Helston Harvest Fair Carnival – Winners

As you may know I have been working with the Bulwark Residents Association to help them raise £80k for their new park. This weekend they entered the Carnival doing a ‘under the sea theme’. It was great as we had 18 children and 7 adults as part of the float. The Children has all made fish hats and fish flags. The truck was decorated in the same theme. I was King Neptune. (see right).

It was a great afternoon, especially the parade around Helston. I have to say a massive thank you to Porthleven Metal Works who kindly provided the truck and the driver for the float . Without them, we would not have been able to do the event.

I really like working with this group. They are a lot of fun, and who really want to make their area better for everyone. A special thank you should also go to Julia, Amanda, Rob, Cookie, Nic, Mel, Karen, Carrie, Anita, Zoe and Julia’s Mum who helped out to make this a great day.

It was topped off as we won the small float section!! The children were over the moon with winning and all wanted to hold the trophy.

A thank you also to the Harvest Fair Committee and Helston Town Council for the organising and running this event. Without them and their hard work, this event would not have taken place.

So far in only a few weeks the Residents Association has managed to raise just over £300 doing a sponsored walk and naming a teddy bear competition. The Committee of the Association has voted that the next fund raising event is for my legs to be waxed.  Of course this was a unanimous vote by the Committee, so who am I to argue with democracy at work!

Total Politics – Top 30 Councillor Blogs

I can honestly say I am stunned. I came home today to find that I had made the top 30 Councillor Blogs in the UK. I came in at number 28. I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all those who took the time to vote for me. Here is the link to the Results.

I was not the only Cornish Blogger to make the list. Councillor Alex Folkes came in at number 5 (His LINK). Well done to him.

Thank you again.

To take or not?

At the next Cornwall Council meeting (27th July) there is an item on the Agenda that I was not expecting, namely a proposed increase of 2.5% to Members allowances as recommended by the LGA. Now there are 3 options on the table as laid down in the report that’s being presented to full Council ( Click Here for the link to the report).

The 3 Recommendation are:

That the LGA day rate increase be noted and that Members decide whether to:
(i) apply the LGA day rate increase of 2.3% to the Cornwall Council Members’ Allowances Scheme;

(ii) decline to apply the LGA day rate increase of 2.3% to the Cornwall Council Members’ Allowances Scheme;

(iii) apply the LGA day rate increase of 2.3% to the Cornwall Council Members’ Allowances Scheme and leave it to individual Members to foregoall or part of their allowance.

Now what would you do if you were offered this? Would you refuse it? That is the question I ask. After all I work for you and try as best as I can answer and deal with the issues you raise with me. Should I take it or not? Let me know how you feel on this issue.

Update: If option 1 is approved it will cost the tax payer an extra £31,762 to 31st March 2011 (back dated to June) That would be £42,000 per year divided by 123, that equals £344 extra per member per year, or £28 per month before Tax. The 9 month cost (up to 31st March) per Member would be around the £23 mark.

A dirty business

They say politics is a dirty business. This week was certainly interesting for me and proved to me it can be. I have always taken my Independent badge very seriously. I could never be accused of flying under a different flag.

I may be part of the Independent Group, but I have always made it clear I will vote the way I feel and best for those I represent. After all the Group is not a political party. On Wednesday I had a meeting, I was invited to it, two others were also present. One of those present had nothing to do with what came later. In fact they seems a little shocked when it did happen.

As to what happened. I was in no uncertain terms threatened with being removed from all my Committees if I did something and voted in a certain way. I was shocked. The words they used were I could remove you from the Committee before you could do something. It was made as clear as day that this could happen. I told them the reasons why and that I had raised this issue several times before, but nothing seemed to get done about it.

I never rise to threats, and I told him in no uncertain terms that this course of action would be a very bad move. I will not be pressurised or made to do something I do not agree with.

I left the meeting. As I walked out I realised I had somehow pushed a button on my phone that said record. I should be more careful in future when placing my phone in my pocket.

What I cost you, the tax payer

Much has been made (and rightly so) of MPs and Councillors expenses. No one was impressed with the excuses a lot of MPs came out with to defend their claims. I thought I would dispel a certain myth or misunderstanding that people think all Councillors are paid £30k plus.

The following figures I list are what I cost the Tax Payer in Allowances last financial year. This is recorded on my P60 if anyone doubts the figures. These figures are from 6th June 2009 (when I took up Office) and the 31st March 2010

Total Allowance  £11,834.19 (Gross).

I paid the following:
£1334.60 Income Tax
£811.95 Nat Insurance
£944.84 Nat Insurance Emergency Rate

Total £3,091.39

I received £8,742.80 (Net) of that. This includes all Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA)

On top of that Cornwall Council paid £811.95 in Employers Contributions

I also claimed 3916 miles. The cost of that is £1566.40 on the 40p per mile rate.

The total cost to the Tax Payer in my role as a Cornwall Councillor is £14,212.54

From 6th June 2009 till 31st March 2010 I attended  45 out of 46 meeting that I should attend due I am a member of that Committee. I also attended 33 other Committee meetings that I was not a member of, but attend to find information that could effect my area.

