The Council has today submitted a bid / expression of interest for six schools to the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP). The PSBP is a large stream of money that totals £2 billion. The aim of the PSBP programme is to fund major rebuilding and refurbishment projects to address the needs of schools in the very worst condition. This is a national programme which runs from 2015 to 2021.

As you would expect, the Government has set very strict criteria for applying for the PSBP programme, with funding only available for schools which need to be either completely rebuilt or where a building needs major refurbishment works.

The Council commissioned surveys to identify whether or not the schools met the criteria. Following consideration of these reports and previous information on schools’ condition held by the Council, six schools were identified as meeting the criteria for submissions for funding. Schemes at a further seven schools were initially considered but did not meet the Government’s criteria for funding. It might seem unfair, but these are the rules that have been set.

The six schools which have been submitted are:

Helston – three schemes have been proposed.

  • Replacing C Block
  • replacing C block and E Block
  • and a whole school replacement

Humphrey Davey School –

  • replacement of Block 2, general teaching

Hayle Community College –

  • Block 1, main block / general teaching
  • Block 6 – general teaching and Sports Hall

Budehaven -

  • Science, DT and Art Block

Treviglas

  • replacement of 6 x double Elliot buildings to permanent accommodation.

Biscovey Infants –

  • main block roof replacement

As the Portfolio Holder I am really pleased these schools have been submitted. The total amount of funding the Council is seeking £40m  for these six schools. However, any final value of schemes will be decided by the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

For Helston, I am not only pleased as the Portfolio Holder, but also as one of the local Councillors to see three schemes being put forward to the PSBP programme. I like many others, was extremely disappointed that previous plans to replace Helston College C-Block could not be taken forward because there was no funding. I did say I would do everything with my powers for Helston College. Though, in my role as Portfolio Holder, it cannot just be about Helston, but other schools who are in a similar to that of Helston.

I am as well as the Council is hopeful that the Education Funding Agency and the Government will consider all the schemes put forward by Cornwall Council. The decision on the submission is expected sometime in December. Let’s hope all six schools get this much-needed funding.

Thursday night, Porthleven was treated to a lightning spectacular. I have not seen such a show since I was at sea. Though my first my sight of this was when I saw a small but worrying bolt of lightning hit one of the large metal silver vent pipes along Peverell Terrace as I was walking home from a meeting. I did quicken the pace after this.

Here are a few pictures taken during the storm.

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Lightning over Porthleven

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I very much welcome the news announced today by the DfE that schools in Cornwall will receive £4.9m out of £390m extra pupil funding. Cornwall will be one of the 64 local authorities nationally see an increase in funding.

Before today’s announcement, schools in Cornwall were underfunded by roughly £154 per pupil against the national average (see previous blog on the subject HERE) Today’s extra funding will see an increase of £75 per pupil to £4,472. This rise will be from 2015/16. There is a slight caveat on this, as this amount is subject to final approval in October when the 2014 school census is finalised.

The Council, my colleagues and myself have long argued for better funding for our schools, and todays announcement is a huge step in the right direction on farer funding.

So thank you DfE for listening and giving the schools in Cornwall this much needed extra funding.

Cornwall Council has started a journey which will be painful. There is no hiding from it, as the funding cuts thrust upon the Council are eye-watering. £196m has to be found from the budget. This is on top of the £170m from the previous four years.

One of the many changes will be to the mobile library provision. This provision will change, as the service will either stop completely, or be heavily reduced. This will affect Porthleven who current has a mobile library provision. However, whilst I accept those using it value the service, it is not well used.

This got me thinking and I thought why doesn’t Porthleven have its own mini-library. This would be a facility of a few hundred books, but with the ability to order books online, or by phone and have them delivered to the library hub. Depending on where the mini-library is situated, a computer could be supplied too. However the Internet connection would have to be supplied and the running costs would have to be met by the host building.

To set all this up, Cornwall Council will make  grants available up to £1000 to help set up the facility. This would be a one-off cost, and the further running costs except books, would be met by the host building. It would also need a few volunteers to help run the facility.

I recently presented this idea to Porthleven Town Council during their monthly meeting. The town council fully supported the idea, and asked for this idea to be taken forward.

From this positive start, I will now start the ball rolling by talking to Cornwall Council, looking at possible locations, and seeing who will volunteer to help run this facility.

I started off this post by highlighting the negative of the funding cuts. However, from these cuts, and with community support, Porthleven could actually have a better library provision.  Or should I say have its own library.

Having your dog go missing is a stressful time for owners and families. Between  April 2013 to April 2014, there were 1,295 stray dogs reported to the Council. The good news is this is  down from 1,574 in 2012/13; a reduction of 247. Though, it is still a lot of dogs that are reported. If your dog is missing, you can contact Cornwall Council on 0300 1234 212. This number is for your local Dog Welfare and Enforcement Officer.

