Friday, 21 November 2008

Casting Votes

A tale of two casting votes this week. On Monday night, at City Council, we discussed the choice of sculpture to go on Lemon Quay. This has gone on for 9 years and finally we arrived at a point where the choice was narrowed down to two sculptures, a drummer boy on a ball, in bronze, or a more moder shape, inspired by a rudder, in granite. But instead of choosing, the usual suspects wanted to stop everything, choose none of the above, start the whole process again! I had intended to sit quietly, but this was ridiculous, how much money has been spent on Officer time over the last 9 years? and the money to pay for the sculpture was there, provided by the developers. If we started from scratch that money would go into the new Unitary's coffers and never be seen again, and we'd have no sculpture. The public had been consulted and a majority of those that responded wanted the drummer boy, so I proposed that we have that. I accept that it's link to Truro is not obvious, but I'm sure that there were people in Paris who said 'whats Mr Eiffel's tower got to do with Paris' and people who said ' what have Pyramids got to do with Egypt' and the boy looks good outside the Hall for Cornwall. So we voted and it was tied 8 - 8. Thankfully the Mayor used her casting vote to pass the motion, and we shall have our sculpture, barring any last minute skulduggery. Later in the week I lost on a casting vote, but I'll blog on that later.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Cornish Enterprise

Out on Sunday with the Truro Hash House Harriers. For those that don't know Hashing it involves following a trail across the countryside, finishing at a pub. Lots of false trails mean the group stays together, no matter what your standard of running. Actually running is a bit of a dirty word to Hashers! But on Sunday, instead of a pub we were invited out to St Martin's on the Helford river, to Chris Bean's place to celebrate the opening of his new Fish Processing Unit. Chris must be one of the last fisherman working out of the Helford, and will be familiar to residents of Truro through his wife Carolyn's wonderful fish stall at the Saturday morning Farmers Market. The bulk of the catch is of such top quality that it goes upcountry, under the name Kernow Sushi, to be served up in top Sushi Restaurants in London. Sadly Chris and his family have had a hard year. His boat, the Lady Hamilton, was sunk in a collision off Falmouth and they have struggled with Friends helping out and hired boats to keep the business going. Despite this they have managed to build a wonderful 'state of the art' fish processing building, that looked good enough to live in and that blends in with the beautiful Helford countryside. People sometimes say the Cornish are a laid back lot, perhaps too laid back for their own good. But they are also a passionate a hardworking people and the Bean family, down there on the Helford, typify that commitment to family and place that makes Cornwall the special place it is. Hats off to you guys, and thanks for a lovely afternoon.

As an aside it was pointed out to me that Chris's daughter, who I only know by her nickname 'Kipper', had tiled the roof of the new building, and a great job she's done. She also sails with her Dad taking her turn hauling nets and was on board when the boat sunk. We're not talking about some fine big farmers daughter here, Kipper's just a slip of a girl, and will make a fine wife for someone one day. Sadly not for a soft City boy like me, though!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Mayor for the Day

Another go at trying to resurrect this blog. Its not that I've been idle, the reverse really, too much going on! Anyway, one of the things I've been working on is having two young people be Mayor for the Day, as part of the Children's Commissioners Changeover Day. We did this last year and it was well received. The school actually contacted me, saying they were keen to do it again. So next Friday, the 7th November, the Head Boy and Head Girl of Penair will be Mayor for the day. They'll be meeting the Town Clerk and the Manager of the BIDS board for an overview of whats planned for Truro. Then off to Carricks offices to meet the Planners for a presentation on the Newham development, a 1000 houses to be built in town, followed by a presentation on the choices for the sculpture proposed for Lemon Quay. Then the Skateboard Park, or Splatt as it seems likely to be named, followed by tea with the Mayor in her Parlour.

We all learned a lot last year, so this time the young people are being involved in projects that are likely to make the headlines over the coming months. The intention being that they can encourage informed debate with their classmates and perhaps contribute to the debate in the town.

