Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Golowan no longer a community festival after a Penzance Town Council meeting behind closed doors

With some of us still pondering our way through the Penzance 400 report and trying to discover what to read between the lines, we all have a fresh cause for consternation, another festival involving Penzance Town Council; Golowan. Now I will be clear at the beginning that this was discussed in private session by councillors, that I am hamstrung to say much more on the subject.



I can however talk around it, a motion was brought before the town council on monday 21st September after the press and public had been excluded from the meeting. The public face of it is these words, as taken from the public agenda: "(b) Future Management of the Golowan Festival 2016 (see attached)". The attachment is of course private. I can confirm that this was the first and only time this matter was considered by the town council, since I was elected. I like other members had only 3 days from receiving the agenda to consider the item. Obviously due to the fact that it was considered private, councillors had no opportunity to speak to people involved and consider the arguments from those on the ground nor have a chance to canvass the opinion of the people that voted us into office. 

The last full council meeting, was a packed agenda and the usual rule for a 3 hour meeting maximum had to be suspended for the last items to be considered. As you can see for yourselves from the agenda it had 18 reports for decision that doesn't even include minutes or reports for information, including a future home for the town council, a proposal to reduce the number of town councillors, devolution priorities year on year for the next few years, CCTV, Morrab Gardens, Isles of Scilly parking, Poltair hospital and so the list goes on. Matters vital to the future of the council and the town itself, incurring budgets of millions and affecting a huge swathe of public services. As there was such a great rush, members were written to and asked to read papers carefully to facilitate less questions and more speedy voting at the meeting. It is in this context that we have to realise that the Golowan decision was made at the end of a very very long meeting with a packed agenda. 

Add to this the abject lack of consultation by the council itself to members of the public, interested parties and even councillors themselves. Is it any wonder that we now have an open letter signed by over 300 people, calling on the council to rescind that hastily made decision?  

Here's a link to the open letter which provides some insight to what the decision was: 

For what it's worth, I do not agree that the motion should have been discussed in this manner. The future of a such a pivotal community festival is most definitely a matter of public interest and not to be packaged up with sensitive matter and hidden behind the veil of commercial sensitivity. Or in other words the decision to put Golowan out to commercial management, should be a matter of public debate, careful consideration and have been put before councillors as a simple question in the interests of openness and transparency. In the current climate this would seem to radical!


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