At Camborne Town Council on Thursday evening, I asked the Chair of Council Mike Champion (who is also Chair of the Handyman Store Working Party) about whether the council had received the survey on the roof of the Carn Brea unit before the decision was made to purchase it and why it was not circulated to members.
The answer was that it was received and it wasn’t circulated to members because other documents weren’t either – which wasn’t a very satisfactory answer but there you go.
The reason I asked is that members of the council were sent a copy of the survey last week even though it was not on the agenda.
The only conclusion I can draw from the survey is the council just bought a money pit.
“THE ROOF: ….the quality of the workmanship, detailing and finish disappoint. This may lead to an abnormally costly maintenace/repair regime and that certain of the components may fail before the end of their normal life expectancy.
EAVES DETAILING …. similar to those in respect of the roof. Some repairs and good maintenance immediately can deal with certain shortcomings but otherwise aspects of workmanship and detailing are poor and this may lead to premature failure and a more costly future maintenance programme.”
It goes on but I will spare you.
At the extraordinary council meeting of 21 October, the council was offered a reduction in price of £5000 from the cost of the unit. Trevor Chalker and I asked about the work that need to be done and were told by the Locum Clerk and the Chair of the Council that these were minor repairs, that were non urgent and would cost in the region of £1500.
The whole issue of the handyman’s store for Camborne Town Council has been a difficult one. Several new members of the council, including myself, were unhappy about how the decision was made and why. Without going into detail (but believe me, I could!) the argument was that the Handyman Store working party had done all the work and investigated everything so why did we need the information to make a decision? We should just agree with their recommendation.
That is why I voted against the purchase of the store and some of my colleagues did as well. We got some flak for it but that’s the way it goes – it’s a shame this has turned out even worse than we thought.
Cllr Adam Crickett proposed a few months back that the whole way in which this issue has been handled should be subject to a review to learn lessons. This was voted down by a majority at the council but it will be coming back.
In recent posts, I flagged up how a Redruth former serviceman with health problems has been denied help with his water bills because of changes pushed through by the Tory & Lib Dem coalition last year.
Mr Williams’ daughter, after several useless communications from his MP: George Eustice and the Council, finally got a response. At least South West Water took the trouble to explain it all, which is more than can be said for said MP.
Thank you for your enquiry about the eligibility criteria for the WaterSure scheme, which your father has benefitted from until recently.
Regrettably, I can confirm that Council Tax benefit was removed as a qualifying benefit in April this year as the national benefit has been replaced by local support schemes. Unfortunately this means that if this was the only means tested benefit your father received he will no longer qualify for the WaterSure tariff.
It may be that your father will now qualify for the new Universal Credit and if so will also be entitled to help from the WaterSure scheme. You may wish to investigate this possibility, and also the possibility that there are other means tested benefits to which he is entitled.
It is unfortunate that the change to the benefits system has had this impact on your father. Unfortunately SWW, as with other water companies, can only apply the rules governing the WaterSure scheme nationally as determined by the government.
Due to Mr Williams’ low income, he was eligible for Council Tax benefit until it was abolished by the government. Now, despite being in the same situation, he loses his water sure help. Because he is a pensioner, he will not be affected by the council tax 25% charge but I wonder how many people are being hit by both?
People now paying a 25% council tax charge and tax credit cuts or the bedroom tax could also find their water bills soaring.
Two of Cornwall’s MPs are now junior Ministers. After some vagueness (first announcements put water in George Eustice’s brief) it now seems Dan Rogerson from North Cornwall has some responsibility for water sure.
I wonder how many of their constituents have been hit by this and whether Mr Rogerson will be more responsive than Mr Eustice?
He will have the opportunity soon as Labour is putting a motion forward asking Cornwall Council to raise this with Dan Rogerson and stand up for the people of Cornwall against this government of heartless millionaires.
Newly appointed Minister George Eustice is cosying up to the right wing farm lobby by going for more badger culls despite the incompetence of the first lot.
Or even because of the incompetence of the first lot.
There is a reason for the target to kill the majority – 70% – of badgers in an area when culling. That is because if less than that percentage is killed, it tends to spread TB as badgers migrate to other places.
So the government gave the killing companies the target, which they failed to meet. The government then bizarrely accused badgers of ‘moving the goalposts’ and gave the firms extensions but they still failed to meet the targets.
Most of us are unhappy about blasting wildlife out of existence but still have to pay for it, while being told there is not enough in the pot to pay for a decent quality of life for the elderly and disabled.
The cull costs about £100,000 a year with farmers contributing but the additional costs include:
Over £300,000 for costs related to licensing the cull
£750,000 for sett monitoring
£17,000 for independent panel to monitor the cull
£700,000 estimated costs for humaneness monitoring
£750,000 for carrying out post mortems on badgers.
according to parliamentary answers to Labour MP Mary Creagh.
