Tuesday, 23 March 2021

My latest monthly report


Time period: 23rd February – 23rd March 2021

1.0 Council and other meetings

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

In terms of Cornwall Council, these have included Full Council; a briefing in advance of this coming week’s Full Council; Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee and an associated briefing; the Cornish National Minority Working Group and two meetings about the 2021 census and the publicity for the “write-in” option for Cornish nationality; monthly meeting of elected members within the China Clay Area; the first meeting of the core group for a new Race Equality Forum for Cornwall; and a members’ briefing session.

I have also had a number of meetings about the road safety schemes which are being brought forward in St Enoder Parish.

In addition, I have been at meetings of St Enoder Parish Council, South & East Cornwall Community-Led Local Development Local Action Group, and the lockdown support group for the China Clay Area.

2.0 Planning matters

The Parish Council and I continue to deal with a range of planning applications. Updates of note are as follows:

2.1 Fifty properties at St Columb Road (PA20/02929)

Last month, I reported that Cornwall Council had refused planning permission for the construction of 50 new properties at St Columb Road, on land immediately to the rear of the development opposite the Doctors’ Surgery, and that the applicant had appealed the decision to the Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate.

On behalf of the Parish Council, I have prepared a detailed representation for the appeal, which stretches to more than 5,000 words. It sets out a wide range of evidence as to why the development should not be allowed to proceed. The submission also included a large number of letters of objection from local residents.

2.2 Six extra gypsy / traveller pitches at Little Meadows, Toldish (PA20/03553)

In August, Cornwall Council refused planning permission for six additional gypsy / traveller pitches at Little Meadows, Toldish. There is already a planning consent for six units at the site, which have yet to be fully constructed.

As anticipated, the applicant has appealed the decision to the Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate. When the timetable for the appeal is published, I will produce a detailed representation on behalf of the Parish Council and local objectors.

2.3 Solar Farm between St Columb Road and Whitecross

A firm called Statkraft UK is working up a proposal for a solar farm on land at Tresithney, just to the north-west of St Columb Road. Information about the proposal can be found on the on Statkraft’s website as below:

https://www.statkraft.co.uk/about-statkraft-uk/where-we-operate/Locations/white-cross-solar-energy-farm 

The website states that the proposal “is in the early stages of development,” but also notes that the company anticipates submitting an application in June of this years.

The website includes a map which shows the fields around Tresithney, where solar panels are proposed. Some of these fields abut the edge of St Columb Road and the northern half of Barton Lane towards Whitecross. It also shows an “area of search” through which they would need to lay electric cables towards the power station on the St Dennis road. The area of search includes the built-up areas of Indian Queens, St Columb Road and the northern part of Fraddon; and concerns have already been raised about the disturbance that such cable laying might cause.

The information is very limited at the present time and I have been in contact with a representative of the company to find out more. The website states that “from 29th March, a full online consultation space will be available, where you can view further project details including access maps, layout diagrams, photographs, videos and more.”

I am also monitoring feedback from the local community, so that this can inform what representations I make back to the applicants and Cornwall Council.

2.4 Indian Queens Industrial Estate

Last year, there was an application (PA19/05975) which sought a new access into an industrial unit at the Indian Queens Estate from Moorland Road for 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. 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 planners were told would be turned back to grass if their initial application for the parking area was successful. But by the time of the November meeting, they had already submitted a planning application (PA20/09460) for four houses in this area. This application was withdrawn by the applicants when they were told it would be refused by the local authority.

I am very disappointed that the owner has submitted another application (PA21/01683) for this area. This time, it is for four commercial units with a B8 use (ie. storage and distribution). It again includes a new access onto Moorland Road and I will, once again, do my utmost to represent the views of local residents.

4.0 Highway improvements

4.1 Proposed new footway between Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School


The legal paperwork for the transfer of part of the field to the west of Indian Queens School, from Cornwall Council to St Enoder Parish Council, has been prepared by unitary authority and passed to the Parish Council’s solicitor.

As soon as the transfer is completed, the Parish Council will be able to begin the construction of the proposed new footway between the Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School. At the end of February, the Parish Council’s handyman cleared some vegetation (in advance of the bird nesting season) so that the Parish Council will be in a position to proceed with the works quite soon.

4.2 Proposed zebra crossings on Chapel Road and St Francis Road, Indian Queens

There is a live consultation about the two proposed zebra crossings and associated measures on Chapel Road and St Francis Road. The full consultation can be viewed on Cornwall Council’s website at:
https://www.engagespace.co.uk/cornwall/

The consultation ends on 31st March.

4.3 Proposed works on A3058 through Summercourt

The design of the proposed improvements along the A3058 are nearing completion and I have been assured that the consultation on the proposals will commence in May.

The potential location for the permanent vehicle activated sign (VAS) in St Austell Street has been agreed, and following a series of accidents on Beacon Road, I am continuing to feed the views / perspectives of local residents to the design team.

4.4 Summercourt School

The first indicative layout of improvement works outside the school have been forwarded to me. The works will include the extension of the 30mph further to the east, new markings on the highway, and permanent vehicle activated signs which will be calibrated to show a 20mph limit immediately outside the School during the times that children arrive at and leave the school. I anticipate that the consultation will also take place in May.

I will update parish councillors further at the meeting.

5.0 “Towards a Strategy for the China Clay Area”

Following the production of this document, a meeting has been secured with the key officers from the Economic Growth and Development directorate. It is an opportunity to get senior staff from the unitary authority to take the needs of Clay Country parishes seriously.

6.0 Full Council

At the meeting on 23rd February, councillors agreed a 4.99% increase in council. This included the government’s suggested 3.0% uplift to go towards meeting the rising costs of adult social care. Such was the pressure on the council’s finances, especially with the added burden from the pandemic, that none of the opposition groups on the council felt able to move an alternative to that proposed by the Liberal Democrat / Independent administration.

