Public Meeting with Derek Thomas MP

On Saturday, the Derek Thomas MP held a public meeting at Out of the Blue. I was invited as Mayor and Cornwall Councillor.

This was an open meeting with any subject up for grabs. However, the vast majority of the meetings was about parking and traffic in Porthleven. To be clear, there is no silver bullet that will solve all the issues or meet with everyone’s expectation. But some sort of solution needs to be found. And any solution will not happen overnight either.

Any solution has to be holistic; as there is no point in just addressing one or two streets as this just pushes the problem onto another street. Furthermore, it is no good just putting yellow lines down without proper enforcement. As people will soon ignore any restriction like they currently do.

Finally no amount of lines will address people’s inconsiderate attitude of ‘who cares where I park’. In truth many of Porthleven’s parking and traffic problems will be solved by people being more considerate and actually thinking of where and how they park, rather than abandoning their car like they are a get-away-driver.

Moving this issue(s) forward, I will be organising along with my fellow Town Councillors a drop in session at the Public Hall where people can give their views on what they would like to be done, including adding/removal of yellow lines, other parking restrictions and looking into the cost of employing a dedicated parking enforcement officer to name but a few areas. This meeting will take place before the 1st week of July subject to room availability.

From this the views will be collated and the town council will invite officers from Cornwall Council’s Highway Dept to see which options can be taken forward and included in a Traffic Regulation Order.

I would like to thank Derek for his time on Saturday as he has offered all the help he can do in solving these issues. Thanks also to my fellow town Councillors for attending (and the mountain of work this will entail) and for the 25 or so residents who took the time to attend this meeting.

Details on this meeting including the location will be published once they are finalised.

Porthleven Town Council supports industrial units along Methleigh Bottoms

The Harbour and Dock Company has in the last year submitted a series of Pre-apps or planning applications for certain areas to be developed. The latest is the planning application for a series of industrial units and parking spaces along the Methleigh Bottom road.

The Town Council as part of the planning process has studied this site and it the plans for it to see whether it should be supported in full, supported subject to conditions, or refused.

The plan for the two cleared fields.

As you can see from the three pictures, the first being the site layout, the second and third the design of the buildings, this is a large development of an area which has been used a fields for the last 80 plus years.

Whilst people might wish for this area to remain in its natural state, the Town Council has looked at this site on whether changing its use will be of a benefit to Porthleven in terms of employability without an undue harm to the environment.

For any settlement to be successful it needs to have an economy that is varied and can weather any change. Porthleven is well-known as a great place to live and visit, has amazing shops, eateries and a stunning environment. But this is mostly within one sector. With this in mind, this proposed site strengthening another sector of light industrial. Which means more opportunities for employment outside the current sectors.

The Town Council has spent a lot of time looking at the proposed plans, it has looked at the evidence for both positive and negative impact to the area, listened to the reason why this is being built and has to come to a conclusion to support this application in principle, subject to a series of conditions.

These conditions are:

  • Screening – conditions set to ensure adequate screening is put in place, screening of deciduous trees preferred. Request that the mature trees on site are protected. This includes the rear of the site to enable the residents of the area to soften the impact of buildings;
  • Boat storage – adequate secure provision for boat storage / repair facilities, including water and electrics, offered all year round. In the current plan, the applicant has only offered this in the winter months);
  • Health & Safety – sprinkler system to be installed (at requested by the Fire Brigade);
  • Traffic Road Order entered into to reduce speed limit from 40mph to 30mph from sewage works towards Porthleven on the B3304. To include ‘dragon teeth’ markings to further identify the new speed limit;
  • Detailed travel plan to be submitted, including more details on the exit/entrance points – request that the Town Council are a consultee;
  • Footpath installed for approximately 20m towards Mill Lane to allow for safe pedestrian crossing on the B3304;
  • Design / building materials sympathetic to the area using traditional materials so that the proposed has a positive impact on the area;
  • Details of bike storage facilities in Porthleven required (to avoid bikes be abandoned around the main settlement area).

