Friday, 9 January 2015

More Cost Savings

Cornwall Council have started the year with another cost saving initiative by preventing "...offices from being opened, staffed, heated etc. on one day between the BH on 1st Jan and the weekend."

In order to save money all offices were closed and staff given an additional day's holiday on Friday 2nd January.  If they had to work that day then they will have until the end of the month to take another day off in lieu.

I have asked the Council how much money was saved.

Cllr Folkes: Leader's response

Following my letter to the Leader of the Council I met with him this week.

He has assured me that the review of the Cllr Folkes matter will be conducted independently and will shortly get under way.

I do not know why this has taken so much time but the administration now needs to get on with it.

The Leader has confirmed that if any new information is available about this matter then, if it is provided to the Council,  the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) can decide whether the cross service Committee (which includes the police) which made the original decision should be reconvened to consider it.

I am sure the LADO's decision on referral to the Committee should also be covered by the review.

Cllr Folkes has indicated that senior Liberal Democrat colleagues on Cornwall Council have seen evidence of his innocence and that he will be applying to rejoin the party at local and national level.   Any evidence that Cllr Folkes can produce to the Council which suggests that the Committee reached the wrong conclusion would be helpful.
It would be strange in the extreme if the Deputy Leader of Cornwall Council has access to evidence which leads him to a contrary conclusion to that of the Leader.  They must both be able to see the same information and they both can’t be right if they come to different conclusions.

I hope that when the outcome of the review is published the fog will clear.  

Monday, 5 January 2015

Cllr Folkes: Letter to Lib Dem Cllrs says he can now prove he is innocent

Open letter to Cllr Pollard, Leader of the Council

Dear John,

I have read Alex Folkes' letter to Liberal Democrat councillors published in the latest edition of the Cornish Guardian.  I would be grateful if you would give me an update on the timing of the independent enquiry into this matter.

It would be very unfortunate if in the meantime Cllr Folkes were to commence defamation proceedings against the Council or its officers.  Contesting these proceedings would involve cost to Cllr Folkes and also to the Cornish taxpayer.  It would be a great pity for those costs to be a further pressure which needs to be funded by a reduction in public services.

I hope that Cllr Folkes will publish the evidence which he says proves his innocence and I understand has been seen by Jeremy Rowe.  It seems to me that this can only help resolve the matter more quickly and may avoid costly litigation for all parties.


cc Cllr Jeremy Rowe, Deputy Leader

Monday, 22 December 2014

Councillor Folkes; Inquiry or review?

The negotiated terms of reference for a review into the processes relating to the resignation of  Councillor Folkes from the cabinet have been agreed between Cornwall Council and the Local Government Association.

It is important that this is now conducted quickly so that we can be assured that we have processes in place to protect children, adults, councillors and staff whilst being fully compliant with the requirements of the law.

It will be interesting to see the timeline of actions and statements but as this is to be a review restricted to processes and procedural failures it looks like the only name to appear in the report will be that of Councillor Folkes.

The original source document I was shown included large sections of redacted text - the white sections above and below the visible text - which were not made available to me.
I hope the results will be comprehensive, informative and totally open.  I am trying not to be sceptical and I  will await the outcome of the review.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Stadium amendment to Local Plan

My amendment this week to the Local Plan to include the aspiration for a Stadium was ruled out because it would need another period of public consultation.   The council were not prepared to countenance another delay in the Plan and so it was not included.

The last I heard the INOX application for West Langarth is likely to be considered with the other three supermarket applications on 12th March. This assumes it will not be derailed by Truro City Club site application.

To have a chance of success INOX need to supply viability information to convince the Committee that the Stadium can and will get built and the legal case to compel this should be robust. Stadium fans have been disappointed before.

This would be needed to justify the risk to the Council of turning down the other applications which have technically better sites (in planning terms) for the supermarket as they are nearer to Truro.

I acknowledge that this will be difficult with no signed up tenant for the supermarket.  INOX are relying on at least one supermarket still wanting to come to Truro and on INOX being in a monopoly position to 'dictate' terms to that supermarket.

It would be really helpful to the INOX case if it was able to get a letter of intent from one or more supermarkets that they are interested in the INOX site.  It would also be interesting to know at what stage the supermarkets' commitments (if any) to other developer sites fall through.  Otherwise, to get built a Stadium will need a Plan B.

I still do not understand why Truro College can only put in £2m.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Stadium Amendment to Local Plan

I have submitted an amendment to the (draft) Local Plan for Cornwall, to be considered by Council on Tuesday. This needs to be pre cleared by officers as procedurally acceptable.

There may be a perceived difficulty with including it in the Plan as it was not included in a consultation draft. Many more people have expressed a view on the Stadium than on any aspect of the Local Plan.  So let us hope it is not disallowed because they have failed to 'tick the right box'.

The  inclusion of the Stadium in the Plan would not commit the Council to approve any particular planning application or to spend any money. However, it would, at least, recognise this as a strong aspiration of many people in Cornwall.

If the amendment is pre cleared I would hope that it would gain cross party support.

Proposed Amendment as an additional paragraph to Policy 4 (Community Facilities)
"It is an aspiration of Cornwall to have a Stadium for Cornwall, which also may be used by the community and for education."

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Speeding on Kenwyn Hill: Truro Heights

This morning I received a petition signed by101 people living near the top of Kenwyn Hill about the continuing problem of speeding, especially by motorists arriving from Shortlanesend.

The police say they do not think the issue is a significant one but local people disagree. I have asked the Council for a traffic calming scheme and have discussed the possibility of something similar to the traffic calming at the entrance to Goonhavern from Newquay. However, the Council has not so far come up with any money to deal with the issue.

I have been asked how the Council could find money for the skatepark but not for this. This issue has been raised by members. But a decision was made that members could not spend their community projects budget (currently £2195 per year) on highways improvements. It would not go very far due to the cost of highways schemes and the community would lose the use of this money which is worth more than it seems because if is used to lever in money from other sources.

I shall do my best to get something done. It is terrible that people feel they simply cannot safely cross the road on foot.