Thursday, 10 December 2009

Cornwall Council's 462 page agenda

Next Wednesday, Cornwall Council's Cabinet will be holding their monthly meeting. Today, the Shadow Cabinet met to be briefed on the matters that were coming forward for decision. Our meeting was at 2pm and at noon we received the agenda. All 462 pages of it. And it is still incomplete. There are four reports still to be finalised and distributed.

The most controversial discussion will be on the new Isles of Scilly link project. The proposal is to build a new combined freight and passenger facility on Penzance harbour including some reclaimed land from the sea. Many Pz residents want to see the freight element moved to an edge of town facility, but the Cabinet is being recommended to accept the combined facility.

The Cabinet's plan may be scuppered however if a planning application (due to be discussed in Pz on Monday) is refused. If it is then there is no time to appeal before funding schemes run out and we will be back to square one.

Later in the agenda, in the confidential section, there is a decision to be made on who will build the new boat and who will operate the new service.

There is a huge report due on the Ofsted Improvement Plan - but this is simply marked 'to follow' so we don't yet know what is in it.

There is a formal report on the Adult Social Care Performance Rating. Cornwall is one of only eight Councils in the country marked simply as adequate but it has been acknowledged that we are now improving.

The biggest single item we are awaiting is the business plan (promised in June, due in October, delivered in December?) and the budget for next year. The budget papers are unlikely to yet have precise spending details, but they should indicate the likely council tax rise that local residents will face for the coming year. I hope to be able to reveal this in the next 24 hours.

Other matters include the very significant housing strategy. The document I have read is, indeed, a very comprehensive document. But it is only stage one in a process. It sets out the different ways, for example, that the Council could fund new affordable housing. But it does not set out what is affordable and what the Council actually plans to do year on year. That planning is the next stage and I hope that we can move on to it as soon as possible.

In a similar vein, the Council recognises that the community outside the home is a key part of a housing strategy - open spaces, play areas, community halls and so on. Again, we need to wait for the Council to conduct what is known as a 'green infrastructure review' to find out where we are and how the shortfalls can be addressed.

But at least we are travelling further along the road with this document, but it is still a long way to go before we know how we get more affordable homes for Launceston people or how we get the decent play areas and community halls we need on the Ridgegrove and Lanstephan estates (among others).

We're not finished yet...

The Cabinet will also be discussing:

- Monthly Financial Monitoring report
- Integration of out of hours service
- Street Naming Policy
- Tolvaddon Business Park Spine Road
- Cornwall Local Development Scheme
- Photo-Voltaic Loan for Schools
- County Farms Strategy Review
- Cornwall Airport Limited (in confidential session)

Phew...

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