The ink is now dry on the BT JV contract

Yesterday, Cornwall Council’s Interim CEO, along with the Chairman of Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust and the Director of Finance at Peninsula Community Health signed the contract for the JV with BT.

It was carried out with little fanfare; just an email sent to Councillors informing them of the deed.

For staff affected by the deal, formal consultations will begin on the April 1st (no irony), with the transfer of staff to BT taking place in July.

Lets hope the Council does not regret this day. And to the staff, I am sorry.

Letters sent to Prime Minister and MP’s on second homes

Inline with Cornwall Council’s decision to lobby Government seeking a legislative change to planning policies that would require the planning consent being sort and given if someone wanted to change a dwelling into either a second home and/or holiday let.

I am pleased to say letters have been sent to the Prime Minister, the Minister responsible for planning and the six MP’s representing Cornwall.

In these letters, it gives a clear indication where new planning rules could be introduced. These rules are workable as senior planning officers at Cornwall Council have been involved with making sure they are. The possible policy changes have also had the input from those planning experts in the private sector (thanks Paul).

The letters have been signed by all the Political Group Leaders at Cornwall Council, Portfolio Holder for Housing and me. Let’s hope the council gets a positive response from all the Cornish MP’s but more importantly, the Government. As they are the only body that can make these changes.

Seeking Re-election

Cornwall will be going to the Polls on the 2nd May for both town and parish and Cornwall Council elections. I hope the majority of the town and parish elections will be contested as the last full election was in 2007. You know the Cornwall Council election will be; because the political parties will want control of the next council.

I will be seeking re-election for Cornwall Council and the town council. I am pleased to say I am now an official candidate for the forthcoming elections. As my nomination forms have been returned and validated.

As always, I will be standing as an Independent. I feel that is the best way to serve the electorate. There is still much work to do as your elected representative, and I hope to continue to build on the successes I have had during the last four years.

I hope you will again show the same confidence you had in me before by voting for me on the 2nd May.

More later

Saturday morning spent making a duck and eating cake

On Saturday, Porthleven Community Group held one of its regular coffee mornings for anyone to come along for a chat over a cup of tea, and a piece (or two) of cake.. The group provides all this for free, as the group members make all the cakes.

There is also a suggestion board for people to comment; which allows the group to prioritise any projects the residents of Porthleven wish to see started.

Also provided today was material to make a paper mache duck, which will then take part in a duck race from the bridge leading onto The Moors to the harbour. This even starts at 3pm next Saturday.

As with any fun-like competition, entries are not only from children. As many of the group members and parents also made ducks. Including me. There was some good natured rivalry between some of the adults on who’s duck would actually make it to the end of the course!

A huge thanks should go to the Porthleven Community Group who continue to help make Porthleven a better place to live in. Well done!

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The start of the duck

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The finished duck – Colin

The Last Day of Kevin Lavery

Today, is the last day of Kevin Lavery’s tenure as CEO of Cornwall Council. It has been a roller coaster ride for both staff and Councillors. It has been no mean feat to turn six local authorities and one County Council into one authority. And I think he has steered the ship well though very troubled waters.

The leaving ceremony was kicked off by one of Bert Biscoe’s poems. Then, the Chairman of Cornwall Council said a few kind words and presented Kevin with a beautiful painting. The interim CEO followed up with a few behind the scene quips.

Finally, Kevin praised the Council, its staff, its Councillors and outside partners. Which is a testament to the journey the council has taken over the last four years.

For me, I think Kevin has been a good CEO and I wish him all the best at his new authority.

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Cornwall Council and SITA sign the deal

The Portfolio Holder, Lance Kennedy, who is the Councillor responsible for waste, today sent a letter to his fellow Cornwall Councillors telling the PFI contract between the Council and SITA has been signed.

The letter is as follows:

Dear Members,

I am writing to inform you that the Council and SITA UK have today signed the revised project plan for the integrated waste management contract.

The 30 year PFI contract is to manage the treatment and disposal of all of Cornwall Council’s household waste and recycling.  Key to the contract is the design, build, finance and operation of an energy-from-waste facility in St Dennis with a capacity of up to 240,000 tonnes per year, which will generate electricity for the equivalent of around 21,000 homes.

As you are aware the contract was originally signed in October 2006. However, following delays in getting planning permission to build an energy-from-waste facility a contract variation was required.  This has now been signed, with the funding for the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre project being provided by a range of banks. 

 This facility, which has planning permission and an Environmental Permit, is expected to be operational in 2016.

Helston’s Draft Local Plan

Helston’s Draft Local Plan, which covers Helston for the next 20 years is now subject to formal consultation before it becomes ratified. The consultation period runs until April 22nd. The plan and all the relevant details can be found HERE.

