Helping organisation with my The Councillor’s Community Chest

Each year every Cornwall Councillor has a small pot off money to help local organisations with small grants. This grant can either be for individual projects or just for matched-funded.

Last year my pot of money helped these organisations and projects:

Applicant Project Amount
The Mike Edwards Fund Defibrillator £400
Helston Business Improvement Partnership Helston Christmas Town Centre Events £250
Porthleven Food & Music Festival Porthleven Food & Music Festival £500
Porthleven Town Council Preacher Steps Safety £277.16
Porthleven & Sithney Guisseny Twinning Assoc Breton Twinning Visit £300
Porthleven Community Group Skate Park Project £467.84
Total £2195

This fund has now been replenished and there is a total amount of £2000 available. This can be applied for between £100 and £1,000. Project costs of up to £500 are 100% fundable, but projects over £500 you can only apply for a maximum of 75% of the total project costs. The closing date for applications is Feb 2016.

Grants are not normally offered retrospectively to fill unexpected funding gaps i.e. the project should not begin before a community chest application has been approved. Repeat funding for supporting established public events and newsletters is permitted but the provision of funding does not indicate that future funding will be given Furthermore, grants are intended to support specific project costs only and not to be used for an organisation’s running costs.

The grant can be used for most things, but the grant cannot be used for include; retrospective funding to fill funding gaps not identified before project commencement; salary or routine administration costs; Political activities, lobbying or campaigning; Exclusively religious activities (although faith groups may receive funding for community development or self-help activities. In this case the application must show that the project will bring wider community benefit and that the primary purpose of the activity is not religious). Projects which in the assessment of Cornwall Council show actual or potential unlawful discrimination within the terms of the Equality Act 2010; Statutory activities/requirements; hospitality (catering and refreshment costs) and applications from individual commercial organisations.

So if your project has a connection to my electorial division please fell free to get in touch. Remember every Cornwall Councillor has this pot of funding.

 

BT Cornwall is not working for Cornwall Council as it should

Today, at Cornwall Council ‘s full member meeting, a question was asked of the Portfolio Holder Adam Paynter, whose responsibilities includes the BT Cornwall (BTC) deal on how well the deal was going. As many readers will know, I led the charge against the wholesale privatisation of many Cornwall Council services.

The answer to the question was damning. In fact it gives real credibility to those who fought against the privatisation of so many Council services, as even the watered down version of the deal is not working for Cornwall Council.

To refresh readers minds, my notes from way back on the deal, say the BT deal will:

  • Savings of 20% by end of year two. This is further broken-down by 10% in year one; 11% in year two, and 18% from months 24 to the end of year 10.
  • 197 new guaranteed FTE jobs by end of year four with 111 coming in the first two years
  • 313 new jobs through ‘reasonable endeavours by the end of year 5 – 240 in the first two years.
  • Gain-share of 30% profit from trading telehealth/telecare
  • 10% min of profit of guaranteed for any other business trading from Cornwall BT.
  • Trading investment in bidding for new work £1.9m

In Adam’s answer he listed the areas that were not working or have failed to meet the promises as his reply points out:

“In respect of operational delivery, Key Performance Indicators have not been met on a consistent basis and there is little evidence of service transformation.

Specifically, on the Windows 7 upgrade, this has been substantially delayed and there have been problems with implementation. The process has now largely been completed but the failure to upgrade the network is leading to capacity and performance issues.

On the financial side, BT Cornwall have met their contractual baseline savings in their entirety because those are deducted at source. However, there has been no gain share for the Council as BT Cornwall have failed to generate any trading opportunities .

In respect of guaranteed new jobs in Cornwall, BTC has only created 35, less than a third of its target for the first 2 years.

In summary, the contract has been far less successful than was anticipated when it was signed 2 years ago.

Officers are satisfied that the senior management of BT Global fully appreciate the serious concerns I and many Members have about the current situation and are putting significant effort into turning things round. However, there is a great deal to do to bring about the required improvement and to restore confidence. Progress will be robustly monitored and managed and a further report will be considered by the Resources PAC on 19 June. Last Friday, the Audit Committee also requested a report on the effectiveness of the BT contract delivery.”

This answer comes after a recent meeting of the Resources PAC and its damning report on the deal so far.  In the report the only positive is the savings in year one and two. These – thankfully – have been 100% achieved. However, many other areas have not.

BT Cornwall (BTC) made a contractual commitment to deliver a minimum of 197 additional jobs to Cornwall over the life of the contract with 111 of these being delivered in the first two years. Of these, only 35 have been delivered so far. There was also a commitment to try to deliver a further 240 jobs in the first two years and NONE of these have been delivered. In fact at the February meeting, there was little evidence of remediation plans or investment required to deliver on the jobs guarantee and commitment.

