There is much to fit in this month. Let’s start with more good news. CC Children’s services had a good Ofsted report. Quote – The final report confirms that we have received an overall rating of ‘Good’ for these services – putting us in the top 25% of children’s services in the country that have been inspected under the tougher new inspection framework. Well done to all concerned.
There is a campaign underway to try and persuade people to look after the sewerage systems by not flushing wet wipes. If you do, please don’t.
Blue badge holders – Those eligible for free car tax can register (for a £10 fee) to have a card that permits free parking. The system had to change when government did away with tax discs being displayed but Cornwall Council was keen to find a mechanism to continue helping those with blue badges but you do need to reapply.
I know some people are still upset about the referendum result and concerned that we will lose all the funding. Please bear in mind that we are still in the EU and Article 50 hasn’t yet been triggered. It will be at least two years after that when we actually leave, which takes us up to mid-2018. Since the programme finishes anyway in 2020 and any contracts in place before we leave will be honoured under international law, it is very unlikely to have any impact on our economic development funding. Continue reading
Our unique dark rural setting on the fringe of Bodmin Moor has an opportunity to make an historic mark, which will enhance our lifestyle, protect our community and last for generations to come.
Cornwall Council and Caradon Observatory have proposed a bid to have Bodmin Moor recognised as a Gold standard International Dark Sky Park, arguably comparable to World Heritage Site status. The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit and the Campaign to Protect Rural England support the proposal and with public backing, the council will submit the decision this summer.
Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “I’m thrilled with this initiative. It mixes the ageless fascination and romance of the stars with real science and learning, and it has tangible opportunities for tourism too.
“Recent observatory data shows that the quality of the night sky over Bodmin Moor is amongst the best in the world. Achieving recognition of this through an International Dark Sky Park designation would help protect the night sky from light pollution and bring other benefits, including providing a focus for awareness and learning about the stars and solar systems, a further draw for visitors to the area and a starrier sky for local residents.”
International Dark Sky Parks must be a protected landscape, and Bodmin Moor is already known as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Continue reading
Well, the big issue of the moment is the budget. The Chancellor’s settlement is complicated and it has taken our officers some time to analyse and prepare a briefing for us to explain the implications.
I was so pleased to be able to attend the remembrance events again this year. Various news reports suggest that attendance is increasing and I do get a sense that this is true of our part of the world. It is so important that we do remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
One or two people have been in touch about the multiple contacts they have had from electoral services. Please don’t blame Cornwall Council. The new system was introduced by central government but it does appear to be very bureaucratic with a lot of duplication. Please persevere. We need to try and ensure everyone that is eligible to vote is on the register before future elections take place. A Housing Enquiry Form has to go out first and when you reply each individual named on it will receive their own form to fill in to register. It is easy to think you have already replied and ignore it but if you don’t, you will trigger a cascade of action. Even if you do reply, you may still get a ‘reminder’. I’m sure it will get easier but for this year, with a completely new register having to be compiled, it is causing a few problems.
I cannot believe I am already writing a newsletter for the November editions of parish magazines. How on earth has this happened? There are some reports that we are in for a very long, hard winter. If that is the case, please look out for each other and, in particular, check on elderly or vulnerable neighbours.
At a recent meeting at County Hall, all the Group Leaders were committed to Cornwall Council’s efforts to help with the refugee crisis. However, we are also aware that we have a severe housing shortage and a funding shortfall for existing services. Officers are working with other councils, the LGA (Local Government Association), the government and various charities to ensure we do what we can without unintended consequences.
I am going to have to start with a little grumble this month, which is litter at the side of the road. It is bad for wildlife and it looks terrible. We are all paying for this mess to be cleared up and there is really no need. Maybe it is because this is a beautiful time of year with all the signs of Spring and Summer but it does seem such a shame that a very few people can’t appreciate how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country and so respect it. Please take your rubbish home with you. I’m sure most of you already do.
Firstly, thank you to those people who took the time to get in touch about how to increase our recycling rates. There were some very good ideas and they will all be fed into the system for consideration. One example of recycling I have only just heard about is that CORMAC are now able to recycle the chippings collected after surface dressing our roads. Considering the cost of sending anything to landfill these days, this must be a very good investment for council tax payers.
There have been some changes to the committee structures and I am now a member of the Housing and Environment Advisory Committee. Please note the word ‘advisory’ but these committees do give backbenchers like me a chance to have more regular discussions with the relevant cabinet member. If you have strong views on anything to do with housing and the environment, do let me know.