7.0 2021 census

Over the last few weeks, I have been involved with promoting the 2021 census and, in particular, the right of people to describe their identity as Cornish.

8.0 Inquires

In addition, I have had queries on a host of subjects from local residents, and I have done my best to assist.

Please note:
I will not be doing a report for the next (April) meeting of the Parish Council, as that falls within the election period, when I will be standing for re-election to the unitary authority.

ANNUAL REPORT (2020-2021) FOR PARISH ASSEMBLY (23rd MARCH 2021)

This report includes a summary of my work as the Cornwall Councillor for St Enoder Division over the last twelve months. The topics covered are not exhaustive and I have also assisted a wide range of people with specific localised or personal issues.

1.0 Lockdown

My last physical meeting prior to the lockdown was the local VE Day Committee, which had to cancel the events planned for 8th and 10th May 2020, and one of the last events I was involved with was the visit of two classes from Indian Queens School to New County Hall on 11th March.

Lockdown commenced on 23rd March and from that point, like so many people, I have worked from home, with lots and lots of meetings held via Microsoft Teams or Zoom video-conferencing.

2.0 Covid-19 response / volunteer activities

It has been remarkable how many people have stepped forward to help support their families, friends and members of the wider community throughout this last difficult year

In late March, the Clerk of St Enoder Parish Council (Amanda Kendall) and I were registered as the local parish hub with Volunteer Cornwall. I worked with the St Columb Road Surgery to organise a team of volunteers to deliver prescriptions to people who were shielding or deemed vulnerable. This took place between April and July. More recently, I was pleased to help out a little with marshalling of people coming to get their vaccinations at the St Columb Surgery.

In addition, I have attended the Covid-19 Local Outbreak Engagement Board (for briefings about the response to the pandemic) and also the lockdown support group for the China Clay Area.

3.0 Planning matters

There has also been a large number of planning applications for our area, where I have done my best to represent the views of local people. A few examples are as follows:

3.1 Indian Queens Industrial Estate (PA19/05975)

The proposal to create a new access from Moorland Road into Unit 2 of the Indian Queens Industrial Estate for an area of additional car parking was strongly opposed by local residents. The original planning consent for the estate stated that vehicular access should be through the central Lodge Way road. I referred the application to the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee and it was rejected by councillors. The vote was unanimous.

3.2 St Columb Road (PA20/02929)

An application for fifty houses was submitted for the land to the rear of the development presently being built opposite the Doctors’ Surgery. Again, there was significant opposition to the scheme via formal objections plus comments on social media. The proposal was refused by planning officers under delegated powers, but the applicant has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate based in Bristol. On behalf of the Parish Council, I have prepared a detailed representation against the scheme.

3.3 Little Meadows, Toldish (PA20/03553)

In 2017, a planning application (PA17/03198) for six traveller pitches was refused by Cornwall Council, but it was then granted on appeal by a government planning inspector in 2018. A fresh application to increase the size of the site to 12 pitches was refused by planning officers under delegated powers, but I have just found out that the applicant has also appealed to the Planning Inspectorate based in Bristol.

3.4 Derelict pig farm at Higher Fraddon (PA20/08679 & PA20/09375)

I have been involved with discussions around the potential redevelopment of the derelict pig farm site, which initially focused around two applications; one for conversion of farm building into five dwellings and another for 16 holiday units, which raised strong objections and I did not support..

3.5 Ouistreham, Indian Queens (PA20/00184)

An outline application was submitted for a bungalow in the back garden of Ouistreham, opposite Queens Garage. Concerns were raised about the cramped nature of the development and I referred it to a meeting of the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee. The application was refused by eight votes to four.

3.6 Solar farm

A consultation on a proposal for a solar farm between St Columb Road and Whitecross has just been launched. More information will be made available on the promoter’s website on 29th March. The website can be found at:

https://www.statkraft.co.uk/about-statkraft-uk/where-we-operate/Locations/white-cross-solar-energy-farm/

4.0 Planning White Paper

During 2020, the UK Government has just published a White Paper setting out proposals to completely change the planning system, which would undermine the ability of local communities to object to inappropriate developments. The changes would have massively increased the rate of development across Cornwall.

I was one of two councillors on the unitary authority, who tabled a motion opposing the changes, which was backed by the majority of councillors.

5.0 Highway improvements

Throughout the last 12 months, I have been promoting a range of improvements in our local area. The pandemic has caused delays, but we have made some significant progress in recent weeks.

5.1 New footway from Harvenna Heights estate


The legal documentation to transfer part of the field between Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School, from Cornwall Council to St Enoder Parish Council, has been drafted. It is presently with solicitors. The transfer will be accompanied by a financial sum for the construction of a new pathway across the field. It is hoped that these works will be undertaken this summer.

5.2 Chapel Road and St Francis Road, Indian Queens

I have been lobbying extremely hard to get Cornwall Council to deliver improvements suggested within the Travel Plan, associated with the new classrooms that were constructed a few years ago. Following a feasibility study, it has been agreed that there should be zebra crossings on Chapel Road and St Francis Road (at either end of the Drang). The consultation on the proposal is presently live on the Cornwall Council website, and will close on 31st March. It can be found at:
https://www.engagespace.co.uk/cornwall/

5.3 A3058

I have been liaising with officers at Cornwall Council on a regular basis about improvements in Summercourt, as part of a wider scheme of enhancements along the A3058. The scheme will include the extension of the 30mph speed limit on Beacon Road and a permanent vehicle activated sign at the northern entrance into the village, plus pedestrian crossings linked to the traffic lights on the crossroads. There will also be an additional vehicle activated sign to face traffic entering Summercourt along St Austell Street. The consultation on the scheme is expected to take place in May, with the works to be carried out in the autumn.