As part of the overview of performance against commitments and guarantees this comes out as 32% and 0% against the 100% target. This is just not good enough.

Taken from the recent PAC report, BTC have received nearly £25m in respect of services provided over the first two years of the contract, of which nearly £17m is the unitary charge.

Furthermore, there had been a delay in securing contract notations with suppliers which meant, as an interim measure, the Council had to pay suppliers and reclaim the monies from BTC!!

As part of their bid submission, BT estimated trading gain share to the Public Sector Partners of £17m over the 10 years of the Contract. To date, no gain share has been received from trading. It is recognised, however, that this is not a contractual commitment.

The full report can be found HERE and includes the Windows 7 upgrade who has been hugely frustrating for people. In fact Councillors have been so concerned with the implementation of this upgrade they have asked for an estimate of the time lost and financial cost to the Council caused by the overall delay and the operational downtime as a result of issues with upgrades.

From this, BTC have promised to sort all the issue and have changed their management structure to make sure this happens. However, my concerns are BTC have had two years to deliver this contract and have failed. There is only so many second-chances you can give. For me, if by summer BTC do not deliver their commitments, than I am afraid we must be in the area of looking to terminate the contract. I feel if this was a full private sector deal, the contract most likely have already been torn-up.

In fact, I am glad despite many call from other Councillors to actually increase the BTC deal, we did not. As if we did, then we could have been in a more perilous position than we currently are.

Let’s see if BTC can pull that rabbit out of the hat…..

 

 

 

Another fantastic Porthleven Food and Music Festival (2015)

The 7th Porthleven Food and Music Festival took place over the weekend of 22nd/24th; and what a festival it was! The event kicked off on Friday night with the international band, Hayseed-Dixie, supported by Flats and Sharps playing to a packed-out crowd in the main marquee.

Hayseed-Dixie, headline the festival

Hayseed-Dixie, headline the festival

The Saturday saw the familiar opening of the festival with the cook-off between Jude from Kota and Antony Worrell-Thompson. This was followed by many other chefs displaying their skills though-out the day.

It was not just food on offer though-out the festival, but many excellent bands played on the three music stages though-out the days and into the evenings. This was more so on the Sunday when from 12 midday till 10pm the main marquee hosted a whole medley of bands catering for just about all music tastes.

New to this years festival was the bridge over the harbour. This bridge was heavily used and I had many comments of ‘it would be great to have this bridge as a permanent fixture.’ Guarding the bridge was a ‘fisherman’ from The Fisherman’s Mission who were able to raise over £600 for the mission from donations from the bridge users

The brige over the harbour

The bridge over the harbour

The 'fisherman' guarding the bridge

The ‘fisherman’ guarding the bridge

There was even an auction helping to raise money for the new Porthleven Skate Park. This auction raised over £1,700 from the generously donated items from art work, food related items and entertainment tickets. Thank you to all those who donated items for this auction.

The event finished with a fantastic firework display that was a fitting finale of another succesful event.

image image

This event would not be the success it is without the volunteers who give their time over many months leading up to the event, but also during the event itself. This hard work is testament to the succesful event.

All the volunteers should have our sincere thanks for this hard-work. They are a credit to Porthleven and just shows what can be achieved when people come together for a common cause.  Believe it or not, but the food festival committee will only have a few months off before they start to get ready for 2016 festival.

Thank you and well done.

Mermaid spotted floating in Porthleven Harbour!

This weekend -April 24th – 26th – the annual Porthleven Food and Music Festival takes place. The festival is now in its 7th year and each year the festival gets bigger and better. In the build up to the official start on Saturday, saw a mermaid ‘visit’ and make her new home floating in Porthleven’s inner harbour. Merface IMG_5929This excellent addition to the event was created by students from Helston College who were on hand to see their creation take to the sea. It was great to see her float in her new home. Well done to the students for an excellent creation.

The Mermaid takes to the water!

The Mermaid takes to the water!

For more details on what happening at the food and music festival including the shuttle-bus service to help with parking, please click HERE and visit the event’s website

Cornwall Council is a Living Wage employer

Cornwall Council is now a Living Wage employer. This will mean just over 1800 Cornwall Council employees (not including casual or claims based workers) will now stand to benefit from the application of the Living Wage. These 1800 employees work in both schools and non-schools settings. Typical roles include administrative and clerical assistants, care assistants, caretakers, cleaners, clerk to Governors, finance assistants, receptionists, school secretaries, cooks, drivers and domestics.

