Results of Cornwall Council’s first ever residents’ survey
Cornwall Council’s first ever residents’ survey gives detailed information on what people think about local services and the area where they live.
Cornwall’s residents said good health care and affordable housing were the most important factors in making somewhere a good place to live.
When it comes to what most needs improving locally, residents said road maintenance and wages.
Residents were also asked for their views on the way Cornwall Council runs things and what standard of service they received the last time they contacted it. The results are set out below.
The survey was commissioned at the recommendation of the Council’s Reputation and Performance Advisory Committee which met to consider the results this week.
The data from 1212 completed questionnaires (a high response rate of 44%) was collected and analysed by independent research company, Marketing Means. The full report will be published on the Council website and the data will be posted onto the national website, LG Inform, set up to look at council performance.
“I am grateful to all the residents who took part in the survey,” said Council Leader John Pollard. “We will certainly be taking on board what they are telling us. It is clear from the survey that to win people’s trust there are things we need to improve in the way we operate as a Council and how we communicate with people.
“On the positive side, I am pleased to see that the things residents say are important to them are the things we are prioritising – for example investing in the economy so that there are more well paid jobs in Cornwall and protecting the road maintenance budget.
“We believe we have made strong progress in these areas over the past year and have had good feedback from budget consultations and Radio Cornwall phone-ins.”
Chairman of the Council’s Reputation and Performance Committee, Malcolm Moyle, added “This survey was commissioned by the Leader of the Council following a recommendation from my committee. Other councils do similar surveys and we wanted to establish a baseline to see where we are now and to track our performance in future.”
Summary of results
- 84% of respondents said they were satisfied with their local area as a place to live.
- By a margin of 2 to 1, residents were satisfied with the way Cornwall Council runs things (51% satisfied, 25% dissatisfied).
- 31% agreed that Cornwall Council provides value for money, 34% disagreed.
- Half of respondents (50%) agreed the Council is standing up for Cornwall, 17% did not agree.
- Just over a third (34%) agreed the Council is trustworthy, but 26% disagreed.
- 26% said the Council acts on the concerns of local residents but 37% disagreed.
- 24% said the Council is efficient and well run, 36% disagreed.
- Around half (47%) felt the council keeps them informed about the services and benefits it provides, 53% did not feel well informed.
- Residents were very well informed about how to pay bills (91%) and how to register to vote (89%); however they felt less well informed about other services such as how to complain (39%); how to get involved in decision making (26%) and what to do in the event of large scale emergency (21%)
- Respondents also felt less well informed about how the Council spends its money (36%); how the council is performing (31%) and what standard of service to expect (36%).
- Local media, printed information from the council, word of mouth and the council website/internet were the most common ways of finding out about Council decisions and services.
- Over half (55%) were satisfied with the service they received last time they made contact with the council, 27% were dissatisfied. Over half of those who were dissatisfied, highlighted poor communication as the reason, including lack of acknowledgement and poor response times.
- 61% said they preferred to contact the Council by telephone.
- Three quarters (75%) said they use the internet; however there was low awareness amongst internet users of the Council’s on line services.
John Pollard concluded: “I will be working with my fellow councillors and the senior management of the Council to make sure we address the issues that residents have raised.
“This will include improving customer care across the organisation, empowering our staff to sort out complaints quickly, pushing forward on our devolution programme with local communities, supporting divisional councillors in their role as community leaders and Council advocates, tackling specific local issues and problems that residents in different parts of Cornwall have identified, and a concerted drive to inform residents about services and points of contact for customers including our online offer and one stop shops. We will continue to be open and transparent about our decision making and finances.”
The full results of the residents survey are online and residents, council staff, local business and organisations and groups are very welcome to look through the findings and submit further comments and suggestions on what they think the Council should be doing to improve.
