A Cornish EMA and University Bursary?

Yesterday I blogged about the possibility of a Cornish EMA being part funded by Cornwall Council. Today, another announcement was made by the Leader of Cornwall Council during the awards ceremony for the Citizenship for Life programme.

This was huge, as the Leader said Cornwall Council could fund bursaries for Cornish students wishing to go to university. Now details are a little sketchy as the Leader did not say if you had to go to university in Cornwall or it would apply to any university.  However, this could be huge, and be a real chance for many to be able to afford to attend university. Especially for those from the less well off families.

In Cornwall we have an higher than national average exam pass rate, the downside is we have a below average take-up of people going onto university. One of the possible causes is the historic low pay in Cornwall. This leaves many families unable to afford to send and support their children thought university. Or students rack up massive debts whilst studying.

This if funded right could be a great program. The issue is how will it be funded? Through development? Tax? Setting up any form of bursary is not going to be cheap. It will need to be funded properly if it is to work. I just worry how it will be funded as everyone knows Government has cut grants to Councils; which has in turn resulted in Cornwall Council making painful decisions to reduce services.

It is certainly going to be interesting to hear how it is going to be funded, especially as the yearly budgetary discussions are fast approaching. Another question is, why haven’t backbenchers been briefed about this? After all, it is claimed there is a coalition in place at Cornwall Council and this proposal also crosses all political grounds.

So a further question is why have I only found out whilst eating my breakfast in a public award ceremony?

Is a Fixed Spring Break a Step Closer?

For the last 18 months I have been trying, with the support of others to get Cornwall Council to look into the feasibility of setting a fixed Spring Break. As we all know this moves yearly due to moons and certain days in the religious calendar. A year ago I finally got Cornwall Council to start to talk to other local authorities and our own schools.

At today’s Children, School and Families Scrutiny Committee (CSF) there was a report with the findings of  recent letter and questionnaire sent to Cornish Schools asking if they felt the Spring Break should be fixed. 73 school replied and all but five said the Spring Break should be fixed. Granted not all schools replied, but out of those who did was an over all will to at least look into changing it.

I made a further recommendation to Cabinet:

The CSF Committee recommends that Cornwall Council’s Cabinet undertake a formal consultation on the proposal of moving to a Fixed Spring Break.

This was fully supported by the committee with the add-on from the Chairman of this consultation should be undertaken as quick as possible. Sometimes the wheels at Cornwall Council turn slowly, but at least they turn.

Cornwall Council to Part-Fund EMA?

At today’s Children School and Families Scrutiny Committee during questioning on the progress on the recommendations to Cabinet on Child Poverty (which I will blog about later) there was a interesting announcement.

This announcement (more like a slip of the tongue) could see Cornwall Council part fund the replacement to the EMA grant which the current Government ruthlessly cut. This announcement on the funding of a new EMA by Cornwall Council is interesting to hear, and I wait to hear of the details, and how it is going to be paid for at a later date.

Once Upon a Time in Hayle

Once upon a time there was this maiden who despite being a widower was still in her prime and looking for a suitor. She was not young, but still held her natural beauty. Along came a rather dashing suitor, who promised her wealth and security for the future. The maiden was bowled over by his charm and wit, but at the day of the wedding he hightailed it off to sea. The maiden was devastated, and fell into despair.

Near three decades later the maiden had still not found a suitor, and she felt that no one would ever love her again. As her agony continued; her health and looks faded until no one would give her a passing glance. That was until three suitors saw her potential.

These three suitors now made a play for her affection, the first one had his roots in the north, the second was from across the English Channel, whilst the third now resided in the Americas. All three offered security and money which would help make her attractive once again. The only issue was, she could only marry one.

Which one would it be as each had their own strengths and attributes? It was a hard choice because picking the wrong one would have far reaching consequences. Unable to make that decision on her own, she enlisted Counsel who she hoped could advise her as to which suitor was best.

This advice was complicated and fraught with danger, as the two rejected suitors would no doubt take the rejection personally and seek to change her mind in other more formal ways. Counsel has indeed advised her of the best suitor that would give her all she needs now and for the future, but is this suitor trust worthy, or once married run off with another and leave the now old maiden dead and dying.

We shall know in a week’s time as to who she has picked. Let’s hope it is the right choice.

Porthleven Applies for £100k

On Friday 23rd September Porthleven submitted a bid for £100,000 from the Seaside Town Program. Five months work now rests on a panel’s decision at Cornwall Council. There are other bids from other towns like Penzance, Looe, Falmouth and St. Ives. Competition is going to be tough as there is only £400,000 available in the program.

