Housing, Buses & Domestic Abuse Are The Themes Of My Week
I have had a very busy week, dominated by meetings. Calls & emails were still mainly about buses but some were about housing. In terms of the meetings I will share with you that I feel that West Planning Committee again showed that it does have teeth and can do the right thing! I will also share with you about a conference I attended, with many others from a range of services, on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence.
At planning this week we had to consider an application to remove the historic listed foot bridge at St Erth Station. The gist of it went that to improve disabled access they needed to take out the old bridge and put in a new one with such a long zig zagging ramped access that it would have provided good training for the next para-Olympics! In fact, if built, I think it could be a new Olympic event. To try to convince us it was ok to remove the listed bridge, we were told that they could find a museum for it somewhere. Go on the Cornwall Council website and look at application PA13/05874, where there are photo’s of the station. The historic features, that those who understand things have assessed as worth keeping, is about the bridge as part of the station. Much of the value and charm would be lost if removed.
The arguments about disabled people needing access to the station are compelling until you think that this is part of the scheme for the West Cornwall Inter-change. Although much needed for St Ives, as an increased and improved park and ride, I think the benefits to West Cornwall have been exaggerated. I just cannot imagine anyone parking there and catching the train to Penzance or anywhere, other than St Ives.
The trouble then with the disabled argument is that if we get the bridge to help disabled passengers get across the station I think they might be a bit stuck when they get to St Ives. I do not think it is or ever could be that disabled friendly a town! In the planning papers, it became clear that there is an alternative to taking out the historic bridge and that is putting in a 2nd bridge and instead of lengthy ramps it would have a lift that people who cannot manage the stairs could use. I assume Network rail are not keen on this because it costs more.
The committee voted unanimously that the bridge could not be removed, against the recommendation before us.
Buses and Housing
Conversations have begun over new contracts for bus services and where any council subsidy will go. Plus, on Friday, an organisation representing passengers had a meeting with the Director of First bus to discuss the problems caused by the recent route and timetable changes. My letter to them (you can read it under ‘news’ ) will be the basis of the conversation for Pendeen. I will report the outcome, under ‘news’, as soon as I hear.
People have been bidding for the new homes at St Just and I have had calls from people concerned about the bidding process. The sad thing is, there are not enough homes there to meet the hopes and dreams of people with a strong local connection. The next planning application to build more homes for them will, I am sure, be met by understandable concerns of people who already have a settled home and love St Just as it is. We have to search deep in our hearts, if objecting to new homes that are for local people, and ask how we would feel if our son or daughter or mother or father could not get the home they need where they have always lived?
By the many local professionals who attended this conference, I am confident that there is help and support out there for those who are in abusive situations. It is easy to just think about physical violence but often the more harmful and difficult abuse for people to escape from is where people are being dominated and controlled. They have no prison bars and can go out but there every movement and decision is controlled by their partner or other family member. The slave cases, in the National news this week, are also domestic abuse and the victims suffered for 30 years!
The hardest part for anyone in an abusive relationship is telling the first person but it is not until they do that they can become free and safe. Many victims do go on to die at the hands of their abuser of because they can take no more and kill themselves. If you or someone you know might be affected then ring 01872 225629, anytime.
The most powerful speakers were a man whose sister and nephew were murdered by her partner and Jim Gamble who use to head up the Child Exploitation and On Line Protection Center, until he fell out with the Home Secretary. Interesting too was a psychologist who explained the different kinds of personality that men who abuse women have and why women cannot leave the relationship even when all around them cannot understand why they stay!
The conference was timely for me as I have been doing some work looking at how a man identified as posing a serious risk to his ex-wife and her new partner went on to try to kill them. I hope through this work and as a councillor setting our Community Safety policy, I can play a part in making the lives of those abused in our County safer.