As the leader of Mebyon Kernow, I have published the following statement on the announcement of a 2017 General Election.
“Theresa May’s decision to announce a General Election for June 8th represents a political cynicism of the worst kind. Her decision is manifestly not about Brexit; it is all about the self-interest of the Conservative Party.
“In recent months, the Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that there would be no snap General Election, but today’s declaration shows that she has been deliberately and shamefully misleading voters and other political groups - giving the Conservatives a massive organisational advantage.
“It is also disrespectful to call a General Election during the local elections presently taking place in Cornwall, Scotland, Wales and across much of England.
“The lead-up to the June contest will inevitably over-shadow the elections to Cornwall Council and shift the focus away from important local issues and onto Westminster party politics. It also reflects the disregard that the UK government has for local councils and the work that they do.
“I have no wish to hide from the simple fact that such a snap election is very difficult for a political party such as Mebyon Kernow, which lacks the financial resources of the large Westminster political parties.
“At this point, I can confirm that MK’s Executive Committee will be meeting in the near-future to consider the 2017 General Election and our approach to it.”
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
As the leader of Mebyon Kernow, I have published the following statement on the announcement of a 2017 General Election.
Posted by Dick Cole at 00:11
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
Last night, I attended the St Enoder Parish Annual Assembly at Summercourt and presented my annual report to local residents.
At the meeting, my good friend Arthur Trenerry was rewarded with the Parish’s Honourable Service Award (see above with Parish Chairman Michael Bunyan - thanks to Charlotte Cowburn for the photograph). And everyone present supported a proposal that a representation go from the meeting to Post Office Ltd emphasising the desperate need for a Post Office in the eastern end of the Parish.
My report was as follows:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has assisted me with my work over the last twelve months.
My role as the Cornwall Councillor for St Enoder Parish is a full-time job and I produce regular reports, which are presented to (monthly) Full Council meetings of St Enoder Parish Council. Normally, I do ten reports each year as the Council does not have Full Council meetings in August and December. These can still be viewed on the Parish Council website [www.saintenoderparishcouncil.org.uk] or on my blog [http://mebyonkernow.blogspot.co.uk].
Listed below are a few examples of my activities during this period, though I must add that the list is selective and not exhaustive.
1. Roles at Cornwall Council
I served as Chairman of the Planning Portfolio Advisory Committee for the 2016-2017 council year. I have also served on the Constitution and Governance Committee, Electoral Review Committee, working group on National Minority status, and have I attended a wide range of other committees as a non-voting member.
I have attended more than 150 formal meetings and briefings at Cornwall Council and St Enoder Parish Council (including the work of the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group), as well as a significant number of informal meetings with council officers, local parishioners and groups.
2. Other organisations
I have also served on a number of other organisations, both Cornwall-wide and locally. These include: South and East Cornwall Local Action Group, St Austell Bay Economic Forum, China Clay Area Training and Work Centre at St Dennis (Chairman), Fraddon Millennium Green (Secretary) and the Indian Queens Pit Association (Trustee).
3. New play equipment at Indian Queens Recreation Ground
The biggest highlight of the 12 months has been the installation of the new play equipment in the Indian Queens Recreation, and it was a pleasure to work with the Parish Clerk and fellow parish councillors on this project.
I was pleased to be able to secure a grant of £35,000 from the Cornwall SITA for the play equipment and an additional £10,000 grant from the National Lottery’s Awards for All programme for a tarmac path to the improved park.
It is particularly pleasing to see how many young people and their families are really enjoying the new facilities.
4. South West Water works at Trevarren
As reported at the last Annual Assembly, I had been making representations to South West Water – for 13 years – on behalf of the residents of Trevarren about problems with the foul sewer that runs through their community. During periods of heavy rain, much additional water gets into the sewerage system and waste is often discharged onto the highway in their village.
Over the years, there had been numerous meetings with South West Water which, in 2015, finally agreed to carry out works to make improvements and to eliminate all risk of local flooding. The works were completed last summer and included the realignment of part of the foul sewer and the construction of an associated attenuation tank, which could hold up to 280,000 litres of water during periods of high rainfall. The cost of the works was over £450,000.
5. Bus services between Summercourt and Truro
At the last Parish Assembly, I reported how I had been in regular contact with First about the need to reintroduce services between Summercourt and Cornish capital (that had previously been run by Western Greyhound).
The new services to serve Summercourt (Mondays to Saturdays) were restarted on Monday 30th May 2016.
6. Fraddon Post Office
The impending redevelopment of Kingsley Village means that the Post Office is due to close on 25th April 2017.
When the planning application was being dealt with, I sought specific assurances that a Post Office would continue in the new complex and as a temporary set-up in the interim construction period.
This is all proving to be extremely difficult and the Parish Clerk and I have had a number of meetings with Post Office Ltd and Kingsley Developers about what happens next. The Post Office Ltd has told us that one option would be “outreach,” which would consist of a temporary Post Office run from a venue such as a local village hall.
We are continuing to put a significant amount of pressure on all concerned to make sure that a Post Office in the eastern end of the Parish is retained.
7. Planning matters
Planning matters have dominated much of civic life in St Enoder Parish over the last twelve months, once again. I have made representations on dozens and dozens of applications. Some applications have been refused by local planners, though developers have often appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol. Each time this has happened, Dick has produced a detailed representation, on behalf of the Parish Council, to ensure that the views of local people were put forward to the Inspector.
Three of the more significant and / or controversial applications were as follows:
- Three turbines on Pines Tip, Fraddon (PA15/00955)
This application was refused (unanimously) at the Strategic Planning Committee meeting in March 2016. The reasons for refusal were the lack of local support (now expected by central government for wind farm applications), along with the visual and cumulative landscape impacts. The applicant went to appeal, which is still being considered through the written representations process. I produced a 9,500 word representation for this appeal.
- Mobile homes on the Kelliers (PA15/06186)
The applicant for this part-retrospective application also went to appeal. I produced a statement on behalf of the Parish Council and represented local residents at an informal hearing on 16th August. The Inspector dismissed the appeal and upheld the enforcement notice to remove the caravans from the site.
- Higher Fraddon biogas plant (PA15/03073 and PA15/05220).
The two applications relating to the biogas plant also went to appeal. One had been refused and the applicant went to appeal for non-determination on the other. I produced another representation for this appeal, which stretched to 13,500 words. It was heard at an informal hearing on 6th September at Kingsley Village, and the inspector approved the consent(s) but did add additional conditions.
Since the decision was published, there has been considerable “toing and froing” between the owners and the unitary authority in terms of the discharge of conditions. Much of the information submitted to Cornwall Council has been lacking and work continues on what can be agreed.
8. Cornwall Local Plan
As the Chairman of the Planning PAC, I was heavily involved with the work that led to the production of the Cornwall Local Plan. Following the Inspector’s amendments after the first session of the Examination in Public (EiP) held in May 2015, the revised document was referred to a second session of the EiP in May 2016.
The Plan was formally accepted by the unitary authority in November 2017 and sets the policy framework for the production of our Neighbourhood Plan.
9. Neighbourhood Plan for St Enoder
Along with other members of St Enoder Parish Council, I have been heavily involved with the work towards a Neighbourhood Plan for St Enoder.
I was able to secure a grant of £3,950 for the work, which went towards the production of a comprehensive consultation document, freepost envelopes, etc. The consultation was undertaken during January and February, and included three consultation events held at Indian Queens Victory Hall (Tuesday 31st January), Fraddon Village Hall (Tuesday 7th February) and Summercourt New Memorial Hall (Thursday 9th February).
10. The Kelliers
I have often reported on the saga surrounding the transfer of the land known as the Kelliers (located to the rear of the old Indian Queens School) from Restormel Borough Council to St Enoder Parish Council, so that it could be improved as a nature area for local residents. Sadly in 2010, that decision was scuppered by council officers and senior councillors on the unitary authority.
I am pleased to be able to report that having pushed for the original deal to be honoured, the land finally passed into local ownership in February 2017, along with a grant of £4,950 to enhance the area.
Work will soon be able to commence on the improvements to the area.
11. Open spaces
In addition, the open space at Lindsay Fields has been transferred into the ownership of Cornwall Council for future maintenance. I am presently seeking clarification from the environment section at the unitary authority about their likely maintenance regime.
