Tuesday, 28 July 2015

My latest monthly report to St Enoder Parish Council

At tonight’s meeting of St Enoder Parish Council, I will be presenting my latest monthly report. It covers the period 22nd June – 21st July 2015. It is as follows:

1. Council meetings

I have attended a range of formal meetings over the last month. These included: Full Council (2), Cabinet, Central Sub-Area Planning Committee, Communities Policy Advisory Committee (PAC), an informal Planning PAC and two associated pre-agenda/preparatory meetings, a meeting of PAC Chairmen and key officers, Constitution and Governance Committee, Informal Planning and Development Improvement Group, Appointment of Chief Officers Panel, Group Leaders’ meeting, and two briefings on the Council’s “Case for Cornwall,”

In addition to the formal meetings listed above, I have had numerous meetings with council officers and others to discuss a range of issues. Some of these are referenced below.

2. Other meetings

I have also attended meetings of the Indian Queens Pit Association, the Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Rural Partnership, and the South & East Cornwall Local Action Group.

3. Penare Pig Farm, Higher Fraddon and associated AD plant

The most recent meeting of the Higher Fraddon Community Forum took place on 8th July. The minutes of the meeting will soon be available.

I am continuing to liaise with a range of individuals about the planning applications, the ongoing concerns about traffic movements and smells, etc.

Recent developments since last month’s report include the following:

(i) It has been confirmed that a contract has been signed between the pig farm and the biogas plant. It specifies that the plant will take up to 7,000 tonnes of pig slurry per annum (ie. all the material produced at the farm), but there has been a build-up of slurry at the farm over the past six months, which is excess to its immediate requirements. The farm has started to remove this backlog, which it is estimated will equate to 175 tractor movements.

(ii) Smell has been an increasing problem from both the pig farm and biogas plant. At the July Forum meeting, representatives of the pig farm stated that they were planning to change the diet of the pigs to reduce ammonia and therefore smells. They also stated that they would be willing to construct a bio-filter – or equivalent – to further reduce odour.

(iii) I have formally requested that Cornwall Council look in detail at whether the developments at Higher Fraddon would increase the possibility of flooding in Fraddon.

It is still the case that Cornwall Council intends to deal with the three applications at the same meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee.

4. Planning

I have been actively involved with a large number of ongoing applications. Listed below are a few examples, though this list is by no means exhaustive:

- Land west of Kilburn, Fraddon (PA14/00882)

In my last monthly report, I reported how I had written a detailed letter of complaint about how this development has been handled. In spite of my continuing opposition to the proposal, the outline consent has been issued. I can also report that I have yet to receive a formal response to my complaint.

- Wind turbine at Goonhoskyn (PA14/10808)

The application for a wind turbine at Goonhoskyn has been de-registered because the applicant had not followed the appropriate guidance on pre-application consultation.

- Large garage / store at Linton Rise, Summercourt (PA14/10939)

This application was considered at a meeting of Cornwall Council’s Central Sub-Area Planning Committee on July 6th. The application was refused because of the size and bulk of the proposed structure, but there was considerable sympathy for the applicants. Councillors suggested that I liaise with the applicants to produce a revised application for a less substantial building.

- Five dwellings near Manor Drive, Fraddon (PA15/00763)

Last month I reported that, following objections from St Enoder Parish Council, the above application had been referred to Cornwall Council’s Central Sub-Area Planning Committee. I have been informed that there has been further negotiation between the application and the Council, but I still do not consider the application to be policy compliant.

- Laburnum Cottage; planning appeal (PA14/09872)

As requested at the last meeting, I produced a statement on behalf of the Parish Council, setting out opposition to the proposal to allow unrestricted occupancy of the annexe as a separate dwelling. It has been forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate.

5. Bus depot in Summercourt

Since Western Greyhound ceased trading, I have been in regular contact with staff at the Council's “passenger unit,” concerning the fact that First’s service between Truro and Newquay does not stop in Summercourt. I have received numerous representations from local people on this matter and I have brought them to the attention of the unitary authority. Summercourt Travel has slightly increased the number of trips through its 497 service (to Truro via Ladock).

I can report now that First have purchased the former Western Greyhound yard off St Austell Street and I am presently seeking a meeting with the Managing Director of the bus company to find out more about his plans for the site.

