Sex Establishment Policy – Your Say

The Council has adopted the legislation to regulate sexual entertainment venues and is now conducting consultation on the draft policy and standard conditions. The consultation will run until 20 October 2010.

Sex shops and sex cinemas have been regulated in Cornwall for some time however, on 6 April 2010 the Policing and Crime Act 2009 extended this power to include a new class of premises, namely sexual entertainment venues.

As a result of the adoption of the new legislation, the Council is taking the opportunity to review existing policies and create a new single policy to apply to the whole of Cornwall, which will incorporate the new class of sex establishment as well as those currently regulated.

The draft policy and consultation documents are available from Cornwall Council’s Licensing Service. Here is the link Consultation

The Council is keen to receive views on the content of the proposedpolicy and the consultation document details what the Council is particularly seeking views on, although general comments about the draft policy are also welcome.  Response forms are attached to the end of the consultation document for ease of response.

As part of the consultation the Council is planning to hold a public forum on 24 September 2010.  More details will be provided on the Council’s website nearer the date of the event.

So now is the time to comment on this draft policy before any final decision is made on it.

They don’t make them like this any more

I took my son to the RNAS Culdrose Air-day today. For me its a sort of rite of passage as my Father took me to air shows and now, I am taking my son. There is something about being a boy and seeing loads of aircraft flying around. I still get a tingle up my spine when I hear the roar of a merlin engine from a Spitfire and see it glide though the air. (this engine was also used in the Hurricane, Lancaster and the Mustang)

For me the highlight of the day was seeing the Avro Vulcan Bomber. I remember this aircraft from my childhood. Not just as a display aircraft, but in operational RAF squadrons. Seeing one flying around is impressive, but seeing a couple in formation is just mind blowing.

All in all it was a great day. The weather held out. We used the Park and Ride service that was put on and found it quick, easy and without hassle.

Below, are three more pictures of this great piece of British engineering that I took today. Here also is the link to more information on this Aircraft

Tough times ahead

Now no one can be under any illusion that Cornwall Council faces a difficult few years. Its got to save £100 million over that period. The trick is how to do that without effecting services. We are told that we have made savings post the formation of the Unitary Council. But, you have to ask yourself where these extra savings will come from if we are indeed running a tight ship that has been previously claimed.

A figure of 2000 jobs to go has been banded about. Sure that is possible, but it’s not a certainty that number of jobs will indeed go. How can you cut jobs and it not effect services, or cut services and not affect jobs? No matter what is decided someone; something is going to be affected. 

The Government is undertaking a wholesale spending review, and that is not going to be completed until October. Until that has been completed we really don’t have definitive figures. Once those have been released Cornwall Council will then hold its own Budget to reflect those cuts and changes. A more important issue that needs to be address is the staff moral. With many rumours flying around it will be hard for people to be positive and not worry about their futures. Some may jump ship before, and with a recruiting freeze that could affect services too.

One things is for sure is that we must not say “we are doomed” like a certain Private Fraser would say in a tight spot. What we must do is to make sure what ever happens that we are still able to provide the service that people expect and require.

Summer Holidays – Too long?

The School summer holidays are now upon us. Near 7 weeks of trying to entertain your children is never an easy task. I have been asking myself are summer holidays just too long? I mean the current term times were introduced some 40 years ago. What was good then might not be fit for today’s world.

Back 40 year’s ago family life was completely different. Generally only one parent worked. Today both parents work. Not always out of wanting to, but out of necessity. Today there are more single parent families than 40 year’s ago. Society has changed, and depending on your view point for the better or worse, but I am not getting into that today.

Most people are able to take 2 weeks in summer as holidays, so with both parents that’s a max of 4 weeks. If it’s a single parent they might only be able to have 2 weeks covered. The question is what do you do with those weeks are not covered? Grandparents are one option, but that only works if they are available. Friends can help, but you don’t like to ask that often as they may have their own childcare issues. You might have an older child who can look after the younger ones, but is that fair on that child to become a surrogate parent? If you have no family support then it might be childcare. That in itself is a very expensive option, as you might be paying the same or more than what you earn to pay for care. You ask yourself what’s the point in working if I am just covering the child care fees.

