Independents truly hold balance of power at Cornwall Council

“Power talks between the Conservative and Independent groups on Cornwall Council have broken down, with claims the Independents want disproportionate power.

This month’s local elections left the authority in limbo and no party in overall control. The Conservatives had the biggest number of councillors and new group leader Phil Seeva was hoping to woo the Independents to join them in a coalition.

But Councillor Seeva has released in a statement saying they have been unable to reach an agreement, and claimed the Indies “want an amount of power and influence on the council that is not proportionate”. He added that the Tories would consider approaching other councillors and look to form their own administration.

But there are a number of possible outcomes, including the Lib Dems – who’ve been waiting in the wings – reuniting with the Independents. Those two groups ran the local authority in a coalition until the 4 May poll.”

Source: BBC Devon Live website

Some questions about the Heart of the South West LEP

If the Heart of the South West LEP is “dead in the water” and “there is no money left”

Where is the £25,000-plus coming from to pay someone to encourage a new threesome of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Devon and Dorset?

What’s happening about the divorce from Somerset and are we paying that county’s expenses still?

HOTSW LEP is the vehicle for taking business rates from Enterprise Zones such as the East Devon Growth Point – if it’s defunct what happens to that money?

Who pays Mr Garcia’s salary and those of the 3 or 4 other employees who presumably now have no jobs? Somerset or Devon?

What’s happening about the “Golden Triangle LEP”?

Where does “Greater Exeter” fit in and with whom?

East Devon – where do we fit in? Our Leader is a HOTSW board member and is responsible for HOTSW housing. Is he still responsible for housing in Somerset, Greater Exeter and/or the “Golden Triangle”?

What is DCC’s/EDDC’s role in this – where was it discussed, when and by whom?

Where are the minutes of the meeting where the current deal was dropped and a new deal thought up?

What does Somerset think about all this?

Do YOU recall being consulted on any of this?

Local Enterprise Partnership version 2 – Devon, Cornwall and Dorset

Again, no consultation of the people of these three counties plus Isles of Scilly – just a mad dash to hoover up money – any money – for what the Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP described as a defunct organisation yesterday! And what of the “Golden Triangle LEP” mooted last month? Add in Greater Exeter and we have lots of sows ears to be made into silk purses!

Unfortunately, the closing date is today! And can you IMAGINE the stress of reporting to THREE different LEP CEO’s! Still, at £25,000 plus for 4 days a week for 4 months there will be no shortage of takers.

“South West Partnership Executive”

Heart of the SW, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, and Dorset LEPs are working together to support the development of cross LEP partnership across the whole of the south west.

We are seeking an individual with the right skills and experience to support and manage these developing opportunities; working with stakeholders from public sector, education and business.

Reporting to the three LEP Chief Executives, this role’s priorities will be: to support the development of a clear set of business propositions around the ‘added value’ of regional partnership; engagement with key stakeholder groups to align partnership working and initiatives; and facilitate use of a common brand.

This is a short term role for 3 to 4 days a week, for the next four months, possibly extendable on a quarterly basis. The ideal candidate will have a background that includes marketing and communications and building or managing partnership with stakeholders from the public, private and education sectors. Some exposure to economic development and related sectoral agendas will be useful.

The role will involve travelling across the south west and attract remuneration in the region of £400 a day plus out of pocket expenses.
Please send your C.V. to highlighting in a short covering note how you meet the requirements and challenges for this role, and confirmation of your fee rates. The following link provides access to an equal opportunities form which we would also ask you to complete as we are committed to equal opportunities in our policies and practices.”

Penzance shows how to deal with an NHS sham consultation!

“Unlike at Bude the previous day, where a smaller – and significantly more elderly – crowd had divided obediently into small workshops to consider the relative merits of differing aspects of the health and social care system, the Penzance meeting was an altogether more rowdy affair. People had come to the meeting not to hear what they already knew, but to say what they thought about it.”

New independent group in Cornwall

… a new pressure group [is] being formed in Cornwall this week. Charter for Cornwall has been formed by the people who run the popular anti-developers Facebook group “It’s our Cornwall” and they told CS [Cornish Stuff blog] that the group will seek to be a “conduit for the unfocused energy we see around us – we are an essay in grassroots activism. Let’s make a better Cornwall together”

Charter for Cornwall will pressure those seeking election to the Council in May, when all Cornwall Council seats will be up for grabs, to pledge to support 4 commitments when they do get elected.

A launch statement on says:

“We believe that we cannot give way to despair and apathy. We have to use what democratic rights are left to us to challenge Cornwall Council’s narrow and short-sighted strategy. Elections in May provide one opportunity to make our voices heard and make our future an issue.

