Good ideas Club Pt2

Cabinet meeting (AKA Good Ideas Club) over at the Ivory Towers. Big agenda with lots to discuss. The King welcomed everyone and then informed those present that items concerning the Route Partnership (Scilly Link) were removed from the Agenda. He outlined the reasons with “we are looking into possible options including Falmouth”. A good start then.

The Public are allowed to ask questions (must send them in before hand). There were a few from those in Penzance in reference to the Scillies Link. Graham did well at first, but then he answered a question about what other options are being looked at now that Plan A had been turned down. His response was short and i quote “not in Penzance“. Talk about killing the conversation. (I dread to think the headlines tomorrow). For the record I like Graham and I believe he makes decisions for what he believes are right reasons, but has a way in delivering answers or points like a brick through a stained glass window.

It was then turn of the individual Cabinet members to outline their services and what they had been doing since the last meeting. Armand Toms (Details) with his Adults and Social Care Portfolio showed real leadership in what he said post the critical and some may say unfair report into this Service. He showed he has a real handle on his role and the service is in good hands.

I can’t say that for another Cabinet Member. The other Portfolio Holders all took the lead on their reports in bringing their Directors in when a more detailed explanation was required. This Member did not. They hardly said a word and in fact you would have thought her Director was the boss and they were there merely to hold the pencils. Considering her Portfolio got slammed in the Ofsted report resulting in the previous Director falling on his sword her display today did not inspire confidence. I was not the only Councillor to notice because many were openly talking about that very subject.

Being a Portfolio holder is hard and more so when the rub is going against you. Who said it was going to be easy. Could others do a better job? Well, we will cross that bridge if and when it happens.

Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission published it’s final recommendations on the make up of Cornwall for future Elections. This mystical group asks for your views, but from what I have seen just does what it wants. It was best explained to me by a senior Lawyer on how they come to their conclusions. They drive to an area. Have a look around for a day or two, drive back and then make its decision. He gave the impression they don’t get out of the car often.

 Electoral Commission Report

For my area there are no real changes, apart it has a new title. It will be called Porthleven and Helston West in future Elections. Other areas got changed or where a change was requested that seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.

I guess those in the darkened rooms know what they are doing. Anyway, have a read and let me know what you think.

The Ferry

 Monday was a day for big decisions. The Strategic Planning Committee (me being a member of it) had the unenviable task of deciding the proposed planning for a new terminal and other assorted items for the Isle of Scilly Link. (I posted about this a few days ago when I attended the Public Meeting).

Many of the speakers who spoke at the Public Meeting were present. Some there as spectators, others to speak (limited to 3 mins). The Committee Councillors then asked various questions (i personally asked many)

After about 5 hours of discussion it was time to make a decision. Do we reject or pass. Many of the Committee argued both ways. It was going to be a close vote. The  local Cornwall Councillors seemed to favour rejection. I called for a recorded vote.

The vote was 12-7 in favour of rejection. The Public cheered at the result. Did we make the right choice? I guess time will tell. There is a possibility that over £40 million worth of funding could be lost or the link moves out of Penzance all together. (no confirmation on either)

Penzance Harbour Story
BBC News – Ferry 

People said it was a day for local democracy and common sense in rejecting these plans. What happens if the money or link does indeed leave. Is that a price worth paying to protect a historic harbour?

Community Event

On Saturday a Community Event took place in Bulwark Rd,( It’s a large Estate) Helston.  I helped organise the event along with other parties. The aim of the event was to show that Cornwall Council (me) and other Agencies do care and want to help. Those agencies that did help and helped to organise it were C4NC, Helston’s Family Centre, Community Network Manager, RNAS Culdrose, Police, Fire Service, Helston Town Council, Sanctuary Housing, Shelter Box and the WI. A pretty good turn out.

The event was free, all you really had to do in return for free food, Face painting, Surf Simulator, Smoke alarm fitting was to fill in a simple Questionnaire. Loads did, and with that information I will be working on what the Residents want, and not the other way around. Even as a added bonus in if you filled out your form, you got entered into a Prize Draw (prizes totalled £140). Not bad eh?

