A full on week at Cornwall Council.
On Monday I found out that my Preston-style local spend council motion won’t be progressed until September due to officer holidays in August. However, I did meet with the cabinet member and the chief officer and they are already working on it. I am doing a Labour Business zoom to gather support for it organised by our brilliant LCF business officer, Gareth Looker on 11 August at 12.30pm if anyone is interested to find out more. Do contact me – email@example.com
I spent time at Falmouth Placeshaping meetings sorting out a bid for Falmouth to get some money to improve the town centre and make the town centre safer for people and social distancing. Thank you to Kate and Austin who helped put down the stickers and stencils in the shops and on the streets to remind people to wear facemasks, social distance and use the one way ‘To the Left’ (of course!) walking system in Falmouth. When I went into town the next day, it was busy, but people were only sporadically keeping left, unfortunately. I also attended the first, embryonic meeting to plan joined up cycle routes between Penryn and Falmouth after a year of working with CC Transport officers and the university and cycle groups. We just need the funding now!
In County Hall news, Cabinet met on Wednesday. The main controversy, other than the large hole in the budget and the discussion on the Climate Change development plan document that I mentioned last week, was over the plan to build ‘extra care housing’ for the elderly and other people who need support with living. Care and community provision would be available on site, but each resident would have their own front door. The idea itself is one that is helpful for housing provision in Cornwall, but the controversy was over the choice of just one ‘strategic partner’ to deliver it. A large national company called Mears. Effectively, a privatised service. Many of us raised objections and an emergency health and adult social care scrutiny briefing has been arranged.
On Friday we discovered that the government has decided to claw back the undistributed business grant money meaning that 3,500 Cornish businesses who applied have been left short. This has become a dispute between the Tory government and the LibDem council in which the Cornish businesses and workers have been the ones to lose out.
Jayne Kirkham- Cornwall Councillor for Falmouth Smithick
This week I attended Economy Scrutiny for Cllr Olivier who has had an operation.
The Climate Change Planning document was discussed. This is the first draft of it -https://democracy.cornwall.gov.uk/documents/s136488/Climate%20Emergency%20DPD%20-%20Appendix%202.pdf This will now go to Cabinet and there will be a full consultation afterwards. If it goes through then it should come in in early 2021. Not bad going for a planning document! If you are interested in the Climate Emergency response, this is definitely worth reading and commenting upon.
The other large document discussed at that meeting was the Cornwall Economic Recovery and Renewal Plan – report here -https://democracy.cornwall.gov.uk/documents/s136500/Economic%20Recovery%20and%20Renewal%20Plan.pdf and the draft plan here - https://democracy.cornwall.gov.uk/documents/s136501/Economic%20Recovery%20and%20Renewal%20Plan%20-%20Appendix%201.pdf. This drew some criticism from councillors on some of the ‘command and control’ language. The consultation for the public can be found here - https://letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk/the-cornwall-we-want
We then had a briefing about the Council’s ‘Carbon Neutral Ambitions’ on Friday. The interesting thing about much of this is that the Council, in pursuing a Climate Emergency agenda (encouraging staff to remain working from home, stopping printing, commuting and business miles) is moving in the other direction from the Government who appear to be encouraging people to get back to their offices and workplaces from next month. The Kate Raworth style ‘decision making wheel’ is being rolled out for more council decisions. I suggested it is also adopted for when the council chooses contractors. I am discussing how to progress my Local Spend motion with the Cabinet member and key officer next week.
There are ambitious plans to retrofit Cornwall Housing homes, but so far the money has only been promised from government to ‘zero carbon’ 83 homes. With the hope of a less comprehensive retrofit on a further 600 homes. Still nowhere near where we need to get to considering how much our housing contributes to our carbon footprint. They are also looking at a biomethane pilot on County Farms and renewable energy. Nothing near as bold as ambitious as we need unfortunately, or that we would have with Labour’s Green New Deal.
For more info look at the ‘Carbon Neutral Cornwall Hive’ here - https://letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk/carbon-neutral-cornwall
To contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Up to date Covid figures for Cornwall now all the pillar 2 data has been shared (from the private mobile test centres and care homes and postal tests) were finally released this month.
The cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly stands at 889 as at 6 July which is a rate of 156.5 per 100,000. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly now has the 3rd lowest rate of Councils in England.
205 deaths have been registered for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly residents (up to and including the 26 June) which mentioned COVID-19; accounting for 6% of all deaths over the period.
Overall, there was 1 additional COVID-19 related deaths from the previous week, in a care home.
It has also been made public that 136 people were released from hospital to care homes without testing or test results being known in early April in Cornwall.
The chancellor made his summer statement
There is a focus on the hospitality industry to force it back to life with VAT cuts and hot food vouchers. Encouraging people to go on holiday and to spend in restaurants. That means coming to places like Cornwall. People are still wary. Test and trace is not functioning nearly as well as it should be to build people’s confidence, despite the £10 bn price tag that predominantly went to private companies. This isn’t a normal recession. 50% off a burger won’t be enough for people who are scared to go out, and nor should it be.
On the face of it the government are bringing back the Labour Future Jobs Fund. A focus on jobs for 16-24 year olds is welcome. But what about the self-employed and renters and those who are unemployed?
De-carbonising public buildings and housing is also welcome. However, we only get the money to pilot this in 83 Cornwall Housing homes in Cornwall. Where are the bold green energy schemes like in Germany’s response? Our geo-thermal, wind, tidal and solar resources are just sat here in Cornwall, waiting for investment to kickstart our green industrial revolution.
Along with the relaxation of planning laws, it is hard to see how a stamp duty holiday will help Cornwall unless it is limited to first time buyers or first home owners. As it stands, it will just make second homes that bit more affordable and end up depleting the housing stock when what we really need are more truly affordable council homes. Much of the business support grants in Cornwall have already gone to second home owners. https://cornishstuff.com/2020/06/23/71m-paid-to-holiday-home-owners/
We had a full council meeting on Tuesday and most of our 122 councillors managed to participate.
My motion on local council spend was referred to Cabinet and we had a vote on whether Cornwall should pilot voting at 16. The council voted in favour, but surprisingly, only narrowly. I spoke in favour & the Labour group voted for it. (See number 9 - https://leftfootforward.org/2020/07/radical-roundup-10-stories-that-got-buried-this-week-5/)
Jayne Kirkham- Cornwall Councillor for Falmouth Smithick
This blog will be created by members of the Exec committee or by local Labour Councillors on topics of interest to the St Austell & Newquay Labour Party