Social Landlord uses private enforcement company for a car park

On Monday I was made aware by concerned residents of No Parking notices and penalty charging notices by a private enforcement company having been erected in the location of a car park on the Bulwark Estate, Helston. These sign was erected by Sanctuary Housing who are one of the main social housing landlords in this area.

Parking in this area is a known issue. This is because when the estate was originally built as military married quarters there was limited car ownership and therefore only minimal off-road parking was made available. In fact, on-street parking is rather limited too, especially with increased car ownership.

So why did the housing association think erecting signs like this would be a good idea? After all, the estate is a mixture of private and social rental, and home ownership. This car park is used by all residents, including visitors to the estate. To be fair the housing association did consult with its own tenants pre-Christmas, but did not engage with the wider estate to see how those residents would feel. This is a huge oversight as this car park is used by all on the estate.

Bulwark Signs

The question is do Sanctuary Housing have the powers to do this? The answer is no they do not. The reason why they cannot stop anyone without a permit is because this car park is part of the maintained highway. Therefore signs and enforcement notices like this cannot be erected. This has been confirmed by Cornwall Council’s Highway Dept. who acted swiftly to confirm the legality of the car park.

I will be writing to Sanctuary Housing as will Cornwall Council informing them to remove the signs. Furthermore, I am concerned that if any fines have been issued, these are likely to be illegally issued and should be cancelled. If anyone has been issued with a fine from this car park, please get in touch with me.

 

Cornwall’s MYP Election under way and it is a record breaker

The elections for Cornwall’s Member of the Youth Parliament (MYP) are under way. Officially the election started on Monday, and will run till Friday 6th February, The results will be made public on Saturday 7th at election event at County Hall. This election event would be run like it is a general or local election.

I said previously, Cornwall Council is conducting this election electronically, with all votes cast online. The aim of voting online is to make it easier for young people to cast their votes. The team behind the election has done a fantastic job in getting all but a couple of eligible schools signed up and engaged in the process. I am really proud of the team behind this election.

So far, the team have issued over 32,000 individual voting codes. This is a staggering amount of codes issued. So it is looking like the 2015 MYP elections will be a record breaker with potential votes cast. It is great to see 19 candidates standing for election. Again, a record breaker. To vote and to stand for office, you need to be aged between 11 and 18.

I am certainly looking forward to the results event, but more importantly, working with Cornwall’s MYP’s in representing young people of Cornwall. For more information on the elections, including voting, and the list of candidates click HERE

Consultation on Cornwall’s Renewable Energy Planning Document

The great majority of people understand the need to look at alternative forms of energy production. We know one day oil and gas will run out and the mere mention of a nuclear power station is met with stiff restriction and worries of a meltdown. An alternative form of energy production is renewable energy. Renewable covers wind, wave and photovoltaic technologies

From my experience, the concept of renewable energy has wide support. However, when you breakdown the different forms of this technology you will get a far greater different of option. Furthermore, despite the wide-spread support of renewable energy, this support can evaporate when a site is proposed. It is like ‘yeah we support renewable energy, but not near me.’

In trying to get a policy on renewable energy right, Cornwall Council is consulting on a draft renewable energy supplementary planning document (SPD). In this draft document, it explains The SPD contains guidance on a range of renewable energy technologies. It explains what community ownership means, and how it might be considered as part of a planning application. It also sets out guidance on community engagement in renewable energy projects before planning applications are submitted. The SPD also contains detailed guidance on specific considerations, such as landscape and cumulative impact (in particular for wind turbines and solar farms). Once approved, this document will support the emerging Local Plan.

To read the SPD click HERE. The document is further broken-down in three annexes. These are:

Annex 1: An assessment of the landscape sensitivity to on-shore wind energy and large-scale photovoltaic development in Cornwall

  • Appendix 1: Landscape Sensitivity and Strategy Matrices for each Landscape Character Are

Annex 2: Cumulative Impact Assessment Guidance for Cornwall – Wind Turbines

Annex 3: Cumulative Impact Assessment Guidance for Cornwall – Solar Farms

If you feel inclined to comment, both positively and negatively, you should email to renewableenergy@cornwall.gov.uk or posted to Dan Nicholls, Principal Development Officer, Planning Delivery Team, Cornwall Council, Circuit House, St Clement Street, Truro TR1 1EB, with the document you are responding to clearly identified within your correspondence. Any queries should be directed to renewableenergy@cornwall.gov.uk or 01872 224555.

