Children from St. Wenn and Mylor Bridge primary schools launch Rocket Cars as part of the Bloodhound programme

 

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The Children from St. Wenn and Mylor Bridge primary schools with teachers and the course Rocketeers.

Following on from my ‘who doesn’t want to build a Rocket Car’ post, part of the second day of the course had was about running the classes and the racing with children involved. No better way of learning than having real children to teach what we had learned the previous day.

Two primary schools came, St. Wenn and Mylor Bridge. In total there were 20 children eager to design and launch their Rocket Car. It was amazing to see how engaged these children were to learn about aerodynamics, how rockets worked and how a better shape can make a car go faster. It was so much fun, I think they actually forgot they were learning something!

After they had designed, cut and shaped their Rocket Cars it was time to launch them. You could not help by smile where you heard squeals of delight as each Rocket Car shot off down the 50m track.

For me, it was an amazing couple of days. Best of all is I qualified and now can help run some of the race events planned in Cornwall which will result in one primary and one secondary going to the national finals.

Huge thanks to the Bloodhound Team trainers, who were brilliant. Thanks also go to Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre who were our hosts and were brilliant too. 

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The Bloodhound programme and building a Rocket Car from a block of foam

Who doesn’t want to build a Rocket Car? I certainly do, and I was really pleased (understatement) to be able to undertake the Rocket Car Accreditation Training that will enable me to teach young people how to build and launch their own Rocket Car. In fact, I have never been so excited over a bit of foam before!

My bit of foam..

From a bit of foam, I turned it into this thing (if I do say so myself) of beauty that is my Rocket Car.

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Number 11

Day-one of our training which saw 30 adults being as excited as a child on Christmas Day and about to start the training on how to build a Rocket Car. Our two instructors were great, both part of the Bloodhound programme team. They talked us through the must-nots, and how far you could go in sculpting your Rocket Car as the were a few parameters you could not go past, but other than that, you had a free reign.

You started by either drawing on paper, or the block of foam and then cut away the excess and then shaped with sandpaper to the design you want. No blueprint, you just used your imagination and whatever aerodynamics skill you had. There were so many different designs being built. You could not help but marvel at some of the designs. But the questions on everyone’s lips were will it go fast, or at least faster than someone else!

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Tables full of rocket cars!

And then there was the rockets to fit into the cars. These were very cool and we learnt how to arm them and how not to have a misfire.

Once our cars were ready, it was off to the track to have a little friendly competition to see how fast our Rocket Cars could go down a 50m track. Before we could launch our cars, we all learned how to set up the speed capture equipment and how the car rockets were ignited. As we will have to do this for real when we work with the young people.

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Setting up the speed capture kit

And then it was the races and how my Rocket Car reached a speed of 40.25mph over 50m!

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I cannot wait till day two of the training…

Young people in Cornwall will get to be part of the Bloodhound experience

Credit  Flock and Siemens

The Bloodhound Project is a British led endeavour to break the world land speed record of   1,000mph in South Africa. The project is not just about breaking a record, but to inspire the next generation to enjoy, explore and get involved in STEM subjects. You can find out more HERE.

Cornwall is very lucky in that the Bloodhound is coming here to do some major test before it embarks on its journey to South Africa. Not wanting to lose this fantastic opportunity, I am keen for young people in Cornwall to be part of that history. It will be the chance to see first-hand engineering at the highest level and a great opportunity to get students excited about STEM.

Therefore, we at Cornwall Council want our young people to be part of the model rocket car competition. This will enable young people to work as a team and get hands on experience of programming and aerodynamics in one of the most fun ways possible.

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Credit: Flock and Siemens

So far, 3,672 children from 94 schools, including children Elective Home Educated across Cornwall have registered to take part in a model rocket car competition being staged as part of the Bloodhound Project.

Children from schools across Cornwall will compete as part of 918 teams at approximately five race HUBs.  The goal is simple – the two fastest primary and secondary teams to compete in the model rocket care competition open days being held during February and March 2017 will be invited to the regional finals in March 2017.  The fastest primary and secondary team at each regional final will then go to the finals in June.

The winning team nationally will get an all-inclusive trip to South Africa to spend a week with the BLOODHOUND race team, plus a cash prize of £1,000.

