Coronation Park and the Swans

I am doing this blog as I need to clarify a few points to make sure the correct information is in the public domain. This is reference to Coronation Park; security of the swan nests on Flora Day; and both the small and large island for nesting purposes. I need to also qualify, I am the local Cornwall Council which this area resides, but direct day-to-day management of this area is not in my responsibilities.

The following is my email to all those who are running or involved in the ‘Security for nest swans on Flora Day 2017’. My email is as follows:

“I have now asked every connected department about this (as this takes a while to make sure everyone has been asked) and from the emails I have received that on Thursday 9 February CORMAC operatives were instructed to leaf blow some paths in Coronation Park, no further works were performed by the operatives.

As for your litter pick/clean-up, I will repeat that no-one said there cannot be one taking place. However, Community groups are asked to register their litter pick with Clean Cornwall,, this not only avoids duplication of works but also allows the community groups to borrow equipment or to request a waste collection. When I emailed you, I asked for this to be merely postponed until the permission had been given both by the leaseholder and Cornwall Council. This had not been given, which is why I raised the point with you.

On this occasion the litter pick was not registered with Clean Cornwall. I very much welcome individuals or groups helping to keep our open spaces looking good, but processes must be followed to ensure the safety of those volunteers and the public. For instance, I run Pride in Porthleven (PIP) and before any clean-up/litter pick, I make sure I have permission from the landowner/leasehold prior to the work being carried out.

Furthermore, all parties including myself want to make sure the swans are safe. This was the original request was you wanted to protect them on Flora Day. This security has been arranged for Flora Day.

As for placing bales on the large island, this has to be part of a conversation with the leaseholder who in the past has offered help, and suggested the use of the small island – as the small island cannot be accessed by members of the public. The leaseholder and SKA have also offered to set up a public meeting, with bird experts to look into a dedicated care plan for all the birds. As for the size the lake, the bird population is far too great. At a count this morning, there were 16 swans on the lake.

Previous advice from RSPB, have said this area should only support one breeding pair. The RSPB have suggested feeding is discouraged, but this is hard to do, as many families enjoy doing this. Even by stopping the sale of the food in the area, people will bring their own. I know I did when I had a small child.

We are totally supportive of a sign saying which food stuffs can be given to the birds. This helps educate people on the natural food for the different birds. The birds are overfed and much of the food given to them isn’t eaten. I also like the idea of a floating island for the birds. However, this has to be done in conjunction with the leaseholder of the café, the current owners of the area and the new owners, SKA.

I will reiterate, I am very supportive of protecting the swans and making the whole area habitable for them. As I am for the ducks and other birds.  I also as the local member have to balance the requests of other people who have complained about the state of the island and want to use it. It is about being fair to everyone.

Furthermore, The SKA, have said: we are pleased that there is such great community support for protecting the swans around Flora Day. However we would not wish to see the creation of a habitat which would encourage an increase the swan numbers as this would have a negative effect on the diversity of other species in the Park and affect the wider public enjoyment of the area. Once the Park is transferred to SKA we will, in coordination with the Lakeside Cafe, take advice from wildfowl experts as part of a balanced plan to encourage the diversity of species. We will consult the wider public and define a policy for the management of all wildfowl in the area which will then set the ground rules for interventions such as Flora Day swan protection.”

I am happy for this entire email to be made public. My aim is for everyone to work together, as we all appreciate Coronation Park as a great place for all ages”.

Coronation Park transferred to South Kerrier Alliance with over £120k worth of funding

Coronation Park is a much-loved and well used facility not only from residents of Helston, but from the surrounding towns and villages too. For me, my ambition has always been about securing the long term future of this area, including much needed investment to bring it back to its former glory; and giving the community more control over how this area is operated. I cannot convey enough how important the park and facilities are to Helston, and the wider community

Sadly, Cornwall Council is not able to fully fund the restoration of the area due to budget pressures and the difficulty of going to other funding sources as most will not give grants to a local authority such as Cornwall Council.

Members of the SKA, Helston Mayor and me!

This is why for the last few years I have been working on securing the future of this area and the much needed investment. To achieve this, it is about bringing people together for a common goal. Therefore, I am very happy to support South Kerrier Alliance’s aims of taking control of Coronation Park as they have a proven record of delivering and running projects.

South Kerrier Alliance (SKA) has agreed terms with Cornwall Council to take over the running of the entire area with a 99 year lease. This includes the lake, car park (not Fairground), skate park and play park. The cafe will still be run by the current leaseholder, but the landlord will now be the SKA. By transferring the running of Coronation Park brings more local control over this area.

Funding has always been key in bringing this site back to its former glory and therefore, I am very pleased to have helped secure over £120k worth of funding from Cornwall Council as part of the transfer. This large amount of money will be used with other matched funding to do the required work on the area. This is not the only pot of funding that has been secured as the Helston Downsland Trust has agreed to contribute a further £55k.

