Wednesday, 6 October 2021

MY LATEST CORNWALL COUNCIL REPORT


My most recent report covers the time period 30th August – 26th September. It is as follows:

1.0 Council and other meetings

In terms of physical meetings, during the last four weeks I attended the Constitution & Governance Committee, a session about Clay Country with senior officers from the Economic Growth & Development directorate, two St Dennis Parish Council meetings (Full Council and Cemetery Committee), an open meeting about the development of a Neighbourhood Plan for St Dennis, and three St Enoder Parish Council meetings (Planning Committee, General Purposes Committee and Staffing Committee).

Other meetings via TEAMS or ZOOM video-conferencing included Cabinet, an informal development session of the Economic Growth & Development Overview & Scrutiny Committee, a briefing in advance of the Cornwall Council meeting on 28th September and a related Group Leaders meeting, a meeting of elected members from the China Clay Area, the China Clay Community Support Group, a planning training workshop on heritage, and the Community-Led Local Development Local Action Group. There were one-to-one meetings with Kate Kennally (Cornwall Council Chief Executive) and Ashley Shopland from Imerys, plus a meeting to explore the possibility of a multi-use trail from St Dennis to the Goss Moor Trail.

Some of the above meetings are referenced elsewhere in this report, and I had a number of further online meetings about a range of local issues.

I also attended a meeting of the Indian Queens Pit charity, of which I am a trustee.

2.0 A Strategy for the China Clay Area

On 2nd September, the four councillors for Clay Country hosted senior officers from the Economic Growth & Development Directorate (including the Strategic Director for Economic Growth & Development; the Director of the Local Enterprise Partnership & Service Director for Growth; Service Director for Planning & Sustainable Development; Service Director for Transport; and Head of Housing Delivery & Development) at the impressive new Venton Conference Centre at Chapel Town, Summercourt. I took the lead in presenting the “Towards a Strategy” document for Clay Country, which we had produced with the support of staff linked to the Clay Area Community Network.

I was pleased with how the meeting went and we have been promised follow-up meetings to consider requests within the document. In an email (dated 24th September) about economic support for towns, the Cabinet Member for the Economy confirmed that “the Clay Country members” would “receive funding to produce plans to develop their economic future.”

The specific “asks” were as follows, with the priority requests for the EG&D directorate shown underlined:

Jobs and economy

· Produce an up-to-date and bespoke employment strategy to support and expand key strategic sites, while bringing forward incubator units for smaller or new businesses.

· Support the continuance of the china clay industry and the emergence of lithium extraction in Clay Country.

· Commission a business survey to improve knowledge of the local business community and its needs.

· Create a formal forum for local businesses.

· Develop a strategy to grow recreational and tourism businesses.

· Audit broadband coverage to inform strategy to improve quality across the Area.

Transport and accessibility

· Audit current usage of public transport in the China Clay Area and carry our research into linkages between various communities.

· Support for increased services on the Par-Newquay rail branch line.

· Establish “on demand” community-based transport schemes to provide better linkages across the China Clay Area.

· Establish working group to explore impact of HGVs on local communities.

Housing

· Support for enhanced public sector intervention to bring forward more affordable housing, targeted to meet local needs.

· Increase investment in specialist housing (ie. sheltered housing) to build a more balanced housing market.

· Support for the production and necessary updates to Neighbourhood Plans for the five parishes of the China Clay Area.

· Create a “home improvement” / retrofit initiative to make old homes more energy efficient, etc.

· Audit of park homes and residential caravan sites to better understand issues in such residential areas.

Health and wellbeing

· Establish a Public Health Partnership to promote healthier lifestyles across the Clay Area.

· Work with local GP practices to introduce more specialist / outreach clinics and services, along with more social prescribing.

· Establish a Public Health Partnership to develop the provision of dental services within Clay Country.

· Establish a private sector / public partnership to promote training opportunities throughout the China Clay Area.

Community

· Produce an audit of the extent of public services provided in the China Clay Area, compared to the other parts of Cornwall, in order to secure a guarantee from Cornwall Council and other public bodies that Clay Country will get a fairer share of service provision in the future.

· Establish a “Safer Clay Country” partnership to assist the local police to boost community safety and tackle anti-social behaviour.

· Produce a Heritage and Culture Strategy for the China Clay Area.

· Support for development of community hubs through the China Clay Area.

· Support for local community and volunteer groups to set up social enterprises.

Historic and Natural Environment

· Request Historic England to agree a Heritage Action Zone for the China Clay Area.

· Request Historic England to commence assessment of historic remains from clay industry and related mining features for statutory protection.

· Establish a programme between Cornwall Council and partners to increase the network of clay trails, footpaths and bridlepaths.

· Establish a local partnership with local landowners to open up more land for public access.