5.4 Summercourt School

There continues to be a commitment to deliver improvements outside Summercourt School. The first indicative layout of improvement works outside the school have been forwarded to me, and I will be seeking views as the Council finalise the design for consultation, which will hopefully consulted on in May, as well.

6.0 Traffic matters

There have been a number of accidents in the built-up parts of the Parish in locations including the bottom of Fraddon Hill, Ridgewell Terrace, Fraddon,

Seaview Terrace on the road to St Stephen and on Beacon Road, Summercourt. I have made a range of representations and I can report that Seaview Terrace has been included on a list of about thirty locations, which are to be investigated through a “Local Safety Scheme.” I have also been involved with council officers investigating parking problems along New Road at Fraddon, near the Kingsley Village complex.

7.0 St Enoder Parish Council

Over the last twelve months, I have been pleased to work with the Parish Council on a range of projects.

7.1 Indian Queens Cemetery

Along with other parish councillors, I was involved with the work in the extension to the cemetery, which included the construction of the new roadway and an associated path.

7.2 Mobile vehicle activated sign

The Parish Council has purchased a mobile vehicle activated sign and I am pleased to be one of the councillors who has helped to move it to a range of locations around the Parish. Recent restrictions have meant that we have not moved it as often as we would have liked, but that will change going forward.

7.3 Grant funding for a toilet in Indian Queens Recreation Ground

The Parish Council has been working up a project to provide a public toilet for users of the Indian Queens Recreation Ground. I was able to secure a grant of £10,000 for the project from the National Lottery’s Award for All funding programme. The works will be carried out later this year.

8.0 Strategy for the China Clay Area

I was also very pleased to take a lead in the production of a “Towards a Strategy for the China Clay Area” document, which we are using to lobby Cornwall Council for greater investment in the five parishes of Clay Country.

9.0 Community Governance Review

I have been spending a considerable amount of time on the work of the Electoral Review Panel and, in particular, on the review of parish boundaries and arrangements for parish councils. This involved transferring land adjacent to Mitchell from St Enoder Parish to St Newlyn East Parish.

 
10.0 Grants

As a Cornwall Councillor, I have a community chest from which I am able to give grants to local groups. In 2020-2021, I made funds available to St Enoder Parish Council for materials to deal with the response to the pandemic, St Enoder Youth Club, Indian Queens Under-5s, the Wesley Pre-School and for supplies to the new Community Larder for Indian Queens and District.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

BE CORNISH ON THE CENSUS


Sunday 21st March is census day, though people are already receiving information about how to fill in the online form.

This represents an opportunity for Cornish people to formally record their national identity.

The Government has again refused a Cornish tick-box, but the Office of National Statistics has allocated a census code to “Cornish” and individuals will be able to evidence their Cornishness through write-in options.

The ONS has also promised that – for the first time – they will produce a full analytical report on the population who identify as Cornish, covering topics which will include health, housing, work and education.

Question 14 will ask: “What is your national identity?” Tick-boxes offered are “British,” “English,” “Welsh,” “Scottish,” “Northern Irish” and “Other.” This means that if you wish to record your nationality as Cornish, you can tick the “Other” box and write in “Cornish” in the space provided.

Question 15 will ask: “What is your ethnic group?” Five sections will describe a range of broad ethnic backgrounds. For example, under “White,” the options are a collective “English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British,” “Irish,” “Gypsy or Irish Traveller,” “Roma,” and “Other.” Other ethnic groups include “mixed or multiple,” “Black” or "Asian." To record yourself as Cornish, you will need to pick the section which you think best represents your broad ethnic background, tick the “Other” box and write in “Cornish” in the space provided.

Question 10 will ask where individuals were born, while Question 18 will ask: “What is your main language?” In both these cases, you can also use "Elsewhere" /“Other” boxes to record yourself as Cornish-born or as a Cornish speaker, if that is appropriate.

This census represents an opening to ensure that our Cornishness is recorded. Please speak with your family, friends and neighbours to ensure that they take full advantage of the various write-in options.

UPDATE ON GUIDANCE FOR THE 2021 CENSUS – A CORRECTION

The 2021 census offers an opportunity for individuals to describe themselves as Cornish, but we need to correct one element of the advice that we have published.
Campaigners were given to understand, from the ONS, that the online census would contain a range of prompts and, for the national identity question, the supporting text would give “Cornish” as one of the examples of an “Other” nationality.

Yesterday, we found out that this was not true and that there had been a “misunderstanding.” The reference to Cornish as a possible “Other” national identity will appear in guidance, hidden elsewhere on the census website. It will not promote the write-in / type-in option to people as they fill out the forms.

Feeling pretty let down by the Office of National Statistics at the moment and I can assure one and all that formal complaint representations will soon be prepared.

But at this time – irrespective of the ONS – we must continue to do everything that we can to encourage as many people as possible to record their Cornishness on the census.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

MY LATEST MONTHLY REPORT


My latest monthly report will be reported to tonight's meeting of St Enoder Parish Council. It covers the time period of 25th January – 22nd February 2021, and is as follows:

1.0 Council and other meetings

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

In terms of Cornwall Council, these have included the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee; an informal Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee and an associated review into standards for social housing (2); the Cornish National Minority Working Group, associated briefings (2) and a meeting about the upcoming 2021 census and the publicity for the “write-in” option for Cornish nationality; the Informal Investment Panel; an update on parking policy; local China Clay Area members; a briefing about the upcoming Full Council meeting; Group Leaders; and all member briefings (3).

