Free Tennis Court Hire

With Wimbledon just around the corner, Helston and Porthleven residents can ace their serves on free courts in the evenings, during school holidays and at weekends. Helston Sports Centre is offering free court hire for local people to experience their very own Wimbledon.

As well as free tennis court hire, you can take part in beginner or improver adult tennis on Monday evenings. There is a small charge of £4.50 for each session.  The kids can get involved too, with mini tennis on Sunday mornings for the under 9s at £3.50 per session. 

To book a free court or one of the tennis sessions, call the Helston Sports Centre on 01326 563320 or pop in and see the staff on reception. Under 12s will need to have an adult with them if they want to hire a court and there are rackets available to hire, or balls to buy, if anyone needs extra kit.

Empty Homes

In Cornwall there is alleged some 4000 homes that have been unoccupied for over 6 months. That in anyones book is a lot of homes that could be brought back into use.  Cornwall Council recognises that this problem should be addressed.  The trick is how?

In simple terms, and I believe a valid argument is why build more homes when there are many unused. Cornwall Council as the Local Authority has some pretty far reaching powers to address this.  The end of the scale is Compulsory Purchasing.  It does not like to use this lightly, but there is a feeling that these powers should be exercised to solve this problem.  In a recent survey that Cornwall Council undertook to help build a database on empty properties and  to make sure that the data held on them was correct.

This survey threw up some interesting figures which I will list below.

  • 13,398 Second Homes (Chargeable dwellings which are unoccupied and furnished)
  • 311 purpose built holiday homes that have some sort of restriction prevents year round occupancy
  • 3597 empty properties that have been empty for at least six months.

Now the first two bullet points are harder to address without a change in the law. Something that has not been fully addressed in the lofty towers of Westminster (and will it ever be??). The last bullet point is easier to address and is now being pursued by Cornwall Council.

How?  Well, Cornwall Council has made available a pot of money of around £1.5 million.  This of course could not buy up all these properties because the average price of a 3 bed property is around the £180k-£200k mark.  The way they are going to tackle it is to encourage those owners to bring them back into use for the population.  This could be done by loans to bring the building back to a habitual standard, advice on renting it out or others means of helping those owners.  If that fails, then I do feel that Cornwall Council will flex its might and head to the courts.

Now if anyone does know of empty properties in their areas, then contact Cornwall Council, or their local Cornwall Councillor.  Failing that, drop me a e-mail and I will make sure the property is investigated.

RingGo – Paying for Carparking by phone

 A great idea is about to take form in Cornwall Council Carparks. It’s was fully supported by the Parking Panel (which I am Chair of) and given the final go ahead by the Portfolio Holder, Graeme Hicks. Sadly this service is not free. Cornwall Council does not collect any extra money from this service. The extra cost goes to the company providing the service. I wish it was free, but it just could not be done.

From Wednesday, 2 June people using Council run car parks across Cornwall will no longer need coins to pay for parking their cars – they can use their mobile phones instead

The RingGo cashless parking system which allows people to pay for parking over their mobile phones using a credit or debit card rather than using cash at the machine has been operating very successfully in North Cornwall since 2008. The Council is now extending the service to all its car parks across Cornwall.

People will still be able to pay in cash if they want but the RingGo service offers extra flexibility to those that either can’t or don’t want to pay with coins.

The main benefits of the service are that people don’t need to hoard change, they don’t have to queue at the parking machine and they don’t need a parking ticket. Civil Enforcement Officers check which vehicles are parked with RingGo using internet connected handheld units.

The system also allows people to extend their stay without going back to the car park to put more money in the machine – something which I am sure will be welcomed by everyone who has been stuck in a queue while nervously watching their watches as the expiry time on their parking ticket approaches. Paying with RingGo offers drivers extra convenience and choice.

To use the service, simply park as usual and look for the RingGo signs which are shown on the machines nearby. These provide the Truro telephone number – 01872 88 44 66 – that people will need to use RingGo.