The open space at Fairview Park has meanwhile been transferred from Kingsley Developers into the ownership of the Parish Council.
12. Highway works
I have spent a lot of time lobbying Council officers with regard to a range of traffic issues, ranging from pot-holes to flooding, issues around Indian Queens School, speeding and road safety issues. This has been reported in detail in many of my monthly reports and I also reported back on upcoming tarmacing works in my most recent monthly report (March).
As a Cornwall Councillors, I have also made representations to the Police and Crime Commissioner following the publication of the new Police Plan for 2017 – 2020. This states that more than half of the Police Community Support Officers working across the force area will be “phased out” during the next four years. I was particularly concerned to read a statement in the Cornish Guardian which stated that “no decision has yet been taken on which communities are likely to lose a PCSO” but that “large towns and cities are expected to see little change.”
I am continuing to question what this all means for community policing in our local area, which does not happen to be a large town or city.
14. Stop press … some good news
The eastern part of Summercourt around the primary school has had a very poor broadband signal for many years. On behalf of the School and local residents, I have made representations to British Telecom on this matter and I am pleased to be able to report that BT has just confirmed that the improvement works will be carried out within this financial year and hopefully prior to Christmas.
15. My Community Fund
I have awarded the £2,000 in my personal Community Fund for 2015-2016 (allocated to all Cornwall Councillors) as follows:
· Fraddon Millennium Green – £500
· Indian Queens Pantomine Society – £500
· St Enoder Age Concern – £500
· Wesley Under-5s – £500
I continue to help local people with advice and assistance on a daily basis. This covers issues as diverse as traffic to housing and planning, environmental concerns, dog mess and local facilities.
I can be contacted on 07791 876607 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Dick Cole at 08:36
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
The nominations for the elections to Cornwall Council have been published today and can be found at: Candidates for Cornwall Council
My nomination to defend the division of St Enoder has been accepted and I will soon be out delivering my main election address.
There are a total of three candidates for the St Enoder seat. As well as myself, there is a Conservative candidate (from Mevagissey) and a Liberal Democrat candidate (from Bodmin).
In addition, I can confirm that there have been a total of 14 nominations for the 14 seats on St Enoder Parish Council. Everyone who was nominated has therefore been elected unopposed and there will be no parish election.
Posted by Dick Cole at 15:31
Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has nominated a total of 32 official candidates for the upcoming local elections. Of these, 19 will be contesting seats on the unitary authority.
Many of the candidates for Town and Parish Councils have been returned unopposed. The full list of candidates is as follows:
Candidates for Cornwall Council
St Ives Constituency Party
Breage, Germoe and Sithney - Mike Tresidder
Crowan & Wendron - Loveday Jenkin
Helston South - Alice Waddoups
Penzance East - Rob Simmons
Camborne & Redruth Constituency Party
Camborne Pendarves - John Ellery Gillingham
Camborne Roskear - Linda Lemon
Camborne Trelowarren - Zoe Fox
Camborne Treslothan - Alan Sanders
Four Lanes - Chris Lawrence
Lanner & Stithians - Matt Blewett
Truro & Falmouth Constituency Party
Falmouth Boslowick - Jenny Booth
St Austell & Newquay Constituency Party
Bugle - Garry Tregidga
Penwithick & Boscoppa - Matt Luke
Roche - Brian Higman
St Enoder - Dick Cole
St Stephen - Jerry Jefferies
North Cornwall Constituency Party
Bodmin St Petroc - John Gibbs
SE Cornwall Constituency Party
Callington - Andrew Long
St Dominick, Harrowbarrow and Kelly Bray - Mark Smith
Candidates for Town and Parish Councils (27)
St Ives Constituency Party
Crowan Parish Council (Praze ward) - Loveday Jenkin [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Penzance Town Council (East Ward) - Rob Simmons [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Camborne & Redruth Constituency Party
Camborne Town Council (Pendarves Ward) - John Ellery Gillingham [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Camborne Town Council (Roskear Ward) - Linda Lemon [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Camborne Town Council (Treslothan Ward) - Jane Barclay & Alan Sanders
Camborne Town Council (Trelowarren Ward) - Zoe Fox
Carn Brea Parish Council (Four Lanes Ward) - Chris Lawrence
St Day Parish Council - Roy Gill [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Truro & Falmouth Constituency Party
Falmouth Town Council (Boslowick Ward) - Jenny Booth
Truro City Council (Boscawen Ward) - Conan Jenkin
Truro City Council (Redannick Ward) - Lance Dyer
Newlyn East Parish Council (Newlyn East Ward) - Rod Toms [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
St Austell & Newquay Constituency Party
Mevagissey Parish Council - Matt Facey
Roche Parish Council - Brian Higman [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
St Austell Town Council (Poltair Ward) - Julie Fox
St Enoder Parish Council - Dick Cole [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
St Goran Parish Council - Michael Bunney [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
St Mewan Parish Council (Polgooth & Sticker Ward) - David Holman [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Treverbyn Parish Council (Boscoppa Ward) - Matt Luke [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
North Cornwall Constituency Party
Bodmin Town Council (St Petroc Ward) - John Gibbs
SE Cornwall Constituency Party
Callington Town Council (Callington Ward) - Maria Coakley, Andrew Long & Mark Smith [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Callington Town Council (Kelly Bray Ward) - Debbie Smith [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Pillaton Parish Council - David Floyd [ELECTED UNOPPOSED]
Saltash Town Council (East Ward) - Clare Ellison
More information to follow.
Posted by Dick Cole at 14:56
Friday, 31 March 2017
The venue will, as usual, be ClayTAWC in St Dennis and the meeting will start at 7.30.
The focus of the meeting will be campaign planning for our five Cornwall Council candidates; Dick Cole (St Enoder), Brian Higman (Roche), Jerry Jefferies (St Stephen), Matt Luke (Penwithick and Boscoppa) and Garry Tregidga (Bugle). There will also be an update on those other members standing for town and parish councils.
This meeting will give everyone an opportunity to find out more about our plans for the period up to the 4th May and how you can get involved. We will be planning our next set of leaflets.
All are welcome at the meeting. Call me on 07791 876607 for more details.
Posted by Dick Cole at 21:03
Thursday, 30 March 2017
Matt Luke and I both gave speeches at today’s meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee (when the “eco-community” was approved). We are pictured looking out over some of the green fields which will now be lost.
The speeches were as follows:
Speech by Cllr Matt Luke
As the councillor for Penwithick and Boscoppa, I am here to put forward the views of local people.
The majority of the proposal lies within my division and I do not support this “eco-community” application. The vast majority of local people that I speak to are also opposed to the development.
I would refer councillors to paragraph 140 in the committee report. This states that there have been 1,179 letters of objection, but only three letters of support.
And even though the update report shows that there have been two extra letters of support, this is next to nothing – especially compared to the massive level of local opposition to the scheme.
There are a number of important issues that I would like to raise.
First, I am fed up being told this is a brown-field development. It is a fact that much of the housing will be on green fields to the south of Penwithick.
It is also the case that the existing landowner already has planning obligations to restore the clay workings in this area.
I am also very unhappy at the level of housing growth being forced onto the China Clay Area. It is so much greater than other parts of Cornwall. It is excessive and unsustainable. It is certainly not “eco.”
The development of this “eco-town” will also put great pressure on the local infrastructure, such as the NHS which is already creaking in the wider St Austell area. And the cars from 1,500 houses will increase congestion on local roads.
This development will change the very character of the local area, and I also share the concerns of local people about how the sewage might be dealt with.
It is unacceptable for the committee report to say that waste from the site will be “likely to go” to the Luxulyan treatment works. Sewage is a massive concern for residents and this lack of certainty is unacceptable.
Various documents have been produced by the promoters of the eco-town proposal over the last ten years. The documents made numerous promises about the environmentally-friendly nature of the development, “low-carbon living,” affordable housing and even cable-cars!
For example, in the past, the promise was for 40% to 50% affordable housing, but the present proposal is for only 30%.
I therefore cannot believe that any promises associated with this application will actually happen. I mean, of course, the commitments which relate to the school, the community hub, the open space and sewage treatment.
This outline application is full of “what-ifs,” and I do not think it should be allowed to go through.
I would ask you to refuse this application and, given the detail in the committee report, it is premature to entertain any thought of approving this scheme at this time.