Maybe a sensible option is for Cornwall Council to take a look at term times. I know in other Authorities this has been done and they may have 6 terms instead of the standard 4. If Cornwall Council did (I am not saying they will or even thinking of looking at it) review term times what would be acceptable? 4 weeks in the summer with the other days spread around the other holidays, or have an extra half term somewhere? That does not solve the issue of most people only having 4 weeks holiday a year, but it might make it easier to arrange cover/support during those periods.

If we did look at other option then would this have an effect on the economy of Cornwall? Would Cornwall lose out from the Tourist trade if we changed this? It might not, but it would have to be taken into account. Another question is whether there is the will to change the term times. I raised this question of term times some 14 months ago. I got the feeling that this was not even on the distant radar to be discussed. Is one reason that the powers to be (Cllrs) don’t have children still of school age and therefore don’t see it as an issue?

So I ask you, do you think there should be any change? If so what would you like to see different? If you are a teacher what would you change? I know I would like to see some sort of change as I do feel the current system is out of date and does not reflect the modern working world or family make up.

So, let me know how you see this. If you do respond could you say if you have children at school age please.

UPDATE: Here are the thoughts to one of the professional bloggers out there on the same subject. click HERE for Teacher Talks

Social rent over owning a house?

There was an interesting debate on the BBC Laurence Reed show on affordable housing. I think after listening to the debate I think the bigger question is why we are in this Country obsessed with house ownership. I have come to the conclusion that we should move to a more European attitude of long term social rent. In the old days these were called Council Houses.

Sadly, these were sold off in the 80’s to the tenants. Now in principle I don’t have a problem with this, but what I do have issues with is how the money from the sales did not go back into housing stock. Sell the houses, but use that money to buy more. There is a dire shortage of social rental. If we build more of those types, then I believe that would go some way to solve some of the housing problems. It would also in turn lower the private rental as there would be more competition. I am in private rent, but I am lucky as the place I am in is well priced (I would always like it cheaper!) and the landlords are really nice. Any problems I have with the house are sorted really quickly.

A lot of private rent is very expensive; this is party due to the tenancy agencies adding their charges on top of what the house owner wants. This can be an extra £100-£150 on top of the rent. I know in my own area rental is an average £600-£700 per month. If these were social rents you could expect to pay around the £350 mark. That’s a huge difference.

Let’s stop building affordable housing as at the current guidelines of “Affordable” a 3 bed house is still around the £120k mark. In Cornwall that is not affordable. Lets look at building more of the social type with low rent. Sure put restrictions on who can have one of these houses like local connections, how long you have lived in the area to name a few. I don’t think anyone will have any problem with that.

The problem as to why we can’t just build more social rent is because you have to buy the land, and then build the house. This is an expensive process which in some cases makes it impossible to build house in certain locations in Cornwall. Should Cornwall Council take out big loans to pay for the building program, but would the tax payer be willing to pay an extra few percent on their Council Tax to achieve this? I think that is a completely different question in its self and one I don’t have the answer for.

Maybe you have views/thoughts? Would you be willing to pay a little extra in Tax if more social houses could be built? Happy to hear your thoughts.

Twitter and how news travels

The world of cyberspace is massive, but it’s amazing how quickly something can travel in cyberspace. Today, I was contacted by an Officer from another Council just North of London who inquired on the merits, dangers and usefulness of Twitter and Blogging. You see, they had heard of “Twitter Gate” and wanted to speak to someone who has had some experience of using social media as a Councillor.
This Council wants to utilise social media, but wanted to avoid certain pitfalls that I and a few of my colleagues unintentionally fell into. Of course I was happy to help out on how I see and use social media in my role as a Councillor. This Council wants to use this, but a lot of their Members were worried about how to use it, and the dangers to it. I explained how social media at Cornwall Council had moved so quickly from “Twitter Gate” to web-casting of Council meetings.  Of course I was happy to explain how I saw and use these formats. I also got one more follower on Twitter which is always nice!
I did pass on the contact details of one of our Officers who to me is, Mrs Social Media as well as other Cornwall Councillors who Blog and use Twitter for their thoughts.

Davidstow Wind Farm – A decision

Planning is never an easy task, especially Strategic Planning. Today, we had to make a decision on the planned wind farm at Davidstow Wood an old WW2 Airfield. This application was first visited just over 6 months ago where Approval was given, subject to two conditions being met.The Link to Full Agenda

These were 1- That the proposed plan met the approval of NATS (link to what they do  Click Here) and 2 – English Nature objected to the proposed plan as it felt these turbines would have a detrimental effect on the bird population on that area.

