Monday, 5 December 2022

MY LATEST REPORT ON MY COUNCIL DUTIES



Time period: 25th September – 2nd December 2022

1.0 Council and other meetings

In terms of physical meetings of Cornwall Council during the last two months, I attended Full Council, Central Sub-Area Planning Committee, Constitution and Governance Committee (dealing with the final phase of the review of parish council boundaries), Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee plus the councillor working group on the consultation linked to Cornwall Council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (in advance of the next Customers and Support Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee), China Clay Area Community Network, and a series of meetings (as a member of the Chief Officers Employment Panel) linked to the appointment of a new Monitoring Officer.

Other physical meetings included St Enoder Parish Council (five), St Dennis Parish Council, St Dennis Parish Neighbourhood Plan meeting, St Dennis and Nanpean Community Trust, briefing with Cornish Lithium, and meetings about a housing development and the Thomas Playing Field, both in Summercourt, plus a visit to St Dennis Youth Club.

In addition, it was great to attend the celebration for the 20th anniversary of the Cornish language being recognised as a minority language.

I have also attended a range of meetings via TEAMS video-conferencing. These included Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cornish National Minority Working Group (and associated briefing), monthly meeting for China Clay Area members and an associated meeting about a Strategy for the China Clay Area with senior officers, catch-up about road safety matters, council briefing in advance of the latest Full Council meeting, two meetings about the 2021 census with the Office of National Statistics, briefings about a proposed “devolution deal” (three), proposed investment zones, the cost of living crisis and ash die-back.

I also had further online meetings about a range of local issues.

2.0 Cornwall Council

2.1 “Devolution deal”


On Friday 2nd December, a Government Minister (Dehenna Davison) and the leader of Cornwall Council (Linda Taylor) signed a “devolution deal” for Cornwall. The Conservatives will soon be launching a ten-week consultation on the document, which will start on Friday 9th December.

From my perspective, the promise of additional funding for Cornwall in the “deal” is to be welcomed, but the “deal” itself is not devolution at all. And as someone who has campaigned for meaningful devolution for his entire adult life, I am desperately disappointed that this is the best that governing politicians in Westminster and Truro can come up with. It does not include far-reaching powers being transferred from Westminster to Cornwall as happened in Wales and Scotland, which have their own parliaments. The “deal” is simply a range of accommodations between central government and the unitary authority.

I will be making further comment on the “deal” in the near-future but, in the meantime, the devolution deal can be viewed at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cornwall-devolution-deal-kevambos-digresennans-kernow

2.2 Fire Control Centre at Tolvaddon

As reported in September the Conservative administration is planning to close the Fire Control Centre and centralise this important service to a “partnership” based outside of Cornwall. I oppose this proposal, but was away on holiday when the issue was discussed by the Neighbourhoods Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 6th October. I did however produce a statement which was read out by one of my colleagues in the Mebyon Kernow / Green Group. It was as follows:

I am sorry that I cannot make today’s meeting, but I have asked my colleagues to pass on my views.

The leadership of Cornwall Council is presently talking about a “devolution deal,” that would bring more powers to Cornwall.

In this context, it would be ridiculous to close the Fire Control Centre. We should not be giving up “control” of the Control Centre, and allowing it to be lost to centralisation. We should not be giving up control of any of our public services – as once lost, we may never get them back again.

Any loss of the Fire Control Centre would also weaken the very basis of Cornwall’s Fire Service, and leave it open to be merged with upcountry brigades. We must do everything to protect all aspects of our Fire Service.

As the leader of the MK / Green Group, I would appeal to all members of this Scrutiny Committee to reject any proposal to take away Cornwall’s Fire Control Centre. Please show solidarity with the staff at Tolvaddon and the wider Fire Service.

Councillors were not overly supportive of the proposal, and I hope that the further scrutiny work, that they agreed to do, will rule out the loss of the Centre.

2.3 2021 census

For many years, I have been involved with the campaign to secure a Cornish nationality tick-box on the 2021 census. I was very disappointed when the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the UK Government refused to allow such a tick-box, especially after they recognised the Cornish as a “national minority” in 2014 and promised to treat the Cornish in the same manner as the “UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

Between 29th November and 2nd December, it was confirmed that 108,860 people (across Cornwall, England and Wales) wrote-in Cornish on the census – a 30% increase on the 83,499 who did so in 2011. In Cornwall, 17% of residents (96,380) recorded their nationality as Cornish.

I am heartened that so many people made the conscious decision to write-in Cornish. This is a powerful statement of the strength of our national identity, and it strengthens my resolve to press the ONS to include a Cornish tick-box in the next census and, more immediately, to challenge all Government departments and agencies to include Cornish as an identity option on official forms.

