News from Cornwall Council
August is a relatively quiet month for formal council business. I did attend a public enquiry for a proposal for 60 homes, in Porthleven and my Portfolio Advisory Committee had some housing training.
I attended a Cabinet meeting and a meeting of the Devolution and Partnership Portfolio Advisory committee. Alongside the formal meetings the phone keeps ringing, emails abound and I toured the patch, with a Cormac manager, to look at highways issues.
The public enquiry at Porthleven was a learning experience. We stood in a field with the wind blowing. The planning officers battled with paper plans and pointed out what would go where. We then went to the village hall for local people to have their say. Those who spoke against were well organised and generally older, some Cornish and some who loved Cornwall so have adopted it as their home. The opponents were concerned that building in their green fields might be the beginning of a series of developments and that their beautiful landscape would be ruined forever.
Those in support were generally younger and wanted to be able to live in the community they had grown up in. Some had been forced to move away, others were living with parents at a stage in their lives that they felt they should be independent. Next month, at planning committee, we will weigh up both sides of the argument. It will be tough and we are guaranteed to disappoint some of the community.
If you have an electric car, or are thinking of buying one, you will be interested to know that a government grant will fund charging points from the M5 to Lands End. For all road users the plans to dual the A30 from Temple to Higher Carblake are moving forward, a plan that it is hoped will reduce traffic queues.
I joined a discussion about the way local Community Networks operate. I feel strongly that decision making should take place in the community affected by the decision and I wanted to see if I could influence some improvements. The outcome of an ongoing review will be known in the autumn. I think many would consider the Networks to be ‘talking shops’ and whilst the great and the good debating local issues can be interesting, some ask what is the point without any decision making powers?
At the housing training we learnt about the pressure on our housing stock and why we need to build more homes. There are 29,000 applicants on the housing (Homechoices) register and this is growing at a faster rate than homes are being delivered. I learnt, that like the Land Trust I am involved in, South West Water can scupper developments that are granted planning permission because of high charges, something the scrutiny committee hope to look into.
We heard about the work to provide adaptations to help people live independently in their own homes for longer. It is amazing what can be done but sometimes, the more cost effective answer, is for some-one to move to a more suitable property. We looked at some of the impacts of the welfare reforms and of course the bedroom tax is putting pressure on us needing more 1 and 2 bed roomed homes.
Finally, we considered the needs of gypsies and travellers. Evidence indicates that licensed and controlled sites are better for local people (less mess and complaints) and for the health and well being of the gypsy and traveller community (children attending school and families being able to register with health professionals). Without such sites, their life expectancy is considerably reduced.
Have you said “no to hate crime”? Some think this is a waste of time but it is shocking to hear how intolerable some people make the lives of the most vulnerable in our community and this campaign is about making it easier for them to speak up and be heard. If you want to back this initiative then go to Say No To Hate Crime.
Hopefully you have read about the hazard of the crumbling cliffs at Portheras Cove. Do respect the warning signs there and warn visitors to avoid being underneath the unstable cliff. Enjoy but stay safe.
The highways officer is getting our drains and culverts cleared and will get the flood protection works underway for the residents affected by flooding at Tregeseal. I witnessed Cormac remove plastic bottles from a drainage pipe, locally, stopping the water flowing off the road! That’s people throwing rubbish out of car windows. I was also told about some covert speed monitoring equipment so where people feel speeding is a particular problem, we can check what the actual speeds are. No tickets issued but a gathering of information without motorists being aware. I also hope he can draw motorist’s attention to the dropped curbs at Boscaswell corner so useful to disabled people in wheel chairs or on mobility scooters and to parents with buggies. These should not be obstructed.
Over the next few months we are going to be busy working out the budget for the next financial year. I will attend a briefing on 2 September, aimed at helping all councillors understand the process, issues and begin to give views on their priorities. There will then be further opportunities to contribute to discussions through the portfolio advisory committees (PACs). However, most important is how local people can get involved and have a say. In this area, the public are being invited to a consultation event on 19 September at St Johns Hall, Penzance, at 6.30 p.m. This will be your chance to shape what increase in council tax is levied and what services you feel should be provided for that money and what the user of a service should pay or contribute themselves. I hope to see as many local people as possible at the event.
Another consultation event, about the services provided to elderly and disabled adults, including ideas on charging and transport, will take place on 26 September between 6 and 8.30 p.m. at Landithy Hall, Madron. For more information go to www.cornwall.gov.uk/haveyoursay .
September is looking a busy month for me as your councillor, with the training programme ending and the work getting under full swing!