Friday, 8 August 2008

LibDems or SAS

A surprising answer on Wednesdays edition of The Weakest Link. Anne Robinson asked, and this is not the question exactly, I wasn't taking notes, What is the name of the elite fighting force created by Donald Stirling in 1941?. The contestant looked puzzled, brightened and answered The LibDems! I suppose that means the SAS are by election specialists with a forceful approach to pavement politics!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Truro Farmers Market

The Farmers Market had a Do on Friday, to celebrate the markets 10th birthday. A lovely spread of local produce and a celebratory toast with Camel Valley champagne. The Farmers Market is a real success story with a great range on offer. Freshly caught fish from Falmouth Bay, organic meats and cheeses, local honey, great bread and, of course, home made pasties.

Chatting with the Town Crier, he congratulated me on my speech at Mayor Making. Nothing to do with the content, just 'we could hear what you were saying'. That's odd, because my wife says I mumble at home. Must be a man thing, said the Town Criers wife, he mumbles too!

Back to the Market Saturday morning. I always buy eggs, bacon and a 5 seed loaf to have a Saturday brunch treat. But armed with a recipe from Saturdays Guardian I also bought some fresh Cornish Asparagus, from a lovely couple who farm just outside Truro,and some Feta Cheese from the Olive Stall. Using a ridged frying pan I griddled the asparagus for about 10 minutes and served it up with thin slices of Feta Cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Even my 15 year old son loved it, although he did want to add a drizzle of Tomato Sauce. You can't choose your kids!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Carrick Sports and Recreation Centre

Down to the Carrick Sports Hall for a committee meeting last night. Like many committees in Cornwall it's composed of a number of very dedicated, but elderly people. Without their efforts the Sports Hall, or Hendra Hall as some call it, would have fallen into disrepair long ago. They spend most of their energy fundraising and applying for grants to keep the building going. Carrick send two Councillors along, myself and John Dyer to assist. Mr Dyer, having been there a lot longer than me has done a great deal for them, over the years. But what will happen with the new Unitary? With 80 to 130 Councillors no one will have time to go along to sports halls and village halls like this. There's a real risk that these places will slip off the new Councils radar and fall into disrepair, or worse still be seen as an asset and sold off.

I've today written to the Town Clerk to see if the City Council can take over this building, or play some role in securing it for the future.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008


The Government says we have to build 6000 more houses in Truro. That's 12,000 to 15,000 new people adding to our existing population of just under 20,000, with no extra money for infrastructure. Anyone who was in Truro on Monday, when minor roadworks on Morlaix Avenue brought the traffic to a standstill for miles around, will wonder how the City is going to cope with all these extra people.

So I was interested to be invited up to Penair School by Persimmon Homes, who are hoping to build 450 houses at Tolgarick, which is out by Arch Hill. They were putting on a presentation to a class of 15 year olds. It was a good day, and although the developers wanted to focus on what the estate would look like, they allowed me to put the development plan into a wider context, asking did we want these new houses at all, could Truro cope with the extra population and would the development ever become a community, somewhere one would want to live.

It will be interesting to see the final report on the consultation exercise. I believe most people have responded by saying they don't want any development at all, and I wonder how that will appear in the planning application. Another interesting point is that the young people had no idea that this major change was occurring in their city. It's important to include them in the debate, because they will be the people living and working here in 20 years time. Changes made now affect them, more than most. So well done to Persimmon and the staff and Penair for organising Monday's workshop.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Hey Ma - Its Now 5 Years In Iraq

Mayor Making at City Council last night. Congratulations to new Mayor Sue Callen and Deputy Mayor Ros Cox. I gave a little speech which seemed to go down quite well.

Afterwards I was speaking to the Mayor of Wadebridge. He is, quite rightly, very proud of his son, who is serving out in Afghanistan. I agreed with him, that our soldiers out there, and in Iraq, are doing heroic work. But I had to ask, is the price in dead and maimed young men a price worth paying. An organisation called Help for Heroes has put out a shocking video which shows the dreadful reality of war. I thank god that I don't have to get up each day and do what those boys do, and I hope it turns out to be worth the price we're paying. I suspect it's not.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Railway Club

Congratulations to the Railway Club for winning the Darts League. A bit of good news in whats been a very difficult period for them. I was at a meeting on affordable housing at the club a week, or so, ago. When it finished I looked in at the bar to say hello, and had a pint forced on me. Come down to the Britannia, it's the last but one darts match, win this and we've won the league, they said. Well the Britannia is the nearest pub to me, so it's a lift home and I can slide away after ten minutes. I don't know much about darts, but it looked to be high quality stuff. The Railway Club won, but the guys from the Brit, who had won the league for the last five years in a row, took it in tremendous spirit. One of their players, 'Shorty' it said on the back of his shirt, was probably the best player there, but was beaten by one of the clubs young lads, said to me 'that's the best game I've had all season, I loved it'. Such sportsmanship. Those guys showed how a game should be played. Well done lads.

