Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Update on Town Parking Consultation

Briefing note
Update on Town Parking Consultation
February 2017


 Surveys were carried out in early 2016 targeting residents, businesses and visitors in seven towns. Nearly 7,000 responses were received. Over a third of residents and two thirds of businesses surveyed identified parking issues on streets in their locality. Top reasons given for parking problems included: Lack of street space to accommodate all household vehicles; commuters, visitors and shoppers parking in residential streets; double yellow lines affecting parking and loading near businesses; and parking near schools, college, university or hospital. Respondents had a mixture of views about introducing residents parking zones and other parking measures.
Latest update
 We carried out a further extensive public engagement in the autumn including letters to over 24,000 households, publicity in town centres, via social media (reaching over 50,000 people), press releases and public events in each of the seven towns.
 Over a third of residents who were contacted responded with their views on proposals for new residents parking zones (nearly 8,200 responses).
 Over half of the residents who responded had problems parking on the street near their home, with some areas having over 90% of respondents saying it was an issue.
 Views on proposals for residents parking schemes were varied, with no consensus across the towns about how to address the parking issues
 We recognise that parking on street is a serious issue for some residents but further work is needed to work out appropriate solutions for those areas and deal with displacement parking.
 1700 responses (including over 200 from businesses) were received about on-street pay and display proposals alongside 3 petitions with 2091 signatures
 90% of respondents oppose the on-street Pay and display proposals
 Due to the level of response we received, the detailed analysis is still underway and isn’t due to be completed until later this month.
Next Steps
 The data and emerging proposals are due to be shared with local Members in February/March (invitations have been sent out – dates below).
 Following these sessions, proposed schemes will be drawn up and presented in a business case for decision by Cabinet later this year.
 The individual schemes which require Traffic Regulation Orders will be subject to a formal consultation as part of the legal procedure necessary to obtain the Order.

Meeting Dates
Falmouth & Penryn
23rd February (am)
23rd February (pm)
28th February (am)
2nd March (am)
St Ives
9th March (am)
14th March (am)
14th March (pm)
17th March (pm)

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hilary Benn's Brexit Committee visit to Cornwall

 The Council expected protests (presumably from Remainers) today and were all geared up for a surge. In fact only a few officers and the press attended.

Three members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Exiting the European Union visited Cornwall.

If you would like to watch the whole of the proceedings click HERE but below are some of the highlights of the evidence they were given by the Council and other stakeholders like the National Union of Farmers:

1. The Council leadership is looking to Wales for advice.
2. Brexit Opportunity:getting Government money without EU constraints on its use but who knows how   much money.
3. Cornwall is worried that Dept of Local Government has introduced a 'value for money' test and is asking the Council to underwrite schemes for which the Govt provides cash.
4.Cornwall will not benefit from £350m of EU funds in 2020 to 2027 but see 2 and 3 above.
5 . Fishing : 92% of catch is exported. So very important to get a tariff free deal.
6. Brexit opportunity : Staycations have increased due to fall in value of sterling.
7.Council worried about uneven standard of hotel accommodation in Cornwall.  Some German tourists stay in Torbay and make forays into Cornwall.  Constraint on tourism.
8.Brexit opportunity : have a bespoke farming subsidy scheme.
9.Council considering a regional immigration deal for Cornwall  (as are London and Scotland) to avoid labour shortages in farming, food processing, IT, research (and also to encourage foreign students).
10. World Trade tariff rules no good for Cornwall which has 6% GVA in agriculture and food processing. (eg 40% on UK lamb exports).
11. Brexit has had a negative effect on investment in Cornwall. 
12. Brexit opportunity : integrate rules to promote agriculture with rules to protect the environment.
13. Brexit opportunity : make rules less complex but there may be unintended consequences and we will still be affected by EU rules and ideally want to influence them.
14. New markets are there but say, out of £300m per annum sheep exports, £280m currently goes to EU. Hard to replace.
15. Worries about future name protection of Cornish pasty and clotted cream etc.
16. Worries agriculture may be sidelined in bespoke trade deals as tiny part of total export values (2% with fishing /forestry?)
17. Worries no level playing field for agriculture as some other markets have different standards eg US market is less stringent about antibiotics use and growth  hormones.
18.  Some evidence of software companies considering relocating to EU but sounded very anecdotal.
19. The  Cornwall Isles of Scilly Futures Group has written a paper  'Catalyst for Change' and is determined to make the most of the Brexit opportunities.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Public Meeting – Kenwyn/Hendra Road Crossing

At the recent public meeting  the 'No money' Council promised an 'options appraisal' in April to assess how this junction can be made safer.

In the meantime I have asked for the school crossing patrol to be offered with longer hours to make it a more viable job and cover after school/breakfast clubs.

Another short term measure would be to ask Truro City Parks dept staff to cover this position. I have asked for this to be considered.

