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Showing posts from January, 2014

Cutting CCTV to save money and raising tax for the sake of it...

Two really wierd, or at least where I was sat, proposals came to the town councils budget meeting tonight. One from the Liberal Democrats and one from Labour. I say wierd they did make sense in some way and were certainly defended as such. But their presentation and delivery did little to sell the proposals, both failed. The meeting was dominated by a proposal by Ruth Lewarne and Jack Dixon to cut the funding for CCTV. There was initially some confusion as they wished to cut the infrastructure budget for CCTV and maintain the monitoring budget. I'm not sure whether the underlying thought was to not have to raise the precept or to scrap CCTV, either way it didn't work. But it was left to the town clerk to ask the obvious question of what would be monitored without infrastructure. After some head scratching, awkward glances and red faces thankfully Councillor Axford stepped in to tidy up the proposal into something coherent,  by suggesting the monitoring budget be moved to the …

The budget: Penzance Town Council enters the Living Wage era

Tonight at Penzance Town Council the budget was passed. With some toing and froing (more on that later). As part of the budget from April we will officially be a living wage employer. This cost was absorbed in existing budgets. Over all the precept will rise by 5%. Pushed up mainly due to the reduction in the Council Tax Support grant from Cornwall Council, the rising costs associated with inflation and the (possible) rising costs of cctv (again more on that later). But it's a great pleasure to serve as a councillor on an authority that pays it staff the Living Wage. I'm delighted something I campaigned on and was in the Mebyon Kernow manifesto has come into being. There aren't many local authorities that do and we are certainly the first in Cornwall to make this step. Although Cornwall Council are considering it, the lack of mention of it in their budget discussions, indicates it's probably nestled in the long grass. Credit to the staff at the town council, particu…

The first Cornish Assembly roadshow was a stunning success but...

It certainly wasn't without it's challenges, inevitably as our first event in this series we have a lot of lessons to learn. Chief among them the wind, it plays havoc with a stall and after a couple of hours we had to take it down or face it blowing away! The vagaries of winter weather in Truro city center aside, I really enjoyed the day and learnt a great deal. As everyone in the party did. We engaged with a lot of people, signed up some new members, got recently signed up members involved and hopefully got some voters in the future. As well of course as talking about a Cornish Assembly and getting petitions signed! A Few things struck me yesterday, many people are aware of the unfairness of the current political system for Cornwall. That centralisation does us no favours and both in terms of public services and economy generally we suffer as a far flung outpost of a state centralised so far away. Or as one person I spoke to put it "Everything drops off after Bristol&quo…

Dangerous staffing levels at Falmouth Coastguard need to be addressed

Latest figures reveal understaffing at Falmouth Coastguard station is at dangerous levels, a pattern throughout the UK. Despite MCA risk assesments on the safe number of staff per Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Center these are not being met, 10.8% of shifts in Falmouth in 2013 were below risk assessed level. With more MRCCs due to close, the government needs to rethink it's approach to maritime safety and realise that the desire to do more with less must take account of safe working levels and adequate Coastguard officers to co-ordinate rescues.

The figures have been released by the erstwhile campaigners Coastguard SOS and picked up by the SNP: Westminster coastguard cuts out lives at risk. A few years ago when I first started blogging, I wrote a number of posts about the government's cavalier attitude to maritime safety and criticised their attempts to dress up cuts as 'reforms'. The reason I stopped blogging was that I thought that Falmouth MRCC was now safe from 24 …

The Cornish Assembly debate comes to Truro

This coming saturday (the 25th January) Mebyon Kernow will be hosting an event to highlight our campaign for a Cornish Assembly. I am happy (I think) to be named as one of the speakers for the event. So I will be talking about devolution on Lemon Quay in Truro, but I've yet to write a speech. So I was wondering dear readers, if you had any ideas, crowdsourcing works for funding, will it work for speech ideas, anyway let me know. This is the first of these events and we're going to be doing similar things in other Cornish towns and Penzance certainly will be high on the list.



It's hard sometimes with politics to assume too much about your audience and fail to make convincing arguments and conversely assume too little and be patronising. There has to be a healthy balance of not shouting slogans nor over explaining an idea. This cartoon I saw earlier on twitter made me chuckle for this reason:
Harsh...but fair. pic.twitter.com/2FaQE4dqtR
— Duncan Robinson (@duncanrobinson) Ja…

Housing housing housing

Housing, the local plan and all that jazz is not something I often really comment on. There was a big vote at Cornwall Council on tuesday to decide the numbers for the period 2010-2030. Penzance featured quite heavily with a motion by Councilors Cornelius Olivier and Tim Dwelly seeking to push the numbers for the Penzance area up significantly, in this they failed quite badly. So the Local Plan has new draft figures (the last council voted on figures and these have been revisited) and we have some sense what kind of idea of the housing numbers we are looking at for the next 17 years.

The numbers are 1,400 for Penzance/ Newlyn and 1,100 for the rest of the area, a 2,500 total. With the caveat that these numbers will go out to consultation of course. The defeated Labour amendment was for an increase to 2,500 for Penzance and 1,350 for the area outside Penzance (see the white area in the map below.) To put this in perspective there are 20,623 households in the Network Area (1,273 empty i…

Councilor surgeries in Penzance, are you interested?

I managed to get on the agenda for tomorrow's General Purposes a motion about holding public surgeries. It's something I've heard lots of councilors talking about, but not any action on. One of the many things I've found with being a councilor is that the desire to change something and the opportunity to do so, don't always correspond. I think it's important that councilors make efforts to engage with the public. To make people aware of what they do, and can do as a council, and for the public to express their ideas about council business.  Crucially what people think should be happening.  Unfortunately for local authorities the general malaise with politics stemming from scandals such as MPs expenses reflect on councilors too. Other events like the creation of unitary and the distant authority of Cornwall Council. Lead to a dissatisfaction,  but Penzance Town Council shouldn't shy away from our community because of others faults. Public events before the e…