The success of the first Porthleven Lido Day

Saturday, saw the first Porthleven Lido Day take place. This idea came from a group of residents who came up with this to celebrate the great asset Porthleven has in its harbour. To also mark the occasion of the Baulks being back in place and therefore the fishing boats and other craft could return safely to the water. And to raise a few pounds for the Fisherman’s Association.

The event was a huge success, with hundreds of people turning up to watch the brave souls – you could say mad – take to the water. Having entered the water twice myself I can vouch it was cold.  So much so, a Polar Bear would have been reluctant to enter the water.

I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped organised, supported, took part and turned up to watch. special mention to Sarah and Richard Smith and Suzie Williams to name but a few. However, it was the combined effort of everyone who made this day one to remember, but more importantly, one to repeat again! 

It is true to say a picture paints a thousand words and one local resident, James Kitto has produced an excellent montage of the day. I have also included a few choice pictures capturing the day….. and of course the outfit I wore!

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Porthleven’s first Lido Day

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me in my Edwardian swimming costume!

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The ‘sain’ people entering the ice cold water…

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Caitlin the artist who designed the event poster

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Julia, one of Porthleven’s Town Councillor braves the water

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A shot of the harbour

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a joust on water!

Citizenship for Life Gala Event

The Citizenship for Life programme for 2013/14 has now finally ended with a gala event to celebrate the success of the programme. It has been a year of blood, sweat and the occasional tears for two groups of 12 students and 12 mentors. The year has gone at a blistering pace and started for the Mullion, Falmouth and Penryn Schools (Newquay was the other group) with a visit to RNAS Culdrose. It has gone by in a flash, and it only seems a month or two ago when it all started.

Having helped behind the scenes previous years, this year programme I become a mentor to a lad named Jake. When I look back and think of how it all started, and then finally seeing Jake stand up in a room full of people and give a presentation, you really understand how far these students come on the journey. It is not only the students who gain from this programme, but there is not one mentor who has not learned something too. The mentors were drawn from all walks of life – from the Royal Navy and RAF, to lawyers, architects, PCSO, teachers and business owners to name just a few of the professions of the mentors.

The programme is challenging, emotive and fun. It is meant to be this way to put the students out of their comfort zone. For many, this was the first time they had flown, and visited the capital. Other visits included a visit to the homeless charity Emmaus and a residential care home. In which the students talked to the residents and gained a greater understand on what it is like to be an older person. All the visits and talks not only got the students to think about the wider world, but the mentors too.

During the gala event we heard from all the students. In many of the student presentation there was not a dry eye in sight. I know I was very proud of Jake and how he has learnt from the programme which will stand him in good stead for what ever path his chooses. A huge thanks should go to everyone involved as without them, this programme would not be the success it is.

Lastly, I will mention the sponsors of the event. The whole programme is made possible by business support. There are not grants from the Council, just officers time. So without the sponsors – it costs roughly £2k per student – this programme would not happen. So a huge thank you to this years main sponsors of Ocean Housing and Classic Cottages.

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Me and Jake with our certificates

Changes to library and OSS opening hours

I have said this many times before, but I will repeated it just to make sure people start to understand the position Cornwall Council finds itself in with the budget reductions. The Council has to find £196m in savings in the next four years. This is on top of the £170m previously found. The previous amount was found – just, but this time it will be a lot more difficult and will mean services provision will change, or in some cases stop completely.

I know the service area I cover in my portfolio has seen reductions and stopping of services. It is not nice, and if things funding wise were different, I would not be having to make those difficult choices. But we do, as the £196m is a real game changer, and we cannot do it by a few tweaks here and there.

The Children’s Portfolio is not the only area to feel the pressure, as other portfolios will see changes.

One of the changes to another service is to library and one stop shop (OSS) opening hours. This is being done to make the savings required, but more importantly, stops the Council from actually closing down any of the facilities. You many not like it, but you will like it less if the provision was closed down, and the building sold off. These changes will come into effect on the 1st June 2014

For the Helston area, the library will be closed on Tuesday and Thursday from 1st June. The remaining days the facility will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30am till 5pm; and on Saturday 10am till 1pm. This is a reduction of 25.5 hours per week.

