Thursday, 28 November 2013

My monthly report to St Enoder Parish Council

At the November meeting of St Enoder Parish Council, I presented my monthly report as a Cornwall Councillor. It covered the period 19th October – 22nd November and was as follows:

1.         Council meetings

I have attended a range of meetings over the last month. These included: Full Council; China Clay Area Network; Environment, Heritage and Planning Portfolio Advisory Committee (PAC) (and an associated informal meeting plus two pre-agenda briefings/meetings); Finance and Resources PAC; Strategic Planning (2) and associated technical briefing on the proposed Coyte Farm development near St Austell; Transport and Waste PAC (and an associated informal meeting).

As the Chairman of the Environment, Heritage and Planning PAC, I also attended the launch of the Local Nature Partnership.

2.         Other meetings

I also attended a range of meetings about the future of LEADER funding in the period 2015-2020. I chaired a Community-led Local Development working group (CLLD) and attended two Local Action Group meetings, a meeting with DEFRA officials in Bristol and a further DEFRA consultation in Truro.

Local meetings attended included Indian Queens Victory Hall Committee, Indian Queens Pit Association, and the Board of ClayTAWC (the Training and Work Centre for the China Clay Area).

3.         Improvements at Indian Queens Primary School

In my last report, I informed members how investment in eight Cornish schools (including Indian Queens Primary School) though the Government’s Targeted Basic Need Programme had turned out to be much less than anticipated.

Discussions are ongoing about the shortfall in funding for the necessary improvements at Indian Queens Primary School, and how the Council can move forward. I have been in regular contact with the headteacher at the school and senior officers at the Council.

When I have further news to report, I will let members of the Parish Council know as soon as possible.

4.         Budget cuts

There have been ongoing meetings to address the budget pressures facing Cornwall Council, caused by massive reductions in funding from central government and rising costs. The Council anticipates making cuts of £44 million from its 2014-2015 budget, based on the assumption of a 1.97% increase in council tax. At October’s Full Council, there was a proposal to investigate the possibility of a 6% increase (that would need to go to a referendum). I supported this proposal, but it was heavily defeated.

5.         New Chief Executive

At the end of October, Cornwall Council appointed Andrew Kerr as its new Chief Executive. The Mebyon Kernow group was not represented on the panel, and we received no official briefings about the interview process or the reasons for the recommendation that Mr Kerr be appointed. At the Council meeting, I therefore declined to support the ratification of his appointment at Full Council by abstaining.

6.         Indian Queens Victory Hall

I would like to thank the Parish Council for supporting the Indian Queens Victory Hall Committee with a short-term cashflow loan to allow them to purchase 119 new chairs and 9 tables, and access grant funding from the Clay Country Local Action Group increased. The chairs and tables have been purchased, they are already in use, and the final claim made to the Clay Country LAG. The loan from the Parish Council will therefore be repaid within the next five weeks.

7.         Continuing pressure

I am continuing to chase up on a number of issues. This includes flooding issues, the ongoing pressure on South West Water to address the surcharge of waste from the foul water sewer at Trevarren, road markings and the planned surface dressing through Indian Queens and Fraddon, as well as the adoption of the open space at Lindsay Fields, Fraddon. I am disappointed that the planned tidy-up of the entrance into Heather Meadow has not yet happened and I have contacted the necessary officers to seek assurances that the work will be done in the near-future.

8.         Youth Club

Along with Cllr Bunyan, I met with Carol Fitzpatrick of Cornwall Council on 21st October to discuss what support the unitary authority would be willing to give to St Enoder Parish to run a youth club for teenagers. I am pleased that the St Enoder Youth Club will be reconvened on Wednesday 27th November with the support of two youth workers from Cornwall Council. I hope that we will be able to work with Cornwall Council to make this initiative a success into the long-term.

9.         Public Inquiry into closure of New Road, Fraddon

Since the last meeting of the Parish Council, I have attempted to assist the two main parties (Kingsley Developers and Julian and Son) in coming to a compromise based around a new access road to Mr Julian’s premises. I have offered to be a go-between, but I cannot report that any progress on this issue has been made in advance of the Inquiry timetabled for later this week.

10.       Affordable housing

On October 28th, I was very pleased to be able to officially open the new(ish) Ocean Housing affordable housing scheme at Mowhay Meadows and Martha’s Meadow in Fraddon. As well as performing the ribbon cutting duties, I also judged a well-contested pumpkin carving competition.  

11.       Global day of action against incineration

I also attended a demonstration at New County Hall in support of zero waste. A motion challenging Cornwall Council’s approach to waste management was debated at a recent PAC, which I attended and I also contributed to the debate.

12.       Remembrance Day

I was privileged to lay a wreath at St Enoder Churchtown, along with Cllr Bennett who laid a wreath on behalf of the Parish Council.

As we look forward to 2014 – the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War – I would like to inform members of this Council that I have started work on a book about our area and the First World War.

I am researching the lives of servicemen from Fraddon, Indian Queens, St Columb Road and Summercourt who were killed or died in the Great War, and whose names are remembered on local war memorials. I am also researching the narrative of how thirteen men, who worked at the Trewheela China Clay Works near Fraddon, collectively joined the Territorial Force of the Royal Engineers in August 1914.

13.       Inquiries

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

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