Dismaland is truly an experience

In something that is still political and topical, I thought I would blog about my recent visit to Banksy’s Dismaland. There has been a lot of media surrounding this ‘bemusement park’ and you have to wonder if it is media hype, or is the site worth visiting?

Is Dismaland worth a visit? The simple answer is yes it is. For an entry fee of £3 per person, a three-hour drive from Porthleven to Weston-super-Mare, and only six-week period of being open, you have to visit.

I visited when it was raining. It added to the desolate feeling of the place. As you step in the many puddles you feel that they were placed there as part of the park, rather than just formed from the rainfall.

As you enter the site and ‘clear’ security you are visually hit not only by the sights, but the music playing and the odd bit of commentary over the load-speakers.

Like Disneyland the centre piece of the theme park is the castle. Far from its former glory and in a sorry, if not captivating state. You can enter the castle too. The exhibition inside the castle was my favourite piece of the whole site. I will not spoilt it for those who will visit, but it is clever and tragic at the same time.

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pano shot of Dismaland

Along side the castle is a big wheel (which you can ride on) and in front of that in the castle moat is a police riot van spraying water like it is some sort of water fountain.

The 'faiytail castle'

The ‘fairytale castle’

You can then wander around in any manner you like. Like in other theme parks or fairgrounds, there are many stalls to play on. Each with the same message. You will not win, it is fixed. Yet the irony is people still hand over money to play. Just like you would in real life.

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One of the many staff all wearing Mickey Mouse ear and wearing pink surcoats

The staff are brilliant, always in character being miserable and surly. They really help make this park an experience.

There is some close to the knuckle bits of art work, but done in the right way to highlight the message. Very topical and covers subjects like the banking crisis; war; terrorism or if you see it from the other-side, freedom fighters; pay-day lenders and consumerism.

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Banksy’s highlights the toilet that is Sea World.

 

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Damien Hirst’s piece

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The death of Cinderella with the media more interested in taking a picture, rather than helping. Only the two bluebirds were helping

There is just so much to see your brain works overtime in trying to keep up with what you are seeing and what you have seen 10 minutes ago.

Many parts of the theme park are a parody of the seaside playing Mini Gulf or the old fashion Victorian games, that instead of two fat ladies, are ISIS or pirates. Just about everything is interactive.image

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You can pay a pound to drive around refuges, or the gunboat. There are even refuges floating face down in the water. The artist is Jimmy Cauty

There was also a strong anti-war message and how people should never forget that for many the fighting does not stop when the bullets and war stop. It clearly highlighted by these two Action Man figures

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highlighting the recent horse meat scandal by using a merry-go-round which you can ride on

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Exhibition by Caroline McCarthy on ‘growing’ ready meals

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Enough said…

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I took so many pictures this blog would be massive. I also do not want to spoil the visual experiences if you go yourself. As I said, if there is one thing you do in the next six-weeks, and no matter if it is raining or sunny, take the time and go visit this Bemusement Park. You will not regret it.

 

Tory’s take Camborne Pendarves from UKIP

In the latest Cornwall Council by-election, this time for Camborne Pendarves electoral division, UKIP has failed to hold on to the seat they won in 2013.

The seat was won with 350 votes by the Tory’s and I would like to congratulate (as I would all winners) John Herd for his win and welcome him to Cornwall Council.

It was a close contest with the Lib Dems coming a close second, with 14 votes behind the winner. Labour came third (220); UKIP forth (89); MK fifth (85); Green sixth (31); and the Independent candidate seventh (13).

Looking at the 2013 election to this by-election, the Tory’s gain was 0.5%; a gain of 29% for the Lib Dem’s; Labour gain was 1.8%; UKIP down 23.5%; MK down 11.8%. The Green’s gain of 2.9% and Independent 1.2% gain.

