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  • Pondhu Primary School pupils take on an exciting challenge with Cornwall Learning Education Business Partnership and local businesses

     Junior enterprise challenge day

    On Friday 7 November pupils aged 10 to 11 from Pondhu Primary School took part in a Junior Enterprise Challenge Day to design an eco-building organised by Cornwall Learning Education Business Partnership

    The pupils formed into ‘companies’ for the day and received support from Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust(CSBT), Leslie Cornell Building Restoration, NatWest Bank, Premier Inn and student ambassadors from Cornwall College St Austell. So that they could be more aware about some of the concepts around eco-design they actually got to try sustainable building methods, including clay plastering and cob mixing. The challenge also linked into a Green Schools Challenge open to English and French schools being run under the Interreg funded ECOBEE Project of which CSBT are lead partners.  The children were able to share eco-design ideas online as part of the challenge.

    At the end of the day the pupils took part in an exciting presentation to showcase their design ideas to a team of judges. Competition was fierce but the judges gave the prize to winning team FRE Houses for their inspired eco-designs

    “The Junior Enterprise Challenge Day provided the pupils with the opportunity to learn about sustainability as well as work as part of a team. It was fantastic to see their creativity and enthusiasm” said Kate Whetter Education Projects Manager at Cornwall Education Business Partnership. She continued “Key to the success of the day was the wonderful support from local businesses”.

    Nicole Solomons project manager the CSBT ECOBEE project said: “Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust are always happy to help with teaching children about sustainability and how buildings can be designed to reduced their environmental impact.  It was great fun working with the children, and seeing their enthusiasm to learn.  We look forward to judging their designs alongside the other schools from the south west who are involved in the ECOBEE green schools challenge.”

    Leslie Cornwell said “The Cornish Cob Society, supported by Leslie Cornell Building Restoration - Cob and Lime Specialists are delighted to be involved with this project. Children of all ages will learn and experience first-hand, the benefits of using sustainable materials in construction.......with an excuse to get muddy!!”

    He continued: “We, at the CCS, hope that more schools and colleges throughout the County, will grasp the opportunity in giving their students an unforgettable and amazing experience regarding cob and clay as renewable, recyclable and sustainable construction materials”.

    “It was a fantastic, really well organised day which the children thoroughly enjoyed. The pupils were incredibly enthusiastic, focused and hardworking throughout. The future of sustainable development looks to be in very safe hands” said Richard Martin Yr 6 teacher.

    Story posted 11 November 2014

  • Council sets early budget to preserve services

    Members of Cornwall Council have voted to set an early budget aimed at protecting the needs of the most vulnerable whilst doing what it can to preserve essential services such as public transport and road repairs and maintenance.

    Councillors at their meeting on 25 November 2014 voted by 69 votes to 21 with 19 abstentions to set a budget of £496.499m for 2015 / 2016.  Setting next year’s budget and council tax today rather than in February 2015 will enable savings to be made earlier and will save the Council around £7m to £9m.

    This decision, which will involve making savings of £58.8m over the next twelve months, includes an agreement in principle to increase Council tax by 1.97%. The proposal, which needs to be formally ratified by the full Council in February, will mean an annual increase of£25 for a Band D property – or 48p per week. This level of increase does not require the Council to hold a referendum.

    Proposing the recommendation Council Leader John Pollard said“I put this budget forward to the Council with some pride  in what we have achieved in very difficult circumstances., but no joy, with little pleasure and, in many ways,  some reluctance.  However we clearly have no choice.  The context of this budget is not of our making, and faced with exceptional and unprecedented demands this is the best possible budget proposal for Cornwall.

    “By aligning this Budget to a Business Plan and a long term Strategy we are fulfilling my personal demand that we do not just cut and destroy, but we change and build.  The premise of this budget is that although all areas will face reduction, we will, and have, salvaged everything we can.

    “I believe this is the best budget for Cornwall that we could produce under the difficult financial position forced upon us by the Government.”

    Since 2010 the Council has been forced to find savings of £170m in its budget as a result of additional pressures and cuts in Government funding. The majority of these savings have been achieved through efficiencies, including a reduction in management coming from the move to unitary status and the introduction of alternative ways of delivering services, with just £11 million affecting frontline services.  The authority now needs to save a further £196m over the next four years. 