This builds into one of the key priorities in Cornwall Council’s Education Strategy and its Raising Aspirations and Achievements Strategy (RAAS) is to secure high quality provision, widen local opportunities and promote equalities.  The Council has been working with local partners to bring this project to Cornwall to help meet this priority and to encourage more of our young people into STEM related subjects. I hope by the Bloodhound coming to Cornwall, it will inspire young people to be engineers of the future.

For me, I get to be one of the rocketeers and will be doing the Rocket Car Accredited Training over the next few days. I am very excited to be doing this!!

More information about the project is available from http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/education

 

I will be standing and seeking re-election to Cornwall Council on May 4th 2017.

My term of office as your Cornwall Councillor nearly up as there will be elections to Cornwall Council on May 4th. No official list of candidates seeking election has been finalised, but many of the political parties have named their candidate to fight this election.

This blog post is officially confirming my intent to stand and seek re-election as an Independent to the electoral division of Porthleven and Helston West at the May election.  I hope residents will consider me for a further term of office.

Government offers money to ‘mitigate’ against second-homes

Just before Christmas the Government made an announcement that it had created a fund to help those areas will a high number of second-homes. The funding is allocated between local authorities proportionate to the number of holiday homes in the local area and taking account of the affordability of housing to local people.The amount of money available nationally is £60m. From this pot, Cornwall Council will receive £5,117,980.

Whilst I welcome this money, it is not really going to deal with the issue of second-homes. I long campaigned for any second-home or holiday-let to require planning permission before it could change from full-time occupation. In this campaign, I submitted a Motion to Cornwall Council which was fully supported to ask the Government to change the planning rules. Details of that Motion can be found HERE. Yet the Government dismissed the Council’s Motion and letter (blogs on second-homes HERE).

How can the £5m allocated to Cornwall Council be spent? In essence, the fund will enable local community groups deliver affordable housing units of mixed tenure on sites which are likely to be of little interest to mainstream house-builders. Being honest, getting developers to build is not a problem, the problem is what happens to those open market dwellings after they are built.

Furthermore, in the Governments own words, this funding will “contribute to the overall national effort to boost housing supply.”

From the Government’s message, it seems to tackle second-homes is to build more housing. This will not solve the problem. The problem can be mitigated against if there was a change to planning legislation. For instance, you cannot change a business unit into a home without planning permission. The same rule should apply for both second-homes and holiday-lets.

Rubbish and recycling collections over the Christmas period

It is that time of the year when people ask: will there be any changes to my weekly and fortnightly rubbish/recycling collections? The good news is unless your collection for either rubbish, clinical waste, recycling or garden waste collections falls on Boxing Day, then there will be no change to your collection. As Boxing Day (Monday 26 December) is the only collection day that is affected over Christmas and New Year.

Now if your collection would have been on Boxing Day, then your rubbish and clinical waste due to be collected on Boxing Day will be collected on Monday 2nd January. If your recycling or garden waste collection waste is due on Boxing Day (Monday 26 December) it will be collected on Saturday 31st December .

Date Rubbish and Clinical Recycling or Garden
Boxing Day

Monday 26 December

No collection

Next collection on Monday 2 January.

No collection

Next collection on Saturday 31 December

For anyone wanting to use the Household Waste and Recycling Centres, these will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. The people at these centres need a day off too!

The Council will still collection you Christmas Tree for free, and yes it only applies to Christmas trees. This free collection will start from the 9th January and 16th January.  All you have to do is put your tree out on your normal rubbish collection day on the alternate week to your recycling collection. The trees will be collected and then shredded and composted. You can also take your tree to the Household Waste and Recycling Centres.

The following items can be recycled in the following ways:

  • Christmas cardsThere are various charity collections for Christmas cards.  You can also put them in your cardboard bag as part of your household recycling collection.
  • Envelopes – Envelopes can go in your household recycling collection.  White envelopes should go into the bag for paper, coloured or brown envelopes should go with the cardboard.
  • Wrapping paperWe can take wrapping paper that isn’t coated with foil or plastic.  Please put all non-shiny wrapping paper in bag for paper, and remove any sticky tape, string or ribbons.
  • CardboardOver Christmas there are a lot of extra cardboard boxes. Flatten the boxes and put them in the orange cardboard recycling bag. If the boxes are too big, flat pack them, tie them in a bundle and put them out next to your recycling. If you have very large amounts of cardboard, you can either take it to your local Household Waste and Recycling Centres or put it out for the kerbside collection over a couple of weeks.
  • Tin FoilPut scrunched up tin foil into the sack for plastic bottles and cans.
  • Sweet and biscuit tinsYou can put chocolate and biscuit tins out for recycling in the sack for plastic bottles and tins. We can only accept metal sweet and biscuit tins at this time. We cannot take the plastic tubs. (Unless you are in the pots tubs and trays trial)

If you have more kerbside recycling than usual, please put it out in carrier bags.  Glass bottles and jars must be put in a rigid box.

