The front page headline of the Helston Packet is running a story on the future of Coronation Park. From this, I have also done a BBC Radio Cornwall interview on the same subject.
I have been quite open about looking at how best to bring the boating lake up to its former glory. Two ways this could happen. The first is for Cornwall Council to invest (as they own it) with the other option is to transfer the ownership to a local organisation.
Since being the Cornwall Council for the area, I have long argued with Cornwall Council that they should fund this, but do realise finding £300k plus for lake repairs and improvements in these difficult austerity times is a lot to ask. We should not blame the Council for this, as there has been a lack of investment in boating lake in the Kerrier DC days. Though there was investment in the children’s play area, and building of the new cafe.
If there is a community devolution way forward this will be community led, and not from Cornwall Council. If someone does not want to take it over, then it stays with the local authority.
The lake is over 100 years old, and from reports, has not been fully drained and cleared since the 1970’s (when damage was done to the clay bottom of the lake). Furthermore, issues with the Leats, built up of silt, the lake leaking due to the damage, and the invasion of the green algae, which the seeds have got under the silt has added to the lakes issues. The work required to repair/improve/ the area could be over £500k, and that includes the skate park, which also needs to be replaced.
Two reasons why the transfer of the area would be in the beneficial. The first is I believe the asset could be run by a community organisation, for the community. The second is how the area finds future funding for investment. On the point of investment, we all know the area is in need of it, but with the current financial climate with the Cornwall Council having to deal with 30% budget cuts, it is hard for Cornwall Council to find the required funds to bring the area back up to its former glory. Furthermore, most of the large funders out there will not fund a local authority owned area. I believe by potentially devolving to a local organisation, there will be more funding options available.
To date, the Council – with my support – has been talking to interested parties who would be willing to take on this asset. Part of that negotiation is the scope of what could be transferred. That scope has not been finalised, but option include the whole site including pay areas and car parks, or certain aspects of the site. However, I expect it to be finalised soon, and from that, it will go out to tender. The scope of the tender is heavily weighted on community benefit. The Town Council were asked if they would be interested in the asset, but have said (from my understanding) they would not be interested in taking this on.
My view is this site would be best to be transferred as whole to give the new operators the best chance of seeking the funds to bring this site back up to its former glory. As the local member I want this area to be a jewel and therefore I want to help that happen by looking at all options for the site. Doing nothing will result in the area further deteriorating
If a transfer goes ahead, there will be robust diligent test to make sure everything works for both parties. I do not want to transfer the site, for it to fail.
I hope this explains the current position.