    The unprecedented scale of the savings required means that all areas of the Council are affected by the 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.

    Over the past three months the Council has carried out the most extensive public consultation exercise in its history to give local residents, businesses, partners and staff the opportunity to have their say on where they felt cuts and savings could be made and to come forward with suggestions for increasing income. 

    All 1,499 comments and suggestions made during the consultation were considered by members of the Cabinet and a number of the suggestions have been incorporated in the revised budget proposals which were formally approved by the Council today. 

    The main changes to the original budget proposals include: 

    • Increasing the Adult Social care budget by £3.8m to cover the previous year’s overspend thereby protecting services to the most vulnerable.
    • Reducing the level of savings required from the Discretionary Rate Relief scheme which provides business rate relief support for charities and non profit making organisations from £800,000 to £400,000 in 2017/2018.  This will help minimise the impact on charities and clubs which work with the most vulnerable people in Cornwall
    • Protecting the rural bus network which helps local residents to access  education, employment and social activities across Cornwall
    • Reducing the funding to voluntary and community organisations by £400,000 to reflect the work which is taking place to reduce duplication and operating costs by sharing staff and buildings, develop a new way of commissioning services and the potential for funding from the Government’s £320m Transformation Challenge Fund.
    • Increasing the efficiency savings and income from Community Safety by  £413,000
    • Delaying the implementation of the School Crossing Patrols savings to enable a comprehensive risk assessment to be carried out.
    • Increasing savings from waste budget by £210,000 over the four years mainly from additional income from the energy to waste contract but with some reduction to the opening hours at Household Waste Recycling Centres.
    • Through working in partnership with the RNLI we have agreed a new contract which will maintain the same level of lifeguard cover on the 57 beaches supported by the Council with a reduced contribution of £950,000.
    • Increasing savings from the Transport and Waste budget by £324,000 in 2017/2018 . This will be delivered by savings from the development of an integrated transport network for Cornwall and improvements from vestment from the Government’s Growth Deal
    • Additional £1.7m savings from the pay bill as the result of collective agreement in relation to contribution related pay

    Using reserves to support the budget to allow time for the significant structural changes to be implemented and new models of service delivery to be developed.  In particular this will allow additional time to work with local communities and town and parish councils to develop alternative models for libraries and help the private sector to develop a sustainable model for the tourism promotion activities led by Visit Cornwall over the longer term. 

     

    Story posted 25 November 2014

  • Council's Wind Turbine Assessment Panel leads the way as it receives Environmental Health Award

    CIEH Award Pics

    Photo above shows left to right: Allan Hampshire Head of Public Protection and Business Support, Eimear Branney, Environmental Protection Officer in the Environmental Protection Team and Chris Selby, Senior Officer (Community Protection) collecting the award on behalf of the panel.

    The work of Cornwall Council’s Wind Turbine Assessment Panel has been awarded a CIEH (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) Presidents Award.

    Set up to ensure a consistent approach to assessing the noise data that accompanies planning applications for wind turbines, the Wind Turbine Assessment Panel has been recognised as “The organisation or environmental health team in the UK or abroad that has made the greatest contribution to environmental and/or public health in 2013”.

    The Wind Turbine Assessment Panel which is made up of Officers from Cornwall Councils Public Protection and Business Support Service (WTAP) assess noise reports that accompany planning applications for wind turbines and provide specific technical knowledge of noise to assist with decision making and, where appropriate, the use of planning conditions for wind turbine development of all sizes.

    Cornwall Council Head of Head of Public Protection and Business Support Allan Hampshire said: “The Award is a testament to the achievements of the Panel which works hard to ensure a standardised and consistent approach to assessing the noise impact of wind turbine applications.   It has developed guidance and minimum required information that should be submitted with a planning application for a wind turbine. In this way consistent advice is provided to colleagues in planning regarding the positioning of wind turbines so that there is minimum impact from noise on those living near wind turbine developments.”

