Shocking news from Cornwall Council (updated)

The email below from Cornwall Council’s Chief Executive speaks for itself. The Council has serious questions to answer.

This is the main authority in Cornwall charged with child protection and yet at some point in 2009, it seems that someone decided not to take any action over an ‘adverse entry’ related to Alex Folkes and child protection that arose as a result of a CRB check.

So who made that decision and how? Most of us would think it unacceptable. Where does the buck stop and does that person have any responsibility for child protection in Cornwall?

The ‘issue’ has been raised again recently with the council and thankfully, the response this time was much different. Following an investigation John Pollard, the Council Leader, responded decisively and told Cllr Folkes to resign from the Cabinet or be sacked. His rather curt email in response to the resignation now makes sense.

It is absolutely right that the council is investigating that original decision in 2009. It is a real shock to think this has been swept under the carpet for five years and what the consequence might have been.

It is also just weird to wonder what on earth Cllr Folkes thinks he is doing: clinging to elected office and hoping this will blow over? He has weathered the threat of legal action over unpaid council tax and a public legal dispute with a former landlady. None of us are perfect but this is on a different level and it will not away. Reading the statements from Cornwall Council – which must be legally on solid ground – will make many people fear the worst.

And what of the Lib Dems? Surely they have moved to suspend Cllr Folkes’ membership right away? No? Why not?

Resign Alex.

UPDATE: to be fair to Alex Folkes, this is his version of events on his blog. His membership of the Lib Dems has been suspended while this is being investigated.

Email from the Chief Executive of Cornwall Council:

Dear Members

Please see the information below relating to the resignation of Councillor Folkes. This is likely to become public knowledge through the press sometime today. We have been unable to release this information until now because of legal advice.

On 16 October, the Council received information raising serious child protection concerns relating to Alex Folkes and immediately launched a formal investigation into the circumstances. In view of the potential seriousness of the issues raised, Councillor Folkes was asked to stay away from the Council whilst the investigation was carried out by senior officers from the authority in consultation with other agencies.

As a result of the information which came to light during this investigation, the Leader of Cornwall Council, John Pollard, decided that Councillor Folkes could not continue to carry out his Cabinet responsibilities and demanded that he either resigned with immediate effect or he would remove him from his role as the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources. The Council received his resignation on 4 November.

Although the concerns arose in relation to specific incidents which occurred in 2003 and, therefore, before Councillor Folkes became a member of Cornwall Council, the authority has an overriding responsibility to safeguard the welfare of children and young people in Cornwall. The Director of Education, Health and Social Care has, therefore, written to schools and children’s settings in the Launceston area to alert them to the potential risk posed by Councillor Folkes.

Following the 2009 unitary elections, some Council officers became aware of an adverse entry on a CRB disclosure form relating to Councillor Folkes. The way the matter was dealt with at that time is now subject to an internal investigation.

The Council totally condemns any action which poses a threat to children, but does not have the legal power to remove Alex Folkes from his position as an elected councillor. Nevertheless, I have written to Councillor Folkes urging him to resign from the Council with immediate effect.

Yours sincerely


Labour landslide in Camborne

Last night’s by election results in the Camborne Town Council by election:

Labour 298 (54%)
Conservatives 145 (26)
Mebyon Kernow 80 (14%)
Green 31 ( 6%)

Trevor Dalley, our new councillor, is a well known and respected candidate: he has a long history of working for the town, was a founder of Trevithick Day and is a Cornish Bard.

But the Conservative candidate was also well known, as a former councillor and Mayor of Camborne.

This victory also shows how hard our brilliant volunteers and dynamic parliamentary candidate, Michael Foster, have been working to win hearts and minds in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.

It was a great victory for Labour but the most important thing is that Camborne Town Council has a really committed new councillor, who has done great things for the town already and will continue to work hard for its future.

Trevor is working hard with Michael to win the parliamentary seat as well and can often be found in the Camborne Labour shop, so do pop in and congratulate him when you are in town.

The seat contested was formerly held by a Mebyon Kernow councillor. The Labour Party now has 7 councillors out of 18 on the town council. There are 4 Conservatives. 3 Mebyon Kernow, 2 Greens and 2 Independents.

The other really interesting thing about this by election was the complete absence of Liberal Democrats. None on the town council, none (again) standing for election.

Anne Robinson in Hayle and Redruth

Hundreds of local people came to meetings with Watchdog presenter Anne Robinson yesterday for discussions on women and work. They also got personal reflections on her life, funny anecdotes from her work and an insight into a hugely successful woman with real personality.

Anne talked to a mixed audience at the Penventon Hotel about the differences between the way the sexes approach work, how men are often much more confident even when talking about things they know nothing about. She was typically forthright about internet trolls, bad reviews and critical letters: if harsh words bother you, don’t read them.

She also spoke of how her almost fatal alcoholism many years ago meant she was able to brush off personal criticism about her appearance as “not that important”. There was a very funny letter from someone offering to “cure” her “lopsided face”, which we all enjoyed as much as she clearly did.

Talking about creating the immensely successful role as the presenter of The Weakest Link from an unpromising interview that she was advised not to bother with, Anne emphasised the importance of taking up every opportunity, going to interviews, applying for that job, making that phone phone to find out more: “miracles do happen”.

