From your Cornwall Councillor in training

Posted on: 29th July 2013

I have now completed my first month as your Cornwall Councillor. My time has been dominated by attending training and meeting key officers and many frustrating hours getting to grips with the Council IT system. Although we all know what a broad range of issues a Council is responsible for, it is not until you actually start considering it in detail that the enormity hits home. I have had several people contacting me regarding specific local issues or writing to convince me of the merits or problems associated with specific developments, in the West of the County. The Council, as a whole, continues the process of forming the administration with the first meetings of committees electing their Chairman and Vice Chairman.
I have been allocated to 3 committees and am substitute member for 1 committee. I am a member of the Homes and Communities Portfolio Advisory Committee so will be part of a cross party group considering issues and advising the Homes and Communities portfolio holder. To give you a flavour of the breadth of work of the council, this one committee is responsible for Housing, Bereavement Services (that’s cemeteries, I’m told), Fire and Rescue, Public Health and Protection (that includes Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Animal Welfare, Coroners and Licensing), Crime and Disorder, Police and Community Safety. Our first meeting will have happened by the time I next write so I will have a better idea of the issues we need to get to grips with but I know already that there will be some aspects that I am better able to contribute to than others. I have been allocated to the West Area Planning Committee and I thought about trying to keep that secret! We have to make decisions that comply with planning law and as the only matters that come to committee are those that are contentious, we cannot make decisions that make all parties satisfied. I have attended my first meeting and, as I already knew, there are always at least 2 sides to every story and weighing them up in an often emotionally charged atmosphere, is going to be tough. I am legally required to listen and consider all information presented with an open mind. As the arguments unfolded, at the first meeting, it reminded me of the story of Solomon. I only hope I can find the wisdom to decide!
I have also been allocated to the Pensions Committee and am substitute member for the Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee. More about them when I attend, in the future.
You will all want me to focus on local St Just and Pendeen matters and I have lots of issues and ideas swimming around my head that either you have brought to my attention during or since the election campaign or that I was aware of whilst serving as a Town Councillor. Whilst it is tempting to say I am going to do this or change that, I do not want to suggest or promise what might not be possible or right long term. I am also aware that any ‘good idea’ can have unseen consequences that take a while to become apparent. While I continue to learn and find my way around being a Cornwall Councillor I will continue to reflect and hopefully come up with some local priorities to focus on, by the autumn. I will share my thinking, along the way, and MAY use a blog to enter into a dialogue with you. You can give your views on whether I should embrace social media on the St Just Town Council discussion page.
A reminder that if you want to see me you can join me for a tea/ coffee the 3rd Saturday of the month at the Centre of Pendeen and 4th Saturday of the month at the British Legion in St Just. Both days between 11 and 12. You can also email me on but Council staff do strive to be helpful so on day to day things do try them first.

Cllr Sue James