I believe this is a great result for Coronation Park as the future is secure and has a large amount of funding to start the regeneration of the area. It also allows the SKA to go to funders will a large amount of funding than can be matched to other pots.

Thanks should also be given to Cornwall Council and officers in devolution and open spaces teams who understood the wishes of the community and agreed this devolution deal. Thanks to the support from my fellow Cornwall Councillors in the Community Network Area in bring about this transfer. I look forward to working with this new local partnership.

Looking at options for Helston’s Coronation Park

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.boatinglake

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.


Helston’s Coronation Lake Centenary Celebration

Months of hard work by the working group for Coronation Lake centenary celebration finally paid off on Saturday 21st July with a truly amazing day and evening. Any outdoor event relies on the weather and the centenary celebration’s weather was just perfect (I was very worried about the weather) after weeks of very poor weather.

The event was opened by Sir Ferrers Vyvyan, The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, who made a great speech about his own memories of the lake and area because of his local connection between his family and Helston. Sir Ferrers then unveiled a wonderful plaque to mark the celebrations.  Helston Town Band then played throughout the afternoon, but with short breaks for other entertainment to take place.

The first step 100 years ago

I was truly amazed to see so many people at the lake. I reckon there was least a couple of thousand who enjoyed the many community stalls, entertainment, or just chilled out. The ten displays of pictures of the lake from the last 100 years were also very popular. The Old Cattle Market (OCM) provided live music from 5pm till midnight.

The final two parts of the celebration was the 100 lanterns, made by local school children to float on the lake and the firework display. Both of these events left me speechless, especially the firework display which was truly epic.

Huge, huge thanks must go to all who helped leading up to the day, and on the actual day. Cornwall Council and Cormac certainly stepped up to the plate by cleaning up the area before the event, supplied extra bins, and an environmental team who patrolled the area during the day clearing up any litter.

However, very special thank you’s should go to Charlotte Chadwick for being my right hand-woman, Jude Carroll who helped all the school children make the lanterns, Rob and Sue Ford for putting on all the music, Simon and Kym Stone and all at the OCM and SKA. Furthermore, if you ever want to have a firework display, you must use this company Celebration Pyrotechnics. Of course, a thank you should go to those who financially contributed to the event which includes Downsland Trust, all the Cornwall Councillor of the Community Network and Helston Town Council.

The Centenary Plaque

Children painted on this throughout the day. It will now be framed and put on display at the park.

The launch of the lanterns

The lanterns at night

The lanterns


More bangs!


Mystery £250 For Boating Lake Celebrations

In organising any event funding always plays an important part, especially if you are keeping everything as free as possible. On large-scale events, like the forthcoming centenary celebrations at the Boating Lake in Helston more money is often needed. This often proves difficult due to the limited funding options.

So far, my fellow Cornwall Councillors in the Helston and the Lizard area have agree to help with the funding to the tune of £250 each. Helston Town Council has also agreed to £250 (I will blog about this separately). The Downsland Trust has been the most generous so far with a grant of £2008. This will enable all the planned activities to take place. Which is fantastic news.

However, there is more. A day ago,  I received an envelope containing £250 along with a printed letter saying: Please find enclosed a £250 donation towards the cost of the celebrations for Helston’s Coronation Lake centenary.

I am really grateful for this donation. I would like to thank publicly this person whoever they are for their generosity in this donation. I wish I could say thank you personally.

Thank you

100 Years of Helston Boating Lake

On 20th July, Helston’s boating lake, or to give it its official title of Coronation Park and Boating lake, will be 100 years old. I plan to hold some sort of celebration event on this day. This park and lake might be in Helston, but I know many people from the surrounding area use this lake. It is quite simply a jewel, and I am very proud to have in my division.

One of my plans is to reintroduce the on-the-lake firework display (subject to funding/costs) that was a common event in the early days of this lake. I think this would be a fitting celebration. This is not the only event planned to celebrate the event as I have formed a working party that includes the Cornwall Councillors of Helston, The Community Network, South Kerrier Alliance, Helston Town Band and Helston Town Council to help organise the day/eve. I am really pleased Helston Town Band has said it would attend this event, which I am really grateful to.

Helston's Boating Lake (Thanks to Helston People for the photo)

During my monthly report to Helston Town Council I talked of this event, and said I hoped the whole community of not just Helston, but the surrounding areas would attend these celebrations. This met with approval of not only the town council but from the many members of the public in attendance.

It was after the public participation one member of the public pressed into my hand a £20 note. I said, rather shocked, I could not take this. His simple reply was “I want to, it will help pay for the fireworks.” I had to ask another member of the public who this gentleman was. It just goes to show how generous people can be. Hopefully, at the next town council meeting, I will get the chance to say thank you.

The date for your diaries is the 20th July with more details will be announced once the working group has met and discussed any ideas. Of course, feel free to send me any ideas you have for this event.