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  • Get your turkey ready for 'National Defrost Your Turkey Day'

    To help people stay safe during this festive season Cornwall Council’s Food and Health and Safety team are supporting the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on National Defrost Your Turkey Day on Monday 22 December 2014. This day will prompt Christmas cooks to start thinking of the defrosting process in plenty of time and avoid getting caught out. A typical large turkey can take two days to defrost.

    Only one in four people get it right by defrosting their turkey in the fridge. The Food Standard Agency is concerned that many risk getting an unwelcome gift of food poisoning this Christmas. Incorrect thawing provides a platform for bacteria such as campylobacter to spread, leaving you with a turkey dinner that looks and tastes delicious but contains a hidden risk that can’t be seen, tasted or smelled, but can ruin your new year.

    From late December 2013 to the start of January 2014 more than 3,000 cases of campylobacter were confirmed in England and Wales – an indication that more care needs to be given to the preparation, storage and consumption of turkey in the home during the festive period.

    ‘We all love our turkey dinner at Christmas and this year should be no exception. It’s the little things you do that can make a real difference. So if you make sure that your turkey is defrosted safely and in good time, you can enjoy your meal happily and safely.’ Said Kevin Hargin, Head of Foodborne Disease at the Food Standards Agency.

    Cornwall Council cabinet member for communities Geoff Brown said: “In supporting this important campaign our team are continuing the good work they have been carrying out in recent months to warn the public about the dangers of washing raw poultry.  I would urge everyone to take notice of the good advice from the Food Standards Agency and have a happy and safe Christmas,”  

    The FSA advises that when preparing your turkey from frozen you should:

    • Follow the retailer’s recommended defrosting time. The size of your turkey will determine how long it needs to be defrosted for (a large 11kg turkey can take up to two days to defrost).
    • Defrost your turkey in the fridge if possible or somewhere cool. Cold temperature slows the growth of germs on food and will keep it safe and fresh.
    • Cover the turkey whilst defrosting, leave in the packaging or put it in a container to hold any thawing juices, and place it at the bottom of the fridge to avoid cross-contamination.
    • Defrost thoroughly, as otherwise your turkey may not cook evenly and harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process.
    • Raw turkey should always be put in the bottom of the fridge until ready to use. Leaving on the kitchen counter at room temperature could increase your risk of food poisoning.

    What is campylobacter?

    Campylobacter is the generic name for a number of species of bacteria that can cause food poisoning in people. They cause more cases of food poisoning in the UK than salmonella, E. coli and listeria combined.

    Campylobacter bacteria are commonly found on poultry meat. Between 50% and 80% of cases of campylobacter food poisoning in the UK and other EU countries can be attributed to poultry sources, mostly to raw poultry meat.

    Why it’s important?

    50% to 80% of confirmed cases of campylobacter poisoning in the UK come from contaminated poultry. Campylobacter poisoning can lead to sickness including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, disability and even worse. Those most at risk are children and older people.

    If you want your Christmas dinner to be remembered for the right reasons, follow the FSA’s advice on the recommended safe practices when preparing, cooking and storing turkey.

    Story posted 19 December 2014

  • 'Good Businesses' earn Trading Standards approval

    Image of trading standards promoting the buy with confidence scheme

    After the worst year on record for reports of scams, frauds and doorstep con men, Cornwall Council has adopted a national approval scheme to help consumers find reputable businesses.

    The “Buy with Confidence” scheme offers Trading Standards approval to local businesses who can prove themselves to be safe, secure, reliable and worthy of recommendation.

    Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes and communities, Geoff Brown said: “The “Buy with Confidence” scheme is intended to protect consumers in Cornwall by signposting them to local businesses that have been tested and audited and considered to be reputable. Cornwall Council will actively encourage members of the public and local businesses to employ these reputable businesses rather than dealing with rogue traders who turn up at the door uninvited. And the scheme will also provide a marketing advantage for our local businesses, giving them the opportunity to carry the “Trading Standards Approved” logo that will help them stand out from the crowd.”

    At an informal ceremony at New County Hall this week the first two businesses to satisfy the accreditation process received their certificates of membership.

    Lloyd Richards MCIAT, the Principal of LLOYDS Architecture, is proud to be the first out of over 21,000 businesses operating in Cornwall to be registered.  He said:  “The Practice has undergone a series of detailed independent checks of its administration, back-office and customer-facing procedures and services along with verification of its professional qualifications and accreditations before being approved as a member of the scheme. I recognised this as the gold standard in online business registers as soon as I became aware of the scheme in May of this year.  For any responsible trade or professional business this will be a straight forward process. There are many unregulated business directories online and there is little control over the verification of feedback or testimonies. The advantage of the BWC scheme is that it is assiduously independent and administered by Local Government Trading Standards Officers, whose principal objective is consumer protection.”    