We are not alone. Across Cornwall local groups have been campaigning against massive, speculative and unnecessary housing projects. Over 7,000 people have signed the CPRE’s petition Save Cornwall’s Green Fields, calling for a change in the planning system. Over 70 town and parish councils have supported Cornwall for Change, which is demanding a change in direction at Cornwall Council. Posts on the It’s Our Cornwall facebook page about building projects reach an average 2,000 people daily and sometimes as many as 10,000″.

People are dismayed, worried and angry about what they see around them. But anger and sadness too often leads to despair. That despair has to be transformed into hope. We can change things. We can take back control of our future. This is a first step”.

The statement continued,

“We will campaigns to increase community-level influence over the future of our land. We need to change Cornwall Council for the better by electing better councillors. We need a Council that is more open, more responsive and more willing to listen to residents’ concerns. In the short-term we will be supporting those candidates in next May’s local elections who stand for our values. In the longer-term we must work to end the Council’s pursuit of unsustainable growth policies”

The four ‘principles’ of the new group are to

Protect our Cornish heritage (“Councillors have been unable to stop Cornwall becoming an easy ride for property developers”)

Provide genuinely affordable housing (“The Government has cynically redefined ‘affordability’ to include housing at 80% of market prices that are simply unaffordable for most local people”)

Put limits on second homes (“The extension of second home ownership has destroyed community life in many of our coastal towns and villages”)

Plan for Cornish communities, not developers’ profits (“The planning system is rigged. Blatantly unsound data have been used to drive the housing target up to an unnecessary 52,500 minimum”)

The group has spent the last few weeks gathering contributions and support from various political groups, including KMTU who support the initiative. Formed by Pete Burton, Bernard Deacon, Julie Fox The Charter for Cornwall will roll out in three phases in Feb – May with the first phase to agree on the final wording of the pledges Councillors will be asked to commit to.”

21st century Cornwall: Developers Won, Paradise Lost? As Cornwall seeks to introduce planning charge, a new group is formed to pressure councillors

“The 2017 local elections: time to bury councillors, or to praise them?” asks Cornwall blogger

“We are now less than five months away from one of our infrequent four-yearly opportunities to express our democratic view of Cornwall Council. As the Council’s leadership desperately clings on to the tiger of housing growth, no doubt people will be asking themselves as local elections near, ‘what have councillors ever done for us?’ Others won’t ask; they’ll be loudly calling down a plague on all of them.

This may be a bit blunt. I’m sure most councillors believe they’re doing their best for Cornwall and its communities and are not, as so many assure me, in the pay of upcountry developers and determined to transform our land into a Little England by the Sea as quickly as possible. The more proper question therefore becomes ‘why have councillors been unable to raise credible opposition to population growth policies and developer-led planning?’

While not actually wishing to bury councillors, it’s surely time to remind some of them of a few home truths. Many councillors are clearly beyond redemption, uncritically swallowing wholesale the advice of their officers, kowtowing to London’s orders with scarcely a whimper, or perhaps not possessing the wit or wisdom to challenge conventional ‘mainstream’ policies.

It’s the others I worry about.

Over the past month or so I’ve heard from three Cornwall Councillors (from different party groups), all genuinely concerned for the future of their land, all deeply worried by the lemming-like drive for massive building projects and renewed people-led growth that threatens to transform the landscapes around our towns and villages. Yet none of them seemed to have discussed their concerns much with fellow councillors across party lines who might share their views. None seemed fully aware of campaigns outside their particular patch. Intra-councillor communication is one problem, while external communication is the second.

Why are councillors unwilling to take a lead and organise? Why can’t those who rightly question the Council’s direction of travel forget their party labels and coordinate their opposition? Instead of moaning about the constraints imposed by central government, constraints that are all too real, why don’t they do more to publicise their dilemma? Is it not possible to oppose central government diktats publicly, while educating Cornish voters about the straitjacket the Government imposes? Can’t they do more to point out how the Council’s leadership complies too readily with those diktats?

At MK’s [Mebyon Kernow – The Party for Cornwall] recent Annual Conference for example, their councillors admitted that they ‘did too much without shouting about it’. So why not do more to shout about it? First, they could surely make more effort to publicise what they’re doing. Second, they could pro-actively disseminate information they come across that illustrates the absurdities of the current Council strategy or the various ways in which Cornwall is being treated unfairly. Look at the MK website and you’ll find surprisingly little such information.

Surely MK and other councillors could build more bridges to campaign groups and campaigners outside, who can then spread this information through the grassroots. There’s a huge amount of energy and anger building up in local campaign groups as people see the changes unfolding around them and begin to realise what the elites have in store for us. But there’s also a lot of confusion and ignorance as well as anger.

The danger is that people take a blanket view and blame ‘the council’ and all councillors for what’s happening. We’ve seen over the past year where this can lead, if left to stew unfocused in this way. People will vote for the first demagogue that comes along. They end up protesting against the establishment by electing slightly more marginal members of the same establishment, some just chancers and others who deliberately fan anger and fear into racism and bigotry and offer simplistic solutions but no substantial remedy for a system that’s unfit for purpose.

