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.

Herding Cats

Those who stand for election under the Independent banner have a tough job. They don’t have a party machine to help them “knock” and “walk the streets”. Most will press gang family members into helping. It’s a lot harder when the weather is poor.

There are 32 of these individuals elected to Cornwall Council. We sort of join together to make some sort of lose group with no real ideology like political parties have. We elected a leader. His job is a difficult one, and to be honest we can, at the end of the day vote, say and do as we please as we have no political masters.

Today we had an “away day”. I was not at the beginning of it due to the fact I was with the SIP. It was interesting, as we did one of those modern brain storming sessions with a board and a few marker pens. It proved we do have some similar issues in the group like, cheap housing, infrastructure, schools and transport. The trick is, how to present that as a voice and not just a bunch of squabbling individuals.

We are elected to do the best for our communities, sometimes that’s very hard if you are just one voice out of 123. Sometimes it’s worth having just one large voice (32) helping your cause.

At the end of the day, we vote how we feel is best. That is the privilege and curse of being an Independent (no political party to hide behind).

The best way I can describe our Group is like someone trying to herd cats. Bloody difficult, but if there is a nice treat (for our community) offered we may at least drink from the bowl at the same time.

A Panel of Single Issue

The first meeting of the Single Issue Panel (SIP) which will look into the safeguarding issues that the Ofsted report identified. The Directors, The Deputy and the Portfolio holder of this department were present.

I have to say, Mr No Nonsense and his side kick (another plain speaking Northerner) answered the questions lobbed at them with brutal honesty. This was refreshing. We can all criticise with ease, but I for one thanked them for their honest answers, and the approach they are taking to sort out this ball of chalk we have within Children’s Services. I did also say I knew where all the unused swords are kept just in case they were needed.

I do, with sincere honesty, look forward to working with these two “lads” in the future. I think they are the right ones for this tough, and sometimes thankless, task.

I guess time will tell.

Doing It Live

I did a radio interview with a very popular BBC current affairs in Cornwall. The presenter has a reputation for being direct and to the point. I received a call this morning asking if I would speak and answer questions about the decisions that the Parking Panel has made.

Again, I stepped up to the plate. If you make a decision you should stand up and defend that point. I find it difficult to understand when someone who has made a choice that will affect many people will not be open to public scrutiny or answer difficult questions.

I hope I batted well. The presenter did bowl all different types, but I don’t think he took my wicket. The crowd (not hearing it, but told) were a mixed bunch, some support, some along the lines of “who in the hell is this?” and those who might not agree, but kind of understood the method.

Call me nuts, but I even gave my own number out (presenter said could he). I said if someone wants to talk to me about the issues, then ring me and I will listen. It’s of fundamental importance that if you are in a position that affects many, then you should be accessible.

Licensing Hearing

One of my other jobs is Vice-Chairman of Licensing Act Committee. When the need arises we hold a hearing when a licensed premises either has a review or objection to a Grant of Licence.

Today, in a Cornish western town, I had to do two. Two other Councillors sit with me in deciding what course of action is taken after we hear all the evidence (and generally there is loads). Today you could have used the paperwork as a door stop. The police had brought the reviews because there had been many and on going breaches to their licensing conditions. Sometimes people just don’t get it that they need to adhere to the conditions. They are not imposed just for fun.

The police barrister outlined his case in typical quick lawyer fashion, getting down to the points with professional zeal. The owner then had a chance to state their case. I have to say it would be easier if those who have to present their case would do it in a clear fashion. Today was not one of them. I had to request that this person to get to the point several times.

In the end we considered suspending their licensing, but we decided to impose more conditions that will, I hope, solve the ongoing problems (we live in hope). I am not sure if they were happy, but they would have been a damn sight more unhappy if we had removed their license as they would then not be able to trade.

The point is, if a condition is placed on a licence, then please, please stick to it. If not, it gives the area a bad name and can blight those who live near these places.

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