The Helston OSS will also see changes to the opening times. As from the 1st June the OSS will be closed on Wednesday. On the other days – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the OOS will be open 9am till 5pm.  A reduction of 25.5 hours per week. The OSS is not open Saturday or Sunday.

Other areas which have libraries and OOS will also see a reduction, and these are:

Library and OOS new opening times

Library and OOS new opening times

Porthleven Town Council Honours Porthleven’s Harbour Master

At the March meeting of Porthleven Town Council, the Mayor and the Council awarded Porthleven’s Harbour Master, Phil Ward a town plaque; the town council’s highest honour.

It is very rare this honour is given for a single act, but the Mayor and the Town Council felt Phil Ward deserved to be awarded this plaque for his quick thinking actions and conduct during the recent storms that smashed into Porthleven.

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Without Phil’s quick decision to remove the boats from the harbour after the Baulks gave way from the relentless pressure of the sea, the devastation to the fishing boats and pleasure craft would have been far worse.

Furthermore, Phil has been praised by the Town Council for the work carried out after the storms in sorting out the destruction left by this terrible period of weather. I would like to pay tribute to the men who work for Phil, who like the Harbour Master acted quickly to save so many boats.

Fairer Funding for Cornwall’s Schools

Cornwall’s schools have for a long time been underfunded compared to the national average. It makes no sense, and it is simply unfair on our schools and young people. This per-pupil shortfall is £154 less than the national average.

The current school funding system is unfair, and out-of-date. These proposals will address some of the imbalances Cornwall faces in its funding.

However, I welcome the news that the Government has announced £350m worth of extra (national) funding. This extra funding is to try and address the imbalances to the per-pupil funding. This is only currently a proposal and is currently being consulted upon. If the proposals do become reality, this extra funding will be for the 2015/16 period.

For schools in Cornwall, and if these proposals come into force, we will see a rise to the per-pupil funding of £54. This equates to an extra £3.5m. An increase of 1.2% on previous years. However it is still £100 short of the national average.

Currently Cornwall receives £4,397 per-pupil. Hopefully from 2015/16 this will rise to 4,451. Plymouth and Devon also see a rise. For Plymouth the amount goes from £4,364 to £4,380 – an extra 500k (0.5% rise). Devon will see a rise from £4,156 to £4,345 – an extra £16.2m (4.5% rise).

It is just a pity the proposed changes do not include Early Years and Special Needs funding. Which the funding formula also needs to be addressed

Though let’s celebrate the positives, and say at least it’s increased funding, that will benefit our schools in Cornwall. As only 62 out of the 153 LA’s got this extra funding.

Though just how far ‘fair funding’ goes is apparent when you look at the per-pupil funding for Westminster. They will see a uplift of £199 per-pupil, considering they are already £1,112 about the national average!

POOP – Poo out of Porthleven

I totally fail to understand why dog owners do not pick up the poo of their dog. It is disgusting, and lately in Porthleven, it seems many people have decided to be irresponsible and leave the dog poo where their dog has deposited. I often hear the cry – ‘it is not my dog’ however, the amount of faeces left on the pavement and in the open spaces is more than the work of one or two dogs. Or dare I say it 10 dogs with bad diets.

Another ‘defence’ I hear is there are not enough bins. Well, I will counter that on two counts. The first, is there are over 25 bins (mapped 31 but just need to confirm) in Porthleven. These are not just dog bins, but other waste bins which dog mess can be deposited into. Put simply, dog mess doesn’t just have to go into dog bins.

The second part is even if you cannot find a bin at your exact position you dog deposits, you can either A) carry it until you find a bin; or B) shock-horror, take it home with you and place it in your own dustbin. It is not rocket science.

Residents have had enough too, and very recently have taken to Facebook to vent their anger at the irresponsible – yet unnamed – owners. So much so, a new Facebook group has started called POOP – ‘Poo out of Porthleven.’

I very much welcome this, as the residents of Porthleven need to help if we want to eradicate the blight of dog mess on our streets and open spaces.

Nine dog wardens are employed by Cornwall Council, so the chances of a dog warden being in the right place when someone fails to pick up is slim. However, if a resident witnesses someone failing to pick up after their dog, and they are willing to report this, then Cornwall Council will issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) to the offender. Though the witness might have sign a statement for use in court if the offender does not pay the FPN.

