Monday, 2 March 2015

New parking charges - what is the best option for you?

The new parking charges for Cornwall Council car parks in Launceston are a good deal for the town, but the different charges can be confusing. In order to work out what is the best option for you - whether you are an occasional visitor or a regular user - we have produced this factsheet.

For a one-off visit:

Up to 1 hour - 60p in the town council’s multi-storey car park
1-2 hours - £1 in the Walk House or Upper Cattle Market long stay car parks
All day Monday to Friday - £2 in the Upper Cattle Market long stay car park
All day Saturday - £1 in the Walk House or Upper Cattle Market long stay car parks

For regular users:

One working week (5 days) - £2 per day totalling £10 in the Upper Cattle Market long stay car park
Annual - £110 in the Race Hill car park on Fair Park Close or £215 in the other Cornwall Council car parks if you would like to park closer to the town centre.

If you are a regular car park user you may be better off with an annual permit, even if you do not use the car parks every day:

If you work five days per week with six weeks’ holiday, you’re parking for 230 days each year. The £110 permit is 48p per working day and the £215 permit is 93p per working day so you’re better off if you buy a permit. If you can’t afford the full amount in one go then you can set up a direct debit.

Four days per week is 184 days per year. With a £110 permit that’s 60p and with a £215 permit it’s £1.17 so you’re better off with a permit.

Three days per week is 138 days. That’s 80p or £1.56 so you’re better off with a permit.

Two days per week is 92 days. That’s £1.20 or £2.34 so you’re better off if you get a permit for anywhere except the Upper Cattle Market long stay car park which is £2 per day.

One day per week is 46 days. That’s £2.39 or £4.67. Your best option is to park in the Upper Cattle Market long stay car park which is £2 per day. But if you want to park in the Walk House car park it is still cheaper for you to buy an annual permit.

(These scales are all based on weekday day-time charges. Charges on Saturdays are cheaper and on Sundays and after 4pm car parks are free.)

To buy a permit call 0300 1234 222 or visit

New charges for Launceston car parks

After a massive battle Launceston has come out with a set of parking tariffs which will help support shoppers, workers and businesses – including the new shops which are now opening their doors.

Cornwall Council had proposed to scrap our £1 all day Saturday parking and £1 for 2-hour parking, and put up season ticket prices to more than £300. We’d all fought very hard to get cheap prices introduced in the first place so we know what a disaster this would have been for low-paid workers and for the shops and businesses which are fighting back and starting to enjoy growth again after a very tough economic period. The £1 all day Saturday parking in particular has helped boost footfall and meant that people can support the increasing number of markets, festivals, fairs and other events now being organised in our town.

Your Cornwall Councillors (Jade Farrington, Adam Paynter and I) put forward a counter set of proposals which gained the backing of Launceston Town Council and Launceston Chamber of Commerce who helped spread the word about Cornwall Council’s damaging plans. Sue Issleib in ...hazard clothing deserves extra special thanks. She helped distribute more consultation forms than anyone else, meaning that Launceston people sent back more responses than any other place.

The cabinet member in charge of the parking tariffs, Councillor Bert Biscoe, agreed to meet with Jade, Adam and me at the eleventh hour. We made it absolutely clear to him and an officer that their proposals would harm Launceston and would not generate any extra money because people would abandon the car parks and park in residential streets or shop out of town instead. We are very grateful that they listened in the end and, after negotiation, agreed to the tariffs below. Thank you to them and to everyone who supported this successful campaign. If it wasn’t for all the work everyone put in then I would be writing a very different post.

Please support your town centre and the car parks. If they aren't used enough then the council will increase the tariffs significantly next year to make up for lost income. It's down to all of us to make sure they don't!

Key points:
  • £1 for two hours will continue in the long stay car parks (Walk House and the Upper Cattle Market)
  • £1 all day Saturday parking retained in the long stay car parks
  • £2 all day Monday to Friday parking introduced in the Cattle Market long stay car park
  • Annual season tickets available for £110 or £215 depending on the car park – that’s 30p or 59p per day.

