Loe Bar footpath – update

The official footpath that connects Porthleven and Loe Bar suffered a major collapse recently which resulted in the footpath being closed. Since this collapse there has been a lot of planning of what to do next. It is also not the first-time a collapse has happened as large scale erosion was part of the reason why the new footpaths at Highborrow were constructed.

In speaking to the National Trust and the trust updating the town council, it is clear this area of the footpath will not be repaired. As any repair to this area would be futile due to this area being prone to large-scale erosion. Any repair could disappear the following day.

The plan is for the footpath to be re-routed. Work is underway to establish the best route for this new footpath. At this stage, it is looking like the footpath will come behind Bar Lodge. This will give the footpath the best chance of longevity. The new route hasn’t been confirmed as there is a lot of work to be undertaken prior to a new route being established.

There will be some changes to the status of the footpath. Currently, the ‘old’ footpath is a bridleway. The plans for this new access is for it to be a footpath only. Fear not horse and bike riders, as the other parts of the connecting footpaths are bridleways and you will still be able to access the area. Just not on this new stretch.

As these fields are in use for cattle, the farmer will be involved. Speaking to the farmer he asks people not to just wander around any field as they see fit. Which is happening. I know you might think I will just take this shortcut, but you will be surprised how quick a heifer can move.

The issue of money will come into play as putting in a new permanent footpath is not a cheap endeavour and money will have to be found. I know the NT are seeking out the required funding.

The NT are planning a series of updates as and when they have more details. As soon as I have more details, I will update you too.

The Penrose NT has a great website for information HERE.

Electoral Boundaries for Cornwall Council set to change

For the last few years, Cornwall Council has been undertaking a boundary review of its divisional area. Currently there are 123 elected councillors in 122 divisions. From 2021 this is set to change. Change is sometimes good and it is right to look at how people are represented and the boundaries to reflect a community. However, Cornwall has been so many boundary changes since 2009. You could almost say no one election has been fought on the same boundary lines.

This boundary review is in simple terms being inflicted upon Cornwall. It is not about how best Cornwall Council can represent the people, rather than the Boundary Commission coming up with a figure and telling the Council to make it work.

The council has spent a lot of time arriving at a figure (99 Councillors) that not only reduced numbers, but also brought equity to the number of electors per division. However that was dismissed by the Commission as still too high. Basically, the Boundary Commission want no more than 88. It would have just been simpler if the Commission had just said a figure at the outset, rather than the ruse of thinking the Council could have some say in the numbers.

With such wholesale boundary changes, electoral divisions such as Porthleven and Helston will see a massive change. With the plan for 87 Councillors, Porthleven will no longer have part of Helston within its division, but instead will be joined with Breage, Germoe and Praa Sands to form one division called Porthleven, Breage and Germoe.

As the following picture (11) shows the new boundary for the electoral division of Porthleven, Breage and Germoe

Helston will have two electoral division of Helston North (13)

and Helston South which will include Meneage (14)

As you can see, there is wholesale changes to the boundaries with settlements being put together that have limited connection apart from being geographically close.

No scheme is going to be universally supported and with any review there will be changes. but the problem with this is Cornwall has been given a number and the new divisions have been created on trying to achieve that number, rather on what communities want.

Even though Cornwall Council officially has supported the 87 number formed into the following divisional boundaries (HERE), the Boundary Commission can totally ignore – as it has on other submissions – and come up with its own figure and its own boundaries. And there is little anyone can do as the Commission answers to no-one.

Award of Town plaque to clock-winder of 40 years

As Mayor, you get to do some great things. Sometimes you had to make tough choices too. But the greatest honour is to award a Town plaque to deserving individuals or organisations.

For those who do not know, Porthleven has an official clock-winder. There has been a clock-winder for maybe 100+ years.

On Thursday I invited the current title holder, Jeremy Mitchell to the Town Council meeting to give a history lesson about this role. But really, I wanted to award a Jeremy a Town plaque for his long and dedicated service. He didn’t know this was happening.

You see, Jeremy has been the official clock-winder for 42 years. Yes, for 42 years Jeremy has been on hand to not only wind the clock weekly, but to make sure it keeps to time and works. Before the presentation, Jeremy gave an insight and history lesson to those gathered.

Jeremy talk was really fascinating with stories like back in the day, there were no ladders to get to the machinery. It was just small steps attached to this tower walls with a sheer drop in the middle. Not for the faint-hearted. In days before Health and Safety, Jeremy used to be sent up as a boy by his grandfather. Jeremy also told how he was stopped as a young man by the police asking where he was going with the two clock-face arms. Luckily, he was just sent on his way by the police.