    Jo Shinner, Director for Rowan Tree Marketing, said: "I'm delighted that Rowan Tree Marketing is approved for the Buy with Confidence scheme. It's a clear way to show that we do a great job and provide valued business services.  Buy with Confidence helps us assure people that our customers rate us highly and that we are a trustworthy company to do business with. The Trading Standards team were delightful to work with as we passed through the audit process. We were thrilled to be one of the first two businesses in Cornwall to attain the standard required. I am sure it will help Rowan Tree Marketing continue to grow."

    In order to become a “Buy with Confidence” member, a business must first apply or be recommended to join the scheme and must then pass a set of tailored background checks. Membership of the scheme is not given lightly – amongst other checks, each applicant will have their complaints history reviewed and will receive a visit from Trading Standards. Good references are required from previous customers and applicants must agree to abide by the scheme's code of conduct, which requires them to follow the letter and spirit of the law. Criminal records disclosure may also be required in some circumstances.

    Only if all the requirements are met will a business be granted membership and their conduct will continue to be monitored thereafter. And although the approval cannot guarantee that “Buy with Confidence” members' work will be perfect every time, the public can expect any problems to be dealt with fairly by the business and can turn to Trading Standards for advice in the event of an unresolved issue.

    Businesses interested in becoming Trading Standards approved and members of the public who wish to nominate a local business should e-mail bwc@cornwall.gov.uk

    Story posted 27 November 2014

  • Statement from Adam Paynter, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, re Local Government Finance Settlement

    We have only just received confirmation of the overall level of funding which has been allocated to the Council and need to carry out a detailed analysis of the figures to assess what they mean for the authority.

    Our initial analysis, however, suggests that the level of funding allocated to the Council by the Government is very close to the figures predicted in our budget for 2015/2016.

    The Government has recognised Cornwall’s stance that providing services in a rural sparse area costs more than in an urban area which has resulted in £200,000 additional funding for the Council.  Whilst this is good news it is far less than the additional costs facing Cornwall.  We also welcome the fact that the Government has decided to retain the local welfare provision grant which means we will receive £885,000 (a reduction of £250,000 on last year’s grant) to help support vulnerable people in Cornwall this year.

    With an expected 33% reduction in Government funding over the next four years the Council will need to find savings of up to £196m by 2018/2019. The budget, which was agreed by the full Council on 25 November, was based on making savings of £58.8m in 2015/2016 with an agreement in principle to increase council tax by 1.97%. The decision to go early with the budget rather than wait until February will help save between £7m and £9m next year.

    As today’s (18 December 2014) announcement only gives us the overall figure for the Council, we need to wait for further details to be announced by the Government over the next few weeks to draw up a full picture of the impact of the settlement on our services.

    We also welcome the Government’s decision to maintain the referendum threshold at 2% rather than reduce it to 1% as was suggested in some parts of the media.  

    Story posted 18 December 2014

  • Council agrees that Local Plan is taken forward for examination

    Cornwall Council agreed at its extraordinary full council meeting today (16 December 2014) that the first part of the draft Local Plan for Cornwall be submitted to the Secretary of State for examination.

    The Cornwall Local Plan –strategic policies will be the basis for future planning decisions and sets out a vision for growth.  It identifies the quantity and distribution of growth for new housing, community facilities, shops and employment, including the identification of the eco community site at West Carclaze near St Austell. Once this plan has been examined by the Secretary of State, further elements, including strategic allocations for the main towns, will follow and be subject to public consultation in the spring of 2015.

    Cornwall Council cabinet member for planning Edwina Hannaford said: “Our Local Plan has been produced after extensive consultation and thorough discussion and I’m confident it will be found ‘sound’ when it is examined by the Secretary of State. Although the focus for many is on the 47,500 headline figure for housing, we need to remember that there is already planning consent for around 29,000 homes, including around 10,000 that have already been built since 2010.  This leaves a balance of 18,500 to be delivered over the next 15 years. Without a plan the Council and Cornwall are vulnerable to planning by appeal.

    Edwina Hannaford adds: “Despite the Government saying we can set our own targets, they expect the number to be based on evidence and the need to respond to the national agenda to boost housing supply. 