If using RingGo for the first time, drivers will be asked to provide details of their vehicle ( including the number plate, colour and make), the location of the car park, the length of time they want to park and details of their payment card, which can take a couple of minutes. To save time people can also pre-register their details on-line at https://www.myRingGo.co.uk/register.  There is no charge for registering.

On subsequent calls, the service recognises the driver’s mobile phone number and retrieves much of the information, which means that payment normally take less than a minute. An additional 20p convenience charge is made for using the service on top of the standard car parking tariff.

A further benefit of paying by phone is that drivers can top up their parking remotely if they’re running late, and so avoid a penalty notice. RingGo also offers a text reminder service, so people can be notified 10 minutes before their parking time is due to expire (additional charge of 10p per reminder).

Full Press Release

Petitions

Today, over at County Hall the Communities Scrutiny Committee met. A little gem of a item was Petitions. This was an idea brought in by the last Government to allow Local Authorities to at least look at issues raised by the Public. This was brought about by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009.

Full Agenda Here Link

Cornwall Council has to implement this in two stages. Firstly, it has to have in place a working system of allowing a Petition to be received in paper form by no later than the 15th June 2010. Secondly, it must have a online facility by no later than the 15th December 2010.

Now the question is what makes a petition? Well, this very point was discussed at the Committee today. There were a few different views on how many people it takes to make a Petition (no jokes please). The figures ranged from 100, 50, 25 or 10. The 10 figure was the one laid out in the report. After a debate, a vote was taken and the figure of 25 was voted on and accepted.

The next part was who could submit a Petition. Now this was a fairly clear cut decision by the Committee. It felt that only those who live, work and study in Cornwall would have the right to submit a petition to Cornwall Council. Those not meeting that requirement would not have their petition accepted as official. There is also no age limit on who can submit a petition or sign it. So as long a you can make your mark in pen, pencil or crayon it will be accepted.

Next up was the point on how many signatures would it take for this petition to be presented to Full Council to make a decision on whether to take further action, accept the proposals, do nothing, or to commission further investigation. The petition author would receive a written conformation of the decision. Now the figure agreed was 5000 signatures for it to be debated at Full Council, but a lesser number was agreed upon for it to be discussed at the Community Networks (CN).

This figure was 1% of those who live within the CN. I felt that it would be best served and clearer for the public to understand if a figure was given. I believe the figure using the 1% would be around the 250 mark, But that would depend on each CN as they are not all alike.

The last part was on the appropriate threshold for requiring officers to give evidence on any aspect of a petition. This was agreed to be 1000 signatures.

At the end of the day there will be a cost to you the tax payer to collate and action these Petitions because Cornwall Council has to do this because the Government passed the Act. No figure was given either in officer hours or for the cost to implement this because they don’t know how many petitions they will get. It’s a sort of wait and see plan. My guess is that we will receive quite a lot at first, then it may reduce.Then again they said this with F.O.I. requests, and we get several hundred a month of these.

I personally have my doubts if this will work. I hope the system will not be abused, but used to highlight local and Cornwall wide issues that are important to people. We (as I have said many times) are here to serve the Public. I am just more worried about this snowballing into a huge cost for Cornwall Council with little action or results from it.

Now these recommendation will now go to Cabinet for their tweaks and comments. This will then pass onto  the full Council who will make the final decision on what makes a petition. No doubt the same points raised today will be raised again, but at least the 123 Members will be allowed to air their views and comment.

Coalition – A new Government

Much has been said in the news about the deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. I for one think this might be the tonic needed to help this Country. Its early days to say if (and a big if) this will work, but if it does, then we might never have the same type of Government that we have had for the last 60 odd years.

 Over at County Hall there has been some slight ribbing over how the main parties are now in Government together. One LD said to me that he is still getting to grips with the concept and finds it strange when he says “We in Government”. It’s like the two Parties have been fighting a long and sometimes bitter war and now suddenly find there is not only a truce, but they are now suddenly on the same side!