The consultation will be open until Friday 27 March 2015. The Council welcomes your comments. Please ensure you get your comments to the relevant email or postal address by 5pm on Friday 27 March.

Helston Town Council gifts Guy Gibson portrait to Porthleven Town Council

On Saturday, The Mayors of Porthleven and Helston, with a ensemble of Councillors from each town, met in a ceremony to ‘handover’ a portrait of Guy Gibson VC that has for many a year rested in the Mayor of Helston’s parlor. Why did Helston have a portrait of Gibson? This goes back to a time when Porthleven and Helston had one administrative body and then in the early 1980’s, Porthleven ceded from Helston and formed its own administrative body – Porthleven Town council.

However in a local version of the Entente Cordiale, The Mayor of Helston in conversation with the Mayor of Porthleven felt this portrait should rest in Porthleven as Gibson was after all  is a ‘Son of Porthleven.’ The ceremony was a great affair, with Porthleven Town Council breaking out its best (and matching) china in welcoming Helston Town Council.

The Mayor of Helston gave a speech on the history of the painting and how the original (which was also gifted) was vandalised when a group of sailors broke into the Mayor’s parlor back in the 1990’s. The original portrait hung in the former West Cornwall School until its closure in 1967, and then thereafter rested in the mayor’s parlor. The replacement portrait will now have pride of place in the council chamber of Porthleven Town Council.

The handover...

The handover…

 

The Case for Cornwall and more powers

Should Cornwall Council be given the opportunity to take on more responsibility which are currently administered in London? The Council thinks so, and has compiled a document called the Case for Cornwall to allow the Council to engage with the Government and start a conversation on devolution.

In the Case for Cornwall document, it sets the scene and how the Council would like to discuss the certain options. Of course all this depends on if the Government is listening and is really serious about devolution.  The report to the Council is HERE; the Case for Cornwall document HERE; and the options are HERE.

For those who are thinking why there is no mention of an Assembly is because this document sets the scene and is a building block, rather than the ‘hey, we want it all and our own self-governing body.’ There is no merit of going in ‘All Choughs Blazing’  and getting the document dismissed quickly and thrown in the bin, the Case for Cornwall explains in a measured way what Cornwall could do. Does the document cover everything? No, but it is a damn good starting point.

Of course, the Council is a democratic body, and if the Council voted to have the proposals for an Assembly included, it could. However, after a passionate amendment from Mebyon Kernow (MK) who called for the idea of an Assembly being included in the document, a vote was taken with 14 people supporting the MK amendment. There were two other amendments from the Tory’s and Labour. These were both lost, with 22 people supporting the Tory amendment and (I counted) eight supporting the Labour amendment.  Finally a vote was taken on the Case for Cornwall and the vast majority of the Council supported the proposals.

As I said before, all these proposals rest on the Governments willingness to engage with Cornwall Council. We in Cornwall also have to be realistic that Cornwall is not the only area asking for more devolution and powers. I do also understand the Government will have a tricky path to navigate on this whole issue as it cannot be seen as giving too much to one and not enough to other areas. And of course, the whole devolution agenda could dramatically change (both positive and negatively) post the General Election in May.

I guess we play the wait and see game.

Government lets down schools in Cornwall on UIFSM – again

I have made it no secret that the implementation (thought support the concept) of the Universal Infant Free School Meal (UIFSM) has been a shambles.This is not due to the hard work of Cornwall Council, Cormac and schools who in a tight widow manage to upgrade 112 school kitchens, but how this whole programme has been funded by the Government/DfE

The cost of the work to upgrade 112 kitchens – out of 236 primary schools – totalled £1.4m but, and this is a big but, the DfE only funded £846,000 of this amount. This resulted in Cornwall Council have to go cap-in-hand to the Schools Forum who luckily and thankfully agreed to fund the £555,000 shortfall. This was not free money, as if the UIFSM was funded properly, then this money could have been spent elsewhere on Education.  However, even this additional funded from the Schools Forum was still not enough to do some of the schools that had functioning kitchens, but really needed to be upgraded. So sadly, these kitchens were not upgraded.