2.4 Loss of affordable homes

Ocean Housing recently took the decision to sell-off one of their rental properties at Manson Place, St Dennis. This is the third property in my division that this registered provider has placed on the market this year. The others were at Hall Road, St Dennis, and Beaconside, Summercourt. This follows another sale in Indian Queens (Barnfield Terrace) in 2018.

Their reasoning is that the properties are in poor condition and it would be expensive to make them meet modern environmental standards, while income from the sales would be used to improve other existing properties. I do not agree with the sales and I have spoken to Ocean about my fears that a large number of the older “council houses” will be lost to the local rental market. I have asked them for some form of moratorium on future sales.

2.5 20mph limits


Cornwall Council has a commitment to 20mph limits in villages and towns across Cornwall. This year, a pilot was carried out in two Community Networks (Camelford and Camborne / Redruth), and the feedback was positive. I recently attended an informal briefing at a meeting of the Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee about the wider roll-out of the scheme. Once agreed by Cabinet in early 2023, the work programme for the various Network Areas will be confirmed.

3.0 China Clay Area

3.1 China Clay Area Community Network


As noted previously, in my role as Chairman of the China Clay Area Community Network Panel, I have attended a range of meetings about the future of the Networks. The Council’s Conservative administration wishes to reduce the number of Networks and, at a recent meeting at Indian Queens Victory Hall, councillors were tasked to come up with suggested boundaries for a total of 12 Community Area Partnerships (CAPs).

At the present time, the geographical options include a China Clay Area CAP. The wider proposal was recently discussed by the Neighbourhoods Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and will soon be considered by Cabinet and the Constitution and Governance Committee.


3.2 Clay Area Strategy

On 1st November, a meeting was held between a number of senior officers from Cornwall Council and councillors from the China Clay Area to discuss the “Towards a Strategy” document for Clay Country. Some progress was made about greater support for economic development in our area. I will report more, when the nature and extent of the support is confirmed.

3.3 Parliamentary boundary review

The review into the boundaries of the UK’s 650 parliamentary constituencies commenced in 2021 and came up with a proposal that would split Clay Country between a revised St Austell and Newquay Constituency and a revised South East Cornwall. I am pleased that the plans have been modified and Clay Country will now be kept together in a new St Austell and Newquay seat.

4.0 Solar farms

4.1 Renewable energy


There are now four proposals for solar farms in and around the St Dennis & St Enoder division (totalling over 130MW of installed capacity).

I thought it would be good to understand the context for these applications within the need for local energy generation in Cornwall.

Cornwall Council’s Climate Emergency Development Plan document sets out a target of 100% renewable electricity supply by 2030 [Policy RE1]. Figures from the unitary authority shows that Cornwall’s present “installed capacity” for electricity is 783.59 MW, which equates to 40.49% of what is needed in Cornwall. I have therefore calculated that the total amount of energy needed in Cornwall at the moment is 1,940 MW (rounded up).

St Dennis & St Enoder Division (4,878 hectares) is 1.37% of the land mass of Cornwall (356,300 hectares). Presumably, little or no renewable energy will be provided in areas of AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and I would note that the St Dennis & St Enoder Division is 1.87% of “Cornwall minus AONB” (260,500 hectares).

So, it could be argued that if renewable energy was delivered equally across Cornwall, the local share of the target could be deemed to be 1.37% - 1.87% of 1,940 MW, namely 26.6 - 36.3MW.

I have looked at what installations already exist in the parishes of St Dennis and St Enoder, and I have already identified 37.5MW of installed capacity for renewable energy.

Trefullock Moor Solar Farm (PA10/06679) - 5MW
Ennis Barton wind turbine (PA10/08030) - 0.5MW
Glebe Solar Farm (PA12/05890) - 1MW
Gaverigan wind turbine (PA12/09923) - 0.5MW
Melbur wind turbine (PA12/03846) - 0.5MW
Burthy Solar Farm (PA13/05983 / PA18/01710) - 13MW
Goonabarn wind turbines (PA13/00848 / PA17/00957) - 1MW
Incinerator - 16MW

Please note that the above figure does not include energy from small-scale installations (eg. solar panels on domestic and commercial properties).

In addition, I have been supplied with information about the biogas plant at Fraddon (NR/08/00389/WSENV / PA13/09571 / etc).

The information I have is that the facility produces biogas (not electricity), therefore a MW capacity figure cannot be given for electricity. But has the capacity to produce 1,000 cubic meters of biogas per hour and 1,000 cubic metres of gas per hour would equate to 11.36MW per hour capacity of heat. This, in theory, is enough to produce enough gas for approximately 2,000 households.