Anyway, the real reason for writing this is to put up the link to the Coalition Manifesto. It is certainly interesting reading and its worth spending 20 odd minutes reading it. At the end of the day it will effect all of us.

Here is the link  The Deal Have fun reading.

The new Mayor of Helston

Today I attended Helston’s Mayor making Ceremony.  This started off with coffee in the Methodist Chapel with a parade up to the Guildhall where we had the handing over of Office with a few speeches from the outgoing Mayor and new Mayor. After this, we assembled outside and paraded down to the Royal British Legion for light refreshments.

The new Mayor is Cllr John Boase with Cllr Mrs Vicky Mathews being elected as the Deputy Mayor. It was nice to see these ancient traditions still being carried out.  The only part I was involved in was witnessing the process and being part of the parade. I was invited because my role as a Cornwall Councillor covers both Towns of Porthleven and Helston (Helston South).

Picture of the Mayor and his Wife just after taking Office

Further information on Helston Town Council can be found via this Link

Single online planning system for Cornwall

Cornwall Council are bringing together the online planning registers used by the former councils into a new single online planning system. The new system is up and running in the former Kerrier area, and it will be rolled out to the other areas between now and August.
The new system will let users view, track and comment on planning applications online and register to receive automatic updates about planning applications in their area. This is a big step forward in making services more accessible and good example of the improvements, savings and efficiencies that Cornwall Council is delivering. Having one system for processing planning applications instead of seven will also make things more straightforward for those who wish to access planning online
Link for online planning system for Cornwall
I welcome this, as the public find it hard to travel the distances to the various Council Offices to look at plans that are of interest to them. I know I have used the online system a lot. A huge well done to all the staff who have made this work.

Recycling Banks in Porthleven

Just over a month or so ago I said I’m looking at getting Porthleven 3 small Recycling Banks. Well I am pleased to say Porthleven now has them. They are situated in Shrubberies Hill Car Park. They will be initially there for a 6 month trial to see how well they are used (or abused).

I do think having these in Porthleven is a good idea. It will save people having to drive into Helston to recycle outside the fortnightly kerbside collection. 

Please use these bins and let me know of any issues that you may come across.

Here is Cornwall Councils official Press Statement (Link)

Porthleven’s Mayor

Last night I attended Porthleven Town Councils AGM. This is the yearly meeting where the Town Councillors decide who will be the Mayor and his Deputy for the forthcoming year. This years Mayor honour went to Harry Pugh. Mark Berryman will be his trusty sidekick in the role of Deputy.

This is the second year that Porthleven has a Mayor. Some people were against this idea because they thought it would be too costly, but apart from the investment of a Mayors chain there has been no real cost to the tax payer. This role has increased the profile of Porthleven throughout Cornwall. How do I know this? Well, I travel around Cornwall in my job as a Cornwall Councillor and have only heard good comments about Porthleven and the role the Mayor has carried out this last year.

Last year the Mayor’s charity was Porthleven Age Concern. With the various fund raising events held last year the Mayor managed to raise just over £1500. This will go towards helping the branch buy a new much needed mini bus. My understand the Mayor will be picking a new Group/Charity for the coming year. Not sure what it will be as it’s the Mayors choice.

Please feel free to come along to any Town Council meeting if you wish to raise points, issues or just come and see what they do.

Viewing figures from the Webcasting

Here are the Official viewing figures from Cornwall Council’s first Webcast meeting

Feed back as from 12 May at 1pm

1225 Live Views (All external)

671 Archived Views

More than 100 comments from Twitter

Poll Results as of 09:30 am 12th May

Do you support Cornwall Councils initiative to make meetings more open, transparent and accessible though webcasting? 

Yes           176
No            1
Undecided  5

Total       182

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