A Car for Every Season

As the title says, I am not having much luck with cars this year. This weekend car number three was wiped out by another drink driver (or as the Police would say alleged). This is the second car to have met this fate this year alone.

I was fortunate to not have been injured and instead only had to endure the massive inconcenience that is dealing with insruance companies (who I must say have been efficient), the police, recovery companies, vehicle hire company and so forth. I think I was dreaming of, “to hear the menu again press the hash key” in my sleep last night, coupled of course with a mix of Vivaldi for good measure.

Nevertheless, it unfortuntely does bring the serious issue of drinking and driving to the forefront again. We are approaching the time of year when the police messages and advertisments will be common viewing, often needing to be more ‘hard hitting’ than the previous one. I am not going to write a lengthy blog about the dangers of drinking and driving because we all know them, and there is the point. Why then in the space of a few months have I had two motoring incidents involving drivers over the limit? Is it that people are still not getting the message, or have I merely been very unlucky?

Peoples Millions – The Results

After much work by everyone to win the 50k from the Peoples Millions it was result time. This was meant to be live at 6pm, but due to the weather ITV decided to bring this forward and do a recording. I received a call from Charlotte and hour or so before telling me of the change. Charlotte had to rang around to everyone involved to make their way to the One Stop Shop for 2:30pm.

We all gathered to await the decision. We got told that we had not won. Everyone’s heart sank. It was devastating to hear. As everyone looked at each other to try and fathom the crushing defeat, and consequences of this, there was a BUT from the reporter.

Everyone looked up,  the ITV reporter said “You have though, won the runner up prize of the highest number of votes out of all the runners up”. Everyone looked up. The reporter then went on to say “and that is also £50,000”! Those gathered let out a massive roar of cheering and shouting, followed by everyone jumping around and shouting we have the money.

Even though we did not win outright, we still have the money to go ahead with the plan for the Youth Cafe. In fact the two entries from Cornwall will both receive £50k. To be honest, that is a better result than just one of the entries winning. It is hoped to get the Cafe up and running by the end of February as a lot of the planning is in place. It just needed the money.

Helston Youth Cafe – Peoples Millions

Yesterday was a big day for Helston. It was in the final for the Peoples Millions. Up for grabs was £50,000 (Click HERE to recap on what I wrote before). If we win, we would have enough money to fund a Youth Café above Warrens Bakery.
It all started at 5am when Charlotte Chadwick picked up the papers with all the number and information in, by 7 am she had a team of helpers assembled to deliver leaflets though doors. By 9am many homes in Helston had received a leaflet through their doors. Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s had agreed to take leaflets and give them out to customers. Many other businesses in Helston and Porthleven agreed to display and have a pile of leaflets available. I was tasked to deliver leaflets in Porthleven and then stand outside the One Stop Shop and hand out leaflets asking people to vote.
In the end over 11,000 leaflets were handed out or delivered. People were still working up to 10pm last night to make sure the message was out. Facebook also came into play with many people passing on the message to vote. Even Twitter had messages urging people to vote. The phone lines closed at midnight. The winner will be announced tonight at 6pm on ITV. I really hope we win, especially as the whole community rallied together.
I have to say the main credit should go to Charlotte Chadwick who as the Helston and Community Network Manager led from the start. I really believe without her almost obsessional determination to make this happen I doubt we would have got this far. She was not the only one who deserves praise. The list is almost endless as people, business and organisations all pulled together. Here are just some of the people involved
Helston & Lizard CN team: Charlotte Chadwick, Helen Jones, Tatia Churchill
South Kerrier Alliance: Vicki Matthews (also Helston Town Council)
Youth Cornwall: Kate Shotter, Philippa Wall (Skippy), Paul Howarth
Helston Town Council: Craig Bowcutt (Town Warden), Cllr Sue Swift
Devon & Cornwall Constabulary: Beth Pascoe, Paul Whitford, Adrian Fellowes, Inspector Jean Phillips
Helston Fire service: Keith Stringer
Helston Community College
Karen Harvey plus the following Year 9 students:
Dylan Williams, Luke Parkinson, Keah Matthews, Jasmine Gregory, Ailsa Maitland, Georgia Holding, Heather MacNeil, Emma King
Young People from youth centre:
Kyle McGill, Bryn Abraham, Abi Cowls, Abi White, Matt Jory, Jordan Ferguson, John Mifflin
Children’s Centre: April Scott
Local resident: Sue Jenkin, Keith Matthews
It makes you proud to live in an area like this when you see everyone pulling together to make it work.

