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.