Not A Happy Bunny

I said at the start of the week that it started off good with the nice letter. Well, its Wednesday and its gone down hill quicker than a Swiss skier.

There I was sitting eating my breakfast with the news on. Still half sleepy i was shocked to hear Cornwall Council is going to have Government intervention to ‘help’ the Council get Children’s Services right. It seems the Council has decided to brief the BBC before those who are elected to the Council.

How can the Public have any confidence in the Council if those who they elect to make sure its run for the greater good are not even warned, consulted or even given the ‘heads up’ on this shambles. 

What halfwit (and yes i am annoyed) decided to keep this information secret from the Councillors? I have this morning sent an e-mail the Leader and Chief Exc of the Council demanding answers.

I am now in the process of collecting some more swords because I am sure there is going to be a few people who fall on them, or if not,  pushed on them.

Planning Procedures!

There I was yesterday at the Planning Procedures Panel. The remit of this Panel is to get Procedures, Public Speaking, Enforcement Policies and other bits of the Planning Process right. Planning is one of the functions that the Public see first hand. Get the process wrong you can be sure as the sun raises and sets every day people will be sure to let you know.

I am never one to sit on the fence. You are not elected to sit on the fence, people elect you to do a good job for them. That means sometimes having a lot to say. Yesterday was one of those days.

Nothing annoys me more than when certain people try and make the Planning Process Political. It must never be Political, never. One member of this Panel came up with the ‘bright idea’ (i am being sarcastic) of allowing an adjourning elected Member to over rule another Member on planning call ins. Call ins is a rule where a Councillor has the power to bringing applications in his own Ward/Area to the Committee and not be dealt under delegated powers.

If this was allowed, the people could find that  another Councillor who they did not elect could use this for political point scoring. I am pleased to say that this was put to the vote and all but two people voted against it. See, there is some common sense at the Ivory Towers.

I am sure i will be quoted in the paper on some of the other points and issued raised. One was when the same person who brought up the previous bright idea that some Councillors don’t like making decisions on possible contentious issues. I think the word I used was they should ‘man up’ or find another vocation. This position does require you to make tough and hard choices. Who said being a Councillor was all teas and biscuits.

It happened!

Well today was basically an admin day to catch up and answer all those e-mails I had not addressed on Friday due to the spectacle of me in a Tutu!

Apart from the e-mails from Africa and ‘I have won the Lottery’ type I was pleased to see a Thank you letter. Nothing sets up the week like receiving a e-mail like that. It means more, due to the fact the person in question is not of the generation that really likes computers. I wish all weeks would start off like this.

From tomorrow, it’s back over to the Ivory Towers to deal with Planning Procedures!

The Cross Party Dressers

After much badgering from those who follow my blog I have decided to post a couple of pictures from the Children in Need event (those of you who are my friend on FB would see a lot more!)

Can you guess who the Councillor is, and what Party they are from? (pictures below right)

Cornwall Council’s Got Talent

It’s Children in Need today. The Council decided to hold Cornwall Council’s Got Talent competition during the lunch period.

The Council Chambers was full to the brim, 8 acts were scheduled to appear from different depts within Cornwall Council. I had agreed to take part in a ‘comedy act’ with members of Democratic Services (DS). The act was along the lines of dancing and the Stavros act that was on Britain’s Got Talent.

3 other Councillors decided to help out as well, Scott Mann, Jeremy Rowe and Andrew Long. We decided to call ourselves the ‘ Cross Party Dressers” (as were are all from different Political Parties). We dressed in bright Pink and Yellow Tutu’s with tops (female) that were to say a little tight, not to mention some very fetching wigs and make up!

We were to come on in the last minutes of the act after those from DS did their part (the professional part I might add). We did indeed come in and hammed it up as best we could, some more natural than others. To be honest, we made complete fools of ourselves (and loved every minute). The crowd I might add laughed, and gave us a huge round of applause which we of course lapped up!

The point in today’s blog is when moral might be a little low, nothing like a good old laugh at those Politicians can bring a smile to peoples faces and hopefully they will think “they are human after all”

More importantly, a worthy cause get that little bit of extra cash it needs!

Here are some good looking beauties

Parking, The Poisoned Chalice

Parking, the Poisoned Chalice of a Panel. No matter what way you look at this issue or deal with it, it will certainly pee some people off.