Merry Christmas and keep recycling!!

Cornwall’s Local Government Finance Settlement for 2017/18

It is always a nervous time in Local Government circles when the Government announces its financial settlement for this sector. Over the last few years, the news has not been positive; you know it is going to hurt, but how much it will hurt you only find out in the announcement.

This announcement and publication of the settlement marks the start of a consultation period until 13 January 2017. The final settlement for 2017/18 will be laid before the House of Commons in February 2017.

So how much hurt is contained within the proposed settlement? The positve news is overall on first review the settlement remains largely as expected as there is no change in the levels of Revenue Support Grant, Rural Services Delivery Grant or Better Care Fund. However at this stage not all information is available and as always the devil will be in the detail. But we do know there have been changes to the following grants:

  • New Homes Bonus (NHB) – due to further changes in the way the reward is calculated NHB will reduce in 2017/18 by c£0.750m compared to the existing assumptions within the Council’s financial plan;
  • Adult Social Care Support Grant – This is a new grant that has been established, funded from savings in the New Homes Bonus. Amounts will be distributed according to relative need and Cornwall’s indicative allocation is £2.806m but is one-off only for 2017/18. (sadly nothing for Children’s Social Care)

At face-value, there is also a bit of positive news with the Government confirmed that Cornwall Council will pilot 100% Business Rates Retention from April 2017, although the details of that scheme are yet to be announced and are expected to form part of the final settlement in February 2017.

There is good news on Council Tax referendum limits for Town and Parish Councils. As the proposed introduction of a referendum limit to larger Town & Parish Councils will be deferred, although the Government will continue to monitor the situation and look to make excessive increases more transparent. If this was implemented it could have affected at least six Town Council’s in Cornwall.

And now for the bad news. As you maybe aware, the Government allowed local authorities to add onto the Council Tax bill a 2% levy for Social Care. Now the Government is allowing local authorities to increase this percentage. I totally support we need more money in Social Care; however, I have two concerns on this.

The first is Social Care should also include Children’s Social Care, but this extra levy cannot be used to help any Children’s Social Care, in fact is it rather limited on what is can be spent on. So to call it a Social Care levy is rather misleading!

The second is the Government has introduced a postcode lottery on Adult Social Care by means of this levy; whereas it should be properly funding the service in the first place – and yes that includes Children’s Social Care too. A further problem is as the Government is not funding it properly by passing the buck to a local authority who may not want to increase the Council Tax further because of pressures on its residents finances. If a local authority does not increase the levy, then the Government will just blame the Council for not providing the right level of funding. Hardly fair.

Anyway, lets hope there are no hidden surprised tucked away in the detail…

Could Cornwall be set to potentially receive an extra £10m for school funding?

Since I became Portfolio Holder for Children’s Service, I have argued for the Government to address the serious level of under-funding Cornwall’s schools have received. To be fair, education in Cornwall has historically been underfunded by successive Governments. Over the last couple of year’s there has been a slight increase which has helped, but it still has not gone far enough as Cornwall is still one of the worst funded authorities.

If these proposals announced today are implemented following consultation, the new National Funding Formula could see an additional £10 million allocated to Cornwall for school and high needs pupils. However, while this funding has the potential to make a real difference, we need to look closely at the detail to see how the formula could impact on individual schools. Furthermore, the difference in funding allocation will affect schools in different ways, and not all schools will see an increase in their funding. As the old saying goes – the devil is in the detail.

It is also very important to remember that this is only a consultation at this time and things could change – like they often do.  However, anticipating that Cornwall will receive additional education funding,  we would urge the Secretary of State to consider a swift transition to this new formula of no more than three years.

I welcome these proposals in principle and thank the Department for Education for recognising Cornwall’s historic under-funding and taking appropriate steps to address it. I must also say thanks to say thank-you to everyone who has campaigned so hard over the past few years for a fairer, more equitable distribution of funds to pupils.

