Monday, 28 January 2019


In my article in this coming week’s Cornish Guardian, I have written about the quarter of a million pounds wasted on efforts to promote a police merger. It will be as follows:

In last week’s newspaper, I defended one of the recent investment decisions of the “Devon and Cornwall” Police Force. It related to the erection of two flagpoles at the Bodmin offices, one of which will fly the flag of St Piran, and I very much stand by what I wrote.

But before the article was even published, it was announced that the failed attempt to merge the local constabulary with that of Dorset had cost a quarter of a million pounds.

The Police & Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, has argued that “it was right and proper that we explored in detail the implications of a potential merger.” She has spoken of how the collapse of the initiative had the “positive effect” of freeing up thirty senior officers who are “now able to focus on frontline policing once again” as that is “where the public want them.”

But she continues to miss the point that the public did not want thirty police officers wasting their time on an ill-judged merger in the first place.

The decision to spend £250,000 in such a manner simply cannot be defended. It was a ridiculous waste of money, and Ms Hernandez and her advisors need to refocus on policing rather than bureaucratic reorganisations.

But it seems that changes are still afoot, though not in a very public manner.

Along with many other people, I have just received a letter from the GMB union, which states that the “entire forensic capacity” of the “Devon and Cornwall” Constabulary is being transferred to the Dorset Force with “no consultation with affected communities.”

The letter adds that “victims of crime will have seen the reduction in service provision already, with many instances of Scenes of Crime Officers not attending crime scenes they previously would have done. Combined with the fear that this process is designed to drive down wages of a highly professional body of people, you will easily imagine how low morale has become. We don’t feel this vital policing service can be used to cut costs.”

In addition, they are challenging Ms Hernandez to reverse this decision and safeguard “local control over a crucial frontline service.”

I find this whole situation to be very worrying and I feel now is the time for the Chief Constable and the Commissioner to give Cornish residents a guarantee that their policing service will not be further denuded.

For anyone who is interested, the Commissioner is also running an online poll about council tax levels for 2019/2020. It can be found at:

Thursday, 24 January 2019

My latest report to St Enoder Parish Council

My latest report was presented to St Enoder Parish Council on Tuesday. It covered the time period from 28th November 2018 to 20th January 2019. It was as follows:

Listed below are some examples of the work that I have undertaken during the last two months.

1. Council meetings and related activities

I attended a number of formal meetings at Cornwall Council, which included Full Council (and two pre-meeting briefings), the Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Electoral Review Panel and training session for upcoming community governance review, Group leaders’ meetings (2), China Clay Network, meetings about a regeneration strategy for the working group on national minority status (2), the “Positive Parking Review” panel, member briefing sessions on the unitary authority’s investment programme and the Community-led Local Development funding programme.

In the same period, I have attended a significant number of informal meetings with council officers and others, as well as three meetings of St Enoder Parish Council.

2. Other meetings and activities

I also attended meetings of the Leader Local Action Group for South and East Cornwall, the Community-led Local Development Local Action Group for South and East Cornwall (Vice-chairman) and Indian Queens Pit (trustee).

It has certainly been a varied few weeks. Last week, through my work with the Cornwall Heritage Trust, I helped out with the filming of a short film about St Piran. I even got to play the part of “Boar” who, along with “Badger” and “Fox” got to welcome the saint to Cornish shores.

3. Neighbourhood Plan

It is a very important time for the development of planning policies in St Enoder Parish.

I am pleased to have worked with other parish councillors to complete a “pre-submission” draft of a Neighbourhood Plan for our parish. The Plan has been produced to complement other planning documents such as the UK Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which came into force in 2012, and Cornwall Council’s Local Plan, which was adopted by the unitary authority in 2016.

It has also been based on feedback that we have received from local residents and we believe that it sets out a positive vision for the villages of Fraddon, Indian Queens, St Columb Road and Summercourt, as well as surrounding rural areas.

The document can be viewed on the Parish Council website and a six week consultation, which is taking place between Monday 7th January and Monday 18th February.

Comments should be sent to the Parish Clerk at St Enoder Parish Council, Foxleigh, Treviglas Lane, Probus, Truro, TR2 4LH, or via,

After final modifications, the Plan will then be submitted to Cornwall Council for a further round of consultation. It will then be reviewed by a government inspector and will go to a referendum of local residents.

4. Thomas Playing Field

Helping the Parish Clerk, Amanda Kendall, and Cllr Mark Kessell to monitor the installation of the new play equipment at the Thomas Playing Field at Summercourt has taken a lot of time. But I am pleased that the final works have been done and we are awaiting a visit from an inspector. Once he has confirmed it is all in order, the playing field will be re-opened.

Thank you also to everyone who helped with the turfing that was carried out on 11th January.

5. First World War project

In the last few weeks, I have helped to sell copies of the Parish Council’s book about the 73 local men who lost their lives in the First World War. I am most grateful for all the positive comments we have received about the publication and pleased to be able to report that eighty copies have been gifted to local libraries, local archives and regimental museums.

6. Traffic issues

In my last report, I gave an update on the range of key traffic matters. It is my intention to give a further update in my February report. However, I can confirm that Cornwall Council has carried out improvements at the entrance to Gaverigan Farm which regularly flooded.