Into the Lions Den – Parking – A Public Meeting

In my role as Chairman of the Parking Panel I have a difficult job. It is one of those subjects that get people hot under the collar quite quickly. There is also no exact science on how to do it. You could ask 100 people how they would do it and I bet most answers would be different, apart from making it all free. Making it free is just not going to happen unless that revenue is made up, or cut from elsewhere. 
Last night, I was invited to attend a public meeting over in St. Ives. I happily accepted, as I have always said I would meet anyone to talk about the current proposals. I knew it could be like Daniel walking into the lions den and with lots of hungry lions to boot. I took along the Head of Transportation to help answer some of the questions. I arrived there to be met by about 60 or so people. As I entered I heard the odd hiss, but that goes with the territory and I took that without offence.
The meeting was opened by the former Liberal Democrat County Councillor, Andrew Mitchell. I said who I was and what my role was. It was then time for the questions from the public. Many of the points were made on how we had come to the conclusion on the proposed fee for the Reserved Residential Parking Spaces; currently it is £450 per year.  The proposed fee carried out by professional valuers had them over £800. There was a sticking point on how the valuers had come to this figure. This ended in an impasse on the model used, but I did take away many questions that the valuers will have to answer when they attend the next panel meeting. I am not saying we are right or wrong on the value, but this is the reason as to why we have consultations. It gives the public a chance to air their concerns and tell us what would be acceptable.
As you can imagine, there was some heated debate and emotions were high. I hope I reassured those who were gathered that nothing was a ‘done deal’ and everything could still be debated, and if necessary changed. I also told those gathered that I was here to listen to them and take away their points. The whole meeting lasted just over 90 minutes. I have to say that apart from the odd heckle people acted with politeness and we even got a clap at the end for coming to see them.
For me it was well worth going as I got to hear what people had to say. I also told them to reply to the consultation as it was really important. It would give me and my panel the true feelings of how the people felt. Many times people moan, but then fail to reply to the consultation. Only last week at the Helston Town Council meeting I offered to meet with residents who had attended the council meeting to complain about the proposed charges. I left my number and said I would be available, just give me a call to arrange times. Sadly over a week later, I still have not had a call from them to discuss the issues.

I will now take the St. Ives views along with all the other views that have been sent in and present them to the Parking Panel for them to make the final recommendations to Cabinet, and their ultimate decision.

Friends & Residents of Bulwark – Awarded Grants

Good news for the Friends and Residents of Bulwark in its cause of raising £100,000 for a new park. This amount was never going to be raised overnight, but since the formation of the group the reality has steadily moved closer to the dream.
In October the Group approached Helston Town Council for support of £5,000. It made its presentation to the Play Committee who was mightily impressed with the presentation and aims. They said that they would give their decision to the request at their next meeting on the 6th December. I am confident that we will get some sort of grant from the Council. I hope it will be for the £5,000, but any award would be gratefully received.
The real good news is they also applied to the Downsland Trust (Helston based charity) for funding. This Trust met last week and has decided to award the group £2,000 as long as they prove they have matched funding. Add the small grant of £250 from my Members Community Chest we are getting there. The picture right is me giving a cheque to the group. This is on top of the £331 that was raised during the sponsored walk and naming a teddy bear competition that I blogged about before (LINK) 
Of course if anyone has a few thousand or so that needs to be spent you know where a whole community desperately needs it, and would love you forever. 

Temporary Staff at Cornwall Council – Numbers

Sometimes, you don’t know there is a problem until it’s has been pointed out. As a Councillor, it would be impossible to be aware of everything that goes on at Cornwall Council. I like others do try, but it’s very difficult without permanently living in County Hall. Take the issue of interim staff; it was not until the details of these payments become public via the West Briton that any backbench Councillor knew the huge amounts that were being paid. I decided being remiss of not knowing in the first place to look into this matter further to see if what the West Briton had written about was just a small issue, or the tip of a Titanic sinking sized iceberg.
Firstly, I would like to say thank you to the HR staff who took the time to answer my many questions. I did ask quite a lot, and was very happy to receive all the answers. Cornwall Council has currently around 850 temporary workers (full and part-time) engaged in various roles across the County. Of these, 50 earn an hourly rate which would equate to a permanent salary of between £20,000 and £40,000. There are 60 workers that earn over £40,000. So that leaves 730 workers who are possibly on less than £20,000 per year. That of course is depending on the hours worked, and the rate they are paid.
I also asked for clarification as to who authorises the hiring of interim staff. I received the answer that it all depends on the length of the appointment. Typically any post that will be needed for over four weeks will need to be approved by the Directorate Leadership Team (DLT). Any post which are either statutory, or make up critical front line services (e.g. care assistants) are exempt from the DLT approval. The question is who really knew and collectively authorised the payments to those at the top end. I doubt it very much that one person authorised these huge payments
As to whether the interim iceberg would sink the good ship ‘Cornwall Council’ I doubt it. Sure, the huge payments paid to those at the top of the scale are hard to justify and have done damage to Cornwall Council, but overall most of the temporary staff is on below the national average wage. Maybe that area needs to be address and all our staff should be on (working full time hours) the national average wage?