Story posted 22 October 2014
Fire course aims to help improve job prospects of St Austell and Bodmin groups
Two groups of people, referred by St Austell Job Centre and Bodmin Job Centre, have been celebrating their achievements in completing an innovative course run by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service’s Phoenix Works team at presentation events at St Austell Community Fire Station on Monday 20 October and Bodmin Community Fire Station on Tuesday 21 October. .
The course, which was developed by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) and funded by Jobcentre Plus Devon Cornwall and Somerset, aims to provide support and training to increase the employment opportunities of those who take part.
Referred by their local job centres, all participants were given the opportunity to gain an ASDAN level one qualification in Improving Own Learning and Performance together with the HeartStart accreditation in emergency life support techniques. The groups also took part in a range of fire service activities to promote teamwork, communication skills, raise confidence and aspirations. Alongside this, the course includes fire and road safety advice, as well as train the trainer and presentation skills.
Throughout the course participants get the opportunity to learn and develop transferable skills through participating in fire and rescue service drills and activities. These skills can then be taken forward and put into practice when the group members meet local employers, support agencies and community groups to help the individuals to identify future employment, training or voluntary opportunities.
CFRS Chief Fire Officer Des Tidbury said: “I am encouraged to see how Phoenix Works team has been able to use the work and reputation of the fire and rescue service to help these groups of people develop useful new skills.”
Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes and communities said: “These courses are an excellent example of how, by working with partners such as Jobcentre Plus, we can really make a difference to the lives of these individuals. I am delighted to celebrate the people who have embraced this opportunity to learn from the best.”
Story posted 21 October 2014
Flu vaccination campaign aims to reach vulnerable people
Public health experts are warning of the risks of not getting your free annual flu vaccination, if you are in an at-risk group which includes over-65s, pregnant women, young children and people with underlying medical conditions.
Last year, only half of eligible people under the age of 65 in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly took up the offer of a free jab, even though their condition makes them more vulnerable to flu and may mean the effects of the illness are worse as a result. This compares to a take-up rate above 70 per cent for older people, who are offered free vaccination because they are aged 65 or over.
Free vaccinations are also available for pregnant women and children aged two, three or four. This holistic approach is designed to protect young families, especially where the mother of toddlers are also pregnant.
Although flu symptoms are usually quite mild, they can be very serious. Healthy people usually recover in two to seven days. However, where a person’s immune system is suppressed – for example, during pregnancy – the disease can lead to hospitalisation, disability or even death.
The underlying conditions that make people of any age, including children aged six months and above, eligible for free vaccination include:
- A heart problem
- A long-term chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema
- Kidney or liver disease
- Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
- A stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- A neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s
- A problem with their spleen, such as sickle cell disease, or have had their spleen removed
- A severe learning disability
Anyone who is unsure if they are eligible for a free vaccination should ask their GP practice.
Stuart Bourne, Acting Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “‘I would urge everyone who is eligible to get their seasonal flu vaccination. If you are pregnant, it will protect you and your baby, and if you’ve got a two-, three- or four-year-old, vaccination via a simple nasal spray can now offer protection.
“I am particularly concerned about people who have existing conditions that make them more vulnerable to flu. If flu does occur, it is likely to be more severe, and more likely to exacerbate any underlying illness. There is obviously also the potential for friends and family to be made ill with flu as a consequence.
“Even a mild dose of flu can be unpleasant and put you out of action for a few days. More severe cases can lead to complications, leading to hospitalisation or even death in some instances.”
Councillor Jim McKenna, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care, added: “We all have a responsibility to reduce the risk of flu affecting the most vulnerable in our community. For those who may be at greater risk of flu themselves, the benefits of the flu vaccination are clear.
“However, we must also be mindful that we do all we can not to pass this potentially dangerous disease on to those we come into contact with. Having the flu jab means we are also playing our part in reducing the pressures our health and social care providers experience each winter.”
Colin Philip, a family doctor in St Ives, is encouraging everyone in the at-risk groups to make sure they are vaccinated this winter. He said: “Flu is a really unpleasant illness, particularly for anyone who is either elderly, has an underlying medical conditions or is pregnant. It’s easy to protect yourself and other people by not passing on germs and making sure you have had your flu jab. It’s quick, safe and the best way to make sure you are flu-free this year.”