In the meantime, I have been speaking to various officers at Cornwall Council on what support they can give the local community to tackle this issue. I am pleased to say the Council is very willing to help the community. This can be means of posters to be displayed around the town and in areas where it is like walking through a poo minefield. Training can also be delivered to residents on how to fill in the reporting card.

Cornwall Council runs courses to train people up to issue fixed penalty notices but it is best for them to be employees of Porthleven Town Council. The rules allow citizens, but this is fraught with difficultes.

Once everything is in place, targeted patrols of particular areas will be undertaken. These trained people could team up with Cornwall Council’s enforcement staff so they can put into action what they have learned and hopefully catch a few people.

It is all well and good moaning about it, but people need to stand up, and report those who they see not picking up after their dog. Without this citizen help, we are never going to solve this issue. However, from the response I have seen on Facebook, I believe there is a willing group of people who want to solve this issue. The danger is, you put up a few posters, it all stops for a while, then it returns. This has to be a long term plan.

The Town Council will be discussing the matter at its next meeting on Thursday 13th March at 7pm. The public are very welcome to attend.

Real Government funding for fishermen or just tokenism?

The Government has announced there will be a pot of money available to help fishermen who have lost gear in the recent storms. At face value I welcome this announcement as I was beginning to think the industry were getting left out with support.

However reading through the details, this isn’t actually new Government money, but recycled money from the European Fishing Fund. Which could already be applied for! In fact, by using this money for those affected by the storm, you are taking money away from other parts of the fishing industry. As the £11m
EFF is used for non-mandatory safety equipment, engine replacement, fish handling and chilling equipment to name but a few.

It is also a grant scheme, so you would have to put in an application and go through the grant process. Which is never a quick process and you have to wait till your grant is approved before you can actually buy/replace any lost equipment.

Furthermore, the amount that can be applied for – up to £5000 – is a very small amount if you actually look at the cost of replacing the lost gear. £5000 is better than nothing, but it not far off tokenism. As I will explain.

Talking to local fishermen who have lost gear, I asked if could be provided with details on the cost of gear he has lost; which one fisherman has kindly done so.

For instance, the cost of a standard pot is around £50. The larger ones are £75 each. The back-lines for the pots are £47 per coil.

This ‘new’ funding would not cover his initial loss of 83 pots – 60 small 23 large – as that comes to £5,430. Plus, at the time of talking, the fisherman is still missing 18 strings. Each string contains 25 pots. If those strings are not recoverable that’s a £22,500 loss and that’s without adding in the cost of back lines and just using the costing for a small pot.

Even those pots which are recoverable, they will need to be repaired and re-lined. This is just on an 8 metre boat operating 650 pots. How can a small operator fund the losses, especially with the crabbing season really starting at the end of this month.

Now you can see why this fund is more like tokenism and not serious aid and support to an industry which has suffered due to the weather. What the Government must do is support the ‘farmers of the sea’ with real financial support as this industry is a major food provider in the UK.

Without proper aid, this industry will find itself again on the rocks and in real danger of foundering. Please Government, stop saying you are going to help, if you are not actually going to do so!

Reporting Storm Damage in Porthleven

Since December, Porthleven has been battered and smashed by 15 storms. Overall, and compared to other places, Porthleven Harbour and sea-defences along the coast have held up – just. However, it will be several months until the full impact will be understood as the more unseen damage will become apparent as things settle down.

Over the weekend, a large hole appeared at the bottom of the sea-defences below the road leading around the institute (clock tower). I reported this on Monday, and I am very pleased to see repair work has started by Cormac.

 

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Yet today, the town clerk has reported to Cornwall Council and me on further damage near Blue-Buoy Steps. This like the other hole will be investigated and where possible repaired.

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If anyone comes across any damage to the sea-defences whilst out and about, could they safely take a picture and report this damage to me. That way I can get the area assessed, and get the repairs carried out by the relevant landowner.

Porthleven Road (B3304) Update

There have been several rumours going around Porthleven that the Penrose N & S Retaining Wall scheme is currently way behind schedule.

This is not the case, as today I asked for an update (as I did two weeks ago) and have received an email by the Senior Engineer and the Supervision Team Leader for this scheme. They have informed me that despite some complications with the piling operations the scheme is still running to time and the road should be reopened before the Easter bank holiday weekend as originally agreed.

