Sunday, 22 November 2020

My latest report to St Enoder Parish Council

My latest update report will be presented to a virtual meeting of St Enoder Parish Council on Tuesday. It covers the time period of 21st September to 22nd November 2020, and is as follows:

1.0 Council and other meetings

Over the last two months, I have attended a large number of virtual meetings and briefings via Microsoft Works and Zoom.

In terms of Cornwall Council, these have included two meetings of Full Council and two associated briefings, three meetings of the Cornwall Local Engagement Board, a single meeting of the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee, three meetings of the Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee and one meeting of an associated inquiry into the economic vitality of rural and coastal areas, three formal meetings about the Community Governance Review for the Electoral Review Panel plus seven preparatory or follow-up meetings (as vice-chairman of the Panel), one meeting of the Cornish National Minority Working Group plus two associated briefings and two meetings about Cornwall Council’s approach to funding requests to central government for Cornish culture, three meetings of the BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethic) steering group, a briefing on the Government’s proposed changes to the planning system and another about Cornwall Council’s approach to planning policy, one meeting about a strategy for the China Clay Area, one meeting of Cornwall Council’s informal investment panel, three sessions relating to Cornwall Council’s “The Cornwall We Want” public engagement exercise and two Group Leader meetings. I have also had direct discussions with officers on a host of planning, traffic and other matters.

I have also attended two meetings of a lockdown support group for the China Clay Area, four meetings of St Enoder Parish Council, plus single meetings of the St Austell Bay Economic Forum and the South and East Cornwall Community-Led Local Development Local Action Group. 

2.0 Planning applications

The Parish Council and I have had to deal with a significant number of planning applications throughout October and November. Updates on a few specific applications are shown below.

2.1 Fifty new properties in St Columb Road (PA20/02929)

In June, St Enoder Parish Council objected to the proposal for fifty new properties to the rear of the development presently being built opposite the Doctors’ Surgery at St Columb Road. Cornwall Council’s affordable housing team also raised objections.

The developer has submitted additional information challenging the concerns raised by the Parish Council and others. At this Tuesday’s Parish Council meeting, councillors will be looking at what the developer is now saying.

2.2 Unit 2, Indian Queens Industrial Estate (PA19/05975)

This application sought a new access into an industrial unit at the Indian Queens Estate from Moorland Road and the provision of 15 parking spaces. It was strongly opposed by local residents. Planning officers recommended that it should be approved, so I referred it to a meeting of the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee on 2nd November.

At this meeting, I argued that the original planning consent for the industrial estate stated that it should be served by a strategic internal road (Lodge Way) and that it was appropriate that this arrangement should continue in order to keep traffic away from Moorland Road.

The chairman of St Enoder Parish Council Michael Bunyan also spoke at the meeting, as did local resident Manus Allfree. I am pleased to be able to report that the members of the Planning Committee voted unanimously to reject the application.

The owners of Unit 2 had also created a largish area of hardstanding, which they said would be turned back to grass if their application for the parking area was successful. But unbeknown to me, they had already submitted a planning application (PA20/09460) for four houses on this area of hardstanding (see below) 

This will almost certainly be refused as the Indian Queens Industrial Estate is identified as a principal employment area in the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan, which states that “proposals for housing within the principal employment areas for the Parish … will not be supported.”

2.3 The Stables (PA19/04433 and PA20/08024)

Last year, Cornwall Council refused a retrospective planning application (PA19/04433) for the “retention of building and its continued use for the storage and repair of motor vehicles” at The Stables on Pit Lane, Indian Queens. It had been rented out as a commercial garage. The owner appealed the refusal to the Planning Inspectorate and, on behalf of the Parish Council, I produced a detailed written submission in support of the unitary authority’s position.