It was a lively event, with challenging questions and answers from the audience to Anne and Labour candidate Michael Foster, covering immigration, Cornish identity and Dignity in Dying as well as the advertised women and work issues. The Penventon Hotel also did us proud with a wonderful cheese and wine spread and great service.

Michael Foster has been a good friend of Anne’s for many years and when he decided to leave behind his business interests and campaign for Cornwall, Anne Robinson was determined to come and support him.

She did that yesterday with great style and typical directness, describing Michael as “funny, very clever, generous and kind”, talked of his success in business, the skills he has to get things done and his long standing, passionate commitment to Cornwall and to Labour.

Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs

Literally. Head first.

On Saturday I learned some things that I already knew.

Running about at the top of stairs in stockinged feet is not a good idea.
I have wonderful friends and family.
The NHS is amazing.

I stepped too quickly out of the bedroom door, slipped, landed on the little half landing two steps down, put my hand out to save myself and the momentum carried me down the next 9 stairs head first into a wooden footstool that I had been using to stand on earlier to paint the ceiling and the door frame.

You might say ouch. I was incapable of speaking or standing up for a while. It’s funny what goes through your head. My lovely husband Steve came and held my hand as I fought off an overwhelming desire to close my eyes and drift off from a dysfunctional world of strange ringing noise, head pain and visual disturbance. I wondered if he would understand that I needed help and how he would get help as he cannot speak or use a phone. I wondered how long he would be there and how safe he would be if I passed out.

I did not wonder how much it would cost me to go to hospital and have treatment.

But all those worries galvanised me to phone a wonderful friend who phoned an ambulance. I was taken to Treliske, monitored all the way, checked by a consultant – even had an ECG to make sure I had not blacked out and given the all clear.

Just like that. All the care needed, reassurance and the prospect of any treatment needed. No credit card, no applications, payments, insurance, no ifs or buts.

While I was waiting (and by this time much recovered) a young girl with a tear stained faced and her arm in temporary splint was wheeled past me. That was exactly how it should be. I did not and do not care if she was Latvian, British or Nigerian, if her family is on benefits or rolling in money, I don’t care if she is HIV positive, foreign, a visitor to Cornwall or resident. Her need was greater.

That is our NHS, that is what matters, what we value. It speaks to the heart of the value we put on community, family, friends and our common humanity.

I cannot describe the fury and contempt I feel for Nigel Farage and his inane and utterly mean spirited comments. Or for this grimy coalition government and the way it is pressing ahead with fragmentation and division of the NHS, blaming workers for needing a decent level of pay. The coalition is simply using austerity as a cover for what they want to do anyway. The deficit is rising for goodness’ sake. If they had any integrity, they would admit it and protect what we know is precious instead of ripping it apart.

Apart from bruises and shock, I am fine. Thank you to everyone who has expressed concern. Thank you to the wonderful paramedics and NHS staff. I hope your strike today makes a difference, though I fear it will not.

I am looking forward to getting back in to the fray, stopping vile Ukip in its tracks and kicking out the Tories and Lib Dems to replace them with a government that cares about the spirit behind the NHS and is prepared to protect it come what may. Labour.

Budget and bodging?

Cornwall Council’s Adult Social Care department has problems.

Last I heard, the number of people needing support from the care system was rising at a brisk pace. In 2013 in response to the question ‘Is a flat rate budget sustainable over the next year?’ I was told by a senior council official ‘No.’

That was before the Lib Dems and Independents teamed up and cut the budget by about £11 million.

Now the department is about £11 million overspent – not surprising as Cornwall Council already spends less on elderly and disabled people than practically any other local authority in the UK.

Today, the Cabinet published their proposals for £196 million of cuts over the next four years. They make grim reading for anyone who cares about how we treat elderly, vulnerable and disabled people.

There seems to be a bit of confusion about the money allocated for the public health budget though and some are claiming that the council is plugging gaps in adult social care with money from public health.

Surely not? And probably just a coincidence that Felicity Owen the respected Director of Public Health in Cornwall for many years has resigned and is leaving today.

Illogan By Election Result 10 July 2014

Labour 129 11% up 1%

Tory 215 18% down 11%

Lib Dem 277 23% up 9%

Lib 121 10%

Green 50 4%

Ukip 13% down 10%

MK 217 18% down 7%

Interesting result, which shows you can’t tell too much from a local by election. The winner, David Ekinsmyth is a local parish councillor who has worked hard in the village for some time and that was probably the most important factor.

Good to see that turnout was up: last year 31%, this year 32.4%, which is impressive for a by election.

Fraudsters in West Cornwall

Please don’t be fooled by this scam.

My bank contacted me recently because my card has been used fraudulently. They did not ask for my pin number, ask me to give my cards back, open another account or transfer any money or hand any over.

They are the bank – it is their job to protect your money and that is what they did in my case by stopping my card, stopping the payments and passing it to the police to deal with.

That is what happens in genuine cases.

If anyone turns up to you asking for your card, account details or for you to transfer or hand over money they are fraudsters. Please let elderly relatives know about this.