My main aim (apart from showing we do care) was to encourage those in the area to take a active part in its future. I hate the word Residence Association as they sound too formal. I would like them to form a Community Group. If they (with my help) get that set up they then will be able to apply for Funding to improve the area. Again a win, win situation.

The event was a success. Loads turned up. Some no doubt suspicious as to what’s happening, other may have thought it would cost them. When they did indeed find out its was free, more turned up. I think we must have fed every child on the estate. (WI did a wonderful job on the food). The over all feeling was in the past they felt they had been forgotten. When it was explained we wanted to help they came out with some great ideas. Hopefully with those ideas we will actually achieve something.

Again, I would like to thank all those who helped make this event a success. Special thanks should go to April for 4 hours of non-stop face painting in cold conditions!

Public Meeting In Penzance

Isles of Scilly Sea Link, otherwise known as the Route Partnership. This is the plan to improve (a lot will differ on the word improve) on the current system. I can’t at this moment say a lot, due to the fact I am a Member of the Stratigic Planning Committee, and on Monday we will be making a decision on this scheme.

Here is the BBC story on this item Link 

I can talk about the Public Meeting. This Public Meeting did not have to happen. There are no rules at Cornwall Council on when or why we should hold a meeting like this. The Chairman of the Committee, Neil Plumber felt a meeting was necessary to allow the public to comment on this. Over 200 people turned up. More would have, but the venue had limited capacity. 

It seems a huge majority of people of Penzance are against this. Its always hard to tell how many are really for or don’t give two hoots about this project because they are normally the silent ones. I believe over 1000 letters of objection have been sent in.  Penzance has a population of just over 20,000 (link). So are 18,000 in favour of it or don’t care? How many in the Scilly Isle are pro or against?  Sometimes its hard to tell the correct feeling on issues like this.

Anyway, the meeting. it started off well and by and large it was a peaceful affair with only a few people not understanding manners, or had the overriding urge to heckle (the Chairman did warn them). It only really nearly got ugly when the Chairman requested to someone who had spoken for a while to sum up. This caused outrage amongst the people. In response to that people offered their allocated speaking slot to this Gentleman. (which he duly took)

Only one Gentleman spoke up in favour of this proposed plan (brave man). I admired his courage in standing up in a room where 199 were against the proposed plans. He was heckled, but by and large he was allowed to speak. Even when he finished what he had to say he got applauded. (not the slow clap either)

Public Meetings can work, they only work when the people who attend understand they are for their benefit and don’t have to happen. Being rude or causing trouble may seem like a good idea, but it ruins any point that you are trying to make. Those from Penzance who attended got their points across in the correct fashion. I will now take that into consideration when I have to make a decision on this plan on Monday.


Tough Choices

Thursday was once of those days. I had Health and Adults Scrutiny Committee, a Public Meeting in Penzance and a Town Council Meeting in Porthleven. I shall start with The Scrutiny meeting.

This meeting only had one item on the Agenda. Support previous Councils (Cornwall County) decision to move Upper GI Cancer treatment to Devon. This is a rare form of Cancer that effects roughly 120 people in Cornwall per year. With approximately 25 of those needing surgery. The Primary Care Trust (PCT) certainly came in numbers. They gave a well presented argument of why this should be moved. It went along the line of a centre of excellence. They did state over and over this move was not for financial reasons. (maybe state this a little to much).  The choice we had to make (a very difficult one) was should we endorse this move or not. After over 2 hours of discussion we came to a view.

A proposal was made by Mario Fonk to refer this decision to the Sec of State of Health for his ruling along the lines of not enough information was available when the previous decision was made. I, after careful thought, agreed and seconded his proposal. Services like these should be kept in the County and not transfered to another areas. You have to think about the after-care, the families of those who are effected and more importantly keep services in Cornwall!

BBC News Link

I think its a slippery slope when you allow services to move out of the County. More importantly, because the geographical nature of Cornwall. We don’t have the luxury of being surrounded by other Counties with similar services.

Tea Towels

Sorry I have not “blogged” for a few days, lot’s been going on as your about to find out.

