Council stages 19 consultation events to enable local residents and businesses to have their say on the budget
Cornwall Council is encouraging members of the public to have their say on the budget for next year and into the future at a series of public events taking place across Cornwall over the next few weeks.
Earlier this month the Council published its proposals for saving £196m over the next four years. The unprecedented scale of the savings required means that all areas of the Council are affected by the draft proposals. However, rather than simply ‘salami slice’ every service, the authority has developed a four year plan which will help protect the three key priority areas identified by the public and Members during last year’s budget consultation. These are services for the most vulnerable in society (including vulnerable adults, children, older people and the poorest), public transport, and road repairs and maintenance.
The budget proposals are currently being considered in detail by Members at meetings of the Council’s Portfolio Advisory Committees. The authority will also be holding 19 consultation events across Cornwall during October to find out the views of local residents, businesses and partners on where cuts and savings could be made and to come up with any suggestions for increasing income.
The Cornwall wide budget consultation is being led by Alex Folkes, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, who wants as many people as possible to be involved in helping to shape the Council’s future direction.
“Over the past few months we have looked closely at everything we do to see how we can protect services by becoming more efficient and changing the way the Council is run. We started with the money we spend on ourselves and have already identified more than £30 million of savings through a radical restructure of senior management, reducing the use of consultants and agency staff by 59%, and a local pay agreement with staff. This work is continuing, with further savings due to come from ongoing restructuring and the sale of surplus buildings, but the sheer scale of the savings we need to make means we cannot rely on these actions alone.“
"We are looking to work much more closely with the rest of the public sector and the voluntary and community sector. We will be seeking to integrate our services and to share support functions and buildings wherever possible. But we know that front line services will also be hit and so we have worked with elected members, with partners and with the public to understand where they feel savings can be made and which services should be protected."
“The draft budget proposals include some things which we would want to do regardless of the need to make savings. These include further reducing the number of buildings and working more closely with partners to share costs. Others are savings we would prefer not to have to make and which we know will have a significant impact on the people who use these services. But, faced with the need to save £196m from our budget , we have very little choice.
“However even implementing all these proposals will still leave us with a £6 million shortfall and this figure could rise depending on Government funding decisions. We have already ruled out a number of options as unacceptable in the current circumstances and, rather than have to revisit them in the future, are asking people to come forward with any ideas on areas for savings we might have missed or where we could go further than we are currently suggesting.
The results of the consultation will be fed back to the Cabinet Council’s to consider before the budget is finalised.
Story posted 19 September 2014
Success of Finistère delegation visit to develop joint working in agriculture and marine sector
The latest stage of the successful ongoing protocol of co-operation between Finistère and Cornwall Councils saw a group of senior politicians and technical experts from Finistère travel to Cornwall to develop further joint working in agriculture and the marine sector.
The group, who spent two days in Cornwall, also discussed ways of building on previous successes and emerging opportunities to bid for transnational European funding in both regions.
The first day saw delegates visiting Mylor Harbour to discuss their plans for the future and explore potential links with the Falmouth Marine School on marine training. They also met with representatives of A&P and the Offshore Renewables Delivery Programme in Falmouth and took in an overview of Cornwall’s future in Offshore Renewables. Members of the group were also guests of the Environmental and Sustainability Institute, the Organic Study Centre of Duchy College, Riviera Produce and the Green Waste Company.
Future joint working in this area will focus on improving quality, productivity and wealth in agriculture in areas such as vegetable production systems, the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and ecosystem services mapping.
The second day involved visits to Lynher Dairies and Trewithen Dairy to enable the group to compare and enhance dairy production methods. Plans are currently being developed to enable Cornish dairy producers to visit Finistère to discuss collaboration in the dairy sector and get an insight into the cooperative model. The two regions also share the same interest for attracting more people into agri-food careers and partners are currently looking at ways of proposing joint solutions to skills development.
The visit ended with a presentation of the benefits of the protocol of cooperation with Finistère at a reception hosted by Cornwall Council which was sponsored by ACT Cornwall and Groupe Ouest.
Since its signature in 2008, the protocol has seen 18 EU cross-border cooperation projects undertaken with partner organisations in Finistère drawing down €25.2 million of funding by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
These investments have involved many sectors and guests at the reception heard from a range of representatives from the maritime, youth, cultural and economic sectors of the benefits experienced in their areas. These included ACT Cornwall and Groupe Ouest for the Any Resemblance Project; Cornwall Marine Network for Channel Marine Academy; Point Europa and Devon & Cornwall Housing for Do It Yourself.