Climate change

· Support climate change action groups throughout the China Clay Area.

· Hold a series of climate change summits / workshops to bring together parish councils and community groups to produce local action plans.

· Establish strong working links between Cornwall Council’s climate change team and local communities.

Covid-19 recovery

· Secure a guarantee that the China Clay Area will be treated on a par with Cornwall key towns, when it comes to the Recovery.

3.0 Local Listing project

Cornwall Council is piloting a Local Heritage List Project, funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It will cover two areas; Redruth and Clay Country (plus some surrounding parishes). A Community Outreach Officer has been recruited to help local residents to identify those historic structures or places that they deem to be important.

As well as being on a “local list,” some of the historic assets could end up being considered for statutory protection through Listing or Scheduling. This part of the project could be significant for the parishes of St Dennis and St Enoder, which have a low level of protected structures and sites.

I am pleased to be one of the volunteers who has been appointed to the advisory group, from which the project will seek guidance.

4.0 Meeting with Ashley Shopland

As a key local employer, Imerys organised a tour of some of their operation for councillors from in and around the China Clay Area. I was unavailable on the chosen date and instead had a one-to-one (virtual) meeting with managing director Ashley Shopland on 6th September to discuss the clay industry and the potential for lithium extraction, as well as wider issues across the local area.

5.0 Community Chest


As a Cornwall Councillor, I have been allocated £3,000 which I can distribute to local community organisations. Grants should be above £100 and the maximum grant is usually £1,000. If you are interested in applying, please get in contact with me.

ST DENNIS PARISH ISSUES

6.0 Manson Place Community Day


I was pleased to attend the Community Day organised by Ocean Housing on 1st September, and to meet with a number of local residents.

7.0 Possibility of a multi-use trail from St Dennis to the Goss Moor Trail.

St Dennis Parish Council has approached Cornwall Council to explore whether it would be possible to create a new multi-use trail along the old railway line that links St Dennis to the Goss Moor. As a result of these discussions, I have been in conversation with a number of council officers who are exploring landownership and other issues.

8.0 Neighbourhood Plan for St Dennis Parish

I was also pleased to attend the Parish Council’s open meeting on 18th September about the production of a Neighbourhood Plan for St Dennis Parish. The meeting was not well-attended, but I have offered to help out with this work as I have considerable experience with planning matters and chaired the committee which produced the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan.

9.0 Waiting restrictions near Wesley Place

The 21-day consultation for proposed double yellow lines near Wesley Place on Carne Hill will be undertaken soon. I have been informed it will be done as part of a wider consultation of schemes across the China Clay Area.

10.0 Proposed solar farm at Trerice Manor Farm

Last month, I reported that Statkraft UK had sought a screening opinion (PA21/08542) from Cornwall Council to see if they would need to carry out an environmental impact assessment as part of their upcoming application for a solar farm. Unlike the other proposed solar farms referenced in this report, the unitary authority has yet to take a view on this screening opinion.

11.0 Public housing for rent

A number of residents have contacted me to raise concerns that not enough social rent properties are going to households with local links. I am presently liaising with officers to get information about this, and I will report back more fully in my next written report.

12.0 Recycling bins

Also, as reported last month, the new Conservative administration has stated that the recycling banks recently removed from council car parks can be re-instated, where there is popular demand. I have formally asked for the bins previously located within the car park off Wellington Road.

I have had a “holding response” from the Council, that said “further information regarding requests for replacement bins will be coming forward after the results of the pilot retention scheme are received and assessed later in the year.” I am trying to get more clarity from the administration.

ST ENODER PARISH ISSUES

13.0 Highway matters


In my last monthly report, I gave a detailed update on the wide range of traffic matters that I have been dealing with in St Enoder Parish. I have some further updates about specific works about a number of upcoming works.

13.1 Summercourt School

It has been confirmed that the safety measures outside Summercourt School (including the extension of the 30mph limit to the east, two vehicle-activated signs and a “variable” 20mph speed limit during school drop-off and pick-up times) will be installed during half-term week (25th-29th October). Some of the electrical work may take place after the initial installation, with signs becoming operational in early-mid November.

13.2 Zebra crossings on Chapel Road and St Francis Road, Indian Queens

Cornwall Council consulted on the proposal for two zebra crossings in March and April. The feedback was positive and it has been confirmed that the crossings will also be installed in the latter part of October. It is my understanding that the works will start in the week commencing 18th October, with the main works also taking place in half-term week (25th-29th October).

13.3 New footway between Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School

Many people will have seen that Indian Queens School has started work on an enlarged outside / play area for the children (see above), which will take up two thirds of the field to the west of the School. The remainder of the field has transferred from Cornwall Council to St Enoder Parish Council, and the Parish Council will be constructing a new footway through this land to link the estate to the School. A local tarmac firm is lined up to do the works with a provisional start date of 20th October.