20% of school crossing patrols remain vacant positions across Cornwall.

Minutes of  public meeting available HERE

Monday, 30 January 2017

Local Government Boundary Commission for England: Visit to Cornwall 6th Feb.

My letter to the Boundary Commission prior to their visit on 6th February.
Attention Mr J Jackson and Mr C Mellors
Dear Sirs,
I understand that you will be visiting Cornwall Council on 6th February to review progress of the Council's work on making a final recommendation to the Commission for the number of councillors for 2021.
I apologise that I am not able to attend the meeting with you as I have a long standing prior engagement.
I am a signatory to the Conservative group submission to the Commission but I hope you will not mind me updating my views in the light of subsequent developments.
There is clearly no magic number which is just right. However, to meet your timetable, it is most important (after approximately 50 meetings/workshops/events) to make a decision and move on to the next stage of agreeing the new boundaries.
In view of the evidence previously submitted and the subsequent evidence received from the Cornwall Association of Local Councils (who recommended 85 to 95), I would support 85. This is the number proposed by my group at the meeting of the Council on 24th January but the Chairman decided not to debate it pending further work by the Electoral Review Panel.
It represents a significant reduction but is clearly sufficient to populate the various committees that would be needed. There have been at least two iterations of these committees tabled by officers and these could be refined.  
Further, the Constitution and Governance Committee is now recommending to the Council that the number of committees involved in policy development and scrutiny be reduced from 11 to 5 (reducing the Committee positions involved from 115 to 75).
85 is not the lowest number that could be made to work but it is the lowest number that the current administration have been prepared to consider.
I appreciate very much the difficulties for members, particularly those with large rural divisions: less councillors would mean more work, no matter what any 'role profile' may say. This is an elected role and not one where we can effectively reject work on technical grounds and nor would many of us wish to. Further, new technology can create work as well as save it.
However, fundamentally, the Council needs to be an effective decision making body in order to provide visible and accountable leadership for Cornwall and there are currently too many members to achieve this.
Interestingly a councillor remarked at one of the recent meetings on this subject that we don't need a mayor but we need a mayor's office. He elaborated that people need to know where to go to get answers.
This Boundary/Governance review alone shows that there is almost no relationship between time expended by members and effectiveness in decision making.
85 is the recommendation on the basis that we are seeking to work with your timetable. However, I think that you should be aware of the work of the Cornwall Executive Group (senior management from many of the key bodies working in or with the public sector in Cornwall) ('CEG').

 The Council agreed that CEG would be involved in establishing a Leadership Board for Cornwall (to include the Leader of the Council and representatives of partner organisations). This was a proposal that came from the Governance and Constitution External Group when it rejected, on balance, a mayoral model.

However, CEG has formed the view that the Leadership Board will not meet the Government's wish to have visible and accountable leadership and there is a risk that Cornwall will miss out on more power and more Government money  (as compared with areas which have mayors).

It has reported its view to the Constitution and Governance Committee and has indicated that it is now considering whether it can come up with an alternative suitable governance structure.

This could involve the creation of area boards for east, central and west Cornwall, the creation of leaders for those areas, a combined authority with the Isles of Scilly (with the existing unitary councils becoming the delivery arms), the creation of locality and strategic councillors and so on (see item 5Constitution and Governance Committee agenda 26th January).

The concern they express is that 'We have to ensure that we have the right governance model to ensure that we do not get put to the back of the queue, as then we are not serving the people of Cornwall'.

Yours sincerely 
Fiona Ferguson CC 
Truro Trehaverne

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Truro -Cornwall :European Union Capital of Culture 2023?

Should 'no money' Council really spend over £500,000 bidding to be EU Capital of Culture 2023?

The Independent /Lib Dem administration propose to spend more than £500,000 bidding to become the European Union's Capital of Culture in 2023.

I campaigned for Remain. The Council sat on the fence. We all know and accept the result.

1. Does applying for an EU accolade sit very comfortably just right now with a strong vote for Leave in Cornwall?   The other contestant cities either voted decisively  Remain  (Dundee ) or narrowly Leave or Remain. 

2. Although at this moment the UK has been appointed host country for the competition for 2023 this may be affected by our decision to leave. The Government acknowledge this. It is hard to believe that when the rubber hits the road on the negotiations with the EU that confirming the UK's right to host this event in 2023 will be a priority. (It has been occasionally been hosted by Norway and other non members before but only by countries considered on their way in, not out).

3. Other cities like Dundee have been working on their bids for years apparently. We are now proposing to throw money at the project to get a bid done quickly. Why take this risk?

4. Truro- Cornwall is not a natural fit with the competition. As the Council acknowledges the bid is aimed at cities, not regions.

5. Will people consider this Trurocentric?

6. £500,000 is an awful lot of money for such an uncertain bid.

