Cornwall Council Fails the Children

A lot of people will know that the Bulwark Residents Association has been working hard to improve their area by a variety of projects. One of the bigger projects is the redevelopment of the play park. This is owned by Cornwall Council and for want of a better word they have abandoned it. It has a solitary swing, and it is in need of love.

Note the forlorn looking swing in the corner  

My efforts of banging on about money being spent in this area has resulted in the answer of no money, we are restructuring our budgets, we have just gone though a massive change. I think you get the picture of no being said in different ways. Officers have been sympathetic, and have agreed they would take on the maintenance if the group got the funding, but why should the group do Cornwall Council’s job?

The Association despite being failed by Cornwall Council has pressed on trying to raise themoney itself. So far, the Association has raised near £5,000 with fund raising events and being awarded small grants. However, the large funders like the Lottery have turned them down. All is not lost, as one funding body SITA, has bucked the trend and instead of sending a sorry, no letter, they have said yes, maybe.

This yes, maybe answer resulted in SITA’s funding coordinator coming down to interview me and the Chairman of the Association. This interview took place on Friday. The omens were good as the sun was shinning. The interview went very well, and we were told our bid ticked all the boxes and it was a ‘no-brainer’ of in need.  However, we are faced with a big choice on the way forward.

The original park plan required near £80k being spent. The Association understands money is harder to get, so downsized the project into two parts; play equipment and a ball game area. The number of equipment has also been scaled down to around £40k. From this, the funders need a more up to date quote. That is simple enough. They also need a letter from Cornwall Council confirming that once the play equipment is built, the council will take over the maintenance. In principle they will, but we again need a more up to date response.

Our bid is ready to go, and subject to the few minor detail can go forward to the funding board for approval (looking at the positive). We have a choice, either have our plans judged in October, or wait till February. The problem is, if we are unsuccessful in October, the Association cannot reapply for a year. Of do we wait till February and make sure everything is perfect in our bid.

One of the things that was picked up by the funders was Cornwall Council’s abandonment of the site. Especially as no money is being set aside even for basic improvements/repairs. Part of the fence is just hanging there waiting to snag a child. Even if Cornwall Council said ‘here is £1000’ this would help our bid hugely.

I get really frustrated (bordering on anger) when I see money spent on ego/legacy projects, and not the basics. Maybe with the announcement of £15 million being spent by Cornwall Council on solar projects with claims of huge returns from the Feed in Tariffs I could get an advance on this money for the Bulwark Park.

Or better, I could get £50,000 from the £7m Cornwall Council has recently banked in ‘savings’. Yes, they really have banked £7m. The reserves are now really healthy, and are bigger than the reserves of a small country, or Greece.

The view from the other end. 

No doubt this is not the only area that is in need of love around Cornwall. Horseshoes Playing Field, Porthleven is also needing love, but at least they have equipment.