4.2 Solar farm applications


The planning application for a solar farm at Tregonning Farm (PA22/01511) in Newlyn East Parish will be going to a meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee on 15th December. I understand it will be recommended for approval. While the solar farm is not in my division, the cabling for the scheme will be excavated through St Enoder Parish, including along the old A30 through Fraddon and Indian Queens.

There will be a pre-application consultation event on another solar farm, which is proposed for land at Burthy Row / Chytane near Fraddon, on 7th December. It will be held at Fraddon Village Hall, between 2.00 and 7.00. There is also a website associated with the project. This can be found at https://fraddonsolarfarm.co.uk and it will have a virtual consultation, which is going live at 2.00 on 7th December.

Local residents may also remember that a company called Statkraft did consultations on two potential solar farms in the Spring of 2021. These were located on Tresithney Farm between St Columb Road and Whitecross (St Enoder Parish) and at Trerice (St Dennis Parish). There have been no updates for the last twelve months, so I recently contacted the company. I had a conversation with a representative of the company and received the below follow-up email message.

“The solar team at Statkraft has been recruiting for new team members over the last year after some long standing Solar Century staff left unexpectedly. This has meant the team has been significantly under-resourced at a time when other projects were in later stages of development and not been able to engage at the level that Statkraft expects on our projects in Cornwall. I apologise for this and the concern that it has caused the local community.

“Statkraft aims to bring a ‘good neighbour’ ethos to all of its projects. I would like to assure you that our communication will be a lot better going forward and I trust that we can have a good working relationship with yourself and the community. In this, I will be supported by internal communications colleagues as well as our communications consultants but as I say I am personally open to discuss the project at any time.

“With the Trerice site, we will be reopening consultation in the New Year with the community and with some new surveys, etc, and will be hoping to make a planning submission around April/May next year. I will be in frequent communication regarding this going forward.

“With regards to the White Cross site, this is in a less favourable position in terms of planning and we are aware of the potential risks and effects it could cause. As such we are doing some more surveys on this at the moment and seeing how best it could be shaped/reduced to minimise any effects. There is a chance we will not move forward with this project if the risks are still too great.”


I will publicise further news as and when I get it.

ST DENNIS PARISH ISSUES

5.0 Multi-use trail


In previous reports, I noted how I had submitted an unsuccessful application to a Natural England “seed corn” fund to support the work to scope out, design and cost what needs to be done to turn the section of defunct railway line between St Dennis and the Goss Moor National Nature Reserve into a multi-use trail.

I have been contacted because Natural England have an under-spend and it looks like these works can now be funded after all. I am presently liaising with Cornwall Council, the G7 legacy project and Natural England to making this happen.

6.0 Cornish Lithium

6.1 An investment zone?


On 19th October, Cornwall Council confirmed that it had submitted a bid for 17 distinct areas to be covered by investment zones. In Clay Country, three sites have been identified, namely Cornish Lithium at Trelavour, British Lithium near Roche, and the so-called garden village (eco-town) at Penwithick.

I would add that the decision to bid for an “investment” zone was made by council officers and senior members of the administration. I was not involved and I was not told about the bid until after it had been submitted.

In terms of Cornish Lithium, the proposed area is small and covers the Trelavour Kilns area, where it is proposed that processing works would take place. By comparison, the site at Roche covers a massive area covering the whole of Hensbarrow and Goonbarrow, which has much wider implications.

I understood that businesses on the specified sites, if they had been successful, would benefit from tax incentives, for example, relief on business rates and national insurance, plus tax mechanisms to support capital investment. There have been comments that there will be some de-regulation in terms of planning and environmental controls in “investment zones.”

However, following the resignation of Liz Truss as Prime Minister, it was confirmed in the subsequent Autumn Statement that all local authority bids for zoning would not be taken forward. It is understood that the UK Government will keep the policy but, in the future, will re-engineer it to focus on a smaller number of locations.

6.2 PA22/08714

Cornish Lithium and Imerys have submitted a proposal to install two temporary mobile units for use as office, welfare and amenity accommodation for staff and equipment at the Trelavour Kilns complex. This was deemed “permitted development” and therefore did not need a formal planning application as such.

6.3 Meeting

On 8th November, I was pleased to have a meeting with a number of employees of Cornish Lithium at the Trelavour site, in order to discuss their project and how they will keep local people informed.

7.0 Planning matters

7.1 Proposed dwelling off Hendra Road (PA22/02138)

I referred the above planning application to a meeting of the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee, which took place on 24th October. Kieran Sinnott spoke on behalf of the Parish Council and raised concerns about the access and junction with Hendra Road.

