Newquay Airport’s ADF gone results in a new airline operating to and from the airport.

In a little over 24 hours since the public decision to remove the ADF at Newquay Airport, Ryan Air has announced from April 2016, it will operate twice-weekly flights from Newquay Airport to Alicante and Frankfurt Hahn.

In further good news, Ryan Air has announced in celebration of the new routes, seats will be available for sale from 25.99 until the 30th November 2015. Though the regular price for flights will be £28.99 for both routes.

The airport is expected to an increase of passenger numbers circa 35,000 per year with these new routes.

Good news for the airport, and good news for passengers who now have more choice when flying to and from Newquay Airport.

 

 

Alex Folkes is formally censured for his conduct

An investigation into the conduct of the former Cornwall Councillor, Alex Folkes has now been completed, with the results of that investigation being publicilly released.

For Mr Folkes, it is damning, as the censure statement shows:

The subject member is hereby formally censured for his entirely inappropriate conduct that resulted in the serious and significant breaches found.  In particular, the misleading statements the subject member made, including deliberate attempts to undermine the credibility of the Council and the LADO process, fell far short of the conduct that can reasonably be expected of an elected member.  If it were not for the robust and entirely appropriate actions taken by the Council, including through the complainant and other senior officers, there was a risk of the Council being brought into disrepute. 

 

That the subject member sought to discredit the LADO process and those involved in that process was inexcusable given that the process has at its very core the protection of children.  The credibility of the LADO process is fundamental to the safeguarding of children who may have been subjected to or are at risk of abuse. 

 

The subject member’s malicious attempt to undermine the LADO process and those involved in it demonstrated that he was prepared to put his own credibility and reputation above his responsibilities as both an elected member and a Cabinet member to safeguard the interests of children in Cornwall.  That is an inexcusable act and falls far below standards of behaviour that can reasonably be expected, whether by a councillor or otherwise.”

The actual decision notice is available on the relevant Standards Committee web page at the link below:http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/councillors-and-democracy/standards-committee-information/decision-notices-april-2015-to-march-2016/

I am sure you will read the full findings, however, a further point I would like to highlight is:

I am aware of the subject member’s blog and the statement made on it by him on 20 November 2014 that

“I cannot blame the police for investigating based on the information they received. The whole episode put me through a huge trauma but I am reassured that they took such matters very seriously and I am glad that they were able to establish my innocence as they did”. The police did not proceed to prosecution. That is not the same as the police being able to establish the subject member’s innocence. Had the police been satisfied that they had established the subject member’s innocence there would have been no cause for the information relating to the incident in 2006 to have been recorded such that it was disclosed in the 2009 criminal records check.

The Standards Committee determined that the actions appropriate to address breaches I had found are that:

  • The subject member should be censured (see above);
  • A public statement/press release be issued by the Council to coincide with publication of this decision notice; and
  • The subject member be asked to offer an apology to Councillor Rowe for failing to disclose the 2006 arrest and related circumstances to him. By the provision of this decision notice that request is now made to him.

The public statement/press release has been settled with the Chairman of the Standards Committee in accordance with the decision of the Committee.

The censure has been determined by the Chairman of the Standards Committee in conjunction with myself, again in accordance with the decision of the Standards Committee.

“The subject member is hereby formally censured for his entirely inappropriate conduct that resulted in the serious and significant breaches found. In particular, the misleading statements the subject member made, including deliberate attempts to undermine the credibility of the Council and the LADO process, fell far short of the conduct that can reasonably be expected of an elected member. If it were not for the robust and entirely appropriate actions taken by the Council, including through the complainant and other senior officers, there was a risk of the Council being brought into disrepute.

That the subject member sought to discredit the LADO process and those involved in that process was inexcusable given that the process has at its very core the protection of children. The credibility of the LADO process is fundamental to the safeguarding of  children who may have been subjected to or are at risk of abuse. The subject member’s malicious attempt to undermine the LADO process and those involved in it demonstrated that he was prepared to put his own credibility and reputation above his responsibilities as both an elected member and a Cabinet member to safeguard the interests of children in Cornwall. That is an inexcusable act and falls far below standards of behaviour that can reasonably be expected, whether by a councillor or otherwise.”