The celebrations went on long into the night, and I had some trouble explaining to my wife how I'd got home long after midnight, when I'd supposedly gone to a meeting on affordable housing!

Thursday, 10 April 2008


Interesting one at Planning last night. Someone has already got permission to build three houses on the beach at Porthtowan, subject to a condition that a slope condition survey be carried out. I don't know how they got permission in the first place, but now we're just dealing with a condition preventing them building, until everyone is happy that they won't undermine the slope above the development, which could lead to the slope collapsing and bringing the houses above it down. Basically everything is built on a mixture of sand and shale, what somebody called mobile and slightly less mobile material. Despite four expert opinions, one of which Carrick paid for, saying that it was almost certainly safe, Councillors couldn't quite see it and rejected the application. No doubt it will go to appeal.

Monday, 31 March 2008

An Resek Hellys

The amount of personal stuff on this blog has occasionally been commented on. Kindly folk have said it has a touch of Bridget Jones, less kindly, that's you Cowley Street, have said that Rob has grasped that no one reads these blogs, so he doesn't waste time working out clever things to say, he just tells us what he did yesterday. What I did yesterday was An Resek Hellys, a 10 mile race from Helston. It's a great run, through the streets of Helston, famous for the Flora Dance, out onto the Penrose estate to Looe beach, across the beach and along the coastal path to Gunwalloe and then up to Culdrose and home. Afterwards we went to an old pub on the Lizard and sat outside in the spring sunshine, rerunning the race over a pint or two of Betty Stoggs. Bliss. For those who are really interested, I'm just a couple of pounds off having lost three stone, the runnings going well and I was pleased with my time. Now off to Truro City Council for a meeting.


Almost a month without blogging. Not that I've been idle, but well even minor Councillors have private lives and mines been a bit trickier than usual of late. I'll start off with a nice easy post. In the past I've mocked Treliske Hospital, posting amusing videos I'd found on YouTube, which seemed to upset them. All I can say in my defence is that they are a bit of an easy target, and the videos were funny. Well on Sunday my son was playing football, against Falmouth. He's a goalie and well known for his bravery in the tackles. Not something he gets from his father! On Sunday the inevitable happened and he ended up in Treliske, with a suspected broken ankle. The staff were brilliant. Helpful, fast, efficient and caring, really all a fretting mother could ask for (father wasn't there, of course, but was ensconced in a warm country pub, oblivious to the drama). Things moved so quickly, the x-rays got back to the ward before the patient did!

So thank you Treliske. I'll still post any videos I find, but as you probably muttered to yourselves before, the world needs Doctors and Nurses more than it needs Councillors and I know my place.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Modern Conservatives and evil firemen

At full Council on Tuesday a Conservative Portfolio Holder said, in the course of recommending a Cabinet decision on housing, that he sees nothing wrong with landowners in rural districts building a few houses for their immediate family. Wooly thinking that caused surprised looks amongst the members of the Planning Committee, who didn't know about this apparent change of policy! To be fair to the Tories, it was one of their more experienced members who got up and reminded the Portfolio Holder of the 1991 Chanel 4 documentary 'Concrete and Cream Teas', which gave Planners in Cornwall a good slapping for an unwritten policy of allowing locals to build what they wanted, but coming down hard on incomers.

