Tuesday, 26 March 2019

My latest monthly report

At tonight's meeting of St Enoder Parish Council, I presented my latest monthly report. It covered the period 24th February – 24th March 2019 and was as follows:

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

1. Council meetings and related activities

I attended a number of formal meetings at Cornwall Council, which included Full Council, Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Central Sub-Area Planning Committee, China Clay Area Network, Electoral Review Panel (plus two meetings with officers about the Community Governance Review for local parishes), plus member briefings on a heritage strategy and the Community Governance Review. In addition, I went to a briefing about the new arrangements for “regional” planning teams within the unitary authority.

In the same period, I attended a significant number of informal meetings with council officers and others. These have covered a diverse range of topics including planning matters, housing policy and local traffic issues. (see below).

In addition, I attended two meetings of St Enoder Parish Council and one meeting of the working group for the St Enoder Parish Neighbourhood Plan (see below).

2. Other meetings and activities

I also took part in meetings of ClayTAWC – Clay Area Training Work Centre (chairman), the Leader Local Action Group for South and East Cornwall and the Community-led Local Development Local Action Group for South and East Cornwall (vice-chairman).

3. Planning matters

3.1 Neighbourhood Plan

The consultation into the “pre-submission” draft of the Neighbourhood Plan for St Enoder Parish initially ended on Monday 18th February. However, following comments from a local business, an extension to the consultation was agreed until 11th March.

In total, twelve responses were received from local residents, six from statutory agencies and ten from local landowners. The working group has had an initial meeting to review the feedback received and further work will be carried out in the next few weeks. A senior planning officer at Cornwall Council is also looking at the document for the working group.

3.2 Carvynick Holiday Park

At the Central Planning Committee on 18th March, planning permission was granted for 38 holiday units and an office/leisure building, with access, layout and scale with appearance and landscaping reserved. The applicants did not wish a holiday condition to be imposed on the 38 units, seeking them to be unfettered residential properties, but this was not supported at the meeting.

I supported the position of the case officer. In her report, she stated that any proposal for housing does not comply with policies 3 and 21 of the Cornwall Local Plan as Carvynick is not within or immediately adjoining the settlement of Summercourt.

An appeal on a similar scheme at Carvynick, that had previously been refused by the unitary authority, is with the Planning Inspectorate and will be assessed in the coming weeks.

3.3 Extension to Indian Queens Cemetery

As I noted in my last monthly report, the preparation of the planning application for the extension to Indian Queens Cemetery is one of my priorities at the moment. I will be meeting with a senior planning officer on Tuesday (26th March) to discuss what needs to be in the application.

3.4 Housing SPD

At the most recent meeting of Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 12th March, a proposed new draft of a Housing Supplementary Document was discussed. I raised a significant number of points of detail and attended a subsequent follow-up meeting to ensure these issues were properly reflected in the final document which will soon be going out to consultation.

4. Traffic issues

I met with the local Cormac officer, Rachel Tatlow, on 7th March to discuss a range of traffic issues. These were as follows:

- Surfacing works

In the last couple of months, surfacing works have been undertaken at Trevarren and on the A392 (near junctions with Atlantic Reach, Tresithney and Trugo). With regard to the works on the A392, I have raised concerns about the excessive damage to verges along Barton Lane, which was caused by diverted traffic when the main road towards Quintrell Downs was closed.

Works are also ongoing on the road from the A3058 (St Austell Street) to Goonabarn, to the south of Summercourt.

The following surfacing works are timetabled for the next few months:

- A3076 (from Mitchell and past Gummows Shop, which is partially along the St Enoder Parish boundary): provisional date is 10th-13th June.

- A39 Highgate to Halloon: provisional date is 17th-27th June

Other locations are on the work programme, but not with dates as yet, as follows:

- Watery Lane near Black Cross

- B3275 near Melbur Blockworks

- Trefullock Moor.

- Carworgie Way and Halloon Avenue, St Columb Road

- Pocohontas Crescent and Princess Park, Indian Queens

- The Drang, Indian Queens

- Community Network funding

I have previously reported how I am keen for the Parish Council to be able to use this funding scheme to purchase a mobile speed camera for the local area and carry out calming works outside Summercourt School. We discussed the issues around the running, maintenance and other costs of the camera, as well as my unhappiness about the need for a “feasibility study” costing £7,000 for any calming works outside Summercourt School.

I have been promised further feedback and I have requested a meeting with the Cabinet member with responsibility for transport.

- Improvements along A3058 (north of Summercourt)

Last year, I reported that Cornwall Council had been successful in its bid to the Government’s Safer Roads Fund and has been allocated a total of £1.1 million to carry out safety works to the road between the crossroads at Summercourt and Quintrell Downs.

The funding will not be made available until 2020/2021 but work has commenced on scoping what works will be funded. I have already made representations that works need to be carried out within the actual village of Summercourt and a meeting to discuss the nature of the interventions will be held next week.