If these conditions are not met to the satisfaction of the Town Council, the Council has the right to change its support to one of not supporting and seeking the planning authority to refuse this application. It should be noted, this application subject to the aforementioned conditions was supported unanimously by the Council.

The issue of drainage and flooding has been identified by the Town Council, but other than the use of SUP within the site and the details contained within the proposed plan, this will be covered by the statutory bodies such as the EA, SWW etc. in the planning process. In the submitted documents, there is a substantial flood risk assessment that has been undertaken.

I know some people has raised the issue of costs of units. This is something that the Town Council has no control over or has the power to ask for conditions to be placed on the units. Likewise for the type of business there. The applicant has made some suggestions of what type of business go there, but again the type of use outside of the building classifications cannot be conditioned and is at the end-of-the-day up to the applicant to fill.

For more details on the application, or to give your viewpoint, click HERE

 

Award of Town plaque to clock-winder of 40 years

As Mayor, you get to do some great things. Sometimes you had to make tough choices too. But the greatest honour is to award a Town plaque to deserving individuals or organisations.

For those who do not know, Porthleven has an official clock-winder. There has been a clock-winder for maybe 100+ years.

On Thursday I invited the current title holder, Jeremy Mitchell to the Town Council meeting to give a history lesson about this role. But really, I wanted to award a Jeremy a Town plaque for his long and dedicated service. He didn’t know this was happening.

You see, Jeremy has been the official clock-winder for 42 years. Yes, for 42 years Jeremy has been on hand to not only wind the clock weekly, but to make sure it keeps to time and works. Before the presentation, Jeremy gave an insight and history lesson to those gathered.

Jeremy talk was really fascinating with stories like back in the day, there were no ladders to get to the machinery. It was just small steps attached to this tower walls with a sheer drop in the middle. Not for the faint-hearted. In days before Health and Safety, Jeremy used to be sent up as a boy by his grandfather. Jeremy also told how he was stopped as a young man by the police asking where he was going with the two clock-face arms. Luckily, he was just sent on his way by the police.

Jeremy is not the first in his family to carry out the duties as the clock-winder His grandfather held this office too. And Jeremy’s son steps in to cover if he is away and it’s probably being lined-up to take over the role if and when Jeremy wants to stop.

The institute is an iconic building, but the social history of the building is equally important. People like Jeremy really add to the rich tapestry that makes Porthleven so special.

It was a great honour to present Jeremy with his Town plaque. It was thoroughly deserved.

The new Porthleven Town Council

Thursday evening, the newly elected Councillors of Porthleven Town Council met formally for the first time. I was very honoured to be elected Mayor of Porthleven and Bev Plunkett was elected to the office of Deputy Mayor. I would like to congratulate all those now in office who are very keen to do their very best for Porthleven.

Your Councillors are:

Bev Plunkett (Deputy Mayor), Daniel Williams, Mike Toy, Alan Jorgensen, Liz Lane, Naomi Osmond, Mark Adair and Tom Harrison.

My first role in office was to thank all who had served on Porthleven Town Council since the last election in 2013 and May 2017. The former Councillors are:

Sue Johns, Liz Lane, Brian Michael, Julia Schofield, Robyn Davies, Sally-Anne Nieuwoudt, Dick Powell and Trevor Toms. And the two former Mayors of Porthleven, Barbara Powell and Mark Berryman.

I am very much looking forward to working with my fellow Porthleven Town Councillors over the next few years.

 

Porthleven has a new Town Warden

Porthleven has been without a Town Warden since Rod Barnes retired. This is a hugely important role and therefore, Porthleven Town Council was very keen to replace Rod.

From an advert placed, five candidates applied and all were interviewed. The field of candidates was strong, but the three person panel of the Mayor, Cllr Bev Plunkett and myself appointed Carol Jewell to the post.