The Planning Inspector has dismissed the appeal and his decision was issued on 5th November. He wrote:

“The appeal site and appeal building are seen as a stark industrial encroachment into this landscape. This is made particularly noticeable by the removal of a length of hedgebank and its replacement with the entrance and wooden fencing, as well as the harsh surfacing and also the main building, which by virtue of its design and materials cannot be construed to be an intrinsic part of the character of the area … policy 2 of the Cornwall Local Plan Strategic Policies 2010-2030 requires that development maintains and respects the special character of Cornwall by, amongst other things, ensuring that the design of development is high quality and demonstrates a cultural, physical and aesthetic understanding of its location. Policy 12 of the LP seeks to ensure that development ensures Cornwall’s enduring distinctiveness and maintains its distinctive natural and historic character by, amongst other things, showing a clear understanding of, and response to, its landscape. Policy 23 of the LP makes clear that development should recognise and respect landscape character. In light of my above findings the development which is the subject of this appeal would be in conflict with all of these policies.”

The owner of The Stables also recently submitted a planning application (PA20/08024) for the “planning in principle” of five dwellings in a field next to the unauthorised garage. Cornwall Council has also rejected this application and the refusal notice states:

“The application site is in the countryside, some 100 metres from the nearest designated development envelope of Indian Queens, and the five new proposed homes, by reason of their inevitable character and bulk, would harm the distinctive rural character of the area. In the absence of special justification to permit housing in this location, the application is contrary to policies 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 12, 21 and 23 of the Cornwall Local Plan Strategic Policies 2010 - 2030 and Housing Policy 2, Housing Policy 3 and Housing Policy 4 of the St Enoder Parish Neighbourhood Plan 2018-2030.”

2.4 Derelict pig farm at Higher Fraddon (PA19/04433) and (PA20/08024)

Two applications have been submitted for the derelict pig farm site in Higher Fraddon.

Given the extent of development in Higher Fraddon in recent years, the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan (NDP) (produced by the Parish Council) states that any redevelopment of the site should be for employment purposes. This was why the previous owners were told that a development of 28 dwellings (PA19/00656/PREAPP) on the site would not be acceptable.

The first application is for the conversion of some of the farm building into five dwellings (PA20/08679). It is not a planning application in the traditional sense as it relates to something brought in by the UK Government called “Q Class” developments, which over-ride what is in the St Enoder NDP.

In simple terms, “Q Class” allows buildings on farm holdings to be converted into dwellings as long as they are structurally sound. For such applications, the “merit” of such schemes is not considered, as the focus is simply on whether the buildings are structurally sound and can be converted. It should also be noted that in such proposed “Q Class” developments, the maximum number of allowed dwelling is five.

The paperwork implies that they might also try to get a couple of extra buildings on the site converted into dwellings through a separate means (namely Policy 7 in the Cornwall Local Plan).

The owners of the site have also submitted an outline application for 16 holiday units (PA20/09375). It seems that they are arguing that a holiday use on the site is “employment-related” and therefore complies with the policies in the St Enoder NDP. This approach seems somewhat far-fetched to me.

3.0 Planning White Paper

In recent weeks, I have also been active in raising concerns about the Government’s proposed changes to the planning system, which I believe would be a disaster for Cornwall. I co-authored a motion to Cornwall Council setting out opposition to the changes, which was supported by the majority of elected members at the Full Council meeting on 22nd September.

I also fed information into Cornwall Council’s detailed response to the consultation, and drafted further feedback from St Enoder Parish Council and Mebyon Kernow. In addition, I prepared on-line campaign materials for others to use.

4.0 Traffic matters

4.1 Parking issues at Kingsley Village

A continuing priority for me in recent weeks has been the ongoing parking issues caused by the Kingsley Village complex and, in particular, the extent of parking along New Road.

Planning permission for the shopping complex specified that each of the businesses should put travel plans in place. This has not happened and I have been working with council officers, who are corresponding with each of businesses.

It is also the case that there is a small staff parking area. But this is not being used very much and, ridiculously, many members of staff continue to park on New Road. I have been regularly monitoring this situation. For example, I visited the site on the early evening of 13th November – as we are in the second lockdown, the main car parks were 80% empty, but there were 25 cars on New Road and yet only one car in the staff parking area (see below). 