I meanwhile raised concerns about the (i) change in character of the historic lane and how the creation of a ‘new’ access would damage the edge of the existing lane, which may or may not be outside of the applicant’s ownership, the (ii) likely discordant impact of a new dwelling in a location, which is significantly below the level of the nearby parking area for Hendra Heights, and the (iii) lack of consideration given to issues such as screening for neighbouring properties.

I made as strong an argument as I could against the development, but the Committee granted outline planning permission for a dwelling. The detail will need to be the basis of a further reserved matters application.

The planning meeting was recorded and can be viewed at:
https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/the-council-and-democracy/councillors-and-meetings/webcasts/archived-webcasts/

7.2 Proposal for solar farm at Trerice

See section 4.2 for update

7.3 St Dennis Neighbourhood Plan

I also attended a meeting of the Parish Council’s working group on the Neighbourhood Plan, and I am pleased that we will soon be reporting back on some of the findings of the questionnaire that was distributed earlier this year.

8.0 Highway schemes

Cornwall Council will soon be consulting on two small highway schemes in St Dennis Parish, which have been brought forward through the Community Network Panel’s highway scheme. These are an additional pinch-point at the southern end of Hendra Road (to slow traffic entering and leaving the village) and a small degree of parking restrictions near the kebab shop (where some households have had difficulty in gaining access to their homes).

9.0 Warm hub

As Chairman of the Board at ClayTAWC, I am pleased that we have secured some funding for the Centre to be a “warm hub” this winter. Linked to this, on the first Wednesday of every month (between 1.00 and 3.00) there will be drop-in session where local residents can get advice from a range of bodies about benefits, education and training, energy advice, social prescribing and more.

ST ENODER PARISH ISSUES

10.0 Planning

10.1 Gnomeworld (PA22/07277)

A planning application has also been submitted for the stationing of 69 residential park home dwellings at the Gnomeworld complex, in the place of most of the holiday caravans.

10.2 Housing development in Summercourt (PA22/08134)

A number of local residents have raised objections to the affordable housing led development of 20 dwellings in Summercourt, opposite New Row. Cornwall Council has also raised queries about aspects of the proposed scheme. I have met with objectors on a couple of occasions. I also recently chaired a meeting between a representative of the landowners and the objectors to discuss how elements of the development might be redesigned to address their concerns.

It is anticipated that a revised scheme for further consultation will be completed in the next few weeks.

10.3 Solar farm proposals in St Enoder Parish

See section 4.2 for updates.

10.4 Six extra gypsy / traveller pitches at Little Meadows, Toldish (PA20/03553)

Cornwall Council refused planning permission for six additional gypsy / traveller pitches at Little Meadows, Toldish, because of the adverse impact on the local countryside. The applicant appealed the decision to the Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate and a hearing was held in the council offices in Bodmin on 2nd November. At this hearing, I presented evidence on a range of matters on behalf of St Enoder Parish Council and others. The decision is expected in a matter of weeks.

10.5 St Columb Road (PA22/07995)

The application for four two-bedroom flats at St Columb Road, by the road going to the rear of the Co-op has been refused because of an under-provision of car parking spaces.

11.0 Parish Council

11.1 CIL application


I have worked with the Parish Clerk to submit an application to Cornwall Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding towards the extension of the Youth Club building in the Indian Queens Recreation Ground. I can confirm that the funding application has been completed and sent in for assessment.

11.2 Strongman’s Field

I have also been working with the Parish Clerk to scope the necessary landscaping and other works to complete the works on land between Indian Queens Primary School and the Harvenna Heights estate.

11.3 Football and Indian Queens Recreation Ground


In addition, I have been involved in discussions with the adult and youth football teams about the use of the Recreation Ground for matches and training.

11.4 Meeting with HAGs

On 16th November, there was an important meeting with HAGs (who installed the play area in the Thomas Playing Field) about the future maintenance of the equipment. Also present were the Parish Clerk and Cllr Mark Kessell.

12.0 Highway matters

12.1 Pedestrianised crossings in Summercourt


The timetable for the installation of the pedestrianised crossings on three arms of the crossroads at Summercourt has just been confirmed. The works will be carried out during March-May 2023.

12.2 Study into road through Fraddon and St Columb Road / Improvements at Sea View Terrace

I had a meeting with a senior highway officer on 3rd November about two ongoing assessments of local highway issues. I can confirm that a draft of a road safety audit from Penhale to the Halloon roundabout has been completed and I fed back some of my initial thoughts. A further follow-up meeting will be held quite soon.

In terms of proposed road safety improvements at Sea View Terrace, on the road between Fraddon and St Stephen, Cornwall Council is proposing two vehicle-activated signs warning people to slow down as they approach the terrace of houses in the locality, along with an improved parking area for residents. I hope to have finalised plans in the near-future.