In addition, I have attended the Covid-19 Local Outbreak Engagement Board (1); council briefings about the response to the Covid-19 pandemic (2); and the lockdown support group for the China Clay Area (1).

I have also been at three meetings of St Enoder Parish Council, one meeting of the St Austell Bay Economic Forum, and one meeting of the South and East Cornwall Community-Led Local Development Local Action Group.

2.0 Planning applications

The Parish Council and I continue to deal with a range of planning applications. Updates on some specific planning matters are shown below.

2.1 Fifty properties at St Columb Road (PA20/02929)

On 16th December, Cornwall Council refused planning permission for the construction of 50 new properties at St Columb Road, which were proposed for land at the rear of the development opposite the Doctors’ Surgery.

I have just been informed that the applicant has chosen to appeal the decision to the Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate. Cornwall Council and other interested parties will now have until 23rd March to submit evidence in support of the refusal.

The two reasons for refusal were as follows:

1. The application site is not located within a main town identified in Policy 3 for the county's strategic housing growth, the site is not infill development or rounding off and is not to be sited on previously developed land. The proposal needs to be considered as a rural exception site under policy 9. It is considered that the proposed scale of up to 50 houses in this location would not be well related to the physical form of the settlement and would be at odds with the prevailing character in this location and would appear as inappropriate housing encroaching into the open landscape which would have a detrimental impact upon the intrinsic rural character. The proposal is therefore contrary to policy 2, 3, 9 and 23 of the Cornwall Local Plan and policies 2, 3 and 4 of the St Enoder Parish Neighbourhood Plan.

2. In the absence of a mechanism to secure the provision of affordable housing, education contributions, open space provision onsite and off-site financial contribution, health care contributions and financial contributions for mitigation for the Penhale Special Area of Conservation for which there is evidence of an identified need, the proposal is considered to be contrary to policies 8, 13, 16, 22 and 28 of the Cornwall Local Plan, guidance contained within paragraphs 8, 17, 61, 62, 94 and 96 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2019, and CC - Guidance on s106 Planning Obligations for Education Provision (April 2012).

St Enoder Parish Council always submits comments to planning appeals and, at tonight’s meeting, I will be offering to write a detailed representation on behalf of the Council and local objectors.

2.2 Ouistreham, Indian Queens (PA20/00184)

An outline application was submitted for a bungalow in the back garden of Ouistreham, which is opposite Queens Garage. The Parish Council raised objections to the development and how it was inappropriately squeezed into the back garden.

Planning officers recommended that the application be approved, so I referred it to a meeting of the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee on 22nd February. I spoke at the meeting, along with the Chairman of the Parish Council Michael Bunyan, and the application was refused. The vote was eight to four.

2.3 Derelict pig farm at Higher Fraddon

Last month, I reported that the owners of the derelict pig farm site had been speaking to Cornwall Council about whether a development of seven-eight new dwellings on the site would be acceptable – in place of the five consented “Q-class” conversions and the possible conversion of a couple of other buildings on the site.

They did supply an initial mock-up of how the development might look, but they sought to include a significant amount of agricultural land (to the west) into the development area. Cornwall Council informally advised that this increase in the footprint would be unacceptable and the development would need to be restricted to the site of the extant buildings.

The Council has also advised that the applicant should do a formal pre-application consultation before putting in any planning application. The owners have, as a result, submitted a pre-application enquiry, but I am disappointed because they ignored the Council’s guidance and have included agricultural land into their proposed development area.

3.0 Parking issues at Kingsley Village

As previously reported, I have continued to make presentations about the ongoing parking issues on the B3275 near Penhale. I remain unhappy with the amount of progress and, earlier in the year, I escalated the issue by making further representations to senior planning officers.

As a consequence, a meeting was held on 2nd February and the enforcement officers agreed to make further requests to the businesses within the complex for information about how they manage their staff traffic movements and their parking arrangements. Two businesses have responded and I will discussing next steps with council officers in the near future.

4.0 Highway improvements

4.1 Proposed new footway between Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School

I am still pushing for the transfer of part of the field to the west of Indian Queens School, from Cornwall Council to St Enoder Parish Council, to be completed, so that the Parish Council can begin the construction of the proposed new footway between the Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School. I will update as soon as further progress is made.

4.2 Proposed zebra crossings on Chapel Road and St Francis Road, Indian Queens

Last month, I confirmed that a proposal for a zebra crossing and associated speed cushions on Chapel Road had been worked up, near to the top of the Drang. There was a follow-up meeting on 2nd February, when the basics of a draft proposal for a zebra crossing on St Francis Road was also agreed.

I am hopeful that the formal consultation on both crossings will be carried out in the very near future.

4.3 Proposed works in Summercourt

There was another accident on Beacon Road on Saturday 6th February, which again emphasised the need for the improvements along the A3058.

As previously reported, funding has already been secured for the extension of the 30mph limit on Beacon Road, signalised pedestrian crossings linked to the traffic lights at Summercourt crossroads, and two permanent vehicle activated signs (VAS) on the A3058 (one in Beacon Road and one in St Austell Street).

I am pleased to be able to report that a new officer has been allocated to the design work for the project and good progress is now being made. A meeting was held on 5th February at which the location of the VAS in Beacon Road was agreed in principle. Discussions are ongoing about the location for the VAS in St Austell Street (see above) and I will be updating councillors tonight.

I am also continuing to seek updates on the enhanced safety measures, which I have asked to be provided outside Summercourt School.

5.0 Trefullock

In recent weeks, there have been ongoing problems with flooding on the roads around Trefullock, and I have been in contact with local residents. I am pleased to be able to confirm that Cornwall Council has agreed to carry out an improvement scheme in the next financial year.