To prevent that, we need a grassroots populism, also anti-elitist, but confident in its ability to replace the failed elites, not with a set of chancers from similar backgrounds but with genuine and credible voices of localism and community democracy.

Councillors who can see through the Council’s corporate agenda need to stand up, join with campaigners and begin to discuss how to make the future of Cornwall an issue in next year’s local elections. We can’t let things go on the way they are. So how do we best challenge the people-led growth consensus that grips our policy-makers and replace it with a more sustainable vision of Cornwall? Who’ll make the first move?”

Housing “need”?

“A review of Cornwall’s social housing register has seen about 12,000 applicants taken off the waiting list.

Cornwall Housing has reviewed the accounts of every applicant who hasn’t logged into the allocation system for more than a year.

Those who didn’t get in touch when they were asked to say they wanted to stay on the register have been removed from the list.

When the review started there were more than 30,000 applicants waiting for homes, that’s now been cut down to 18,500.”

BBC Devon Live website

LEP extends its tentacles to Cornwall and Dorset: Mayor for the South-West?

” … HotSW LEP is committed to delivering the benefits of our strategic work and funding bids to the companies and communities that fall directly within our area. These are our partners and are stakeholders in our successes and achievements. Sometimes business interests don’t neatly match administrative boundaries and for some time we have been working where appropriate with our neighbours on common campaigns or programmes.

Elsewhere in the country, the numerous LEPs in the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine also work together on their common agendas.

So we’ve been working with our LEP partners in Dorset and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to form a new thought-piece to market our area and its growth agenda where these cross our boundaries; which we’re calling Connecting the South West as a working title. It’s early days, but there’s real commitment in this group to build on the years of expert evidence building and strong Strategic Economic Plans that have risen from the government’s mandate to generate growth through LEPs and localism.

It’s often the case that when there is a mood and an appetite for change, that several organisations are on a similar journey, albeit in different ways. Earlier this month saw the South West Growth Summit – organised and led by Pennon and the Western Morning News – welcome businesses and local leaders to discussion panels and an inspirational speech by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, who hailed the South West as an area with “almost unlimited potential”.

We expect more to happen on this theme in the coming months and years as the South West embarks on its renaissance.”

Home care instead of hospital? Forget it

Care providers in Cornwall say there’s a crisis in the care of elderly and disabled people at weekends because there are just not enough workers.

One relative called every care agency in Cornwall but could not get weekend help for her grandfather.

South West councils pay the highest average hourly rate in the country, but its still not enough to attract new carers.

BBC Devon Live

“Councillors have no power”

“Sick of seeing Falmouth planning decisions overturned by centralised bodies with no local knowledge, one woman has launched a campaign to change the “undemocratic” planning process.

Kathryn Philpott has been spurred on to launch her petition, ‘Give Our Councils The Power To Make A Decision,’ after plans for Bosvale in Falmouth went to appeal at the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, and plans for 94 homes at Poolfield in Budock were granted on appeal. Both had been refused permission by Cornwall Council following objections from Falmouth Town Council.

She said: “I think the most important thing I have realised is that our council has no real authority.

“Right through the county people are up in arms because their local councillors have got no power to stop building on inappropriate places.

“An issue for everyone here is that they have just passed out of county permission to build on the fields leading up to Budock Church. A stunningly beautiful area.

“It was taken off our council and taken out of county for the decision.”

She added: “Can someone tell me why we have a democratic vote to elect our counsellors to work on our behalf, protecting our county, as every time a planning issue arises and is turned down it immediately goes out of our county to a person or persons that know nothing about the wishes of the general public.

“We seem to have a democracy that is ill equipped to stand up for us. In fact it is very undemocratic to take a decision of this magnitude and sweep over our local council rendering them powerless.”

Kathryn has also said that having a Neighbourhood Plan in place would prevent developers “building everywhere” – a process which is already underway.

She is concerned that current developments pay no heed to problems like drainage and sewage, or to local amenity and open space.

But she is also worried that developers are rushing to get their planning applications in now, before Falmouth’s Neighbourhood Plan comes into effect, with designated areas for housing or other development, as well as areas that cannot be built on.

She said: “People are frantically putting their applications in because they want to get in before the Neighbourhood Plan comes into place, because that will be the end of this building.”

Kathryn wants appeals to go back to Cornwall Council for reconsideration rather than to the Planning Inspectorate, and is petitioning the government to give local councils the final say on planning decisions, not just in Cornwall but nationwide.

She needs 100,000 signatures if she is to hope to have the issue debated in parliament, and so needs her petition to circulate much further than Falmouth, although she has started a physical petition at Boslowick Garage for those without access to the internet.

She said: “Now is he time if people want to act. Now is their chance, but they have got to stand up and say, it’s people power.”

To sign the petition go to: