Thursday, 26 May 2016

Malabar Community Litterpick and BBQ

Malabar residents of all ages helping out!  Thanks to all who helped with the Litterpick last Saturday and also to Laurence Reed of Radio Cornwall who gave up his Saturday morning to help too.

Thanks to the County Arms for providing the bacon butties and to Laurence Reed

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Council with 'no money' decides to find £250,000 to give councillors a payrise

It was the quickest decision I have ever seen the Council make by a very long way. It resembled a bank robbery. Councillors stood around, some shouting and others in shock. Cllr Wallis called for a vote without debate and more than half the councillors supported him. They did not want to hear anyone speak a few home truths. For example, why allow anyone to refer to the Chief Executive's evidence which implied that we were a lot less efficient as members of a Council than Barnet.

The rises (which do not take effect until the next Council in 2017) range between approximately  4% and 28%. For example, backbenchers will receive 13.6%, the Leader of the Council, 15.1% and the Deputy Leader, 21.2%.

Some councillors (mainly the Chairmen of Portfolio Advisory Committees) were considered to receive too much as 'an extra responsibility allowance' as they did not have much extra responsibility, so the overall rise for a councillor receiving that allowance (assuming he remains in post after the next election) , is smaller.

There now appear to be another 12 councillors who are to receive special responsibility allowances - a combination of introducing allowances to help all those chairmen mentioned above who have not much responsibility and the formation of a new committee.

New committees unfortunately seem to be a bit of a growth sector for this Council (see previous blog).

The Panel recommended these increases to help make standing for the Council more accessible to people who do not have other means of supporting themselves. This is a good ambition, although difficult to achieve, as many candidates will be put off by the fact that they can be thrown out at the next election. So, it is best not to be too dependent on the money.

 If councillors actually shared that ambition, and did not think it was just a good excuse for a pay rise,  they would respond to my challenge to make the Council more efficient. Members who are trying to hold down a job or look after children are seriously disadvantaged as against retired councillors who do not have the same pressures on their time - and therefore appear to be happy to take up endless time sitting in meetings, productive or otherwise.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Cornwall Council: A bureaucrat's dream

This is how Cornwall Council will select how many members it wants in the forthcoming boundary review.  This diagram excludes the consultants who will also provide evidence.  

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Council Toilet U Turn

My first reaction on hearing (from the Cornish Guardian) that the Council's public toilets would not, after all, be closed, was delight.
After that I think we are all entitled to ask:
1.  What took the Council, which is supposed to represent Cornwall, so long to listen to public opinion?
2. How is the new decision being funded as the Council say they have 'no money'?
3. What does it say for democracy if decisions of the Council are changed behind closed doors and then members just find out about them from the Cornish Guardian ?
4. Does the Council know what it is doing? On Monday lunchtime the Leader tells Laurence Reed 'no money'. On Tuesday morning he tells Cornish Guardian toilets are saved.
5. Won't the parishes who took over their public toilets feel conned?
6.Surely this must be good news for other services such as leisure centres which the Council has threatened to close.  How much money are the Council wasting on working up 'local solutions/alternative delivery models' etc only to back down?
7. Will anyone believe what the Council say ever again?

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Cornwall Council should get real: the number of councillors is going down

Although Cornwall was right at the top of the Boundary Commission's list for falling foul of its principle that every person's vote is worth the same, the Council has persuaded the Boundary Commission to put off reviewing this in time for 2017 local elections.

But the Commission still intends to sort it out in time for 2021 local elections.

The first stage is for the Council to express a view on what number of councillors Cornwall should have in 2021.

The Panel working on this first met yesterday.

Their first step was to go through the paperwork studiously crossing out any implication, express or implied, that the number of councillors would be reduced.

Apart from the public's views on this, there are at least two reasons why this approach is totally unrealistic.

First, committing to a smaller number of councillors was part of the Devolution Deal for Cornwall (which the Council approved last July).  It was a compromise to avoid having a mayor for Cornwall.

Second, as the divisions currently have so few voters that relatively small population changes make them unequal to a significant degree, the current number of councillors is not viable.  It means that the Council will for ever be spending time and public money reviewing and reworking the boundaries of its electoral divisions.
The last boundary review for Cornwall Council was described by the Boundary Commission as 'appalling' and 'the worst ever seen'. 

The recommendations from the panel will be influential in determining the outcome of the review but with public toilets, libraries, leisure centres and public spaces being devolved to other local organisations can Cornwall councillors reasonably resist reducing their own numbers?

Report to Truro City Council

Please give my apologies for this evening.   I am attending a school drugs awareness talk.

New junction into Penn An Dre, Highertown
I am told this should now be finished by 4th April. It has run over its schedule due to problems with SW Water relocation of equipment, where the Council's trial pit did not reveal the true depth of SW Water equipment (which varies).
The interim arrangements for pedestrians crossing the road outside All Saints Church have been very unsatisfactory .

Parking Survey : Next steps
The results of the survey in Truro and other towns will be reported to the Transport PAC in May.
Proposals will be considered by the Transport PAC at their meeting in July.
The Cabinet will make a decision on what proposals to implement in September.
Disappointing that progress is so slow.

Stadiums etc
I am concerned that the fact that too many permissions have been granted for retail in Truro will mean that that those applications granted will end up not having the wherewithal to provide the infrastructure promised. For example, Peter Masters of Truro City Football Club) is reported last week as saying that there are arguments just now about what goods can be sold at Treyew Road Retail Park. This is a sure sign that there are issues with getting tenants.  All these applications should have been brought back to Committee and not given another 6 months to sort out their Section 106 agreements.  Members would then have had the opportunity to look at this again, given that the retail market has further contracted since they were granted.

Bus station public conveniences
I had a complaint that these were not in an acceptable state. Cllr Wells kindly agreed to follow this up.

Pine Needles, 12 Higher Trehaverne
I doubt that this application will be referred to the Central Planning Committee as it is very similar to that approved already for No 11.

8 St Keyne Close
I have asked for this application for an  extension to be referred to Committee as over development/unneighbourly.

Tree cut down recently behind Trehaverne House
The tree was in fact in the garden of the Dingle and not protected by a TPO or in the Conservation Area.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Residents' Parking Survey Update

Cornwall Council plan to analyse the results of their recent survey on parking and report to Council's Transport Portfolio Advisory Committee (PAC) in May.

They say a draft parking policy will then be considered by the PAC in July.

Recommendations will then go to the Cabinet in September.

Members of the public may ask questions at the beginning of each of these meetings. Procedures for doing so are on Cornwall Council website.

Nearly 6000 responses were received from accross Cornwall.