The Start of Cornwall Council’s Budget Process

On Monday 2nd September will see the start of the formal process of Cornwall Council’s Budget with a briefing for Councillors. The previous four years have been very painful and have seen huge reductions in the Council’s provision. For those who think we are out of the pain, I am sorry to tell you there is yet more pain to come.

The Council is looking to make a further £24m in savings for the period of 2014/15 just to balance the books. This is part of a total saving of £196m by 2019. This figure is a very big ouch. It also has me very worried on how we as a Council are going to meet these savings. As during the last four years the so called ‘fat’ has been trimmed to nothing. And back office function have been reduced to a point there is no real room for more trimming.

Now it is the turn of Councillors via the various Portfolio Advisory Committees (PAC) to look in-depth on the budget. Staff have been asked for their views too. As have the public, who are being asked to turn up and take part in the various public meetings that have been scheduled for September.

Be under no illusions, the forthcoming budget will be tough, but the following years are going to be very painful indeed. Let’s hope the Government sees the damage it is causing in reducing the funding to council’s before it is too late.

Massive turnout for Porthleven’s Torchlight Procession.

After a gap of a couple of years, Porthleven’s torchlight procession took place on Bank Holiday Monday. Having been involved with the procession before, I knew it always had a good turnout. However, I never though the turnout would be this big.

When Porthleven Band led the procession up Fore Street and could no longer be seen, Fore Street was still full of people and still more people were joining the procession. It was an amazing sight. I reckon in trying to do a headcount near 600 – if not more – took part in the event. And the community group sold 360 torches.

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The success of the event is down to the hard-work of Porthleven’s Community Group. They did not do this on their own because this event was a partnership with Porthleven School PTA and Porthleven Band.

Thanks should also go to Suzie at Four Crows Gallery who sold the candles leading up to the event. Naomi our local youth worker and Bruno one of the local lifeguards who acted as first aiders. And Porthleven’s Town Warden who helped act as marshall during the event.

It would be remiss of me not to mention Ann Minors, who almost singlehandedly re-introduced torchlight many years ago after Gala Week disappeared from the calendar. Her previous hard-work helped make torchlight the success it is.

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Since the event, I have had many many fantastic comments from people. Many have said how they could not remember a bigger turnout. How it was great to have the sing-song at the end of the event.

Those involved should be very proud of their achievements in organising and running the event. It just shows what can be achieved when people get together.

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Shrubberies Hill Development Approved

Today, the West Planning Committee of Cornwall Council met to discuss and decide on whether the controversial application would be approved, or not. The application has been emotive and has divided Porthleven. For me is one of the most difficult applications I have had to deal with.

During the meeting both sides spoke with passion on why it should be refused or approved. Questions were asked from the committee members and clarifications were sought on aspects of the plan. I made my representation that highlighted the concerns of the objectors; like the AONB and road structure. I also spoke of the need for local needs housing in the area. No site is ever perfect, and it could be argued other sites could be used, but in planning terms, these are not available.

A recommendation was proposed for approval. And after more committee members spoke, it was time to vote. The vote was taken and six Councillors voted in favour, with six voting against. With a hung vote, it was decided by the Chairmans casting vote. I would point out the Chairman did not vote first time round. So it was approved subject to the 106 and other planning matter by seven votes to six.

Now a decision has been made, I hope the community works together to make sure the plans are delivered in line with the application. I know for many, this is going to be difficult.

Porthleven’s Torchlight Procession is back!

On Bank Holiday (26th) Monday, Porthleven’s torchlight procession will take place after a gap of a couple of years. Previously this event has been one of the highlights in Porthleven’s calendar. And now it is back, I hope will go on to be bigger and better.

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This event is back due to the co-operation between Porthleven Community Group and Porthleven School PTA. The original organiser, Ann Minors has also been part of this new partnership. Like previous years, a collection will be made on behalf of Cornwall Hospice. It is great to see various Porthleven organisations working together to achieve something for everyone.