I would like to return to the issue of affordable housing. I am disturbed that the residents of Treverbyn Parish would not have priority when the affordable units become available.
You will see that the proposed area for “local connection” extends from Summercourt to Roche, and all the way down to Par and St Blazey.
If you do support this proposal, I would ask that you make sure that a significant percentage of the affordable housing does go to those residents of Treverbyn Parish in housing need
After all, this development is in Treverbyn Parish, in the China Clay Area. Yet the repeated references to the St Austell Community Network Area in the committee report show that the needs of the China Clay Area have not been to the fore, when this application was being written up for approval.
Members. Would you be happy to see a development of 1,500 new properties – opposed by one thousand-plus letters – in your divisions? I doubt it.
Would you be happy to see such a development close to Looe or on the Roseland, for example? I doubt that as well.
It is equally inappropriate for the China Clay Area. Please have the courage to reject this application.
Speech by Cllr Dick Cole
It is well known that I have been a long-standing critic of the so-called “eco-community.” And I have found the whole manner, in which it has been brought forward, to be extremely frustrating.
In the summary on page 26 of the committee report, it is stated that “approval would be a genuine plan led decision.” I do not agree with this conclusion.
The “eco-community” has only been brought forward because a Westminster Government decreed that an “eco-town” should be built in Cornwall, in the Clay Area.
This was encoded in a Planning Policy Statement, titled “Eco-towns - A Supplement to PPS 1.” The existence of this top-down document meant that Cornwall Council had little option, other than to include the “eco-community” in the Cornwall Local Plan.
Members will also be aware that, following the cancellation of the PPS on St Piran’s Day 2015, Cllr Luke and I unsuccessfully attempted to persuade this Council to remove the “eco-community” as an allocation in that Local Plan. And last year, we made the same arguments at the resultant Examination in Public.
Here today, we are being consistent and true to our roots in Clay Country.
Members, when the PPS was cancelled, the Government Minister stated that the “eco-towns programme” had been a “total shambles” and was “unsustainable and environmentally damaging.”
I agree. It is just a shame that the same government has now rebranded this “eco” proposal in mid Cornwall as a garden village.
It will come as no surprise to you that I do not agree with the case officer that the merits of the scheme outweigh the harm. There is much which we should be concerned about.
Between 1991 and 2010, the China Clay Area experienced faster housing growth than any other part of Cornwall. According to Cornwall Council’s own figures, housing growth was a very significant 47%.
If the level of housing presently proposed for the China Clay Area in the Cornwall Local Plan (including the eco-community) was allowed to go forward, it would mean that the housing stock of Clay Country would increase by 82% over four decades (from 1991 to 2030).
This amount of new housing growth is not sustainable, and it represents a level of growth, much greater than other parts of Cornwall.
It would, for example, be three times that of the Cornwall Gateway CNA and significantly more than double that of a number of other areas including West Penwith, Falmouth & Penryn, and Wadebridge & Padstow.
I would add that I share the additional concerns raised by Cllr Luke in his contribution today about how (i) this development is largely on green-fields but continues to masquerade as a brown-field scheme, (ii) would have an adverse impact on the infrastructure of the local area, and (iii) the uncertainty over numerous elements of the proposed scheme.
As a democrat, I also give great weight to the fact that it does not have local support.
As already stated, more than one thousand representations have been received in objection to this proposal – from local people in places such as Bugle, Penwithick and Boscoppa. I am saddened that more weight has not been given to these objections.
It is my view that this planning application has influenced this Council’s emerging policy – for example, in the Allocations DPD – more than this democratic body has influenced the shape of the application in front of you.
There are two additional letters of support, which are referenced in the update sheet. But it is not like they are from residents in Carluddon or Scredda.
It is telling that one appears to be from a governmental representative in Switzerland, while the other is from this Council’s Director for Economic Growth.
This all seems to be about doing things to Clay Country – and never mind what local people think.
It is also the case that this application has been live for over two years and we have been waiting additional information. That information was only received a few weeks ago, and yet this application has been pushed through to this meeting with undue haste amid great uncertainty.
I see that there are also references to the new Technology Park near Carluddon. This development has been consented, the funding is in place, and work has started.
I object to the notion that this initiative somehow justifies the construction of 1,500 new properties in such a prominent location and, I say this as a archaeologist, within a landscape of significant historic interest.
In particular, I note that the Local Plan states that “all landscapes matter.” Reading the impact of the development on landscape and landscape character (page 101 onwards), it seems to show that this is not the case in Clay Country.
This is just one of the large number of adverse and potentially adverse impacts, which are most certainly not outweighed by any perceived benefits from the scheme.
To conclude, I would ask that you to reject this application today.
Posted by Dick Cole at 13:40
This morning, the members of the Strategic Planning Committee voted by 17 votes to three to approve the planning application for an “eco-community” near Penwithick.
At the meeting, opposition to the proposal came from a representative of Treverbyn Parish Council (Peter Clemo) and Mebyon Kernow’s two Cornwall Councillors from the China Clay Area; Matt Luke (Penwithick & Boscoppa) and myself (St Enoder).
Obviously, it is well-documented that Matt and I have opposed the scheme for a decade.
In our speeches we covered a wide range of planning matters and focussed on the massive level of local opposition, but it was to no avail.
The main argument stated for approval was that the scheme was allocated as a development site within the Cornwall Local Plan, but these were the same councillors who rejected a call from MK to remove the “eco-community” allocation from the Local Plan in 2015!
In terms of the vote, the scheme was backed by seven Liberal Democrats, five Conservatives, four independents and one Labour councillor.
The three who opposed the “eco-community” were Andrew Long (MK), John Fitter (Conservative) and Malcolm Harris (Independent).
Posted by Dick Cole at 13:19
Monday, 20 March 2017
Care-free Dick Cole is not a happy boy tonight.
At 10.00 this morning, I received an invitation to appear on BBC2’s Daily Politics Show to talk about the recent Council of Europe opinion. I drove to the BBC offices in Plymouth, arriving at 12.15, getting into the studio at around 12.30.
There was then an almighty cock-up. The camera that would normally be in the newsroom was not in place, so I was lined up to speak from the main studio. BBC Plymouth thought that I would be interviewed in advance of the studio being needed for Justin Leigh’s news headlines at 1.00. But BBC London had me down as the last item – and before they got to me, I was shifted out of my seat for the “local” news headlines and was unable to take part.
BBC Plymouth did record some film with me on the issue, in case they needed it in the future.
But all in all, what a wasted day.
I left home at about 11.00 to travel to Plymouth and, after apologetic phone calls and grabbing some dinner, I didn’t get back home until nearly 4.00. All that time … to not do an interview.
I have just seen the actual programme on iplayer and I am now really annoyed with how the panellists Eric Pickles and Caroline Flint handled the issue. Flint, in particular, was very disparaging towards MK, wanted to talk about Cornish independence and I was not there to respond!
The programme can be viewed at:
Looks like there will be yet more calls to the BBC tomorrow.
Posted by Dick Cole at 17:39
The Cornwall Live website (for the Cornish Guardian, Cornishman and West Briton newspapers) has just published its “Cornish List,” which gives their take on the top 50 people who “lead the way in campaigning on Cornish issues” and “flying the black and white flag for Cornwall.”
Such lists are always controversial, but it is nice for yours truly to sneak in at number three, just behind Will Coleman (no. 1) and Ed Rowe (no 2).
The full list can be seen at:
Posted by Dick Cole at 09:15
The venue will be in the lounge bar of the Roche Victory Hall Social Club in Victoria Road. The lounge bar is to the rear of the main hall and there is also ample parking at the site.
It will be a relatively informal morning event and will focus on the upcoming elections to the unitary authority and town & parish council elections across the whole of Cornwall.
It will give you a wonderful opportunity to meet some of our election candidates and to find out how you can help them in their campaigns.
The doors will open at 9.30 and the event will commence around 10.00. It is anticipated that the Conference will close before 12.30.
The agenda for the meeting will include:
- short speech by Party Leader Cllr Dick Cole.
- introduction of numerous MK candidates.
- discussion of MK pledges for the upcoming elections.
- question and answer session with the MK leadership team.
We hope you will be able to join us and we look forward to seeing many of you at this get-together.
