Porthleven’s Mayor

Last night I attended Porthleven Town Councils AGM. This is the yearly meeting where the Town Councillors decide who will be the Mayor and his Deputy for the forthcoming year. This years Mayor honour went to Harry Pugh. Mark Berryman will be his trusty sidekick in the role of Deputy.

This is the second year that Porthleven has a Mayor. Some people were against this idea because they thought it would be too costly, but apart from the investment of a Mayors chain there has been no real cost to the tax payer. This role has increased the profile of Porthleven throughout Cornwall. How do I know this? Well, I travel around Cornwall in my job as a Cornwall Councillor and have only heard good comments about Porthleven and the role the Mayor has carried out this last year.

Last year the Mayor’s charity was Porthleven Age Concern. With the various fund raising events held last year the Mayor managed to raise just over £1500. This will go towards helping the branch buy a new much needed mini bus. My understand the Mayor will be picking a new Group/Charity for the coming year. Not sure what it will be as it’s the Mayors choice.

Please feel free to come along to any Town Council meeting if you wish to raise points, issues or just come and see what they do.

Article 4 Directive.

Article 4 Directive, what is it? It’s an added level of protection of Conservation that is given to a Conservation Area that helps safeguard the important heritage of an area.

It does not stop development, but makes sure that all future development is sympathetic to an area. It also removes automatic Permitted Development in the area. In future most changes will have to have Planning Permission. For what was handled under PD, these applications will be free.

The Town Council has worked hard to achieve Article 4 for Porthleven. This is now nearing the end stages and it’s hoped that this Directive will be in place by July 2010. Yesterday at Environment and Economy Scrutiny this was recommended to Cabinet for final approval. This will now be presented to Cabinet in April.

I have been given assurances from the Lead Officer that this Directive is a living Document and can be altered at future dates. They have also offered to come and speak to the Town Council if they want to make any changes to this Document.

Bad News

Last night I attended a Porthleven TC meeting where the Town Council was going to tell a group some disappointing news about their plan. Not a pleasant task to do.

This group has worked hard in achieving something in Porthleven and this plan might take a little longer to come into existent because of some finer points of the Law and land ownership. It surrounds a piece of land that the Town Council thought it owned and had owned since at least 1981. It seems some documents were lost or not completed between 1973 and the 1980’s on transferring the ownership titles. Not a good. We have been assured by Counsel that this is can be sorted out without to much hassle. (I worry when Counsel says “without” and “cost”). The Council has agreed to pursue this point on ownership

If this was the only point then I would not be overly worried, but there is another point which dates back to 1935 when the original deed was placed in Trust. It seems in rather old fashioned legal wording that we may (if we do indeed own the land) not grant a sub-lease to this area. If that is true we may have to go to Court to get this part removed from the Deeds. That is simple if no one objects, but if indeed anyone does object, then this could turn out costly and long winded.

I have to say it was a rather disappointing night, but one that might still have light at the end of the tunnels.

Catch-up

Last Thursday I attended the monthly meeting of Porthleven Town Council. Not a lot of the Agenda for this month. I gave my report of what I had been doing during last month and what was likely to effect the Town over the coming months.

The Main point I raised was the Draft Document of the Article 4 Directive (more protection in the Conservation Area) is going through the Scrutiny process in March with the hope for it being adopted fully in June/July. This I believe is a good, if not long over due document that was started over 18months ago by Kerrier DC. I am hoping it will be adopted with just a few minor tweaks.

On Saturday I held my first Surgery In Porthleven. I would love to say it was busy, but it was not. Two people did attend, and I was able to deal with their problems quickly. Maybe when word gets around that I am holding them more people will attend.

Today Monday was a quiet day. The Morning was taking up with the a pre-meeting for the first Community Network meeting that will take place on Wednesday evening. The afternoon was spent answering e-mails and sorting out a Resident who had a problem with their Benefits. After a phone call I was pleased to inform the Resident that a cheque for £549 would be dispatched that very night. The Resident in question was very please with the outcome.

Tuesday is going to be a long day as its Full Council with a long Agenda. 

