Thursday, 28 July 2016

Vote … Rod Toms


Good luck to my friend Rod Toms in today by-election for a seat on Cornwall Council. It has been an absolute pleasure to help with his campaign and I know that Rod – whose tagline was: “He is local and he is vocal" – would make a fantastic representative for the Newlyn and Goonhavern division.

If you live in the parishes of Crantock, Cubert St Newlyn East or the Goonhavern part of Perranzabuloe Parish, please consider giving Rod your vote.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

MK spokesperson dumped from Friday’s Any Questions

In recent years, Mebyon Kernow has made numerous representations to the BBC about the lack of coverage afforded to our Party.

I was therefore pleased when Cllr Loveday Jenkin was invited to be a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions, which will take place at the Tolmen Centre in Constantine on Friday evening (29 July).

But Loveday has just been informed that the invitation has been rescinded and she will no longer be a participant on the programme.

All this mirrors what happened to me in July 2013, when I too had been due to appear on Any Questions but was ditched in the week leading up to the actual broadcast.

We will be making further representations on the unacceptable manner in which we continue to be treated by BBC Any Questions.

Surely there are better ways to spend £179,000,000,000 ...

My article in tomorrow’s Cornish Guardian looks back at the recent House of Common’s vote on Trident. It is similar to a recent blog entry, but is here for the sake of completeness.


It will be as follows:

Image result for cnd trident
MPs last week voted by 472 votes to 117 to renew the Trident nuclear weapons programme and push on with the manufacture of a new generation of nuclear submarines.

Almost all Tory MPs voted for renewal, with only one Conservative taking the opposite view. The majority of Labour MPs (140) also backed the position of Theresa May’s Government.

But I was pleased to see MK’s sister parties (the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru) at the very forefront of the opposition to Trident, along with the Lib Dems, Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party and the single Green MP. It was, though, disappointing that less than 25% of Labour MPs opposed nuclear re-armament.

It will surprise no-one that, as a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) for about 25 years, I was very saddened by the outcome of the debate. I felt it was another sad day for British politics and showed the inappropriate priorities of the political establishment in Westminster.

I strongly believe that we should be working to rid the globe of all nuclear weapons, so that we can make the World a safer and more secure place.

Indeed, the SNP’s Angus Robertson summed it up for me when he said that “it would be both morally and economically indefensible for the UK government to commit to spending hundreds of billions of pounds on weapons of mass destruction.”

The United Kingdom is one of only two countries in Western Europe which hold nuclear weapons. I can see no logical or strategic reason why this need continue. For the sake of the planet and all of its inhabitants, we cannot allow such destructive weapons to ever be used and it would be better if they did not exist at all.

It is especially unpardonable that many of those politicians wishing to spend billions on Trident are the same people who have unleashed devastating cuts to our vital public services, which continue to be greatly under-funded.

CND has estimated that the lifetime costs of Trident would be a massive £205 billion, while the single Conservative MP who opposed Trident – Crispin Blunt, the Chairman of the influential Foreign Affairs Committee – told the Commons that these costs would be £179 billion.

Just think how much good £179,000,000,000 would do if it was instead spent on social housing, job creation, education, health, policing, community groups and so much more.

My latest monthly report to St Enoder Parish Council

My monthly report will be tabled at tonight’s meeting of St Enoder Parish Council. It covers the period 26th June to 24th July.

It is as follows:

1. Council meetings

I have attended a range of formal meetings at Cornwall Council over the last month. These included: Full Council, Planning Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) plus two associated briefings, China Clay Area Network meeting, a workshop on planning procedures at the Council, National Minority Status working group (and an associated external meeting), and a briefing on EU funding following the referendum.

As well as the meetings listed above, I have attended a number of meetings relating to the Council’s Governance Review and the review into the Council’s size. These have included Constitution and Governance Committee, the Electoral Review Committee and two meetings of the advisory “Governance Review External Group” which is taking evidence on behalf of the Council.