13.4 Proposed works on A3058 through Summercourt

The 21-day consultation on the A3058 improvements (including the extension of the 30mph limit on Beacon Road, two vehicle-activated signs and signalised pedestrian crossings at the traffic lights) should be happening in the near future.

I share the disappointment at the time it is taking to get to the consultation – but we are nearly there. Fingers crossed, this consultation will take place in October and I am continuing to receive assurances that the resultant works will still take place over the winter months.

13.5 Parking problems at Penhale / Kingsley Village Area

Following representations that I have made about the parking problems at Penhale near the Kingsley Village complex, Cornwall Council has confirmed that they will be putting in double yellow lines in this location. There will be a consultation in the near future about the actual extent of the lining.

14.0 Planning matters

There continues to be a large number of planning applications in St Enoder. Updates on some large planning proposals are as below:

14.1 Carvynick

In 2018, the owners of Carvynick, near Summercourt, sought outline planning permission for 38 residential units and a leisure building on the site. This was not supported by Cornwall Council, who felt that the “residential units” on the site should continue to be restricted for holiday use.

The applicants referred the proposal to the Planning Inspectorate (APP/D0840/W/18/3215936), which granted planning permission. As there were to be no affordable homes on the site, it was specified that there would need to be a financial payment to the Council to provide such homes elsewhere in the locality, in addition to a further payment towards improvements at Summercourt School.

As it was an outline consent, the full details for the development had to be agreed through further reserved matters applications. There have been two such applications. One covered 16 of the units (PA20/02147) and this was approved in 2020. A second application for the remaining 22 units (PA21/04792) was submitted earlier this year and was recently approved.

These two applications concentrated the 38 housing units into a smaller area than suggested in the original outline consent. As a consequence, a further application (PA21/04793) was received for an additional ten open market properties on the site. These are likely to be approved as well, because the principle of housing on this part of the Carvynick site was agreed through the earlier appeal which I fundamentally disagreed with. It is my understanding that the planning consent will include the need for an off-site financial contribution towards affordable housing.

During the initial applications, the applicants placed great focus on the construction of a leisure building, but there has not yet been a “reserved matters” application for this.

14.2 Proposed solar farm at Tresithney Farm


As with the proposed solar farm on land in St Dennis Parish, Statkraft UK sought a screening opinion (PA21/08039) from Cornwall Council to see if they would need to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as part of their upcoming application for a solar farm. Cornwall Council has confirmed that an EIA is needed because the development “would be likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of the scale, location and cumulative impact of the development proposed.”

14.3 Proposed solar farm at Tregonning Farm


Renewable Connections Developments Ltd also sought a scoping opinion (PA21/06846) about the need for an EIA for their proposed solar farm just outside St Enoder Parish. On this occasion, Cornwall Council have decided that the proposal “would not be likely to have a significant effect on the environment and an Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Statement are therefore not required.”

This emerging proposal is located immediately outside of St Enoder Parish, at Tregonning Farm in St Newlyn East Parish, but the cabling would run through St Enoder Parish to the Indian Queens Power Station. A webinar on the proposal was held on Wednesday 8th September and it was confirmed that the developer proposed that the cabling would go mostly go through farmland from Tregonning to Barton Lane, Fraddon. But from there, it would be laid along the old A30 through Fraddon and Indian Queens.

15.0 The Great Big Fuss Up

Some residents raised concerns about the music event held near Goonabarn to the south of Summercourt on 17th-19th September. The event organisers submitted a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) to Cornwall Council a few months, which allows events for up to 500 people.

The Licensing Authority has three working days to process TENs, during which time the Police and/or Environmental Health can object. Cornwall Council staff did not raise any concerns, although I understand that they gave considerable advice to the applicant, but did not stand in the way of the event.

I was not told about the TEN and I have challenged senior officers within the authority that elected members are informed about consents for events in their local areas.

16.0 Summercourt Fair

I was also contacted by a number of residents concerned about the parking congestion linked to this year’s Fair, especially as no car parking were provided. I will be speaking to the local Police and council officers about how they could influence the organisers of the event to provide some parking areas in future years.

Monday, 6 September 2021

MY LATEST CORNWALL COUNCIL REPORT


My most recent monthly report cover the time period: 26th July – 29th August 2021. It is as follows:

1.0 Council and other meetings

In terms of physical meetings, during the last five weeks I attended the Constitution & Governance Committee and the Chief Officers Employment Committee at Cornwall Council, meetings of St Dennis Parish Council and St Enoder Parish Council, as well as the AGM of the South & East Cornwall Community-Led Local Development Local Action Group. This took place at the impressive new Venton Conference Centre at Chapel Town, Summercourt.