I would like to congratulate Carol on her appointment to this position. Carol will be an excellent Town Warden. I would also like to thank all who applied and made the panel’s decision a tough one to make.

Carol Jewell – The Porthleven Town Warden

Do you want to be Porthleven’s next Town Warden?

Porthleven Town Council is seeking a new town warden after Rod Barnes retired. Rod did an excellent job as Porthleven’s first town warden, but we need someone to fill those boots.

The role will undertake regular patrols of the Town in order to ensure it is a safe and clean environment. The town warden will assist visitors with information about the facilities within the Town. The warden will keep the streets litter and graffiti free, will deter anti-social behaviour and support enforcement officers as required. The warden will work with the
police to reduce crime and the fear of crime and work with the emergency services
and others to maintain a safe environment.

Main Objectives:
1. To patrol Porthleven to:
a) Ensure the Town is as clean, green and safe as possible.
b) Identify potential problems.
c) Get to know members of the community and respond to their enquiries and
problems.
d) Encourage responsible behaviour of people visiting the Porthleven.
2. To provide information to the public that will enable them to get the most from their visit to Porthleven. This will include giving directions, information about amenities, shops, food
outlets, licensed premises, car parking, public conveniences etc.
3. Assist with Town events, as directed by the Town Council.
4. To help keep the streets and roads clean and tidy through regular litter picking, weeding,
graffiti and fly posting control.
6. To carry out condition surveys of Council owned furniture, buildings and areas.
7. To undertake training to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for dog fouling / littering offences.
8. To ensure the Council Chamber / Offices are clean and presentable.
9. To complete any minor repairs / decorating as directed by Town Clerk.
10. To conduct daily checks on all public conveniences and report any issues to Town Clerk.
11. To liaise with the local Biffa Street Cleaning Team to ensure a clean and safe environment for both residents and visitors to Porthleven.
12. To liaise with the local Police Community Support Officer to report any problems within Porthleven.
13. To undertake any other duties appropriate which contribute to the general objective of the post.

The Town Warden will be expected to wear a uniform, provided by the Town Council, at all times when on duty and protective clothing when necessary and to:
a) Ensure safe working practices in accordance with guidelines laid down by the Health and Safety Executive.
b) Attend training courses and meetings when requested.
The job involves regular evening and weekend work.

The Town Council reserve the right to complete a Criminal Records Bureau check. No formal qualifications are required for this post although, good communication skills are necessary. A good geographical knowledge of Porthleven is also essential.

Any successful candidate for the role will be expected to work at least 20 hours per week and will be paid £9 per hour. It is a permanent position.

Anyone interested in the position will need to contact the Town Clerk for further details at porthleventc@tiscali.co.uk or 01326 573154 (please do not send a pm via facebook) Deadline for submission of completed applications Friday 24th March.

Porthleven Town Band moves a step closer to having a permanent Bandroom

Porthleven Town Band has wanted to have its own bandroom for many a year. Its current location in the shipyard is not ideal for their needs. The problem has always been where could bandroom go, as the Band owns no land.

Over the last several years – in my Cornwall Councillor – role I have been trying to help solve their problem. There has been a few options for a permanent home, but until now, those options have not amounted to anything.

This got me thinking as I knew the Porthleven Gig Club wanted a more permanent home for its gigs, but funding was always an issue of how to pay for it, and the Cricket Club wanted electric power to their club house. I thought of one option that would solve everyone’s want. That option is to use the Amenity Area. However, there was another option of using part of Moors which was put forward by the Harbour and Dock Company.

For those who do not know, the vast majority of the Moors playing field is owned (held in Trust) by Porthleven Town Council, with a small part owned by the Harbour and Dock Company (from the river to the upright stones for net drying). The Harbour and Dock Company wanted to use its part of the Moors to build a building for the band, however, it would need the town council’s permission to use its part of the land as the building requires a large area.

My problem with using the Moors to build on is this is a well used play area. Whilst the band do need a home, I think it would be wrong to place a building on this area. It also would totally change the feel of the area as the proposed building for the Moors is rather large.