13.0 Remembrance Sunday

I was pleased to attend the annual Remembrance Sunday event at St Enoder Churchtown on 12th November and to read out the names of the fallen. I was also pleased to supply information about three servicemen (Wilfred Howard Pearce, Wallace Ambrose Truscott and Trevor Carus Wilson) who were lost in the First World War and whose lives were featured in the church service.

The service at St Dennis was held at the same time as the St Enoder event and I was therefore unable to attend. I remain grateful to the Chairman of St Dennis Parish Council, Julia Clarke, who ensured that a wreath was laid on my behalf at the St Dennis commemoration.

HELPING LOCAL FAMILIES

14.0 Advice


Over the last month, I have also assisted numerous households and individuals with guidance and advice on a range of topics. Over the last few weeks, I have reported numerous episodes of fly-tipping.

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

MY LATEST REPORT ON MY COUNCIL DUTIES

Time period: 1st August – 25th September 2022

1.0 Council and other meetings

In terms of physical meetings of Cornwall Council during the last two months, I attended a Full Council meeting, Constitution and Governance Committee, Chief Officers Employment Panel and three meetings of Network Chairs about the review of Community Network Panels and the Prosperity Fund. Councillors from the China Clay Area also met the Corporate Director for Neighbourhoods at the Wheal Martyn Museum to discuss local issues.

In addition, I attended a Cost of Living summit at Tremough, one meeting of the St Dennis and Nanpean Community Fund, plus three meetings of St Enoder Parish Council and two meetings of St Dennis Parish Council.

I have also attended a number of meetings via TEAMS video-conferencing, including three Group Leaders meeting (which included discussions about the County Deal), a monthly meeting of councillors from the China Clay Area and an all member briefing about the Council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy which I have been involved with.

I also had further online meetings about a range of local issues.

2.0 Cornwall Council

2.1 Financial problems at the unitary authority


At the most recent Full Council meeting on 21st September, the Deputy Leader of Cornwall Council stated that the authority is “in a hole” and facing a deficit of £62million in 2023/2024. The present administration has stated that it may have to prioritise statutory services and stop providing certain services which it does not have a legal obligation to provide. It is all very worrying, especially as the promises of fair funding for local government have not materialised.

2.2 Fire Control Centre at Tolvaddon

The Conservative administration is also planning to close the Fire Control Centre and centralise this important service to a “partnership” based outside of Cornwall. I reject any assertion that this important control service could be better provided by people based to the east of the Tamar, who will have little knowledge about Cornwall. I have also made it clear that I do not support the closure of the Control Centre, which I intend to oppose.

At the time of writing this report, I am pleased to see that more than 6,000 people have signed a petition opposing the loss of the service.

2.3 Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre

I am also disappointed that the Conservative administration in Truro is refusing to allow the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre to remain on Newquay Airport. In the spirit of openness, I will add that the Centre includes the extensive model collection of my late uncle Barry Cole. I recently visited the Museum and met with the director of the Centre. I also challenged the approach of the Council at the Full Council meeting on 21st September.

At the time of writing this report, I am also pleased that more than 20,000 people have signed a petition in support of the Centre.

2.4 China Clay Area Community Network

As noted above, in my role as Chairman of the China Clay Area Community Network Panel, I attended three meetings of Chairs and vice-chairs of the Community Network Panels. Two of the meetings were focused on the plan from the Council’s Conservative administration to reduce the number of Networks. In the second of the two meetings, we were tasked to come up with suggested boundaries for a total of 12 Networks, and I have been doing my best to argue for the continuation of a China Clay Area Community Network.

3.0 Cost of Living summit

I was among the councillors to attend the summit on date at Tremough, which brought together representatives from Cornwall Council and a range of charities and third sector organisations. It would be an understatement to describe the present circumstances as worrying and I used the opportunity to network with others at the event. In particular, I was checking what additional support we might be able to generate for projects in the China Clay Area.

4.0 Community Chest

As a Cornwall Councillor, I am allocated £3,000 per annum which I can grant to local community organisations. I can confirm that I have so far supported Indian Queens and district food larder, St Dennis Carnival and Indian Queens Youth Football. Half of the money has yet to be allocated, so please get in contact if you would like to discuss the possibility of a grant for your organisation.

ST DENNIS PARISH ISSUES

5.0 Planning matters

5.1 Housing development at Hendra Prazey (PA20/11311)


In terms of the proposed housing site at Hendra Prazey, I requested a site visit at Hendra Prazey with the planning / highways officers at the unitary authority who are dealing with the application. This was held in mid-August. The highways officer has withdrawn his objection following the submission of further information by the applicant’s consultants. It is fair to say that the officer did not think that the highway set-up was particularly good, but he seemed to think that it might meet a very low threshold that could be acceptable in the overall planning process.