In my role as Lead Member for Children’s Services, I have to a point remained publically quiet on this matter due to the ongoing investigations.

However, now I have the opportunity to publicilly praise child protection officers, the LADO process and all those associated with it for their work in protecting children from harm.

The fact is the LADO process is robust, and its decision that – the former Councillor – Alex Folkes, is a ‘serious and enduring risk to children’ still stands.

I will at this point say that I was disgusted that someone who is a serious and enduring risk to children was able to remain in office. He was welcomed by people even though the experts in child protection – via the LADO process – had reached the decision Alex Folkes is a ‘serious and enduring risk’ to children. Yet from my point of view, some people did not take this seriously.

It is important to highlight, the Council did not have the legal power to remove Alex Folkes from his position as a Councillor. The Council has never had the power to sack a councillor, although it could previously suspend councillors following the investigation and determination of Code of Conduct complaints. However, following the Government’s changes to the Code of Conduct complaints process, this sanction is no longer available.

The standards board decision, and the censure notice vindicates those officers who did their duty to protect children from harm. I hope those who dismissed the LADO decision will now think again on the seriousness of child protection and how there are processes in place to protect children.

Details of the Code of Conduct complaints process are available at this page:

http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/councillors-and-democracy/standards-committee-information/code-of-conduct-complaints/

(I have taken the decision that on this blog, there will be no comments)

What will be left of community policing in Cornwall after the Government cuts.

The Government’s ‘war’ against the public sector does not look like letting up, or even having a short ceasefire. Cornwall Council has had to save £196m over the last four years, and is set to save up to a further £156m by 2018. These cuts are brutal, and affect some of the most vulnerable in our society.

Yet, Cornwall Council is not the only public sector organisation who is being made to make cuts and reductions in services. The police force in Cornwall and Devon has to make wholesale cuts too.

The facts are the police service in Cornwall (and Devon) is already poorly served by the current funding formula, which is based on outdated evidence, and biased towards urban areas – like so many other Government funding formulas!!

Furthermore, the funding formula does not take into account non-crime demand – like mental health, tourism and rurality. Out of all the police forces, only three forces face higher reductions than Cornwall and Devon; Cumbria, the Metropolitan Police (I was surprised at this one) and Lancashire.

The police in Cornwall and Devon have already cut 860 posts over the past 5 years, which in real-terms equates to 500 officers and 360 staff as part of their work to save a target of £58m.

The latest proposals from the Government signal a further reduction in grant of 8% for Devon and Cornwall police force, equating to a further loss of £13.5m. This cut makes Devon and Cornwall Police one of the worse hit police forces in the country. A £13.5 million cut equates to a loss of 370 police officers and staff.

When this is coupled with the potential for a further 25% cut to policing as part of the Chancellor’s Spending Review, The police in Cornwall and Devon could see further cuts of up to £54m. This will only end up with fewer officers doing their job.

Like funding for Cornwall Council and Health services, the police budget take no account of the impact of tourism in setting the budget.  I feel this is grossly unfair the Government ignores this fact in budget setting.

Furthermore, it has also failed to take on board the following key points in how the formula works:

  • Failed to take into consideration funding for non-crime demand on the police such as road safety, child protection and mental health issues;
  • The additional cost required to police rural areas. On this, the Government has given no explanation about why rurality is not considered to be important in working out the funding formula;
  • Failed to take into account the impact of alcohol, which is one of the key drivers of crime.

For example Devon and Cornwall has the 6th highest concentration of bars and clubs in England and Wales – the same amount as West Yorkshire. But Cornwall and Devon receives £27 million less than West Yorkshire. Cornwall and Devon is five times the size of West Yorkshire.

The funding measure does not look at the levels of concentration of pubs and clubs. Again for example, Plymouth has the 9th highest concentration of pubs and clubs of any local authority in the country – but this is completely ignored in the calculation.

On Tuesday, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Hogg was in Helston. I was invited  to put a series of questions to him about how the cuts to the police budget will affect community policing in Porthleven and Helston – he actually lives within my Division – and how does he see the future of community policing in Cornwall if these cuts are implemented.