Lets not underestimate the scale of the work being carried out. For instance, 120 piles have been inserted, each able to 56t of weight. It is a credit to the Cormac team(s) involved in this work that it is still on schedule despite many of the Cormac teams being involved in the flood/storm damage and recovery.

Cornwall Council launches ‘traffic light’ tool for positive relationships and healthy sexual development

Cornwall has always been an area of innovation and doing things first, so it is hardly surprising when Cornwall Council  becomes the first local authority in the country to formally adopt a new “traffic light tool” designed to help children and young people to adopt positive relationships and healthy sexual development.

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Me giving my support to the tool, and how it is important to have good RSE in Cornwall.

Brook’s Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool, adapted with permission from Family Planning Queensland (2012), with initial funding from the Department of Education, uses a “traffic light” approach to help practitioners working with children and young people distinguish healthy sexual development from potentially harmful behaviours. 

The tool,  formally launched today at a special conference funded by the Council and held at Truro’s Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre, uses “green” to reflect healthy development; “amber” to identify a behaviour outside healthy sexual behaviour and “ red” to highlight a cause for immediate concern. With very little guidance currently available for professionals, the development of the Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool has been warmly welcomed by both national and local agencies and professional bodies working with vulnerable children and young people.

It is a real pleasure to work alongside Brook.  As Brook helps young people to make informed, active choices about their personal and sexual relationships so they can enjoy their sexuality without harm. They are just one of the organisation in Cornwall who work together to give better advice and guidance to our young people. The CEO of Brook, Simon Blake has blogged HERE

A short film made by young people talking about relationships, sexual health and sex is HERE

I am struck by people’s willingness to talk about the weather – to the point it is a national obsession; but relationships, sexual heath and sex are for many still taboo subjects – only to be spoken in hushed voices.  We have a culture in which we don’t talk about growing up, relationships and sexual health , sex gets swept under the carpet; teenage pregnancies and STIs rise and sexual assaults go unreported.

Young people are telling us loud and clear that they want to hear more from us about growing up, healthy relationships and positive sexual health. This is not just from professionals, but more importantly from their parents. Peer research undertaken in 2013 found young people in Cornwall wanted more information on services, relationships, resisting pressure and how to say no. 

If we don’t talk to our children and young people about relationships and sex they will go looking for this information else where, potentially from inaccurate, distorted and indeed harmful sources.

It is a myth our young people do not want to talk to their parents, but we have to make sure parents have the right information with the ability to ask questions themselves. As we know that children whose parents are comfortable talking to them about relationships and sexual health are less likely to participate in risky sexual behaviour. So our work should not end with proactively supporting children, we should be proactively supporting parents and carers to play this vital role in their children’s development.

Simon Blake - CEO of Brook; Felicity Owens - Director of Public Health, Lex- Teenage pregnacy co-ordinator; Me; young people and Ed and Trudi from Brook and Kate from Children's Services.

Simon Blake – CEO of Brook; Felicity Owens – Director of Public Health, Lex- Teenage pregnancy co-ordinator; (Me); young people Trudi and Ed from Brook and Kate (2nd right) from Children’s Services.

Evidence tells us that good relationship and sex education from a range of sources is a protective factor against unplanned pregnancy and STIs. Lets also dispel the common myth of young people ‘all at it.’ This is not true, as the age at which people first have sex in the UK is 16 (and above)years old. This figure has changed very little over the past decade (NATSAL 2013).

Embedding positive relationships and sexual health into our understanding of wellbeing for children and young people is vital for their happiness both now and in the future.  By Implementing this tool across Cornwall will give practitioners the skills and resources they need to support our children and young people’s healthy development as well as to respond effectively to risks.

It is our collective responsibility to make sure all children and young people develop the skills and knowledge to make positive choices now and in the future.  This is why the Brook Traffic Light System is so important to help identify risky behaviour early, and not demonize those perfectly normal actions of our young people.

The young people today are not only the adults of the future but the parents of the future.

Further information on Brook can be found HERE.

Brook services provide free and confidential sexual health information, contraception, pregnancy testing, advice and counselling, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and outreach and education work, reaching over 280,000 young people every year.  www.brook.org.uk. Ask Brook helpline 0808 802 1234.