At the meeting I queried whether the officers dealing with the biodiversity and drainage aspects of the application had looked in detail at the scheme. It has since transpired that the Council’s ecologist had raised concerns with the proposal. Concerns include that drainage works for the site could unacceptably impact on the adjacent Site of Special Scientific Interest, that some of the wildlife surveys are out-of-date and the calculation on biodiversity net gain are questionable.

There will therefore a further delay before Cornwall Council makes a decision on this application.

5.2 Proposed dwelling off Hendra Road (PA22/02138)

The planning officer dealing with the above application has contacted me to say that she wishes to approve the development. As St Dennis Parish Council has objected to the scheme, I have informed her that the application will need to be referred to a meeting of the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee.

5.3 Indian Queens Power Station (PA22/05961)

In terms of the application for the installation and operation of a 47.5 megawatt battery energy storage system on land immediately to the west of Indian Queens Power Station, there have been no objections from local residents. St Dennis Parish Council has however raised concerns about the lack of supporting information linked to the application.

6.0 Proposed multi-use trail from St Dennis to the Goss Moor

In previous reports, I have written about how I had submitted an application (on behalf of Cornwall Council and St Dennis Parish Council) to the G7 Nature Recovery Project to investigate the possibility of turning the section of defunct railway line between St Dennis and the Goss Moor National Nature Reserve into a multi-use trail. It was unsuccessful, but I was very pleased to be approached by Natural England to discuss a potential application to a “seed corn” fund to support the initial phase of the project. Unfortunately, this application was also unsuccessful, but I have been told it is on a “reserve list” should there be an underspend during this financial year.

I did take the opportunity to take two senior officers from Cornwall Council to the site, to seek their support for the project.

7.0 Highway issues

I have been continuing to follow up on a range of highway matters with Cornwall Council / Cormac. Sadly, progress is slow, for example, on the improvement of the conditions of double yellow lines and the poor state of the road surfacing in certain areas.

I have reported concerns that the two sets of barriers on the path that leads from Manson Place to Trelavour Road, because it prevents people with motorised buggies using the path. The inner barrier is on land owned by Ocean Housing and the Parish Clerk is in contact with them. The outer barrier is on land owned by Cornwall Council and they have agreed to remove it, but I have been told that the works will be timetabled for February 2023. I have challenged the delay and asked for the works to be brought forward.

8.0 Ditch to rear of Hall Road

For more than 15 months I have been following up on concerns about the condition of a ditch (vegetation and silting) that runs down the eastern side of Hall Road. It takes water from the downs and it has been historically maintained by Restormel Borough Council and subsequently the unitary authority.

It was my understanding that the works were going to be done this year, but the unitary authority and the landowner (Tregothnan Estate) are in discussions about what had historically been agreed. It seems that neither the Council or the estate can find the relevant paperwork, and there have been other discussions, for example, with Imerys. I am continuing to push for the works to be carried out and I understand that Cormac are costing the necessary works.

9.0 Footpath to north of church

I have been following up on the concerns about the footpath that extend northwards from the Church. Councillors will recall that the definitive map shows the path leading over a difficult stile over a wall though, for many years, people have walked through a gap in the wall, which was recently blocked up. A footpaths officer visited the area in August and is the process of approaching the landowner and occupier to see if a compromise can be reached and a gate inserted into the wall, where the breach had previously been located.

ST ENODER PARISH ISSUES

10.0 Parish Council projects

I am continuing to work closely with the Clerk of St Enoder Parish Council, on a range of issues. These include the following:

10.1 Field between Indian Queens Primary School and Harvenna Heights

I am pleased that the landscaping works have almost been completed along the new footway between Indian Queens Primary School and Harvenna Heights. The new walling at the south end of the field has been vandalised and needs to be rebuilt, and grass seed will soon be sown. It is good that we can now move onto placing some picnic benches and rubbish bins into the area, along with some tree planting. As previously stated, I personally favour the provision of a cluster of apple trees.

The Parish Council has also agreed to place some signs in the field, which will be known as Strongman’s Field. This was the name of the enclosure recorded on the 1840 Tithe Map, and obviously the name includes the surname of an individual or family associated with the land.

10.2 The Kelliers / G7 Nature Recovery Project

The Clerk and I also met with representatives of the G7 Nature Recovery Project to consider what support they might be able to give the Parish Council in our plans to enhance the nature conservation and public access elements of the Kelliers near Indian Queens.

10.3 CWGC plaques

Given my involvement with remembering the history of the fallen servicemen of our area, I am pleased that, following the request of the Parish Council, the Commonwealth War Grave Commission has erected plaques at the old St Enoder and Indian Queens cemeteries.

