How Should Helston Spend The Supermarket Money?

Last Tuesday evening I attended along with several other members of the public, and my Cornwall Councillor colleague Judith Haycock to listen to Helston Town Council discuss how they are going to spend the money handed over to the  town council as part of the planning approval for Sainsbury’s and Tesco new stores.

This money totalled £800,000, with each supermarket stumping up £400,000. This money was to be used to mitigate the impact on the town centre from these two new supermarkets. Part of the money is set aside for the employment of a Town Centre Manager. This leaves roughly £255,000 for ‘public realm’ work.

Now this is where is all get’s slightly tricky, as the town council has until July 2015 for Sainsbury’s and November 2015 for Tesco to spend the money, or this money is returned to the supermarkets. Also adding to the situation is up to Tuesday night the town council could not decide how this money was to be spent.

The brief for Tuesday meeting was to come up with schemes, which could be costed, and then see if £255,000 would cover the scheme. However, this simple brief had the habit of going around in circles for a couple of hours. Worse, the public was not allowed to speak during the meeting to offer ideas. One member of the public did write in to suggest and idea, but as this was not discussed, I have no idea what the idea is. I really think the town council missed a trick in not allowing the public to speak. After all, if  someone takes the time to turn up to a meeting that is discussing something that will affect them, then they should be heard.

In the end these ideas were put forward:

  • Coinagehall Street pavements and kennels;
  • Reduced improvement scheme at Horse & Jockey (Click HERE for the link to those details part 3, page 29)
  • A long-term scheme that included making Coinagehall Street one-waywith a turning space at the bottom and additional parking, restricted traffic movement at the town end of Church Street, and improvements to pavements and street furniture to the same standard as recently introduced in Redruth and Camborne.

Ideas not taken forward:

  • Improvement to steps near the museum
  • New toilet block at the Monument
  • Public ‘art’ in areas of the town centre
  • Used for Match-funding by the Town Centre Manager
However,  not all the schemes would be classed as public realm work, and the money could not be used for those. The scheme in question is making Coinagehall Street an one-way and restricting traffic at Church Street. Even though this issue was pointed out repeatedly to the council members by a senior Cornwall Council planning officer, and the town clerk they were still included in ideas for costing.  I am really struggling to see why the town council included them if this money cannot be used for those ideas/schemes. After all money has to be spent on costing any scheme, and as we know, these costs are not cheap.

So what do you think of these ideas? Do you have any alternatives that could be submitted? If you do, then I suggest you let the town council know before it is too late and this money is spent. As one Councillor at the meeting said “If we get this wrong, we will be hung-out to dry.”


The Masses Turn Up at Helston Town Council

Last nights Helston Town Council meeting was a full house. I counted at least 35 people who had turned up to complaint about the stance Helston Town Council had taken over A-boards. The spokesperson of the traders group handed over a petition that had around 1200 signatures.

Normally, there is only 15 minutes for public participation, but credit should be given to the Mayor who extended this. In fact public participation took just over 45 minutes.  I believe everyone who wished to speak did so. They all spoke with passion and made very sensible points. One trader said work with us (traders) not against us.

Now what will happen is a meeting will take place between the Cornwall Councillors, the Town Council, representatives of Helston’s businesses and Cornwall Council. Furthermore, no clean sweep will take place until this meeting has taken place, nor I think will it happen in the future. Unless it is in the public interest, and all parties agree.

Last night we saw democracy at work.

The Battle of the A-Boards

I sometimes really struggle with the logic that Helston Town Council show. On one hand they try to support businesses, but then almost instantly, score a huge own goal.
Credit should be given to Helston Town Council for helping with the setting up of the parking fee reimbursement scheme. Though most of the work in setting up the scheme was rightly done by the businesses; the town council did offer support.

Then, during last months town council meeting they called for the removal of signage from the roadside and in turn all the A-boards in Helston. I was there, and I was stunned they were indeed going down this path. More stunned, as this topic was not even an item agenda, and should not have been debated.

A letter from the town council was sent to businesses saying they could be removed. Another flaw in the plan with this letter is the clean sweep can only be carried out by Cornwall Council. Cornwall Council will only carry out a clean sweep if there is overwhelming support from all parties, and is in the public interest.
The businesses of Helston are furious, and have contacted me and my fellow Helston Cornwall Councillor, Judith Haycock for help in stopping this. Both Judith and I think this heavy handed approach by the town council is not in the public interest, and we have both said publicly that we will not support a clean sweep until all sides have met.
Even after all parties have met I  doubt very much I will support it because I really don’t think the problem is there in the first place. These signs are important to businesses, and removing them is in my opinion, a bad idea. Sure have them sensibly placed, but zero tolerance? No.
At tonight’s Helston Town Council meeting (starts 7:15pm) it could get rather heated as there will be many (if not lots) of business owners and public turning up to express their unhappiness on the idea of a clean sweep.