The vote share was:

Tory – 30.3%

Lib Dem – 29%

Labour – 20.5%

UKIP – 8.3%

MK – 7.9%

Green – 2.9%

Independent – 1.2%

Kresen Kernow secures £11.7m investment thanks to National Lottery

It has taken more than 10 years in the planning, but now Kresen Kernow is set to become a reality with the award of £11.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

artist impression of the new archive centre in Redruth

artist impresion of the new archive centre in Redruth

Kresen Kernow is a new archive centre on the site of the former Redruth Brewery. This new archive centre which would host the world’s largest collection of manuscripts, books, maps and photographs related to Cornwall.

At the heart of the project will be the extensively refurbished historic brew house with a new environmentally sustainable extension for archive storage and care. The design takes advantage of the unique heritage features of the brewery buildings and carefully integrates contemporary archive and learning facilities.  Work will begin on construction in 2016 with the centre due to open in 2018.

This is great news, as residents and visitors to Cornwall will be able to explore the rich culture and history of Cornwall in this new purpose-built archive.

Well done to all who made this happen. You can read more about this project HERE

 

 

Cornwall Council helps to win a Judicial Review on the threshold for affordable housings

Planning is a roller coaster ride of emotions, no matter which side of the fence you sit on. There is a feeling with councillors and the public that the Government has deregulated planning policy so much that the system favours the developer.

I highlighted a huge concern in a previous Blog on the thresholds for affordable housing and how changes to the rule would affect the desirability of affordable housing.  So much so joined a Judical Review by providing evidence in support of a JR brought by West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council.

The changes to the policy would have stopped any contributions either financially or by means of a percentage of affordable housing will be sought from developments of 10 or less.  In Cornwall 26% of previous permissions were on sites under 10 units.

The good news is this Judical Review was successful and following the successful challenge the Government has now removed those new limits from national planning policy guidance. This judgement means that the affordable housing threshold reverts to 2 rather than 10.

 

Porthleven CIC Withy FIeld car park is officially opened by the Deputy Mayor of Porthleven

The Directors of Porthleven CIC are delighted to have completed their third project with the official opening of Withy Field car park, Mill Lane, Porthleven.

The car park was officially opening by the Deputy Mayor of Porthleven, Cllr Barbara Powell, with representatives from Porthleven CIC, Coodes Estate, Porthleven Town Council, Porthleven Football Club, Mitchells Builders and Harbour and Dock Company.

Directors of Porthleven CIC, Deputy Mayor of Porthleven and partners in the project celebrate the opening of the new car park

Directors of Porthleven CIC, Deputy Mayor of Porthleven and partners in the project celebrate the opening of the new car park

Porthleven CIC was awarded £99,750 from the Coastal Community Fund in 2013 to deliver five projects. These are: the community marquee hire business, up-lighting the Bickford-Smith Institute, Porthleven Town Trail, website and car park. The three projects which have been completed are marquee hire business, up-lighting and car park. The remaining two projects will be completed within the next six months.

This 72 space car park has been achieved through a partnership between Coodes Estate, Porthleven Town Council and Porthleven Football Club. All the profits from the car park and the community marquee hire business will be used to help fund further community projects, therefore giving Porthleven a sustainable form of funding.

The name of the car park was chosen as it is located on one of the areas previous used for growing willow from which the withy material was taken for making crab and lobster pots – a fitting tribute to this traditional craft.

Early construction of the site

Early construction of the site

Work well underway

Work well underway

Porthleven is a popular visitor destination, but suffered with a lack of suitable parking. This new car park, within five minutes of flat and safe walking from the town centre will help address the parking, and allow visitors to experience the charm and character of Porthleven.

The directors would like to thank Mitchell’s Builders of Porthleven for the excellent construction of the site; Chris Strike of RA Design who gave much of his time for free in the planning stage and Simon Stone from Out of the Blue.

The finished car park

The finished car park

 

The directors have agreed that the car park will be free for the next week for Gig Day and Porthleven Lifeboat Day in celebration of the opening. From next week a charging structure will be introduced with the tariff set at £1.40 for up to two-hours and £3.50 for 24 hours. Furthermore, there is parking for motor-cycles and long vehicles.

