From our Cornwall Representative – Steph McWilliam

I have only been down to Truro twice in August, once for the commemoration of the start of World War One and once for a meeting of Group Leaders about a governance review. The commemoration was simple but effective and I was impressed by the thought that had gone into planning it.

The governance review is to consider how well the changes from the last council are working. With a cabinet system, it is easy for ‘backbenchers’ like me to feel that we don’t have much influence over the way decisions are made. However the Portfolio Advisory Committees (PACs) are intended to give us a voice but they are still quite new so it is good to see Cornwall Council reviewing how effective they are.

I also met with the Chief Executive, the Finance Director and another Director of CORMAC at their Bodmin offices. I want to be sure that this ‘arm’s length’ company is providing the best possible value for Cornwall’s council tax payers and I am pleased to be able to say that they were very open and frank in their discussion with me. There is much to be positive about but they recognise that there are some areas where they need to do more (e.g. market testing) and I will keep meeting with them to see how this progresses.

Although there are fewer meetings in August, planning goes on and probably takes up the largest part of my time. This is reasonable because these decisions are important and affect people’s lives for many years to come. However, a few of them do provoke strong reactions and can cause division in the community. Can I please ask again that we all accept we have to live with the planning system we have, decisions are made according to this system and that we keep any discussion factual rather than personal?

I did manage to take a few days off whilst my family were down and see Cornwall from a visitor’s perspective, not that my daughters would consider themselves visitors! I can highly recommend the Camel Trail and the use of the excellent Park and Ride scheme if you visit Padstow in the summer.

Thank you.

Cllr Steph McWilliam – September 2014