    Acoustic consultant Michael McGhee who has submitted noise assessments for wind turbine planning applications in the past says:  “The guidance on minimum information requirements gave me confidence whilst completing Neo Environmental’s wind turbine acoustic assessments, which enabled our team to better design clients developments to take account of residential amenity in a way which was robust and in the interests of everyone involved. It would be great if more councils followed this example, which also resulted in council officials spending less time guiding consultants at the early stages of a project”.

    Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes and communities Geoff Brown said: “Well done to the team.  Cornwall is once again on the front foot as we recognise that wind power is an ever growing area of power generation that without suitable restrictive use can cause significant detrimental impact from noise on the local community.”

    The quality of acoustic information that is now provided with turbine applications has improved dramatically leading to less time spent on applications and the ability to process applications more quickly, efficiently and equitably.

    Story posted 1 August 2014

  • Gold for Cornwall Council's bereavement services

    Cornwall Council's bereavement services have been awarded Gold Status by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) 

    The prestigious award recognises the high level of service provided to funeral congregations, funeral directors and clergy.  The ICCM set the standard for the burial and crematorium industry.

    This is the fifth year running that the Cornwall Council run Penmount Crematorium has achieved the highest standard but it is the first time that the authority’s cemeteries have been entered for the Bereavement Assessment scheme.

    News that both the Crematorium and the cemeteries have achieved Gold Status has been welcomed by Susan Cannan, the Council’s Bereavement Services Manager, who said “We are delighted that Penmount Crematorium has been awarded a Gold rating in the Charter assessment for the fifth consecutive year.  We are equally delighted that the first year that Cornwall’s cemeteries have been assessed has resulted in a Gold Rating for them as well”.

    Edwina Hannaford, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Heritage and Planning, added “This is a testament to the hard work of the staff who work in our bereavement services who take great pride in ensuring the best possible experience for the bereaved at a sad and difficult time in their lives.”

    “We are very proud of the work put in by all our staff, including those who work at  Penmount Crematorium and those who work for our partner Cormac at the cemeteries in providing a first class service that has now been nationally acknowledged as excellent”.

    A publicly owned, self-financed facility administered by Cornwall Council, Penmount crematorium is housed on a secluded country estate of 28 acres, 11 of which have been developed as Gardens of Remembrance.

    The authority is responsible for twenty-four operational cemeteries throughout Cornwall and currently carries out around a third of the burials that take place every year.

     

    Story posted 22 July 2014

  • Council's Cabinet confirms changes to music tuition service

    Members of Cornwall Council's Cabinet have confirmed changes to the Music Tuition service which will see music teaching in schools in Cornwall delivered in a different way in the future.

    The Music Tuition service, one of three strands of the wider Cornwall Music Service, does not generate enough income to meet its costs, resulting in the Council being forced to provide an annual subsidy of between £200,000 and £300,000.  While Members recognise the importance of music to children and schools and want to ensure that there is a sustainable service which provides access to music tuition for children in Cornwall, the need to find savings of £196m over the next four years means that the Council can no longer afford to provide this level of subsidy without cutting other services.

    The Cabinet voted in May to set up a brokerage model to deliver music tuition. Under this model music teachers would move from being directly employed by the Council to being self employed and registered with the Council as approved to provide music tuition.  Although a number of other models had been considered by the Council at this time, including an improved in house model, these were not financially sustainable or cost neutral.

     

    However, following the decision by the Cabinet to implement the new model by 1 January 2015, Members agreed that any further proposals which came forward during the formal negotiations with staff and unions which were found to be financially and legally sound could be brought back for further consideration.

    Members at today’s meeting were given details of two alternative models:1) to make local amendments to the terms and conditions of the teachers to reduce costs and 2) to move staff contracts to a common pay scale.

    Members were told that while Model 1 would see the annual deficit initially reduced to around £118,979, this did not take into account local and national pay progressions which would increase costs over time. As a result the model did not resolve the current overspend or provide for a financially viable and sustainable future for the service.

    In the case of Model 2 the financial projections relied on significant changes to the terms and conditions of the teachers which were unlikely to be supported by the main teaching unions and could lead to the risk of legal challenges. It was also based on increase in fees to generate income which would be difficult to implement and failed to take on going inflationary pressures into account.  As a result the Cabinet was unable to support the proposal.