The majority of lower paid employees are support workers in the schools environment, with about 1450 now receiving the Living Wage rate.  There are about 350 employees in non-schools settings who now also receive the Living Wage rate.( NB: apprentices do not receive the Living Wage as these are workers on training contracts).

As a result of the change the minimum salary in the Council’s pay structure from 1 April 2015 is £15,144 which is £7.85 per hour.

Only those grades and salary levels below the Living Wage in the Council’s pay structure have increased to the Living Wage full-time salary equivalent of £15,144. The Council has not increased the salaries of all staff to maintain salary differentials that existed on 31 March 2015. All directly employed Council staff paid less than £15,144 full-time equivalent on 31 March 2015 will be paid £15,144 with effect from 1 April 2015.

The Living Wage is being implemented by Cornwall Council for its directly employed Council employees, including local authority maintained schools.   The agreement to implement the Living Wage was part of a collective agreement reached between the trade unions and the Council which achieved net savings on the pay-bill by freezing local pay increases until 2017. The cost of implementing the Living Wage will be £1m, and this will be met in part by the pay-bill savings.

I support the implementation of the Living Wage at Cornwall Council as people talk of Cornwall being a low paid area, and from the data previous I have blogged about, Cornwall is one of the lowest paid areas of the UK. Now with the Council setting a strong example of being a Living Wage employer, I hope other public and private sector organisations will follow suit.

 

 

Together for Families programme has made a difference in Cornwall

Cornwall’s Together for Families partnership has been praised for its work in turning around the lives of almost 1,000 families with the most complex needs over the last three years. This is following the introduction of the Government’s Troubled Families programme in April 2012, Cornwall Council and its partners have worked hard to help 975 families to get back on track.

The aim of the three-year national “Troubled Families” programme, support local organisations which are working with families identified as having the most complex needs. Under the programme key workers from a range of services work with families to identify the support they need to address their problems and then help them to access a package of both mainstream and specialist support.

Though in Cornwall we did not like the negative title of ‘Troubled Families’ and have instead called it a more positive name of ‘Together for Families.

In Cornwall, the partnership includes Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, Health commissioners, Probation, the Drug and Alcohol Action Team, Education Welfare, Youth Offending team, Careers South West and representatives of the voluntary and community sector (including Action for Children and Addaction). This partnership shows by organisations working together, we can make a positive difference to people’s lives.

The success of the programme in Cornwall means we have been able to work with local services to make the changes that are required to provide timely and efficient support for those families with the most complex needs. Working with the families directly enables the partner agencies to help overcome the difficulties the families face. The results of this programme shows that tackling the issues as a family unit helps achieve real positive outcomes.

Following Cornwall’s success in achieving positive outcomes for over 75% of eligible families, Cornwall will now progress to the second phase of the programme which runs from 2015 to 2020. The new programme will build on the achievements of the first phase, with the target of supporting an additional 4,050 families in Cornwall over the next five years (689 in 2015/16).

This will mean continuing to work with key partners in Police, Health, Education and Employment to identify and engage eligible families and working with communities and voluntary sector partners to get people into work, improve school attendance and attainment, reduce crime and antisocial behavior and tackle health issues including drug and alcohol dependency.

The second phase will continue to provide an opportunity for partner organisations to work closer together to support communities and families in Cornwall and to become better and smarter at how we deliver services. This will enable us to meet the needs of these families at the same time as saving money across the public sector. This is important as we have less money, but a greater demand on our service and we will need to engage with families by supporting them to address a range of complex issues at the same time as getting services to think and work differently with families.

I would like to congratulate all who have worked on this programme; as without their zeal, determination and willingness to do things differently, the programme in Cornwall would not be the success it is. Well done. We now move on to phase two, which in itself brings more challenges, but if we have the same determination to make people’s lives better as we did in phase one, then we will only help more people.

Further information on the Together for Families Programme, which is designed to deliver the national ‘Troubled Families’ Agenda, is available from http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/togetherforfamilies

Have your say on Porthleven’s Neighbourhood Plan Questionnaire

The mere mention of planning and building will be met with responses from the not in my backyard to the yes, let’s build. Getting the right balance between protecting the environment and sustainable development is a very difficult path to navigate. Cornwall Council tends to get the blame on most planning related issues, but the truth be told is it is the Government legislation that is to blame because this legislation is what we have use.

This is one reason Cornwall Council has been for that last few years putting together its own Local Plan. This plan will give a level of control over planning in Cornwall for the next 15 or so year. There can be a further level of more local control by having a Neighbourhood Plan. These types of plan allow town and parish council’s a greater say in where development should happen first. It is important to say they cannot stop development.PNP_Logo2-e1417625617588

Porthleven Town Council has decided that a Neighbourhood Plan would be in the best interest of Porthleven. From this support, a working group of representative from the Porthleven’s community, including landowners, has started work on Porthleven’s own Neighbourhood Plan.