As the leader of the Mebyon Kernow Group, I was present at a summit which brought together people from across Cornwall to consider the implications of the referendum result on the future investment into Cornwall and related issues.

As well as the meetings listed above, I have had numerous informal meetings with council officers and I have attended two meetings of the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan Working Group.

2. Other meetings

I have attended meetings of the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Rural Sub-group, and the South and East Cornwall Local Action Group.

3. New play area in Indian Queens Recreation Ground

Construction of the new play area has commenced and, along with the Parish Clerk and others, I am monitoring progress with the project. It is still my hope that the play will have been completed by the middle of August and I will update at the meeting.

4. Additional grant application for Indian Queens Recreation Ground

On behalf of the Parish Council, I have submitted an application to the National Lottery’s Awards for All programme for a grant to construct a tarmac path from the car park area to the new play area. It is our hope that this will improve access to the facilities in the Recreation Ground during the winter months when the field can get quite wet and boggy.

5. Progress with Neighbourhood Plan

As noted above, meetings were held on 5th July and 19th July, which dealt with issues relating to housing, employment land, open spaces and the delineation of development boundaries and / or zoning. This work will feed into the production of a questionnaire around St Enoder Parish.

The next meeting is planned for 2nd August and will focus on the historic environment and heritage assets.

6. Grant application for Neighbourhood Plan work


On behalf of the Parish Council, I have submitted an application for a small grant to help cover the costs of the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan.

7. Upcoming planning appeals

I can confirm that the hearing into the proposal for mobile homes on the Kelliers (PA15/06186) will be held at the St Austell council offices on 16 August, while the hearing into the two applications for the biogas plant at Higher Fraddon (PA15/03073 and PA15/05220). It is my intention to attend both hearings and make representations based on the appeal statements that I have produced.

8. CLLD

As members will be aware, I serve on the South and East Cornwall Local Action Group, which distributes ‘Leader’ funding for local businesses.

A new funding programme is presently being devised which central government says should be focussed in those “lower super output area” which are in the 30% most deprived. But in addition to these areas, it was agreed that some monies could potentially be spent in “hinterland” areas. I made representations that St Enoder Parish should be included in the CLLD hinterland and I am pleased that I was successful, though this does still need to be signed off by the managing authority in Whitehall.

9. Road traffic issues in St Enoder Parish

In my last monthly report, I included the full content of a letter that I wrote to council officers about the lack of action on my numerous requests for traffic calming measures and my representations on areas of concern about road safety.

I have received response, the key points of which are set out below: which is as follows:

I appreciate the frustration expressed in your letter, shared with other members and officers, attributable to the fact that there limited resources available for general traffic requests.

Whilst there are not, under normal circumstances, resources to address these requests in such detail, you have raised a number of issues which will apply to many other requests on the current waiting list, and I have taken this opportunity to set out the position in relation to these issues.

As you indicate in your letter, a comprehensive list of proposals/requests in the Indian Queens/Fraddon area was submitted/discussed on a number of occasions.

For clarity I have used the numbered references in your letter.

Requests for Speed reduction measures / traffic calming
- Indian Queens Speed Reduction Measures
- Fraddon Speed Reduction Measures
- St Columb Road Speed Reduction Measures
- Parka Road, St Columb Road Traffic Calming

From previous discussions … I would summarise the general points:

- There is no specific fund for members request schemes.

- Where there is no evidence of exceptional circumstances or at least some rationale for priority, the diversion of funds from other programmes to carry out these requests would be difficult to justify.

- Other opportunities for funding can be explored. However, in the event that other funding opportunities do arise, requests in St Enoder Parish would have to be considered, and ranked against other similar requests in Cornwall. Priority would be given where safety or other exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated.

- In the absence of funding, the most that I can agree is that this location will be retained on the list of requests for consideration with other opportunities.

With regard to these requests, (and the other sites on the list) I did discuss these with a member of the Planning Development Control Team, last year, to explore the opportunities for developer funding. However, I was reminded that where there are no demonstrable issues of safety or severe congestion, developers cannot be forced to include measures through the planning processes.