Shame that the same experienced Member later got up and described the Fireman's Union as 'evil' and when invited to withdraw the remark, accepted that it might be a bit strong, but refused to withdraw it. Have the Conservatives changed in the last 30 years? Not as far as I can see.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Three Types of Councillor

City Council last night. I've blogged before on the change to our electoral cycle caused by the Unitary, which means that we won't have an election until 2013. Seems the Cornish MP's and some people on the Unitary have had second thoughts, and now want our elections to coincide with the Unitary next year. I don't really mind, having fought, and won, elections last year and the year before. I'm going to be at a bit of a loose end this May and will be ready for action next year. But it's the way they've gone about it that's annoying the Council. There has been no consultation whatsoever, and we get to read about the plan in the West Briton, same as everyone else. So we're writing saying we want to continue until our full term would end, in 2011, at least. It would be best if our elections were separate from the Unitary elections. We'd get lost in theirs and a separate election two years after, gives the electorate a chance to have their say on issues that crop up meantime, and maintains our separate identity.

The best quote of the night though, was from an Independent Councillor. 'There's three types of Councillor. There's drivers, there's passengers, and there's handbrakes!' Very true.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Budget Setting

Set the budget for the year ahead last night. A surprisingly entertaining meeting, the bottom line being that we kept the Council Tax increase to 2.5%. There was some controversy and disscussion over a proposed one off grant of £100,000 to the Hall for Cornwall. A Conservative Member objected strongly, saying that if people want to go to the theatre they should pay for it themselves, and not be subsidised. It was demonstrated that the Hall brings a great many people into Truro, bringing many benefits to shops, bars etc. In the end only 3 Councillors voted against the grant.

We also gave ourselves a rise, which in my case amounts to £45 a year. Snouts in the trough or what! We tried to oppose raising the mileage allowance for larger engine cars to 55.8p per mile, but only 8 of us voted against it, so it passed. Easy for me to take a stand on that one, I walk to the Council and have never claimed any car allowances.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Yes We Can - Barack Obama Music Video

Can't see my speech to the Planning Committee being set to music! But this is how to do it, this is public speaking.


A good Valentines day, in that I hit the 'lost two stone' goal, although nothing romantic occured, perhaps because I went of to Taunton for my Young and Talented (and slightly lighter) Councillor course. As usual we saw some very interesting things, that will slowly leak out here as my own initiatives for Truro, and met some interesting people . We visited Wincanton, which was described as 'a market town without a market, twinned with somewhere that doesn't exist'. It being twinned with Ankh-Morpork, a city in the Disc World series and boasts the Ankh-Morpork Post Office and Consulate, something that could be a tacky souveneir shop but is actually brilliant, mainly because the people running it love what they're doing. Find them at .

But the most interesting thing about Wincanton is that they seem to have managed to keep the locally owned shops, and fought off the chain stores. Something we in Truro have struggled with. This seems to be down to the local member, Cllr Tim Carroll, having made himself a planning expert, he even reads Planning News!, which enables him to deal with officers and developers from a strong position. Not sure I want to suscribe to that myself, but it has been becoming obvious to me that its not enough to have a feeling that a developement is wrong, you have to be able to demonstrate it using the planning system. I wonder if Trafalgar Stores stocks Planning News?

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Truro City and the Cornish Pirates

I went away on holiday for a week, and have had real trouble restarting the blog. Hats off to those bloggers who keep going week in week out. Whilst away I had a letter from a Cornish Rugby supporter regarding the proposed stadium at Threemilestone ( see below under Planning Again). I did a lot of work trying to assist Truro City relocate to Pencoose Farm. A £6 million developement that would have had real benefits for young people in Truro, and a scheme that was deliverable within a reasonable timescale. Mr Heaney came along and spoke at the public meeting and to the Planning Committee. I was impressed by that. He could have paid somebody else to do it, or like most developers not bothered with public opinion at all. He seemed to have a genuine interest and a desire to improve the standard of football, and football facilities, in Truro.

But the new scheme, building a sports stadium for the Pirates and Truro City out at Threemilestone raises some doubts in my mind. I don't mean about Mr H and his team, they seem genuine. But it's a 10 year scheme costing £40 million and therefore dependant on a lot of things falling into place over a very long period. It's of no use to the young people in Truro now, and my involvement came about through my working to improve sports facilities for kids. Perhaps I lack vision, but I would have preffered a smaller scheme, something deliverable within the next two years. Thats not to say that I won't support the plan, but lets see, firstly if they can get the Pirates fully on board, and then what they actually come up with.