 

 

 

Porthleven Town Council supports changes to the dog ban on Porthleven beach

img_1639At the December meeting of Porthleven Town Council I brought an item to discuss the issue of the current dog ban on Porthleven West Sands and whether under the current consultation period to change the timings and period. To recap, HERE is the previous blog on this subject.

The outcome of the debate is the Town Council will formally request changes to the dog ban. If Cornwall Council accepts the changes, the dog ban will not start till 1st May and ends on the 30th September. The ban will not come into force till 8am and will stop at 7pm each day during the ban period.

I believe these are sensible changes to the current ban period and was happy to propose these changes. I will now be submitting these changing as will the town council to Cornwall Council.

I will keep you informed of the outcome of the request.

Introducing £1 to park after 4pm in Porthleven and Helston is not welcomed

The emotive subject of charging to park in a car park has raised it head again with the release consultation on parking charges for 2017 by Cornwall Council. Charging to park is not a popular subject, especially when charges change and go up. I will start with a positive as last year, car parking charges were frozen.

The proposal which is now out for public consultation is for the car park in Porthleven and the main Helston car parks is for the price of the one and two-hour to rise; with the three to four-hour charge dropping. However, in a shocking move, there is the introduction of a £1 after 4pm charge.

The full changes are contained within the following:

Current Proposed
Kittos Field, Porthleven £0.60

£1.40

£3.30

£4.40

£5.00

——

£1.00

1 Hour

2 Hours

3 Hours

4 Hours

24 Hours

Evening

Winter

£0.70

£1.60

£3.00

£4.00

£5.00

£1.00

£1.00

Trengrouse Way & Trengrouse Extension, Helston £0.60

£1.40

£3.30

——

1 Hour

2 Hours

3 Hours

Evening

£0.70

£1.50

£2.50

£1.00

Castle Green, Helston £2.20 24 Hours £2.20
Cattle Market, Helston £0.60

£1.40

£3.30

£4.40

£5.00

——

1 Hour

2 Hours

3 Hours

4 Hours

24 Hours

Evening

£0.70

£1.50

£2.50

£3.50

£5.00

£1.00

Tyacke Road, Helston £0.60

£1.40

£3.30

£4.40

£5.50

——

1 Hour

2 Hours

3 Hours

4 Hours

24 Hours

Evening

£0.70

£1.50

£2.50

£3.50

£5.50

£1.00

Whilst the over all increases in the hourly charges and the reduction in others seems at face value a little bit of give and take; which could be interpreted as encouraging people to stay longer in an area. However when you look deeper into the income, it is clear the income from the is one and two-hour charges is the main source of income. For example:

  • Kitto’s the one and two-hour charge equates to nearly 60% of the ticket sales, with the three-hour charge having 13.3% and both the four and five-hour charge totalling 3.1% of the sales.
  • Trengrouse is 95.6% of the ticket sales are from the one and two-hour charge;
  • Cattle market is 95.5%;
  • Tyack is 92.9%.

Therefore, I believe this is more about generating more income, but sold as something different.

Putting the hourly tariffs aside, my real concern and anger is the inclusion of a £1 charge after 4pm. This has been done without and warning or consultation with local members. There are no grounds for this except for getting more money. Introducing this charge will have negative results; more so than adding 10p to a tariff.

There are a few reasons why this is not good for either Porthleven or Helston. The first is residents who parked in the car parks out of hours because the on-street parking is non-existent or limited and therefore parking in the car park helps reduce congestion. In fact residents have been encouraged to park in car parks out of hours.  If this charge is introduced, then they will just park on the streets. A second is it will harm the local economy who gain from having free parking.

At the December meeting of Porthleven Town Council, Councillors raised various points of objection on the proposals. I made* various points like I have in this blog post. From these points, Councillors voted unanimously to object to the changes, especially the introduction of the £1 after 4pm charge.

I really do believe there needs to be a re-think on these proposals. I hope other Council’s will look at the proposals and take appropriate action. I understand parking charges are a form of income for the Council to provide services, but there is a balance of what is a reasonable charge to park, and what is a cash-cow.

The consultation closes on 16 December 2016

When you visit the website HERE, you will also be able to view the following consultation documents (or click on the links below):

I will, as will the Town Council, make a stong representation against these proposals.

*As a Town Councillor

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