Traffic management measures
- Fraddon / Indian Queens Traffic Order
- St Francis Rd, St Columb Road traffic management

My response makes comment about agreement and consensus. This was due to some (anecdotal) evidence of previously proposed traffic orders in the area which were divisive, contentious and ultimately aborted. Nevertheless, the situation remains that an area wide traffic order could be considered for this parish, but it would need to be considered alongside requests in many other parishes across Cornwall.

With regard to your comments about enforcement, you are correct that this would be a factor in any decision to undertake an area wide review. It should be noted that the removal of restrictions can be an effective means of reducing speeds and reducing the need for enforcement. This approach has been tried and tested successfully in other areas.

Indian Queens Primary School Transportation Improvements

My discussion with the Highways Development Team also included the request for measures at Indian Queens School. I believe that some measures were secured through the planning process for development at the school.

I have again made enquiries as to whether there are any outstanding planning commitments regarding the School Travel Plan to support the initial planning application. I expect a response from the project manager of the work at the school shortly, and I will report this back to you. Although I understand that parking and am/pm congestion is still a contentious issue, I can raise this again with the Planning Obligations officer to see if there are any outstanding actions.

Summercourt Crossroads - Pedestrian Crossing

My response in November raised the possibility of a pedestrian phase at the signals, since the introduction of a separate light controlled crossing in close proximity would not be possible.

It is likely that the existing signals already provide a pedestrian facility in the ‘intergreen’ periods. Also, an intergreen pedestrian phase at the signals could generate a disproportionate delay and congestion at the junction, which could be considered a nuisance for residents and would not support safety at the junction.

Nevertheless, a pedestrian/vehicle count and review of accidents has been requested to determine whether further measures are necessary or appropriate.

Summercourt Speed Reduction Measures

As per responses above [in relation to other speed reduction measures).

Summercourt School 20mph Zone

In addition to responses [above] … where exceptional issues have been identified, it should be borne in mind that the requested measures may not be confirmed as being the appropriate response.

I will follow up the requested speed readings and report for this location.

Priorities?

Prioritisation of Local Transport Plan funding has been dominated by larger schemes and those which are an integral part of a wider strategy. The reasons for this were set out in the Council Implementation Plan, PAC report 11th February and the Cabinet report of 4th March 2015.

Funding for smaller traffic schemes and general requests up till April 2013 depended on allocations from the Council’s corporate funding reserves. I am not aware of other external funding sources which could be used for such schemes which would not require achieving specific demonstrable objectives and targets.

Approach to Road Safety

With regard to your comments regarding the Council’s approach to road safety, I have spoken to the Road Safety Team about this. I have summarised the responses below, which I believe sets out the situation clearly. If you still require a higher level meeting to discuss this I will forward your request for discussion on approach with the appropriate chief officers.

“The Council has a number of mechanisms to deal with road safety concerns. The Local Safety Scheme (LSS) mechanism is the most formal and rigidly defined and follows national criteria. It is a relatively small budget and normally covers between 1 and 6 schemes for the whole County in a year.

“The basic duty to identify accident cluster sites and treat them arises out of S.39 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This states in part:

"Each local authority must carry out studies into accidents arising out of the use of vehicles on roads…within their area... [and] must, in the light of those studies, take such measures as appear to the authority to be appropriate to prevent such accidents, including…the construction, improvement, maintenance or repair of [such roads] and other measures taken in the exercise of their powers for controlling, protecting or assisting the movement of traffic on roads”.

"The criteria for site identification are broadly based on the “Road Safety Code of Good Practice” recommendations, although in Cornwall a lower threshold is used for identification, due to the generally lower concentration of accidents and the relative success of past schemes in treating the worst sites.

“The county’s accident record is reviewed each year and a list compiled of all sites that meet the criteria. This is then prioritised by factors such as the severity of a site’s accident record and how recent it is. The current list stands at just over two hundred and twenty.

“Highways managers have access to this list and check it against requests for traffic improvements in their areas.