11.0 Planning

As always, there continues to be a range of planning applications in St Enoder Parish. Shown below are updates on a number of applications.

11.1 Leisure building at Carvynick (PA22/04257)

As previously reported, on 3rd June 2019, the owners of Carvynick near Summercourt secured an outline planning permission for 38 residential dwellings at the site, plus a leisure / office building (PA18/04360). The specific details (reserved matters) for the 38 dwellings have been agreed over the couple of years and the applicants have secured planning permission for a further 21 dwellings – making a total of 59.

The reserved matters application for the leisure / office building was submitted in May. Letters of support (linked to previous applications) submitted by the applicant stated that the leisure building would “provide a community hub,” a “state-of-the-art gymnasium” and a “swimming pool for locals to not only exercise but also to learn how to swim.” The proposed building is much smaller than that on the original plan, and included a badminton court and a small gym, that is of a size little more than two car parking spaces. There was no swimming pool as promised.

St Enoder Parish unanimously objected to the application, and the applicant then changed the plans and added a swimming pool in the place of badminton court. The building remains less significant than promised, but the application has been consented.

11.2 Housing development in Summercourt


An application for an affordable housing led development in Summercourt, opposite New Row, has just been submitted. It is for 20 housing units, of which half will be affordable. There has been a previous consent on this site and a more recent pre-application discussion and many people who live opposite the site raised concerns.

The application is still going through the registration process and will likely be discussed by the Parish Council at a meeting in October.

12.0 Highway matters

I have been dealing with a large number of highway issues. A few are listed below:

12.1 Zebra crossing in St Francis Road, Indian Queens

Last year, Cornwall Council installed the two zebra crossings in Indian Queens – after many years of lobbying. Unfortunately, the installation by the Victory Hall was initially too high and the raised crossing was reduced in height. In mid-August, Cormac revisited the site to remodel it again, so that it met their specifications. It has all been very frustrating and the Parish Council has complained to Cornwall Council about the failings.

12.2 Double yellow lines at Penhale

The double yellow lines at Penhale are not yet competed, and there is one section that still needs to painted on the road. Delays were caused by the parked cars and there has been objections from a local business.

The lining is part of a wider group of double yellow lines across Clay Country and will not be legally enforceable until all have been completed and the necessary legal order has been signed off.

12.3 Pocohontas Crescent

The road condition in this estate is quite poor and I have been pushing for resurfacing for a considerable time. I had hoped it would be done this year, but I have now been informed that it will be considered for inclusion in the programme for 2023.

I am continuing to lobby that greater priority is given to Pocohontas Crescent.

12.4 Study into road through Fraddon and St Columb Road


A meeting is being set up for me to meet with council officers to discuss their road safety audit from Penhale to the Halloon roundabout. I will give more feedback in the near future.

HELPING LOCAL FAMILIES

13.0 Advice


Over the last month, I have also assisted numerous households and individuals with guidance and advice on a range of topics.

Sunday, 21 August 2022

PUBLIC OWNERSHIP OF ENERGY COMPANIES MUST BE CONSIDERED



In my article in the most recent edition of the Cornish Guardian newspaper, I backed public ownership of important services such as energy. It was as follows:

Only a few days ago, it was projected that average energy bills would soon reach £3,600 a year. The figure presently being quoted is £5,000. That is simply untenable and will do immeasurable harm to ordinary households across the whole of the UK.

Martin Lewis, from the Money Saving Expert website, has described the situation as a “national crisis on the scale of the pandemic,” adding that unless “Britain’s zombie government” acts it will leave “millions destitute and in danger this winter.” The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has meanwhile produced an open letter to the two contenders for the leadership of the Conservative Party, which has been signed by over 70 charities. It calls for compassion, and for them to show leadership to “tackle this issue head on.”

But I am extremely fearful that the interventions from new Prime Minister will be inadequate to combat the magnitude of the crisis. Indeed, the latest tax plans from Liz Truss have been rubbished because analysts have estimated that the lowest paid will receive an uplift which is less than 2% of the likely price hikes.

It is good to see opposition parties putting pressure on the Conservatives with calls for a freeze on price caps, possibly paid for by a windfall tax on the profits of the energy companies.

This is vital in the short-term, but shouldn’t we be going further? I am proud that Mebyon Kernow has long maintained that important services such as energy, water and rail should be publicly owned and publicly accountable, with the focus being on community, social need and environmental protection.