    “We said in May that we would consider alternative proposals if they were both legally sound and financially viable ” said Andrew Wallis.  “Unfortunately, despite extensive consultation, neither of the two alternatives which have been put forward today meet this criteria.  This means that we will now be going ahead with implementing the brokerage model which is financially sustainable  and,  if there is sufficient take up from music tutors and schools, will continue to provide access to music tuition cross Cornwall. 

    However the meeting also heard that positive discussions had been held with a group representing a number of the music teachers currently employed by the Council who were interested in setting up a trust to deliver the service.

    “We have held an initial meeting with the group and are happy to hold further discussions to see if there is any other support we can give to them” said Andrew Wallis.  “As we said earlier we want to see the provision of a high quality music tuition service in Cornwall but we are unable to continue to subsidise it at a time of budget cuts.  “

    The remaining two strands – Music Hub and the Music Therapy service - are not affected by this decision.

     

  • Lilli's festive engine house design wins Chairman’s Christmas card competition

    A young artist from Truro whose colourful design of a Cornish engine house with a festive feel has been chosen by the Chairman of Cornwall Council John Wood as his 2014 official Christmas card was presented with a special prize at New County Hall this week.

    All Year 6 pupils in Cornish primary schools were invited to submit designs for the Christmas card on the theme of “Cornwall Land of Granite”.

    The entries were judged by Cornish artist Dick Twinney who selected the design by Lilli Heron, from St Mary’s Church of England Primary School in Truro, as the winner.

    “It was really a pleasure judging the children’s artwork for this project” he said.  “I was amazed by the many different interpretations of the chosen theme which made choosing the winners extremely difficult, especially the final five which were all excellent but in different ways. Congratulations to all the children that entered and keep up the good work art-wise.”

    “I was delighted to receive such a wide variety of interpretations of the theme I had set “ said Cornwall Council Chairman John Wood.  “I am very grateful to all of the children and their teachers who found the time to produce so many delightful illustrations.

    “I was with Dick when he chose the winner and I am really pleased with his choice.  Dave Taylor has done an excellent job in reproducing it  perfectly.  It really will be a pleasure distributing such a lovely card , my sincere thanks and congratulations to Lilli Heron.”

    There were also four runners up who were invited to County Hall to meet with Chairman John Wood, Dick Twinney and Andrew Wallis, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People.

    The youngsters, who were accompanied by their parents and their class teacher, are: 

    • James Nettleinghame, St Cleer Primary School, Liskeard
    • Joshua Davis, St Mary’s Church of England School, Truro
    • Tom Benyon, St Mary’s Church of England School, Truro
    • Isobel Sherwood, St Mary’s School, Truro

    Lilli’s winning design has been turned into a card by the Council’s Senior Graphic Designer Dave Taylor who was on hand at the presentation to show the young artist how this was done.

    A selection of entries will now be displayed at County Hall throughout the festive season.

  • Future development plans for the airport go to public consultation

    NQY Cornwall Airport Runway Aerial

    The Newquay Cornwall Airport Masterplan is being reviewed to consider the changes in the aviation environment over the last 5 years and how the Airport can be developed to help grow Cornwall’s economy and how it can be more commercially and environmentally self-sustaining.  The public is being asked to comment on the refreshed plans as a 6 week public consultation is launched with a two day event to be held in the Airport terminal.

    The current Airport Masterplan was approved by Cornwall Council in June 2009, but since then the global economic downturn has had a significant effect on the aviation sector.  To ensure that development is based on accurate and current information, including the establishment of the Enterprise Zone (EZ) in 2012, it is the right time to review and refresh the plan to take the Airport and EZ forward for the next 10 years.

    Adam Paynter, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Partnerships, said “Cornwall Council recognises Newquay Cornwall Airport’s importance to the Cornish economy and is committed to its sustainable development.  The refresh of the Masterplan will identify how the Airport can help Cornwall to grow its economy through the creation of an aerospace cluster and other airport related business activity and is vital for the connectivity it provides.”

    The Masterplan review explores the options available for the Airport to provide high quality facilities and a business environment to meet modern aviation needs.  It also investigates the possibility of providing a new sustainable aerospace business cluster to attract aviation industries.