The Council does keep and maintain a register of lost and found dogs, so while you are on the telephone we will check the register to see whether your dog has been found. If we do have your dog, we will arrange its release subject to settlement of any fees due prior to collection. The Council make every effort to reunite dog and owner at the earliest opportunity. Though to be fair, this cannot be done out-of-hours. The could also be a release / kennel change which I will cover latter.

There is also a list of dogs currently held by the Council. This list is HERE.

If the Council has picked up your dog as a stray, you will need to pay a minimum release and admin fee of £50.00. Should your dog be placed into kennels there is an additional expenses of £12.00 per day or part day, as well as other potential costs described below. This is to cover the cost of looking after your dog. Should your dog be collected out of hours, due to the additional costs incurred there will be an additional charge of £35.  Please note that there is now an additional charge for persistent offenders (persistent is classed as someone who’s dog we have had in the past 12 months), this is set at £30 the first time a persistent stray is collected, £40 the second and £50 the third. You will also be responsible for any fees incurred such as vets fees.

More details on stray dogs, costs and other useful information can be found HERE.

It is always great to finish off a busy week with some very good news. Today, I can announce that the Big Lottery has awarded Cornwall Council £500k for the Council’s HeadStart programme. This money will allow the Council with its local partnerships to work up plans that could benefit from a multi-million pound share of the programme. We are talking about figures of £10m for the most successful bids. I previously blogged about HeadStart HERE.

Children’s mental health is a national issue. I have been concerned with the provision in Cornwall since I took up post. This resulted in the CAHMS report that highlighted the many issues of service provision, but more importantly, serious action points. This is backed up by a previous YouGov survey[1], commissioned by the Big Lottery Fund, which revealed that 45% of children ages 10-14 have reported unable to sleep because of stress or worry; with 50% saying they feel worried or sad at least once a week.

It is not good enough that only 25% of needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it, and usually only once they reach 18. This must change. This is why the award of £500k is so important and will set us on the path of address the many inequalities surrounding children’s mental health.

The HeadStart programme aims to develop ways of dealing with mental health issues before they become deep-rooted problems. Focussing primarily on schools, the HeadStart partners will offer a range of approaches, including peer mentoring, mental health ‘first aid’ training, online portals and special resilience lessons helping pupils aged 10-14 feel they have support at in the classroom as well as at home and tackling the stigma that can often surround the issues of mental health.

The funding announced today will support a 12 months pilot project involving young people in the Penzance, Hayle and St Ives area and Saltash, Liskeard, Looe, Torpoint and Callington. The results of this pilot will then be used to work up long-term plans that could benefit from a multi-million pound share of HeadStart funding.

I am over the moon with this crucial investment from the Big Lottery Fund to involve young people in the design and re-shaping of services to prevent the onset of mental ill-health has come at an important time for the Council. I look forward to working with young people and our partners to improve support and intervention in school, in the community and at home which will enable children, particularly those who are more vulnerable. This will help deal with the challenges of growing up and support a healthy life into adulthood.

This is fantastic news to end the week with.

[1]The Centre for Economic Performance’s Mental Health Policy Group, LSE: How Mental Health Illness Loses Out in the NHS (2012).

I had the privilege to be invited to the Get Out There (GOT) awards ceremony which took place in Chacewater. The awards to the young people were presented by HRH The Princess Royal who is also the patron of GOT and Sense. Last summer I witnessed first-hand the excellent work GOT do when I spent the afternoon with the group visiting Lands End. GOT website can be found HERE

Get Out There is a Sense service based in Cornwall for young people with little or no sight. Many of the young people in the group have additional needs such as epilepsy, diabetes, autism, hearing impairments, communication difficulties and limited mobility. Despite the complexity of these needs the group provides opportunities for the young people to access a wide range of activities. These include theme park visits, train rides, discos, surfing, ice skating, horse riding, power boating and drama. The ethos of the group is that these young people have as much right to have fun and adventure as other teenagers.

The Princess Royal handed out the awards to the young people who took part in the GOT programme. These awards were for bravery, developed confidence, dedication, kindness to name but a few of the awards. When you attend celebrations like this, and witness the excitement and pleasure of the award winners and you see how proud they are revieving the award;  you know the money spent by Cornwall Council and Sense on this service is worth every penny.

Funding for GOT is a partnership between the charity Sense and Cornwall Council. It shows how two organisations can come together and support these young people. It is a partnership that works.  However, the success of GOT is down to the dedication of Simon Allison and Rachel Peters who are the two project coordinators, and the many volunteers who give up their time freely to support GOT. These people are truly inspiring.  It was a pleasure to celebrate the success of the group at this award ceremony.

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