I also attended a range of meetings by TEAMS or ZOOM video-conferencing. These have included the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee, the China Clay Area Community Network Panel, the China Clay Community Support Group, a briefing for councillors from within the China Clay Area, three further sessions about regeneration and other issues in Clay Country, and two meetings of the St Dennis & Nanpean Community Fund.

In addition, I have had a number of further online meetings about a range of local issues. Some of these are referenced in this report.

2.0 Coronavirus

The last few weeks have been very concerning about the spread of Covid-19 across Cornwall and, in mid August, it was reported that Cornwall had 11 of the 20 areas across the country with the highest levels of infection. I have tried to keep up with all the data, so that I could advise local people asking questions about the present situation.

Figures are released in somewhat contrived MSOAs (Middle Layer Super Output Areas), with names that do not fully reflect the areas that they cover.

St Enoder Parish lies within the St Columb Major & St Mawgan MSOA, which was recently one of the locations within the top 20 for Covid-19. At the time of writing this report, 52 people in this area were known to be infected (454.9 per 100,000) – down from the 125 individuals in the previous week.

St Dennis Parish lies within the Roche & Goss Moor MSOA, in which the most recent figures show that 46 people in this area were known to be infected (582.8 per 100,000) – down from the 73 individuals in the previous week.

Statistics at the end of August show that, in St Columb Major & St Mawgan MSOA, 86.6% of adults have had their first jab and 78.9% have had their second, while in the Roche & Goss Moor MSOA, 83.4% of adults have had their first jab and 76.5% their second as well.

3.0 Standing up for a better deal for the China Clay Area


As one of the four councillors for Clay Country, I have been spending a considerable amount of time working to persuade senior officers within Cornwall Council to prioritise the needs of our area.

The senior officer who attends meetings of the China Clay Area Network Panel is Sophie Hosking, the Strategic Director for Neighbourhoods, and we were pleased to host her for the day on 4th August and discuss a wide range of key issues for our locality.

Having produced a “Towards a Strategy” document for Clay Country, we have also been preparing for an upcoming meeting (1st September) when we will be presenting our views to senior officers from the Economic Growth & Development Directorate about the needs of the five parishes of Clay Country.

4.0 Parliamentary Boundary Review

I am pleased to be able to report that Cornwall Council’s Constitution & Governance Committee unanimously objected to the Boundary Commission for England’s initial proposals for new parliamentary constituencies, which would split the China Clay Area between two different seats.

As previously reported, the proposal places three of the four Clay Country divisions within a modified St Austell & Newquay Constituency – namely Penwithick & Boscoppa (comprising Treverbyn Parish minus Bugle), St Dennis & St Enoder (comprising two whole parishes), and St Stephen (comprising St Stephen-in-Brannel Parish minus Whitemoor). But the fourth division – Roche & Bugle (comprising the whole of Roche Parish plus Bugle from Treverbyn Parish and Whitemoor from St Stephen-in-Brannel Parish) – would be within a modified South East Cornwall Constituency.

On behalf of the Cornwall Councillors for the Clay Area, I made a written submission to the Committee and I also spoke at the meeting.

5.0 Community Chest


As a Cornwall Councillor, I have been allocated £3,000 which I can distribute to local community organisations. Grants should be above £100 and the maximum grant is usually £1,000. If you are interested in applying, please get in contact with me.

ST DENNIS PARISH ISSUES

6.0 Local surgeries


I held my first surgeries in St Dennis Parish, which took place at ClayTAWC, on Friday 6th and Monday 9th August. It was good to meet a number of people and the issues brought to my attention included highway / traffic concerns and environmental matters, plus concerns about anti-social behaviour. I am now working on addressing these issues.

Some 15 people also attended to raise concerns about issues relating to St Dennis Cemetery, which is owned and operated by the Parish Council. I have fed the representations through to the Parish Council and I am pleased to hear that the Council’s Cemetery Committee will soon be carrying out a survey to find out people’s views about the regulations for the management of the Cemetery.

7.0 Cornish Lithium

On 9th August, I was pleased to join Alan Baker and Kate Harcourt from Cornish Lithium for a site meeting at Trelavour to find out more about their plans for the extraction of lithium from land on the south side of St Dennis. I look forward to receiving further updates, which I will strive to share with local residents.

8.0 Neighbourhood Plan for St Dennis Parish

Parish councillors are keen to produce a Neighbourhood Plan for St Dennis Parish and I attended a meeting with the Parish Clerk and two councillors on 5th August. As I have considerable experience with planning matters, and chaired the committee which produced the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan, I have offered to help out with this work.

