Porthleven Community Group organises another succesful Big Lunch

Well done to Porthleven Community Group for organising another successful Big Lunch on Sunday down on The Moors (bottom park to others). This community event had a really good turn out with people bringing a blanket and a picnic and relaxing in the sun with fellow residents.

The group organised a bouncy castle that was free to use, and there was the obligatory game of rounders where adults and children joined in the fun. Those gathered were also treated to Porthleven’s very own Signing Choir. The event was officially opened by Porthleven’s Mayor and Deputy Mayor – Daniel Williams and Barbara Powell. This just added to the good feeling of the event.

Well done to all who came to the event, and well done to the Porthleven Community Group for organising the event.

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The Chairman of the Porthleven Community Group, Rob Johns was able to hand over a cheque for £154 to Mark Adair who is one of the committee for the Porthleven Skate Park project. The money was raised during the Porthleven Duck Race

I was also able to hand over the £500 from an anonymous donation to Mark Adair.

Torch-light is the next event the group is organising for the Bank Holiday weekend in August. Details to follow.

Anonymous donation of £500 to Porthleven skate park project

Wow, just wow. People are amazing. Getting home late last night from work, I did not open the previous days mail. This morning I opened the said mail whilst drinking a coffee and to my utter surprise one letter, without a stamp, contained £500 in £20 notes with a short note saying:

“Please find enclosed a small donation for the skate park project. Sorry it is not much but every little helps I suppose.”

This is truly magnificent gesture of generosity. I thank you, I just wish I could shake your hand whoever you are.

People are just amazing!!

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Helston College Rebuild and the correcting inacuracies

It is a very rare occurrence that I have to write to the editor of a paper to express my concern on a story. However, in the case I – and the Head of Helston College – felt it necessary to write a letter to the editor with my concerns on a story.

The reason why is due to an article the West Briton published on its front page saying the rebuild at Helston College could be delayed for up to six years. This headline was based on inaccurate comment said by the Mayor of Helston at a recent town council meeting.

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As readers know, the issue surrounding the rebuild has been a rollercoaster ride and with at least two times came close to a rebuild. However, the Council working with the College managed to secure £22m worth of funding that will go further than the original plan of rebuilding C-block.

The letter is as follows and has been signed by both myself as the Lead Member for Children and Young People, and the Head of Helston College:

“Dear Sir

Following the misleading article suggesting delays to the rebuild of Helston Community College which was published on the front page of the Helston edition of the West Briton, I am writing to put the record straight.

Unfortunately your reporter failed to check the accuracy of the article with either the school, the Council or the Department for Education who are leading on the scheme.

The facts are that there is no suggestion of a time delay for this project. We were told at the beginning of the process, when the Government initially confirmed the funding for the scheme, that the overall timescale for all the building projects being delivered under this tranche of Government funding to be completed would be over a six-year period. In your article reporting Mr Clegg’s visit to the College, you quote him directly stating: ‘It is a national programme which runs from 2015 to 2021.’

We are waiting for details from the Government about exactly what work will be carried out and when the project will occur in the six-year programme and expect to have this confirmed in the Autumn.

The school is in contact with the Department for Education and, in fact, was visited by Department for Education officials last week to carry out a site survey. There was no suggestion of any delay.

I am very disappointed that the paper chose to run this story without checking its accuracy.  This has caused unnecessary alarm among parents and the local community. 

We are working with the school to ensure that the scheme is carried out as quickly as possible and the publication of inaccurate stories such as this is very unhelpful.”

I must further clarify the story about the waste of £300k on the plan for C-Block. Foresight is a wonderful thing, but no-one has this power. The original plan was to for C-Block to be rebuilt, and for this to happen, the DfE/EFA needed what is called ‘shovel ready’ projects. This is where a project can go ahead once the funding has been agreed. Without the plan, you had no chance of getting the funding.

However, the Government announced more funding under the Priority School Build Programme which meant Cornwall Council could apply for more funding to address the other building issues at the College. The Council also made bids for six other schools, Which sadly only three schools secured funding

As you will know, the Council go more than a C-Block rebuild, The College now has the potential to have a whole school rebuild, or at least C, D and E block rebuilds. Though the default position was always C-Block, which we would have needed the current plans.

I hope the letter and this blog clarifies people’s concerns. Both the College and Cornwall Council are working damn hard in delivering the much-needed facilities at Helston College.

Porthleven Skate Park a step closer to reality

The group behind delivering a new skate park in Porthleven have really risen to the challenge of fund-raising for this new facility. In the current climate, funding for large projects such as this is difficult, but this has not stopped the group.

Skate parks are not cheap, in fact from my experience of delivering play areas, no play facility is cheap. From group discussions and engagement events with young people the skate park working group has set a funding target of £120k for this new skate park facility. The type of park you get for £120k is in line with the picture below.