We met under the cover of darkness (yes, a night time meeting for those who think we don’t have them) and I was ‘volunteered’ for the position of Chairman(more like Press Ganged). As one who has never avoided the sound of the shilling on the drum, I accepted the position.

We discussed and sorted out the role of this Panel, and then looked into the detail of our role. It looks like we are going to cover all aspects of parking within Cornwall.

Hopefully we will get it right, as getting it wrong would be tragic for those in Cornwall. If that happens I will find out that drinking from this Chalice would indeed be very bad for my health.

A Step Forward

On Tuesday I was sitting on the Children’s, Schools and Families Scrutiny Committee over at the Ivory Towers. As you are probably aware, Children’s Services got well and truly spanked on it’s recent Ofsted inspection and report (it didn’t just drop the ball, but lost it). The then Director did the honourable thing and fell on his sword, and rightly so.

After the dust had settled, and the blame game had stopped, a new Director (interim) has been appointed. This was his first time attending this Committee and he may have thought he was in for a bit of a grilling on the way forward or previous actions.

From what I saw and in the way he answered the questions he certainly has a John Smith No Nonsense approach to the Service. I have a feeling we are finally (and with much relief) sorting out this mess once and for all.

If not I am sure another sword can be found.

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.

Letters

Letters pages in the Press are always interesting to read, you hope someone may have taken the trouble to say thanks for the work, but really, it’s sort of have a go at you page. (Luckily not always directed at me.)

In today’s local paper I and a fellow Councillor seem to have attracted some attention from as far away as Sheffield. Personally I did not know my sphere of influence really stretched that far, but it must do for someone to comment from there.

There were two points to the letter. Firstly I mentioned in a previous meeting (Planning Procedures) that meetings should start earlier. Not as both authors indicated because I wanted to go home early or could not concentrate after 5pm, but so we could do more work as we would have longer Committees to do just that. Sorry if I got it wrong and you really wanted shorter meetings, but more of them.

The second point, and I believe the main aim of the letters, was the decision of the Strategic Planning Committee on the approval of two Wind Farms. Decisions like these are always difficult and not taken lightly.

It seems, and I maybe wrong (depends on what side of the fence you sit) that people say we must have more sustainable energy resources but (and I mean I big BUT) not in my back yard. This seems to happen in planning alot.

Should I respond to these letters? Well the answer is no. If they wished to contact me (my details are easily to find) then I would take the time to respond and explain fully, or answer any questions they may have. On both of these letters they got most of the facts wrong or took what I said out of context.

What I am trying to say is this: constructive criticism is welcome, especially if it enables me to do my job better, but if I do something that pleases you, or if I have done something right, then maybe drop me a little line to say thanks. Just getting one thank you means a great deal and shows I am doing my job right.

The Good Ideas Club

What is the Good Ideas Club you may ask, well its also known as the Cabinet of a Council. In Cornwall Councils its made up of 10 people who have certain roles (Portfolios) like those in a Cabinet of the Government. ( I won’t bore you on how it works as you may lose the will to live.)

So here we were today for the Monthly meeting the Club (I will call it by this name from now). Their agenda for this was long, a little too long in my opinion, but 10 am it started. They talked, a little too long some may say, about lots of issues, but the key one I am “blogging” about was on the “Call in” of the decision by the Club on the Council’s Severance Policy (I blogged about this a few days ago).

What would the Club do, would it take on the points from the Scrutiny Committee and look into its decision again? Did they? Did they heckers like! They made a statement along the lines of a teacher giving a gold star out to a child who did some good work, but then totally ignore the actual content of the work.

This was the first test on how the Club would react to a “Call in” and from what I witnessed did not make the right decision or even consider the points raised by Scrutiny. Others may disagree, but they aren’t writing this blog.

So, why am I talking about this, well the new Policy will have a direct effect on all staff who may have the misfortune of actually having to go though the ordeal of Severance. I don’t think the process and engagement of arriving at this conclusion was fully explored to its full potential. I have the feeling some staff will feel a little aggrieved.

I could be wrong, but that’s up for others to decide. I am just a Back Bencher who is not in the Club.

1 143 144 145 146