The strapline for the plan is simple: OUR PLAN, OUR TOWN, OUR FUTURE

However, before any detail is put down towards Porthleven’s Neighbourhood Plan, the working groups wants to hear from the residents of Porthleven. The working group has gone about this by sending a questionnaire to every household in Porthleven. This questionnaire is available online too. So whilst there has been only have one copy sent to your house, there are other copies available both in hardcopy and online. It is very important that all residents have their say, which includes children and young people, who will need housing and facilities in the future.

The online survey can be found by clicking this LINK.

Huge credit should go to the volunteers who have made up the Neighbourhood Plan working party for there hard work to date. Therefore, I urge you to take the five-minutes and complete the questionnaire, as your answers will aid the working party come up with a plan that is supported by the residents of Porthleven. As for a plan to be adopted it needs to have a public referendum with at least 50% of those voting must be in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan. As if it is not supported, then there will be no Neighbourhood Plan, and from this, it could lead Porthleven to development taking place with no local input.

More details on Porthleven’s Neighbourhood Plan can be found via the website HERE

NPPoster

Cornwall’s Parliamentary seats are really ultra marginal

The news is awash with stories of not one party will win an over all majority in this years General Election and from that, the guessing game of who will jump into bed with each other and form a government. As someone who has stood in three elections, I can tell you don’t really know how well you have done until they start the count. Then it all becomes clearer.

Saying that, I have been looking at the vote numbers from the 2010 General Election for the six Parliamentary seats in Cornwall. These six Parliamentary seats all are what you call ultra-marginal. In other words at least three candidates has the chance of winning the seat. I knew the numbers were tight, but I did not realise quite how tight they are.

I will start with the Parliamentary seat I reside in, St Ives.

St. Ives

In 2010 this seat was won by Andrew George for the Lib Dems. Andrew won the seat by 1719 votes, a winning margin of 3.7%. (LD hold). Looking at the 2005* election voting percentages, the Lib Dems had 51.8%, Labour 12.5%, Con 27.3% UKIP 4.3%.Previous elections – 1992 Con, 1997/2001/2005/2010 LD.

Camborne and Redruth

In 2010 this seat was won by George Eustice for the Cons. George won this seat by 66 votes, one of, if not the narrowest – in the Country – of margins by 0.2% (Con gain). Looking at the 2005 election voting percentages, the Lib Dems had 35.8%, Labour 28.8%, Con 25.6% UKIP 4.8%. Previous election winners – 1992 Con, 1997/2001 Lab, 2005 LD and 2010 Con.

Truro and Falmouth

In 2010 this seat was won by Sarah Newton for the Cons by 435 votes, a margin of 0.9% (Con gain). The 2005 election voting percentages, the Lib Dems had 41%, Labour 19%, Con 31.7% UKIP 5.8%. Previous election winners 1992/1997/2001/2005 LD, 2005 Con.

St. Austell and Newquay

In 2010 this seat was won by Stephen Gilbert for the Lib Dems by 1312 votes, a margin of 2.8% (LD hold). The 2005 election voting percentages, the Lib Dems had 47.3%, Labour 13.8%, Con 34.8% UKIP 4.1%. Previous election winners 1992/1997/2001/2005/2010 LD

North Cornwall

In 2010 this seat was won by Dan Rogerson for the Lib Dems by 2981 votes, a winning margin of 6.4% (LD hold). The 2005 election voting percentages, the Lib Dems had 42.3%, Labour 12.5%, Con 35.4% UKIP 5.8%. Previous election winners 1992/1997/2001/2005/2010 LD

South East Cornwall

In 2010 this seat was won by Sheryll Murray for the Cons by 3220 votes, a winning margin of 6.5% (Con gain). The 2005 election voting percentages, the Lib Dems had 46.8%, Labour 10.5%, Con 35% UKIP 5.1%. Previous election winners 1992 Con, 1997/2001/2005 LD, 2010 Con.

As you can see by the winning margin of between 0.2% and 6.5% these seats are really too close to call. However, looking at the 2005 percentages, there was a huge change in percentages towards the Cons. That of course doesn’t mean this will be replicated at this years election, but it does show Cornwall is a real battle ground for the political parties and could have a direct impact on which party forms the next government. furthermore, it is really going to be interesting to see how the Greens, MK and UKIP have an impact on the election in Cornwall.