Possible look of the new Porthleven Skate Park

As you can see, if the funding target is reached, the children and young people of Porthleven will have a fantastic skate facility that will last for years.

To date the skate park group has raised a staggering £10k by holding events and auctions. This is a fantastic achievement by the group and those who helped support the events.

This means the total raised so far is around £35k. This is made up £20k of funding from Porthleven Town Council and £5k from 106 section monies. I have given a small grant of just under £500 from my community fund.

I have also been impressed by other organisation and individuals who has pledge and raised money by holding their own events. Well done indeed.

However, there is still much to do, and if you can help with either funding or ideas to raise funding please get in contact with the group. They have their own Facebook page which can be found HERE. Or drop me an email and I will pass on your details.

 

 

The Law is an ass when it comes to Disclosing and Barring Service checks for Councillors

I will begin by stating the Law is an ass when it comes to Disclosing and Barring Service checks for Councillors. I say this because the changes in legislation introduced by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 make it very difficult for a Council to carry out Standard and Enhanced DBS on its elected Members.

I repeated these words at today’s Constitution and Governance Committee where the issue of DBSing Members was discussed.

Under this legislation there was a change in the definition of regulated activity which means it is now restricted to undertaking prescribed activities with children, young people or vulnerable adults during which time the child, young person or vulnerable adult might be considered to be more vulnerable to abuse. This means that only those Members who are deemed to carry out this regulated activity can be subject to enhanced DBS checks.

Without DBS checks, it is very difficult for a member of the public to know if a Councillor poses a risk to children and vulnerable adults. In our role as Councillors, we do get invited to people’s homes to discuss local issues and these homes can contain children and vulnerable adults. Therefore, I believe the public – as far as we can – must have confidence that the Councillor does not pose a risk.

The fact is every councillor is responsible for upholding the Council’s reputation for protecting adults and children from harm. I firmly believe it is not appropriate for councillors who have been investigated and found to be a risk; or cautioned; or convicted of involvement in harming adults or children, to be a Councillor and represent the community.

A basic DBS check can be carried out under the 2012 Act , but this check only lists any unspent convictions. Basic Certificates are available for all Members and co-optees, without further eligibility criteria.

You would think if a Councillor served on any of the following committees: Council, Adult Care Policy Advisory Committee, Young People Policy Advisory Committee, Scrutiny Management Committee, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee, Health and Wellbeing Board, School Admission and Exclusions Appeals Panel and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust/Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust they would need to have a standard or enhanced DBS check. But they do not!

The only Committee which requires a standard or enhanced check are: Cabinet, Children in Care Education Support Service Governing Body, Adult Education Board of Governors and Appeals Committee.

The legislation does not allow a Councillor to voluntarily have an enhanced DBS check either!

Without having the ability to do enhanced DBS checks, I believe we are undermining child protection. What’s worse even if someone does have adverse history on their DBS check, the Council is still at a disadvantage as the changes to the Standards Board of England means there is no way of removing that Councillor from office. Another crazy change in legislation.

I feel strongly we need a change in Government legislation to allow local councils to carry out standard or enhanced DBS’ checks on all its Members.

Getting back to today’s meeting, the Committee Members did recommend to Full Council – who will make the final decision – that all Cornwall Councillors should have at least the basic DBS, with those who are eligible under the set criteria having the enhanced check.

This may not be perfect – but it is better than not having any checks at all for the whole membership. And yes, I have had an enhanced check.

To read the full report discussed today, click HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sign up to Cornwall Council’s E-newsletter

Keeping the public informed on key decisions, or changes to services is an important function of a Council. If you look at Council who have a high level of resident satisfaction, they have a medium that informs residents. Back in 2007/8 the then County Council tried to do a newsletter, but this did not go as well as planned.

Looking at the recent Cornwall Cornwall resident survey, a large percentage of the population got their information from the news media. This is all well and good, but this information can have a certain slant. Therefore, surely it is right for a Council to publish information? Of course, the Council has a great website  and is on the social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter. However, you have to look for the information.

This is why last year Cornwall Council formally launched ‘For Cornwall’ an e-newsletter is to provide readers with information about what is happening in and around Cornwall, together with details of the latest news, consultations, offers and schemes, and things to do and see.

Fear not, this is not a political spin document, as it is political neutral. This is important as the information contained within the e-news letter should be free from politics. Since the launch the number of subscribers has increased to 10,500 and the Council are keen to increase this even further.

If you aren’t already subscribed to the e-newsletter and wish to receive it click on this link: Sign up here

I would encourage you to sign up to receive future copies of ‘For Cornwall’ and would also invite you to circulate this information to any other local groups, organisations or residents who might be interested in subscribing.

 

 

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