Friday, 18 July 2014

Election result: Mabe

The Conservative Group are delighted to win back the Mabe, Perranaworthal  and St Gluvias Division from UKIP.
It was the narrowest of victories over Lib Dem candidate, John Ault by one vote.   Mr Ault, a lecturer in politics and a former County Councillor in SE Cornwall is apparently a writer of a treatise on getting elected.
The new Conservative councillor is a local businessman, Peter Williams who was formerly a tin miner at South Crofty and a volunteer lifeguard for many years.
Whilst  I am sure he will be an excellent local champion I  also look forward to working with Peter as he is keen to use his business experience for Cornwall Council.   It is important to invest to create jobs and protect services. It should not be 'all about cuts'.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Follow up on questions raised at Dudman meeting

   Overall, please note that officers have not yet reached a view on whether or not they would recommend this application for approval. Subject to this:

1.    Allotments

      If allotments were to be provided then they would be made available to interested persons via a waiting list.  This is an outline application and there are no details on how many car parking spaces would be available for allotment holders. This would be addressed at reserved matter stage.

2.    Sewage

     If permission were to be granted it would need to be subject of similar restriction to that imposed on the Langarth application. i.e:      No phase of development permitted to commence until a scheme for the disposal of sewage and foul drainage for that phase has been approved, and no phase of the development to be occupied or otherwise brought into use until improvement works to the public sewerage system downstream of the site, as necessary to accommodate sewage to be discharged from that phase of the development, have been completed.

3.     Primary School

     The Lowen Bre (Persimmon) site remains an option open to the Council for the provision of a new school.  However, it is just the land that has been made available. Since other proposed developments include land and money for providing a new school, if those developments are built out then it may be unlikely that a school will be provided at Lowen Bre.  

4.   The lack of hospital capacity is not a grounds for refusal.

5.    Taylor Wimpey has altered their plan for the adjacent site although the changes are minor.  A full application has been submitted for the whole scheme under the "free go" rules, but the differences between the approved scheme and that now proposed are not considered to be significant.  

6.   The Southern Relief Road is identified in the Truro Transport Strategy (TTS) and the proposed development at Dudman Farm would compromise this part of the Strategy.  Whilst this is not desirable the TTS is not a statutory planning document and as such it carries only limited weight.  

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Commuter Parking: no easy answers

I have just spent several days canvassing on whether residents of Hendra and Kenwyn would support a residents' permit scheme. With help from Council officers we at least will get a better picture of residents' views when the surveys are returned.

On the doorstep, as I expected, views were very mixed.  Some people are delighted with the thought that there might be the prospect of solving the issue of being under seige in their own homes for £25 per year.

Others are horrified by the prospect of having their lives subject to more regulation and more expense.  And just to reassure those who are opposed to more expense I should add that I have personally paid for the paperwork to gain residents views and I will not claim it back from the council.

After the summer I will report back on the outcome of the survey. As I said on the doorstop, despite remarks made on Twitter by the Cabinet Member for Finance, it is not at all clear that anything will be done, even if there is public support.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Down in the Dumps over Dudman

Thank you to everybody who managed to get to the meeting on Friday night.  There were about 130 of us by the time we started.

Comments on the application should be made on line ( and then look for Environment and Planning and then On Line Planning Register). Or if you prefer in writing.  I am happy if you send/leave them for me at County Hall and I will pass them on. The application number is PA14/04970.

The Dudman Farm development would be 380 more homes on a greenfield site.

Concerns were expressed on a number of issues (more on that in a later blog) but the overriding issue is the affect on traffic on A390, which is already in a dire state. The Council have not not yet looked at the traffic implications of this using their traffic modelling programme.

Hilarity broke out when I mentioned that the Council calculated that the journey time from Chiverton Cross to Arch Hill (head of Falmouth Road) took 10 minutes at 8.30am in 2012 but was expected to rise to 24 minutes in 2031 (after all the developments in the Threemilestone Development Brief were completed). People found the 2012 'base case' hard to believe.

A crucial point is that the Council have a ransom strip at the back of the Old Richard Lander School which would be the main access to the development so they do have some say on what happens here beyond their role in the planning process.

In the rain on Friday lunchtime a group of residents from Penwerris Road, highways officers and I looked at progress on the bus gate proposal at the head of Treliske Lane. This is a proposal to save the trees between A390 and Penwerris Road.

It would involve:-

- the creation of two lanes coming out of Treliske Lane and new traffic lights to allow traffic to come out turning left and right (I think we have now managed to achieve in contrast to the original proposal which forced traffic to turn left only). We would lose about 9 trees on the corner of Treliske Lane to accommodate the two exit lanes and the buses.

- we said we wanted the footpath moved away from the A390 at this point because the buses are close and at a higher road level.

- there was discussion about reinstating Penwerris Road so that it is complete but it cannot be accessed from Treliske Lane to accommodate safe egress from residents' drives

- the junction at the head of Newbridge Lane will become traffic lighted with no roundabout but a through outside Lane for buses. If you feel you may have been here before you would be right!

- we would lose the pedestrian crossing outside the shop through lack of space. We have asked the Council to look at this again.

- landscaping is very important for residents in Penwerris Road.

- buses will stop in the carriage way and not in bus lay-bys. The new thinking is that this prevents buses becoming trapped in their lay-bys but it will hold up traffic.

- there will be a traffic lighted junction into the new Taylor Wimpey development

- the path to the bus stop opposite old Richard Lander School will be improved in gradient and we have asked for a hand rail.

- if there is no pedestrian crossing opposite the shop there may be a case for only one bus stop and that would be near the junction into Taylor Wimpey site.

All this sounds fairly horrendous and hard for a non traffic engineer to work out whether it will work with traffic lights liberally sprinkled as if it were Christmas. But the tree loss is reduced- subject to final sign off from the tree officer.

The Department of Transport spanner in the works, which has cast doubt on the Newbridge Parking Scheme looks a bit closer to resolution. We cannot introduce the scheme until we know that the short term bays are enforceable . Residents' forbearance is appreciated.

Please keep an eye on my blog for updates on the queries I need to get answered.

Thank you one and all, especially Rowley Surridge, for opening up and making the church hall available and to Cllr Chris Wells for chairing. And to those who kindly helped with the delivery of the leaflets.

Any further queries please let me know.

Fiona Ferguson
07731 548 139
County Hall
Treyew Road

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Cormac accounts darker than Tarmac?

In April the Partnership Portfolio Advisory Committee looked at the business plans of all the Council's subsidiaries. The material presented for Cormac was just about sufficient for members to understand that Cormac was mainly to do with roads.

Cormac do a lot of good work and take a long term view. We all know that some of their work during the winter was excellent. But we do use taxpayers money to pay them and councillors should hold them to account.

I asked for a proper business plan (after all the relevant year had already started). I have continued to ask, including at the recent Scrutiny Management Committee on 29th May. There, in response to a question I raised about developers feeling they were overcharged by Cormac, I was told that it was only one developer who was being difficult. But then I was told that there was to be a workshop for developers on this very subject on 23rd June.

If it is just one contractor being "difficult" why the cost of a conference?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Cornwall turns away Government money for 'spare bedroom tax'

As I anticipated, the Council's approach to the abolition of the spare room subsidy has got nowhere.

The Government pointed out that the discretionary housing benefit allocated to Cornwall to help protect the vulnerable was actually underspent by £230,000. 86 councils applied for even more money and 85 of them got it.

The Council also made no bid for funds to build suitable smaller size social housing under the Government's £3.2 billion homes programme.

This is one ocassion where the Council should have spent less time campaigning and more time making the best use of the resources that were available.