Coronavirus special blog

I thought I would write a Coronavirus special blog, to highlight what you can find where on my website but also give you a bit of a feel of how it has altered my life as a Councillor.

The photo is nothing to do with Coronavirus but is a nice hopeful bit of Spring in my back garden

Today, 17 April 2020, a printable version of a letter, giving information to residents is available on my website. This has not been posted out, as most will have a support network in place by now and the cost of doing so was over £1,000. However, it might plug a gap and those who are on-line and see this, might help us get it to those that are not.  Letter for St Just-in-Penwith Residents to share

So, I have been doing my best to provide useful and up to date information for those living in and around the St Just Parish but some of it might be useful to anyone in Cornwall. As the Cornwall Councillor for St Just, the local area is my priority but I’m there for the whole of Cornwall too! I’m not going to say that all my posts, that have been edited and re-edited as situations change, are perfect English or are keeping absolutely up to date but, I’m doing my best. Trouble is, as I beaver away, I’ve no real idea whether what I’m doing is proving really useful or you all think I’m wasting my time! Some of my posts have been shared a lot so, I suppose they must be a bit helpful!

So, let us start with the News tab of my website. The posts there are (with details of how many times shared as of 24 April at 10:00 a.m):

Latest post! Help and support for those struggling with their mental well-being– As important as physical health is our mental health so be sure to take care and use the help available.

Latest advice re Council tax and Business Rates – (shared 4 times) info on struggling to pay Council tax plus how businesses claim help with their Rates –

COVID19 useful & reliable info post – (shared 148 times) was equally aimed at residents and business but NOW, mainly for residents but of course many involved with businesses are also residents!

Help for business, all in one place – (shared 55 times) and does include some info for the self-employed

Emergency grants for informal and formal community groups – shared 25 times and aimed at helping not-for-profit groups weather the storm but priority to those, constituted and not constituted, helping communities cope with life in these tough times

How to escape from an abusive relationship – (shared 5 times) very important – do not stay because of the virus

Information to Farmers post added this week (shared 5 times)

Moving on to my Blog tab (the one you are in now).

New post added 9 April: Information for those at high risk if they caught Coronavirus– (shared 4 times) this post refers to the Governments Shielding measures. And now I’ve added information for people getting food parcels that they do not really need or want or perhaps you need the delivery but have special dietary needs.

Urgent appeal to look out for/ support homeless people – (shared 6 times) but especially important if you have holiday accommodation you could offer the council whether empty caravans, chalets or homes. Some also needed for adult social care

Getting your food – local info – by far my most popular post, shared 253 times! This is as it suggests, letting people know how our local shops are adapting and where you can get local food delivered from

Coronavirus made simple, for our young children – (shared 15 times) but, if you have young children or grandchildren, there are now 3 different workbooks and stories aimed at Children or various ages. Might be helpful to home schooling projects. Also on this post, I have put information for our young parents, who might be feeling very isolated at the moment.

Changes to how planning applications are being dealt with – (shared 6 times)

My very personal thoughts, at this time – surprisingly shared 41 times since 4 April – did not expect that!

Fundraising for Cornwall’s NHS – explained – (shared 3 times) a bit of a myth buster and to ensure your money is going where you want it to go

Outreach Parish Magazine has gone on-line – during the crisis the volunteers cannot safely print and collate enough copies of the magazine to go through our doors but a few are at the usual collecting points or a colour version is on-line

Personal Message from me drawing to your attention for the first time today, although it has been quietly sitting there since 12 April.

So, what have I been up to? Well, I think if you just glance at a few of those posts you will see a lot of time has been spent updating my website. I hope that investment is of some use to you. I live with 2 people over 70 so am very conscious that whilst I am still going out on essential work (setting up the foodbank collection point in St Just) I must keep washing my hands and be very careful to obey all advice. I’ve been going out to get medicines and food, and not yet used up delivery slots.

As a Councillor, I have had many people contact me through Facebook, email and phone, with questions, worries, offers and ideas. Daisy, with her Daisy chain of volunteer wardens has been a fantastic scheme but I have kept in regular contact with her to pick up on the more vulnerable, share ideas and solutions and just for some mutual support. Cornwall Council is putting emergency plans in place, in anticipation/ fear that the worse is yet to come, and we now have 11 contacts from our community ready to step up, should a need arise. Some meetings have been set up virtually, mainly for Council officers to gain intelligence from communities but for us to share idea and solutions. All formal meetings in a room, both Cornwall and Town are cancelled although there are decisions that need to be made, involving Councillors and procedures and solutions are still being worked through. It is balancing not putting people at unnecessary risk (look what has happened amongst our MP’s, including the Prime Minister) but not binning the Democratic voice in decision making.

Whilst not a technophobe, I do not consider myself to have exceptional skills but, I’ve mastered What’s App, Zoom, Skype, Vidoe calls on Facebook Messenger and yesterday did a trial on CISCO webex Meetings! These do bring about some funny moments like the Councillor who cannot work out how to get the camera to face her rather than away; now places a stuffed giraffe for us to look at, rather than an empty chair across her kitchen table!

So, what about usual business that I deal with? Well, planning applications, in terms of those that are controversial, procedures are being worked up as Planning committees have been suspended. I have been assured that those decisions will not just become delegated ones but the detail is having a bit of debate, shall we say! I do still hope to get the first draft Dossier of the International Dark Sky Reserve bid in for West Cornwall but you can probably imagine, that dropped down my priority list last week. Hope to pick it up again Monday/ Tuesday and still submit the draft, even if a little less ‘finished’ than had hoped but getting the International Dark Sky Association feedback will feel as if we are making progress!

Take care, stay home if you possibly can and keep 2 metres apart, no matter what you are doing when outside for essential business.

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