January 2020 – Councillor Update
FOREST FOR CORNWALL HAS BEGUN
The Forest for Cornwall is an ambitious 10 year plan to increase tree cover by 8,000 hectares so not one Forest. It will include urban street trees, orchards, woodland areas (some of which it is hoped will reduce flood risks downstream) and efforts to re-create historic woodlands. It’s not anticipated that Cornwall Council will plant all these and if Councillors or community groups want more information they can go to the Forest for Cornwall pages on the Council’s Grow Nature website. Groups planting trees, including hedgerow trees, can report these in on that website where a tree-ometer is keeping a tally – currently standing at 2659.
Use the Tell Us link to report trees your group, farm, school etc are planting: Forest For Cornwall
Street homeless figures are continuing to reduce, across Cornwall. 24 people recorded as sleeping rough in November 2019, compared to 53 in November 2018 and 99 in November 2016. No-one thinks that is an accurate figure on either street homelessness or homelessness whereby people are sofa surfing or sleeping in very inadequate and/ or overcrowded conditions. It is easy for us to think this is not happening in our community but I am working with a local man at the moment to get him linked up with services to find a home. He has complex health issues that are not helped by the fact he cannot find a secure home.
CORNWALL COUNCIL’S BUDGET
Headlines on the budget are that a Council tax increase is proposed of 3.99%, 2% of which is dedicated to meeting increasing demands on Adult Social Care. Budget pressures continue with rising demands on services but reducing Government grant. The Council is increasingly dependent on the resources it can raise locally. To balance the budget next year a further £12m of savings are required, this is on top of the savings of £380m made since 2010.
NEW WASTE CONTRACT AND OUR COMMUNAL RECYCLING IN PENDEEN AND ST JUST
The new waste collection and street cleaning contract has been let to BIFFA and the new regime will start being rolled out in the second half of 2021. It will be fortnightly dry recycling and fortnightly residual waste alongside a new weekly food waste collection. The contract does not allow for the communal recycling points and they will start being removed this autumn but I have been promised we will be consulted locally to find a solution for homes lacking storage for fortnightly recycling. I am working hard to ensure residents voices are heard and that we come up with a workable solution. The contract does offer increased on-street recycling facilities (welcomed) and I wonder whether that, combined with small communal facilities at our older flats, might be a route to explore.
KILLING BADGERS OR VACCINATING THEM AGAINST TB?
Since about 2014, I have actively supported vaccinating badgers against TB as a means of reducing risks to cattle. This is a strategy very much supported by Andrew George when he was an MP. I know that eliminating TB in badgers alone will not eliminate Bovine TB but, if we could eradicate it in badgers then farmers would know that they have to focus efforts on the spread between and through herds. The work of a vet in Devon has convinced me the TB test used in cattle is inadequate as it does not detect the disease reliably, early enough, meaning that infected animals do move and pass the disease between herds. Also, the vet presents compelling evidence that transmission between cattle, within herds, is a significant problem and that improved bio security is crucial to overcome this risk.
I have submitted a motion that will go to Council on 21 January that aims to join with partner organisations like The National Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Zoological Science London to encourage and support badger vaccination on all Council land, including our farm estate. Whilst it would be tempting to go further and seek a badger culling ban on Council land, I know that would not get adopted as many will point to science saying that is an essential part of protecting cattle from the disease.
My goal through the motion is to make badger culling unnecessary in Cornwall because if we can show they no longer carry the disease. Why would anyone want to shoot an animal that is a protected species, for no reason?
Sadly the motion will probably not be debated this month as it will have financial implications although the cost to our farmers of Bovine TB is much higher.
GETTING OUR DARK SKIES RECOGNISED AND PROTECTED
The Steering Group that I am currently chairing to take forward the bid to get West Cornwall designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve is in the very busy and hard work phase of writing up the evidence and needing to draw up an Outreach and Education programme, for at least the next 18 months. At the moment we have not reached into local schools and we need to do that so, I’d love to hear from any local teachers or school Governors that would like to work with us to help our young people understand the benefits of dark skies to wildlife, human health, creative arts and science, particularly astronomy.