A further problem with the Moors and placing any type of building in this area is it is in a high-risk floodplain with a high water-table. To mitigate against this would require the building being raised high off the ground. This would result in any proposed building looking more like a three-story building. Again, the size and scale of this would have a negative impact on the playing area. There is also no parking. The following picture is the building concept for the Moors.

Concept design of a band-room on the Moors

As I said beforehand the solution to everyone’s problem is to use the land which is commonly known as the Amenity Area along Methleigh Bottom. This sits between the Cricket Club and Methleigh Meadow. I had this area transferred from Cornwall Council to the Town Council  a few years ago a for £1. This site fits the bill on many fronts as it is out of the flood plain, it has a footpath leading to it and has ample parking. It is also in the ownership of the Town Council.

Both options were put to the town council as both require council consent for the land to be used in this way. I am very happy to report the Town Council unanimously granted permission for Porthleven Town Band to take their option for the Amenity Area forward and start the process of planning that will enable the plan to move from a concept to a design that can be submitted to the planning authority. It was taken on board that the new building will have something for the Gig Club.

Concept design of the building for Porthleven Band at the Amenity Area

The Town Council did not support the idea to build on the Moors playing field. Therefore, this does not go further than a concept. Even though another party might want this to happen.

It is a good choice to use the Amenity Area as I believe this is the best option as it will not only benefit the Band who find a permanent home, but also Porthleven Gig Club who gets proper storage for their gigs and will be able to use the facilities in the new building (subject to agreements between the parties). The Cricket Club will also benefit, as the band will bring electric power into the site which means the Cricket Club can connect to it. As previous to this, the costs of putting in electricity was several thousands of pounds.

It is a win, win, win for three community groups.

Porthleven to have its own Youth Worker

Back in 2016, I put forward a request to Porthleven Town Council to look into the feasibility of Porthleven having its own Youth Worker to help engage with young people. The principle of this was accepted, but could not be taken forward until the budget had been sorted.

I am now pleased to say, from April, Porthleven will have two Youth Workers initially for one day a week to work with Porthleven’s young people in a variety of ways. This Youth Work will be delivered by the experienced young people organisation Penwith Community Development Trust who are also delivering two days of Youth Work at the Furry Youth Cafe in Helston.

Derek Thomas MP for West Cornwall visits Porthleven Town Council

Last Thursday, the Member of Parliament for West Cornwall, Derek Thomas visited the members of Porthleven Town Council. Since I have been on the town council, this is the first time a MP has visited a town council meeting. The aim of the meeting was to meet the town councillors, and to see what help they need in achieving the council’s priority and any ‘wants’ it may have.

Derek Thomas, MP for West Cornwall in talks with Porthleven Town Council

Derek Thomas, MP for West Cornwall in talks with Porthleven Town Council

During the discussion, councillors raised the issue about telecommunications and how Porthleven has been plagued with intermittent services; mostly from one provider. In responding to this, Derek said he would personally take it up with the provider.

An aim of Porthleven Town Council is to look at creating a footpath between the town itself and Penrose. This had been looked at previously, but an agreement could not be found between all landowners. Back then, there was also a pot of money for new footpaths, which was used to add a few paths in and around Penrose. The Council asked Derek to see what Government pots of money were available for such projects.

Support was also asked for the regeneration of the Bickford-Smith Institute by the working party in its fundraising ambitions and any funding bids. The more support the Council has in any funding applications, the more chance it has.

A final point I raised is in reference to community policing. This is not about having a go at front-line officers, but the way information to Town and Parish Council’s has stopped. In the past a police officer or PCSO would attend a meeting to give a report on the last month, and for those present (both councillors and the public) were able to put a series of questions to the Police. However, now Council’s are told to go to the Police website. This website has some great information, but sadly, and this is the flaw, it is at least two-months out of date. This is not only a concern of Porthleven Town Council, but other Town and Parish Councils too. Derek said he would take this up with senior officers.