But it won’t just be about talking. In the afternoon, we will be inviting MK members and supporters to join us in some leafleting sessions around the China Clay Area.
Posted by Dick Cole at 08:52
Thursday, 16 March 2017
Today’s announcement that the “Conservative Party has been fined a record £70,000 for breaking election expenses rules” shows that the rules around election spending need to be reformed.
The BBC has reported that:
“The party broke spending rules by moving campaigners and staff from its national headquarters to boost local party efforts and not properly declaring their hotel bills and expenses.”
“The Electoral Commission found the Conservative Party also failed to correctly report all expenditure on a national battlebus campaign, which helped David Cameron win a majority at the general election.”
“It has referred a possible criminal offence - of whether Simon Day, the Conservative Party's registered treasurer until April 2016, ‘knowingly or recklessly made a false declaration’ - to the Metropolitan Police.”
This links to the ongoing scandal about the “battlebus” which has been linked to at least two Cornish MPs.
It is clear that the Conservative Party spent more than the allowable limits in a number of marginal seats, because much money was spent on local campaigns but was classified as “national” expenditure.
But all the large Westminster political parties habitually target their expenditure into target seats but do it in such a way that the spendng is deemed part of their state-wide messaging.
In addition to the battle buses, and hotel costs of their volunteers, which only seem to appear in target seats, here are a few examples of things that are often not counted as “local expenditure.”
Massive billboards in prominent locations – which do not mention the name of the local candidate – are often deemed “non-local” by the parties. However, the Billboards tend to appear in the seats that particular parties think they could win – and not across the UK as a whole.
Likewise, the cost of election poster-boards which do not have the name of the candidate on them – but simply proclaim “Conservative,” “Labour” or “Liberal Democrat” – have, on occasion, also been classed as “national” expenditure, even though the signs inevitably appear in greater numbers in existing or target seats.
And targeted maildrops to individual voters from prominent members of political parties (such as Party Leaders, Prime Ministers or Chancellor of the Exchequer) also often forget to mention the actual names of the local candidates – allowing them to, ridiculously, be termed “national” expenditure.
This is all so wrong and we should all be pushing for really far-reaching and more comprehensive reforms to better control election expenditure, in order to ensure fairer elections in the future.
Posted by Dick Cole at 19:16
Monday, 13 March 2017
St Enoder Parish Council has been informed that the Post Office presently located within Kingsley Village will, as things presently stand, close at the end of April.
When the planning application was being dealt with, I sought guarantees that a Post Office would continue on the site. The company (CPG) which is in the process of purchasing the site agreed that this was acceptable to them and it was even written into the planning consent that: “A Post Office shall remain within the development.”
In addition, the present owners (Kingsley Developers) promised they would ensure that, during the construction of the new retail park, a local Post Office would continue at the eastern end of the Parish. Indeed, it was stated that there would be the provision of a temporary unit within the car parking area at Kingsley Village.
In recent days Amanda Kendall, the Clerk of the Parish Council, and I have had meetings with a representative from the main Post Office Ltd and the present owners, who we have been pressing to make good on the promises they made during the planning process.
The Post Office Ltd has told us that another option, in the short-term, would be “outreach.” This would consist of a temporary Post Office run from a venue such as a local village hall, and we are pushing for further information about how many hours such a service would be open.
We know how important the provision of a Post Office for the Fraddon / Indian Queens and St Columb Road area is, and we are putting a significant amount of pressure on all concerned to make sure that this local Post Office is not lost between now and when the new development is opened.
It is also the case that Post Office Ltd will be consulting on the future of this local Post Office in the near future. Please make sure that you impress on them just how important it is for the local area.
I will report back more when I have further confirmation on what will be happening.
Posted by Dick Cole at 08:49
Friday, 10 March 2017
Yesterday's publication of the Opinion from the Council of Europe (Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities), and the paucity of the Government response, has been covered in an article on the website of the Guardian newspaper.
It features comments from Cornwall Council, Merv Davey and myself.
The headline is: "British Government accused of neglecting Cornish culture" and it can be viewed online at: The Guardian
Hopefully the article will be featured in tomorrow's newspaper as well.
Posted by Dick Cole at 14:30
Thursday, 9 March 2017
I have lodged a petition on the UK Government's website, which objects to the creation of a cross-Tamar "Devonwall" parliamentary constituency. Please sign, and please share as widely as you can.
The petition can be located at:
The full wording of the petition is as follows:
No to a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” parliamentary constituency
The “Boundary Commission for England” is carrying out a review of the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies. The review follows guidelines in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act. This does not recognise Cornwall as a political unit and the BCE has proposed a cross-Tamar seat.
We demand that Westminster politicians amend the legislation to “Keep Cornwall Whole” and ensure parliamentary seats lie entirely within the historic boundaries of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
It should be noted that the Government has recognised the Cornish as a national minority through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and it is evident that the creation of a “Devonwall” seat would be in conflict with the articles of the Framework Convention.
Posted by Dick Cole at 18:24
The UK Government response to the Council of Europe Opinion stretches to over 9,700 words, but the Cornish are hardly referenced at all. The document also fails to address the recommendations drafted by the Advisory Group.
There is a single and inadequate section on the Cornish language which reads as follows:
“The Government recognises the importance to people in Cornwall of their proud history and their distinct culture and heritage, including the language.
“The Government has provided substantial funding of over £650,000 since 2010 to support the development of the Cornish language and is keen to work with Cornwall Council and its partners to encourage the further development of Cornish culture and heritage, complementing the devolution deal already reached with local partners.
“On 2 February 2017, the Government announced the launch of a Cornish Culture Fund of £100,000 to be paid to Cornwall Council which will encourage the further development of Cornwall’s distinct culture and heritage, including the language. This latest funding is in addition to Cornwall Council’s core spending power of £1.7 billion over four years, from which they can allocate resources to their local priorities, including the Cornish language.”
And it is telling that the section on broadcasting notes “each language included in the Framework Agreement” but then goes on to list “Welsh, Gaelic, the Irish language and Ulster-Scots” – but Cornish is ignored.
The full text was as follows:
“The new Charter commits the BBC to continued support for the minority languages of the UK with a clearer commitment to each language included in the Framework Agreement. This sets out the need for the BBC to continue to deliver output in Welsh, Gaelic, the Irish language and Ulster-Scots. There is a new commitment for the BBC to continuing their partnership with MG Alba for the next 11 years and arrangements for the continued partnership with S4C are also in place.”
To put it in polite terms, I am totally bewildered at the UK Government’s failure to meet their obligation with regard to the Framework Convention.
Posted by Dick Cole at 16:02
The fourth Opinion can be found on the Council of Europe’s website at: Council of Europe report
Listed below are the actual recommendations from the report:
Principal recommendation for immediate action:
Take all necessary steps to ensure access to the linguistic and cultural rights provided by the Framework Convention to the Cornish minority, in particular by reconsidering the decision to cut all funding for the Cornish language in view of the disproportionate impact such a measure will have on the delicate process of revitalising a minority language when access to other public financial resources is limited.
Further recommendations (the numbers refer to the paragraphs in the actual Opinion):
19. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to take all the legal, policy, and financial steps necessary to ensure access to the rights provided by the Framework Convention to persons belonging to the Cornish minority, irrespective of any constitutional set-up.
24. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to take the necessary measures to include the possibility to self-identify as Cornish, through a ‘tick-box’ in the next census, and to facilitate the expression of self-identification of any other group because data collection is relevant to the application of minority rights.
58. The authorities should reconsider their decision to cut all funding for the Cornish language in view of the disproportionate impact such a measure can have on the delicate process of revitalisation of a minority language when access to other public financial resources is limited.
59. The Advisory Committee also calls on the authorities to engage in a dialogue with representatives of the Cornish minority to ensure that cultural policy is developed in a way respectful of the traditions and identity of the minority.
96. The authorities should take resolute action to ensure that revision of the BBC Charter improves access to the media for persons belonging to national and ethnic minorities, increases funding, ensures a variety of programmes in minority languages, in particular the Irish language, involves minorities in their production and introduces BBC support for the Cornish language.
97. The Advisory Committee also calls on the authorities to establish an independent press regulator, responding to the criteria enunciated by the Leveson Report, and to ensure that training is regularly carried out and there is access to and presence in the media of persons belonging to minorities, including in supervisory organs.
109. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to take measures to improve the use and visibility of Cornish in public life, and it calls on the UK Government to reinstate immediately the previous level of funding and to consider the possibility of adopting a Cornish Language Act.
122. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to ensure that, in co-operation with minority groups, curricula, textbooks and other teaching materials reflect appropriately the ethnic diversity and historical presence of all national and ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom. Staff of all schools shall be effectively trained to accommodate diversity in the classroom and promote intercultural respect and understanding in schools.
128. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to renew and intensify their efforts to develop Irish-medium education and Irish language teaching. They should also engage in a dialogue with the Cornish minority to consider flexible and pragmatic solutions to allow for a more systematic provision of teaching in and of the Cornish language, as well as taking measures to develop the teaching of minorities’ first language.
136. The Advisory Committee reiterates its call to the authorities to enhance opportunities for persons belonging to national and ethnic minorities to participate in public affairs, and this should include measures that facilitate their engagement in broader political processes and mainstream political parties. Similarly, their recruitment into public service, in particular the police at central and local levels, should be promoted to send a clear message that diversity is valued across the UK.
137. The UK Government should continue the good dialogue with the three devolved administrations and ensure that negotiations progress in a transparent and democratic manner. It should establish permanent ongoing dialogue with Cornwall Council and the Cornish people through consultative and advisory mechanisms.
141. The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to intensify targeted initiatives to maximise the participation of persons belonging to national and ethnic minorities in employment, training and career progression, in line with the Vision 2020 targets, and to allocate sufficient funds.
146. The Advisory Committee urges the authorities to ensure that any administrative and constituency border reform follows an inclusive process, which takes into account the presence of persons belonging to a national minority in the territory, their meaningful participation and respect for their rights.
150. The Advisory Committee calls on the British-Irish Council to address actively the Cornish language in its work and to endeavour to involve the Cornwall authorities, in part by creating an institutional presence for Cornwall in the Council and by promoting bilateral relations between the Cornwall authorities and other language communities’ administrations.
Posted by Dick Cole at 13:43
MK WELCOMES COUNCIL OF EUROPE REPORT ON NATIONAL MINORITY STATUS, BUT CONDEMNS INADEQUATE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
The Opinion from the Council of Europe on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was published today. Printed below is the press statement issued by MK.
Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has welcomed the publication of an Opinion from the Council of Europe which includes a number of recommendations which relate to the Cornish as a National Minority.
The Opinion was produced by the relevant Advisory Committee from the Council of Europe which visited the United Kingdom in March 2016 to assess how the UK Government and other public bodies are complying with the articles of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
It is the first Opinion on the Framework Convention published since the Cornish were recognised as a national minority in April 2014.
MK Leader Cllr Dick Cole has described the findings of the report as being of “far-reaching significance.”
- Recommended that central government reconsider “the decision to cut all funding for the Cornish language in view of the disproportionate impact such a measure will have on the delicate process of revitalising a minority language when access to other public financial resources is limited.”
- Raised concerns that the present constitutional set-up mitigated against Cornish recognition as “Cornwall is grouped together with Devon and other counties in the Southwest region ...”
- Called for a Cornish “tick-box” on the 2023 census.
- Called for a “dialogue with representatives of the Cornish minority to ensure that cultural policy is developed in a way respectful” of its traditions and identity.
- Recommended that the BBC Charter be revised to safeguard broadcasting in minority languages and to “introduce BBC support for the Cornish language.”
- Suggested that the UK Government “consider the possibility of adopting a Cornish Language Act.”
- Recommended that the authorities “engage in a dialogue with the Cornish minority … to allow for a more systematic provision of teaching in and of the Cornish language.”
- Criticised the ongoing review into parliamentary constituencies at Westminster which would adversely affect the Cornish national minority.
- Called for the creation of an “institutional presence for Cornwall” at the British and Irish Council (which presently includes the representatives from the UK and Republic of Ireland, plus the governments of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.”
Also published today was the UK Government’s comment on the Opinion Report, but sadly it ignored all the recommendations which related to the Cornish.
Cllr Dick Cole stated:
“The UK Government’s recognition of the Cornish through the Framework Convention was a landmark decision, but the Opinion demonstrates that the Cornish are not being treated in the same manner as the other national minorities within the UK such as the Scots and the Welsh.
“The Opinion shows a great deal of empathy and understanding for the situation in Cornwall, for which we are grateful. But we are bewildered at the response from the UK Government, which fails to address the recommendations produced by the Advisory Group.
“We would challenge Cornwall’s MPs and the UK Government to show due respect to Cornish culture and identity by supporting all the recommendations contained within the Opinion, wholeheartedly and without reservation.”
Posted by Dick Cole at 09:55
Tuesday, 7 March 2017
Cornwall’s six Conservative MPs this week issued a press release which confirmed that the UK Government will be awarding Cornwall Council a £100,000 grant (spread over two years) to create a Cornish Culture Fund.
Strangely, this announcement was accompanied by quotes from Conservative MPs which were somewhat confused, contradictory and geared more to election sound-bites than support for Cornish identity.
Sarah Newton MP stated that “Cornwall has a distinct culture and heritage which is vital to our way of life as well as the local economy, jobs and tourism,” but felt the need to slam Cornwall Council by stating that culture monies had “not always been well spent by the council.”
Steve Double MP meanwhile launched an assault on the Cornish language by slamming the unitary authority for “spending money on teaching council officers to answer the phone in Cornish when only 300 people list it as their primary language,” which is a gross distortion of reality.
He then went on to demand that Cornwall Council “spend this money … sensibly on promoting Cornish culture in a tangible way” and “not on one of their madcap schemes or vanity projects, which they are so fond of.”
Not sure what this means and I do not see how the promotion of our national language can be dismissed as a vanity project!
It is all a bit distasteful, and Cornwall Council was right to have pointed out that the level of funding, while welcome, was less than adequate, and to have criticised the MPs for their negative attacks on Cornish identity,
At this time, it is worth pointing out that the Opinion from the Council of Europe on how the UK Government and other public bodies are meeting the articles of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (including the Cornish) will be published this week..
There will undoubtedly be a range of recommendations. And I would challenge Cornwall’s MPs to show they really care about Cornish culture and identity by supporting all the recommendations contained within the Opinion, wholeheartedly and without reservation.
Posted by Dick Cole at 22:31
Monday, 6 March 2017
Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall regularly lobbies the BBC and other broadcasters for fair coverage.
This includes our frequent request for the right to have a Party Election Broadcast (PEB) – something allowed to most other political parties. And yet each year, I receive a letter from the BBC’s Chief Adviser (Politics Editorial Policy & Standards) setting out the criteria for a PEB, which are unachievable for a Cornish political party.
I have just received the latest letter which informs me about the criteria for May’s council elections.
Basically, in order to get a PEB in England, Wales or Scotland, “a registered political party must stand candidates in a minimum of one sixth of the seats being contested …” in one of those “nations.”
In this process, the BBC does not respect Cornwall’s nationhood and has informed MK that it would need to field candidates in 395 different divisions in “England” to get a broadcast. There are only 122 divisions in Cornwall.
If you agree this is unfair, why not help MK in the upcoming local elections to get our message across.
Posted by Dick Cole at 21:04
Sunday, 5 March 2017
But there were also a number of marches in towns such as Falmouth, Penzance and Truro, in support of the National Health Service. This was part of a wave of events, which also took place across much of England.
These protests came at a very important time. The British Medical Association has made it clear that the NHS “is at breaking point” and desperately needs additional funding, while the crisis in social care is making the situation far worse.
Much has been written about the protests and, for me, one of the most telling comments came from environmentalist Larry Sanders.
Mr Sanders said that he was “unwilling to stand by and watch” while the UK Government dismantled “public healthcare.”
He further added that: “The government tells us there isn’t enough money but this isn’t true. We are the fifth richest country in the world – we have the money to stop our health service turning into a humanitarian crisis, and to care for people when they grow old: in hospitals, the community and homes. We have the money for a fully funded public health service. If Theresa May is to keep her promise to ‘work for all, not just the privileged few,’ she must not let the NHS and social care crumble on her watch.”
He is right. Politicians in Westminster need to prioritise the NHS in their political choices, but this is not happening.