I agree with Delyth Jewell, one of the Plaid Cymru members of the Welsh Parliament. She has described the energy market as a “failed experiment” and is arguing that the concept of profit has no place in domestic energy supply. As she wrote in a recent article, “nothing short of fundamental and radical reform, based on public ownership, will ameliorate the crisis that’s looming over the coming winter months, and help save millions of people from abject suffering … and it is frankly appalling that reform of this kind hasn’t come before now [because] the vested interests of shareholders have been allowed to trump the needs of millions of consumers in the UK, which is not the case in other states.”

As she says, it is shameful that the “market revolves around keeping companies in profit” rather than ensuring that the people who need the energy to stay alive are able to afford it.


Saturday, 13 August 2022

REGIONAL INEQUALITY – PAY AND INVESTMENT


This was my article in the Cornish Guardian on the 10th August.

Levelling up was a key theme in the Conservative manifesto for the 2019 General Election. One section of the document stated: “Talent and genius are uniformly distributed throughout the country. Opportunity is not. Now is the time to close that gap – not just because it makes such obvious economic sense, but for the sake of simple social justice.”

But more recent statements from the two contenders for the leadership of the Tory Party show that their commitment to tackling regional inequality is pretty lacking.

Liz Truss came up with a proposal to introduce “regional pay boards” so that civil servants and public sector workers outside of London would be paid less. Unequal wage levels across the UK are a direct result of an unbalanced economy, while regional pay agreements would reinforce such inequities and make them worse.

As reported in last week’s Cornish Guardian, local MP Steve Double did describe the proposal as a “terrible idea” which “would be hugely damaging to public services in Cornwall.” He said it was “leveling down, not up.” One Welsh Conservative MP meanwhile estimated that 430,000 workers in Wales, including police officers and armed forces personnel, would facing a pay cut of around £3,000. He also described the proposal as “levelling down.” The mayor of Tees Valley – also a Conservative – said the proposal was so bad that he was “speechless.”

Liz Truss did an extremely quick u-turn, but later claimed that her comments had been wilfully misrepresented. But another prominent member of her party promptly pointed out that journalists accurately quoting a press release from Team Truss was not misrepresentation – wilful or otherwise.

Whereas these critics of Truss happened to be supporters of Rishi Sunak, they must have felt extremely let down when the video footage of a speech from their own preferred candidate soon after emerged on social media.

Speaking to a gathering of the party faithful in Tunbridge Wells, Sunak told them that the Conservatives had “inherited a bunch of formulas from Labour that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas.” He said that he had “started the work of undoing that," so more funding would go into areas such as Tunbridge Wells.

There is significant poverty across the whole of the UK – including in towns in Kent – which needs to be properly dealt with. But the crassness of the former Chancellor’s words is worrying, and comes just three months after the announcement that Cornwall would receive less than half of promised monies through the Shared Prosperity Fund.

A MORE EQUAL SOCIETY?


This was my article in the Cornish Guardian on the 3rd August.

It is my sincere belief that politics should be about making society more equal and tackling the inequities experienced by individuals and families, as well as by communities in the different parts of the United Kingdom. But the last few days have shown that Westminster politics is failing to rise to this important challenge.

The cost of living crisis is getting worse and worse. But as so many ordinary households struggle to pay their basic bills, and millions and millions worry about how they will cope in the coming winter, some of the UK’s largest energy companies have announced bumper profits.

At this time of great crisis, shareholders are due to receive significant dividend pay-outs while the executives of these companies – some of whom already have salaries in excess of a million pounds – will receive massive bonuses. This includes the CEO of Centrica (which owns British Gas), who already earns £875,000-a-year and, according to some reports, he could receive additional bonuses totalling £2.87 million – a sum that an average Cornish worker could not earn in a hundred years.

It is little wonder that newspaper headlines shared the anger at the obsceneness of it all. One questioned how the executives slept at night, while another described the payments as “profits in misery."

And then there was the report from the Institute of Public Policy Research (North). This was very critical of the Government’s so-called “Levelling Up” agenda, which is meant to be tackling regional disparities across the UK. Obviously, the focus of the document was about flagging up concerns relating to the extent of public spending in the north of England, but the key statistic was that London – the wealthiest part of the UK – had seen the highest increase in government investment in recent years. This is the exact opposite of levelling up.

I attended a scrutiny meeting last week at which councillors were informed that the much-awaited proposal for local authorities to charge extra tax on second homes will not happen until 2024, or possibly even 2025. In addition, it was suggested that a promised review of the present funding formula for local government is likely to be delayed until 2026. We have to ask: where is the priority for housing justice and fairer funding for councils?

Also last week, there was confirmation that the new women’s and children’s unit at Treliske – misleading called a “new hospital” – has been delayed, while the plan for a much-needed extension to West Cornwall Hospital has been paused.

It is hardly surprising that so many people – myself included – are questioning the Government’s commitment to building a fairer and more equal society.