The badgers are shot after being caught in cages, which immediately raises the question of why after such an expensive trapping operation, healthy badgers are not vaccinated instead of killed. Most of the badgers killed are healthy and only about one in seven badgers has TB.
It isn’t proven or understood how or whether badgers infect cattle. Research has shown that culling has little effect, even DEFRA admits that cattle – to cattle transmission is a serious part of the problem.
And yet, the Tory answer is that 70% of badgers in any given area have to die.
And of course, as the killing target of 70% is not being met, migrating badgers will spread the disease and so, to cover up the incompetence, more culls will be needed or TB numbers will rise in surrounding areas.
It’s the Tory way – make others pay for your ideology and incompetence. Presumably the Lib Dems are looking the other way on this one as well.
Our Tory MP George Eustice was on Radio Cornwall a few days ago claiming that David Cameron had done a fantastic job of making sure the EU budget is frozen. A follow up to his breathlessly adoring blog on the PM last year, I suppose.
The good news is that, in the short term, Britain has a veto over the EU budget and can put its foot down and block any new inflation busting increases. If this happens there is then automatically a real terms freeze in the budget followed by a painstaking process of agreeing individual items in the budget one line at a time. Once again, it looks like it will fall to Britain to show leadership and risk unpopularity with other leaders by knocking heads together in order to sort things out and deliver what is right for the people of both Britain and Europe. David Cameron has done it before and he should do it again.
This idea of a ‘real terms freeze’ (and I weep for the lost apostrophe) is just spin really, isn’t it?
How can you call an increase of any kind a freeze? It sure as hell doesn’t work like that with wages.
Hands up anyone, anywhere who has ever heard a Tory supporting an inflation increase in wages for workers as ‘a real terms freeze’.
And has this been agreed anyway?
My understanding is that:
The European Parliament has just voted on the 2014 EU Budget, the first EU annual budget under the 2014-2020 EU budget cycle.
The European Parliament report on the 2014 budget called for a 2% rise on the position agreed by Governments (Council).
Following this vote the European Council and the European Parliament will enter into negotiations to agree a final figure before the end of 2013.
The Labour group of MEPs voted against this rise because: (more information here)
it failed to redirect EU spending from wasteful agricultural subsidies into projects to boost employment and infrastructure.
But that vote was lost and the proposed rise goes through to be debated again.
So, the budget hasn’t been frozen in any sense at all really. It’s still to be decided and the likelihood is that it will rise, either by the amount ‘agreed by governments’ or more. Neither of which is a freeze.
A lot of Conservative MPs, of course, are worried by Ukip and putting out anti European messages.
A few days ago I wrote about the case of a local pensioner with health problems, who can no longer get help with his water bills because the new Council Tax Support is no longer classed as a benefit.
Labour councillor Robert Webber, who took up the issue, was told (by South West Water)
” categorically that no person of pensionable age would qualify for the Water Sure Tariff unless they were in receipt of Pensioner Credit and also have a qualifying medical condition. When I pressed for an answer in regards if Council Tax Support was a qualifying benefit I was informed categorically that it was not “
Ofwat have ‘helpfully’ come back with the advice to go off and contact someone else about this:
I have looked at what South West says on its website and the legislation governing WaterSure. I suggest you contact the Consumer Council for Water, who will be able to help you get clarity on this issue. Your local CCWater office is on 01392 428 028.
The office of our Conservative MP, George Eustice:
I did not take the name of the customer advisor that I spoke to on 0844 346 1010. Have you tried calling this number to confirm the information that I was given about Council Tax Support being a valid benefit.
(The answer to this being ‘Yes, keep up and have a think about the MP being there to represent constituents.)
The government abolished Council Tax benefit on 1 April 2013. It was then up to local councils to put in place a scheme (with less money) to ‘support’ those in need. What seems to have happened here is that it is no longer classed as a benefit that qualifies for help with our sky high water bills.
Our local Conservative MP – backed by our Lib Dems – voted this through parliament and is a Minister with responsibility for this yet is indifferent, the agencies and companies bounce Mr Williams back and forth with ‘um’s and ‘ah’s and ‘try this number’s.
All of these people are collecting reasonable or even large salaries to tell a sick pensioner of limited means and his daughter (also working full time as she tries to sort this out) nothing of any use. The big society – indifference from those in power.
Labour MEPs have voted against the planned EU budget, rejecting the overall package after it failed to redirect spending into projects to boost employment and infrastructure.
The European Parliament voted through the budget today, increasing it above the position agreed by national governments.
Derek Vaughan MEP, Labour’s spokesperson on the European budget, said:
We support funding for jobs and growth, and oppose spending in areas where there is huge scope for savings. At a time when people in Britain are suffering from a cost of living crisis, we need to prioritise investment in the future.
We will continue our campaign for European money to be used where it helps people and communities.