6.0 Covid-19

As noted above, I attend 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.

In addition, as a volunteer, I have been helping the medical staff at St Columb Surgery who have been doing some vaccinations, by helping marshal local residents as they arrive for their jabs.

7.0 2021 Election

I am somewhat surprised that the 2021 local elections have not been delayed by a few months, because of the pandemic and ongoing lockdown. The UK Government has stated that the elections will take place on 6th May and I can confirm that it is my intention to stand for re-election.

As the number of councillors has been reduced from 123 to 87, and if I am re-elected to Cornwall Council, I will have to serve a larger area covering both St Dennis and St Enoder parishes.

8.0 Cancellation of NDP referendum

The referendum into the Neighbourhood Plan for St Enoder Parish was due to take place on 6th May, on the same day as the local elections and the poll for Police Commissioner. It is likely that the referendum will take place in early summer.

9.0 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.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Be Cornish on the 2021 census


It is exactly four weeks to census day (Sunday 21st March) is census day, though people will be able to fill in the online form from early in March.

This represents an  opportunity for Cornish people to formally record their national identity.

The Government has again refused a Cornish tick-box, but the Office of National Statistics has allocated a census code to “Cornish” and individuals will be able to evidence their Cornishness through write-in options.

The ONS has also promised that – for the first time – they will produce a full analytical report on the population who identify as Cornish, covering topics which will include health, housing, work and education.

Question 14 will ask: “What is your national identity?” Tick-boxes offered are “British,” “English,” “Welsh,” “Scottish,” “Northern Irish” and “Other.” This means that if you wish to record your nationality as Cornish, you can tick the “Other” box and write in “Cornish” in the space provided.

The ONS is keen that as many people fill out the census online as possible, and the online version will contain a range of prompts. One positive piece of news is that, for the national identity question, the supporting text will give “Cornish” as one of the examples of a “Other” nationality.

Question 15 will ask: “What is your ethnic group?” Five sections will describe a range of broad ethnic backgrounds. For example, under “White,” the options are a collective “English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British,” “Irish,” “Gypsy or Irish Traveller,” “Roma,” and “Other.” Other ethnic groups include “mixed or multiple,” “Black” or "Asian." To record yourself as Cornish, you will need to pick the section which you think best represents your broad ethnic background, tick the “Other” box and write in “Cornish” in the space provided.

Question 10 will ask where individuals were born, while Question 18 will ask: “What is your main language?” In both these cases, you can also use “Other” boxes to record yourself as Cornish-born or as a Cornish speaker, if that is appropriate.

This census represents an opening to ensure that our Cornishness is recorded. Please speak with your family, friends and neighbours to ensure that they take full advantage of the various write-in options.

Monday, 15 February 2021

MK LOBBIES BBC & OFCOM FOR PARTY ELECTION BROADCAST


Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has responded to a BBC consultation on party election broadcasts (PEBs) for the 2021 local elections, which it says discriminates against parties, such as MK and the Yorkshire Party. MK has also written to the regulator – OFCOM.

The consultation re-affirms the existing “four nation” approach, which principally states that, for local and parliamentary elections, political parties would need to stand in one-sixth of the seats in any of the “nations” of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales to be allowed a party election broadcast.

The BBC states that for the local election in “England” it is estimated that “there will be approximately 5,000 seats contested, so the qualification threshold is likely to be approximately 835 candidates.”

This means that, in May’s elections, MK would need to contest all 87 council divisions in Cornwall, along with 748 other council seats outside of Cornwall, to secure a PEB.

MK has had a similar problem in past General Elections. In the 2010 and 2015 General Elections, MK contested the maximum number of seats available to it as a Cornish political party – six! But we were denied a PEB because, in addition to the six seats in Cornwall, we did not contest 83 seats in England!

And yet political parties in Northern Ireland would have only had to stand in three of the 18 seats available to them to secure a PEB, in Wales it would have been seven seats out of the 40 available, and nine out of the 59 in Scotland.

The following statement has been issued:

“Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has written to the BBC and OFCOM challenging the ‘four nation’ approach to party election broadcasts, which discriminates against MK.

“We reminded them that, in 2014, the UK Government recognised the Cornish as a ‘national minority’ through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. At that time, the UK Government made it clear that this ‘decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.’

“It is MK’s contention that the BBC and OFCOM, in terms of PEBs, is therefore failing to meet its obligations to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, with regard to the Cornish and Cornwall as a national territory within the United Kingdom.

“We have formally requested that the nation of Cornwall be treated in the same way as the other Celtic parts of the United Kingdom for the purposes of party election broadcasts.”

MY COMMENT ON NHS REORGANISATION


Launched in 1948, the National Health Service is the United Kingdom’s greatest achievement, and it is not possible to overstate the significance of the NHS over the last seventy-plus years. Universal healthcare has saved so many, and it continues to transform the very existence of millions of people.

This was never truer than right now as medical professionals, and their support staff, dedicate themselves so determinedly in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

I was therefore somewhat surprised that, at this most difficult time, the Health Secretary has announced plans for a wholesale reorganisation of the NHS which, it has been reported, will do away with the structural reforms of previous Conservative Governments.

It is clear than the changes will centralise power into the hands of government ministers with Matt Hancock announcing that “the Secretary of State will be empowered to set direction for the NHS and intervene where necessary.”

He has claimed that the changes will do away with “irksome bureaucracy,” though one prominent GP, Anne Robinson, was quick to point out that “every major NHS change” that she had experienced in a 30-year career had “promised less bureaucracy and delivered more.”