- Other issues with A3058 (St Austell Street)

I have again raised concerns about known incidents of localised flooding on the A3058 and issues with ditches, which have been brought to my attention by local residents. Ms Tatlow has promised to investigate the concerns raised.

- Church Lane

St Enoder Parish Council maintains the ditch in Church Lane by the Mission Church, even though it is not in the Council’s ownership. On 9th November, Cllr David Hearl, the Parish Clerk and the Parish handyman put dye down the road drain system on Pocohontas Crescent and the top end of St Francis Road. This confirmed that all the road water is going into the ditch in Church Lane and, as a consequence, the ditch is being worn away.

I soon after visited the site with Ms Tatlow and she agreed to look into the situation. I have received the following update by email:

Following our site visit to the ditch at St Francis Road opposite Victory Hall, I’ve reviewed the history of the site, and obtained legal advice. The letter below was sent to the clerk to St Enoder in 2006, and outlines the situation which still stands in the present day.

The authority carried out some clearance work at the time as a gesture of goodwill, but explained that further works would be for the responsibility of the landowner or parish council.

I refer to my letter dated 9th August 2006 and I have now received a response from our Legal section. The situation is that although the water is from the County Council's roads [and] runs along the ditch beside the private lane, the County Council is not responsible for the maintenance of the ditch.

Similarly there is no documentary evidence to suggest that the County Council constructed the chambers or laid the drainage pipe to the outfall and therefore the County Council cannot be held responsible for the flooding.

It is noted that after one of the heavy rainfalls a gully close to the area of flooding on the private road had been cleared because the debris was lying beside it.

Having said this I am prepared, as a gesture of goodwill, to arrange for the ditch to be cleared and for the low section of embankment to be rebuilt to prevent water leaving the ditch and flowing down the road to the low spot. Once this work has been carried out I think the responsibility for the maintenance of the ditch, the chambers and the pipe will fall to either the landowners or the Parish Council

It is clear to me that the Parish Council needs to make further representations on this matter.

- Request for “yellow box” markings at Carnego Lane junction at Summercourt crossroads.

In terms of the above request, I received the following reply:

Further to the request for a yellow box marking … I’m advised by our road safety engineer that it wouldn’t be appropriate to change the KEEP CLEAR marking for a yellow box marking. Yellow box markings are generally marked across the whole width of a junction (exit as well as entry lane). At the location in question, it would prevent anyone getting to the stop line here.

It is thought that the majority of occasions when a vehicle wishes to turn right into Carnego Lane will be when both A3058 arms of the junction are simultaneously ‘green’ and they would have to wait for oncoming traffic anyway, i.e. the perceived ‘congestion’ is not due to stationary traffic at the junction, but to oncoming moving traffic unaffected by markings.

In conclusion the Keep Clear marking is the appropriate one for this situation.

I also raised concerns about damage to the verge of Carnego Lane, but the highway steward visited and took the view that none of the verge / hedge damage was unreasonable.

- Other issues

I am also continuing to follow up the below matters:

- Safety issues at a number of locations including Toldish and the school drop-off point on the Drang.

- Traffic management plan for Indian Queens School agreed as part of the planning consent for additional classrooms (which I am also following up with the Education team at County Hall).

- Parking problems at Penhale.

- Double yellow lines

In addition, I am following up on my request that faded double yellow lines are repainted.

5. Police cover in St Enoder Parish

As reported in my last monthly report, I wrote to Inspector David Meredith about the loss of a local PCSO. He has replied and stated that the officer will not be replaced because of police cuts.

I am however pleased that Inspector Meredith will be attending the next meeting of the Parish Council on 26th March.

6. New bus contract

Cornwall Council is presently scoping the content of the bus new contract for the period 2020 onwards and I have already met with the team to discuss what might be provided through St Enoder Parish. They have promised to keep me informed as they develop the various timetables and I will, in turn, let people know what is proposed as soon as I have news.

7. Visit of Indian Queens School to New County Hall

There are many positive aspects to my role as a Cornwall Councillor and, for the third year running, I was able to welcome children from Indian Queens School to County Hall for a visit. Two classes came to the council chamber (along with a visit to the Shelterbox centre) and asked lots of probing questions, ranging from local traffic issues, to climate change and Brexit!

8. Inquiries

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

Survival International

In last week's Cornish Guardian, my article was about Survival International, which was founded in 1969. The article was as follows:

As a child, I was fascinated by the history and culture of Native Americans, as well as how they lived in modern times.

On my seventh birthday, my parents bought me a Hamlyn book called “Spotlight on the Wild West” and a couple of years later, in 1976, thanks to the encouragement of my wonderful teacher Molly Merkett, I gave a presentation in school assembly to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Looking back, I am quite heartened to recall that I took the side of the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho – and not General George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry.