“Accident investigations generally reconstruct in detail the accident record over five years or more, seeking common or related factors amongst accidents.

“If these factors are identified, then engineering methods can be applied so that road users are better protected. However, not every site investigated will be susceptible to treatment; some accident records are simply the product of random variation, blind chance or a combination of factors which cannot be treated by engineering measures alone.”

Road safety problems at New Road, Fraddon

I understand from your comments that you do not agree with the Road Safety team assessment of New Road at Fraddon.

Additional information has been received from the Police which matches the Council’s own data. I have asked the Road Safety Team to take another look at the accidents in conjunction with the Police records, to see if there are any gaps in information between your report and the accident recording system.

Road safety problems at Sea View Terrace, Fraddon

The Road Safety Team has been asked to review the recorded accident history at this location. I will also seek out the historic request for speed limit measures at this site, and the related correspondence, as I am not sure of the specific location. I will see that it is included in the next update.

Accident outside of Ridgewell Terrace, Fraddon

As per [above].

Summary outstanding actions

Follow up actions to the above responses are summarised below:

- Indian Queens School Development - Project Manager to report back on any outstanding planning commitments regarding the School Travel Plan to support the initial planning application.
- Summercourt Crossroads - Pedestrian Crossing – ped survey
- Summercourt School 20mph Zone – I will follow up the requested speed readings and report for this location.
- New Road, Fraddon – Disagreement with the Road Safety Team assessment. Road Safety Team have been asked to match the information on the Police and Council accident recording systems, and the submitted Report, and make sure that nothing has been overlooked.

Last week, I attended a follow-up meeting at which there was further discussion particularly about Indian Queens School and New Road near Fraddon. The notes from these minutes are presently being written up and I will report them at our next meeting.

In addition I would add that, at the most recent meeting of Cornwall Council, I declined to support the latest iteration of those schemes in the Local Transport Plan. I had previously opposed the production of this document.

10. SWW works

Members will be aware that South West Water has also started works on the upgrading of over 900 metres of old water mains along the Drang and St Francis Road. The works are aimed at dealing with the issue of frequent bursts in the area, and will take seven weeks.

Various arrangements have been put in place in terms of traffic and the impact on community events, and I will be available if anyone experiences any problems.

11. Glebe solar farm

When Clean Earth Energy secured planning for the solar farm at Glebe near Summercourt, they agreed that St Enoder Parish Council would receive £2,000 per annum to invest in community projects. I have been in contact with Clean Earth Energy and the first payment will be available in November. The company asks that when we have a project to spend the money on, we should contact them to receive the funds.

12. Fraddon Millennium Green

As the secretary of the Millennium Green, I am pleased to be able to report that we are also doing improvements in this area. Some repairs have been done to the equipment, we have commissioned a local contractor to repaint all the play equipment and a new rocker will soon be installed.

In addition, another contractor has been hired to trim the hedges around the Green, improve the entrance area and clear vegetation along the path through the facility.

13. Inquiries

In the last month, I have also helped numerous people with advice and guidance. Issues have included housing problems, various enforcement matters and so much more.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Waste arrives at the St Dennis incinerator

The delivery of “black bag” waste to the incinerator at St Dennis has commenced. We will soon be seeing the “smoke” coming out of the two chimneys, which now dominate this part of Clay Country, as they start to test the workings of the plant.

This announcement was all over the news today and, as someone who has been involved in the opposition to the incinerator for around a decade, it felt like the end of a very long journey.


Among the people interviewed today was Ken Rickard who rightly made the point that local campaigners (who have opposed the incinerator) would now be monitoring the operation of the plant to ensure that it works as well as promised.

Speaking for myself, I am proud of the role that I played in opposing the incinerator at the planning application stage and then at the Planning Inquiry which followed. It remains my view that the plant was ill-conceived and is oversized; that there were better options and the incinerator will dampen down efforts to increase recycling; and that decision-makers at the County Council deliberately dumped the facility on the communities of the China Clay Area – an unforgivable sin in my eyes.