Helston College rebuild work to start in September

It has been a long time coming, but the much needed building work for Helston College is due to start this September – yes really this September! Helston College was part of the successful bid to the Government by Cornwall Council to get much needed money for C-Block and other works. The many posts on this subject can be found HERE.

With the project moving forward, the school will undertake a series of engagement meetings with companies hoping to gain the contract for the new build. This contract will be hopefully awarded in April. At the end of April or early May, there will be public consultation as part of the planning process.

This is really exciting, and something I have pushed for since the previous disappointments. Details on what will be built are still being finalised, but a start date is fantastic.  Huge credit to the College Head, Governors and staff at Cornwall Council for never losing faith in getting this money.

The deputy PM, Head of Helston School, the former MP and me at the official announcement of the rebuild back in the day

Helston Town Council to close the Porthleven Road for Flora Day after it reconsiders its decision

Back in September 2016, Helston Town Council decided not to apply for a Road Closure for the Porthleven Road during Flora Day 2017. I was very concerned this was an error and would put the public at risk as my previous blog highlights.

Several months on and at last weeks Helston Town Council meeting I congratulated the Mayor, and the Councillors for agreeing to reconsider their previous decision. In reaffirming my concerns, I wrote another letter to the town council. My second letter is as follows:

“Further to my letter dated the 7th September 2016 which expressed how I was very disappointed that Helston Town Council had decided not to apply for a Road Closure for the Porthleven Road on Flora Day 2017; I am pleased this issue is being discussed again by the Town Council.

My view on this issue is exactly the same as it was beforehand. This road must be closed on the grounds of public safety due to the sheer number of people attending Flora Day and the Fair. Without a Road Closure it will put the public in danger from vehicle movements

Furthermore, not closing the Porthleven Road will lead to serious congestion due the amount of traffic trying to navigate the area both near the Fairground Car Park and at the junction to Furry Way. This will in turn increase the risk for the public.

There is a minimal cost to having a Road Closure, as the cost of applying for one can be absorbed into the other application for the event.

The viewpoint of Cornwall Council should pay for this because it receives around £1400 in payment from the Fair is not possible. As you know this income is used to maintain the car park and keeps it free. Without the income, it makes my role more difficult in arguing against making it a fee paying car park.

I have asked the Fair operators for a contribution to help with the minimal costs for operating a Road Closure but as yet, I have not had a formal response to this request.

This closure has proven to work in the past, and I strongly believe it should continue. I urge you as public servants to reconsider your previous decision and apply for a Road Closure for Flora Day 2017.”

In the months between my two letters , I have been talking to the Fair operators, Anderton & Rowland to see if they would help out financially. I am pleased to say they agreed to my request for £500 to help with the small costs of a Road Closure. All credit to Anderton & Rowland for this, as they understood the importance of this Road Closure (their response came just after I sent my letter).

I am very pleased to say, Helston Town Council  at last nights during one of their committee meetings, they have reconsidered their original decision and will now go-ahead and apply for a Road Closure for the Porthleven Road for Flora Day 2017.

Whilst I disagreed with their original decision, credit to the town council for now applying for this Road Closure. Thank you.


The Bloodhound programme and building a Rocket Car from a block of foam

Who doesn’t want to build a Rocket Car? I certainly do, and I was really pleased (understatement) to be able to undertake the Rocket Car Accreditation Training that will enable me to teach young people how to build and launch their own Rocket Car. In fact, I have never been so excited over a bit of foam before!

My bit of foam..

From a bit of foam, I turned it into this thing (if I do say so myself) of beauty that is my Rocket Car.


Number 11

Day-one of our training which saw 30 adults being as excited as a child on Christmas Day and about to start the training on how to build a Rocket Car. Our two instructors were great, both part of the Bloodhound programme team. They talked us through the must-nots, and how far you could go in sculpting your Rocket Car as the were a few parameters you could not go past, but other than that, you had a free reign.

You started by either drawing on paper, or the block of foam and then cut away the excess and then shaped with sandpaper to the design you want. No blueprint, you just used your imagination and whatever aerodynamics skill you had. There were so many different designs being built. You could not help but marvel at some of the designs. But the questions on everyone’s lips were will it go fast, or at least faster than someone else!


Tables full of rocket cars!

And then there was the rockets to fit into the cars. These were very cool and we learnt how to arm them and how not to have a misfire.