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Appeal allowed for Helston’s ‘HX1’ outline planning application

In a blow to those against HX1 planning applicaton and Cornwall Council, the planning inspector has allowed the appeal against Cornwall Council and has granted outline planning permission for up to 340 dwellings (including at least 40% affordable homes) and a building for use for B1 offices and a medical practice on the HX1 urban extension site, west of Trewennack, Helston, Cornwall.

From reading the inspector’s report, the planning inspector took into account the Helston Town Framework Urban Extension Assessment and the emerging  Cornwall Council Local Plan. In a blow to both these plans, the planning inspector said “Neither carries significant weight as a policy document”

Why the Local Plan carries little weight is because during the examination of the emerging Local Plan the inspector of the Local Plan recommended the plan should be suspended for various reason including insufficient housing numbers. In response to this recommendation the Council has suspended the Local Plan process. In the report the planning inspector made comment about the housing requirement in the Local Plan submission for 47,500 dwellings over the plan period is inevitably going to rise. The Local Plan Inspector found the need for a 7% uplift to cater for second and holiday homes. This means Helston’s requirement would increase due to the additional requirement for more dwellings.

This is further complicated as only three sites in Helston were taken forward as suitable for development. One HX3 has not, and unlikely to progress further fully due to land ownership. That leaves HX1 and HX2. Neither of which can individually accommodate the required number of dwellings for Helston. Put simply, the Council cannot demonstrate a five-year land supply. In the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). If a Council cannot demonstrate the five-year land supply, then planning should be granted.

So what does this mean for the site, well before the diggers can move in, a full planning application has to be submitted. But as it stands with this appeal decision, planning is acceptable in this area, and it would be highly unlikely for full planning not to be granted.

Furthermore, Cornwall Council also had costs awarded against them will have to pay the applicant, Jackamax Limited the costs of the appeal proceedings described in the heading of this decision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cornwall Council halts its Children’s Community Health & Wellbeing procurement tender

In October 2014, Cornwall Council, NHS Kernow, NHS England the Council for the Isles of Scilly announced their intentions to put 23 services, totally £20.5m into a procurement process. For Cornwal Council this was the issue of the Tender for Children’s Community Health & Wellbeing Services which includes Health Visiting, Family Nurse Partnership, School Nursing and Specialist Speech & Language Therapy.

The services in scope for the tender and the responsible agencies are as follows:

Cornwall Council Services, totalling £9m:

  • Health Visiting
  • Family Nurse Partnership
  • School Nursing
  • Specialist Speech & Language Therapy.

NHS Kernow Services totalling £11.9m:

  • Child and Adolescent Specialist Mental Health Service Primary Mental Health Worker Service
  • Children’s Eating Disorder Services
  • Special Parenting
  • Child Health Development Service
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Service
  • Community Paediatric Occupational Therapy
  • Community Paediatric Dietetics
  • Community Paediatric Obesity service
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Community Specialist Epilepsy Nursing
  • Community Paediatric Physiotherapy
  • Learning Disability Service Diana Nursing Service
  • Specialist Paediatric Continence Service
  • Vulnerable Children’s Nursing Service Community Children’s Nursing
  • Nursing in Special Schools Nurse Liaison

At present children and young people’s community health services are currently provided by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, Peninsula Community Health, and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

However, following the recent national announcement about the Cornwall Devolution Deal and the towards a single, ring-fenced budget for health and social care that is commissioned singly and locally, a decision has been taken by all commissioners (Cornwall Council, NHS England, the Council for the Isles of Scilly and NHS Kernow) to halt the tender process as we all believe the powers in the devolution deal will enable us together to commission a fully joined-up children’s services.

I as Portfolio Holder believe this will allow us to deliver seamless children’s services, in line with our plans to integrate commissioning as set out in the Deal. Cornwall should then have an integrated children’s community health service from, or before, April 2017.

