Cornwall Council Report 1/8/20 - Jayne Kirkham - Falmouth Smithick
This week I tried to 'call in' a council decision. Cornwall Council Cabinet have decided to award a massive contract for 'extra care' housing (a bit like the old sheltered housing with care provided on site) to a national company called Mears. Mears have run all sorts of operations before - housing for asylum seekers in Scotland, care, council housing maintenance in places like London and Brighton. They are reported as having a chequered track record. They are a huge company and took over Mitie (which is a name you may know from the recent pay dispute at Treliske). They were the only bidder for the Extra Care contract in the end and the decision did not go through the appropriate scrutiny committee due to Covid. The trades unions and others raised concerns with me about Mears and I was already concerned that such a big contract was going to one national company (so much for local procurement). I spoke to other members of the Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee, who were worried about the finance details of the deal, and 3 of us 'called the decision in' on a cross-party basis. It's a formal process meaning that we asked for it to be looked at again by the Scrutiny committee. It's very rare that a council decision gets called in in Cornwall. We found out on friday that the Council's chief legal officer hasn't accepted our application! We are reviewing the detail of the decision over the weekend and deciding our next steps.
We also had a Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny meeting. The first since 11 March when we had had just 5 Covid cases in Cornwall. We had briefings on the Covid response and last year's public health report. Papers are here - The deputy director of Public Health reported that the authority is taking on more responsibility for the tracing local cases and getting more detailed information from the national track and trace system (at last).
It seems there may be money available for cycling infrastructure from central government and we are working on putting a speedy bid in for some of it for Falmouth and Penryn.
You will have seen that Johnson has relaxed restrictions on working hours on construction sites. Many developers in Falmouth are now trying to work 7 days per week, which is really difficult when the builds are in residential areas. I am working with CC to challenge some of these.
And we also had the Labour leader in my division. He spent an afternoon in Falmouth meeting with people trying to run and work in local businesses in the town throughout Covid. His team are planning a members' event when the Covid restrictions on gatherings are over and hopefully we'll get some front bench support for the local elections next May too.
This blog will be created by members of the Exec committee on topics of interest to the St Austell & Newquay Labour Party