Full Council – Two Meetings in One

Today was the monthly meeting of the whole of Cornwall Council, it’s always a lively affair with many Councillors wishing to make various points on items on the Agenda, or reports made to this Council. Today was slightly unusual as there were two meetings; the first one was the continuation of last months meeting and this months.

A somewhat controversial item was the policy on Sex Establishments. The Miscellaneous Licensing Committee had discuss at length the formulation of this policy and in doing so, has to make their recommendations for final approval of the policy to the full Council. Click HERE for the full details of this policy, as it’s a rather large document. After much debate, this policy was voted on and passed. It is my view that this policy will better regulate these types of establishments, rather the current policy that is in my opinion, open to lots of interpretation.

The motion to if at all possible stop the ‘downsizing’ of Falmouth Coastguard Centre was debated. Many of the Councillors who spoke had direct knowledge of the excellent job that this Coastguard Station does locally, nationally and internationally. It is a leading expert in various maritime skills and it’s downsizing will in my opinion have a impact on safety for those at sea, and the coastline of Cornwall. After a good debate the motion was passed unamimosly that a letter is sent to the Government and all six sitting Cornish MP’s asking for a rethink of the proposals that are currently being discussed. Let’s hope that this course of action does indeed work, but sadly, I bet we get only a ‘thank you for your letter’ reply.

As alway, I really enjoy this meeting as in most cases (depends on your viewpoint) there is always a good level of debate from all corners of the chamber.

HM Coastguards – A Motion to Save

A new year and another motion, this time I am a supporter. I feel that the Governments proposal to cut, or scale back the operations of the Coastguards is a huge step backwards. The Coastguard are the 4th emergency service. Many in this service are on call 24 hours a day. Most are volunteers, others are full-time. A great deal lives have been saved locally and internationally by members of this service in Cornwall.

I was once a member of Porthleven’s Coastguard Search and Rescue Team. I reluctantly gave it up as I felt that I could not do my role as a Kerrier Dictrict Councillor and Coastguard the full justice if I continued to do both. In a lot of cases, local knowledge is paramount in a rescue, especially when many areas in Cornwall have their official names, but are more commonly known by their local names. By cutting the base of operations like Falmouth could hamper a rescue operation. Falmouth is a important hub for local, international and liaison rescue operations. Cutting to save money seems like an easy option, that is until something happens and then you find out how much you need a well resourced service like HM Coastguards.

Below is the full wording of the Motion with all the supporters.

Motion proposed by Councillor Kenny, seconded by Councillor Eva and supported by Councillors Fonk, Hobbs, Keeling and Wallis:-

“This Council agrees to write to the Department of Transport and all our Cornish MPs in response to the consultation on the proposed cuts to the coastguard service, to express our grave concerns and make the following points.

1. The location of Falmouth MRCC is close to the Western Approaches and at the entrance to Falmouth harbour, an extremely busy bunkering port. It is also at the gateway to the English Channel and is vital to ensure the safe passage of vessels in this busy seaway.

2. MRCC Falmouth has the equipment and expertise to handle international maritime distress throughout the world and is generally recognised as the world leader in this field. To reduce the operational ability of this station to day time only fails to recognise the strategic situation of this station dealing with international distress across vast time zones.

3. The station at Falmouth is a modern, fully equipped and purpose built communications base. To propose that the costly construction and fitting out of a new operations base in Solent together with the inherent costs of relocation, as a method of saving money, simply does not make sense. We already have a prime example of the failure of this thinking in the redundant regional fire control centre at Taunton.

4. It is noted that there are proposals to reduce the frontline staff by approximately 50%, yet only 8 posts will be lost from MCA headquarters. If cost cutting is vital then cuts should first be made in an already top heavy administration, thus protecting frontline services.

5. Whilst not in the current proposals, this Council seeks assurances that no cuts are planned in the number of, or organisation of, local coastguard rescue teams.”