Cornwall’s Teenage Conception Rates Drop – Again

Today the ONS released the annual conception data for 2013, this data includes under 18 and under 16 conception data. It is good news for Cornwall. I know this may seem ‘old’ data but this is the latest data available.

For Cornwall, the conception rate for under 18’s was 21.3 per 1000 women, down from 26.1 per 1000 women in 2012. The great news is this was a decrease of 17.8% in the number of conceptions from 242 to 199 in a twelve month period and a 41.6% decrease since the baseline was set in 1998. Furthermore, the conception rate for under 16’s was 3.9 per 1000 women, a decrease of 15% in the last 12 months from 4.6 in 2012. This means the  data for 2013 has seen the largest percentage decrease in one year for Cornwall since 1998. It is important to continue this momentum or we could see ourselves having increase of teenage conception rates.

Teenage Conception Rates 1998 till 2012

Teenage Conception Rates 1998 till 2012

The reason Cornwall has been successful in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies is down to contraception and condoms though the improved access and support to getting condoms though the C-Card Scheme. Education which provides accurate, high-quality and timely information that helps people to make informed decisions about relationships, sex and sexual health. Early intervention supporting is another key factor as is supporting young people to reducing teenage conceptions. There are many exciting pieces of work being delivered and planned in reducing teenage pregnancy and supporting young parents, and as our environment changes.

Cornwall’s rate is edging closer to the average rate for the Southwest region 21.2/1000 for 2013 and 24.8/1000 for 2012 and has increased the gap in a positive way between Cornwall and the National Average. The National Average currently stands a 24.5/1000 for 2013 and 27.9/1000 for 2012. Cornwall has also exceeded both in terms of achieved percentage change since the 1998 baseline.

It is important to note that data can fluctuate but we can feel positive about this downward trend, so we must still do all we can to reduce the rates. The full data can be accessed here ONS Conception Statistics, England and Wales – 2013.–england-and-wales/index.html


Kernow King’s Sex Tape a finalist in the UK Sexual Health Awards

A film produced by Health Promotion Service at Cornwall Council and starring Cornish comedian, Kernow King has been shortlisted for a national award at the UK Sexual Health Awards. The award in which the film has been shortlisted for is the Pamela Sheridan Award, which recognises pioneering approaches to relationships, sex and wellbeing education. The film was short listed because the awards panel liked the innovative approach to exploring issues with young people and use of humour to make the resource more accessible.

I am really proud of the work by the team behind the film, Matt and Emma, the star, Kernow King and all those who gave up their time to produce this outstanding educational film. It is excellent that the Kernow King’s sex tape and resource has been shortlisted against tough competition. I believe the resource is so strong because of the involvement of Cornwall’s young people, strong partnership, commitment and drive from Health Promotion Service, Cornwall College and Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust Sexual Health Hub, of course, the involvement of the Kernow King himself. Relationships and Sex Education is incredibly important and this resource is another step in ensuring young people are getting the information they need to stay safe and healthy, in a fun, innovative and engaging way.

The reason behind the film is young people are disproportionately affected by poor sexual health. In Cornwall 16-24 year olds account for 67% of chlamydia diagnosis. This film helps to show getting tested is not the horror story that often does the rounds, but shows why if in doubt, you should get tested and take more precautions. Furthermore, young people aged 16-24 are more likely to sexually active than their younger teenage peers, therefore increasing their risk of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. A gap emerged within Relationship, Sex Education (RSE) for this age group with the majority of provision delivered within schools and few available resources to be used in a Further Education environment and was another reason for the commissioning of the Kernow King film.

The Launch of Kernow King’s Sex Education Video

The Launch of Kernow King’s Sex Education Video

So how did this film come into being? it all started with four young people’s focus groups were held and involved; Young Mums Will Achieve, Brook Young Fathers Project and two groups of NEET young people. As a result of young people’s feedback more traditional teaching methods, such as lectures were discounted. It was clear that a peer led, fun, interactive resource needed to be developed. With this in mind story boards were created starring the ‘Kernow King’, local celebrity and comedian, and Cornwall College students. It was decided that the story would be retrospective of ‘Kernow Kings’ College years and would be filmed at the local Cornwall College campus. It would involve college students acting with him and his ‘love interest’ that was of similar age to him.

The film centres around Kernow King asking the audience (young people) what they would do in certain scenarios. In the film Kernow King also makes sweeping statements to prompt group discussion. It is not all about the film, as there is also resource material to support the video was also developed to help and guide lecturers and other professionals working with young people.