Many people, myself included, will undoubtedly be nervous of yet another political reorganisation of healthcare, and I agree with the British Medical Association that such a “sweeping reorganisation” should not be rushed through while medical staff “are still tackling the winter surge in infections, hospitalisations and tragically, deaths.”

I understand that the proposals include an end to competition rules, which presently dictate that all contracts must be put out to tender. This could be positive if, as argued by the BMA, the NHS itself is always the “preferred provider for NHS services,” and the rules also ensure that out-sourcing to large corporations “at huge expense to the taxpayer” is no longer the norm.

The Health Secretary is speaking about “better connectedness between health and social care,” though one prominent health policy academic, Professor Sir Chris Ham, has stated the plans do not go far enough and “will not provide the solution … because successive governments have ducked that.”

I agree that MPs are failing to take a lead on this, and central government is continuing to instruct local councils to raise council tax by 3% a year to specifically go towards meeting the rising costs of social care.

As we start the debate around the proposed changes, it seems to me that they must be informed by the expertise of medical and social care professionals, and that Westminster politicians must find significant additional resource to guarantee a health and social care system fit for the 21st century.

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

Friday, 29 January 2021

The G7 and "levelling up"?

Prominent Cornish politicians and public figures have been queuing up to rejoice at the news that the next G7 summit of world leaders will take place in Carbis Bay in June. The leader of Cornwall Council, Julian German, has declared that he wants to ensure there is a “lasting legacy” to the west of the Tamar, while the Prime Minster has suggested that the event will “showcase” Cornwall to the world.
From my perspective, I fear that West Cornwall will simply be a pretty background for the talks, and there will be little focus on the reality of modern Cornwall.

As the political commentator Bernard Deacon has said: “Swarms of journalists will descend from across the globe eager for copy. But will all they devour be the same stale old imagery of Cornwall as just a tourist destination? Can Cornwall be presented as more than a picturesque backdrop?”

I sincerely hope the summit is a success and meaningful progress is made to tackle climate change and other global ills. But there is much to be concerned about – not least that we are still in the teeth of a worldwide pandemic.

At the last G7 in France, more than 13,000 people officers, plus military personnel, were used to deal with protestors and the Assistant Chief Constable of the Devon and Cornwall Police, Glen Mayhew, has said that “it will be the biggest security operation” ever undertaken by the force.

It has been well-documented that the cost of past summits in the UK have not been fully met by central government, and it cannot be right that Cornish taxpayers may have to meet a significant element of the cost of the summit in these very straightened times.

It has also been proffered that the economic benefits of the event to Cornwall would be £50 million, with suggestions that this is part of the UK Government’s new “levelling-up agenda.” But it is most certainly not part of any strategic attempt to combat the economic inequality that plagues the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister has just set up a “Build Back Better Council” of business leaders, which he says is about “levelling up opportunity for people and businesses across the UK.”

It has been reported that there are 30 members on the Council, of which 22 are based in London. I understand that three others are based in towns just outside the UK capital, two in the Midlands, one in Cambridge, one in the north and one in Scotland. Apart from being London dominated, isn’t it telling that there is no-one from Wales, Northern Ireland or Cornwall?

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

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

MY LATEST REPORT TO ST ENODER PARISH COUNCIL

My latest report will be presented to tonight's meeting of St Enoder Parish Council. It covers the period from 23rd November 2020 to 24th January 2021, and is as follows:


1.0 Council and other meetings 

Over the last two months, I have attended a range of virtual meetings and briefings via Microsoft Works and Zoom. In terms of Cornwall Council, these have included Full Council (2) and an associated briefing; Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee (2) and associated briefings (3); Cornish National Minority Working Group, associated briefings (2) and meetings with Office of National Statistics about the upcoming 2021 census and the publicity for the “write-in” option for Cornish nationality (2); BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethic) steering group; incinerator liaison group; Group Leaders; Local China Clay Area members; and planning training sessions (2). 

In addition, I have attended the Covid-19 Local Outbreak Engagement Board (3); briefings about the response to the Covid-19 pandemic (4); and the lockdown support group for the China Clay Area (2). 

I have also been at two meetings of St Enoder Parish Council and one meeting of the South and East Cornwall Community-Led Local Development Local Action Group. 

2.0 Grant funding for a toilet in Indian Queens Recreation Ground 

The Parish Council has been working up a project to provide a public toilet for users of the Indian Queens Recreation Ground. 

It is proposed that a small extension will be built to the changing rooms, which will include a toilet cubicle (that will be fully accessible and meet all regulations for use by disabled people). Two existing toilet cubicles and washbasins, located within the changing rooms, will be refurbished and linked to new extension. All three cubicles will be permanently open during daylight hours. 

I am really pleased to be able to announce that I have just secured a grant of £10,000 for the project from the National Lottery’s Award for All funding programme. 

Once this has been done, the Parish Council will be looking to provide a similar facility in the playing field in Summercourt. 

3.0 Planning applications 

The Parish Council and I continue to deal with a range of planning applications. Updates on a couple of specific applications are shown below. 

3.1 Indian Queens Industrial Estate (PA19/05975 & PA20/09460) 

I previously reported that the application (PA19/05975) for a new access into an industrial unit (no. 2) at the Indian Queens Estate from Moorland Road, and the provision of 15 parking spaces, was rejected at a meeting of the Central SubArea Planning Committee on 2nd November. The owners of Unit 2 also submitted a planning application (PA20/09460) for four houses on the industrial estate. 

The application was not policy compliant 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.” The applicants were informed that the application would not be supported, and they have withdrawn it. 

3.2 Derelict pig farm at Higher Fraddon (PA20/08679 and PA20/09375) 

I am able to give an update on the two applications submitted for the derelict pig farm site in Higher Fraddon. 