I am pleased Derek turned up, and hopefully those issues raised the town council will be taken forward.

Government set to cap at least seven of Cornwall’s Town and Parish councils Precepts from 2017

I have received news today that from a technical guidance issued by the Government it is minded – which basically means it is going to do it – to cap town at least seven town councils in Cornwall from 2017. With a further threat of all Town and Parish Council precepts if there is a too large of a rise in the precept.

Since 2012/13 the Government has applied a core Council Tax referendum principle of 2% on major authorities, such as Cornwall Council. If an authority wished to increase its Council Tax above that level (excluding the Adult Social Care precept that was introduced in 2016/17) it would be required to carry out a referendum of its residents. A referendum of this sort would cost in excess of £750k to hold. So the likelihood of holding one is slim.

In the past these referendum principles have not been applicable to local Town and Parish Councils, although the Government has always indicated that it would keep this under review.

Nationally, the increase in the average Band D Council Tax levels set by Town and Parish Councils in 2016/17 was 6.1%, which was markedly higher than in previous years. One of the reasons for this increase is  these Town and Parish Councils have taken on more services and responsibilities like in Cornwall due to the staggering cuts to local government funding. In Cornwall the increase in these precepts is around half of the national average. As follows

2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Parishes 2.3% 3.9% 5.2% 4.3% 3.3% 6.1%

Due to the larger increases in Town and Parish precepts, the Government has now indicated that it is minded to apply the referendum principles to ‘higher spending’ Town and Parish Councils in 2017/18.

A higher spending council is defined in the consultation paper as one whose Band D charge in 2016/17 was higher than £75.46 (equivalent to the Band D charge for the lowest charging District Council) and which had a precept in 2016/17 of more than £500,000.

Such parishes would face the same referendum principles as shire districts; increases of less than 2%, or up to and including £5 on the Band D charge (whichever is higher).

However, to make things more complicated (as anything to do with tax and the Govt is), the Government has also said that it wants to ensure that parishes continue to have the flexibility to be able to take on responsibilities from other tiers of local government.

Therefore a degree  of complexity has been added to the proposal; in that the referendum principles would not apply where there has been a transfer of responsibilities and where the following three conditions are satisfied:

  1. The parish council and a principal council covering the area of the parish council have each resolved that a particular function carried out by the principal council in relation to the parish council’s area in the financial year 2016-17 is to be carried out instead by the parish council in the financial year 2017-18;
  2. The parish council and the principal council have agreed the reasonable cost of the exercise of that particular function in the parish council’s area by the parish council in the financial year 2017-18;
  3. That the agreed cost, if collected by way of the parish council precept, would take the parish council over the threshold of a 2% or £5 increase on the previous year.

Using the 2016/17 precept information, eight of the Town Councils in Cornwall would be affected by the above proposal. These are: Bodmin, Bude-Stratton, Camborne, Falmouth, Newquay, Penzance, Saltash and Truro. As far as I can tell, Helston with a precept of £303,691 would be excluded from the cap, and therefore, Porthleven would be excluded too.

Importantly however, it should also be noted that the final two paragraphs of the consultation paper state:

A large proportion of parishes are modest in size – for example, around 4,000 parishes have precepts of £25 or less. However, the Government is aware that increases in these precepts continue to concern local tax payers and is therefore prepared to consider extending referendums to all parishes.

Which basically means you raise the precept too much, and we will cap you.

The consequences of capping are huge. As Town and Parish Council have been taking on services  for Cornwall Council to safeguard them rather than see them close. I know local council’s have not always like taking on services, but they have taken a more pragmatic approach rather than losing a service. Like in Porthleven; where the town council now owns and runs the public toilets and all green spaces (which it does not already own).

Of course, the Government is saying it is consulting, but from my experience of the Governments consulting it should be interpreted at a ‘heads-up’ we are about to do this. This heads-up consultation lasts till the 28th October 2016 – just over three-weeks away.

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