Local Role.

After an interesting Town Council meeting yesterday, I went to the pub for a quick pint. During the discussion Twittergate was mentioned. Not in a real bad way, just how it may have come across. (points I have already accepted). We got chatting about various issues in and around Porthleven when one of those I was sitting with started to talk about the various Political Blogs that are in Cornwall.

He said he enjoyed reading mine (and some other bloggers). He made a point about you should add more about what you do in Porthleven and Helston South. It was a good point, and one that I will try to address. I have in the past blogged about some of the more strategic roles I do and how they will/might effect those in my area. I have not deliberately missed out  talking about Porthleven, but will try and explain why I don’t always.

The reason is that a lot of questions, issues or complaints are in a personal nature or sensitive in their nature. I am sure people who have confided in me would not like their problems/issues aired in such a public way. One major role of a Councillor is keeping confidence of what you are told. It’s a part of the job I take really seriously and would not ever break unless some ones life depended on it.

I am also not the type of person who talks about myself in the “look at how good I am”. It’s not in my nature to do that. Sure, I like some one to say thank you for the hard work you are doing, but I can live without it if needed. I am always at the end of a phone, e-mail or come knock at my door. If I am out or in meetings leave a message and I will get back to you. I can’t wave a magic wand and instantly solve it, but I will try to get some answer for you.

Anyway, I hope that explains my position on this matter and in future I will try and add more about more local stuff. I just don’t want to say “met someone in the street and had a chat”. I can tell you if I pop out for a pint of milk it will normally take me half and hour. The shop is only 2 mins walk away. Even my son said whilst out for a walk this weekend “Dad , why do you talk to everyone?”

My number one priority is helping those in my Ward. The Strategic work comes second.

A Town Council and Planning

I greatly admire Porthleven Town Council (TC), not just because I am part of it, but for the people who are members of it. These individuals turn up at least once each month for the meeting, in all weathers. They are not paid, they do this not because they like to be called Councillor, but because they have a sense of civic duty to the place they live (I am only speaking about Porthleven’s Cllrs). They try their best. In fact they have very limited powers, but the powers they do have they try to do what’s best for the Community.

The point of this blog is how Town and Parish Councils deal, and are dealt with on Planning. They are only Consultees (“we like to hear your views as long as they are the same as ours” type of thing). The Planning matter in question is a Grade 2 listed Building that, to be honest, looked like it was going to fall down anyway. The new owner applied and got planning permission to, lets say, make it look like it should.

Sadly an Accident happened. A JCB accidently knocked (I could repeat accidently alot) this unsupported building. The pre-commencement conditions did say that, before any work was to be carried out, the building should be supported. On another point, none of the Planning Conditions prior to commencement of work were even carried out (work that one out for yourself).

The TC were to say mightily miffed at what had taken place and thought Cornwall Council would act. Did they act? Yes they did. I have to say they did act pretty quickly on this matter but, and here is the nub of the matter, the Enforcement and Conservation Officers thought they had a case against the applicant. That was until the Lawyers got their hands on it. It turns out that there is some ambiguity on certain wording on the plans. (why didn’t they pick this up before approval!!). The advice (hahaha) from the legal bods was they might not win the case as they could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that there had been a breach.

Is that Lawyer speak for we won’t fight a case unless we are sure to win it? My point is why do those in the Legal world seem to only act if it’s a sure thing. How do they know they won’t win? You have to sometimes at least attempt to defend a point, or else it might give the impression you don’t care or you can do what you like.

As for the matter of it was Grade 2 listed. Well, if you speak to English Heritage who are the ones you would think would be miffed on this matter, their response was (this is going to make you laugh) “We are only really concerned on Grade 1 and Grade 2 star.” So you may ask yourself, what’s the point in having Grade 2 if they who take an interest in these matters are not bothered about Grade 2. To the layman you would think Grade 2 is important, but in reality it’s not. We might as well be done with it and have a system that the authorities would be willing to defend.

I think those in the TC would just like to be able to play with a straight bat. That way they might feel they are not just peeing into the wind.

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