This interest in tribal peoples has remained with me throughout my adult life and for more than two decades I have been a supporter of Survival International, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

The catalyst to the foundation of this group was an article titled “Genocide” in the Sunday Times on 23rd February 1969. Written by Norman Lewis, it was based on the

Figueiredo Report which detailed atrocities committed against Brazilian Indians in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s including “mass murder, torture, enslavement, bacteriological warfare, sexual abuse, land theft and neglect.”

The article was followed by a letter from Francis Huxley and Nicolas Guppy calling for something to be done. A subsequent meeting was held in the London flat of Robin Hanbury-Tenison and Survival International soon after came into being.

The previous year, Robin (who lives on Bodmin Moor) had been on an expedition up the Orinoco in a hovercraft. Interviewed a few years ago, he recalled how he spent much time there with Conrad Gorinsky, an ethnobotanist and research scientist from Bart's Hospital.

“We travelled up some smaller rivers together to try and reach the tribes to consult them about potentially therapeutic plants. But there was already word coming out of Brazil about the massacres of the Indians that were exposed later by Norman Lewis, and we talked about this endlessly, and it was really Conrad's inspiration that there really ought to be an organisation to protect these people. Libraries of information are lost each time the last shaman dies in a tribe, and a tribe a year was dying out. Conrad was full of it. We talked and talked, and agreed there should be an organisation.”

Survival International is now the world’s leading supporter of tribal people and, over the last fifty years, has done an amazing amount of work to help them defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.

Further information about the work of Survival International can be viewed at www.survivalinternational.org.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019



In my annual St Piran’s Day message as the leader of Mebyon Kernow, I have called on “one and all” to make representations in support of a Cornish tick-box on the 2021 census.

My statement is as follows:

“It is my hope that everyone will be able to do something special around St Piran’s Day to observe what makes Cornwall so special. But the promotion of Cornish distinctiveness is not something that we should only be doing each year in early March. I sincerely believe that we should be doing all in our power, each and every day, to promote and enhance our identity and heritage.

“At this time, a key campaign for greater Cornish recognition is the push for a tick-box on the 2021 census. Sadly, a Government White Paper was recently published which ruled out the provision of a Cornish tick-box and we need to redouble our efforts and put significant pressure on the UK Government to reverse its present position.

“The Cornish were recognised as a national minority on 2014 and it is scandalous that the Government and the Office of National Statistics seem to consider it acceptable that we will be the only UK national minority to be denied a tick-box in the upcoming census.

“As I have said before, this is illogical, prejudicial, disrespectful and just plain wrong. 

“It is also shameful that the UK Government and the Office of National Statistics have yet to act on the advice from an Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe which challenges “the authorities to take the necessary measures to include the possibility to self-identify as Cornish, through a ‘tick-box’ in the next census.

“So on this St Piran’s Day, please join me in writing to Chloe Smith, the Minister for Constitution, calling on the UK Government to meet its obligations through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and to guarantee a Cornish tick-box in 2021.”

The address for Chloe Smith, Minister for the Constitution, is: Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall, London SW1A 2AS.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Action on climate change

My column in last week’s Cornish Guardian focused on the campaign to combat climate change. It was as follows:

It was fantastic that so many children and young people from local schools and colleges came together at New County Hall on 15th February to protest at the failure of politicians to do enough to combat climate change.

It was one of numerous “strikes” organised across the United Kingdom by the UK Student Climate Network, which itself stems from the international movement known as Youth Strike 4 Climate which was created by Greta Thunberg, who protested outside the Swedish Parliament last year.

To be frank, it was a refreshing change to what is going on in the Westminster political bubble at the present time.

The Truro demonstration followed the decision of Cornwall Council to declare a “climate emergency” and it was heartening to see one of the local organisers, Rosie Smart-Knight, calling on the UK Government “to do the same” and take meaningful action to protect the global environment.

There is a reality that the world is facing very serious environmental threats and climate change must be the defining issue of modern politics.

Indeed, in the days following the protests there have been a range of reports about the dreadful impact of climate change and how the mainstream media has failed to adequately report or analyse what has been happening.

Last week’s Guardian newspaper covered a report commissioned by Care International, which shows that “weather events claimed about 5,000 lives in 2018, and left almost 29 million people in need of humanitarian aid and emergency assistance.”

It adds that “climate change was responsible for the majority of under-reported humanitarian disasters last year, according to analysis of more than a million online news stories. Whole populations were affected by food crises in countries ravaged by drought and hurricanes such as Ethiopia and Haiti … and in Madagascar, more than a million people went hungry as corn, cassava and rice fields withered under drought and severe El NiƱo conditions. Almost half the country’s children have been stunted.”

A further report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has raised concerns at how the “world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity,” with scientists warning that the “natural support systems that underpin the human diet” are deteriorating because of changes in land management, the loss of agricultural land and the increased use of chemicals.

It is shows that the young people of Cornwall, and further afield, are right to push for action on climate change and to put pressure on Governments to act.