Nothing to do with Cornwall Council, but I attended my son’s School Nativity Play. I was pleased to see some school’s have not sold out to Political Correctness and not tired to do a “lets include all faiths with the hope of not offending anyone” type of play. Also, this school allows parents to film and take pictures! Shock, horror, call the Police!

Anyway, my son was a shepherd. You know the one, checked tea towel on his head with a false beard. A classic and I believe one of life’s right of passages. I feel those who have never been a tea towel wearing shepherd have truly missed something. Anyway, a proud moment in any parents life seeing their child act (in a very lose sense).

My point is when you try and not offend people by going out of the way to do so, you normally end up offending, or make a complete hash of what you are trying to do. This school just tried to do a simple play teaching a simple message and I felt got it completely right.

Singing at Council

Today was a first. Singing after Prayers (not everyone agrees with Prayers at the meeting). What did we sing? Trelawnay’s Army. Was it a good idea or not? (you can answer that).

I am no way, in any form, a singer. I would not even make the worst singer category on X-factor because I am so bad. It seemed from looking around the Chambers today others felt slightly odd to be singing this song. I think, as one Councillor pointed out from the back, that it was his first time ever to sing this song without a pint in his hand.

Maybe if we sing it at every Full Council people will feel slightly less ‘odd’ singing this song in a formal meeting.

It is a great song, but maybe only has true meaning if you are Cornish. Or maybe this song should always be sung with a pint in your hand. Let me know.

A Meeting Of Two Sorts

Full Council today. The monthly bun fight over at the Ivory Towers. It can be quite an affair, so you never know how it will turn out as each one is different.

Firstly, I had an Independent meeting. Sadly it seems less than a third of the Indies turned up. It started late and went down hill from there. I guess that was due to me. The reason for that was I happened to mention to the others that I was negotiating something (can’t say yet) that would bring a percentage of money from something (I know I am being cryptic, sorry).

One of my fellow Councillors, who shall remain nameless, complained it was not right. Well sorry Mr. other Councillor. If I am willing to go that extra mile to get something for my area (subject to the written agreement) then don’t get all uppity. As you WOULD do it (and I believe they try). The world does not revolve around their (large) area. I, by this stage, had had enough and gave that person both barrels and then walked out.

Maybe I should not have walked out, but nothing winds me up quicker than a cheap clockwork toy then when people take this stance. The people of my area elected me and I work for them, but I do understand the strategic nature of my job. Its a hard balancing act to do both well. No other Councillor is going to tell me that something that will have a benefit in my area is wrong. You can jolly well Foxtrot Oscar, in military terminology, if you think otherwise. That’s all I am going to say on this matter.

As for the other meeting; it was rather tame by its normal standards. There was still the normal blame game going on between the Yellow and Blue Parties. Some people do have very short memories when it comes to who first implemented certain ideas. I guess that goes with the territory, as we all know there is a going to be a General Election within the next 6 months.

One Portfolio Member did not answer a question that well (I’m sure she meant well). I have to say the question was a little loaded; answer yes or no and you could find yourself regretting saying either several months later. I guess that’s politics. I can understand now why MPs when being interviewed don’t like to say yes or no, as they know later they will be hung-out to dry if something happens that contradicts their original answer.

After the meeting I had lunch, did some ringing and admin, then drove home to pick up my son from school. My only other decision of the day is going to be what I am going to have for supper.

Hospital Fetes, Tombolas and Lucky Dips.

Saturday was a big day for me. My first official opening of an event since getting elected to Cornwall Council. The event was the Helston Community Hospital Fete. This is where the staff of the hospital raise money for patient items; things to help people who have the misfortune of being admitted, make their stay a little bit more comfortable. Really the Government (all are to blame) should provide adequate money for this, but they don’t.

The staff give their own time to do this. Over the last few years £10,000 has been raised. Saturday’s event raised nearly £1,500. All from the sale of brick-a-brac, tombolas, lucky dips, teas and cakes. Without hard working and dedicated staff who go that extra mile, there would be no extra money.

If you are visiting, or are in hospital and feel like moaning about the state of the NHS, don’t, just pause for a minute and think. It’s the staff who give up their off-duty days to raise money for the benefit of us all. It’s certainly made me willing to wait that extra time to see a nurse or doctor.

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