As to the level of support in Carrick, well it's strong but Carrick will be gone within the next two years and who knows how the new Unitary will look at this.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Planning again

Well I might moan about planning, but there's no doubt that it's important to people. A four and a half hour Planning Committee meeting last night, with a couple of controversial issues and quite a crowd. People get quite passionate and it's good that they get to see the Committee deliberating. What does annoy me though is the Committee Members who get up and go as soon as the issues in their Ward are dealt with. There was nothing for Truro, the nearest was in Malpas, but I stuck out the full session. One Tory wandered in and out during the first matter, voted and then left. Not good enough

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Railway Club

Well I'm afraid we lost the fight to save the Railway Club. It will be swept away and replaced by modern flats. Truro is changing rapidly at the moment, the Co-Op, which is popular with older folk who live in the centre of town, is to be demolished and replaced with smart new shops. And Luke's, an old fashioned hardware come all sorts of stuff shop, is closing, because they can't afford the rent and rates.

I know we can't get get stuck in the past, that shops change, but here we are with a number of places that are popular and provide a service to the community, are indeed part of the community, that are disappearing and we can't do a thing about it. We just sit and watch the Coffee Shops open and Truro become anywhere UK. Actually we don't just sit there, we're busy spending hours deciding whether someone can have a Victorian Conservatory on their 1960's bungalow in the middle of nowhere.

Just a little bitter at the moment. I guess it's the same everywhere. When are we going to get some legislation that will allow us to protect our local communities? to do the job we were elected to do?

Monday, 14 January 2008


On Saturday night Timewatch ran a programme on Wreckers, , telling the story of people who supposedly lured ships on to the shore, and murdered the crew, in order to plunder the cargo. The programme focused largely on Cornwall, and despite only being able to produce evidence of one person ever having been convicted of Wrecking, gave us the whole Daphne du Maurier Jamaica Inn experience, with knowing nods and winks from local characters and fruity West Country accents.

Obviously if a ship did come on to the shore, it was a bonanza and not a scrap was waisted. But ships foundered so regularly on the North Cornwall coast, that there was hardly any need to lure them in. Really, this whole story is a slander on the brave men who lived, and still live, by the sea. The men of the lifeboats who go out in the worst of weather to save lives, sometimes tragically loosing their own. Look at the lists of lives saved, posted outside any of the lifeboat stations. The men of the Pilot Giggs who rowed out into the Atlantic to guide ships safely in. And the fishermen who work the sea. Really the story of life by the sea is one of hardship and great sacrifice. The Timewatch team should be ashamed of themselves, for it is them that's making profits dishonestly.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008


We have quite a waiting list for allotments in Truro, about 84 people at present. If you applied today you would probably be looking at a four year wait, and here I should declare an interest my wife having been on the list for about two years. But it seems that under the Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908 we are obliged to satisfy demand on receipt of a petition with six signatures on it. Our Parks Manager has been searching high and low for some suitable, and affordable, land. Affordable being a key point with every garden being regarded as a brownfield site, he's competing with developers. But he seems close to a solution and the Parks Committee are keen to back him, allotments being so obviously 'a good thing'. I look forward to the peace and quite once my wife disappears off to her allotment. And the vegetables of course.

Monday, 7 January 2008

New Year

I had intended to resume blogging on New Years Day. I did the run from Jamaica Inn to Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall. It's quite a tough run being uphill through bogs and across rocky paths on the way out, and not helped by most of us having New Year hangovers! I thought I would work it into a metaphor for the year ahead, saying that only by being bold, taking on the big challenges and working hard could we achieve our objectives personally and as a party. But then I read up country blogs moaning about all the personal content in blogs and thought, well it was just a pleasant jog across the glorious Cornish countryside.

But we all blog for different reasons. My only interest is Boscawen Ward and the City of Truro. Well, alright, I do fret about my waistline a bit. So I shall ignore up country folk and throw myself into 2008 and the fight against Sainsburys extension, saving our Post Offices, providing affordable homes, maintaining the unique identity of Truro and whatever else I'm asked to do by the only people that count.