I also asked him what guarantees can he give residents that there will be a police presence in Porthleven and Helston after the cuts; rather than police having to come from other larger settlements.

His answer was stark, the budget cuts will have an impact on policing levels in not only Porthleven and Helston, but in the whole of Cornwall too. The Commissioner, told me he is urging the public to contact their MP’s, and write to the Government expressing their views on how the budget cuts will be harmful to police levels.

In questioning the commissioner, I asked him about vulnerable groups and if they would be left at risk if the cuts are implemented. The Commissioner shared my worry.

One of the options open to the Commissioner is to raise the precept for the Police Authority to cover the shortfall in funding from the Government. Cornwall Council has struggled with this question too, but has been limited in how much the Council can raise the Council Tax to a maximum of 2%. Any raise over 2% will have to be decided by means of a referendum

Any raising of a precept (Council or police) is unpopular, but what are the choices? Less police if the money is not found? Will the police force in Cornwall be one of reactionary, rather than prevent? And where will it leave the police in non-crime areas, like mental health and child protection? If you did not know, the police are also the lead in tackling Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Cornwall.

If the police budget is reduced, then these areas will be under greater pressure with other agencies having to pick up the cap. Of course, those other agencies are the Council and Health, who are under huge financial pressures themselves.

My fear when you add all the agencies cuts together, vulnerable groups will be at risk, or should I say greater and harmful risk. When will the Government see their ‘austerity measures’ are actually harming the groups they should be protecting.

Will these cuts mean the total end of ‘Bobbies on the beat’?

 

Newquay Airport’s ADF to be scrapped in March 2016


Today, Cornwall Council has officially confirmed that the Airport Development Fee (ADF) will be scraped in March 2016. In a statement issued today by the Council, the Council said the removal of the ADF in March is part of a package of measures to help encourage new airlines to fly from the airport.Newquay

The good news for the airport is since the introduction of the Public Service Obligation service and an active marketing campaign, there has been a 16% increase in the number of passengers using the Newquay to Gatwick route. The other routes (11 in total) have seen an increase in the numbers of people using the airport too.

By removing this charge – which has been a problem for some airlines – it should encourage more airlines to come to Newquay and hopefully offering the opportunity to fly to other locations in the UK and maybe, just maybe flights direct to the Mediterranean.

For me, this is about developing the airport not only as a major player in the airport / airline industry, but more importantly no longer requiring the subsidy it gets from Council. This subsidy has been reduced over the years, but I would want to see this subsidy reach zero with the airport standing on its own two feet.

It is why as one of the Council’s Cabinet, I supported the removed of the ADF, now pleased it has now been publicly confirmed.

 

Cornwall’s Members of Youth Parliament deliver a succesful ‘Make your Mark’

School aged young people aged between 11-18 years have recently been taking part in the ‘Make your Mark’ campaign. This campaign is about raising issues that are important to young people. In Cornwall, the campaign is run by our MYP’s, helped by the 11+ service at Cornwall Council.

This year the MYP’s have excelled at the campaign with a record number of votes – 7829 – being cast.

The top eight issues the young people voted on are diverse, and show the maturity of our young people. These are:

  1. Living wage; everyone should be able to live comfortably. Everyone aged 16 or over should be paid at least the Living Wage of £7.85 per hour (£9.15 in London). – 1761 votes
  2. A curriculum to prepare us for life; Schools should cover topics including finance, sex and relationships and politics in the curriculum. – 1208
  3. Mental health; services should be improved with young people’s help and mental health education should be compulsory and challenge stereotypes.– 754 votes
  4. The end of austerity and child poverty; young people want to see investment in their lives and the lives of others in order to end poverty. – 671 votes
  5. Transport; make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all – 653 votes
  6. Climate change Government should keep its promise to work globally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to limit the increase in global temperature to 2 °C, and raise awareness locally.– 646 votes
  7. Tackling racism and religious discrimination, particularly against people who are Muslim or Jewish. All young people should work together to combat racism and other forms of discrimination, and ensure we know the dangers of such hatred. – 607 votes
  8. Fund our youth services; don’t cut them. Youth services provide us with vital support, development opportunities and positive activities – 580
  9. Votes at 16 Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all public elections and referendums including the upcoming EU Referendum – 478 votes
  10. Extended special needs support; There should be more, not less, help for young people with special educational needs, including those with learning difficulties and dyslexia – 471 votes

From these ten, the top three will go forward and collated with other areas MYP’s choices. Then, when the MYP have their take over day in Parliament, the top three nationally will be debated in the Commons Chamber. The MYP’s are the only group others than the MP’s themselves who are allowed to sit on the Green benches in the House of Commons.