So, six months on these two issues had not been resolved, and it seemed that it was unlikely the conditions would be met. So it was brought back to the committee for a decision. The reason why it was brought back was because at a previous committee  meetings (in October 2009 and March 2010) it was resolved that if the outstanding matters had not been addressed by 01 July 2010 then this would be brought back  for reconsideration.

I asked many questions about the level of information in the report. These were mostly on the bird issues. I asked for further information on how these figures to bird deaths were calculated. Both sides claimed different. I was informed that most of the figures were in fact guestimates. I mean, how can you make a decision when you feel that there is a lack of information, or if this information was indeed factual. I mean I could claim I am the King of Siam, but that does not mean I am!

In the end after much debate, a vote was taken. Bernie Ellis made the recommendation – as per Officers Recommendations – That this application was to be refused.

I felt I could support this for one simple fact. That was that under PPS22.  It is the responsibility of developers to address any potential impacts, taking account of Civil Aviation Authority, Ministry of Defence and Department for Transport guidance in relation to radar and aviation, and the legislative requirements on separation distances, before planning applications are submitted. Local Planning Authorities should satisfy themselves that such issues have been addressed before considering planning applications. I felt this had not been addressed, nor the objections by English Nature had been mitigated enough to warrant approval. So refusal it was.

That does not solve the problem of do we need to take a more pragmatic view of Turbines and accept them, or keep resisting them because people do not like the look of them, or they like them as long it’s not in their own backyard.


A Certificate for that special event??

The latest idea from the Registration Service of Cornwall Council is a Certificate to mark that special event like a birth, marriage, civil partnership, naming and renewal of vows.

Its an interesting concept, and one that I am not sure will really work. Maybe that’s because I am not the sort of person who would buy this type of thing. That of course does not mean its wrong, or this will not be taken up by the masses. I guess we will just have to wait and see as to how many people will actually buy one.

Here is the link for all the details and application forms Click Here. The basic price is £10 for one certificate, but you get a discount if you order in bulk. That price is £7 after you have brought the first one.

And why did we buy this?

The other day, I as a Member of Cornwall Council received a press release before its sent out to the various news agencies. It was about the Tate Museum in St. Ives, and how Cornwall Council had brought a piece of land from a Housing Authority.

It was claimed that this was a great idea as the Tate contributes to the Cornish Economy some £15 million.  I was a little surprised to find out that this strip of land cost in the region of £1.5 million. I as a regular Member of the Council (non-Cabinet) was not consulted over the merits of spending this amount of money in the present climate.  In fact, I don’t even remember it being discussed at any recent Cabinet meeting (I could have missed the item).

The question I keep asking myself is why as a Member of Cornwall Council have no say, nor input on how large amounts of money are spent.  Sure this money might be a great investment, but decision like this should have at least been discussed by the full Council.  Are just 10 Members making all the decision for some 540,000 people?

Is this an essential purchase for Cornwall Council to make considering all the cuts being handed down by central Govt?  Would this £1.5 million be better invested else where? I can think of a few certain roads that could do with this money.  I mean if the roads are bad, then how will people be able to travel to this and other museums?   You do have to wonder sometimes.

To take or not?

At the next Cornwall Council meeting (27th July) there is an item on the Agenda that I was not expecting, namely a proposed increase of 2.5% to Members allowances as recommended by the LGA. Now there are 3 options on the table as laid down in the report that’s being presented to full Council ( Click Here for the link to the report).

The 3 Recommendation are:

That the LGA day rate increase be noted and that Members decide whether to:
(i) apply the LGA day rate increase of 2.3% to the Cornwall Council Members’ Allowances Scheme;

(ii) decline to apply the LGA day rate increase of 2.3% to the Cornwall Council Members’ Allowances Scheme;

(iii) apply the LGA day rate increase of 2.3% to the Cornwall Council Members’ Allowances Scheme and leave it to individual Members to foregoall or part of their allowance.

Now what would you do if you were offered this? Would you refuse it? That is the question I ask. After all I work for you and try as best as I can answer and deal with the issues you raise with me. Should I take it or not? Let me know how you feel on this issue.

Update: If option 1 is approved it will cost the tax payer an extra £31,762 to 31st March 2011 (back dated to June) That would be £42,000 per year divided by 123, that equals £344 extra per member per year, or £28 per month before Tax. The 9 month cost (up to 31st March) per Member would be around the £23 mark.

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