The full tariffs:
All below to apply Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm and come into effect on March 15th

Castle Street short stay car park
1 hour - 70p
2 hours - £1.30
3 hours - £3.60

Cattle Market long stay car park
2 hours - £1
All day - £2
3 months - £60
6 months - £113
Annual - £215

Cattle Market short stay car park
1 hour - 70p
2 hours - £1.30
3 hours - £3.60

Duke Street permit only car park
3 months - £60
6 months - £113
Annual - £215

Pannier Market short stay car park
1 hour - 70p
2 hours - £1.30
3 hours - £3.60

Race Hill permit only car park
Annual - £110
6 months - £58

Tower Street permit only car park
3 months - £60
6 months - £113
Annual - £215

Walk House long stay car park
2 hours - £1
3 hours - £3.60
24 hours - £6.30
3 months - £60
6 months - £113
Annual - £215

Long stay car parks £1 all day on Saturdays, otherwise same tariffs as Monday to Friday.

All Cornwall Council car parks are free on Sundays and free from 4pm to 9am.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Why overseas aid matters

Three years ago I went on a trip to Pakistan organised by the British Council which involved supporting a group of education advocates aged 18-25 who were campaigning to implement a new law which guaranteed free state education at both primary and secondary level. It seemed that getting the law passed was only the first step in the long road to making sure all children in Pakistan had access to education.

I blogged briefly about that trip at the time, but the whole pasty tax issue came up at the same time (to the extent that I was trying to organise a campaign from a hotel room eight time zones away). But since that time I have closely followed the work of the 'IlmPossible' campaign and the campaigners we worked with.

Today came the news that one of the campaigners, Noman Akhtar, has taken the step of moving from being an advocate for change to being the change he wants to see. He is now teaching slum children - one of the groups least able to access a basic right such as education.

Noman writes (please bear in mind that English is not his working language):

"May be right now I'm unable to provide them with proper school environment and props like uniforms, books, shoes, and stationary, may be I'm restricted to a hut classroom up till now yet I'm dedicated to give my full attention and affection to these child because they deserve it the most. I'm pretty sure that educating a child is merely equal to educating a whole family. With the grace of Allah, today i have my 1st Basic Education class at Slum area Huts for those children who are actually beggars, Labors, and extremely poor with the believe that my efforts will surely bring a positive change in them !! Need your extra support and wishes for this noble cause"

I don't pretend that the trip we made three years ago had anything other than a fleeting impact on people who were already as committed as Noman, but the support that the UK government gives through DFID projects such as ours to work like Noman's is absolutely vital. Education helps to stamp out terrorism and money spent in Pakistan on projects like this makes our country safer.

Monday, 9 February 2015

MP’s disappointment at lack of action on Launceston Medical Centre expansion

North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson has said that NHS England and Conservative Health Ministers are passing the buck on the issue of approving crucial guidelines to allow GP practices to expand. GP practices cannot expand until new NHS ‘Principles of Best Practice’ guidelines are approved.

Launceston Medical Centre is one such surgery. The centre has plans to expand the number of treatment rooms, to improve access and to increase parking provision - but the centre will not be able to go ahead and submit their plans for approval until the NHS publishes its expansion guidelines.

Launceston Medical Centre is the town’s only GPs surgery and serves an area of approximately a 10 mile radius from the centre of Launceston. 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 have joined.
Delays in the guidelines would also hold-up aspirations for a new medical centre in Camelford.

NHS England has been promising to publish the guidelines for a number of months. Despite many reassurances that the guidelines would available ‘soon’, they have still not materialised.

North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson has been pressing NHS England and the Conservative Health Minister Lord Howe to act. Following a public meeting with NHS England representatives in December, local residents, Dan Rogerson and Launceston councillors were told that the guidelines were awaiting the approval of Lord Howe.

But in a letter this week to Dan Rogerson, Lord Howe said that whilst the delays were “frustrating”, approving the guidelines for expanding GPs surgeries was not his responsibility.