The situation was similar during the day on 16th November, when there were only five cars in the staff car parking area.

I have therefore been in regular contact with the owners of the complex (CPG) about how the parking arrangements are not working and making representations about how staff should park on the site, rather than on surrounding roads and elsewhere.

4.2 New footway from Harvenna Heights estate

The transfer of part of the field to the west of Indian Queens School from Cornwall Council to St Enoder Parish Council is progressing, and the paperwork for the funding to build a new footway between the Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School has been drafted. 

Though the Parish Council does not yet own its part of the field, we have cleared it of vegetation (see above) so that we will be able to mark out the route of the footway as soon as we have ownership confirmed.

4.3 Design work for other highway schemes

As previously reported, Cornwall Council has agreed to carry out a series of highway works. This includes (i) a zebra crossing on Chapel Road, Indian Queens, and some form of crossing on St Francis Road, (ii) enhanced safety measures outside Summercourt School, and (iii) pedestrian crossways linked to the traffic lights at Summercourt and two permanent vehicle activated signs on the A3058. Various design works are ongoing though this is taking much longer than usual, because of the present pressures on the unitary authority. I am in regular contact with council officers about the importance of these works and the need for the works to progress as quickly as possible.

4.4 Mobile vehicle activated sign

I have been working with other parish councillors to move the mobile sign around the Parish. Recent locations have been on Moorland Road, Indian Queens, and School Road, Summercourt. We are compiling a list of agreed locations for the sign, so please let me or the Parish Clerk know of any places where you think the sign should be located for four-six weeks.

4.5 Other matters

In addition, I have been following up on a number of traffic matters, ranging from blocked drains to localised flooding, and I have requested a full review of the road at the bottom of Fraddon Hill, following an accident a few months back. I can confirm that Cornwall Council is planning to repaint double yellow lines in this area.

5.0 “Towards a Strategy for the China Clay Area”

A member of Cornwall Council’s Localism team and the Cornwall Councillors from our area have been working together to produce a document which challenges the unitary authority to be more supportive of the communities of Clay Country. It identifies a range of “asks” which would form the basis of a wide-ranging strategy for the China Clay Area, and is to be presented to a meeting of the Community Network Area in December.

To give a feel for the document, the introduction is as follows:

“Clay Country is a unique area in the very heart of Cornwall. It’s landscape and communities have been forged through centuries of human endeavour, most notably through the large-scale extraction of china clay which followed the discovery of the mineral by William Cookworthy in the mid-18th century.

“Our Area comprises a range of villages – each with a distinct sense of its own identity – who share an industrial heritage. Yet it also has significant social and economic problems.

“It has a population larger than almost all Cornish towns, yet misses out on investment and the provision of local services because interventions from the UK Government, Cornwall Council and other service providers are largely focused on urban areas.

“Cornwall Council often argues that Westminster politicians focus too much on metropolitan centres and fail to understand the needs of places such as Cornwall.

“We would respectfully suggest that Cornwall Council has fallen into the same trap by disproportionately focusing its efforts onto Cornwall’s main towns.

“We are proud to represent the China Clay Area as Councillors and believe it is time that the Council gives the area the recognition that it merits and the investment that it deserves.

“It is our hope that this document represents an important first step in the implementation of a distinct strategy for the China Clay Area which will boost the prospects of residents across our five parishes.”

I have also given evidence to an Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee inquiry session into the economic vitality of rural and coastal areas. My contribution focussed on the needs of Clay Country.

6.0 Covid-19

The ongoing health emergency continues to make life very difficult for people. As a Cornwall Councillor, I attend fortnightly meetings of the Cornwall Local Engagement Board where we are briefed about how public bodies are working to deal with Covid-19, as well as a lockdown support group for the China Clay Area comprising representatives of a number of bodies and charities. The Parish Council continues to be a contact for Volunteer Cornwall.