It is important to highlight that children and their families using existing services will not be affected by this decision. They should attend all appointments as normal. Children will continue to receive appropriate services according to their need.

By halting this procurement the work that has been undertaken to date will be used in taking integrated commissioning forward. This will be supported by the “Lessons Learnt” work that I asked for and is currently being undertaken to ensure integrated commissioning going forward. This is because this procurement was one of the first large-scale joint-commissioning projects and some financial, legal and governance rules need to modified to enable greater integration.

In the meantime, we will be talking to current providers of children’s services to ensure these services continue for another year.

 

 

 

 

 

Local Government funding is under threat again

The impact of cuts to local government are starting to be clearly seen by the public. It is of no surprise really, as you cannot reduce Cornwall Council’s budget of over £320m and not have an impact on services which either results in those services being reduced, or in a few cases, stopped completely. Of course the Council gets the blame for having to deal with reduced budgets and the government gets away with it scot-free.

The Chancellors July emergency budget has clearly expressed more savings to be found from ‘non-protected areas’ in government. The Department for Communities and Local Government is one of those non-protected areas and could find itself with a further 25% – 40% cut in budget.

It is a common misunderstanding that people believe the Council’s income is solely from Council Tax. The picture below clearly (I hope) shows the amount of funding the Council receives and where it is spent.  budget1

 

Between 2010 and 2014, £176m was taken out of the Council’s budget. From 2014 till 2018, the Council has to save a further £154m. The cuts will be painful, but the Council’s plan has been to ‘go early’ and take £60m in the first year as this actually protects services long-term. The rest will be reduced £25.5m 2016/17, £38.2m 2017/18 and £30.2m in 2018/19. The vast majority of these savings will be from staff and other efficiencies.

The Council’s current budget has been set on a 33% reduction. If the Chancellor wants a further 25%-40% cut in local government, then sadly, we in the Council will no doubt have to look at our budget again.

If the £205m the Council receives in government funding is reduced in the Autumn Statement, my fear is there is limited option left open to the Council to make up the shortfall. As Council Tax raises are capped at 1.97% and this increase is already taken into account in the Council’s four-year budget. It could monetize certain services, but these ideas are met with very vocal objection. If the shortfall cannot be found, then services will be affected.

We in the Council are at the mercy of the Chancellor and will find out our fate on November 25th when details of the Autumn Statement is released.

Cornwall Council By-Election in Camborne Pendarves Division

With the resignation of UKIP’s Harry Blakely, voters in the Camborne area will be going to polls on Thursday, 20 August to elect a new Cornwall Councillor.

There are seven candidates are standing for election as the Cornwall Councillor for the Camborne Pendarves electoral division:

  • Nathan Mark Billings           Liberal Democrat
  • Peter Channon                    Independent
  • Val Dalley                           Labour Party
  • Deborah Zoe Fox                 Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall
  • John Herd –                        The Conservative Party Candidate
  • Jacqueline Norma Merrick    Green Party
  • Michael Duane Pascoe          UK Independence Party UKIP

Residents on the electorial register can vote at three polling stations, and these will be open between 7 am and 10 pm. The polling stations are:

  • St John’s Church Hall, Trevu Road, Camborne
  • The Lowenac Hotel, Basset Road, Camborne
  • Barripper Methodist Chapel, Fore Street, Barripper

 

 

Cornwall Council approves ‘basic’ DBS checks for councillors

At the last full council meeting, councillors debated and voted in favour for basic checks for all councillors and enhanced checks for those on the Cabinet and the fostering and adoption panels. Also approved was for the council to lobby the Government to change the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 to allow all Cornwall councillors to have an enhanced check.

I have said in a previous blog post that the law is an ass when it comes to who and can be DBS’d.  I fail to see why all those who are in the role of a Cornwall councillor cannot have an enhanced check.