I firmly believe the voice of the 11-18 year old (and younger) is important, yet with no statutory voting for those under 18, young people feel frustrated their views are not fully heard. This is why Make your Mark is essential, as it gives a powerful voice to the issues and concerns that are important to young people. I am fully supportive of this campaign and the role of the MYP’s in speaking up for the young people of Cornwall.

Well done MYP’s. And well done to the staff in the 11+ team who has supported them.

School term-time non-attendance Penalty Notices

There has again been a lot of media interest on the subject of talking children away from school for holidays during term-time. The LGA has now also weighed into the Government by calling for rules to be changed to give heads greater flexibility to allow parents to take their children on holiday during term time.

It is very important for a child to attend school and therefore gain the education and skills they need throughout their lives. However, family time is an important part in any child development and the Government should not financially penalise parents for wanting this family time.

Since the rule change in 2013, many local authorities have issued hundreds and in some cases thousands of fixed penalty notices to parents for taking their children out of school. In Cornwall, we have taken a more pragmatic view on this issue and have tried to understand the position not only of parents and their children, but also of head-teachers who often feel frustrated when parents take their children out during school time.

This pragmatic view reflects the number of fines head teachers have authorised and been issued. The criterion for issuing a fine is for a child to miss ten or more unauthorised sessions from School (2 sessions per day). To date this is the total number of fines  Cornwall has issued.

  • 2014 academic year – no penalty notices issued
  • 2015 academic year – 9 penalty issues issued ( three withdrawn and remainder issued to 1 family)
  • 2016 academic year (so far) – 3 penalty notices issued (2 to one family) * Not all of these are for term-time holidays; some have been for other unauthorised absences.

From the fines issued, none have resulted in Court action. It is interesting to note of the recent Court case in the Isle of Wight. If this was in Cornwall, it is highly unlikely a fine would have been issued because of the child’s attendance record. 100% leading up to the event and 93% after.

Because of the effective work of schools and our Educational Welfare Service, attendance has improved in Cornwall without resulting to the need of fining parents. The statistics below – taken from the school census – show for ALL absences taken, the % of which is due to holidays:

Holidays taken for Primary aged children

  • By % (2012).  18.8% Number of sessions missed 36,099
  • By % (2014). 7.6%   Number of sessions missed 17,309

Secondary aged children:

  • (2012). 10.5%, Number of sessions missed 14142
  • (2014) 4.7%     Number of sessions missed 8326

Head-teachers in Cornwall can still grant leave of absence in term time if the reason is exceptional. Head-teachers are responsible for deciding what is considered to be exceptional. This means that the decision on whether to grant leave of absence in term-time rests with the Head-teacher of each school and not the Council.

Though, to make sure there is consistency on what is a breach and therefore, has the potential to be subject to a Penalty Notice, the Council has a policy which has been compiled in conjunction with Head-teachers.

If a school decides it wishes to issue a penalty notice or prosecute a parent for poor attendance of their child, they would then contact the Local Authority which conducts prosecutions and issues penalty notices on behalf of the schools. Schools are advised that they should look at each case individually, but issuing a Penalty Notices should be on a second offence and should take into account the child’s overall absence levels. We would expect the evidence presented by a school to show they have concerns over attendance and that a parent has been warned previously.

Long-term and frequent non-attendance can be and is dealt by other legislation, and has always been a course of action open to LEA’s.

Will the law change? I doubt it, as the Government has been quick to dismiss the view of the LGA and others on changing the current rules.

However, one of the key arguments used by parents is the huge increase in the cost of holidays during the six-week summer holiday period which leaves family holidays unaffordable to many families.