6. The Kelliers

On 16th July, I met with Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for the transfer of assets, Jeremy Rowe, and a senior member of the Property Team. I formally requested that the freehold of The Kelliers be transferred to St Enoder Parish Council, instead of being leased as previously agreed following the refusal of the unitary authority to honour the arrangement with the former Restormel Borough Council.

I can report that I received a fair hearing and I am cautiously optimistic that we could be successful.

7. Open space at Lindsay Fields

I am pleased to report that, following representations I have made, Cornwall Council is liaising with the developer of Lindsay Fields in Fraddon about the adoption of the open space to the rear of the most recent development within the estate. The Council has set out a list of outstanding works that the developer will need to undertake prior to it taking responsibility for the land.

8. Open space at Fairview Park

I have also been continuing to put pressure on Cornwall Council to finalise the details of how we transfer this area of land into the ownership of Cornwall Council as previously agreed.

9. Full Council: 14th July

At this special meeting, the majority of members backed “The Case for Cornwall,” which sought additional freedoms and flexibilities for the unitary authority.

In previous meetings, I argued for the document to be much more ambitious but I was unsuccessful. I did vote to support the document, but made it clear that it did not go far enough.

The document is a mixed bag. It seeks some devolution of political and economic powers to Cornwall, alongside greater integration of the National Health Service and social care – not a devolution as such – and included specific requests for additional funding in certain areas.

At the same meeting, councillors were informed about the “Devolution Deal” that central government were willing to sanction. This was formally announced on 16th July and the headline announcements are that (i) Cornwall Council will have new powers to franchise bus services in the area; (ii) Cornwall Council will work with local health organisations on a plan for integrating health and social care services, (iii) Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be given Intermediate Body status to allow some more localised control over EU funding, and (iv) the Local Enterprise Partnership will be given “more say on boosting local skills levels” and the ability to “integrate national and local business support services.”

From my perspective, it is not “democratic” devolution to give more influence to unelected bodies with limited democratic legitimacy such as the Local Enterprise Partnership, and it is also extremely disappointing that Cornwall has failed to secure any new powers over planning or housing.

10. Communities PAC

I attended a meeting of the above committee on 17th July, and spoke in the debate about the proposed out-sourcing of libraries and one-stop services for the Council. Along with a number of members, I raised concerns about the proposal and it was referred back for more work to be done and alternatives explored.

11. Inquiries

During the last month, I have also helped numerous people and local organisations with advice and guidance on a wide range of issues.

No to cuts; fair funding for Cornwall needed

My article in tomorrow’s Cornish Guardian will be as follows:

The new Conservative Government has launched a new spending review with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announcing plans for another £20 billion of cuts to public services across the UK.

Osborne has demanded that all his ministers – other than those responsible for protected areas such as schools and health – investigate cuts of up to 40% by 2020.

Such deep cuts will be extremely bad news for Cornwall.

Take local government as an example. It is struggling to maintain those services that people have a right to expect, and the unitary authority has already “anticipated” and planned for further cuts of over 30%. The damage being caused is palpable, whereas the impact of additional cuts cannot be over emphasised.

And yet, at the same time that George Osborne is planning to “slash,” the Government is failing to properly address the historic and ongoing under-funding of public services in Cornwall.

This is disgraceful. And it is so bad that the Tory Police Commissioner for Cornwall and Devon, Tony Hogg, has even had to set up a petition to demand “fair funding” for the local police service from his own government!

Over the last few years, funding for the “Devon and Cornwall” Constabulary has been slashed by over £50 million. Hundreds of police officers and civilian support staff have lost their jobs, public desks at local police stations have been closed, and some stations – such as the one at St Blazey – are under threat of closure.

Mr Hogg is right to bring attention to how we receive “less government funding than other police areas,” with the residents of Cornwall and Devon paying “39% of the local policing bill through the council tax.” The comparable figure is so much lower elsewhere, for example, in Merseyside (17%), Greater Manchester (22%) and London (27%) – which receive higher levels of central government funding.

Commissioner Hogg estimates that his Constabulary misses out on £12 million each year.

He has also brought attention to how the Metropolitan Police gets “additional millions to take account of the daily influx of commuters,” whereas “no account” is taken of the “tourist influx” into Cornwall and Devon, or indeed the greater cost of policing in rural areas.

What a contrast between the Westminster rhetoric of the Conservative Party, and the consequences of their actions.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Join MK in demanding a “Cornish” tickbox on 2021 census

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall (MK) is encouraging people to respond to an Office of National Statistics (ONS) consultation about the content of the 2021 census, and to demand a “Cornish” tickbox.

