidy the airport will require, but for this to happen we need more airlines to operate out of the airport. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a greater international offer available?

Many business leaders have stressed the importance of the Airport and the connectivity it provides. Passenger surveys carried out identified that about 24% of trips would not be made in the absence of an air service, and all business benefits from these trips would be lost. The alternative modes of rail and car involve significantly longer journey times. But around 70% of users are for leisure use too, so if this airport stopped operating their would be an impact on the tourism sector too.

Another factor of why the airport is important is because supports over 400 jobs, of which 150 direct jobs at the airport. Research shows that the overall economic impact of the Airport is currently around £54.5m a year. This is based on a figure of £5.9m of GVA resulting from efficiency benefits for local businesses; £28.1m of GVA resulting from the 83,500 tourist trips made through the airport and £20.5m of GVA resulting from the full-time jobs supported by the airport. The loss of this would have a significant impact on the Cornish economy.

Finally, the airport is also the site for Aerohub – England’s only aerospace focused Enterprise Zone (EZ). Aerohub is one of 24 Enterprise Zones set up by the Government to create future centres of excellence in key industries such as aviation, pharmaceutical, offshore energy and automotive.  EZ’s have the opportunity to attract investment, support development and create jobs through a combination of business rate discounts (worth up to £275,000 over five years for each business in the zone), simplified planning procedures and superfast broadband links.  

The Aerohub is led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership and Cornwall Council – as the owners of the airport and surrounding land.  It covers 650 acres with ample development opportunities, including hangars, office space and a business park.  So far it has attracted seven new businesses and created more than 130 jobs since its inception in 2012.  The long-term aim for the Enterprise Zone is to unlock further growth of both the aerospace and space sectors in Cornwall.

So as you can see, the continuing operation of the airport is so important to many aspects of Cornwall’s economy and simply closing it, or not safeguarding its future will have far-reaching consequences for Cornwall.

 

I recently had the chance to visit the geothermal site at Rosenamowes. You would think this site has recently been set up, but shockingly, this site and its three geothermal boreholes were drilled over 30 years ago. These boreholes have stood idle since the initial testing and have only been recently recommissioned . Imagine how far advanced we would be in Cornwall in delivering geothermal heat and power if the original test site had continued.

The geothermal map of the UK

The geothermal map of the UK

Cornwall is ideally placed to be the UK’s geothermal centre due to the geological of the rock under our feet as the following picture will show. Engineered Geothermal Systems water temperature when you drill down to a depth of  2km is will extract water at  79°C and when you go down to the depth of 4.4km, you can  expect water temperatures to be at 160-180°C. The Rosemanowes test site has three such boreholes of various depths.

The current project has been designed and managed by Geothermal Engineering Ltd (GEL), with funding assistance from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. After a month’s testing GEL are now successfully extracting hot water at 60 0C from depths of 1.8km, sufficient to heat homes and businesses. GEL are now hoping to use the technology at suitable sites across Cornwall to demonstrate the benefits of delivering affordable and clean heat to existing buildings. Furthermore, the impact on the landscape is minimal after the initial drilling of the shaft has taken place. On average a 2km shaft takes six to eight weeks to drill.

Cornwall’s energy bill is estimated at £1 billion per year. We are at the end of the grid with 50% of homes no mains gas and at least 20% of homes are  in fuel poverty. Geothermal heat and power could make a real difference to Cornwall’s energy issues.

Geothermal could help with a reductions in emissions. Cornwall’s targets are  a 34% reduction in emissions by 2020 . Currently renewable energy installed accounts for 22% of electricity and 7% of energy in Cornwall. So geothermal heating and power will be a real opportunity for Cornwall.

Now the plan is to look at delivering geothermal heat to 10 schools who have shown an interest in harnessing this tech after a letter was sent out to all schools. It is disappointing that not more schools replied, but I will be sending out another letter  asking for more schools to come forward. The current 10 schools who have expressed an interest are: Treviglas Community College, Probus Community Primary School, Cubert School, Humphrey Davey School, Upton Cross Primary School, Gwinear School, Newquay Tretheras, St Neot Primary School and Sir Robert Geffery’s School. If any other school is interested, then either contact me, or Green Cornwall.

By having heat supplied by this technology will help schools reduce their heating bill and their carbon footprint. The tech is not intrusive either, as after the initial drilling, which could take place over summer, there is little to show.

 

My visit also to the site also coincided with a group of South Korean students who were being hosted by Camborne Science and International Academy (CSIA) as part of their student exchange programme. I also joined the students for a lesson with a lesson from Caroline Carroll, Geothermal Policy Officer for Cornwall Council, who gave students an outline of the history and plans for deep geothermal in Cornwall.

I really think geothermal technology could be a real asset to Cornwall in tackling fuel poverty, reducing emissions and heating from a sustainable source. I am looking forward to seeing how this can be delivered in Cornwall.