Once adopted either as it is now, or with changes, will sit alongside the Cornwall Local Plan. Details on that can be found HERE. And if you want to give your views online, HERE is that link

It is very important people take the time to comment even if it is to agree with the plans. As that will give Cornwall Council a true understanding on the local feeling. I know, I have commented.

If you want any further information, or the whole document electronically, just give me a call, tweet, text, or email.

The proposals for Helston

The proposals for Helston

Top 101 – 211 Parishes with Second Homes and Holiday Lets

And here is the second half of the list of Parishes with second homes and holiday lets:

North Tamerton              12               2               14 141 10%
Helland                1               9               10 102 10%
St. Neot              26             19               45 465 10%
St. Teath              26            102             128 1325 10%
Sancreed              12             19               31 328 9%
Morval              21               9               30 324 9%
Otterham                9               2               11 119 9%
Lanivet              68             14               82 898 9%
Constantine              26             52               78 856 9%
Ludgvan              88             53             141 1553 9%
Bude-Stratton             149            295             444 5003 9%
St. Clement              14             34               48 570 8%
Hayle             101            239             340 4059 8%
Newquay             298            558             856 10432 8%
St. Cleer              75             52             127 1597 8%
Colan              39             20               59 747 8%
Feock              50             95             145 1838 8%
Grampound with Creed              11             12               23 308 7%
Linkinhorne              30             19               49 707 7%
Week St. Mary                8             13               21 306 7%
Perranuthnoe              21             55               76 1112 7%
North Petherwin              13               9               22 325 7%
Cuby                3               2                5 74 7%
Calstock             123             74             197 2954 7%
Launcells                7               9               16 242 7%
St. Newlyn East              26             22               48 727 7%
Luxulyan              25             15               40 634 6%
Tregoney                5             20               25 399 6%
Mawgan-in-Meneage              10             12               22 352 6%
Carlyon                7             39               46 747 6%
Lostwithiel              33             49               82 1355 6%
Altarnun                3             27               30 503 6%
Sithney                9             14               23 386 6%
Towednack                4               6               10 171 6%
Landulph                1             13               14 247 6%
Whitstone                9               5               14 252 6%
North Hill                4             20               24 439 5%
Egloshayle                4               6               10 185 5%
Penzance              81            520             601 11350 5%
St. Mewan              38             38               76 1451 5%
Lezant                9             10               19 366 5%
Landrake with St. Erney              15             10               25 487 5%
Dobwalls and Trewidland              20             23               43 898 5%
St. Mellion                2               7                9 189 5%
Stokeclimsland              10             24               34 717 5%
Treneglos                2               2                4 85 5%
South Hill                4               6               10 214 5%
Menheniot              17             19               36 782 5%
Falmouth             102            379             481 10481 5%
Wadebridge              15            125             140 3151 4%
Gweek                5               9               14 320 4%
St. Thomas the Apostle Rural                6             10               16 370 4%
St. Stephens By Launceston Rural                2               5                7 164 4%
Wendron              29             20               49 1161 4%
Lewannick                9               9               18 430 4%
Laneast                3               1                4 97 4%
Millbrook                5             37               42 1062 4%
St. Allen                5               2                7 177 4%
Antony              –               8                8 207 4%
Tywardreath and Par              22             33               55 1479 4%
Crowan              14             26               40 1100 4%
Stithians              17             16               33 923 4%
Gwennap              14             10               24 684 4%
Quethiock                3               4                7 200 4%
Mabe              11             10               21 638 3%
Probus              10             21               31 993 3%
Ladock                7             14               21 673 3%
St. Michael Penkevil                2               2                4 132 3%
St. Dominick                4               7               11 385 3%
Perranarworthal                3             17               20 721 3%
St. Keyne                3               3                6 218 3%
Egloskerry                1               4                5 184 3%
Kea                8               9               17 670 3%
South Petherwin                5               6               11 452 2%
St. Erme                9               4               13 545 2%
St. Germans                5             10               15 659 2%
Trevalga                2               1                3 140 2%
Illogan              25             28               53 2478 2%
St. Gluvias                7               8               15 716 2%
Chacewater                3             12               15 743 2%
St. Ive                8             10               18 1013 2%
Roche              16             12               28 1592 2%
Carharrack              –             11               11 637 2%
St. Blaise              19             32               51 2982 2%
Penryn                6             47               53 3342 2%
St. Dennis                9               9               18 1174 2%
St. Stephen-in-Brannel              17             28               45 3068 1%
St. Enoder                4             24               28 1934 1%
Lanner                6             10               16 1205 1%
Saltash              39             56               95 7281 1%
Launceston              11             42               53 4172 1%
Bodmin              20             61               81 6485 1%
Treverbyn              14             28               42 3383 1%
Helston              11             46               57 4867 1%
Truro                4             95               99 8990 1%
St. Day              –               8                8 810 1%
Callington                9             16               25 2649 1%
Werrington                2             –                2 220 1%
Carn Brea                9             23               32 3554 1%
Liskeard                5             34               39 4459 1%
Kenwyn                5             16               21 2421 1%
Camborne              17             63               80 9383 1%
St. Austell              11             62               73 8950 1%
Torpoint              –             26               26 3533 1%
Botusfleming                1               1                2 322 1%
Redruth                5             30               35 6479 1%
Lesnewth                9               2  N/A  N/A  N/A
Morvah  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A
St. Michael Caerhays  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A
Tremaine  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A