Julian German, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Culture, said “The cooperation between Cornwall and Finistère is a fantastic example of transnational working; these European projects make a great contribution to the competitiveness, performance and sustainability of both our economies”.
“Businesses, research centres, public sector partners and youth, cultural and social organisations from the two regions have shown a great ability to work together for mutual benefit. I look forward to our continued cooperation and providing even greater outcomes for our residents.”
Story posted 19 September 2014
Families across Cornwall enjoy Family Fun Day
Cuddling a snake, and making friends with a giant owl, face painting, and tackling a climbing wall were just some of the activities enjoyed by 40 families from across Cornwall at the second Family Fun Day organised by Action for Children and Kernow Young Carers service at the Royal Cornwall showground in Wadebridge.
Almost 150 children and young people, aged 3-18, and their families took part in the day, which also included a dance workshop, arts and crafts activities, a, skate ramp and a bouncy castle. Music was provided by Tom James, with entertainment by Swamp Circus and Flava, who also ran the dance workshop, with stalls from Cornwall Food Foundation and the Wave Project . The day was run by staff from the Action for Children team who were joined by local volunteers from the Kernow Young Carers service.
Following a BBQ provided by the Wadebridge Rotary Club, the day ended with a special appearance by the, The Moorlanders Motor Cycle Club who drove in on their motor bikes before presenting a cheque for £1,000 to Action for Children.
The day proved a great success for the families who took part, with one parent saying they ‘really enjoyed the day and felt able to relax and take part’, and another adding ‘it was great having so much space so everyone could enjoy themselves’.
Other parents added “ We had a thoroughly fantastic day, it was so spacious and not too busy for my son “ while another added” This was a lovely day. It was wonderful for the children to be able to run free and be safe .“
Andrew Wallis, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, was one of those taking part in the day’s activities. “Young carers in Cornwall tell us that they value their caring roles and are proud of the contribution they are able to make in their families” he said.
“An event like this enables young carers and the person they care for to have a fun family day. Families must be given support to use the strength within, on all occasions, to promote outcomes for young carers”.
“There is great value placed on the relationships that the children and young people are part of, whether this is in the family, with friends, teachers or project workers” added Trevor Doughty, the Council’s Corporate Director for Education, Health and Social Care.
“In Cornwall it is important that children and young people are supported in situations where they take on caring roles to enjoy positive childhoods where they are able to learn, be safe, achieve, develop friendships and enjoy positive, healthy childhoods just like other children so they can aspire to achieve their full potential”.
Kernow Young Carers service, which is commissioned by Cornwall Council and NHS Kernow, is a highly valued service which is supporting increasing numbers of children and young people. As well as the fun day, there are holiday activities, support in schools, local support groups and some one to one support for those who need it most.
More information about the service is available from the Kernow Young Carers website.
Story posted 19 September 2014
New Council offices in Bodmin
Cornwall Council has confirmed details of the partner organisations who intend to take space in the new Council offices in Bodmin.
Announcing that BT Cornwall and Cornwall Housing were planning to move staff into the new three storey building at the Beacon Technology Park when it opens in 01 May 2015, Alex Folkes, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “Making better use of our buildings is one of the key ways in which we are delivering savings and supporting front line services for people in Cornwall. The development of these new offices not only allows us to move our own staff out of expensive and inefficient buildings around Bodmin, it also enables us to provide space for partner organisations to help them reduce their costs. Being able to bring new jobs to Cornwall is a significant added bonus."
"The Council has faced a lot of misguided criticism from people who believe that investing in order to make savings is the wrong approach. The precise payback period for this new office will depend on the sale prices of the buildings we are leaving, but we believe that we will have covered our costs in four years."
"At the same time we have managed to maintain our commitment to being a council for the whole of Cornwall. We promised that building this office in Bodmin would not mean the Council pulling out of St Austell or Liskeard and today's announcement confirms that we have kept that promise."
The move will see up to 100 staff from BT Cornwall moving to the new offices. Of these, 50 are staff who have previously been based at Threemilestone. The remaining 50 are new jobs which are expected to be recruited over the next year.
Chris Leggett, chief executive of BT Cornwall, said: “It is great to see the progress being made with the building of these new offices. They will play a vital role in the future success of the BT Cornwall partnership. Their state-of-the-art facilities and communications will be essential for a growing, cutting edge organisation such as ours and will help us attract top quality candidates. Cornwall is a great place to do business.”
Cornwall Housing, which currently has staff based in a number of sites across Cornwall, is drawing up plans to reduce costs by locating its administrative staff in Bodmin.