For those who may not know it, a basic check will only show unspent convictions. Whereas a standard or enhanced check will show far more detail. The majority of councillors want members to have enhanced checks and the Council took legal Counsel to see if there was anyway to do enhanced checks as pre the 2012 Act, all Cornwall councillors could – and did – have enhanced checks.

However, the advice from Counsel was:

  • Basic Certificates are available for all Members and co-optees on payment of the prescribed fee, without further eligibility criteria. Certificates list only unspent convictions. The Council is at liberty to request basic certificates in respect of any elected Member or co-optee;
  • The Council will be entitled to obtain a Standard Certificate in respect of a Member who carries out a regulated activity, in relation to either children or vulnerable adults. In essence, this means any Member who discharges an education or social services function, or sits on any body, committee or sub-committee that does so, by virtue of the saved definition of regulated activity;
  • The Council will also be entitled to obtain an Enhanced Certificate in respect of a Member whenever it can obtain a Standard Certificate. This means that the Council can obtain an Enhanced Certificate for a Member who discharges an education or social services function, or sits on any body, committee or sub-committee that does so;
  • The Council is also entitled to apply for a Standard Certificate or an Enhanced Certificate for any person who has been co-opted onto a Council committee with education or social services functions, even if that person is not a Council Member;
  • Members are unlikely to be undertaking regulated activity under the revised definition and in the absence of such activities being undertaken they are not eligible for enhanced checks with a check of either of the barred lists, being the lists of those barred from working with children, young people or vulnerable adults;
  • Substitutes are in the same position as substantive members of committees; and
  • The Council is entitle, but not required, to seek an enhanced check under the applicable legislative provisions where so indicated above. However, when doing so, it is important that the Council considers whether it is necessary and proportionate to do so, given the particular functions of the committee or other body in question.

The counsels last point:

Requiring an Enhanced check is self-evidently a substantial interference with a person’s right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This concerns me the most, as whilst I do understand the need to respect the right of private life, I believe child protection and protecting vulnerable adults trumps this, and therefore should take priority.

The report on who and why someone can be DBS’d can be found HERE.

As for what ‘regulated ‘ activity is, I hope this will explain:

There are two definitions of ‘regulated activity’ to which regard must be had:

  • the definition following the changes introduced by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 which effectively restricts regulated activity 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. Different activities are prescribed to children, including young people, and adults. The activities are summarised in appendix 1 to the briefing note (Appendix 1 to this report) but examples include the provision of personal care such as washing or dressing and, in relation to adults, assistance in the conduct of a person’s own affairs. Counsel considers it unlikely that any elected Members or co-optees will undertake activity that will fall within this revised definition of regulated activity in their official capacity;
  • the ‘saved’ definition which preserves the definition of regulated activity as it was prior to the changes introduced by the 2012 Act in relation to membership of the Council, its Cabinet and committees, where education or social services functions are carried out. This means that a Member or co-optee will be in regulated activity, without more, if they:
  1. discharge, as a result of their membership, any education or social services functions of the Council;
  2. They are a Cabinet Member (the Cabinet discharges education and social services functions);
  3. are a member of a committee of the Cabinet (there are currently no such committees and this does not include the Policy Advisory Committees as they are committees of the Council); or
  4. they are a member of an area committee or any other committee of the Council which discharges education or social services functions. With the references to the Cabinet and ‘any other committee’ this effectively means that whatever committee a Member or co-optee is a member of they will be in regulated activity, provided the committee undertakes education or social services functions. It is accepted that membership of a committee is very different to undertaking the activities within the revised definition.

Also discussed, voted on, and approved by all but two members was the “Members’ Safeguarding and Criminal Records Checks Policy” which can be found HERE.  I welcome this policy and has incorporated a few policies into one.

I saw yesterday’s vote and approve of basic checks as a stepping stone to all elected members, no matter what committee or function they carry out having an enhanced DBS. As I said before, child protect should trump everything else.

 

 

 

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