Research across the South West has highlighted some of the reasons why people with these conditions don’t have the vaccination:
- They were concerned about side-effects. In fact, while there are some fairly common side-effects, these are mild. Your arm may feel a bit sore where you were injected, and some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards. The vaccine doesn’t give you even a mild dose of flu, as it doesn’t contain the active virus. Any other reactions are very rare.
- They didn’t have enough time. In fact, although vaccination will generally involve a trip to the surgery, a bout of flu can make you ill for days, even without complications.
- They thought they would be immune from previous flu jabs. In fact, the flu viruses in circulation change each year, which means the vaccine has to change as well.
Other people just hoped they wouldn’t get the illness.
More information about seasonal flu and vaccination is available on the NHS website.
Story posted 21 October 2014
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and Prince’s Trust Team community project unveiled at Parc Eglos School
A group of unemployed young people aged between 16 and 25 years old presented the fruits of their labour at Parc Eglos School on Friday 17 October after choosing, planning and completing a community project.
The group, who are taking part in the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and Prince’s Trust Team programme, chose to develop a woodland area at Parc Eglos School in Helston as their community project. As well as working hard to complete the project they are also planning how they would like to present it back to the school and the community and invited guests along to see what they have achieved so far.
The Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and Prince’s Trust Team programme is a 13 week personal development course which aims to help unemployed young people develop the skills and confidence to move into employment, education, training, volunteering or apprenticeships.
There are team building activities and challenges, a week-long action packed residential trip and two weeks of work experience during the course as well the community project. The group will also get advice on how to write CVs as well as gaining nationally recognised qualifications.
Story posted 20 October 2014
Local residents invited to give views on eco community masterplan
Local residents living in and around the St Austell area have two weeks left to give their views on the proposals for the new West Carclaze Eco community.
Following a consultation event held in the local area earlier this year Cornwall Council and Eco-bos drafted a masterplan setting out a range of options for the development.
The consultation on the emerging masterplan, which includes an online survey, is due to end on Friday, 31 October 2014 and local residents are being encouraged to make sure they give their views on both the draft options and the priorities for the Land Trust in creating a future china clay landscape for all.
“The plan for West Carclaze includes new homes with improved services and facilities for the local area” said Julian German, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Culture. “The aim of the development is to help support the regeneration and economic growth in the St Austell and China Clay area”.
“An eco-community is a way of providing good quality sustainable communities for the future.”
“One of our key objectives is to open up wider countryside access at West Carclaze” said John Hodkin, Managing Director of Eco-Bos, the developer behind the West Carclaze scheme . “We plan to establish a Land Trust to oversee the management of the Green Space, which could include the development of further trails and wider countryside access or the creation of formal parks”.
“In the newsletter we set out the key principles for the Land Trust and through the survey we want the community to tell us their priorities for the Green Space.”
As well as responding to the survey local residents are also being invited to attend a Public Meeting being held at Penwithick Community Hall at 6.30 pm on Tuesday, 28 October 2014. The meeting, which is being organised by Treverbyn Parish Council, will enable members of the public to pose questions about the draft proposals to representatives from Eco-Bos and Cornwall Council.
“We want local people to look at the newsletter and information and complete the survey or come to the public meeting to have their questions answered” said David Stevens, Clerk of Treverbyn Parish Council. “We welcome this consultation stage and encourage our community to become involved.”
Story posted 17 October 2014
Council sets out draft budget proposals
Cornwall Council has today published its proposals for saving £196 million over the next four years and is asking members of the public, partner organisations and staff to give their views on the draft budget and come forward with any other ideas for saving money.