Jeremy is not the first in his family to carry out the duties as the clock-winder His grandfather held this office too. And Jeremy’s son steps in to cover if he is away and it’s probably being lined-up to take over the role if and when Jeremy wants to stop.

The institute is an iconic building, but the social history of the building is equally important. People like Jeremy really add to the rich tapestry that makes Porthleven so special.

It was a great honour to present Jeremy with his Town plaque. It was thoroughly deserved.

Cornwall’s waste collection set for a big change

How household waste is collected is to change by 2020 when Cornwall will have be a new waste contract in place. Currently residue waste (black bag) is collected weekly, kerbside recycling is fortnightly as is green waste.

The change to how waste is collected is due to both EU and Government strategies on waste collection and recycling. The Government sets national targets of recycling at least 50% by 2020 with EU at 65% by 2030. The latter is likely to be adopted by the Government in the Brexit process.

In Cornwall, we recycle around 37% of waste, with the average kerbside collection of recycling materials around 27%. Though this widely – and I mean widely – fluctuates from town to town. Currently, Cornwall Council spends around £57m per year on waste management. This budget is set to rise to over £58m.

In getting ready for the new waste contract there have been a series of meetings and consultations, including some house to house surveys to seek the views of residents. Like most things, everyone will have an opinion. With those opinions in mind and the pressing need to reduce landfill and increase recycling, Cornwall Council has put forward a plan.

This ‘in principle’ plan for waste collection for 2020 as approved by Cornwall Council’s Cabinet, and will be subject to a full public consultation is as follows:

  • A weekly collection of segregated recyclable materials;
  • A weekly separate collection of food waste (carried out at the same time as recycling);
  • A fortnightly collection of residue waste (black bag) which cannot be recycled, limited to 180lt with no side-waste collection.

There is new waste strategy called ‘It’s in our hands’ can be found HERE. In this 16 point delivery plan, there are some bold targets and some welcomed changes that include Household Waste Recycling Centres (the dump to you and I) having a more re-use function, rather than just a dump.

Of course there are many – as yet answered – questions such; the type of receptacle for the waste, how many we will have, will it be a wheelie bin for residue and recycling and whether there will be any punitive approach to anyone not recycling and just throwing it all in to the residue waste.

Time will tell how this will all workout, but I for one welcome many of the changes as we can no longer just throw everything out in a black bag and think someone else will deal with it.

Of course, if manufacturers took more responsibility by trying to standardise and cut down on the multiple plastic types, including a reduction of materials used to make something more appealing, we would be a long way forward in cutting down waste and increasing recycling. Rather than rely on the resident to sort it and trying to make head or tail or which material can or cannot be recycled.

A packed public meeting to hear about amended plans for the Porthleven Shipyard

The dust has settled from Monday night’s public meeting where over 130 people gathered to hear about the amended plan for the recently refused building in the Shipyard.

The plan for the event was for the planning officer to outline the amended plans and then the applicant to give their reasons as to why the application – when it is submitted – should be supportive.

The planning officer was quite quick with his part and then it was over to Mr. Osborne to give us his vision of Porthleven, including his achievements for over 40 years. There is no denying Mr. Osborne has helped create a vibrant place, but he hasn’t done this single-handedly and as it was pointed out by at least one resident, it is not buildings that make a place, it is people.

Everyone will have a viewpoint on the building and those views are subjective depending on how you see things. My view (and I’ve been involved in planning for near 12 years) is I find the design disjointed and with no clear rationale of what it is trying to be. It is a tower loosely attached to a box. In merits of design, rather than complement the area which a bold building can do, it lacks the sympathy and understanding of this historic area of Porthleven.

The footprint of the proposed building is smaller as is the height – slightly. However, the access entering the site and through the site hasn’t really been addressed and the previous concerns still stand. A positive in the reduction of the footprint is there looks like more room for boats to be secured/de-rigged prior to launch/retrieval. Which is good news for boat-owners and was a major concern.

Whilst it can be good to have a different style of building, its use and the longevity of the building is as important as the design.

This building has no clear or firm use. The buildings journey has been a coffee manufacturer, cafe, bar/food place, Art studios (were people were offered space for support), gallery to now an innovation hub. What happens next week or if planning consent is given, will this use change again? There are no guarantees what we have been told so far will actually be delivered.

This is why I raised the issue that some sort of economic impact assessment should be carried out to prove the use of the building which could also highlight rents (as a young artist pointed out at the site meeting would be too expensive to rent) and whether there the need for a certain business type. Do we really need another restaurant or art studio if the latest use of an innovation hub does not materialise?