I Need Your Help – Please Vote

Helston’s ‘Furry Youth Café’ needs your vote!

The Helston & Lizard Community Network has recently bid to The Big Lottery Fund/The People’s Millions to launch the ‘Furry Youth Café’ in Helston and I am absolutely delighted to tell you that the project has won a place on the final list of those going forward to a public vote!! 
This does not guarantee that we will get the grant thoughand that’s where you come in! The ‘Furry Youth Café’ will be featured on ITV West Country regional evening news between 6.00p.m., and 6.30p.m. on Thursday 25 November 2010
The project that receives the most votes will be declared the winner and offered a grant. The vote takes place over a 15 hour period.  Phone lines open at 9a.m. on 25 November and close at midnight – the winner will then be announced on ITV West Country regional evening news on 26 November.
We desperately need your votes!! 
You can vote up to 10 times from any phone during the 15 hour period and the number to contact will only be announced on the morning of 25 November when I will contact you again with details.  Please also look out for the number that day in the Daily Mirror and on The People’s Millions website from 9a.m. the same day http://www.peoplesmillions.org.uk/.
The People’s Millions website also gives you more information about the project and an opportunity to leave your comments, questions and messages of support – why not take a look?!
(More about the Furry Youth Café project)
The need for the ‘Furry Youth Café’ was identified by local young people in the Helston area of Cornwall, who made representations to Cornwall Council, the local Town Council, the Youth service, local Police (namely the PCSO’s) and via the various community groups about the lack of provision of a suitable safe, warm and supported meeting place for them to use in the town centre.
Following such representations, the Helston & Lizard Community Network of Cornwall Council, in partnership with South Kerrier Alliance (which is the local market and coastal towns initiative) and various other partner organisations, organised a consultation with young people to further assess the need for a Youth café and to more fully explore the reasons why there was market failure in this respect in the locality of Helston town centre.
The main aim of the project is to establish a much needed youth café in Helston, which meets the needs of the young people in the area and plugs a real gap in current provision. 
The objectives are that the ‘Furry Youth Café’ will:
  • Provide a much needed, warm and safe high street location meeting place for young people of the area.  To include creative and reflective meeting spaces, a café area and the opportunity for them to engage in positive activity such as hobbies/games or just being with their friends;
  • Provide the opportunity for the young people of the area to access support from key agencies including confidential one to one counselling support, access to information, advice and guidance on a range of pertinent topics;
  • Provide the opportunity for the young people to gain enterprise and business skills, in the running of the youth café as a youth enterprise with the support of local business advisers;
  • Positively address persistent issues such as youth unemployment, teenage pregnancy, anti-social behaviour including isolated incidents of arson, and the lack of positive role models for these young disadvantaged people to engage with;
  • Inspire young people who use it (including those who have already formed a management group to fundraise) and will positively raise their awareness in relation to being a good citizen and learning new skills.
The Furry youth café would be a unique offer for the market town of Helston, Cornwall.  There is currently no meeting place in the town centre which meets the needs of the young people.  There is a youth club on the outskirts of the town, but this is difficult for many young people to access and given the issues with the lack of affordable and regular rural public transport in this part of Cornwall, young people experience significant barriers to accessing the support and space that they have stated they need.
Also, unlike many other towns in the UK, Helston as a small market town does not have any commercially owned cafés which open during the evening – there are no chains like Costa or Starbucks and the three independently owned cafés close at the very early hour of 3pm every day.  Helston does not have a café culture or night time economy other than a few public houses, and clearly these would not be compatible with the aims and objectives for the youth café.  So, there really is no viable alternative on the high street in the locality where the level of need is most acute.
Young people in the Helston and Lizard area will be the main beneficiaries of the project as it will provide the youth café facilities and associated support that they have identified themselves as being a glaring gap in their lives and in their local community.  It will mainly support young people who are aged 12 years and above and it is proposed that there are different sessions for different age groups, so that the provision and support on offer is targeted most appropriately.
There will also be a number of significant indirect benefits to other members of the community:
The lack of a youth café and meeting space for these young people currently, has led to persistent social issues including instances of anti-social behaviour, drug and alcohol misuse and issues relating to heightened fear of crime from the older resident population who see gangs of young people hanging around the town and perceive they are causing trouble within the community.   
This project would help to positively provide benefits including better inter generational understanding and mutual respect between young and older people and would help local retailers and businesses who also have issues with crime and disorder in the locality.
The longer term impacts of the Furry youth café project will be threefold; social, economic and environmental positive outcomes will be felt by the local community and the young people.  The young people in the area will have increased their self esteem, self confidence and motivation as a result of being actively engaged in such an imaginative and positive experience of running their own youth café.
In addition, they will have significantly enhanced their skills base; new skills will include team building, relationship management, enterprise and business skills, negotiation skills, listening skills, planning, research and event management skills, financial management and personal budgeting skills and they will have gained a greater self awareness as a result of participating in the supported activities (including one to one and team activities) as part of the youth café offer.  We also anticipate that through the above, the young people will have better employability potential.
We are also anticipating the positive, long lasting impact of the project will lead to a measurable reduction in anti-social behaviour, teenage pregnancies, fear of crime as perceived by the local older population and a greater sense of pride and citizenship in the local community.
We do hope you will support us with your vote – and don’t forget to tune in to ITV West Country on 25 November!
Please feel free to circulate this information via any means