The Council's aim is to strengthen its partnerships with the rest of the public and community sector in order to make as many savings as possible without cuts to frontline services. The authority has identified services to a value of at least £34 million that could potentially be put up for devolution, and could be considerably more. The Council will also work on integrating services currently run by government departments, the NHS, voluntary and community sectors and Cornwall Council.
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 draft budget proposals are based around four key areas:
- Working with staff to reduce the pay bill – including further restructuring and the transfer of staff to new models of delivery and arm’s length companies
- New models of delivery – including integrating health and social care services; devolving further services to town and parish councils and community and voluntary groups (eg libraries); creating trusts and partnerships to deliver services such as culture and tourism, and seeking external partners for services such as parking.
- Management improvements – including delivering more services digitally and through the website; reducing administrative costs in areas such as IT and postage; more effective procurement and contract management and sharing buildings with partners and community groups;
- Increasing income – taking a more commercial approach in areas such as public protection, licensing, planning, and waste.
You can read more detailed information in the following documents:
The Savings plan by service document details the allocation of savings to individual services and respective percentage reductions. It shows the best estimate of how the proposed savings will fall on individual services and the resulting net budget levels projected from this for 2018/19. The document also shows the percentage net budget reduction for each service line arising from the proposed savings. Given the volume of the information, that would need to be provided to show how each reduction is calculated, it is not possible to provide the information on mass.
Have your say
As well as the public meetings in October there is also an online form where people can give their views and make any suggestions. We will also be hosting a live chat on 25 September. For more information visit: www.cornwall.gov.uk/cornwallbudget.
This consultation will close on 29 October
All the comments and suggestions made by members of the public and partners will then be used to produce a revised draft which will be discussed by the Cabinet on 5 November and then the full Council on 22 November when the final decision will be made.
John Pollard and Alex Folkes talk about the draft budget
“We are determined to focus on what Cornwall will be like in 2019, rather than what we need to cut” said Cornwall Council Leader John Pollard.
“Budgetary constraints and the changing nature of Local Government require a different approach and, as we said last year, we want to build a resilient and sustainable Cornwall and not simply reduce the services we provide.
“To this end we have worked with Councillors, officers and partners to develop this budget, the Council’s strategy which underpins it, and a Business Plan which will implement it. Our commitment is to create a leaner, more resourceful organisation that delivers essential council services in the most efficient and effective way. This also means having the courage to make some extremely difficult decisions.
“At the same time we have been pressing the Government to change the way local government is funded to give Cornwall a fairer share of the money it allocates to councils to provide services. We currently receive less than half the money per head of population than that given to Hackney and if we were funded in the same way as an average urban council we would receive an additional £48m a year. We are continuing to have discussions with Ministers over the need to recognise the cost of providing services to people in Cornwall and have recently sent a submission to the Independent Commission set up to look at this issue setting out how we think the system should be reformed.”
Alex Folkes, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said “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."
“However we are also looking to the future and to developing the skills, jobs and infrastructure that Cornwall needs. We persuaded the Government to allow decisions on spending our European funding to be made in Cornwall, and we have seen significant Government investment in our rail, air and road links. We are also investing £50 million in match funding for the next round of the EU convergence programme."
“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.
“We recognise that many people will be concerned at the impact of some of these proposals but the stark truth is we cannot protect services and save £196m by continuing in the same way” said Alex Folkes. “We have to become more efficient and change the way we run the Council. By doing this we can support key services for vulnerable children and adults, and help people who are struggling to make ends meet by maintaining council tax support. We will also be supporting the bus network and continuing to fix potholes and maintain our roads.
“We now want to hear the views of people in Cornwall on these proposals. We are holding 20 public meetings during October so people can give us their views on the proposals and any new ideas”.
Following the publication of the draft budget, the proposals will be considered in detail by the Council’s Portfolio Advisory Committees during September.
Cape Cornwall School students 'pass out' at Penzance Community Fire Station parade
Students from Cape Cornwall School will ‘pass out’ on Friday 17 October 2014 at Penzance Community Fire Station.