The video and resource of Kernow King’s Sex Education Video was launched in Cornwall on July 2014, at Cornwall College Camborne. The launch involved all the students that were part of the focus groups and students that acted in the video, were involved in its development and production. I was very proud to be part of the celebration and helping to raise the case for better RSE for our young people!

For more information on the Health Promotion and SHAC


Work completed on reducing the risk of flooding along Methleigh Bottom

The river that runs alongside Methleigh Bottoms has been prone in the past to flooding. As happened last year when we were subjected to exceptional weather when this area did flood and for a period of time the road was closed. From the river busting its banks a couple of dwellings got flooded. It was mere luck more were not flooded. From this, Porthleven was awarded a pot of money to address this issue, and to repair other damage like the sea wall as a result of the storms.

The main area that was at risk to the river bank flooding has now been extensively repaired with a robust wall being built that should stop the river from breaking its bank.

The new wall to stop flooding

The new wall to stop flooding

This is good news for this area, especially those homes which were at risk or flooding or feared flooding when it rained heavily. As part of the investigation on the causes of flooding, it was found a small culvert was not adequate enough in some cases. However, there was not enough money to do this work too due to the expense of the work required. I am however, working with the agencies to see how funding can be found to address the culvert issue.

Cornwall Council sets Council Tax for 2015/16

Today, Councillors at Cornwall Council set the Council Tax rate for 2015/16. The Council Tax rate is made up of three parts; Cornwall Council, town/parish council and the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner’s budget. These three elements make up what you and I pay each year. For the record, the vote on Council Tax was 63 for, 19 against and 19 abstentions

Cornwall Council needs £498.136m for the 2015/16 period. This is made up of £82.319m collected from Business Rates, £174,250m in Government Grants, £8.862m from Collection Fund Surplus which leaves £232,705 to be collected by means of the Council Tax. The total precepts for the town and parish council’s comes to £15,499,788.29. This is an average raise of 11.46% on the town and council precept. The total amount for the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner comes to £95,762,365.44. This is a 1.99% increase on the previous years.

In 2014/15 the Council Tax was set at:

  • Cornwall Council – £1,268.92
  • Crime Commissioner – £166.16
  • Average  Town and Parish Council precept – £77.30
  • Total = £1,512.38 on a Band D property.

For 2015/15 Council Tax will be set at:

  • Cornwall Council – £1,293.92 (a rise of 1.97%)
  • Crime Commissioner – £169.47 (a rise of 1.99%)
  • Average Town and Parish Council precept – £86.18 (a rise of 11.49%)
  • Total = £1,549.57 on a Band D property. This equates to a 2.49% rise.

As I represent Porthleven and Helston West, I will give the figure of the actual town council precepts for both Porthleven Town Council and Helston Town Council.

Porthleven Town Council total precept for 2015/16 is £63,397.62. This means a Band D property would be required to pay £58.60 per year. This equates to £4.80 per month or £1.12 per week. This is a rise of 12.11% from the previous year’s precept of £52.27.

Helston Town Council total precept for 2015/16 is £303,690.00. On a Band D property this would equate to £91.87 per year. Again this can be broken down to £7.60 per month or £1.70 per week. This is a rise of £10.51% on previous years which the precept was set at £83.13.

Let’s be fair to those town and parish councils who have raised their precepts as this is because many have taken on additional responsibilities like toilets, grass cutting and in some cases car parking. These services still have to be paid for and credit should go to them for taking on these services. It is a difficult time for local government, as with the stinging cuts imposed on local authorities by the Government, plus increased demand on services, Cornwall Council cannot afford to do all it used to. I wish was different, but when you lose ten’s of millions in cash terms by ways of Government grants, services will have to change.

For those wishing to know the precept for their own town and parish council should click HERE.



House prices, affordability and wages in Cornwall

The issue of house prices, their affordability and wages is a very important issue in Cornwall. This blog post is one of several I will be doing on the subject and will include comparisons of house prices in different Cornish settlements; their affordability compared the median and the house affordability ratio in the national content.

The issue of the affordability of a house in ratio to wages is large, but worryingly, it is getter larger as wages and house prices are not rising at the same, or even near the rate.

In 2000 an average house price in Cornwall could cost you £77,797.00. Compare this with the South West – £88,412 and for England and Wales – £83,373.  So a house in Cornwall was 12% less than the South West Average and 6.6% than the England and Wales average. Now lets look at the average house price in 2014, but before I do, I hope you are sitting down. In 2014 the average house price in Cornwall was £183,721. An increase of 136% in fourteen years.  The 2014 average for the South West is £181,471 and for England and Wales £173,228. For those interested the rise in the South West £105% and England and Wales 107%. (source Land Registry)

The house price increase is bad enough, but when you compare it with gross annual earnings you realise the affordability of a house in Cornwall is a major issue. In 2000 the average earnings (all work place employees) in Cornwall was £11,594. For the South West, £14,313 and for England and Wales, £15,952. This makes those in Cornwall paid 19% less than the South West and 27% less than England in Wales in 2000.


The 2014 gross annual earnings for Cornwall was £17,344; an increase of 49.5% between the two periods – which is good news. The increase to £20,081 for the South West is less of an increase than Cornwall at 40.2% when you compare the 2001 and 2014 figures. For England and Wales the wage increase is to £22,201; and increase of 39% again less than Cornwall. However, and this is one of the points, Cornwall is still paid 28% less than the England and Wales average, which is a disgrace. (source for wages is NOMIS and ASHE)

Next, let’s look at the affordability ratio in Cornwall, the South West and in England and Wales.  In Cornwall the affordability ratio in Cornwall rose from 6.7 in 2000 to peak in 2004 at 12.5, then at 12.4 in 2007. The ratio then fell back but has been fairly stable at between 10.7 and 10.4 between 2007 and 2013. The ratio for 2014 has risen slightly to 10.6.

The South West saw an affordability rate of 6.2 in 2000 and 9 in 2014. For England Wales the ration was 5.2 in 2000 and 7.8 in 2014. It is clear the ratios have been consistently been higher in Cornwall than across England and Wales, and less affordable than both in the South West and England and Wales.ratio1

From this evidence is really highlights Cornwall has a major issue on the affordability of a house. Is this  issue one of economics and supply and demand? If one is greater than you have a greater impact? If there were more houses, would prices be cheaper? Have holiday lets and second homes added to the pressure of increased demand and therefore higher prices? The answer is probably, but to point a finger at one is a rather simplistic method and one that will be more than likely wrong. I believe it is several issues that add to the housing issue in Cornwall. However, I feel the main reason is wages and the historic lower pay Cornwall has. In previous blogs: Cornwall is one of the lowest paid areas in the UK  and Cornwall’s Average Wage there is a myth of low wages is in just one sector as from the evidence jobs in Cornwall are less well paid across the sectors it only reason why it seems is because those jobs are in Cornwall. Though, more research is needed on why this is.

Is this issue on of the chicken and the egg? Do we raise wages or lower house prices to make them more affordable?


Cornwall Council’s Local Plan is submitted for examination to the Sec of State.

After years of work,  Cornwall Council’s Local Plan has now been submitted to the Sec of State, Mr Pickles for examination. I for one is really pleased this has now been submitted, as this will give the Council more powers where development should take place. Furthermore, by having an adopted Local Plan will in turn allow local communities who are in the process of putting together their neighbourhood plans the vehicle to have these adopted too.

The submitted Plan is made up of the ‘Proposed Submission Local Plan – Strategic Policies’ published in March 2014 together with a series of amendments published in September 2014 as the ‘Schedule of focussed changes to the Cornwall Local Plan – Strategic Policies’. The full set of ‘submission documents’ along with the complete evidence base will be available by visiting

The public examination will take place on the 11th may 2015 where the various sides will be able to put their cases forward. From this, and depending on the formal responses on the examination, Cornwall could have its Local Plan adopted by the end of 2015.

Cornwall gets three schools funded from the Priority School Build Programme.

Helston College was not the only school that needed funding for its buildings as a further five schools had bids worked up by Cornwall Council and submitted to the DfE. These six other schools include: Budehaven, Humphry Davy, Hayle Community College, Biscovey Infants and Newquay Treviglas. The blog on these submissions is HERE. A further school Newquay Tretharras, submitted its own bid to the DFE.

So how did these other schools fare? Well it is  cake with double icing and cherries on top as Humphry Davy and Newquay Tretharras have also received funding. This is fantastic news for these two schools.

However, the fantastic news of getting three schools funded has had the shine taken off for the four schools who did not receive funding. I do share the disappointment of these four schools who missed out. Cornwall Council will continue look at how these schools get their much-needed school rebuilds post today’s announcement.