Once our cars were ready, it was off to the track to have a little friendly competition to see how fast our Rocket Cars could go down a 50m track. Before we could launch our cars, we all learned how to set up the speed capture equipment and how the car rockets were ignited. As we will have to do this for real when we work with the young people.


Setting up the speed capture kit

And then it was the races and how my Rocket Car reached a speed of 40.25mph over 50m!


I cannot wait till day two of the training…

Celebrating the success of our Children in Care 2016

Every year, the team from Cornwall Council’s Virtual School puts on an event to celebrate the success of our Children in Care. I have the great honour of presenting certificates to many young people.

The Head of the Virtual School and me

These certificates are awarded for a multitude of reason like doing well at in schools and/or some other achievement like sport. It is a great event and very humbling when you understand some of the backstories of these young people and how they are dealing with them; yet still doing their very best at school with the support of the team from the Virtual School. 

Every year a fancy dress theme is chosen. This year’s theme was super heroes. It was brilliant to see so many young people dress-up. However, it is not just the young people who partake in dressing up, but the entire team too. 

Thanks must go to the Penryn Uni campus and their student ambassadors who help make this event so special.

I will finish with my huge thanks to the entire team of the Virtual School for all the work they do. They are heros, just like the young people they support. 

The Team

A sneak-peak of the new Porthleven Skate Park prior to official opening in two days

With only two-days to go till the Mayor of Porthleven officially opens the £125,000 Moors Skate Park. The park has been built and designed by Maverick but with a massive amount of community input on how it should look and ride.

I visited the site today. It is amazing and a thing of beauty. Maverick have done us proud. Prior to the official opening on 9th November at 4pm, here is a sneak-peak of what everyone has been waiting for…..

Helston Museum’s Exhibition on the Great War

I had the pleasure to be invited to the official opening of a new exhibition by Helston Museum on the Great War. It was a fascinating display of items and pictures of the Great War that focused on the local area. It includes many photos of the long-gone Royal Navy Air Station Mullion.

This exhibition was officially opened by the Mayor of Helston who thanked all who had made this display possible. I can echo those words of thanks to everyone who made this exhibition possible.

For me, one of the best items on display an actual Royal Navy White Ensign that was at the actual Battle of Jutland which was flown by one of the ships that took part in that action. A real piece of Royal Navy history. Amazingly, I was told that this Ensign was tucked away in a cupboard at the museum, and it only came to light when research was being carried out for the exhibition.

Anyone from the area should really visit this exhibition. There really is no excuse not to, as entry to the museum and exhibition is free! The exhibition is on until the end of November. 

Cornwall Council investing in school spaces in Cornwall

This week I visited two Cornish primary schools to see first-hand some of the works which are taking place to provide thousands of additional pupil places in schools across Cornwall over the next two years.

Cornwall Council is in the middle of a major £40m investment programme which will see almost 2,500 additional pupil places provided by September 2018 by expanding existing primary schools across Cornwall.

These expansion works, which include the construction of extra classrooms, halls and kitchens in 25 schools, have been targeted to provide additional places where they are needed most.

The good news is nine schemes have already been completed at Charlestown Primary School, Indian Queens CP School, Mount Hawke Academy, Nanpean CP School, St Columb Minor ACE Academy, St Petroc’s CE Primary School, The Bishops C of E Learning Academy, Treleigh CP School, Brunel Primary and Nursery Academy. The expansion have provided an additional 900 pupil places.

Works are now being carried out at a further six primary schools – St Agnes, Tregolls School, Cubert, Connor Downs, St Uny and St Merryn – with these schemes due to be completed by September 2017.

Following on from September 2017, expansion programmes will then be carried out at a further 11 schools over the following 12 months – providing a total of 2,414 additional pupil places by September 2018.

It was great to visit Cubert and St Agnes ACE Academy along with the Cornwall Councillor for that area. I was joined by staff from the Council’s School Place Planning and Capital Projects Teams, and along with Kier, the contractor who have all worked together to provide much these needed school places.

I am really pleased to be able to come along and see some the works being carried out so that the schools can offer more pupil places. We at the Council recognise the need to provide more school places in Cornwall and the works taking place at Cubert Primary School and St Agnes ACE Academy are part of a much larger programme of school expansions.

The £3.5m project at St Agnes includes the construction of an eight classroom two storey block, expanding the existing school hall and remodeling of the existing kitchen to cater for the additional pupils.