The initial view of the Office of National Statistics (ONS) is that questions on ethnicity and national identity should be included in the 2021 census, but would be unaltered from the last census when there was not a “Cornish tickbox.”

Join us in putting pressure on the ONS.

“The 2021 Census – Initial view on content for England and Wales” consultation lasts until 27th August 2015.

Further information can be found at: https://consultations.ons.gov.uk/census/2021-census-topics-consultation

Responses can also be sent to: The 2021 Census – Initial view on content for England and Wales, Office of National Statistics, Room 4300E, Segensworth Road, Titchfield , PO15 5RR ; or via 2021census.consultation@ons.gov.uk.

Mebyon Kernow demands “Cornish” tickbox on 2021 census

On behalf of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall, I have responded to an Office of National Statistics (ONS) consultation about the content of the 2021 census.

The representation was as follows:

“The 2021 Census – Initial view on content for England and Wales” – consultation

I am writing on behalf of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall (MK) concerning the above consultation. In particular, we wish to focus our representations on the initial view of the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on the questions relating to ethnicity and national identity; namely that they be included, unaltered, in the 2021 census.

MK is extremely disappointed that the ONS has failed to include the option of Cornish within the relevant tickboxes, even through the Cornish were recognised as a national minority through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in April 2014.

The ONS will recall that the Government, in making the announcement, stated:

“The decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

This was a landmark ruling, which it would be unjust and illogical for the ONS to ignore. It is clear to us that the ethnicity and national identity questions on the 2021 census must therefore treat the Cornish in the same manner as the “UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

National identity

In the 2011 census, question 15: “how would you describe your national identity?” there were six tickboxes: “English,” “Welsh,” “Scottish,” “Northern Irish,” “British,” and “Other, write in …” It is our view that, now the Cornish are recognised as a national minority, the question on national identity in the 2021 census should include a tickbox for “Cornish.”


In the 2011 census, question 16: “what is your ethnic group?” included the option of “English / Welsh / Scottish / Northern Irish / British.” It is our view that, now the Cornish are recognised as a national minority, the question on ethnicity in the 2021 census should also acknowledge those individuals who wish to record their identity as Cornish.

MK would further add that in the 2011 census a total of 83,499 people from across Cornwall, England and Wales, used “write in” options to self-identify as Cornish. Within Cornwall itself, 73,200 people described themselves as Cornish on the form, equating to 13.8% of the population. This is comparable in statistical terms to the 14% of people in Wales who wrote-in Welsh in the 2001 census, prior to the inclusion of a “Welsh” tickbox in 2011.

It is our view that the case for a tickbox for “Cornish” is overwhelming. It would provide parity between all national minorities within the United Kingdom and give greater value to the overall statistics.

Cornish language

Mebyon Kernow notes that the ONS is also stating that, in Wales, it intends to collect information on the usage of the Welsh language. We are disappointed that there are no proposals to include a question on the usage of the Cornish language in Cornwall.

We would point out that the Cornish language is protected through the auspices of the Charter for the Protection of Regional and Minority Languages, and it would therefore be illogical not to collect data relating to the language.

Further information

We believe that the points we have raised need to be addressed and would be willing to arrange a delegation to meet with representatives of the ONS to discuss the issues in more detail.

Good luck to Zoe Fox and Julia Prosser in Camborne Pendarves

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall is standing in the two Camborne Pendarves by-elections, which will take place on August 20th.

Long-standing town councillor Zoe Fox is MK’s candidate for the vacancy on Cornwall Council, while Julia Prosser is standing for a town council vacancy for the same area

Zoe (above) is a mother of two adult children and a hands-on councillor, who understands the needs of local people and she has worked with a wide range of organisations and charities on their behalf. She has helped young people into education and employment, supported disabled people, and assisted families struggling to get by on low wages. Zoe has taken a lead in environmental and community issues and is proud to the allotments representative in Camborne.

Julia (above) is a former nurse, who has raised a family of three sons and one daughter, who all live locally with their families. She now owns and runs the Station Café at Camborne train station. More than just a café, it serves as a community meeting place for local people and groups. Julia is proud to live in Camborne and in her spare time, she volunteers with the “Live at Home” scheme, which supports older people to remain independent in their own homes.

If anyone would like to help out with the election campaign, please contact Cllr Loveday Jenkin on 01209 831517 or Cllr Zoe Fox on 01209 711791.