Dan Rogerson MP commented:

“We have been told by NHS England that the delays are due to ministers at the Department for Health, but this week we have heard from the Health Minister that the problems lie with NHS England."

“Over the past few months we have been urging NHS England to approve these crucial guidelines, so that Launceston Medical Centre can submit their plans to expand the surgery to help meet the growing demand from people in and around the town."

“Local people will rightly expect Health ministers and NHS England stop blaming each and start working together in the interests of patients in Launceston and across North Cornwall. I have once again asked the Health Minister Lord Howe to intervene and meet with me and senior executives from NHS England so that we can all sit down and sort this situation out once and for all.”

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Lib Dems seek guarantees on future of ‘lifeline’ bus service

Liberal Democrats on both sides of the Tamar have joined together to try to secure the future of a vital cross-border bus route.

It comes after residents across North Cornwall and West Devon raised fears about the future of the 510 route connecting Wadebridge, Camelford, Launceston, Okehampton and Exeter.

Operator Western Greyhound will stop running the route from 20th February. Whilst new operator Stagecoach South West is due to take over 510 services, passengers haven’t been told what will happen after the 20th February and fear that they may be left stranded.

Services currently run 5 times a day in each direction between Wadebridge and Exeter, with a sixth service operating between Exeter and Launceston. 2 services a day in each direction run on a Sunday.

North Cornwall’s Liberal Democrat MP Dan Rogerson and local Lib Dem campaigner Paula Dolphin, Parliamentary candidate for Torridge and West Devon, have joined forces to seek reassurances that the vital bus route will continue after 20th February.

Commenting, Dan Rogerson MP said:

“For residents who don’t have access to a car in Tregadillett, Pipers Pool, Hallworthy, Davidstow and other Cornish communities along the route, the 510 is a lifeline service allowing people to get to school or work, to the shops and to medical appointments in Camelford and Launceston. The route is also vital in connecting Launceston and North Cornwall with Exeter St David’s railway station.

“People are understandably worried that arrangements for the service after 20th February haven’t been decided, and that time is running out to make alternative arrangements if some services are being scrapped.

“I have contacted Stagecoach South West and the Transport Departments at both Cornwall Council and Devon County Council to press for reassurances that bus services along this route will continue, and that arrangements for the change of operator will be finalised and publicised as quickly as possible.”

Liberal Democrat candidate for Torridge and West Devon, Paula Dolphin, added:

"Many villagers in Lifton, Lewdown and Bridestowe rely on the 510 for connections to Okehampton and Exeter and will want reassurances that the bus route will continue to operate after 20th February. It is important that passengers are kept informed about changes, and that residents and campaigners from Devon and Cornwall continue to work together to secure better cross-border bus services for local people.”

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Response to Cornwall Council's latest claims about me

In the light of the statement issued by Cornwall Council earlier today, I have today written to all my colleagues on Cornwall Council with the following:

Dear Colleagues

Yesterday morning I met with the LADO - the council officer who oversees the process involved when there is a potential child protection issue. It was the first time I had been permitted to do so despite this starting back in October last year. This followed a fourth LADO group meeting held in secret last Tuesday to discuss the evidence I had provided which quite clearly proves my innocence.

The LADO admitted correct procedure was not followed in the first three LADO group meetings as I was not informed of what was going on. So if the correct procedure was not followed in that respect, can we be certain that it was followed in others?

And he admitted some of the claims made against me by the council (and described on numerous occasions as 'robust') were in fact wrong. If some of these claims are wrong, how can anyone have confidence in the remainder - most of which I dispute?

What's more, he said the claim that whoever used my card details to access an illegal site did so from overseas was somehow mistakenly inserted into material sent to me by chief executive Andrew Kerr as part of his Code of Conduct complaint against me, and is untrue. Could this apparent about-turn have anything to do with the fact I have proven I was in the UK on the date the police say the site was accessed?

At the end of December, I received a reply from the Met Police to my subject access request. This stated, categorically, that no indecent images were found on my computer. I immediately passed this on to the council and the meeting last Tuesday was the direct result. To be clear, I am still being refused the right to meet with the LADO group. I understand that at their meeting last week they did not even have a lawyer present. Is this a transparent and robust process with which the elected members of the council are happy?

