Monday, 28 July 2014

Support for Chacewater Parish Council

Dear Councillors,

Your letter to parish and town councils and the response from the leader of Cornwall council raise some profound issues which I think will resonate with many people.

1. You are, of course, perfectly at liberty to take soundings from your fellow Parish Councils on your views and this is a sensible approach.  I see no reason for a divide and rule strategy so that you are only at liberty to speak to Cornwall Council directly or through your own Cornwall Councillor.

2. I think that Cornwall Council would be trusted more if it was more careful with the numbers it uses.  Trust between us all is very important, particularly to Cornwall Council, which is heavily reliant on your role as the real volunteers.   I am sure Cllr Pollard knows this, as he has been a town councillor for many years.

3.  A little bit of clarity

- the reduction from 22,000 to 12,000 is totally irrelevant because it largely relates to schools staff who are no longer employed by the Council because their schools have become academies. No efficiencies by the Council there.

  - 6,100 is also pretty irrelevant because many staff have been transferred to separate companies which are largely still owned or paid for by the Council.  For example, Cornwall Housing and Cormac are separate companies but they are still part of the Council.

 - I would say that, as of last year, the head count had reduced by about 1000 (as against a total number of employees excluding schools staff of about 10,000).  The Council should publish the real numbers.

 - If you compare the net cumulative budget of the seven predecessor councils in their final year with the budget for this year of Cornwall Council it has reduced from £549.945m to £505.005m.  So about 8 per cent in cash terms.  Of course, in the meantime there has been inflation and other pressures.  But not many people in Cornwall have been able to increase their expenditure by the rate of inflation through the recession.

 - It is surely right for the Council to tighten its belt when council tax is one of the largest bills for working families.

 - Cornwall Council often complains that it is unfairly funded by central Government. I think there are issues here that deserve closer examination but the Council uses figures for rural councils as a group compared to urban councils.  If you look at Cornwall's own funding we are almost in the middle when compared with all other unitary councils, urban or rural.

- I think Cornwall Council have reduced their spend on interim staff but some of that is undoubtedly due to the completion of large projects.  It is difficult to unpick this as some of these staff will have become permanent staff and others have just reached the end of the project they were working on (like the BT deal or the new accounts system).  On the other hand the spend on adult social care has ballooned by £7m due to poor management.

  - Bear in mind that Cornwall Council are building themselves new offices for £15m (allegedly to save money but with no published business plan) and preserving others so that Cormac can have a “professional HQ” .

- on planning, I have stood up for the west side of Truro.  I remain extremely concerned about the western approach to Truro and traffic in Highertown.  I do believe that members took their eye off the ball because of the promise of a stadium, which has not materialised and the former CEO was in the thick of that, as he made clear at the time.

- it is also clearly wrong to try and suggest that a planning application for 1500 dwellings and a supermarket should be counted as one application on a par with one application for a small extension to a domestic dwelling.  That is a gross distortion of statistics and does not represent a true and accurate picture.

 I hope that my own views do in some manner reflect and support your own.  You are saying no more than I have heard elsewhere throughout Cornwall  and you reflect a deep concern that the gap between Cornwall Council and town and parish councils is, in general, getting wider not narrower.
Fiona Ferguson
Cornwall Councillor Truro Trehaverne

1 comment:

  1. I live in Liskeard and CC have decided what we need and will or won't have. They seem to have no concern for localism. Cornwall has a unique culture, identity and environment; CC seems to want make it the same as a suburb of Manchester. We don't need more anything, the lack (fill this gap with anything to do with mass commercialism) is what makes Cornwall the calm and beautiful place it used to be. It is that difference that attracts tourists who come here to relax and unwind, soon that will all be concreted over. Thanks for your blog.