There is, however, great uncertainty about neighbourhood planning because the UK Government has announced that it is looking to make significant changes to how the planning system operates and it is not clear how this will affect the standing of Neighbourhood Plans.

But at this stage, I have started pulling together some background information on housing and the provision of employment land which people may find of interest.

8.1 Background information – housing

The Local Plan includes a target of 52,500 new dwellings for Cornwall for the period 2010-2030. The Clay Area’s share of the Cornwall housing target is 1,800 new dwellings for the plan period (not including the “eco-town” development near Penwithick).

Figures from Cornwall Council’s “Local Plan Housing Implementation Strategy 2021” show that the housing target for Clay Country will definitely be surpassed during the plan period.

Completions (small sites <10) - 543
Completions (large sites 10+) - 773
Permission (small sites with planning permission <10) - 250
Permission (large sites with planning permission 10+) - 265
Sites (subject to signing of Section 106 agreement) - 150
Anticipated windfalls (small sites <10) - 144
Neighbourhood Plan site allocations - 140

This presently projects the delivery of 2,265 properties – a surplus of 465 housing units.

In terms of the parish of St Dennis, a total of 76 dwellings were completed between 2010 and 2021, of which 16 were affordable homes. As of April 2021, there were extant planning permissions for 34 open market dwellings, of which four were under construction.

Council records also show that St Dennis has a total of 236 publicly-owned rental units, which equates to 19% of housing stock at this time – this is significantly higher than the average figure of 11% for Cornwall as a whole.

8.2 Background information – employment land

The Cornwall Local Plan seeks 13,250m2 of office floorspace and 13,000m2 of industrial floorspace within the China Clay Area.

The latest figures show that 22,319m2 of industrial floorspace has been constructed, while a further 23,171m2 has been consented. Together this equates to 349.9% of the Local Plan target, which is significantly more than all other parts of Cornwall. In addition, 7,883m2 of office floorspace has been completed, while a further 5,326m2 of office space has planning permission.

In terms of the parish of St Dennis, 2,021m2 of industrial floorspace has been delivered, along with 258m2 of office floorspace.

9.0 Highway issues

9.1 Hendra Road


As noted above, I have had a range of highway concerns brought to my attention. This includes speeding traffic at the very southern section of Hendra Road. I checked and found out that speed readings have not been taken in this area for a few years. I requested that Cornwall Council undertake some fresh speed readings and this has been done.

I will publicise the results as soon as I receive them.

9.2 Waiting restrictions near Wesley Place

The 21-day consultation for proposed double yellow lines near Wesley Place on Carne Hill is imminent. It had been hoped that the consultation would have commenced in August. This hasn’t happened but it shouldn’t be too long now.

10.0 Proposed solar farm at Trerice Manor Farm

Statkraft UK have sought a screening opinion (PA21/08542) from Cornwall Council to see if they would need to carry out an environmental impact assessment as part of their upcoming application for a solar farm. It is not a formal application as such, and the submission is based around the information which formed the basis of the pre-application consultation that took place in April.

At this point, it is not known to what extent Statkraft UK will make changes to their original proposal when they submit the actual application.

11.0 Recycling bins

In the last term of the unitary authority, the recycling facilities in the car park off Wellington Road were removed. The new Conservative administration has stated that the recycling banks can be re-instated, where there is popular demand. I have discussed this with parish councillors and I have formally asked for such bins to be placed back within the car park.

ST ENODER PARISH ISSUES

12.0 Highway matters

12.1 Proposed new footway between Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School


I am very pleased to be able to report that part of the field to the west of Indian Queens School has finally been transferred from Cornwall Council to St Enoder Parish Council. The School has started work on its enlarged play area within the remainder of the field, and the Parish Council will now be able to proceed with the works to construct the footway between the Harvenna Heights estate and the School. The path will go around the School’s enlarged recreation area.

In recent weeks, I have worked with the Clerk of the Parish Council to get the extent of the Parish Council’s new land marked out, the grass cut and a skipload of rubbish removed from the area. I also had meetings with Indian Queens School and Ocean Housing about the arrangements for constructing the new footway.

I am also pleased to be able to confirm that the Parish Council has appointed a contractor to construct the footway, and the works are scheduled to be carried out in late October.

12.2 Proposed works on A3058 through Summercourt

In my last update, I reported that the 21-day consultation on the A3058 improvements (including the extension of the 30mph limit on Beacon Road, two vehicle-activated signs and signalised pedestrian crossings at the traffic lights) would commence in August.

I am extremely disappointed that this did not happen. I have been informed that there have been delays in getting “cost estimates” for the works, which are now expected in mid September. I have been assured by officers that they have started preparing the consultation documents so “that as soon as the estimates are returned, reviewed and agreed, public consultation is able to get underway as soon as possible.”

