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.

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Thursday, 10 July 2014

On patrol with the dog wardens

Yesterday, my Launceston colleague Jade Farrington and I joined Cornwall Council's dog welfare and enforcement team on a mass patrol around the town to help combat fouling. The officers targeted areas where there are frequent complaints. The enforcement team educated dog owners who were found to be breaking the law.
Dog fouling is seen as a real problem by many residents. Launceston is reported as having the biggest issue in East Cornwall. Patrols like this can catch offenders in the act, but also serve to remind dog owners of their responsibilities. When people see a dog warden they tend to be extra careful about picking up after their pet so it’s a clear deterrent.
Dogs should always be kept under control and on a lead when on roads or pavements. Dog owners must clear up after their pet and can place the bags in any of the public litter or dog bins located throughout the town.

In Coronation Park numerous signs remind owners that their pets must be kept on a lead in the lower area and only allowed to run free in the top part of the park. The dog team had to remind several people about this and all bar one knew the rule existed and that they were breaking it.
Launceston Town Council is also keen to take action to keep Launceston clean. The council has purchased dog bags and one of its staff is trained and licensed to issue penalty charge notices to offenders.
When we patrolled around Dunheved Road, Race Hill, St Thomas Road and Newport we saw mess that had not been cleared up and picked up several bagfuls. There was certainly an improvement though, so I hope the message is beginning to get through to the minority who refuse to take responsibility.
Many thanks to the team for coming to Launceston. It was very good to see the work they do to help keep Cornwall clean.
The officers undertake regular mass patrols as well as working individually. Some of their work is conducted under cover to target known offenders and they do not always wear a uniform when patrolling.
Jade and Alex are working with Cornwall Council to organise a workshop for anyone who is concerned about dog fouling to learn what can be done to help. The event takes place at 6pm on Wednesday, July 16. If you are interested in attending, please get in touch.

To report dog fouling, call Cornwall Council on 0300 1234 212 or fill in the form at http://bit.ly/1jpdVga

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Post-it notes or PCs? The strange priorities of the Police Commissioner

The spending priorities of Conservative Police Commissioner Tony Hogg continue to puzzle people in Cornwall. It has emerged that he spent more than £7,600 in his first 16 months in office on promotional items such as post-it notes, lip balm and mints.

Mr Hogg claims that such items help him and his office to engage with the public.

Surely more officers on the beat would be a better way of engaging with the public and doing the job he is paid for?