Devo-lite uncertainties in Cornwall

The Leader and the Devolution team reported back to the Scrutiny Management Committee this month.

Labour councillors are not impressed by the devolution deal, which conveys little real power to Cornwall. In the area of transport, there are very good and ambitious plans coming forward for an integrated transport system for Cornwall but it will need a lot of cash to set up. The Council is confident in applying for £17million from the growth fund but if we don’t get it, there is no ‘Plan B’. Either the plans will not go forward or the taxpayer will have to stump up. Very worrying as the government announced last week that they are keeping half of the growth fund money back until the next election ( presumably so they can promise it all again at the last minute). If by any chance, Cornwall does not get the grant, I can’t see any way these plans could be delivered and that would be a huge shame.

Devolution agreements between Cornwall and the government are expected to be signed off soon, except for Health and Social Care. The NHS in Cornwall is in a lot of trouble financially and the government, having put our NHS in the hands of the Kernow Commissioning Group, now has no confidence that they can run it. The plan was to integrate health and social care and many councils are now being encouraged to do that but it is hard to see how that can progress in the current crisis.

Not announced in the meeting but there is a rumour that government is pushing for Cornwall to have a Mayor if we want any real power to be devolved, despite that being unpopular with pretty much everyone.

As ever, officers in Cornwall are doing their best to make this work while hampered by a government that preaches localism but is more concerned with their own agenda and the next election, offloading problems and saving money for their next tax cut for the well off. In the meantime, councils are expected to deliver miracles with diminishing resources.

Much needed SEN review – take part!

 

From Andrew Wallis, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People

In phase one of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) review we consulted with a range of stakeholders on the provision for children and young people with complex SEN in Cornwall. We also analysed a range of data and information to help us better understand what needed to be prioritised.

In phase two we identified key issues and future priorities. These are set out below with a fuller report available on the SEN Review website http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/senreview

Key Issues Identified

1. Capacity and range of provision
Evidence suggests that there needs to be more advice and support for staff in mainstream schools and increased capacity in special schools and area resource bases. We also need to consider how this provision can best meet the needs of children and young people with complex SEN.

2. Primary areas of SEN

The review confirmed that the overall profile of SEN in Cornwall generally reflected the national profile and that of the comparator local authorities. Issues were identified in respect of the following three areas of need:

a) Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) – there needs to be more specialist training to increase understanding and improve provision.
b) Learning difficulties – there needs to be access to appropriate expertise and consideration of equipment needs.
c) Social Emotional and Mental Health – working arrangements with health-based services need to be strengthened to better support children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs. Provision needs to be developed to enable children and young people with complex needs to be able to access appropriate education as close to home as possible.

3. The evaluation of effectiveness

Options for change need to enable us to see what difference the provision makes for individual children and young people, to compare the effectiveness of types of provision and plan developments on an ongoing basis.

Stage 3 Consultation
Working with independent consultants Indigo we have developed a number of priorities for change in response to the key issues. Changes to education arrangements for children and young people with complex SEN will focus on better outcomes.

Details of the options for change are contained within the online survey which can be found at:www.cornwall.gov.uk/senreview

The consultation period will run to 4 March 2016.

During this time we will also be running various consultation sessions, details of which are outlined below.
Thursday 25th February

10.30 – 12.00

Room 4, Chy Trevail, Bodmin

Friday 26th February

10.30 – 12.00

GW.02 Committee Room Dolcoath Offices, Camborne

Monday 29th February

10.30 – 12.00

Room 2N.02 New County Hall, Truro

Monday 29th February

17.30 – 19.00

Room 2N.03 New County Hall, Truro

More nonsense on Council Reserves

The old chestnut about spending council reserves has cropped up again. It’s actually quite scary that David Cameron, supposedly in charge of running the country, thinks councils can simply pay for services with money they have put aside for other things. It’s a bit like having money for next week’s bills and spending it on a take away. Once it’s gone, you’re stuffed both ways.

I’m not one to quote Lib Dems very often but this statement from Cornwall Council is very clear. Shame the Tories governing us don’t seem capable of grasping basic local government finance.  Mind you, they are pretty crap on national stuff too.

It could be possible that the government does understand but think that by presenting a simple and extremely stupid idea to the public, they will escape blame for cuts in essential services.  Not sure which is worse: stupid or liars who think the public is stupid.

Here is the statement from Cornwall Council:

As of March 2015 Cornwall Council held £176m in usable reserves. Although this figure has increased over the past four years, £128m – 72% – of this is money we hold on behalf of others, or for a specific purpose such as PFI reserves, redundancy reserves, insurance reserves and money for specific building projects. The largest single element of this £128m is the £71m set aside to meet our long term commitments to PFI contracts (used to build new schools and fire stations ) which has increased by £20m since 2009/2010.

Only £48m of our total reserves is for general use – ie not committed to a specific project. This money is held for dealing with emergencies and unexpected spending pressures. This year £11m is being used to help meet spending pressures, most notably on Adult Social Care, leaving just £37m – 3% of our total budget – available to meet other pressures and emergencies. While this may seem like a large sum carrying out repairs following the 2013/2014 winter storms and flooding cost around £21m. Having this money available in reserves meant we were able to carry out the repairs immediately rather than waiting for Government funding. It also meant that had the Government decided not to provide funding to local councils we would have been able to meet the costs without having to make cuts in front line services.