Despite this documentary evidence; evidence from my bank that my card had been used fraudulently; and a statement that the second laptop was not destroyed as claimed, the council say they have other secret information they can't share with me and which they choose to believe over the documents I have received from the Met and my bank. Indeed, they are stooping to falsely implying in a press statement this morning that the documents I have received from the Met may not be real.

It’s all too easy for anyone to make a spurious claim now because the computers no longer exist and neither do many of the police files from the time. So there is no way to either prove or disprove such claims. In any moral society which follows the principles of natural justice, such unverifiable claims cannot be used to damn someone. If the council believe they have verifiable proof then they have a duty to let me see it and to comment on it. If they refuse to do so then they should not be allowed to use it in their secret kangaroo court.

With the council now trying to imply that I am making up evidence, I attach the key statement I have received from the Met Police. The total response from the Met Police runs to 20 pages and I’m not proposing to publish more than an extract as I don’t want hackers and others to be able to use the personal information it contains to target me. But it has all been passed to the council and has also been looked through by Lib Dem group leader Jeremy Rowe who confirmed that it categorically states no images were found.

(DP refers to ‘detained person’ - me. - and NFA means no further action).

What also concerns me is that some of those involved in the LADO process have been actively leaking information and briefing people with convenient tidbits of information supposed to damn me. At last week's meeting, the LADO says he gave a firm instruction that no information was to be passed on to anyone except council chief executive Andrew Kerr and a named council lawyer. Yet the next day I am told that one of the council directors - Trevor Doughty - was briefing certain councillors.

The LADO has confirmed there have not been any other allegations made against me and this all relates to a single use of my card details on an illegal website 12 years ago - something I was in no way involved with. Despite this, they are still wrongly claiming that I represent a serious and ongoing risk to children, with all the completely false connotations that phrase is designed to conjure up. A former public protection officer has stated that this label and its subsequent promulgation via letters to local groups and press releases is without precedent and completely out of proportion with the claims the council is making.

In summary, the council admits that correct procedures have not been followed, that some of the claims made against me are untrue and they have withdrawn others. They have ignored the categorical statement provided by the Met Police that no images were found and the information provided by my bank and my bank in favour of secret ‘claims’ that they refuse to share with me.

If the council is willing to treat me in this manner, who will be next?

UPDATE: I've changed the image that I had originally attached as personal details could apparently be seen on it. The image now shown is a crop of the original.

Concerns over future of facilities at Launceston Police station

I'm backing our local Lib Dem MP Dan Rogerson in his call to get Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner to step in to protect facilities at Launceston Police Station.

It follows suggestions that the custody suite at the station could be closing.

Dan Rogerson said:

“When the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner chose to close the public enquiry desk at Launceston Police Station last year, we were told that other facilities at the station weren’t under threat. It is worrying to now hear that the custody suite could be closing. I am concerned that this would be a loss for Launceston and could also mean that valuable police time is spent transporting people to other custody suites miles away from north and east Cornwall.

“I am meeting with Superintendent Toby Davis in Launceston next Monday to raise concerns about the future of the custody suite. Along with Launceston’s Cornwall Councillors I will be lobbying the Police and Crime Commissioner to use his powers over policing strategy and the annual policing and crime plan to protect facilities at Launceston police station.”

Cornwall Councillor for Launceston Central, Alex Folkes, said:

"Launceston Police Station has been developed as a significant facility for the force, acting as the central custody suite covering a wide area, as well as a base for training, meetings and large operations. To see it being downgraded like this is a significant loss for our town."

"The elected Conservative Police Commissioner, Mr Hogg, has responsibility for setting the overall strategy for the force through his annual policing and crime plan. If he really supported Launceston Police station and the services that it provides then he could act to save them. Any other course of action from him will ring hollow with local people."

I’ll be joining Dan at his meeting next week and will report back afterwards.