Myself and the local member, Pete Mitchell

St. Agnes School build

At Cubert the £2.1 m project will see the construction of three classrooms and a studio hall across two new blocks, as well as also remodeling the existing kitchen to cater for the additional pupils.

Meeting all those involved at Cubert School


The remaining schemes being carried this year include :

· Tregolls School: full form entry expansion and New MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area)

· Connor Downs Academy: – construction of two new classrooms

· St Uny C.E. School: – internal alterations to provide additional pupil places and construction of a new classroom and expansion of the existing hall

· St Merryn School: Installation of a new modular classroom

The works taking place at the remaining 10 schools include:

· Sandy Hill Academy: -Full Form Entry Expansion.

· Rosemellin Community Primary School: -Construction of 3 new Classrooms and new hall.

· Stratton Primary School: -Internal alterations of adjoining Gregson Centre to provide 3 additional classrooms, taking the school to 2 Form Entry.

· Trevithick Learning Academy ARB: -Construction of a new Area Resource Base (ARB) to provide additional Special Educational Needs (SEN) pupil places.

· Mabe Community Primary School: -Construction of a new classroom.

· Penpol School: -Installation of a new modular classroom.

· St Columb Major ACE Academy: -Internal alterations to provide additional pupil places.

· St Day and Carharrack School: -Internal alterations to provide additional pupil places

· St Stephens (Saltash) Community Primary School: -Construction of a new classroom.

· Weeth Community Primary School: -Demolition of existing life expired modular classroom and installation of a double modular classroom (part funded by the School).

We have not just stopped their, as well as investing in the provision of additional classrooms, the Council has also spent £37.5m carrying out essential repairs and maintenance at maintained primary and secondary schools over the past four years.

Huge credit to all those involved. For me as the Lead Member for Children’s Services it is fantastic to see such a large investment in schools by the Council.

For those readers in the Porthleven and Helston area may wonder why Helston College is not included in these programmes. The simple reason is Helston College is covered by a different funding programme which is directly managed by the Education Funding Agency via the DfE.

Construction starts for a new Post-16 College in Bodmin

Last week, I attended the official start of construction at the 10-acre site to bring a state-of-the-art, post-16 College to East Cornwall which was celebrated at a special cutting-of-the-turf ceremony. Callywith College is being constructed in the heart of Bodmin and will bring quality Further Education provision to young people across North and East Cornwall.

This is a hugely important project for education and skills for our young people. It is not often you can see a purpose built College being built allow those attending a huge opportunity to reach their full potential.

This is all about partnership working as Cornwall Council works closely with Truro and Penwith College as part of our Raising Aspiration and Achievement Strategy (RAAS). We can only improve the educational journey for our young people by working together from pre-school up to FE and HE. Working together we will give a better education experience to all our young people in Cornwall.

Recycling mixed-plastics in Cornwall – my experience 

It has been nearly six-months since Cornwall Council started its trial collecting mixed-plastics in certain locations.

There was in the beginning some resistance to collecting mixed-plastics because of the costs. However, the Cabinet, backed up by the PAC committee which looks at waste related issues etc, felt this was the right way forward and approved the trial. 

As this was a six-month trial, there will soon be a report published on how well it’s going. The question which needs to be answered is: has this trial increased recycling rates? I hope so; but for me this was not just increasing recycling rates, it is about stopping so much of our waste being put into landfill. 

In a household, it is hard to measure just how much rubbish you produce as we have general waste collections weekly and recycling collections fortnightly. So unless you want to be seen as Stig of the dump, you dutifully put out your waste out on those allocated days. 

However, I did not. In fact, for four months I collected all the mixed-plastics I could from the various food products I brought. I was staggered at just how much I collected.  I initially aimed to collect for six-months, but just run out of room to store it. So, I recycled it at the four and a half month period. 

They say a picture paints a thousand words:

This is a one adult (and child) household. If I did not recycle this packaging, all of it would have gone into landfill. The generally accepted time for a plastic bottle to biodegrade is at least 450 years. Yes you read that right, 450 years. 

The following chart gives averages of degradable years for different items.

A few things need to change. Food producers need to look at the types of packaging they used. I was staggered at the number of different plastics in use for packaging. We as consumers need to accept everything does not have to look pretty when we buy it. 

The reality is those two previous point are  going to be tough to change. So in the meantime, we need to recycle more, and that means rolling out the mixed-plastic collection to the whole of Cornwall. 

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