7.0 Remembrance Sunday

In spite of the second lockdown, it was good that the annual Remembrance Sunday event at St Enoder Churchtown was able to go-ahead as a socially-distanced gathering. I was pleased to read out the names of the fallen and I would like to thank everyone involved with organising the commemoration.

8.0 Grants

As a Cornwall Councillor, I have a community chest, from which I give grants to local groups. I can confirm that I have now fully spent my allocation for 2020-2021. In addition to covering some of the costs of the Parish Council’s response to the Coronavirus crisis, I have pledged funds to St Enoder Youth Club, Indian Queens Under-5s, the Wesley Pre-School and the volunteer team who will be providing a food larder which is being planned for our area.

9.0 Parish Council matters

I have also been liaising with the Parish Council Clerk and other parish councillors on a range of issues, which included the new streetlights on the road to the Indian Queens Recreation Ground.

10.0 Inquiries

While this report has been a summary of many of my recent activities, I have helped a wide range of people with localised issues.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020


As we have previously reported, Mebyon Kernow was extremely disappointed that Cornish MPs chose not to move an amendment to the Parliamentary Constituencies Bill to ensure that no cross-Tamar “Devonwall” constituencies could be created in the future.

Such an amendment was moved in the House of Lords by Lord Tyler with the support of Lord Teverson and Lord Bourne, but we were equally disappointed that the peers chose not to push the amendment to a vote.

The Lords did however agree an amendment that the electorate for individual constituencies would need to be within 7.5% of the average seat size – up from the figure of 5% in the Bill as originally drafted.

Lord’s amendments to the Bill were considered in the House of Commons yesterday and I wrote to Cornish MPs to request that they support the amendment on constituency size. It would not rule out a Devonwall seat, but it might, to a degree, limit the likelihood of a cross-Tamar constituency.

It was made clear to MPs that if the Parliamentary Constituencies Bill only allows a 5% divergence from the average constituency size, it was likely that it would be statistically impossible to deliver seats that meet this criteria and fall wholly within the historic boundaries of Cornwall (and the Isles of Scilly) by the time of the review expected around 2030. 

It is disappointing to report that all six Cornish MPs voted down the Lord’s amendment yesterday.


Well done to Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, his thousands and thousands of supporters, and all those charities, altruistic businesses and individuals, for pressuring the UK government into a massive u-turn on the issue of free school meal provision for low-income families during school holidays.

It is really good news that the money has been found for a “Covid winter grant scheme,” which I understand will be run by councils, as well as the expansion of a “holiday food and activities programme” and an increase in funding for Healthy Start payments.

Marcus Rashford may now be a very successful professional athlete, but he has been able to speak with a great deal of authority on this issue. Unlike ministers in this Government, he personally experienced poverty growing up in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

A magnanimous campaigner, he has sought to share the credit for his success, thanking the “charity workers, volunteers, teachers, care workers, key workers, that have fought for this level of progress for years” and saying that he was “honoured to be on this journey” with them. It also heartening that he intends to push for further measures to strengthen the safety net for those living in poverty through his “child food poverty taskforce.”

It would be easy to lambast the Government for the insensitive way in which it handled this issue, prior to the u-turn. But I think it best that we celebrate that the Prime Minister and MPs have listened and taken action.

At this very difficult time with the second lockdown, it is also to be welcomed that MPs have listened to unions and businesses, and taken the decision to extend and broaden its furlough scheme. There is undoubtedly considerable relief in many homes that the Treasury will now pay up to 80% of the wages of furloughed staff until 31st March. This is so vital for this month, while the additional support for the next four months could save many jobs.

In addition, it is positive that the Treasury has stated that staff, who have been made redundant, can be rehired and supported with furlough funding, and that there will be enhanced support for self-employed workers over the next three months.

We are all again coming to terms with what the latest lockdown entails, but it was thoughtful that Remembrance Sunday events were able to be held in a Covid-19 secure manner and I was honoured to be able to read out the names of the 90 men and one woman from my home parish who lost their lives in the two World Wars.

[This is my article in this week's Cornish Guardian].