Community Networks

Last night was the first formal Community Network for the Helston and Lizard Area. This was held in Porthleven at the Football Club and Chaired by me. We agreed that the Chairman would be from the area that the meeting was held in.

Firstly, we had a hour session on the Local Development Frame work (LDF) and the Community Sustainable Strategy. About 40 people attended this and we broke into 3 groups for this. What came out of these groups is that this area needed more local needs housing and better transport/infrastructure. Everyone agree that this area seems to be missing out on this and this needed to be addressed urgently.  As the Transport issue was one of the main concerns this is will the sole item on the next meeting agenda.

What struck me as the Chairman was after the initial concerns that this Network was just going to be another “talking shop” I got the feeling that those present wanted to make this work as they could see the benefits of all working together. I came away that we might, with a lot of work, just pull this concept off.

Of course this road is a very long one with quite a few pothole in it. These meetings are also open to the Public to attend and take part in the discussions. So please feel free to attend the next one.

A Safe Crossing

One of the main aims I set myself to achieve whilst I was in office was to get some sort of pedestrian crossing between the Fairground Car Park and the Boating lake in Helston. This is now a step closer to happening. The road in question is a straight and fast road, even though its a 30mph zone. This area is very popular and alot of people cross this road. So its about time they were able to do so in a much safer way.

The reason is that from the 1st April Members of Cornwall Council will be getting a budget of £8k to use on minor highways projects in their areas (this money is not for use on resurfacing or maintenance projects). I have now requested the Highways Engineers to do a feasibility and costings study. My initial correspondence is that this project could be completed for £8-10k.

If indeed this can be done for that figure I hope to get the work started within the next 6 months. I know it seems a long time, but projects like these take a little time to get started and finished.

Community Network

Last night was the first Community Network Panel of the Helston and Lizard Area. This is a Network where Cornwall Council,  The Town and Parish Council’s, Police, NCH meet to discuss issues in this area, and then make (hopefully) positive changes.

No Police or NHS were invited to this one due to the fact it was mainly going setting up the whole Panel and it’s Constitution.  There are seven Cornwall Councillors and 18 Town and Parish Councils involved in this Network. Sadly only half of the Town and Parish Councils did attend. I hope they don’t feel ‘what’s the point’ in this and we will see them at future meetings.

I facilitated a small group exercise where the Town and Parish Councils gave 3 pressing concerns that are there areas and how the Network can help them to achieve them. Porthleven and Helston were grouped together and they came up with a pretty united front on what would be of benefit to both areas.

Transport, including better road and bus links was agreed. It was also pointed out that the bus services must be cheaper and more frequent if you want more people to use them. Small Micro Business Units were also listed. Be nice to have some more small Units to encourage people to work in their own areas without the need to travel so far.

It was felt that due to the size and nature of Porthleven and Helston, they felt there was no dedicated sports complex that was fit for the 21st Century. Finally Environmentally Sustainability was mentioned. This included more protection to Conservation Areas, Renewable Energy  and other like environmental issues. Those four issues that were listed are not just about Porthleven and Helston, but all would benefit the whole area if they did indeed happen.

I am not sure if these Networks will be able to wave a magic wand and solve these and other issues, but what they can do its be a large and loud collective to bring pressure to those issues. Early days, but a lot of those who did attend did seems keen for it to work.

Community Event

On Saturday a Community Event took place in Bulwark Rd,( It’s a large Estate) Helston.  I helped organise the event along with other parties. The aim of the event was to show that Cornwall Council (me) and other Agencies do care and want to help. Those agencies that did help and helped to organise it were C4NC, Helston’s Family Centre, Community Network Manager, RNAS Culdrose, Police, Fire Service, Helston Town Council, Sanctuary Housing, Shelter Box and the WI. A pretty good turn out.

The event was free, all you really had to do in return for free food, Face painting, Surf Simulator, Smoke alarm fitting was to fill in a simple Questionnaire. Loads did, and with that information I will be working on what the Residents want, and not the other way around. Even as a added bonus in if you filled out your form, you got entered into a Prize Draw (prizes totalled £140). Not bad eh?

My main aim (apart from showing we do care) was to encourage those in the area to take a active part in its future. I hate the word Residence Association as they sound too formal. I would like them to form a Community Group. If they (with my help) get that set up they then will be able to apply for Funding to improve the area. Again a win, win situation.

The event was a success. Loads turned up. Some no doubt suspicious as to what’s happening, other may have thought it would cost them. When they did indeed find out its was free, more turned up. I think we must have fed every child on the estate. (WI did a wonderful job on the food). The over all feeling was in the past they felt they had been forgotten. When it was explained we wanted to help they came out with some great ideas. Hopefully with those ideas we will actually achieve something.

Again, I would like to thank all those who helped make this event a success. Special thanks should go to April for 4 hours of non-stop face painting in cold conditions!

Hospital Fetes, Tombolas and Lucky Dips.

Saturday was a big day for me. My first official opening of an event since getting elected to Cornwall Council. The event was the Helston Community Hospital Fete. This is where the staff of the hospital raise money for patient items; things to help people who have the misfortune of being admitted, make their stay a little bit more comfortable. Really the Government (all are to blame) should provide adequate money for this, but they don’t.

The staff give their own time to do this. Over the last few years £10,000 has been raised. Saturday’s event raised nearly £1,500. All from the sale of brick-a-brac, tombolas, lucky dips, teas and cakes. Without hard working and dedicated staff who go that extra mile, there would be no extra money.

If you are visiting, or are in hospital and feel like moaning about the state of the NHS, don’t, just pause for a minute and think. It’s the staff who give up their off-duty days to raise money for the benefit of us all. It’s certainly made me willing to wait that extra time to see a nurse or doctor.

The Way To Finish A Day

Last meeting of the day was at a Resident Association Committee. A really nice bunch of people who try and do the best for their area, with probably little thanks or understanding for all the hard work they do.

I was there to give them some good news. I have managed to get all their railing painted. I have done this by using the Community Payback Scheme and a local business has given the paint for almost cost. The residents pay for the paint, I pay for the labour, and a business is helping the local community. Win, Win, Win!

How did the meeting end? Well, with bubbly and cake! I wish I could say it was laid on for me, but no, it was for a couple who are part of the Committee who were celebrating being married for 50 years!

Being thanked for sorting out the railing with cake and bubbly is one of the best ways to finish off a very long and tiring day.

Working Together

Most of my morning was taken up in a meeting of the Loe Pool Management Forum. This is a non Council body that I attend in my role as the Local Member (this whole area is in my ward).

It was so refreshing to see some high powered people attend this meeting from the EA, National Trust (whose land it is), South West Water, Cornwall College, Natural England. These weren’t just the soldiers, but the experts of the relevant agencies in Cornwall (throw in two doctors to boot). Helston and Porthleven Town Councils were also present, but if they were like me, they were a little lost when they started to speak in more technical terms of micro-bio-what-not’s. (Ihad to ask a few times for certain elements to be placed in English.)

I was really pleased to see all these agencies working together to improve this area so people now, and future generations, will enjoy this area. The plans they propose will be a fantastic for this area. Other areas might get the “green eyed monster” effect. Did you know this area has a small Hydro-Generator powering equipment in this area, I didn’t. I learnt of ways of harnessing power from small water courses. Inspiring!

I look forward to more of these meeting and hope I learn a great deal more.

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