7. Electoral Review Panel

The Local Government Boundary Commission (LGBCE) has published the final boundaries for Cornwall Council divisions at the 2021 elections. I can confirm that, at the next election, the local division will cover the parishes of St Enoder and St Dennis and, based on electorate forecasts, it will have the greatest number of voters of any of the new seats.

The Electoral Review Panel at Cornwall Council, of which I am vice-chairman, has now been tasked to carry out a “community governance review,” which will include requests for changes to parish boundaries and other democratic arrangements.

8. Cornish tickbox campaign

I have been heavily involved with the campaign for a Cornish tickbox on the 2021 census but, in December, the UK Government published a White Paper which did not recognise the Cornish case. I am working with a number of campaigners to put pressure on the UK Government to reverse its present position.

9. Newsletter

I have started to distribute the latest edition of my parish newsletter, which I bring out every six months or so. Content within this latest edition includes information about the Neighbourhood Plan consultation and the promotion of the Parish Council's book about the First World War.

It has been a slow start because of the weather, but I hope to get around the majority of the Parish by the end of this month. Any help with the newsletters would be much appreciated.

10. Inquiries

During the last two months, I have helped numerous people with guidance on a range of issues.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Some thoughts on a tourist tax

The possibility of a local tourist tax is a regular topic for political discussion. Many councils, including the unitary authority in Cornwall, continue to ponder the benefits of using the mechanism to raise additional monies to support cash-strapped public services and have lobbied central government on this issue.

As far back as 2011, Cornwall Council’s corporate director for the economy, Tom Flanagan, attended a Westminster select committee and told MPs that a modest one-pound-a-night tourist tax could raise £26 million a year.

But there has also been considerable opposition to such a proposal. I have seen it described as “dangerous” and some people have expressed concern that it would negatively impact on tourism.

Interestingly however, a formal consultation in Edinburgh has just shown significant public support for a £2 tourist tax for the Scottish capital, and the local council is lobbying the Scottish Parliament to allow them the powers to be able to set a levy on tourist accommodation. Reports state that more than 2,500 residents and businesses responded to the consultation, which showed “90% of residents are supportive of a tourist tax, while 51% of Edinburgh accommodation providers also support it.”

Adam McVey, the leader of Edinburgh Council leader has welcomed the “huge swell of support for a tourist tax … with residents and all types of business backing a scheme that is fair and sustainable.” It is estimated that between £11.6 million and £14.6 million per year could be raised and invested in the Edinburgh area.

Alison Evison, the president of the Council of Scottish Local Authorities has meanwhile described the outcome of the consultation as “important news” and “hard evidence of an overwhelming appreciation of the potential benefits of a discretionary tax.”

In the context of Cornwall, there are three things which I think most people would accept to be true.

The first is that public services in Cornwall are greatly under-funded and, as a consequence, Cornwall Council, the Police, the local National Health Service and other public bodies are struggling.

The second is that, because of the UK Government’s austerity measures, Cornish residents are paying higher levels of council tax but getting less in return.

And thirdly, that the population of Cornwall increases massively in the summer months and this does have an impact on the provision of public services, which central government fails to properly recognise in its funding arrangements.

It seems to me that, unless the UK Government delivers fair funding for Cornwall, we have a duty and a responsibility to explore such options as a tourist tax to help safeguard local services all-year-round.

This is my column in this week's Cornish Guardian.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

A Neighbourhood Plan for St Enoder Parish

In my time as a local councillor, I have been involved with a large number of planning matters, both large and small.

Sometimes it can be a positive experience, supporting proposals of benefit to the local community. But it can often be so frustrating, especially when developments are consented, which have been strongly opposed by local communities and their elected representatives.

I have campaigned for many years for all aspects of planning to be devolved to Cornwall but, at the present time, it is still largely driven by the UK Government which first launched its National Planning Policy Framework in 2012.

That was certainly the case when Cornwall’s unitary authority was preparing its Local Plan, and many of the debates focussed not on what was appropriate for Cornwall but on what central government and it’s inspectors would allow.

Many will remember how a government inspector dictated that the overall housing target had to be increased.

But one aspect of the present planning system, which has my full support, are Neighbourhood Plans. These can be produced by parish councils / community groups and can set out planning policies for their local areas.

The UK Government claims that “neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area … they are able to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, have their say on what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided …”

It remains my view that this statement somewhat over-eggs what Neighbourhood Plans have the power to do, as they have to be in compliance with other “higher level” documents such as the National Planning Policy Framework and the Cornwall Local Plan.

But that said, Neighbourhood Plans can do a lot to safeguard what is important to local communities and that is why I have been involved with the team pulling together a Plan for my home parish.

I am pleased to be able report that St Enoder Parish Council has completed a “pre-submission” draft and it has just been published for a six-week consultation, which will last until Monday 18th February.

For those interested in what we have produced, the Plan can be viewed on the Council’s website at:, and anyone who would like a hard-copy can request one from our Clerk at St Enoder Parish Council, Foxleigh, Treviglas Lane, Probus, Truro, TR2 4LH.

This is my article in today’s Cornish Guardian.