    Of course, infrastructure is essential but homes are infrastructure too and are needed to support our communities, the economy and our future. The funding of infrastructure and the conditions for job creation are linked to housing delivery. We have consistently delivered our housing targets, even through recession, with 33% of all homes built as affordable homes.

    However there are also other important factors we have taken into account. Our landscape is very important to us, economically, environmentally and socially. The Strategic Policies in the Local Plan will help protect and conserve our valued protected landscapes.

    We also need to keep in perspective the level of land use in Cornwall. Less than 1% of Cornwall is used for housing and this will only increase by less than 0.5% if the target is reached.

    Over a third of land in Cornwall is subject to very stringent environmental policy constraints and 80% of Cornwall is farm land. Cornwall will remain a rural area of the UK.”

    The Local Plan will now be submitted to the Secretary of State in January with an examination anticipated in the Spring of 2015.

    Story posted 16 December 2014

  • Fair Trading team uncovers substandard garage servicing

    Officers from Cornwall Council’s Fair Trading team have been visiting garages and service centres checking that services and safety checks on vehicles are being carried out properly and to uncover whether they are identifying unnecessary work.

    Undercover officers sent in vehicles to a sample of garages across Cornwall – which included national chains and independent businesses. Four of the seven garages tested were found to have missed at least two significant service items which should have been checked as part of the service schedule offered.

    Two of those four businesses were found to have overstated the severity of some of the faults found; with one of these stating that safety critical work in two areas was needed when in fact it was not required at all.

    Gary Webster, Cornwall Council Senior Trading Standards Officer said: “We targeted our project at those businesses for which we have received complaints about servicing and repairs over the last 12 months. It was heartening to find that three garages did a good job but disappointing to find that the rest failed to check some fundamental aspects of the vehicle; including tyre pressures (particularly spare tyres), windscreen wipers, brake fluid condition and the effectiveness of the coolant (antifreeze).

    In some vehicles we introduced minor faults that would not compromise the safety, but which a garage would still have been expected to check as part of carrying out a service. We found that these basic faults were missed in almost every case.

    During the project, we also noted that certain garages were very quick to offer a raft of extra service items, many of which would be of limited benefit to the consumer or their vehicle but which would substantially increase the bill.”

    Trading Standards Officers will now be providing follow-up advice to those garages who failed to check some of the required service items.  A formal investigation will be carried out into the garage that identified the unnecessary work.

    Stuart Benson, Cornwall Council Assistant Head of Service for Public Protection and Business Support said: “Trading Standards consistently receive a large number of complaints relating to car servicing, repairs and sales. Whilst our Fair Trading team have been proactive in advising and supporting businesses to trade within the law and to treat their customers fairly, unfortunately some still fall short of the standard the customer is entitled to expect.

    Projects like these have become a necessary tool in identifying unfair or unsafe trading practices that bring disrepute to the wider industry. We will always work to support the majority of businesses who want to comply with the law but we are also willing to take robust action against those who attempt to take advantage of consumers.”

    Cornwall Council cabinet member for communities Geoff Brown said: “The public can be assured that our trading standards team continue to work hard to ensure safety and fairness in areas such as this where customers rely on the expertise of service providers.”

    Top tips:

    Ensure that you check what is being offered as part of the service. Certain garages and service centres use a menu of items which may vary from business to business. You might be surprised at just how many parts of the service are simply just a visual inspection, rather than a replacement.

    The prices quoted for a service are often the basic price, which generally includes an oil and filter change, but may not cover the replacement of other consumables, such as fuel filters, brake fluid, coolant etc. Make sure that you refer to your car manufacturer’s servicing schedule (usually found with the handbook) to ensure that the right things are being checked or replaced at the right time and get the garage to quote the price for these consumables in advance.

    Try to ensure that you book your vehicle in at a time where you can make alternative travel arrangements if needed. This can help reduce the pressure on you to agree to any work on the spot. It may also give you an opportunity to get quotes from other garages or seek a second opinion.

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions about why any suggested work is necessary. If in any doubt, ask the garage to keep the parts for you to inspect at a later stage (and take away for a second opinion if necessary).

    Be wary of claims about tyre tread depth, brake pad thickness and brake disc thickness. Some garages will be clever in the way they word this, often giving the impression that the parts are more worn than they really are. It is important to be safe, but if you’re not sure – challenge them.

    Insist that they provide a schedule or checklist for all of the work done. If you have any concerns, go back to the garage and ask them to clarify what has been done.