That reader is the elephant in the room, and I would like to see the Government take action to address this. I know myself when taking my son away the eye-watering changes in prices for the same holiday, just because it is in the six-week holiday period.

 

Porthleven’s Wheeled Sports Park (skate park) Consultation – Update

On Sunday, the Skate Park Group held its first public consultation on the three companies who have submitted a design for a new Wheeled Sports Park in Porthleven. The three companies are Maverick, Wheelscape and Canvas.

Previous to this, the group met with representatives of the three companies with user groups to outline the plan and requirement for the new park. The three designs are based on a build cost of £120k. The aim of the consultation was to decide by popular vote the prefered supplier, and from that, ask them to submit a final design.

The three designs are:

Maverick

Maverick

Maverick

Another angle

Another angle

Wheelscape’s Design

Canvas' Design

Wheelscape’s Design

Wheelscope's Design

Wheelscape’s Design

Canvas’ Design

Canvas' Design

Canvas’ Design

image

Canvas’ Design

As you can see from the three designs, anyone of them would be fantastic for Porthleven. However, there can be only one who can actually build the park.

The consultation saw 76 people attended between the ages between 2 and 70! It shows this project has the support of all ages. In trying to understand the user groups, everyone who turned up was asked to give a few details, and from these details, the group could see the different needs and wheeled sports disciplines.

These details always make interesting reading.

1 to 10 17 Skate 17
10 to 20 22 Scoot 25
20 to 30 2 Ride 13
30 to 40 9 Roller Skate 2
40+ 18 Parent 28
Unknown 8 Grand Parent 5
Non User 5
Total 76
Gender
Male 49
Female 27

Of course, the team have counted the votes and know the result of the ‘so-far’ prefered company, but these details will not be released as there will be further consultation events planned in the next few weeks. One of these will be at Porthleven School firework event on the 30th October. After all the consultation has taken place, the prefered supplier will be made public.

This means those who could not attend the recent event still have the chance to have their say on the future wheeled sports park. Once built, this park will be the envy of many other towns, and something Porthleven’s young people can be proud of.

Residents young and older take part in the consultation

Residents young and older take part in the consultation

and one older, larger, possible user….

One larger, older user….

18 out of 25 parking tickets issued in Helston during a funeral are cancelled

parkingticketIn a previous blog, I wrote about the PR disaster Cornwall Council faced on the issuing of parking tickets in Helston when a funeral was well attended. I am pleased to say in a spot of good news, eighteen of the twenty-five parking tickets issued have been cancelled.

Out of the remaining seven tickets, two were paid without an appeal, and five have not been cancelled because they were parked in a dangerous and obstructive manner. However, those five people can still appeal to the independent traffic adjudicator.

I must say this is good news for those who have had their tickets cancelled, and thanks should go to the appeal’s team who looked at the evidence and acted accordingly. It would have been great if all were cancelled, but this is still good news.

Get Out There (GOT) Drama Group GOT-2-ACT head to Australia

Cornish based drama group of young deafblind people, GOT-2-ACT are getting ready to travel to Perth at the end of October as part of an exchange programme between national deafblind charity Sense and Senses Australia, a charity for people with disabilities.

During the trip the group will have morning tea with Her Excellency the Governor of Western Australia as well as performing two short plays at the Rendezvous Hotel in Scarborough, Perth on the evening of Wednesday, 28 October. They will also perform an “interpreted” play performance at the Perth Mossman School for the Deaf.

The GOT-2-ACT drama group, which formed just over a year ago, is part of the wider GOT Group which was set up to meet the needs of children and young people in Cornwall with sight and hearing loss. Funded by Cornwall Council, the 24 member GOT group has gone from strength to strength and is now being piloted by two other local authorities.

Members f the GOT-2-ACT

Members of the GOT-2-ACT

Minack drama 2015

Minack drama 2015

The group received outstanding critical acclaim for their performance of ‘American Idol’, the life and times of deafblind activist Helen Keller in the local area. From this, the group were invited to perform at the Deafblind International European conference in Belfast and the world Deafblind International conference opening ceremony in Romania earlier this year.