Super-fast Broadband – Who gets it first.

Super-fast Broadband is coming to Cornwall. The real question is what areas will get it first. Today I received an e-mail as to those areas. Sadly its not the Helston and Porthleven area, but I am sure we will get it as soon as possible. The area that are to receive it first are:

Leedstown, Chiverton Cross area, St Agnes, Portreath, St Day, Devoran, Stenalees and Par. These areas will be upgraded at the end of March 2011. These areas are ahead of the first main roll-out that will be in the South East area of Cornwall.  At the end of the day I am very pleased that this is happening in Cornwall. Too many times Cornwall being at the far west of the Country seems to get left out when things are being handed out.

At the end of the day this is good news. I am told that between 80% -90% of all businesses and households will receive this by 2014. The question is, what areas will not be able to receive it and how will this be overcome.

Cornwall Council – Children in Need Event

Cornwall Council is a firm supporter of Children in Need. It annually holds a ‘Council’s Got Talent’ competition, Many will argue that the word talent is being stretched to breaking point. Anyway this even is held during the lunch period as not to impede with work. This year more people entered, and from watching it, more of the ‘having a laugh’ entries entered. Again, as last year, a couple of hundred of pounds was raised for this great cause.

Last year I was part of the fantastic act called the Cross-party Dressers. We decided to reform in the guise of the Spice Girls. Of course you could not tell the difference between the real group and us. if all else fails in politics I am sure we will have firm bookings as a look-a-like act. Below are pictures that may require a little warning to those of a sensitive nature.

The ‘Spice Girls’
Left to right: Cllrs Andrew Long (sporty), Scott Mann (posh), Jeremy Rowe (ginger), Steve Double (baby) and Andrew Wallis (scary)
Of Course we were ‘robbed’ of the win, but the winner really did have talent singing and playing a guitar. 

School Terms – A break though

Today at the Children’s Schools and Families OSC, Agenda item 10 (Click HERE) was a report on the subject of school term times. If you remember this was one of the issues that I had campaigned to be reviewed. To refresh yourselves click HERE. This is an issue that is long over due a review as I have pointed out in my earlier blog post.
From the report this undertaking is huge and costly. I argued that just because the issue is not easy, we should not shy away from it. My personal feeling is this does not have the higher political will to change. In an ideal world it would be, but as we all know this is not an ideal world. I also believe that this issue needs to be tackled on a national scale as that is where the real change can take place.
What did have unanimous support was for a more fixed time for the Easter Break, or what many others call the Spring Break. We all know that the Easter Break is never the same year after year. The two Chairman of the Association of Primary and Secondary Schools fully supported this, as they had long argued for this to be standardised. Even that is not as easy as just fixing dates are we will have to talk to out neighbours in Devon to make sure it’s workable for those close to the border. In the past different term dates have caused much confusion and complaints when these are not closely aligned.
Now the work will start by talking to the other Authorities to look into the details and implementation of this idea.  I am glad a more fixed date for the term and the spring break as this would be of greater benefit to our children and allow people to plan their lives better.

For me, this is just the start of the review and will still argue for changes that are more in keeping with the world we live in today.

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