 

It is no secret Cornwall Council is facing a large hole in its funding due to the reduction in funding from Government, increase demand and little scope to raise revenue via taxation. In total, the Council has to find roughly £196m in savings. Out of this total, around £40m has already been factored in from previous budget savings, which leaves £156m to find. To put it perspective that if you run a business or a household, the savings you need to make would be equal to one-third of your household / business income. Just think for a moment if you had to do this.

budget1

With such a large savings target to find and on top of the £170m savings found between 2010/14, the way Cornwall Council operates and delivers services will change. The previous savings in 2010/14 protected frontline services with little impact. However, this time frontline services will not escape and will be affected by the budget reductions. No-one wants to do this, but there is little choice open to the Council. We have  sought to protect services that we feel important. These include services to the most vulnerable, transport and roads. Even though these areas are protected, they will still see some reduction.

The draft  budget proposals included corporate savings and efficiencies of £64m (41%) this will include jobs and buildings. The Council has already heavily reduced it office space over the last four years from over 180 buildings to around 80, and the plan is to reduce this again by roughly half. The painful bit will see roughly £52m (33%) taken out of front line services. A further £27m (18%) will come from income and commercialisation of services. However, a sting in the tail is £13m in savings still needs to be found for the budget to add up. This is made up of areas not yet identified and the Council not receiving as much income from the Better Care Fund.

The draft budget has factored in a 1.97% Council Tax rise. This will equate to a 48p per week rise on a Band D property. Cornwall Council (or any other primary LA) cannot raise Council Tax above 2% (not even a inflationary rise) without the need of a public referendum. To hold a referendum it would cost the Council roughly £1m. This figure is based on the vote being a single vote and not held at the same time as another election.

Lets say a referendum was held and a raise was supported. A 6% raise would bring in an extra £9.068m. Now this would still mean there would be a reduction in services, but these reductions could be a lot less painful if more funding would come in. There is a feeling within the Council that a referendum could be held at the same time as next years general election. This would make the referendum a lot cheaper. The downside to this would mean most if not all of the political parties would campaign against this. Though in my view, we should still ask the question of should we raise Council Tax higher than 2%. Whether a Council Tax referendum is held or not will be up to the Councillors who would vote on holding a referendum or not, and this vote has yet to take place.

As this is a draft budget and nothing will be voted upon till November, the Cabinet and the Council are holding a series of public events to hear what the public think of the proposals and give their views on any other area which could be taken into account. If you want to attend one of these events, click HERE to find the nearest event to you. For Porthleven, Helston and the Lizard, this meeting will take place on Tuesday 28th October at Helston Community College, starting at 6pm.

It is your time to give your view. You can give you view by completing this online form HERE and the draft budget documentation is HERE

 

Young Carers are often a forgotten group to the wider public. Currently Cornwall has 550 known young carers, up from roughly 250 18 months ago. Estimates suggest (Census 2011) that there were a total of 1,217 young people aged 0-15 providing unpaid care in Cornwall and a further 2,682 aged 16 to 24. Young carers often do not come forward as they see nothing unusual about their role and its part of their family life.

Historically the funding for the young carer’s service came from the old Carer’s Grant from Central Government which ended in the last comprehensive Spending Review in 2012/13. However, the Council sees the importance in continuing to support Young Carers and commissions a support service for young carers run by Action for Children. This service has just celebrated its second year of operation. 

Further support to Young Carers has now been given by the Chairman of Cornwall Council John Wood who has made Young Carers his chairman’s charity for the next year. I really welcome this and huge credit should be given to John for his support. Having spoke to John he wants to raise awareness of this group and help raise money via events. It is great to have John’s support.

Young Carers need all the support they can get as The Children’s Society report “Hidden from View” (2013) revealed that:

  • 1 in 12 young carers is caring for more than 15 hours per week. Around 1 in 20 misses school because of caring responsibilities
  • Young carers are 1.5 times more likely than their peers to be from black, Asian or minority ethnic communities, and are twice as likely to not speak English as their first language
  • Young carers are 1.5 times more likely than their peers to have a special educational need or a disability
  • The average annual income for families with a young carer is £5000 less than families who do not have a young carer.
  • There is no strong evidence that young carers are more likely than their peers to come into contact with support agencies, despite government recognition that this needs to happen.
  • Young carers have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level, the equivalent to nine grades lower overall than their peers e.g. the difference between nine B’s and nine C’s.
  • Young carers are more likely than the national average to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) between the ages of 16 and 19.

Furthermore, statistics show that the number of young carers is increasing. Figures from the 2011 census revealed that there are 16,118 people between the age of 5-17 years providing unpaid care in the South West, compared with 11,883 in 2001 – an increase of more than a third (36 per cent) over the decade. This is the second highest increase in the UK, second only to the South East which saw a 41% rise.

To contact Kernow Young Carers, call 01209 204565 / 01872 321486 or their website Kernow Young Carers