    If you require advice about your consumer rights, or wish to report a concern about the practices of a trader or company, please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

    Story posted 16 December 2014

  • 'Tis the season to be wary warns Cornwall Trading Standards

    In the final run up to Christmas, as the mad panic to find that elusive gift or ‘must have’ toy takes hold and as money gets tighter and the need to find a bargain becomes more essential, Cornwall Council’s Trading Standards urges everyone to be on their guard against falling victim to one of the many scams or frauds designed to spoil the season of goodwill.

    Cornwall Trading Standards offers three wise messages to help Cornwall’s consumers stay safe this Christmas:

    • Always buy from reputable, trusted sources. Don’t be tempted to order from websites or street sellers that you have never dealt with before.
    • Never deal with unsolicited telephone calls or unexpected doorstep salespeople – no matter how convincing they seem.
    • Keep it real this Christmas – fakes and illegal copies will bring disappointment and potential danger into your home.

    Cornwall Trading Standards Fair Trading Team Manager Nigel Strick said:

    “Con men and fraudsters know that we are all much more susceptible at this time of year. The phone call from a parcel delivery firm telling us that we have to pay a charge before they will deliver, the website that offers the toy that has sold out in all of the local shops, the fantastically low priced perfumes, computer games or DVDs……..everyone has the potential to be a scam that will steal our money and leave us with a disappointing gap under the Christmas tree.”

    Cornwall Council cabinet member for communities Geoff Brown said: “This is supposed to be the season of happiness and joy but now, more than any other time of the year, we all need to take notice of the good advice from Cornwall Trading Standards so be extra careful and have a Happy Christmas.”

     

    Story posted 16 December 2014

  • Cornwall's King Edward Mine Museum to receive more than £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund

    King Edward Mine aerial view

    A project to conserve the world’s oldest complete 19th / early 20th century mine site has been awarded £1,121,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) following a successful partnership application from Cornwall Council and King Edward Mine Ltd.

    The aim of the project is to conserve all the core buildings at King Edward Mine, and refurbish the derelict Assay Office as a new café and ‘community hub’ and the Boiler House as a new exhibition space to enhance the visitor experience.  The funding announced today will also enable King Edward Mine to employ two paid part-time staff and deliver a programme of exciting events, activities and training for local schools, families, visitors, special interest groups and volunteers, working in partnership with other community organisations. 

    King Edward Mine (KEM), situated on the outskirts of Camborne, near the villages of Troon and Beacon, is the oldest complete 19th/ early 20th century mine site left in the world.  Almost all the mine buildings survive, and to a remarkable degree they retain their appearance and character of about 1907, when Camborne School of Mines equipped the mine’s Mill with the most up to date surface machinery of the time, including the Californian Stamps battery that had been exhibited at the Paris Exposition in 1900.

    In preparation for opening the mine as a museum in 2005, a group of individuals, who later became King Edward Mine Ltd, expertly restored and, where possible, brought back much of this machinery into working order.  The Mill now houses the most complete collection of tin dressing plant in Europe, with many items being rare or unique survivals.

    King Edward Mine is traversed by the Great Flat Lode Mineral Tramways multi-use trail, a popular route around Carn Brea for walks, cyclists and horse riders. The new café, which will be offered as a franchise, and the additional car parking and improvements to the Events Field, will help King Edward Mine to become the ‘Gateway to the Great Flat Lode’, providing an ideal location for individuals and groups to start their exploration of what is described as the best surviving mining landscape within the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.  The café has also received funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund’s Challenge Fund for Historic Buildings at Risk, generously funded by English Heritage and by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

    King Edward Mine will remain open to the public as normal throughout the project’s building conservation phase, with the new café and exhibition opening in June 2016.  For all information on visiting King Edward Mine, please go to their website: www.kingedwardmine.co.uk

    King Edward Mine will be advertising for a part-time Site Officer later in December and more information will provided on the café franchise opportunity early in 2015 and on the Participation Officer position at the beginning of 2016.

    Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “King Edward Mine is the oldest complete early 20th century mine site left in Cornwall and an important reminder of the area’s long and proud mining heritage.  Today’s HLF support will enable Cornwall Council to conserve some of the most historic parts of the site as well as vastly improving the visitor offer via a new café and community space for all to enjoy.”

    George Eustice MP, said: “I am delighted with the Heritage Lottery Fund’s decision to award more than £1m to the King Edward Mine Museum near Camborne.  We have a rich and unique industrial heritage in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle and this funding will not only help preserve this important historical site but also allow the museum to provide an exciting range of activities for schools and visitors.”

