Cornwall Council Update, November 2015

S McWilliamI 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.

A new Chief Executive should have been appointed by the time you read this. The original list has now been reduced to four and I’m pleased to say that whichever of these people is appointed, I feel confident they will commit to Cornwall and serve us well.

The Local Plan is moving along slowly, work requested by the Inspector is going well and we may have more control over planning decisions by the end of next year. Yes, there will be a small rise in the number of new houses to be built but overall we should be in a stronger position once it is in place.

I attended my first meeting at the new Bodmin offices, Chy Trevail, this month. I don’t pretend to be an expert in assessing the value for money issue but it was certainly a much better environment than the old Camelford offices, where some planning meetings were held before the building was closed. Buildings don’t last for ever and I can easily believe that the maintenance and heating costs of the old premises would have been very high.

There isn’t as much discussion about the budget this year because last year we were asked to support a four year plan. Although there will be some changes, the expectation is that it will be broadly as agreed last year. There is some sense in this but we are still waiting to hear whether the government will cut funding for local government again and, if so, by how much. Nobody is expecting that funding will increase so all the tough decisions already made will stay and there is a real risk of even more pain to come. However, the people have spoken in the General Election in May so our job is to respect their decision and do the best we can to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected.

CornwallLogoI would like to finish by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Cllr Steph McWilliam