As to how much each school will receive including Helston College has yet to be released by the DFE.

Helston College gets its much needed rebuild

Late Friday, I was informed by an embargoed press statement from the DfE that Helston College would receive funding under the priority school build programme. Cornwall Council submitted three bids for Helston College. The biggest was a full school rebuild. The other two bids were for C and E block rebuilds and a rebuild for C-Block.Helston

I am over-the-moon that Helston College will receive this much-needed funding. It has been a long and difficult journey with the school being previously promised a rebuild for C-Block by the previous administration even though there was no clear idea how this would be funded or even having the money to fund this rebuild.  However, from this disappointment, I promised to do everything within my powers to get this much-needed funding for Helston College. Blog on no funding for college HERE.

As for the funding bid, a huge tribute should go to the Access and Infrastructure team in Children’s Service who have worked tirelessly in submitting a strong bid that has now been awarded funding. The real joy is Helston College will not only receive funding for C-Block, but E-Block too! This really is the icing on the cake.

I will join in the celebration of this fantastic news at Helston College on Monday morning when the Deputy Prime Minister along with the local MP, Andrew George visit Helston College to make the announcement.



The young people of Cornwall elect its Members of the Youth Parliament

Cornwall’s Member of the Youth Parliament elections were decided on Saturday afternoon at New County Hall with the announcement of who topped the poll and was duly elected as Cornwall’s MYP for the next two years.

18 young people stood and from that three were elected as Cornwall’s representatives in the youth parliament. A further three we elected at deputy MYP’s who will support and if needed will stand in for the three MYP’s. The MYP’s will represent the West, Mid and East of Cornwall. There was nine candidates for the West, six for Mid Cornwall and three for the East.

It was great to see so many young people stand for this election. Their campaigns would rival those who stand in local and national elections with a mix of talking to their peer groups, social media and the use of online videos to get their message across. I was very impressed with the standard of campaign material.

The names of those elected are: Owen Davies and Joseph Lander (dep) for the West; Cameron Sykes and Saffron Blake (dep) for the Mid and Owen Winter and Tabitha Wethers (dep) for the East. In total, 5597 votes were cast. Well done to those who were elected, but congratulations should also go to all those who stood.

The election would not be the success it is without the dedication of the Staff at Cornwall Council’s Youth Services and the schools who helped facilitate the election by allowing students to vote in school and distributed the voting codes. Those schools who excelled at student participation were also awarded with certificates.

The school who had the highest voter turnout was Cape Cornwall with a 74% turnout. Followed by Liskeard 63%; Brannel 61%; Wadebridge 60%; Richard Lanner  a 52%; Launceston College 43%  and Helston College 39%. In total 30 schools took part. It was not only schools who had a good turn out, but  Penzance Housing Project got a 100% turnout.  Thank you schools.

As with any election, the real hard work starts once you have been elected. I am certainly looking forward to working with Cornwall’s MYP’s and helping them solve the issues they raise on behalf of the young people of Cornwall.

The newly elected MYP's and deputy MYP's for Cornwall and me

The newly elected MYP’s and deputy MYP’s for Cornwall and me

Cornwall’s Adult Education celebrates a ‘good’ Ofsted

An Ofsted inspection is a tricky affair. Anyone who has been part of one will know how in-depth and stressful they can be as there is much at stake. This is why it is fantastic news that Cornwall’s Adult Education Service has been recently judged as ‘Good’ by Ofsted. The previous inspection of this service had it judged as ‘Requires Improvement’

This Good judgement by Ofsted is fantastic news for the service, as it shows the hard work by the staff, tutors and students has paid off. Those involved in the Adult Education Service should be very proud of this Ofsted inspection. In fact, the report is that good, I get the feeling the service only just narrowly missed out on an Outstanding judgement. However, this good judgement gives the service a firm foundation to build from.

As the Portfolio Holder which this service (now) comes under, I was recently able to celebrate this success with staff, students, governors, the previous portfolio holder and tutors at the Adult Education Centre in Helston. This event was also a great opportunity to meet those students who are undertaking courses and those tutors who have such a passion for the service. Of course a great service needs dedicated admin staff, and it was great to be able to talk and thank them too.

A great result for a great service. For anyone interested in a course offer by the Education Service, please click on this LINK

Students, Tutors and Staff celebrate the report

Students, Tutors and Staff celebrate the report

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