    Julian German, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Culture, said: “I would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for the award of this grant to King Edward Mine, and also KEM Ltd’s Trustees and other volunteers how have worked in partnership with the Council to achieve this important milestone.

    Since opening in 2005, this small team of dedicated volunteers have created an award-winning museum at King Edward Mine, attracting increasing numbers of visitors and growing in importance to the local community.  The struggle was always raising funds to restore the deteriorating historic buildings and to put the site on a firmer financial footing. 

    In 2009, the Council acquired King Edward Mine in recognition of its importance within Cornwall’s World Heritage Site.  Since then we have secured European funding to conserve two of the redundant buildings and refurbish them as high quality work spaces.  These will be available from April 2015 and we have already had a lot of interest in them.  We have also brought a strong team together, including Truro architects pdp Green and the design company Scribble & Nonsense who are also based locally, to support the volunteers to develop their ideas for the museum in consultation with the local community. 

    I am absolutely delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has chosen to support King Edward Mine with this award of over £1m, and congratulate the team on this achievement.”

    Kevin Baker, Chairman of KEM Ltd, said: “This is really great news.  King Edward Mine Museum was created by the vision of a few volunteers who have over the years restored the tin processing machinery in the Mill, now unique examples of their type, and who have striven to preserve the site for future generations.  We are very proud of the fact that the museum is award-winning and that so many of our visitors learn about the heritage of the site, but we took on buildings already in very poor condition which has limited what we’ve been able to do to develop the site’s potential.  Without this support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we could never have raised funds locally for the conservation of the core buildings, nor indeed for creating a new café and exhibition space.  We are now hoping to attract more volunteers to become part of King Edward Mine’s future, and that more people in the community will be encouraged to come and enjoy the site and take part in the host of events and activities that we are planning.

    George Le Hunte, Chairman of Camborne Business Improvement District said: “Congratulations.  This is fantastic news and will assure the future of King Edward Mine Museum and will also attract more visitors to Camborne.”

    National Lottery 498X90

  • Dog owners urged not to 'decorate' trees with dog poo bags this Christmas

    St Michael Tree Poster  Woods Tree Poster

    Posters showing Christmas trees ‘decorated’ with dog poo bags pictured against a backdrop of iconic Cornish beauty spots and images including Carn Brea, Godrevy and St Michael’s Mount, are being distributed by Cornwall Council’s Dog Welfare and Enforcement team to make dog owners think about the impact their lack of action and lack of consideration has on our environment.

    Cornwall Council Head of Public Protection and Business Support Allan Hampshire said: “We have probably all experienced the frustration of seeing a full dog poo bag suspended from a hedgerow, tree or left by a footpath.  We are taking that image to the extreme by showing a Christmas tree ‘decorated’ with dog poo bags against the backdrop of some of the lovely places in Cornwall.  We are saying to people that once you have taken the time to scoop and bag the poop, please put the bag in any litter bin or take it home and put it in your own bin.  There is no excuse not to take responsibility for your dog.”

    Cornwall Council, Senior Environmental Health Officer Kevin Brader adds: “We are running the campaign now as we notice an increase in fouling and littering issues when the days are short and dog owners are often walking their pets in darkness in the morning or the evening.  Dog owners are reminded that they are required to clean up when their dog has fouled in a public place and must properly dispose of it. It is no excuse to say that you didn’t see where your dog has been; you can be held responsible even if you did not see the incident.  There is no excuse to throw bagged waste into the hedge or tie it to a tree - take it to the nearest bin or take it home.  Anyone caught throwing or leaving bagged dog waste or not properly removing dog waste will face an £80 fixed penalty or prosecution.”

    Cornwall Council is also encouraging others to take on a proactive role in tackling the issue of dog fouling. The Council's Public Protection service is the only Local Authority Department in the country to be approved by DEFRA to provide training to other officers, internal and external, to issue fixed penalty notices for dog fouling and littering offences. There is a programme of engaging with local town and parish council’s in Cornwall to authorise and approve their employees to issue Fixed Penalty Notices.

    Cabinet member for Communities Geoff Brown says: “This will increase the number of people in our communities who are able to address these anti-social behaviour issues but what we really want is for dog owners themselves to be responsible for their pets and their actions to help maintain the environment and also reduce the risks of diseases associated with dog poo.”

    You can report dog fouling on the Council’s website or Facebook page.

    Allan Hampshire adds: “It is only with people getting involved and reporting problems in their neighbourhood that we will be able to solve more problems and take more enforcement action on littering and dog fouling. We want these posters to draw attention to the issue and make them think about their responsibilities.”

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