During the trip to Australia, the group will be having tea with the Governor, and the group will also have the opportunity to meet members of the Senses Australia service, and explore the city of Perth.

Following the trip to Perth a return visit is being planned for next year when children and young people with sight and hearing loss from Australia will be invited to stay with families in Cornwall.

I am a huge supporter of GOT and it is fantastic that in just one year, the GOT-2-ACT group has been formed and has delivered outstanding performances, both in Cornwall and in countries across Europe. Now, as a result of their success, they have been invited to perform in Australia

This is a wonderful chance for members of this very special group to share their experiences and show what can be achieved with the right support. All those involved in the GOT group should be very, very proud of all the work they do.

Funding for this trip has come from parents; Sense Cornwall branch; “The Lounge”, Truro; fund-raising and donations.

Consultation event for Porthleven Shipyard’s proposed new building

The proposed new building at Porthleven’s Shipyard has certainly got people talking. In a previous blog, I showed the concept of a building and talked about a planned consultation. This consultation was organised by the applicant, Trevor Osborne – owner of the harbour and shipyard.

Just under 40 people attended this event and gave their views on the concept. As with any large-scale planning application, this attracted a series of views both positive and negative. It is always good to hear people’s views as it shows they take an interest in what is going on in Porthleven.

FullSizeRender (2)

In an age of social media, people are quick to give their views on these platforms However, having been involved in planning for over 10 years, I would suggest before people start a petition or write to Cornwall Council to lodge their views either for or against, they should wait till the actual planning application is submitted with the final design.

As at the moment this building is a concept and apart from a pre-app, (which is very basic) there has not been any official plans submitted. Time has taught me that many things change in design and layout from a concept stage, to a planning application being submitted, to and if, any plan is approved either by the Local Authority, or at an appeal by the Planning Inspector. During that time there will be plenty of opportunities for people to comment.

When people object or support, the objection/support need to be on planning grounds for those views to carry any weight. Non-planning grounds whilst important to those who make them, carry little weight in the planning process.

Areas like impact, harm, smells and other planning issues will be picked up in the planning process. Design of the building is always difficult in planning terms and is subjective on people’s own aesthetic views.

However, I should point out the area in question is classed as industrial, so in simple planning terms, an industrial building is permitted in this area. People may have forgotten that there was plans to put three or four industrial building behind the current sheds. This from my knowledge did not come forward due issues on the water culvert that runs under this part of the shipyard. So putting new buildings in this area is not a new idea.

I also have been looking (as part of the research for the Porthleven CIC town trail) at pictures of different types of building large and small including just grass land in the area in question to show how this area has changed over the years. When you see these pictures you are amazed at the changes that have actually happened.

There has been comments on who will build the building. This is simple to answer is it will be built by Trevor Osborne and funded by him. Origin Coffee who plan to relocate from Helston are the planned tenants. They are not building it.

Porthleven has seen lots of changes and has grown in the last 50 years will large developments like (to name a few) Wheal Rose, St Peters in the 60’s/70’s; the area around Treza Rd; Penrose Park in the 80’s; Forth Scoul in 2000; Highburrow; Sunny Bank 90’s/00’s; Guissiney Place in the mid-2000; Methleigh Bottoms and Monterey on the site of the former crab factory; and lately Shrubberies in 2014/15.

I know these are houses, but Porthleven adapts and changes with the times. It has to, or else the world moves on and Porthleven is left behind. It is one reason why Porthleven has a buoyant economy and businesses want to move to Porthleven. The fact is for every shop (harbour and dock) that comes vacant, there are at least 5/6 applicants. Not many towns can boast this.

For instance, anyone living or visiting will have seen a lots of open and busy shops in many sectors. People travel to Porthleven to eat, shop and enjoy Porthleven. We have award-winning restaurants and chefs who appear on national cookery programmes. Porthleven has many community events like the Food and Music Festival and RNLI Day to name but a few. Porthleven is the place to live, and people want a slice of that pie.

The question is, will this new building and its proposed tenants Origin Coffee, add to this wonderful environment, or harm it. That question will need to be answered when plans come forward and are submitted to Cornwall Council’s planning dept.

 

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