Late last year, there was a glimmer of hope on UIFSM funding with the Government announcing a further pot of funding for kitchens. This would enable those schools that narrowly missed out to have the kitchen upgrades they needed. Cornwall Council put in a strong bid for six schools totalling £360,000. I was really hopeful the Government would support our request, but today, the news was not good. Out of the six bids, five have been turned down. I learnt initially not from an email or letter from the DfE, but from their website.

On a positive, I am pleased Stithians Primary School has had its bid approved, but it is very bad news for the five bids that did not. The maintained primary schools which have been let down are: Menheniot, Pencoys, Pensans, St Agnes and St Francis CE Primary Schools. Without this funding, there is no clear way on how we are going to be able to cover this. In fact, there is a real danger these schools will not get the upgrades they need unless we find the funding from elsewhere. This will result in other areas of the Council’s school budget having to be reduced to pay for this – even if this funding can be found!

I am really annoyed and incredibly disappointed by this Government decision: or should I say shortsightedness.  This is a Government policy which has been dropped on Local Authorities to deal with. The implementation of this policy has been made more difficult because the policy has not been thought out and not funded properly. Local Authorities up and down the land are having to deal with reduced budgets and increased demand on services, but thinks it is ok to add to our budgetary woes with dumping other problems.

I wonder if a Government Minister would like to explain to the parents, pupils and teaching staff at those five schools on the Governments failure to properly fund their idea.  This is the second time the Council and the people of Cornwall have been let down by the lack of Government funding for Univerisal Infant Free School Meals………once was bad enough, but this, well…. is beyond a joke.

One lane is closed on the A394 due to collapsed road near Newham Farm, Helston

On the 19th January 2015 the wall supporting the A394 Helston to Penzance road above Newham Farm collapsed. As a result, an emergency lane closure has been established to the eastbound lane of the A394 to protect the travelling public.

The lane is likely to remain closed at this location for several months whilst CORMAC Solutions Ltd carry out further investigations followed by the implementation of an appropriate remedial solution on behalf of Cornwall Council. I am hopeful the road will be open as soon as possible, but the engineers need to access the area fully as there maybe unknown issues that have yet to be uncovered.

As soon as I have more details, I will let you know.

Newham two

Go paperless billing with Cornwall Council

The internet, love it or loath it, it is now a part of our lives. We do our shopping, check our bank accounts and access our utility bills via the internet. You may not know it, but you can also access many Cornwall Council services via the internet. These include planning, but did you know you can also use the internet to view your council tax, business rates, housing benefit or council tax support. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Sign up for e-billing so you are no longer sent paper bills
  • Sign up for e-letters so you are no longer sent paper benefit notifications
  • See full details of your account or claim
  • See how your charges or benefits are worked out
  • See when your payments are due
  • Set up a direct debit or make a payment for council tax or business rates
  • Check your council tax discounts and allowances
  • Notify the Council you are moving (Council tax only)

Council Tax can be accessed HERE

Business Rates HERE

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support HERE

Cornwall’s Election for Young People

With all the local and national coverage you certainly know there will be an election happening later this year.  However, before we get to the May General Election, there is an important election that will be taking place between 28th January and 6th February. What is this election? Well readers, it the equally important election for the Members of the Youth Parliament.

There are almost 120,000 children and young people up to the age of 18 in Cornwall, and these elections are a real opportunity for them to help shape their own future. Research shows that older people are traditionally the largest group who vote in national elections which means that their concerns and issues are taken seriously by the main political parties.  I want to see decision makers locally and nationally listen to and act on the concerns and issues facing young people and taking part in these elections is a good start in making this happen.

In November 2014, I made this comment that n the 2010 elections over 75% of over 65’s voted and the receive free bus travel, free tv license’s, free prescription, winter fuel allowance and many more items. Only 44% of 18 to 25’s voted, they had EMA taken away, tuition fees tripped and youth services are being slashed. If you don’t vote you don’t have a voice.

The MYP election takes place every two years in Cornwall and fits in with the national programme. The process formally begins in the autumn term where candidates are recruited through schools, colleges, youth projects, and other youth organisations across Cornwall.  The elections and candidates are then promoted through schools and projects from January into February when the election takes place.  All young people in Cornwall aged between 11 and 18 can stand as candidates and vote in the election. Those succesful candidates take up office in February.