Reports have already shown that the NHS will have a funding “black hole” of £22 billion within five years, while a prominent committee of MPs has demanded additional emergency funding for social care. Meanwhile, the STP reforms proposed for Cornwall would leave the local NHS underfunded by £246 million.
And yet, when faced with such massive problems, leading members of the UK Government continue to be dismissive of these concerns.
Just look at the attitude of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, who was interviewed in advance of this week’s budget statement. He acknowledged that councils were under significant pressure because of social care, but went on to make crass comments saying it was "not just about money" before confirming there would be no "spending sprees" in the near future.
This is unacceptable and shows that the NHS is not safe in the hands of Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and the present Westminster Government.
Posted by Dick Cole at 23:41
As Party Leader of Mebyon Kernow, I would like to wish everyone the very best on St Piran's Day!
It is fantastic that St Piran’s Day is becoming an increasingly important part of our calendar as, each year, more and more people come together in the name of our national saint to celebrate Cornwall’s unique identity.
Cornwall has a powerful national identity, reflected in the Cornish language, our music, dance, sport and a range of traditions – all of which are vitally important to our sense of place and the very well-being of our local communities.
And as we celebrate the distinctiveness of Cornwall today, I believe it is important that we also commit ourselves to taking political actions to make a stand for Cornwall and its people.
Such actions can take many forms. It could, for example, be about pushing for a more powers for Cornwall through our own National Assembly, supporting Cornish territoriality by opposing a Devonwall constituency, joining protests against the proposed £264 million cut to the local NHS through the STP, or joining campaigns to demand fair funding for Cornwall and its public services.
The important thing is that we do all we can to make Cornwall’s national interest the key political issue in the coming weeks, months and years.
Posted by Dick Cole at 10:53
Tuesday, 28 February 2017
An initial 12-week consultation was held in Autumn 2016 and almost 20,000 responses were received. These have now been published and can be viewed on their consultation website: www.bce2018.org.uk.
The “Boundary Commission for England” has stated the following on their website: “You had the chance to tell the BCE what you thought about their proposals in the first consultation; this is now your opportunity to say what you think about other suggestions made during that consultation. You can support counter-proposals, highlight issues with alternative ideas and say where you think BCE’s original proposals are still the best solution.”
The consultation last until 27th March.
As the leader of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall, I would appeal to everyone in Cornwall to redouble their efforts to oppose the creation of a cross-Tamar constituency.
We are fully aware that the Boundary Review process is dictated by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, which would inevitably lead to a cross-Tamar seat.
But the proposal for a “Devonwall” constituency would be a disaster for Cornwall, breaching our historic border which has existed for more than one thousand years.
Now is the time for everyone who believes Cornwall should be protected as a coherent national, cultural, political and economic unit, to lobby the Boundary Commission, local MPs and the UK Government, to show how strongly we feel about keeping Cornwall Whole.
And now is the time to increase the pressure on Westminster politicians to either modify the legislation to safeguard Cornwall’s territoriality or put an end to this Boundary Review in its entirety.
Please join us in this important campaign.
Posted by Dick Cole at 22:30
Monday, 27 February 2017
1. Council meetings
I have attended a range of formal meetings at Cornwall Council in the last month.
These included: Full Council (2), Planning Policy Advisory Committee (which stretched over two days) and an associated pre-agenda session, Housing PAC (which reviewed the Council’s housing strategy), Transport PAC, Constitution and Governance Committee, Electoral Review Panel (3) and associated workshop, a meeting of members from the China Clay Area, another meeting of the China Clay Area Network and an associated briefing on the proposed link road between the A30 and St Austell, a number of briefings (4) at New County Hall, national minority working group, group leaders’ meeting, a summit on the economic impacts of Brexit (held at the Royal Cornwall showground) and planning training on design.
As well as the meetings listed above, I had some informal meetings with council officers at the unitary authority, and I have attended three meetings of St Enoder Parish Council and a number of sessions relating to the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan.
2. Other meetings
I have also attended a meeting of the Board of ClayTAWC at St Dennis, of which I am Chairman, the AGM of Indian Queens Pit (as a trustee) and the South and East Cornwall Local Action Group,
3. St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan
Along with other members of St Enoder Parish, I have been very busy with the work relating to the distribution of the second consultation document for the Neighbourhood Plan (plus response sheet and freepost envelopes). I am grateful to everyone who helped to staple the questionnaires together (particularly on the evening of 17th January) and the actual deliveries. I also attended the three consultation events held at Indian Queens Victory Hall (Tuesday 31st January), Fraddon Village Hall (Tuesday 7th February) and Summercourt New Memorial Hall (Thursday 9th February).
4. Full Council; 21st February
Cornwall Council set its budget for 2017/2018 at this meeting, which included a 3.97% increase (of which 2.0% would represent an increase in funding for adult social care). A majority of councillors supported the budget, myself included.
As in the previous debate in November, the initial calculations showed that the unitary authority would raise an additional £14 million from council tax next year but, because of ongoing cuts from central government, the Council will, overall, end up with £2.5 million less to spend on services than in the previous year. The figures presented to this most recent meeting were somewhat different because of the rural 100% business rate retention pilot and that some highway maintenance capital grants had been redefined as revenue, but the underlying budgetary problems were the same which meant that a reasonable increase in council tax was necessary.
The budget also includes the decision to freeze car parking fees for the coming twelve months from April, which followed a campaign by my MK colleague Cllr Andrew Long and independent councillor Sally Hawken.
At this meeting, councillors also agreed their final submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) in terms of the number of elected members from 2021. The proposal for 99 councillors from the Electoral Review Panel was passed by 66 votes to 13, which I had originally proposed. An alternative size of 85, proposed by the Conservatives, was rejected by a similar margin.
I am uncomfortable with the reduction in councillors, but the LGBCE had made it clear that a reduction had to be made and that the Council’s initial suggested Council size of between 105 and 115 members would not be acceptable.
The Council’s documentation, and that submitted by third parties, will now be analysed by the LGBCE before it publishes its decision of the Council’s future size in May 2017. At this point, the focus will shift onto deciding the boundaries of the actual divisions.
5. Planning Policy Advisory Committee; 20th & 24th February
This meeting was the longest that I have ever chaired. It had a lot of business, which included an Allocations Development Plan Document (housing for the main towns), a DPD for Mineral Safeguarding, Community Infrastructure Levy, update on Environmental Growth Strategy, guidance notes on some Local Plan policies including infill & rounding off, holiday conditions, air quality and design, and more.
The meeting started at 10.00 on Monday 20th January and lasted until past 4.00, when we adjourned. The meeting was reconvened on the following Thursday, lasting from 10.00 to 1.15.
Specific matters of interest to residents of St Enoder Parish included the following:
- The Allocations DPD included the key employment site at Moorland Road, Indian Queens.
- The Mineral Safeguarding DPD included the aggregate plants in Melbur and Wheal Remfrey, as well as Treliver Farm in St Columb (where testing recently took place for a tin / wolfrum mine). I also asked that the safeguarding buffer around the working area of the china clay deposits be modified to remove as many domestic properties from it as possible.
- The guidance notes on infill & rounding off and holiday conditions were discussed but deferred for more work.
6. The threat to local Police Community Support Officers
The Police and Crime Plan (2017-2020) for the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary was published in early February.
Local press reports stated that the Police intended to recruit “100 new uniformed officers, 50 civilian investigators and 30 record-takers.” But the downside is that more than half of the Police Community Support Officers working across the force area will be “phased out” during the next four years.
I was particularly concerned to read a statement in the Cornish Guardian which stated that “no decision has yet been taken on which communities are likely to lose a PCSO” but that “large towns and cities are expected to see little change.” I immediately queried where this would leave communities, such as ours, which do not happen to be a large town or city?
Back in August 2016, I had attended a meeting of the China Clay Network which included a presentation from the Commissioner’s Strategy and Planning Manager. One of the key issues raised at the meeting was the importance of PCSOs in our area. There was a strong consensus that the local officers had been very effective in their work and had built strong working relationships with Parish Councils and other bodies. I was therefore very disappointed to see that our views had not been listened to.
I have written to Alison Hernandez and asked her to rethink her approach to PCSOs and community policing. The letter I have received back says that no decisions have been made about which communities will lose their PCSOs. However, there was no clear repudiation of the published comment about “large towns and cities.”