It should be noted there are some second home and holiday lets without valid postcodes and their numbers are:

Areas without a valid postcode             129            123             252

The Success of Cornwall Council’s Webcast

On May 11th 2010, Cornwall Council entered the world of webcast by showing live a meeting of the full council. This as I have said before, was a massive step to open up the council for the world to see. It met with some resistance, but now this has all but disappeared.

Webcasting started with only the full council, but now it has been rolled out to Cabinet meetings and the Strategic Planning Committee. It has also been used on an ad-hoc bases for other important meetings. Sadly, webcasting is not in use for all planning committees, or the various scrutiny committees. To look back at my term of office, getting webcasting implemented is one of my top five achievements.

For the last two years, the viewing figures has grown to something I only could had wished for. For the period of:

  • April 2011 to March 2012: Live views – 14,359 and archive views – 19,193
  • April 2012 to Jan 2013: Live views – 18,400 and 119,768 and archive views

As you can see the increase in people watching live and more impressively, the archived meetings has increased massively . It just goes to show that people are interested in what the council does. A few meeting figures jump out, as on the 16th October 2012, 4,489 people watched live and 7,960 viewed the archive. This meeting was the No-confidence Motion. Another, a full council budget meeting attracted 1,905 live and 8,730 archived views.

However, there could be a sting in the tail. As post the budget decision and the large and avoidable cuts to the comms, strategy and localism budgets could see webcasting being stopped, or at a minimum reduced to only full council.

That would be a massive backward step in making the council more open. It would make it harder for the public to see their Councillor and council in action and more importantly vote at these meetings. It would also harm the council’s reputation for being one of the leading local authorities in making the council more accessible.

The (avoidable) Budget Cuts to Council Services and Staff

On Monday 18th March, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet is meeting to implement the totally unnecessary and avoidable cuts to services and staffing that now will have to be administered post the council’s budget decision.

By not putting up Council Tax for less than the price of a (weekly) chocolate bar, the council has to find an additional £4.672 million in savings, or better described as cuts. This is despite the Section 151 clearly giving her professional view that by going for a headline catching 0% will make services undeliverable, or heavily reduced.

So where are these extra cuts coming from? Are they just the highly-paid consultants that has been the justification for this budget? Put simply, no. These cuts are coming from contracted staff and vital agency staff used to cover for important positions, as without these types of staff, services would not be delivered.

For Adult Care and Support, cuts to the budget amounts to £840,000. The majority will come from staffing which could lead to short notice and I hope temporary closure of services like day care centres who reply on the flexibility of agency staff to cover staff sickness, maternity and other valid reasons. So much so, the Conservative Councillor who has responsibility in this area has resigned from his party in disgust on the budget decision.

Children, Schools and Families will have an eye-watering cut of £906,000. This directorate used agency staff to work within Children’s Social Work and Children’s centres. The savings will be delivered by reviewing and reducing agency staff, extending recruitment times for vacancies, which could potentially lead to saving having to be made to frontline services.

Face to Face services which includes the contact centre will have to find £358,000. Out of that amount, £270,000 will be delivered by reducing the operating and opening times of libraries and one stop shops, and by reducing the opening hours of the contact centre. This will probably be implemented as quickly as possible. This is no spin, this is the harsh reality of the budget.

The Chief Executive’s department has been told to find £674,000 in savings. Various reorganisations will have to take place within that department, which will lead to permanent staff losing their jobs with the remaining staff having to pick up their work load and/or seeing services reduced. At least 18 permanent staff will lose their jobs due to this cut.

Finance, the very people who help keep the council running in a stable financial footing will lose £320,000 from their budget. At least 12 permanent staff will go, resulting in the provision of minimum statutory cover and the loss of preventative work in fraud.

Other departments will see the following cuts; Environment, £387,000; Legal, Democratic and Procurement service, £122,000; Information Services, £488,000. This is on top of the £170 million in cuts that have to be carried out as part of the four-year budget.

No one likes to put up Council Tax, and Cornwall Council has not raised Council Tax for the last two-years. However, costs go up and services have to be provided. You also need people employed to provide those services. This budget has resulted in unnecessary cuts that could have been avoided.

I really believe if there was not an Election so close to the budget, Councillors would have provided a sensible and deliverable budget. But short-term headlines and campaign bragging-rights have been put before service delivery.

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