This whole bid was only possible due to the help from different elements of Porthleven’s community. During the summer the bid working group had questionnaires in most of the holiday accommodation. As gathering the views of those visitors on how they feel about Porthleven, and what would they like to see improved is very important to the whole bid process.

Also, the working group sent out a questionnaire to all the businesses asking for their views. The response back was fantastic, as 93% of questionnaires were returned. In a week or so those who took part will receive a report from me with all the result from the visitors and businesses. These views, like those from the visitors are very interesting as there are a lot of similar views from either side.

Our bid document amounted to near 100 pages. I really think we covered everything in the bid. I guess time will tell in a month or so when I am told if we have been successful, or worse, turned down.

I am really grateful from the help and support from Porthleven Town Council, Harbour and Dock Company, Porthleven Food Festival, Porthleven Fisherman Assoc, Porthleven Lights Committee, Helston and Lizard Community Network, South Kerrier Alliance, people and businesses of Porthleven. It was a real community effort, and without their help we could not have done it.

Special thanks should go to Dave and Demelza who with me put the bid together from all the information collected. They have literately spent days working on the bid to make it just right.

As for the bid, it includes plans for the purchase of a marquee for the community, up-lighting the Institute, more parking, a history trail of Porthleven to name but a few. If we are successful, this money will make a difference, but not change the look, or more importantly the feeling of Porthleven. It will though help create better employment opportunities, and other economic benefits to our beautiful home.

It is going to be a nervous time waiting for the decision

Flashy Publicity Does Not Stop Littering or Dog Fouling

It is the end of Clean Cornwall Week and Cornwall Council is claiming it to be a success. I will agree to this to a point, but for me all the flashy publicity will not solve the problem without more bins being provided. You can ask people to not to litter, but without the bins, it will not stop.

For the last few months I have been trying to get more bins, especially dog waste bins into Porthleven. I know of five dog waste bins that should be in place, but are missing. I have asked repeatedly for these to be replaced, but I am told over and over again there is no money for them to be replaced.

As a compromise I have said I would settle for three of the missing five to be replaced. Again, this has resulted in a no. So frustrated with this stance I wrote to the Portfolio Holder asking for his intervention. This letter from me was sent over 20 days ago, I followed it up asking for an update on the 12th Sept. As yet, I have not had a complete answer to my request.

The recently formed PIP group is trying to help clean up the local environment, but It cannot do this on its own. So if Cornwall Council really wants to clean up our towns and villages make sure there is money available for bins. As without them you are not going to solve littering, or worse dog mess.

For information: dog waste can be placed into standard litter bins.

The Community Has Lost a Real Servant

It was very said to hear that Cllr Mike Clayton passed away on Monday morning. The people of Cornwall and the Council have lost a true servant. I first met Mike many years ago, and I can say he is the one who got me into politics after a planning site meeting in Porthleven in which I was making a point in my usual way.

He was also the first to congratulate me on my election to Kerrier District Council and took me under his wing in the early days. I was always willing to listen to any advice Mike gave. He was one of the few people I have met in politics who’s advice was worth listening to. He always called me ‘kid’ and I liked that term. To me he was like that favourite teacher you had. Not always agreeing with his every point, but understanding and respecting his side of the discussion.

Mike had his faults; the biggest one was not switching on his hearing aid. He thought he never needed one, but we all knew he did. However, his attention to detail was legendary, especially in planning. He wrote copious amount of notes for every meeting, and when he made a comment you knew he had researched the subject.

I for one will greatly miss Mike.

The End of the Fag Machine

On 1st October 2011 sales of tobacco from cigarette machines will no longer be allowed. In fact, it will be against the law with fines up to £2,500.

This does not mean a premises cannot sell tobacco, but from October it has to be sold to a customer by a member of staff. The aim of this new legislation is to make sure all sales of tobacco are sold to those who are 18 or over.

An Improvement to Blue Buoy Steps

Back in July I had a meeting with an Cornwall Council officer to discuss the possibility of handrails being installed at Blue Buoy Steps. I am pleased to stay two handrails have now been installed. I hope mother nature will be kind to them as since I announced I was going to have the rails installed people have told me it is a good idea.

Porthleven Raft Race Takes to the Water

The annual Porthleven Raft Race took place today.  As always, it is a lively affair with many people taking part, and ending up very wet. It was good to see so many entries with some looking like like they were well thought-out and others who baffled science by not sinking.

Pictures tell a better story than I can, so here is a selection of the ones I took.

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