7. This is only the tip of the iceberg. The bid involves more spending of up to £25,000,000.

8. At this stage the Council's supporting partners are only contributing their expertise.

9. If this was such a good idea why is the Council up to 2 years behind the other contestants.

10. Are we really comfortable with the Council's estimate of the positive economic impact if the bid is successful?

Overall, why not spend any money available on actual projects, not bidding for titles?

Sunday, 15 January 2017

IT Project Questions

As it stands I cannot support this project as I do not have the expertise and I have not had sufficient involvement.   

Here are my questions;  in no particular order.

1. Why is the price suddenly £18.15m when the budget signed off in October included £9m for IT?

2. What is the length of the life of the product? I am concerned the proposed pay back period of three years may be insufficient? 

3. What member engagement has there been? The results of the member survey have not even been collated (in which councillors are asked about their IT needs).

4. Are savings to pay for this project being doubled counted? There is, for example, already supposed to be a saving of £500k on staff mileage (to cover the administration's decision not to charge staff for parking)?

5. What evidence do we have of partners' buy in?  Members agreed to the small BT deal in order to work closely with health and then RCHT dropped out.

6. How much is single person discount in total? More information needed on how this software will cut fraud on claims.

7. What is the estimated cost of working hours being lost? £15.70 per hour?  How is this calculated? If it takes officers 20 mins to log on now what will it be after the spend?

8. Is this product as off the shelf as possible to minimise problems with adoption and the difficulties mentioned in the report of recruiting IT people?

9. Will councillors get IT equipment in next Council? I use my own but will all councillors be expected to provide their own?

10. As price is in US dollars, is currency risk being hedged?

11. What fees were paid to Gartner for their advice?

12. Can you provide demonstration on 24th Jan for councillors as use of Skype earlier this week was disastrous in attempting to persuade councillors of benefits of virtual meetings.  

13. Is there a risk that we will raise expectations of public but not able to meet them (instant access to the Council will expect an instant response)? 

14. We seem to be 'paying to play' for the use of this software. Can we afford it?  Are we at the complete mercy of Microsoft? 

15. With the references to the involvement of the project with small businesses in Cornwall, are we mixing up buying IT equipment for the Council and creating jobs in Cornwall? Are there risks with this?

16. The benefits of some of this assumes data sharing being agreed by residents. Many people will have reservations about this.

17. How will the cost be shared across the Council now that 1/3 of staff are in the associated companies/ALMOs and selling their services to third parties in some cases? 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Mylor Planning

The Parish Council in Mylor was stormy last night. There were roughly 100 people present. I stood in for Cllr Tony Martin to hear residents' views.

A team led by a representative of Savills (Bristol Office) arrived to explain how their client's planning application (PA16/10635) in a six acre field forming part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was just what Mylor needed.

There was a shortage of affordable housing within the Parish, which Savills said amounted to 91 units. The Chairman of the Parish Council said it was in fact 69 units. In either case it is a significant number.

The Chairman said that the Parish are working on a plan which includes work on where homes for local need may be sited.

Residents had many concerns about the current application:

1. The noise and disruption of construction traffic.

2. The adverse impact of further traffic through the village - congestion and speed issues (Jennifer Adams, Community Speedwatch Coordinator explained the stats. on this). Bizarrely, Savills claimed that affordable homes generated less traffic movements.

3. The unsuitability of the surrounding roads, particularly with residents having to reverse out onto Saltbox Road: the Savills team offered a new bit of pavement here in mitigation.

4. Mylor School is full to capacity (147 pupils with a capacity of 140). Savills acknowledged there was more to do to resolve this issue.

5. There would be a loss of Grade 2 agricultural land.

6. On flooding, we were advised that this area is 'only' Flood Zone 1 but Savills acknowledge that there is more to do to sort out foul and surface drainage. They plan attenuation ponds on the higher ground to soak up surface water.

The crux of it is that, even if other objections can be overcome, there can be no justification for a loss of ANOB land unless there is a real overriding need to provide affordable homes for people with local connections here. Savills were very very vague on that. Their client (not present as 'had suffered a puncture en route') asks for permission for 'up to 32' homes of which 'up to 50 per cent' would be affordable (70% social rented and 30% shared ownership).

The crucial phrase is 'up to'. So far as I can tell the applicant intends to sell on the land if permission is granted. They have done no work on how many affordable homes are viable. They have no partner in place to deliver the affordable homes. A cynic might say that there has been almost no work done on this at all. It looks like a peg to hang a permission on.

The very fact that Mylor has a need for local needs homes means that vague promises which will scar the AONB and could in the end providing almost no local need homes should be given short shrift.
There seemed every possibility that if permission were granted a future owner would be back looking to increase the density of housing on the site. At the moment about 50% is open space. This application looks like classic foot in the door stuff.

The Parish Council unanimously recommended refusal. I will ask Cllr Martin to support the Parish Council.