    Al Titterington, managing director of Newquay Cornwall Airport, said “The aviation industry is starting to emerge from its worst decline in decades so it is important that the Masterplan is updated to reflect a new and emerging industry sector and that communities and stakeholders are kept updated on our development plans.

    “I believe the proposals on display will clearly identify not only how the Airport plans to develop airline and commercial operations but also outlines how the Airport plans to attract aviation related industries to the Enterprise Zone. The development of aviation and engineering businesses onsite is now as relevant to the Airport’s success as the commercial agreements planned with airlines.

    “The public consultation at the Airport will showcase updated information on how the Airport aims to meet the needs of the aviation industry and how we will deliver results for the traveler using the services as well as for supporting the local economy”.

    Cornwall Development Company (CDC), on behalf of Cornwall Airport Ltd and Cornwall Council, commissioned the project to review the Masterplan and the work undertaken so far will now be made available through a public consultation.

    The general public, businesses and decision makers in Cornwall are all invited to attend a 2 day public event at the Airport, where the proposals will be displayed in the Terminal Building.   The event takes place on Sunday 30th November from 12pm to 7:30pm and on Monday 1st December from 6am until 7pm.  One hour of free car parking will be available for those visiting specifically to attend the consultation. 

    All materials will also be available online on the Council’s website:  www.cornwall.gov.uk/airportmasterplan from the 30 November 2014 and there will be an opportunity to leave feedback and comments as well details of the consultation event.  The information will also be made available in other locations around the county, the dates and venues of which will be confirmed soon.

    Newquay Cornwall Airport has been shortlisted as a possible location for the UK Spaceport and the refreshed Masterplan will be an important document that would support any potential bid from Cornwall.  The Airport Masterplan refresh is funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Infrastructure and Business Development Project.

  • Key amnesty offered to tenants who are not living in or are illegally sub-letting council homes

    Cornwall Council and Cornwall Housing tenants in Cornwall are being contacted this month to let them know about a key amnesty taking place during January and February next year which gives people who are illegally subletting or not living in their council homes the opportunity to hand back their keys.

    The key amnesty, which runs from 01 January 2015 to 28 February 2015, allows anyone not living in their council home or illegally subletting it to hand back their keys rather than face possible criminal investigation and potential legal action which could ultimately result in a criminal conviction.

    Illegal subletting happens when a council home is let to a tenant and that tenant then moves out and illegally lets the property to someone else – usually at a higher rent.

    Not only is this illegal, it prevents much needed homes from being made available to families in genuine need and in addition costs every household in Cornwall money.

    Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Homes and Communities, said: “It costs on average £18,000 a year to house a family in temporary accommodation.

    There is huge pressure on the supply of social housing making it imperative that the housing we do have available goes to people in genuine need of help.

    It’s totally wrong for people not to be living in housing intended for them and to be illegally profiting from it at the same time.”

    The initiative has been launched in the wake of a change in the law.

    The introduction of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 in October 2013 means people illegally subletting their property can now face a prison sentence of up to two years, a criminal record, or a fine of up to £5,000.

    Geoff adds: “I would urge anyone either not living in or illegally sub-letting their council home to get in touch right away.

    Once the amnesty ends anyone found not to be living in their home or illegally subletting will face the full force of the new powers.”

    Jane Barlow, Managing Director of Cornwall Housing said: “Cornwall Housing has been working in partnership with Cornwall Council’s experienced Corporate Fraud Team and three homes have already been identified  that we believe have been illegally sub-let.  We have seen evidence of how introducing a key amnesty has worked well in other parts of the country.  By bringing the issue to the public’s attention, other authorities saw an increase in referrals to its tenancy fraud hotline and we hope to see the same results here as we know that the overwhelming majority of residents live in their homes legally and that they share our commitment to tackling tenancy fraud. I would also encourage anyone who suspects someone of committing tenancy fraud to get in touch.”

    Anyone who is illegally subletting or is not living in their council home can hand back their keys to the tenancy fraud team, local housing officer or housing office.

    Residents wishing to report somebody who may be illegally subletting or is not living in their home can do so in complete confidence by calling the Council’s dedicated fraud hotline  on 0800 7316125 or emailing tenancyfraud@cornwall.gov.uk

    Further information on www.cornwall.gov.uk/keyamnesty

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