I am continuing to receive assurances that the resultant works will still take place in this coming Autumn / Winter.

12.3 Summercourt School

I was also expecting a 21-day consultation on proposals for enhanced safety measures outside Summercourt School (including the extension of the 30mph limit to the east, two vehicle-activated signs and a “variable” 20mph speed limit during school drop-off and pick-up times). But I have been informed that the Council is prioritising straightforward works outside Schools, and it has been deemed that a pre-works consultation is no longer necessary – though, through a new mechanism, the operation of the changes will be monitored.

The signs and the electrical equipment have been ordered, and installation has been timetabled for the last week in October. The signs should then become operational in early-mid November.

12.4 Proposed zebra crossings on Chapel Road and St Francis Road, Indian Queens

I have been briefed on the feedback from the consultation for the crossings, which took place in March/April, and I will update further in the near-future.

12.5 Sea View Terrace

On 26th July, I had a meeting with officers about their work looking at road safety problems at Sea View Terrace, on the road between Fraddon and St Stephens. They agreed to look further back through their records about incidents along this stretch of road in order to further inform their deliberations.

12.6 Penhale

I am continuing to make representations about the parking problems at Penhale, near the Kingsley Village complex, and I am continuing to push for double yellow lines in this location. I have put considerable pressure on the planning service because of the planning consent and the obligations which went with the development. Progress has not been what I had hoped and I have now further escalated the issue with the Transport team. In particular, I have spoken to both the Service Director for Transport and the Local Transport & Road Safety Lead.

12.7 Road through Fraddon and St Columb Road

As noted previously, Cornwall Council have agreed to do a full review of road safety issues on the stretch of road from Penhale and through Fraddon and St Columb Road. There will soon be an “inception” meeting for the review, which I will be attending.

12.8 Speed monitoring

12.8.1 Parish Council speed visor


The Parish Clerk and I continue to move the Parish Council owned vehicle activated flashing sign around the Parish every few weeks. During August, the sign has been at the approach into St Columb Road from Fraddon.

We have been attaching the sign to streetlights, but cannot use some of the bigger streetlights (with larger circumferences) or telegraph poles. This does mean there are some locations where the sign cannot be erected. For example, we have had a request at Chapel Town where it would be difficult to locate the sign, so I have requested Cornwall Council do some speed readings in this area.

12.8.2 Carnego Lane

Earlier this year, some speed readings were carried out in Carnego Lane, Summercourt, at the request of local residents. I have been supplied with the results and these are available from me on request.

I can however report that the average speeds were 20.5mph (southbound) and 21mph (northbound), and that 98.5% of vehicles were travelling at speeds within the 30mph speed limit.

13.0 Planning matters

13.1 Four commercial units at Indian Queens Industrial Estate and new access onto Moorland Road, Indian Queens (PA21/01683)


An application for a new access into the Indian Queens Estate from Moorland Road and the provision of 15 parking spaces was refused in November 2020 at a meeting of the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee. A subsequent application for four houses within the industrial estate was then submitted, but later withdrawn.

This latest application for four employment units was submitted in the same general area, and included a new access. It was located in the position of trees that had previously screened the industrial estate but had already been ripped out. A petition opposing the development was signed by 92 local residents, who were particularly unhappy about the impact of extra traffic near their properties.

I referred this to the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee on 2nd August. I spoke against the application as did Ross Wimberley on behalf of St Enoder Parish Council and councillors unanimously rejected the proposal. The councillors did not feel able to refuse the application on highway grounds, but did throw it out for the following reason:

The proposal, by reasons of the proposed entrance/exit onto Moorland Road, removing part of the existing stone wall/Cornish hedge along the northern boundary of the site fronting Moorland Road and by introducing the new industrial buildings themselves, will harm the distinctive character of an area prominent to public view. The application is, therefore, contrary to policies 2 and 12 of the Cornwall Local Plan Strategic Policies 2010-2030.

14.1 Solar farm applications

14.1.1 Tresithney Farm


As reported above in relation to the proposed solar farm on land in St Dennis Parish, Statkraft UK have sought a screening opinion (PA21/08039) from Cornwall Council to see if they would need to carry out an environmental impact assessment as part of their upcoming application for a solar farm.

At this point, it is not known to what extent Statkraft UK will make changes to their original proposal when they submit the actual application.

14.1.2 Tregonning Farm

As previously reported, there is an emerging proposal for a further solar farm, which is located immediately outside of St Enoder Parish, at Tregonning Farm in St Newlyn East Parish. The cabling would nonetheless run to the Indian Queens Power Station.

A webinar on the proposal is due to take place on Wednesday 8th September at 7pm. The link to register for the event is at tregonningsolarfarm.co.uk. If you interested in attending, please scroll to the end of the home page for the link.