The point of this blog post not only to show how close this election is in Cornwall, but to encourage people to take 15 minutes and wander down to the polling station on the 7th May and cast your vote. It is not too much to ask that you, as citizens, spare the 15 minutes to cast your vote at this election. After all you only are asked to do this every five years for a General Election. Furthermore, you have 15 hours in which to vote, as the Polling Stations are open for voting from 7am till 10pm.

I have often heard people say what’s the point in voting or my vote won’t really matter. Well, in Cornwall, in this election, your vote can really matter and if you use it, you can really choose who you think is best to represent you in Parliament.

And if by some chance you have not registered to vote, you still have time, as you can register to vote till the 20th of April! There really is no excuse not to vote.

 

(*using 2010 electoral boundaries. Data from Cornwall Council and Democratic Audit)

90 Percent of Cornwall’s reception aged children get their first choice of school for September

Those parents who have applied for a school place for reception age children across Cornwall will today receive details of which school their child is due to attend in September. For the majority this will be good news.

I am pleased to say that the majority of children in Cornwall have been allocated a place at their first preference school. I would like to publicly like to thank the members of the Council’s admissions team who have worked extremely hard to process almost 6,000 applications over the past few weeks.

The Council received 5782 applications for new reception school places for pupils in Cornwall to start school in September 2015. Of those, 5242 (90.7 %) have been offered a place at their first preference school.

Of the 540 pupils who were not allocated their first preference school, 272 pupils have been allocated their second preference school and 53 pupils their third preference school. These figures show that 96.3% of children have been allocated one of their three preferences.

The 215 pupils (3.7%) who have not been allocated a place at either their first, second or third preference school, but have at the nearest school to their home address with room.

All reception age pupils who applied for a school place in Cornwall have been allocated a place.

So how does this compare with previous years? The fact is this years figures are slightly lower (3.1%) compared to 2014 New Reception admissions, when 94% of children were allocated a place in their first preference school, with 97.9% being allocated one of their three preferences. Then 106 (2.1%) children did not get a place in their first preference school. In 2013, 93.1% of children were allocated a place in their first preference school, with 97.5% being allocated one of their three preferences.

It is no secret and many will be aware that there has been increasing pressure on reception age school places in a number of areas across Cornwall, as the number of children requiring a school place continues to grow. Cornwall is not alone as this picture is mirrored nationally. The areas currently experiencing the greatest pressures are St Austell, Camborne, Pool and Redruth, St Agnes, St Teath and Camelford, Truro, Launceston and Newquay.

As result of this increasing pressure there has been an increase in the number of schools which are full for new reception admissions in September 2015. Cornwall has 235 primary schools, of which 227 have reception classes (with the remaining 8 junior schools). Of these 112 are currently full, compared with 93 schools in 2014 and 53 in 2013.

To meet the increasing demand for school places in primary schools, the Council have commissioned expansion programmes at sixteen schools across Cornwall to ensure that children can be accommodated in New Reception and other primary classes in time for the start of the academic year in September 2015. Work is currently under-way in most of these schools with additional works due to be carried out during the summer term and summer holiday period.

We are also preparing for future growth in a number of areas and are tendering for schemes to be carried out to provide further additional school places in Cornwall over the next two years.

These expansions to school are carried out by Government funding by means of Targeted Basic Needs (TBN) and Basic Needs (BN). The Council is in a fortunate position this time after the disappointment of getting less money for TBN, earmarked to get £18m, but only got £7.8m. However, the Council did get a better than expected settlement for BN.

Future Government funding post 2017 – whoever that will be post 7th May – will need to be enough to make sure we have adequate spaces for our children to attend school in years to come. If it is not, as to quote a well known film: “Houston, we have a problem.”

 

Sithney Common Hill Roadwork’s – New Update

I have just been informed that Cornwall Council and CORMAC are aiming to temporarily reopen both lanes of the A394 at Sithney Common Hill in time for Flora Day on Friday 8 May. Following agreement with the landowner, CORMAC crews will carry out temporary stabilisation works on the eastbound lane from Monday 20 April.

A lane closure was put in place after a section of retaining wall supporting the road collapsed making it unsafe to carry traffic in both directions. While the works taking place next week aim to reopen the road on a temporary basis, CORMAC will have to re-establish the lane closure should unexpected deterioration of the road occur.

Work will start on the permanent repairs in earnest from Monday 11 May, during which time the eastbound lane will be closed once again. We apologise for the inconvenience caused, but every effort will be made to fully reopen the road as soon as possible.

I am grateful to all concerned who understood the issue have acted to try to alleviate the problem. Previous blog on this subject HERE

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