“Cornwall Housing has been involved since the inception of the scheme, having recognised the need to review their office portfolio” said Jane Barlow. “We will be consolidating our various offices into a smaller number of hubs and our plan, which is going to our Board at the end of the month, is to make Bodmin our main base. We will continue to provide local face to face services in the towns served at present.”
Over the past three years the Council has saved £1.2m by reducing the number of offices and buildings it inherited from the previous County and District Councils from 180 to 94. This has involved moving staff into larger, more efficient and cost effective buildings and surrendering expensive leases on rented properties. These efficiencies have helped the Council to protect front line services.
Story posted 15 September 2014
Bugle man pleads guilty to benefit fraud
A man from Bugle has received an eight week custodial sentence, suspended for eighteen months in respect of a Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit fraud totalling £20,597.01 which spanned almost ten years and two separate Local Authorities.
Roy Rickards (65) of Carnsmerry, Bugle pleaded guilty at Truro Magistrates Court on Tuesday 09 September 2014 to nine counts of benefit fraud.
Mr Rickards was also ordered to pay the full costs of £832.15 to the Council for their time in investigating the case and bringing the matter before the Courts. In addition, he was also ordered to pay a Victim Surcharge of £80.
Cornwall Council led the prosecution against Mr Rickards and included charges in respect of The Vale of White Horse District Council. Mr Rickards pleaded guilty to seven counts of dishonestly making false statements to the Vale of White Horse District Council in failing to disclose receipt of an Occupational Pension and a bank account to which the pension was paid into. He also pleaded guilty to a further two counts of dishonestly making false statements to Cornwall Council in failing to disclose receipt of an Occupational Pension and a bank account to which the pension was paid into.
Cornwall Council established initially that the claim submitted by Mr Rickards in June 2010 was in fact false as he had failed to report receipt of an Occupational Pension and a bank account that this pension was being paid into. A further check confirmed that Mr Rickards had moved down to Cornwall from Oxfordshire and a check with the Vale of White Horse District Council established that Mr Rickards had claimed with them in 2004 and had not disclosed the pension or the bank account, importantly it was established that the pension had in fact been in payment since 2001.
Cornwall Council and the Vale of White Horse District Council worked jointly in ensuring that all the matters with regard to each Council’s respective claims were dealt with collectively. This collaborative working ensured an effective and efficient investigation was conducted with a swift conclusion being reached.
The overpaid benefits are being recovered from Mr Rickards by both Cornwall Council and The Vale of White Horse District Council separately from this Court action.
Cornwall Council operates a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to fraud and corruption. If you suspect fraud is occurring we would be happy to talk to you on our confidential fraud hotline. Call us on freephone 0800 7316125.
Story posted 10 September 2014
Council awarded fourth RSPCA Gold Footprint Award
For the fourth consecutive year, Cornwall Council’s Dog Welfare and Enforcement team has been awarded a RSPCA Gold Community Animal Welfare Footprint Award for the high quality way in which the Council handles stray dogs.
The accolade recognises that Council Cornwall has put in place clear procedures to deal with stray dogs including the treatment and welfare of dogs whilst in the Council’s care, re-homing policies, and proactive action to reduce stray dog numbers whilst providing a cost effective service.
Each year Cornwall Council’s Dog Welfare and Enforcement Officers deals with dog welfare issues, noise complaints in relation to dog barking and dog fouling complaints. It also deals with approximately 1200 stray dogs and works with a number of re-homing charities to rehome around 150 unclaimed stray dogs each year. An up to date list of stray dogs that have been found is now also available on the Council’s website.
Cornwall Council Community Protection Manager, Lynn Cartersays: “Allowing your dog to roam puts it at risk of injury or causing injury to other animals or people as well as causing a nuisance by fouling whilst unaccompanied. Our Dog Welfare and Enforcement team routinely deal with dogs straying in public areas, and will pick up any unaccompanied dog in order to minimise the problems they cause.
It is vital that dog owners are responsible for their dogs and keep them under proper control as well as having a collar/ID – this is a legal requirement and also means they can be reunited more quickly if they do escape.
Any dog that is dealt with as a stray incurs expense to the owner including a release fee and kennelling charge as well as an additional charge if your dog is found out of hours – all of which must be paid before any dog is released.
Having your dog tagged and micro chipped means you can be reunited as quickly as possible and minimises charges. I am delighted that the hard work that the officers carry out has been recognised for the fourth year in a row”.
From 2016 it will be a legal requirement that all dogs are micro-chipped. The Council is offering totally free micro-chipping for all dogs until March 2015. If you would like to arrange a free chip, please call us on 0300 1234 212.
Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for Homes and Communities said: “I am delighted that the team has been recognised for the high standards of their animal welfare. In these financially challenging times it is good to know that we are still able to provide a high quality service. Dog owners can assist the team in their work by ensuring that their pets are kept safe, are tagged and micro chipped and by picking up after them and depositing waste in a suitable bin”.
Anyone finding a stray dog is required to inform the Council or if you wish to report a problem relating to dogs such as fouling, please contact the Dog Welfare and Enforcement Service on 0300 1234 212.
Story posted 17 September 2014
Urgent call for Blue Badge nil tax disc holders in Cornwall
Are you a Blue Badge holder who does not pay road tax? Is your tax disc due to run out before 01 October when the tax disc system is being abolished by the Government? If so please contact the Council urgently to give us your vehicle registration details so we can continue to ensure that you receive your entitlement to free parking in Cornwall Council run car parks.
If your tax disc is due to run out later in the year or early in 2015 please contact us about two weeks before it expires to give us your vehicle details.
Please remember that only Blue Badge holders who pay no road tax are entitled to free parking in Cornwall Council run car parks. All other Blue Badge holders must pay to park, but are entitled to one hour’s additional parking free.
Earlier this year the Government announced changes to the vehicle taxation system which means there will no longer be a legal requirement for any vehicle to display a tax disc. Although the new legislation comes into force on 1 October, the Government has only recently advised that local authorities must make their own arrangements.
The Council is currently considering its new policy and, after consultation, will introduce the policy in April 2015. In the meantime the arrangements outlined above will apply.
This means that up to two weeks before their tax disc expires, Blue Badge nil tax disc holders should contact the Council’s Parking Service to give details of their vehicle’s make and model and their registration number. This can be done either by e mailing email@example.com or by post to Parking Services, PO Box 664, TR1 9DH.
The Council’s Parking Enforcement Officers will then be able to recognise eligible vehicles using their hand held computers. Anyone who is entitled to free parking and finds themselves being issued with a penalty charge notice should follow the instructions on the reverse of the Penalty Charge Notice providing the PCN number and explaining that they do not pay road tax. The parking service will then verify this and cancel any undeserved charges.
“The Council has had to act quickly to get an interim scheme in place“ said Bert Biscoe, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Waste. “Many Members have been contacted by concerned residents about this issue and I am glad to be able to announce details of the interim scheme today.”
“Please don’t forget to continue to display your nil tax disc while it is valid or to contact the parking service a fortnight before it is due to run out to give us your vehicle details so they can be registered. I am, however, anxious to make sure that our staff are not inundated, hence the “phased” approach. “
Story posted 18 September 2014
Cornwall Council prepares case for greater powers and freedoms
With less than 24 hours to go before the results of the Scottish referendum are revealed, Cornwall Council is preparing its case to be given greater powers to raise and spend its own money in the way it wants.
Whatever the decision of people in Scotland on Friday morning, the authority is calling on the Government to give Cornwall more freedom to manage its own affairs.
“Over the past few weeks we have seen the Government offer sweeping new powers to Scotland” said Cornwall Council Leader John Pollard. “At the same time Ministers are doing deals with cities to give them more powers. We want the same freedoms for Cornwall .
“Not only are we a distinct region with a single Local Enterprise Partnership and a single health commissioner covering Cornwall, we were recently granted National Minority Framework Status because of our unique culture and heritage.
“Last month we successfully persuaded the Government to let us decide how to spend the funding we receive from Europe and we now want to build on this success to see more powers transferred from Whitehall to County Hall.”
Adding that transferring powers to the Council would not create an additional layer of bureaucracy, Mr Pollard said that the authority wanted to have a sensible discussion with the Government over how any new system would work.
“We don’t want to see the “cities” system imposed on Cornwall – this is not a case of a single devolution model fits all. We know that Cornwall is unique and we need to ensure that we work with the Government to create a model which is right for us”.
The Council is currently developing a new Strategy which sets out the authority’s aim to create a sustainable Cornwall, which is prosperous, resilient and resourceful with strong communities where the most vulnerable are protected .
“One of the key aims of the Strategy is to create an “Ambitious Cornwall” which has more local control over Government spending” said John Pollard. “This is echoed in the Strategic Economic Plan which was recently published by the Local Enterprise Partnership. We don’t want the way we spend our money and deliver services to people in Cornwall to be dictated by the Government – we want to make our own decisions”.
“Cornwall has a proud history of standing up and fighting for what it believes in and we are determined to take advantage of this moment and shape our own destiny. “
Story posted 18 September 2014