The torches for the event will be sold for £2, and all the money from the sale of the torches will be reinvested for the following years torches. However to start the ball rolling again I agreed to use some of my community grant money to pay for the torches.

The torches will be on sale from Friday 23rd at various location in Porthleven. They will also be sold from 12 midday from the harbour head and at the event.

The event will start at 8pm near the Harbour Inn, and the procession will be led by Porthleven Town Band. The band will lead the procession though a designated route that takes in many of the streets of Porthleven; finally parading down past the institute and finishing at the starting point.

Hopefully I will see you there.

Second Testing of Up-lighting the Institute

On Friday, the second testing for up-lighting the Bickford-Smith Institute took place. This time we looked at different colours of lighting at various angles.

Both types of lighting looked good as you can see by the pictures below. However before a final decision is made on which lighting is used we are asking for people’s views. After the final decision is made, it is hoped the lighting to be in place by October.

Here is a selection of pictures:

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Do you want to be the new CEO of Cornwall Council?

At the last meeting of the entire membership of Cornwall Council, Councillors voted to set up a Chief Officer’s Panel which would have the task of recruiting a CEO of Cornwall Council. Currently, the council has an interim CEO.

This panel has met twice in the last couple of weeks to determine the approach to the recruitment of a permanent Chief Executive. It is chaired by Councillor Fiona Ferguson, and is politically balanced in line with the make up of the council and the council’s constitution.

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The panel has agreed that the role should be open to internal and external applicants at the same time. The panel has appointed an independent external recruitment agency to assist them, alongside the support and advice from our own internal recruitment team.

To begin the process a couple of teaser adverts will appear in the Municipal Journal (MJ) this week and next, the post will be formally advertised in the MJ and online in the first week of September, with a closing date of approximately 22 September. It’s intended the final selection process will take place over two days on 17 and 18 October.

Harbour Road Public Toilets Reopen

The public toilets along Harbour Road have now reopened. These toilets are now under the stewardship of Porthleven Town Council who will be responsible for opening/closing, cleaning and maintenance. A full refurbishment of these toilets will be carried out later this year.

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Of course in an ideal world, Cornwall Council should be running these toilets and others like them. However, it is not an ideal world, and rather than see these toilets closed and the building sold off, the town council took them over. Credit should go to the town council for this action.

Long term delays likely on the Porthleven Road (B3304)

I have been informed by Cormac – Cornwall Council’s Highway Department – that there will be long term installation of temporary traffic lights on the Porthleven Road (B3304) at the foot of Penrose Hill.

Recent monitoring of the road and retaining walls at the foot of Penrose Hill, it has been decided that traffic should be restricted to using the centre of the road only. This is due to problems with the retaining walls either side and the result of their movement has led to visible cracking of the carriageway surface.

Although sudden failure of the walls has been considered unlikely it is felt prudent to keep traffic loading to the centre of the road and away from the walls. In order to do this, temporary traffic lights are to be installed which will be running 24 hours a day until such time as the walls can be strengthened.

These retaining walls were already identified within the bridge and retaining wall strengthening programme and had been programmed for January 2014 start on site.

Anyone travelling along this stretch of road will see parts of the road has slightly collapsed. I asked if the lights had to be installed this early, especially during the holiday period. I was told it had to be done to reduce the fault being made worse. Even though the work has been booked in for January, I have requested the remedial work is done as soon as possible. Hopefully before January.

I will keep you informed when I have further information.

Shrubberies Hill Public Meeting

The public meeting for the planning application for 60 dwellings at Shrubberies Hill took place last night.

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The meeting was very well attended by around 100 Porthleven residents. Out of those residents 25 spoke about the application after a short presentation from the planning officer.

From those 25, 16 spoke against the application and nine spoke in favour. Both sides put their cases well and with passion. It was good to see both sides respect the others viewpoint without resulting to any heckling. The Chairman of the planning committee also made the point at the end of the meeting on how well people had conducted themselves.

The questions raised from the meeting will be addressed in the final report. The date for the decision for this application will be held on the 27th August at 2pm in the Guildhall, Penzance. This is a public meeting so all can attend.