For those who are not aware what an innovation hub is, these are generally used to allow start-ups to thrive for a couple of years before they move into bigger premises. They are not long term rentals and they generally have to be subsidised by grants. Yes, used right, they are great, but they come with lots of risk and many of these hubs no longer carry out their original function.

The objection from the Porthleven Fishermen’s and Boat-owners Association was – loosely – covered by Mr. Osborne when he announcing the Association was now in support of the amended plans. It did have to be pointed out to Mr.Osborne whereas in fact, the truth is the Association has not given support, but has said it would not object to the plan if certain conditions on access and boat launching/retrieval were in place and conditioned in legally binding planning terms. That is anyone’s book is a vastly different to supporting.

However, this sudden acknowledgement of the ‘support’ of the Association goes totally against the recent letter I have seen where Mr Osborne no longer officially recognises the Porthleven Fishermen’s Association. In fact he wanted to set up his own association, but I hear no-one wanted to join. You cannot really claim support from an organisation when you have refused to acknowledge its existence a few weeks beforehand.

Mr. Osborne highlighted the new toilet faculties and bus stop and was critical of the Shute Lane toilets and how his new facility would be so much better. A new toilet is better, I would support more toilets in Porthleven. But who would pay for them?

The simple answer is Mr. Osborne wants the town council to pay for them. I know this, as he asked me (I told him he needed to officially request it as this is a town council matter) if the money spent on Shute Lane could be transferred to his company to run these toilets. If this happened, then there would be no need to run Shute Lane and they could close as they would be surplus because we have new shiny ones. As part of the deal the old block could be transferred to Mr. Osborne. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes know why, but if you cannot guess, it might have something to do with his planned development of this area HERE. It will be a little hard to do when you have a large toilet block in the way which is not in your ownership.

Lastly, there is still the issue of the previous application. The applicant has six-months from the refusal decision to appeal. As yet nothing has been submitted. But if this latest plan is granted, what is to stop Mr. Osborne from submitting the original as the principle of planning has been established and its a lot harder to refuse something when a similar building has been passed.

I am pleased this public meeting took place as it gave the platform to hear the views of everyone who wanted to say something in a respectful manner. Thanks to Cornwall Council’s Planning Dept. for running this meeting. This blog post is my view and how you need to look at this more strategically and be wary of promises.

Porthleven Town Council wins National Lottery support to investigate restoration of the Bickford-Smith Institute

The restoration of the Bickford-Smith Institute is a major project which is being undertaken by Porthleven Town Council via a working group consisting of town councillors and a group of dedicated volunteers.

This is a ambitious project to not only restore the most iconic building in Porthleven, but also to look at the future use of the building.

After many many month of hard work which resulted in a very detailed funding bid submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been rewarded by a award of £20,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This money will be pooled with the £2,700 from the Cornwall Council Devolution Fund and just over £2,000 already committed by the Town Council to seek professional advice on securing the building for the future.

The Heritage Lottery grant will cover the cost of looking at the current condition of the building and at how it can best be preserved for future generations, including a set of fully costed options for how the building might be restored and sustainably run for the benefit of the community of Porthleven. It will also look at plans for the future of the snooker club, who currently lease part of the building.

The grant will cover the costs of:

• A full feasibility study

• Additional community consultation.

• Establishing a Friends group

• Review of fundraising opportunities

• Professional support and training for the Working Party, who have been tasked by the Council with delivering the work

• Appointing architects to commission and oversee a structural, environmental, contamination, utilities, flood, heritage and access surveys.

• Appointing a Quantity Surveyor to undertake an initial assessment of restoration and operating costs for the Institute.

• Appointing Business Planners to advise on establishing governance models and to carry out options appraisal.

This is a very important step in securing the future of the Bickford-Smith Institute. I want to thank the hard-work of working group; as without their dedication, this funding would not have been awarded.

This grant from the Heritage Lottery, together with money from the Town and County Council, allows us to investigate fully costed possibilities for the future of the building and to consult with our community on all aspects of future use. This will give us a very sound base on which to raise the million pounds we estimate is needed to fully restore the building.

Reminder for the Public Meeting for the Shipyard Application

On Monday, at the Porthleven Public Hall, there is going to be a public meeting where those attending will have the chance to give their views on the amended plans for the Shipyard building. This meeting starts at 6pm.

Details about the application can be found HERE on a previous blog post.

It is very important those interested in this application not only attend, but give their views too. As this meeting will very much influence any planning application that may come forward.

You can also read more detail about this meeting HERE.