I can confirm that planning officers have informed the applicants that their outline application for 16 holiday units (PA20/09375) on the site is not policy compliant and will be refused. 

As previously reported, the other application is for the conversion of some of the farm buildings 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. This 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 can be converted. The maximum number of units allowed on such applications is five. The applicant’s right to create five dwellings on the site was confirmed in December. 

The applicants have also been speaking to Cornwall Council about whether a development of seven-eight new dwellings on the site would be acceptable – in place of the five consented Q-class conversions and the possible conversion of a couple of other buildings on the site. 

They did supply an initial mock-up of how the development might look, but they sought to include a significant amount of agricultural land (to the west) into the development area. Cornwall Council has advised that this increase in the footprint of any development is unacceptable and it should be restricted to the site of the extant buildings. The Council has also advised that the applicant should do a formal pre-application consultation before putting in any applications. 

4.0 Unsafe building at derelict pig farm at Higher Fraddon 

In addition to discussions about the planning future of the derelict pig farm, I have been contacted by residents about the unsafe nature of the buildings on the site. I have passed this information through to the owners of the complex, though residents are unhappy at the limited extent of safety works being undertaken on the site. 

5.0 Proposed Government changes to permitted development rights 

Over the last month, I have also been encouraging people to object to the Government’s latest consultation on changes to planning system, which is titled “Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure.” The consultation ends on 28th January. 

It proposes allowing commercial and industrial premises to be changed into housing without the need for planning permission. In particular, it would create a new “permitted development right” that would allow “shops, offices, light industrial, restaurants, gyms, medical facilities and nurseries” to change to residential use with little or no regulation. 

The consultation document states that the proposed new “right” would apply “everywhere … not just on the high street or in town centres.” Unbelievably, it also states that there would be “no size limit on the buildings” that could benefit from the right. This would mean, for example, that even large buildings on strategic industrial estates could become housing without the need for a traditional planning consent. In particular, the changes would completely undermine the employment land and commercial property policies in the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan. 

6.0 Traffic / parking issues 

6.1 Parking issues at Kingsley Village 

Since Christmas, I have continued to make presentations about the ongoing parking issues on the B3275 near Penhale. I have visited the location on a number of occasions and I have been feeding information back to planning, enforcement and traffic officers at the Council, as well as the local Police. This has even included the registration details of parked vehicles. I have also continued to lobby the owners of the complex (CPG) about this, while staff from the unitary authority are continuing to request information from the businesses at the complex. This has not been readily forthcoming. 

I am unhappy with the lack of progress and I have escalated the issue by making further representations to senior planning officers. As a consequence of this, another meeting has been arranged for 2nd February.
 
6.2 Seaview Terrace and Ridgewell Terrace, Fraddon

 I have been contacted by residents at both Seaview Terrace, on the road to St Stephen, and Ridgewell Terrace, Fraddon, about recent accidents near their homes. In both areas, there have been numerous incidents in recent years and I am working up a full list of all the accidents / incidents to lobby Cornwall Council. 

I am however able to report that Cornwall Council's safety engineer is pulling together a list of thirty or so locations (with safety problems) for investigation through a “Local Safety Scheme,” and it has already been confirmed that Seaview Terrace will definitely be among the 30! 

7.0 Highway improvements 

7.1 Proposed new footway between Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School 

The transfer of part of the field to the west of Indian Queens School, from Cornwall Council to St Enoder Parish Council, is nearing completion. The legal paperwork is being prepared and the unitary authority has finalised its report to sanction the grant of funding to construct the proposed new footway between the Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School. I am hopeful that the Parish Council will be in a position to construct the new path in early Spring, when the weather is drier. 

7.2 Proposed zebra crossing on Chapel Road, Indian Queens 

As previously reported, I have been lobbying Cornwall Council schemes for crossings in Indian Queens, on routes to and from the Primary School. The works were promised when the size of the school was increased a few years back. I can confirm that a proposal for a zebra crossing on Chapel Road has been worked up, near to the top of the Drang. It was presented to me at a meeting with highway officers on 22nd January. The scheme also includes some speed cushions on Chapel Road, and I hope that a formal consultation can be held in the very near future. 

I am continuing to push for a crossing on St Francis Road, near the main entrance into the Recreation Ground. The highway officers have come across a number of “design” problems in this area, including the width of the road and services in the pavement / road. A follow-up meeting is planned for 2nd February. 

7.3 Proposed works in Summercourt 

Two highway improvement schemes for Summercourt are still being worked up, though progress has been delayed by lack of capacity within the authority and the inability of staff to make site visits. As previously reported, the two schemes are (i) enhanced safety measures outside Summercourt School, and (ii) pedestrian crossways linked to the traffic lights at Summercourt and two permanent vehicle activated signs on the A3058. 

8.0 Small play areas or open spaces 

In St Enoder Parish, there are a number of small play areas or open spaces, which are still the responsibility of Cornwall Council, though the areas have not been maintained as well as local people might like to see. The Parish Council is in the process of formally requesting that it takes ownership of these areas, which are as follows: 

Kingsley Court, Fraddon (2) (small play area / small open space) 
Lindsay Fields, Fraddon (open area with tree planting) 
Penhale Gardens, Fraddon (small play area) 
St James View, Fraddon (small play area / open grassed area) 
Hanover Parc, Indian Queens (small play area) 
Clodan Mews, St Columb Road (garden area) 

9.0 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. 

10.0 “Remembering the war dead of St Enoder Parish” 

When I am not working on my council duties, I have been trying to do some research into the fallen servicemen from our area, who lost their lives in the Second World War. This year, I will be remembering these servicemen (as well as those from the First World War featured in the 2018 book) on the anniversary of their deaths on the “Remembering the war dead of St Enoder Parish” facebook page. 

