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.

Introduction of Charges at Household Waste Recycling Centres for certain types of waste

Cornwall Council will be introducing a charge for certain waste streams that are deposited at the HWRC sites by the public. The charges will take effect from Monday 1 September 2014. The waste we will be charging for and the respective charges are:

  • Soil / rubble (including bricks, blocks, tiles, rubble, paving slabs, concrete posts, sanitary ware, toilets, etc )  - £1.75 per sack
  • Plasterboard ( including gypsum related products )  - £4.40 per sheet
  • Asbestos – bonded type only  - £10.10 per sheet
  • Tyres - commercial and agricultural vehicle types will not be accepted. There will be no charge for bicycle tyres.  - £3.20 per tyre
The Council do not have a statutory duty to dispose of these types of waste free of charge and many other local authorities throughout the country apply charges similarly.

While we accept that the introduction of charges may not be welcomed by some, the scale of the cuts in our funding from the Government means that we have to look at ways to reduce our costs where ever possible. The charges are targeted to deliver approximately £485,000 in savings and were agreed by councillors.

This policy means that the site users disposing of these materials pay for its disposal rather than the costs being subsidised by all householders.  This is the general principle we are trying to adopt for all our waste services.

The public are still able to deposit other household items free of charge for example; garden waste, bulky household items, white goods, electric appliances, bric-a-brac etc. Information leaflets will be available at the HWRC’s before the end of July, together with advisory notices informing of the date that the charges will be applicable from (1 September). The Council website will be updated and will include a list of Frequently Asked Questions to assist with enquiries.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Application to turn Eagle House Hotel into residential dwelling turned down

I have received the news that the application to turn Eagle House Hotel into a single private residence will be turned down today by Cornwall Council's planning case officer.

The current owner of the hotel had applied to return the property to a single residence, partly on the basis that they said that it is not economically viable as a hotel.

Campaigners against the move were concerned that it would mean the loss of both hotel bedrooms and the function room. The latter is a very popular venue for all sorts of occasions including weddings, anniversaries, club functions and exhibitions.

The planning officer has decided that the loss of local amenity is sufficient to turn down the application.

Now that this matter is decided, I hope that it will provide reassurance to all those who have booked functions at Eagle House and that the current owners will continue to provide the venue that the town relies on. Given the outcome, and the desire to provide certainty to those who have bookings there, I don't see a reason to call this issue to committee which would prolong the uncertainty.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Lib Dems come from fourth to win Illogan by-election

The excellent David Ekinsmyth has tonight been declared the winner of the Illogan by-election caused by the resignation of Conservative Terry Wilkins.

David has been a parish councillor in the area for many years and that clearly played a large part in his victory. But it also goes to show that the Lib Dems are far from dead and buried as some people might have it. This was a win from fourth place just a year ago in a contest where turnout actually went up.

It's also great news for Julia Goldsworthy who is fighting to re-take the Camborne, Redruth and Hayle parliamentary seat which she lost by just 66 votes last time.

Result - Illogan by-election

David Ekinsmyth Liberal Democrat 277 votes 23.8% (+10.1)
Mebyon Kernow 217 votes 18.6% (-6.6)
Conservative 215 votes 18.5% (-10.3)
UKIP 156 votes 13.4% (-9.1)
Labour 129 votes 11.1% (+1.3)
Liberal 121 votes 10.4% (+10.4)
Green 50 votes 4.3% (+4.3)

Lib Dem gain from Conservative.

This won't change the fundamental balance on the council, which is run by a Lib Dem and Independent partnership. But it does cement the Lib Dem position as the largest group. 
Just a few weeks ago, UKIP were apparently sweeping all before them in local and European Parliament elections. But today they lost 9% and slipped from third to fourth. Are they a busted flush already? Perhaps we will see next week when there is another by-election in Mabe, caused by the resignation of UKIP's Michael Keogh.

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