The official passing out parade will mark the culmination of the group’s learning during the five day Phoenix Project course. During the ceremony, held in front of family and friends, the group will showcase firefighting techniques, including hose running.
The Phoenix Project has been run by the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service since 2002 and enhances young people’s self-confidence, communication skills and community spirit.
Dave Pilling, Phoenix Project Manager said: “Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service commits itself to developing skills for every child and these young people from Cape Cornwall School have shown great enthusiasm participating in all aspects of the programme. We continue to use the Phoenix Project to invest in young people across Cornwall. The fire service is able to use its reputation and position of authority and respect within the community to hone young people’s team work, communication and leadership skills. The students from Cape Cornwall School have worked extremely hard to succeed and gain their ASDAN certificate for improving their own learning and performance.”
The Phoenix Project is a Cornwall wide initiative geared towards students between the ages of 13 -17. To gain their certificates the students are given training in hose running, marching, wearing breathing apparatus (BA), life skills and problem solving with the aim of building confidence and self-esteem, raise aspirations and improve teamwork and communication skills.
“It’s great to see yet more young people learn not only how to become better communicators and leaders but to learn a very important fire safety message at the same time. Initiatives such as Phoenix help us to achieve safer communities from the ground up, which is the principal aim of the service” said Chief Fire Officer Des Tidbury.
Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes and communities Geoff Brown said: “The Phoenix Project has been extremely successful in helping young people from many areas and backgrounds. Once again it’s great to see how our fire service can help these young people learn how to become better communicators and leaders as they grow in confidence.”
Story posted 15 October 2014
Stray dog web page improved as Council’s Dog Welfare Team scoop another RSPCA award
Hot on the heels of being presented with a RSPCA Gold Community Animal Welfare Footprint Award for the high quality way in which the Council handles stray dogs, the Council’s Dog Welfare team has now been highly commended at the RSPCA Innovators Awards for how it is has developed its web presence and its use of social media to improve animal welfare.
One such initiative is the web page launched by the Council in July which gives details of stray dogs that have been handed into the Council or picked up by the Council’s Dog Welfare team. After listening to feedback from the public, the page has been improved further to include photographs of the dogs. The team also use Facebook and Twitter to flag up information and advice on animal welfare issues and to publicise free dog micro chipping events and has even enlisted the help of children in making a film to communicate the issues around dog fouling.
The Council’s Head of Public Protection and Business Support Allan Hampshire says: “I am delighted that the team have done so well in the RSPCA Awards and this improvement to our stray dogs web pages demonstrates the commitment we have to help the owners of lost dogs to locate their pets and to overall increase the number of stray dogs that are returned to their owners.
We do have a robust system in place for re-charging the owners of stray dogs for the costs incurred by the Council in picking up strays and arranging for them to be looked after. The onus has to be on dog owners to make sure that their dogs do not stray. A stray dog will foul and can potentially be a danger to road users and others.
The onus is also on the owner to make sure that their dog has an id tag and is micro-chipped so that dog and owner can be reunited quickly.
We hope that the free dog micro-chipping events we are holding in partnership with Dog’s Trust will lead to a further reduction in the number of stray dogs reported to the Council. In partnership with Dogs Trust, we are able to offer free dog micro chipping until March 2015. To book an appointment, just call dog welfare and enforcement on 0300 1234 212.”
The stray dog register has always been available for the public to view at any reasonable time however, it is now published as a live document, with photographs, on the Council’s website and will automatically update when a new case is reported to the Council.
When the dog is returned to the owner or re-homed via an appropriate charity, the dog’s details will be taken off the website.
Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes and communities Geoff Brown said: “Clearly we have a duty to pick up stray dogs and the RSPCA has recognised that the processes and lines of communication we have in place are good. This is a great example of how we can improve how we do things at minimal cost but to achieve maximum results.”
Organisations such as Dog Lost direct the owners of lost dogs to the Council’s website so that they can check to see if their dog has been reported to the Council.
Story posted 15 October 2014