Here is the Link to my details.

This does not include all the Town and Parish meetings, meetings with the public or other meeting I attend in my role. I receive no mileage payments for these meetings and the costs are met by my Allowance.

I am not saying I am good value or anything like that, but I wanted to be honest in what I cost you, the tax payer.

A nice thought from the Police

Today I picked up my answer phone messages. Apart from the calls who are trying to sell you something I received one from the Police.

This was in response to a car accident I and my son we involved in just over a week ago. Apart from the car looking like it had entered the local bumper car race we both escaped with just a odd bruise.  This was call from a female officer who had just rung up to see how my son was, and hoped he was ok post accident. I was very grateful for this call and showed that the Police do really care. 

Thank you. I am very grateful for this call.

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.

View of an Independent

After last weeks televised debate it seems that this Election has kicked off, or has it? For those who are more politically minded or interested in this subject it has. From the various Social Media outlets I read and follow in cyberspace everything in this Election has changed.

But, if you talk to the “man in the street” they hardly mention the debate. Why? Well, your guess is a good as mine. People have this attitude of no matter who gets in; they are still going to tax us more, either directly, or by some other means. They also talk more about the weather than Politics.

As for the Leaders, do people really vote for a PM when they place their X in the box? I don’t, I pick the person who is standing in my area who will best serve that area. Picking a PM is not going to change what happens in my area, but picking the right MP can.

Going back to the debate, Nick Clegg did seem to come out on top, closely followed by David Cameron. As for Gordon Brown, he looked slightly nervous as he did that forced smile a little too often. To be honest I was not that impressed with it all. Sadly people seem to be making more out of what suits, hand gestures and hair-do than actual substance and policies. As I have said before, it takes more than a TV performance to run a Country.

Will the other two debates be any better? Who knows, but one thing is sure those 3 Leaders will be having more “training” on this before the next one. So you will never really know what’s the true person or some polished training.

The final question is who will win the Election? The answer is, we will find out after 10pm on the 6th May when the Polls close and the count begins. My view at this stage is that the Lib Dems and Labour are fighting over the same vote as the more tradition Tory vote will vote Blue. Saying that, is there still that tradition vote around?

As for Polls, they should be taken with a very large pinch of salt. Anyone thinking otherwise should remember the Bradley Effect (link). Another factor I believe is being missed is that it’s not trendy or cool to be seen as a Tory voter, but when people get in the Polling Booth things can turn out a little different. This is called the “Shy Tory Factor” (Link).

Again these are my views, I don’t have any Party loyalties or blinkered by being a Member of a Party. I have always followed Politics since I first watched the 1979 Election as an 8-9 year old. I have also not voted for the same Party in all the General Elections since I was eligible to vote. For me the choice is down to two Parties. One of the Parties I have completely discounted as posted in a previous Blog.

At the end of the day it’s a long time in politics until the 6th May, and anything could happen.

Voting – Do you live here?

The General Election is looming. We have a raft of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (“PPCs”) and MP’s pounding the streets with their troops delivering leaflets promising the world if you vote for them and the Party they are standing for.

I really have not decided who I will vote for yet. One person definitely off my “to consider” list is Philippa Latimer PPC (Labour) for the St. Ives seat.  That seat covers my area of Porthleven and Helston.  Why have I discounted her?  Well,  for the one and simple reason that she lives in London and “visits” Cornwall.

I’m sorry, but if you even want me to consider voting for you, a fundamental rule is that you live in the area that you wish to represent, not move to the area after you win (if indeed you do).

This issue has really annoyed me. So much so that I have decided to Blog about it. I have always tried to keep my Blog non-political, but this just takes the biscuit. I am sure Ms Latimer is a very nice person but surely they could have found someone suitable who lives in the area? Or at a push, at least lives in Cornwall?

Here is the link to see what has annoyed me so much LINK

The Question is: how many more PPCs don’t even live in the area they are representing? Or even in the County that they are standing for in Parliament?

Perhaps a list of PPCs who don’t meet these criteria would be a good idea?

I welcome your views.

Helping Groups

Some of you may know that each Cornwall Councillor gets a small grant allowance of £2195 to help local groups with a little bit of funding. To these groups that receive this money it means a great deal to them as otherwise it would take them a lot of fund raising to get a similar figure.

I wish I had more money to give out, but sadly not. At least something is better than nothing. Up to March 31st 2010 I have managed to help the following groups with a small Grant.

  •  Porthleven Lights – £250
  • 1st Guides Porthleven  – £300
  • Porthleven Bowling Club – £250
  • Porthleven Youth Football Club – £220
  • Food and Music Festival, Porthleven – £400
  • Public & WI Hall Porthleven £250
  • Porthleven Gig Club – £500
  • Weeth Farm Tree Nursery (Transition Helston) – £150

I will be getting another £2195 from the 1st April 2010 to help out other worthy groups. If you would like to apply for this Grant for your Group, then please contact me.

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