11.0 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, 13 January 2021

PLEASE RESPOND TO LATEST GOVERNMENT PLANNING CONSULTATION


On a number of occasions, I have written about the UK Government’s plans to dismantle the existing planning system, as set out in their White Paper titled “Planning for the Future.” I recently reported that the Planning Minister had back-tracked on the worst excesses of its new top-down “standard method” for housing targets, which would have imposed over 81,000 new properties on Cornwall over the next twenty years.

But I continue to maintain that the proposed changes would nonetheless be a disaster for Cornwall, and I have been somewhat taken aback that the UK Government is consulting on yet another change to planning. I would describe this latest proposal as frankly bonkers.

The consultation is titled “Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure,” and proposes allowing commercial and industrial premises to be changed into housing without the need for planning permission.

It seeks to create a new “permitted development right” that would allow “shops, offices, light industrial, restaurants, gyms, medical facilities and nurseries” to simply change to residential use with little or no regulation.

The consultation document states that the proposed new “right” would apply “everywhere … not just on the high street or in town centres.” Unbelievably, it also states that there would be “no size limit on the buildings” that could benefit from the right.

Planning professionals are already raising concerns that the commercial heart of towns and cities could be undermined by the reforms but, ridiculously, the proposed changes would even allow very large buildings on strategic industrial estates to become housing without the need for a traditional planning consent.

Developers would also be allowed to turn sizeable buildings into a large number of residential properties, without providing any local-needs housing or making any contributions for education provision or infrastructure.

In addition, it would mean that local planning authorities, such as Cornwall’s unitary authority, would be powerless to stop buildings in inappropriate and unsustainable locations becoming residential properties.

If you share my concerns about this ill-prepared, ill-considered and totally inappropriate proposal, please respond to the consultation. A link to the consultation can be found on my blog at: mebyonkernow.blogspot.com.

Please also contact your local MP to challenge them to oppose the ongoing deregulation of the planning system.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that central government is pretty clueless on planning matters and does not comprehend what is appropriate for Cornish communities. We really do need to bring people together in a massive campaign to demand that all decisions on planning policy which affect Cornwall are taken in Cornwall.

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

Friday, 8 January 2021

MEBYON KERNOW IS OPPOSING LATEST PLANNING CHANGES


The UK Government is consulting on proposed changes to the planning system, which would allow commercial and industrial premises to be changed into housing without the need for planning permission.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has described the proposed changes as “bonkers” and is calling on the residents of Cornwall to respond to a government consultation which closes on 28th January.

The consultation is titled “Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure.”

It seeks to create a new “permitted development right” that would allow “shops, offices, light industrial, restaurants, gyms, medical facilities and nurseries” to change to residential use without the need for planning permission.

The consultation document states that the proposed new “right” would apply “everywhere … not just on the high street or in town centres.” It also states that there is “no size limit on the buildings that can benefit from the right.”

In a statement issued today, I stated the following:

“The proposed planning changes are ill-prepared and inappropriate – bonkers even!

“For example, the changes as presently proposed would allow some very large buildings on strategic industrial estates to become housing without the need for a traditional planning consent. Important employment space would be lost.

“Sizeable buildings could also be turned into a large number of residential properties, without providing any affordable housing or making contributions for educational provision or infrastructure.

“Local planning authorities would further be powerless to stop buildings in inappropriate and unsustainable locations becoming residential properties.

“Please respond to the consultation and please contact your local MP to challenge them to oppose these ill-considered changes.”

The link to this consultation is as below:

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

70th ANNIVERSARY FOR MEBYON KERNOW


Today marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall. As the present leader of MK, I would like to mark the occasion by writing about the earliest days of the organisation.

The inaugural meeting took place at the Oates Temperance Hotel in Redruth on Saturday 6th January 1951. There were thirteen people present and a further six sent apologies. Among the founder members, there were four future Grand Bards of Gorsedh Kernow (Ernest George Retallack Hooper, Ann Trevenen Jenkin, Richard Garfield Jenkin and George Pawley White) and Charles Thomas, who went on to become the Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter.

Helena Charles was elected MK’s first leader. A remarkable woman, she had been born in Calcutta of Cornish parents and spent much of her life in voluntary work. She had worked in the slums of Bermondsey in the 1930s, she served with the London Ambulance Service during the Second Word War and she was well-known for her selfless work on behalf of Jewish refugees during the war and in the immediate post-war period. She served on Camborne-Redruth Urban District Council and, following a trip to Venice in 1964, she founded a charity to care for the large number of stray cats in the Italian city.

This formal launch of Mebyon Kernow followed the 1950 International Celtic Congress, held in Truro, which brought together many like-minded people from the various Celtic nations, and proved to be the catalyst that forged a new movement.

In MK’s original aims, there was a strong focus on Cornish identity and culture, and the need to “further the acceptance of the idea of the Celtic character of Cornwall, one of the six Celtic nations.” But it was also openly political with a commitment to “study local conditions and attempt to remedy any that may be prejudicial to the best interests of Cornwall” while, by September 1951, it was pushing Cornwall’s “right to self-government in domestic affairs in a federated United Kingdom.”

Mebyon Kernow certainly launched a wide range of initiatives in its earliest years. These included campaigns for a Cornish Assembly, a Cornish University and a Cornish Industrial Board or Development Agency; support for traditional Cornish industries and opposition to railway closures. But it was essentially a pressure group, which meant that activists in other political parties could also be members of MK. Such members included Conservative MP David Mudd and Liberal MPs Peter Bessell and John Pardoe.

Mebyon Kernow continues to campaign for Cornwall, and I am most grateful to those foresighted individuals who, seven decades ago, decided a Cornish political organisation was needed.