14.2 Planning in principle for five dwellings, Highgate Hill, Indian Queens (PA20/08024)

On 20th November 2020, this planning application for housing units at the top of Highgate Hill was refused and the applicant has appealed the decision to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol. The application was against policies in the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan and I have produced a detailed appeal statement on behalf of the Parish Council, which was in agreement with the unitary authority’s reasons for refusal. It was submitted on 23rd August.

14.3 Seven dwellings in Higher Fraddon (PA21/05945)


An application has been submitted for seven new properties on the site of derelict farm buildings at Higher Fraddon. This would be in place of an extant planning permission for five housing units allowed via a new mechanism known as “Q Class” which allows buildings on farm holdings to be converted into dwellings as long as they are structurally sound.

14.4 New industrial units at Toldish

Planning consent has also been granted for two new industrial units at Toldish.

15.0 St Enoder byway 31

I can also report that Cornwall Council has redone the surface for byway 31 in the Toldish area.

16.0 Green spaces

There are a number of small green or play spaces within local estates that are owned by Cornwall Council and where Cormac should cut the grass and carry out maintenance. I am very disappointed that, once again, these works are not being carried out as regularly as they should.

I have made further representations in recent weeks. The areas of unkempt grass have been cut as a consequence and I have also been promised that the hedges around the open space at St James View, Fraddon, and the garden area in Clodan Mews, St Columb Road, will be placed on Cormac’s work programme and tidied up in the Autumn.

I have also requested that all the play equipment in these areas have a thorough clean.

17.0 Ongoing projects

Other projects I have been working on with the Parish Council include the rebuilding of part of the wall around the old St Enoder Cemetery, and the preparations for the construction of a public toilet in Indian Queens Recreation Ground.

Monday, 23 August 2021

CORNWALL NEEDS FAIR FUNDING AND DEVOLUTION

My article in this week's Cornish Guardian addresses concerns that Cornwall will not get it fair share of future regional investment. It is as follows:


The headline in a recent edition of the Independent newspaper was pretty stark. It stated that the “poor parts of the UK” are about to suffer a “£1 billion Brexit black hole.”

The article focussed on the future distribution of “regional development cash” in place of the structural funding that came via the European Union. It also suggested that Cornwall would be amongst the “biggest likely losers,” not least because it is not listed among the Government’s new “priority areas.”

At the same time, the Institute for Government (IfG) think-tank has produced a report that claims the relationship between central government and the devolved administrations will be damaged by a Whitehall “power-grab.”

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have previously received larger sums than England, via the structural funds, with the report stating that “from the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund combined in the 2014–20 cycle, England was allocated €7.1bn, or €130 per person; Scotland €940 million, or €180 per person; Northern Ireland €510m, or €280 per person; and Wales €2.4bn, or €780 per person. Compared with England, allocations of EU structural funds per person were therefore a little over a third higher in Scotland, more than twice as high in Northern Ireland, and six times as high in Wales.”

The document acknowledges that the governments in Belfast, Edinburgh, and Cardiff took the lead in “disbursing those funds,” while the “promised replacement” known as the shared prosperity fund will be “controlled by the government in London.” It also addresses how the devolved nations are putting pressure on the Conservative Government to live up to the pledge in their 2019 general election manifesto that promised they “would at a minimum match the level of EU spending in each of the four nations of the UK.”

Obviously, the Prime Minister has made similar statements with regard to the hidden nation of Cornwall – even though we did not merit reference in the manifesto. We are also still waiting to see how, or even whether, Cornish businesses and communities will benefit from this promised investment.

The IfG document does reference that “in 2014–20, Cornwall was allocated €1,011 per person” but is otherwise silent on our “hidden nation.”

The overall conclusion from the think-tank is that the provision of regional funding “should be done in a way that respects the devolution settlements” and ensures a significant role for the administrations in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

It seems to me that Cornwall needs the promised funding and also merits devolution, just like the other Celtic parts of the UK, in order to control how such investment is allocated and spent.

Friday, 20 August 2021

MEBYON KERNOW DEMANDS FUNDAMENTAL AND FAR-REACHING CHANGES TO TACKLE THE HOUSING CRISIS IN CORNWAL


The following press release was sent out earlier today.

MK’s leadership team has challenged the UK Government to bring forward a range of “fundamental and far-reaching” interventions to deal with the UK’s dysfunctional housing market.

The statement from Cllrs Michael Bunney, Dick Cole, Andrew Long and Loveday Jenkin is as follows:

The housing market across the UK – but especially in Cornwall – is dysfunctional and it is not working for ordinary people. The cost of housing is going up and up, which is simply unsustainable.

So many families are struggling to access housing that properly meets their most basic needs, while it is scandalous that a lot of people have multiple properties – including “second homes” and bolt-holes – many of which stand empty for the majority of the year.