At the most recent meeting of the China Clay Area Network (Monday 20th February), we raised further concerns with Andrew White, the Chief Executive for the Police and Crime Commissioner. There was a strong consensus in support of the PCSOs and it was unanimously agreed to write to the Chief Inspector to express our concerns.
6. Biogas plant at Higher Fraddon
On 14th February, I met with staff at Cornwall Council for an update on what is happening with the various conditions relating to the consent for the biogas plant.
Here is a summary, which I hope will form a useful update.
Condition 1 states that the dome on the secondary digester should be reduced by 3.1m and this must be completed within nine months of the date of the planning permission (which was granted on 28th September 2016).
Greener for Life are in breach of condition 4 which states that: “Within four months of the date of this permission, a detailed ‘Construction Management Plan' … shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) for the reduction in height of the secondary digester and other necessary construction works including surface water drainage and the commissioning phase of the anaerobic digester plant.” This should have been sent in by the end of January, but this has not yet been received.
Condition 6 deals with surface water management. Information has been submitted and there have been detailed discussions with the Council’s drainage officer. She requested additional information earlier this month and the discussions continue.
Condition 14 deals with traffic movements and the unitary authority has been unhappy with what has been submitted by Greener for Life. The information that has been submitted is not consistent with what they said during the previous application and appeal processes. Discussions with the Council’s highway officers are ongoing.
Condition 16 covers the need for a vehicle management policy. The Council raised some concerns about the initial submission from Greener for Life and a revised scheme was received [on 14 February]. This has been referred to the Highways team for feedback.
Condition 17 meanwhile covers landscaping. The Council’s landscaping team felt the proposed scheme left a lot to be desired and requested a revised scheme about two weeks ago.
Finally, condition 20 relates to the odour management plan. A revised document has been received and has been referred to the Council’s Public Health and Protection team. This includes: “details of covered storage on site for all imported material for approval … covered storage means that all waste and biocrops imported by lorry shall be stored either inside the main reception building or that the outside storage bays where the biocrops are currently stored shall be roofed and walled.”
It is clear that Greener for Life have no intention of storing the “biocrops” in their main building and their latest odour management plan includes the details for the covering of the external storage area.
In addition, Greener for Life have submitted a new planning application to increase the number of “staff/other vehicle movements (Light Goods Vehicles) from 7 per week to an average of 17 staff/other vehicle movements (Light Goods Vehicles) per week (over a 4 week monthly period) to a maximum of 24 in any given week (Monday to Sunday) in the 4 week period.”
The reference number is PA17/01086 and the information can be viewed on the Council’s planning portal.
7. Pines Tip
As reported at the Parish Council’s Planning Meeting on 10th January 2017, the appeal into three proposed wind turbines on Pines Tip near Fraddon has commenced. I have completed the production of a detailed representation from the Parish Council in objection to this scheme, which had been strongly opposed by local people and was unanimously turned down by the unitary authority’s Strategic Planning Committee. The document ended up being 9,500 words in length.
8. Traffic matters
- Double yellow lines
As reported in my last monthly report, I wrote to the local Highway & Environment Manager from Cormac about the condition of double yellow lines. I received the following reply:
I can confirm that the faded yellow lines for St Columb Road are already on the countywide list of defects and I have asked the highway steward to inspect the bus stop markings adjacent to Victory Hall and Carworgie Way to confirm whether they still require attention. I have also asked him to confirm specifically where the double yellow lines are faded in Fraddon.
The faded markings and signs for the waiting restrictions are added to a countywide list of sites where lining and signs requires renewal. The sites are then ranked and prioritised by Cornwall Council's Civil Parking Enforcement team. Due to reducing budgets, we are unable to accommodate the renewal of all waiting restrictions that require attention across the county, therefore the sites must be prioritised accordingly. In the meantime, if we are able to include the renewal of the lining as part of any other highway work, we will endeavour to do so, which is how the double yellow lines on Chapel Road / top of The Drang, Indian Queens were renewed.
The objectives of Civil Parking Enforcement are: reducing congestion, to maximise safety and to support economic regeneration. With these objectives there are set priority routes of enforcement patrols based upon on the Council's sensitive route network and enforcement is concentrated on the following categories: the most sensitive urban towns, commuter network, extended seasonal network, local freight network and key bus corridors. These are routes that are vital for supporting and facilitating the County's economic regeneration and for addressing mounting congestion problems. Parking Services have limited resources and have to prioritise the routes which are key to supporting the economy and communities within Cornwall. Whilst there is concentration on the priority routes, when there is contact from the public that parking contraventions are becoming an issue and causing problems on routes not usually patrolled. Parking Services will respond (whenever resources are available) and sending officers to enforce. I have forwarded your recent email to them, for consideration.
With regards to the requests for new restrictions to be added to the highway network, I have the locations mentioned on a list for consideration when a budget becomes available. I regret there are currently no funds to carry out this type of improvement work from the maintenance budget since the Councillor highway improvement funding was removed.
I have since contacted the Civil Parking Enforcement team and sent them additional information. An officer will be visiting the Parish in the near future to review the extent of the defects with the lines, particularly in St Francis Road and around the Co-op.
- Additional funding
In October, central government granted £2.9 million to Cornwall Council for a range of a range of resurfacing, drainage and road marking schemes.
In our area, I can confirm that these ongoing works have included:
- Resurfacing of the road near Melbur blockworks.
- Improvement of white lines (mostly around junctions) at Fraddon, Indian Queens, St Columb Road and Summercourt.
- Drainage maintenance in a number of areas including around Retyn and Trevuzza, plus Highgate Hill and Moorland Road at Indian Queens.
- Road surfacing improvements
In addition, I have had it confirmed that Cornwall Council is planning further improvements in a number of locations, which are time-tabled in for the 2017/2018 financial year. These include the following:
- Carnego Lane, Summercourt.
- Road to Carvynick, Summercourt.
- Road from A3058 towards Goonabarn and Trendeal.
- Approaches to Halloon Roundabout, St Columb Road.
- Limited length of approaches to Highgate Roundabout, Indian Queens.
- Moorland Road, Indian Queens (around and to east of roundabout near industrial estate).
- The road through Trevarren Village.
- From Black Cross along Watery Lane.
- Trefullock Moor, Summercourt.
I have also raised concerns about a number of areas, where the road surface is showing significant wear. These include Carworgie Way, St Columb Road; Pocohontas Crescent, Indian Queens, and Toldish. The officers are continuing to monitor these areas and have confirmed in the latter two locations that they have been nominated for surface treatment but these works will not be programmed until a later date.
- HGVs along Moorland Road towards Ruthvoes
In addition, I have asked Cormac to investigate an upsurge in problems with large lorries which are mistakenly driving east along the old A30 into St Columb Parish, where they turning around and causing significant problems for local people. Enquiries are being made and I will report again when I get a further update from the local Highway & Environment Manager.
- HGVs and Barton Lane
The local Highway & Environment Manager is also investigating problems at the entrance to Barton Lane, where HGVs have damaged two properties in recent months and have also caused some congestion problems.
- Possible asset schemes
I have also requested further information about possible capital works that have been discussed in the past; namely, (i) problems with rising water on Chapel Road to the east of Queens Garage, (ii) drainage issues on the old A30 through Fraddon, and (iii) drainage works at entrance to Gaverigan Farm.
I have been told that the Cormac’s design group believe they have a solution for Chapel Road / Queens Garage and will be finalising the design in the next couple of weeks.
In Fraddon, the design group has been out to the site during very heavy rain and, at the moment, have recorded the system working well, with all gullies and channels in a clear state. I have been told that the scheme is still on the programme but it is a lower priority than the other schemes being progressed. Some further investigatory work is to be carried out to access the main drainage line through this area to better understand past problems. I have requested a meeting with this team to discuss these potential works in detail.
Works at Gaverigan are to be nominated for a scheme to be worked up and to take place in 2017/18 budget.
- Clodan Mews
I have again raised the very poor condition of garden area in Clodan Mews, St Columb Road. The local Highway & Environment Manager is waiting to hear back from their environmental team and I will update with a further report when I hear more.
9. Traffic on access to incinerator
There have also been complaints about the number of waste lorries backing up on the road leading to the access road in the early morning. I will be attending a meeting at the incinerator to discuss these problems this coming Wednesday.
