Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Local MP pushing for Launceston Medical Centre expansion

North Cornwall’s Liberal Democrat MP Dan Rogerson has written to NHS England urging them to approve the expansion of Launceston Medical Centre without further delay.
The centre’s plans to expand to meet demand from people in and around the town are ready to go to the next stage, but things cannot progress until NHS England publish new guidelines covering the expansion of surgeries.
In a letter to Dan Rogerson in early July, NHS England pledged to be able to assess the Centre’s application to expand within a few weeks, but the necessary NHS guidelines have still not been published, despite a delay of more than a year.
Dan Rogerson has written to NHS England to demand urgent action. Surgeries across Cornwall and the rest of the country are facing the same predicament so Dan has also asked Government Health Minister Lord Frederick Howe to look at the situation.
Dan Rogerson said:
“It is clear that Launceston needs NHS approval and quickly. The Medical Centre has plans in place but we are still waiting for NHS England to publish its new guidelines and decide whether or not to give the go ahead and agree to the expanded GP service. The NHS’s delay in publishing its new guidelines is also hitting several other doctors’ surgeries across North Cornwall who have ambitions to expand or secure new premises.”
Launceston Medical Centre is the only GPs surgery in the town and serves an area of approximately a 10 mile radius from the town.  The Practice currently has 17,600 registered patients and the list is growing each year – in the last 12 months more than 300 extra patients joined.
Peter Harper, Launceston Medical Centre’s business manager explained:
“From 1st October this year, to meet the demands of our patient list, we will have 11 GP’s working out of 9 GP consulting rooms at the Medical Centre– we are desperate for additional internal space to enable us to provide the service our patients need.

“Virtually every month we have chased the NHS Local Area Team to see if we can submit expansion plans, only to be told each time that the guidelines for new premises have still not been finalised. Without this initial approval it is not worth starting work on detailed plans.”
Liberal Democrat Cornwall Councillor for Launceston South, Jade Farrington, added:
“With plans coming forward for much-needed affordable and open market housing for Launceston, the need to expand the medical centre is growing. This should tip the balance in Launceston’s favour and help prove the town needs to be at the top of the queue for NHS approval of our medical centre's expansion plans.”

Monday, 18 August 2014

Costa Coffee given Launceston go ahead

Costa Coffee have been given permission by Cornwall Council to open in the town square in Launceston. The decision was taken this afternoon by the council's planning committee.

The application was for change of use permission to allow the company to open at 24 Broad Street, a building formally known as the Health Counter and previously occupied by both Boots and Day Lewis pharmacies.

The move was opposed by many in the town including the owners and operators of a number of existing coffee shops. However the committee decided that there were not sufficient planning grounds to deny the application which will fill an empty shop and create 10 full time equivalent jobs.

This was always going to be a balanced decision, but I was disappointed that the company had failed to give any commitments to the level of community contributions which might be provided.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Plymouth introduce fines for too much rubbish

Plymouth City Council is apparently introducing a system of fines for householders who fill their bins too full or put out too much rubbish. They become the latest council to say that if you cannot close the lid on your wheelie bin (all households have them in the city) then it will either not be collected or you will be fined. The council also say that they will not collect bags of rubbish put out alongside the wheelie bin.

Here in Cornwall our attitude is that so long as you put out your rubbish at the right time and make sure it is in sensible containers like tied up bags or sealed boxes, we will collect it. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Season ticket price cuts raises additional £74,000 for Cornwall Council

A scheme that I have championed to cut the cost of parking season tickets across Cornwall has resulted in additional profits of more than £74,000 for the council - as well as happier local residents and drivers.

The previous situation was that motorists were being charged a lot for season tickets. They might be getting a discount on the daily pay and display rate, but that discount wasn't a lot. And the attitude of the previous, Conservative-led, administration seemed to be that regular price rises would automatically be paid by drivers.

And so commuters voted with their feet and abandoned car parks in favour of parking in residential streets. This led to lots of annoyance for local residents who couldn't park near their own homes.

So we piloted a lower cost season ticket in Launceston with a price cut from £470 to £200. When added to a bit of local marketing, the number being sold rose from less than 30 to more than 130.

Following that success, the scheme has been rolled out across Cornwall with similar positive results. An additional £74,000 has been brought into council coffers and that money will help protect a wide range of council services from some of the cuts that are being forced on us.

Launceston £1 parking deal extended until March 2015

Launceston's £1 all day Saturday parking deal has been extended at least until the end of March 2015, thanks to work by the town's Liberal Democrat councillors and local businesses.

Cornwall Council first ran the deal - which allows drivers to park in one of the Cornwall Council owned car parks all day on a Saturday for just £1 - for three months from April to June. That was extended by a month, but the authority has now confirmed that the deal will run until the end of the financial year at least.

This is great news for the town and for local businesses. We have shown that a special deal like this can attract more people into our town which benefits local shops and traders. At the same time, the council isn't missing out on income because many more people are using the car parks.

This was a key Lib Dem commitment from our election last year. Sensible offers and price cuts could benefit the town and preserve the income stream that the council relies on. I'm delighted this scheme will continue until the end of the financial year and I hope it will be made permanent after that.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Newquay Cornwall Spaceport?

Today the government has announced that Newquay Cornwall Airport is on the shortlist of sites for a possible UK spaceport. The Cornish location is on the list alongside six Scottish locations and one one Wales.

It's early days in any project and there hasn't been any public money spent on it. But the news does show the potential that the runway and surrounding enterprise zone has for attracting investment and high paid and high skilled jobs to Cornwall. The area already hosts the BLOODHOUND Project - the UK-led global project to build a supersonic jet-powered car - and many other high-tech industries.

The council would need to make sure that any public money being spent secures a good return. In the meantime, the lead is being taken by the Local Enterprise Partnership. Chairman of the LEP, Chris Pomfret, told the West Briton:
“The Aerohub at Newquay Cornwall Airport is a unique and nationally important asset and we want to unlock further growth in the aerospace and space sectors to create skilled well-paid jobs. Satellite technology is also an important part of the future economic strategy for Cornwall."

“To be shortlisted by the UK Space Agency review speaks volumes for the quality and location of Aerohub, but it is very early days. Before we make any decisions about whether we might eventually bid to host a spaceport we need to look carefully at the Civil Aviation Authority’s technical report and engage with the consultation over the coming months before deciding on any next steps.”

Public exhibition to be held on Withnoe Farm plans

Wain Homes are holding a public exhibition to get opinions on a scheme to build housing at Withnoe Farm, Launceston. The event takes place at Launceston College from 12 noon until 7pm on 30th July.

The site is next to Hay Common where permission has already been granted for new homes and a new primary school. It is south of the A388 Plymouth Road and the slip road onto the A30.

Public exhibitions such as this are a useful first stage in any major scheme as they allow developers to understand the views of the public and to make changes to their proposals before the formalities of the planning system start.