In many parts of Cornwall, the very fabric of local society is being undermined – not least because of external misconceptions of Cornwall as a holiday or leisure area.

The UK Government is failing to address the severity of the housing crisis, and it is refusing to bring forward the “fundamental and far-reaching” changes that are necessary to tackle the “out-of-control” housing market.

Mebyon Kernow is calling on the UK Government to:

Make changes to the planning system to prioritise the delivery of high-quality and genuinely affordable housing. It is wrong that the present set-up makes it easy for developers to get planning permission for expensive open-market properties and many developments provide no affordable homes at all.

Redefine the definition of affordable housing and link to local incomes. In recent years, central government has made “affordable” housing more expensive with “affordable rent” units which have a limited discount from market rents and the recent introduction of “First Homes” which could cost up to £250,000. Cornwall needs local-needs housing at a proper level of affordability.

Increase investment in the provision of proper affordable housing. It is important to ensure that a higher percentage of new dwellings are affordable homes and not open-market properties. This can be delivered through government investment.

Safeguard all existing rental properties owned by registered providers. The loss of rental properties from the public sector through “right to acquire” and other mechanisms needs to be curtailed. A number of housing associations have sold off some of their older properties rather than carry out renovations. MK maintains that all existing social rent properties should be retained in public ownership.

Make changes to the planning system to control "second homes." A longstanding policy of Mebyon Kernow is to introduce planning restrictions to stop and then reverse the spread of “second homes.” Part of this would relate to all existing dwellings being designated as principal residences.

Introduce a council tax premium on “second homes.” It is clear that “second homes” are a massive “social problem” and councils should be given the right to charge a council tax of at least 200% on such properties.

Introduce rent controls on private sector properties. The ever-increasing cost of rental properties is damaging the quality of life of thousands of households, and measures to make open-market rents less expensive are much needed.

Explore further mechanisms to better regulate the housing market. This should include the development of a “local housing market” for Cornwall with more “local occupation” criteria on properties and an expectation of all-year-round-residency, plus restrictions on marketing associated with estate agents.

At this time, we are fearful that the UK Government will not act to properly combat the housing crisis.

Mebyon Kernow is also continuing its campaign for greater self-government for Cornwall through a Cornish Assembly or Parliament, which would have control over all aspects of housing and planning and would be able to act in the best interests of the people of Cornwall.

Thursday, 12 August 2021

MK SAY NO TO “GREAT SOUTH WEST” AND “WESTERN POWERHOUSE” NONSENSE


My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian newspaper is as follows:

Throughout my adult life, I have been involved in numerous campaigns for Cornwall to be a political, economic and cultural unit in its own right. But the political establishment, big business, and even many local councillors, have been vigorously pursuing a regionalist agenda in which Cornwall is submerged within “Devonwall” or “South West” bodies.

We have often been told that Cornwall's interests are best served by merging Cornwall into larger areas and that it would boost Cornwall’s clout. In my opinion, it is the reverse that has actually happened.

I remember how business and some media interests came together at a conference in Newquay in November 1987, called at the behest of the Duke of Cornwall, to allow the proponents of “Devonwall” to push a proposal for a Devon and Cornwall Development Company. It was followed, in the early 1990s, by the Westcountry Development Corporation.

Similarly, when the Conservative Government established Training and Enterprise Councils in 1990-91, the opportunity to create a much-needed Cornish-based institution was lost. Instead, a giant Devon and Cornwall TEC was formed.

The election of a Labour Government in 1997 did not change things. Calls for a Cornish Development Agency were ignored and a SW regional development agency – stretching from the Isles of Scilly to Swindon – was created. An unelected regional chamber for the “South West” followed along with a top-down spatial strategy that proposed truly unsustainable levels of house-building.

It has been little different under the Tories since 2010. For the last five years, their MPs, plus public bodies and businesses, have been pursuing the concept of a “Great South West,” which covers Cornwall and the English counties of Devon, Dorset and Somerset.

Recent newspaper reports now claim that the Government wants to merge the Great South West join together with another central government construct called the Western Gateway, which covers Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, Swansea and Cardiff.

Businessman Mark Duddridge, a prominent supporter of the Great South West which diminishes Cornwall, declared – without any sense of irony whatsoever – that it would be hard for “our Cornish voice “ to be heard “if we have something that reaches up to Gloucester and South Wales.” He has also made the fanciful claim that “we have tried to get the Great South West recognised as a region … everyone in the Great South West wants that to happen.”

I would respectfully say that that is simply not true. All this talk of a Great South West and a Western Gateway is a nonsense. It is Cornwall, as Cornwall, that needs to secure the tools to be able shape its own future.