The Night Before the Motion and the Numbers of Holiday Lets and Second Homes in Cornwall

Tomorrow will be a long day, not only because we have the Budget debate for setting the Council Tax for 2013/14. Also on the agenda are two motions, one of the use of voice recognition software, or in simple terms a lie detector. The other motion is to lobby the Government to introduce legislation that would require planning consent if you wanted to change a dwelling into either a second home, or a holiday let. It will not be easy to get the Government to introduce this legislation, and will be likely to be a long process. Though, that should not be the reason not to start the process.

To remind yourself of the motion, click HERE

Previously, I have blogged on the number of second homes at the Parish, Cornwall Council Electoral Divisions and Community Networks. However, missing out of that data was the number of holiday lets. Now thanks to the Community Intelligence team for their help, I have those numbers.

I will give you the top 10* on both second homes and holiday lets for both Parish and CC Electoral Divisions to add support to the motion.

Parish:

Parish Holiday lets business rates database 29/11/2012 Second homes Council tax database 27/11/2012 Total Holiday Lets and Second homes November 2012 Total household spaces, 2011 Census % household spaces holiday lets and second homes
1) St. Minver Lowlands             261            507             768 1292 59%
2) St. Minver Highlands             151            253             404 775 52%
3) St. Merryn             288            438             726 1406 52%
4) St. Endellion             125            275             400 863 46%
5) Poundstock             131            107             238 519 46%
6) St. Tudy             123             25             148 333 44%
7)Maker-with-Rame              38            270             308 736 42%
8) St. Just-in-Roseland              75            293             368 905 41%
9) St. John                5            140             145 368 39%
10) Gerrans              94            178             272 704 39%

Porthleven is listed as number 76 out of 211 listed Parishes with:

Porthleven              81            151             232 1753 13%

Now here is the top 10 for CC Electoral Division:

Electoral Division  Holiday lets business rates database 29/11/2012  Second homes Council tax database 27/11/2012 Total Holiday Lets and Second homes November 2012 Total household spaces, 2011 Census % household spaces holiday lets and second homes
1) St Endellion           559        1,054        1,613       2,930 55%
2) Padstow           450          978        1,428       3,366 42%
3) Roseland           246          603          849       2,458 35%
4) St Ives North           218          593          811       2,691 30%
5) St Issey           263          279          542       2,215 24%
6) Looe West and Lansallos           191          328          519       2,170 24%
7) Poundstock           234          228          462       1,966 23%
8) Flexbury and Poughill           321          167          488       2,252 22%
9) St Ives South           100          377          477       2,243 21%
10) Mevagissey           211          319          530       2,526 21%

 

Now you can see there needs to be something done before it is too late. And I believe control via the planning system is one way you can protect communities. Furthermore, the number of second home and holiday lets fluctuate because a number of these types of dwelling switch roles on a regular basis. This adds to the problem in collating the actual numbers.

I will publish the whole list of second homes and holiday lets at a later date

* As of 29/11/12 second homes and 27/11/12 for holiday lets

A Motion submitted to Cornwall Council on Second Homes

Previous blogs on the subject of second homes and holiday lets have been on the numbers of each type. For some areas the numbers are quite staggering. I firmly believe it all comes down to a balance between the different types of dwelling in an area. However, it is hard to find that balance when there is not way to control certain types of housing, like second homes.

I think it is about time some sort of legislation is brought into use. Sadly, it needs Parliament to do this, and so far, they have done little, if anything to bring in legislation to control certain housing types. So instead of waiting, I have decided to act and at least get something started that will bring in some sort of legislation.

I have submitted a Motion with the support of two other Independent Councillor, Julian Germans and Graham Walker and two Councillors from MK, Andrew Long and Dick Cole. I hope this Motion will be supported by the majority of Councillors from all political parties on the 26th February.

The Motion is as follows:

“ 1) This Council believes, in principle, that the law should be changed to ensure that those dwellings which are not main residences, commonly known as second homes, are clearly and separately identified as a planning class and that any person wishing to change their main residence to eg a holiday let or second home be required to apply for planning consent.

2) A letter signed on behalf of the Council by all the Group Leaders be sent to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the six Members of Parliament for Cornwall asking that the legislative means of achieving the principle set out in paragraph 1 of this resolution be urgently explored and pursued.”

Furthermore, as part of putting in the Motion, I enlisted the help of a Planning Consultant, Paul Bateman, who through his work talking to others in his line believes there is a need for legislative change. His expertise in what legislation needs to be introduced has been really helpful.

The legislation changes could be:

1) Introduce a Section 55 [3A] to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as amended, that states “For the avoidance of doubt the change in use of a dwelling in use as a sole or main residence to a dwelling not in use as a sole or main residence involves a material change in use of that dwelling.

2) Provide an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, as amended, to:

  • a) Amend Class C3 to remove the words “whether or not in use a sole or main residence” and replace it with “in use as a sole or main residence”.
  • b) Establish a new classification (“C5”) for dwellings not in use as a sole or main residence.

3) Provide an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, as amended, to:

  • a) Allow the permitted change from Class C5 to C3, unless planning conditions otherwise restrict the C5 use as a sole or main residence.

4) Introduce a simplified procedure for Certificates of Lawfulness to establish existing C5 uses on an effective date, with a twelve month transitional period for such applications.

Lets hope my fellow Councillors support this motion. It is not about stopping or banning these types of dwelling, but bringing in some controls before it is too late for our communities.