10. Indian Queens School
In my last report, I recorded how I had met with the headteacher of the School, Jane Scown, in December 2016 to discuss a number of issues and had a further meeting with the appropriate officers at Cornwall Council on 9th January 2017. This related to specific proposals in the travel plan included a new footway between the School and the Harvenna Heights housing estate, and a further path from the School through the Mowie to the Carworgie Way / Halloon Avenue estate. I am chasing Cornwall Council, but have yet to hear back in detail from this.
However, the pine trees at Ocean View have been taken down as requested by local residents who had ongoing problems with the amount of pine needles that end up in their guttering and on their gardens.
It has taken over seven years, but on 10th February 2017, the ownership of the land known as the Kelliers, near Indian Queens, was transferred from Cornwall Council to St Enoder Parish Council.
The grant of £4,950 from the unitary authority to help fund the work to improve the Kelliers as a countryside area has also been received, and I look forward to the Council taking this project forward in the coming months.
12. Post Office at Fraddon
With the redevelopment of Kingsley Village into a retail park including a Marks & Spencers, I have made regular representations about the need for a Post Office in Fraddon. The developers have reaffirmed to me that they will have a Post Office in the new complex. I am also continuing to press the present owners to maintain a Post Office (albeit as a temporary unit in a car park area) during the construction period for the new shops, as promised during the planning application stage.
I will report back more when I have further confirmation on what will be happening.
During the last month, I have also helped numerous people with advice and guidance on a range of problems which have included housing and traffic concerns.
In addition, I have received a number of calls about an increase in anti-social behaviour in parts of the Parish and I have liaised on this matter with our local PCSOs.
Posted by Dick Cole at 20:46
Eco-Bos Development Ltd has submitted a host of additional information to Cornwall Council in relation to their proposal for 1,500 so-called “eco-community.”
The unitary authority is reconsulting local residents on this new paperwork, which can also be accessed on the Council’s planning portal under the existing reference of PA14/12186.
It is also my understanding that senior officers are pushing for the application to be referred to a meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee in late March.
Everyone knows that I have strongly opposed the scheme for many years, but it was nonetheless included in the Cornwall Local Plan. This, in effect, means the principle of the development is established.
On a related note, last week’s Planning Policy Advisory Committee discussed the content of “Allocations” Development Plan Document, which included a section on the “eco-community.” Though we were not in opposition to get it struck out – as it is allocated in the Local Plan – we were able to get a couple of slight changes to the document which will be referred to the Council’s Cabinet on 16th March.
In particular, the document stated that the Great Treverbyn Sky Tip would definitely be retained, and we have been able to also ensure that the smaller sky tips to the south of the site by Ruddle Pit (see above) will also be guaranteed protection.
Posted by Dick Cole at 20:12
Sunday, 26 February 2017
My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian will be as follows:
Last week, a majority of councillors backed the unitary authority’s budget for 2017/2018, which had been put forward by the Independent and Liberal Democrat administration. This included a 3.97% increase in council tax, of which 2.0% represented a specific increase in funding for adult social care.
I supported the increase, as did my MK colleagues, due to the ongoing reduction in funding due to central government’s continuing austerity measures and the increasing cost of providing local services.
Indeed, the pressures on the finances are such that none of the other political groups, including the main Conservative opposition, felt able to put forward an alternative budget.
Local Tories have instead preferred to criticise individual spending decisions, mostly through the media. Some council decisions might be unwise, such as the proposed recruitment of a Head of Communications and Engagement at £70,000, but the parlous state of our public finances should not be denied.
I find it frustrating that the some local Conservatives seem to be continuously condemning the present administration for “pleading poverty for vital everyday services” while suggesting that loads of money is being wasted on their “own vanity projects.”
What a contrast to the leader of Devon County Council, who will be defending his record as leader of a Conservative-run authority at May’s elections. He has hit out at his own government’s approach to the funding of local government as “absolutely a shambles.”
And what a contrast to the chairman of the Local Government Association, also a Conservative, who has condemned the latest funding settlement from central government. This will not provide any new funding for councils in 2017/18 and he has stated that this would leave a local government funding gap of £5.8 billion by 2020, pushing many authorities “perilously close to the financial edge.”
Cornwall Council’s budget for the coming year was first debated in November, when calculations showed that the unitary authority would raise an additional £14 million from council tax but, because of cuts in grants, the Council would, overall, end up with £2.5 million less to spend on services.
The figures presented to this most recent meeting were somewhat different because of the rural 100% business rate retention pilot and the redefinition of some highway maintenance capital grants as revenue, but the underlying budgetary problems were broadly the same. This meant that elected councillors needed to come together to safeguard the council’s finances.
It is indeed a very difficult time for Cornwall, especially with central government’s announcement that Cornwall is only going to receive £18 million from the latest Growth Fund, when £127 million had been requested.
This is a disaster for Cornwall. It shows that the investment priorities of the Westminster Parliament are failing Cornwall and surely local politicians should be uniting to demand fair funding for Cornwall.
Posted by Dick Cole at 22:15
Well done to everyone involved with the Cornish language festival presently take place in Penzance.
Yesterday’s Conference “The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the European Charter and the Cornish Language” was a splendid event, and it was great to meet up with the Council of Europe’s Dr Tove Malloy.
Dr Malloy chaired the Advisory Committee group of experts when they visited Truro in March 2016 to consider whether the UK Government and other public bodies were adhering to the various articles in the treaty. With the opinion report being only days from publication, it was certainly helpful to hear Dr Malloy’s perspective on the Framework Convention and the issues affecting the Cornish national minority.
All the presentations were well thought-out and all credit must go to Angela Angove, Gail Bishop, Merv Davey, Merryn Davies-Deacon, Andrew George, Jane Howells, Alan Kent, Sarah Tresidder and Mark Trevethan, plus the compere Adam Killeya.
Posted by Dick Cole at 22:05
Tuesday, 21 February 2017
My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian publicises the upcoming Cornish Language Festival in Penzance and gets a bit political. It will be as follows:
Cornish culture has certainly been in the headlines with the disagreements over the bid for Truro (Cornwall) to be European city of culture in 2023.
And in this week’s column, I would like to focus on the fantastic news that the charity Cornish Quest is hosting a Cornish Language Festival in Penzance between 25th February and St Piran’s Day.
Funded thanks to a successful application to the National Lottery’s “Celebrate” programme, the festival includes a host of lectures, workshops, discussion groups and walks. Performances will include the play “Trevithick” with the amazing team of Ed Rowe (Kernow King) and Mary Woodvine, plus a concert with acclaimed group The Changing Room, who often sing in Cornish.
At the heart of the festival will be a conference this coming Saturday, which will focus on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
This is a very timely intervention.
Readers of the Cornish Guardian will undoubtedly recall that, in April 2014, the UK Government bowed to years of pressure and recognised the Cornish people as a national minority through the Council of Europe – a separate body to the European Union and not affected by Brexit.
In March 2016, the relevant Advisory Committee from the Council of Europe visited the UK to assess how central government, local government and public bodies were adhering to the various articles of the treaty.
The keynote speaker at the Conference will be Dr Tove Malloy, from the Advisory Committee’s group of experts.
The Committee’s opinion report has been drafted and is currently with the UK Government, which is producing its own response to the report.
It is anticipated that this document will be formally published later this month, and many people are assuming that it will be critical of the UK Government’s approach to Cornwall and its national identity, culture and language.
It was shocking that, just after the Advisory Committee had visited Cornwall, funding for the Cornish language was cancelled. This was contrary to both the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and the Framework Convention, to which the Government was a signatory.
And when challenged they said Cornwall Council could “allocate the necessary resources … if they wish.” Yet when the draft opinion report from the Council of Europe was sent to Westminster, it was only shared with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – not the unitary authority in Cornwall!
This lack of co-operation is concerning, though the Department of Communities and Local Government has promised to send extracts of the draft opinion report to Cornwall and recently announced a Cornish Culture Fund through which £100,000 would be spent over the next two years – even though that is much, much less than the language funding they previously stopped.
The UK Government seems more than a little confused about its approach to Cornish culture and I am very interested to hear Dr Tove Malloy has to say.
Posted by Dick Cole at 21:48