Cornwall’s MYP election will also be the first year voting will be completed using an online format; young people will need a Unique Voting Code (UVC) to enable them to complete the voting process. This is exciting, as if we can organise electronic for young people, then why can’t we do this for town and parish, county and if possible, national and European elections. The number of votes cast will be monitored daily and published on the website. In the 21st Century, we really to look at alterative methods of voting and one I think should stand alongside the Polling Station and the postal vote is electronic voting.

To help encourage schools and colleges to get involved in the elections process this year there will be a Democracy Award Scheme with schools and colleges taking part receiving a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award based on their level of participation. To receive a Bronze Award 50% of young people in the school or college must vote in the election; to receive a Silver Award 70% must vote, rising to 90% for the Gold Award.  The online voting site will monitor the turnout for each school and college, with progress reports being sent to each one during the voting period.

The Candidates for the MYP Elections are: http://www.mi-event.info/event/cornwall-myp-elections2015

Let’s hope these MYP elections have a great turnout with as many young people taking part by voting. It is important to #haveyoursay

 

 

Cornwall Council proposes car parking tariffs for Porthleven and Helston

I know from experience when it comes to car parking tariffs and how much you should charge tends to be an emotive subject. Tariffs are blamed for many things including killing town centres. So when setting a tariff you have to take into consideration a lot of factors. One of the factors in setting a tariff is Cornwall Council needs to have an income from them. Why does it need the revenue? The answer is quite simple, it needs the money to pay for services you and I receive. As without the car parking income, the money would have to be found from elsewhere. If this money could not be found, then services would change or stop.

For the last 18 months, there has been no real change to the car parking tariffs. It was felt that a period of time was needed to have some stability in tariff setting without the need to change every year. However, for 2015/16 there is proposed a series of changes to the tariffs in Cornwall Council car parks. On this topic, I will only be speaking about the car parks in Porthleven and Helston. As they are the only tariff details I have on and these two towns is the area my Electoral Division covers.

The changes to the tariffs in Porthleven are small. There will be the reintroduction of an up-to one hour change, and this will be set at 60p. The Summer tariffs 15th March till the 31st October will be:

  • 1 to 2 hours £1.40
  • 2 to 3 hours £3.30
  • 3 to 4 hours £4.40
  • 24 hours £5
  • Weekly £35

The charging period will be from 9am till 4pm seven days a week. The winter tariffs (from 1st November till 14th March) will be £1 all day. Outside the charging period the car park is free to use.

For Helston’s car parks the tariffs are slightly more complex due to the different usage and lease agreements, but these are as follows:

  • Castle Green – Monday to Saturday £2.20 all day; Sunday free to park. Season tickets – £56/3 months; £105/6 months; £200/annual and unreserved permit (I believe resident) £38 for the year
  • Cattle Market – Monday to Saturday; up to one hour 60p; 1 to 2 hours £1.40; 2 to 3 hours £3.30; 3 to 4 hours £4.40, 24 hours £5. Weekly £30. Free to park on Sundays. Charging period 9am till 4pm. Season tickets £104/3 months; £197/6 months and £375 for annual.
  • Penrose Road – Reserved permit £203 annual
  • Trengrouse Way  and Trengrouse Way Extension – Monday to Saturday; up to one hour 60p; 1 to 2 hours £1.40 and 2 to 3 hours £3.30. Charging period 9 am till 4 pm. Free to park on Sundays. Note this is a short stay car park.
  • Tyacke Road – Monday to Saturday; up to one hour 60p; 1 to 2 hours £1.40; 2 to 3 hours £3.30; 3 to 4 hours £4.40, 24 hours £5.50; weekly £33; Free to park on Sundays. Charging period 9am till 4pm. Season tickets £104/3 months; £197/6 months and £375 for annual.
  • Fairground – Free

These new car park tariffs are currently out for public consultation which runs until the 30th January. If you have a view on these new tariffs, then you can give your view in writing or email to: Cornwall Council to Parking Consultation, Cornwall Council Parking Services, Po Box 664, Truro, TR1 9DH or email at parking@cornwall.gov.uk

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