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 to securing the future of Helston’s Coronation Park

Cornwall Council is offering a lease to run and manage Coronation Park in Helston, with a peppercorn rent.  The tender opportunity for the site, includes the park, lake, events square and café – with an existing tenant, river Cober and the former cattle market car park. The tender does not include Penrose car park (Fairground car park).

The new agreement for the events square will include the public toilets and the landlord role for the boat and cycle hire franchise.

This exciting lease opportunity, which will begin by winter 2016 / spring 2017, is only being formally advertised via the Government’s Contracts Finder website. The deadline for submissions is Friday 12 August.

The direct link to the tender opportunity on Contracts Finder, where all relevant documentation is available to view and download, is:

Lake with cafe in background

I support Cornwall Council’s aim of looking for an organisation to be able to invest in Helston’s flagship park. The popular facilities are well used and with the café open daily serving a wide variety of refreshments – we hope to attract some high quality proposals, hopefully from community led organisations to take on the running of this area. We are offering a 99 year lease, but the Council would consider a different length.

For me, I want to explore opportunities for enhancing and maintaining the very special historic Coronation Lake that is at the heart of the park; the Lake has boating, seating, a water wheel and footpath around it to be able to watch and admire the resident wildfowl. At the town centre end of the park the skate park, café, public toilets, events space, avenues and car parking, offer very special views and entertainment for the parks’ many visitors. I cannot convey enough how important the park and facilities are to Helston, and the wider community.

Therefore, this is 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 for the benefit of residents.

In the past this area has had considerable investment, but needs more now, which in the current financial climate the council cannot commit to. Furthermore, with a non-council organisation running the area, there are more grant opportunities available. As many grant funding pots, the local authority cannot apply.


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.