 

Council Does Not Support Cabinet’s Strategic Partnership (shared services) Plans

Today, the entire council debated my motion which was supported by Andrew Long (MK), Jude Robinson (Lab), Geoff Brown (LD) and Graham Walker (Indi). Without their support, I doubt this motion would have made it on to the council’s agenda. The motion is:

“In view of its far-reaching consequences, including its potential impact on Council governance and elected Member accountability, this Council believes that it is not in the best interests of the people of Cornwall for the Council to enter into the proposed Strategic Partnership for Support Services.”

Before the debate started there was a move to put the whole item, debate and vote into closed session because it was claimed from officers that some of the information, and questions could be commercially sensitive. I really struggled (as did many others) with this, as the information the Councillors had been supplied with, was already in the public domain. The impact on the Strategic Partnership has such far-reaching consequences to the people of Cornwall, that it should be fully debated in open session and the vote in full view of the public. Not behind closed doors. Thankfully, and it was a close vote, the Councillors decided not to go into closed session.

There were some excellent speeches from all sides of the chamber. The two really outstanding speeches came from Bert Biscoe (Indi), who made one of the best speeches I have ever seen in the council chamber. The other was from Jim Currie, Portfolio Holder for Finance.  His words on the procurement side of the plans, and if the council hands this over, it will also be handing over a multi-billion pound chequebook to a private company was starling. Bob Edgerton, liken it to when Geoffrey Howe turned on Margaret Thatcher (this is all available on the webcast archive). You certainly knew Jim was no fan of the Strategic Partnership. Jim even got a round of applause from the Lib Dems.

My points came from too many unknowns, losing democratic accountability on so many services and pie-in-the-sky predictions on job creation. These ‘aspirational’  jobs were a concern for the scrutiny panel looking into this plan, If the scrutiny panel is worried, you have to get worried, too. Much has been made of the J-curve. When I believe it will not be a J-curve, but an L shaped letter. Job loses, and then flat lining.

A main selling point of the Strategic Partnership is the ability to ‘buy’ other services from other council’s. I however, pointed out what I believe is a massive flaw in this plan. For example, imagine if there was a motion to handover all these services to another council to run, and therefore create jobs in that authority. There would be uproar, and claims the jobs must stay in Cornwall. So you can hardly expect other councils to allow jobs to go to another council at the expense of their own. It just would not happen. I believe the market is already flooded with many sellers of shared services, but not many buyers!

After a three-hour debate, it was time to vote. Both Andrew Long and I proposed a ‘recorded vote’. So records would show which way a Councillor voted. I am very pleased to say my motion was supported by 46 for (51.69% of Councillors); 29 against (32.3%) and 14 abstentions (15.7%). It is a shame 34 Councillors were not present for the final vote, but this could be for various justified reasons.

A good question is what happens now. The full council has voted not to support the Strategic Partnership proposals, but the ultimate decision lies with the Cabinet. Will the Cabinet change its course on this? To be honest, I do not think it will drop the proposals completely. However, it could postpone the decision to after the elections in May 2013. Then the new council has the democratic mandate (and possible will) to enter into some sort of Strategic Partnership.

Lastly, thanks should go to all those Councillors, from all parties who supported this motion.

HERE is the view and blog of the MK Leader Dick Cole. Independent Councillor Graham Walker view HERE

HM Coastguards – A Motion to Save

A new year and another motion, this time I am a supporter. I feel that the Governments proposal to cut, or scale back the operations of the Coastguards is a huge step backwards. The Coastguard are the 4th emergency service. Many in this service are on call 24 hours a day. Most are volunteers, others are full-time. A great deal lives have been saved locally and internationally by members of this service in Cornwall.

I was once a member of Porthleven’s Coastguard Search and Rescue Team. I reluctantly gave it up as I felt that I could not do my role as a Kerrier Dictrict Councillor and Coastguard the full justice if I continued to do both. In a lot of cases, local knowledge is paramount in a rescue, especially when many areas in Cornwall have their official names, but are more commonly known by their local names. By cutting the base of operations like Falmouth could hamper a rescue operation. Falmouth is a important hub for local, international and liaison rescue operations. Cutting to save money seems like an easy option, that is until something happens and then you find out how much you need a well resourced service like HM Coastguards.

Below is the full wording of the Motion with all the supporters.

Motion proposed by Councillor Kenny, seconded by Councillor Eva and supported by Councillors Fonk, Hobbs, Keeling and Wallis:-

“This Council agrees to write to the Department of Transport and all our Cornish MPs in response to the consultation on the proposed cuts to the coastguard service, to express our grave concerns and make the following points.

1. The location of Falmouth MRCC is close to the Western Approaches and at the entrance to Falmouth harbour, an extremely busy bunkering port. It is also at the gateway to the English Channel and is vital to ensure the safe passage of vessels in this busy seaway.

2. MRCC Falmouth has the equipment and expertise to handle international maritime distress throughout the world and is generally recognised as the world leader in this field. To reduce the operational ability of this station to day time only fails to recognise the strategic situation of this station dealing with international distress across vast time zones.

3. The station at Falmouth is a modern, fully equipped and purpose built communications base. To propose that the costly construction and fitting out of a new operations base in Solent together with the inherent costs of relocation, as a method of saving money, simply does not make sense. We already have a prime example of the failure of this thinking in the redundant regional fire control centre at Taunton.

4. It is noted that there are proposals to reduce the frontline staff by approximately 50%, yet only 8 posts will be lost from MCA headquarters. If cost cutting is vital then cuts should first be made in an already top heavy administration, thus protecting frontline services.

5. Whilst not in the current proposals, this Council seeks assurances that no cuts are planned in the number of, or organisation of, local coastguard rescue teams.”