The £37m is also being used to help cushion the impact of reductions in government funding on front line services. Next year we are planning to use £6m from our general reserves to help minimise cuts to front line services and this figure could increase over the next two years if we receive less money than expected in the local government funding settlement later this month.

All councils hold reserves to ensure that they can continue to provide statutory services and safeguard the elderly and vulnerable when faced with emergencies or unexpected spending pressures. The level of our usable reserves is in line with the level of reserves held by other councils.

It is also important to recognise that reserves can only be used once, while the reduction in Government funding and demand for Council services is ongoing. This means that the level of savings required by the Council from 2014/15 to 2018/19 is £196m.

Adam Paynter
Councillor for the Launceston North and North Petherwin Division
Cabinet Member for Resources
Deputy Leader
Cornwall Council

Good news on community health services

Frank Dobson and members
Meeting Frank Dobson at All Saints Community Centre

Full circle on community health services and campaigns.

It’s been a long road since 2011 when the Labour Party campaigned with Frank Dobson MP to ask the powers that be in Cornwall not to hive off our community hospitals and services out of the NHS.

It happened anyway, despite being the first time a 5000 signature public petition made sure the issue was debated at Cornwall Council. (Too many Tories voted to let it happen.)

More recently, Labour has been campaigning with people in Cornwall to protest against a new contracting out of these same services after the company that ran them announced it was giving up the contract.

The Labour group in Cornwall has put a motion forward to the next Cornwall Council meeting expressing our view that services should be brought back in to the NHS, rather than given to a private company. No Tory supported us, actually I don’t think anyone else supported us.

But the news is good: here is a letter confirming that Cornwall’s community hospitals and services will be brought back into the NHS family.

“Re: Update on adult community health services delivery from 1 April 2016

 

We are writing to update you about the future delivery of adult community health services in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

 

A local NHS consortium comprising Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and Kernow Health Community Interest Company is NHS Kernow’s preferred provider to deliver the contract from 1 April 2016.

 

The consortium brings together a wealth of expertise and knowledge encompassing the full range of health services from GPs to hospital care. It will offer multi-disciplinary care through teams of professionals, working across traditional organisational boundaries. They will use this to enable the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to live the lives they want to live, to the best of their ability.

 

The decision follows an open market procurement – as is normal practice in the public sector – that met legal and regulator requirements.

 

What’s important now is that staff in all organisations are supported through this period of transition, a seamless transfer of services occurs and patients continue to receive high quality care. All partners in the local healthcare system are committed to this.

 

We recognise and thank Peninsula Community Health’s staff for their dedication and professionalism to ensure high quality patient care – and look forward to a smooth and seamless transfer of services to the new provider consortium. We are keen to use and build on the existing skills

 

The name above the door may be changing, but the adult community health services that people rely on will still be available. Patients will continue to receive the same safe, high quality services, by the same experienced staff. Patients should see no change in the people they see or the way they are referred to services. They should continue to use services in the same way and talk to their GP about their health needs in the first instance.

 

We acknowledge the local interest in this matter and thank everyone for their patience while NHS Kernow discharged its duties during the procurement process.

 

We trust that you find this information useful, but please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.”

 

Yours sincerely

 

Joy Youart

Managing Director, NHS Kernow

 

Dr Iain Chorlton

Chairman, NHS Kernow

Phil Confue

Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust

 

Andrew MacCallum

Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust

Peter Stokes

Kernow Health CIC

Steve Jenkin

Peninsula Community Health

 

 

 

 

 

Camborne Town Council News, September 15.

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 13.18.01Produced by the Town Clerk, the newsletter gives more information on

Restroom – Camborne’s community toilet scheme

The bid to take over open spaces and parks from Cornwall Council

Consultation on the future of Camborne’s library service and Passmore Edwards building

Grants to local community groups

Camborne’s Christmas Lantern Parade

Opening hours, councillors and contact numbers, dates and times of meetings coming up.

Newsletter September 2015

Just click on the link above.

Kerrier Way

Answers to some of the questions people in Camborne have been asking about Kerrier Way.

Local councillors are very concerned and had a meeting raised the problem of dangerous parking, obstruction and diversions with the Highway Manager at our regular meeting earlier this week.

No, cars are not meant to be parking on the space between the two lanes of the new road. It s dangerous and residents have been asked not to park there but some continue to do so.

The problem has been made worse because the council has gone ahead and closed one end of Dolcoath Road, which means now that coaches are diverting down Dolcoath Avenue because of the obstruction of Kerrier Way. This involves coaches in manoeuvring though the short road between Dolcoath Avenue and Road, causing more traffic problems, as people are (legally) parked there as well.

Our very helpful Highways Manager is on to it. Residents in the area are being leafleted – again. He is also following up with Planning Enforcement as we do not believe that the original plans for Kerrier Way included an open, car width space in the middle of the road, just asking to be parked on. Whether it is trees, planters or fixed bollards, something more effective than yellow lines needs to be installed.

I have been in touch with Bert Biscoe, the Portfolio Holder for Transport, so he is aware of the problem and has said it must be sorted. It is really important we get some solution before the much delayed East West link road is finished. In the meantime, please be careful – I know of at least one near miss when a parked car driver opened his or her door as another car approached. Fortunately the moving car driver had quick reactions, the next might not be so lucky.

Yesterday evening at the network

IMG_0836Yesterday evening was the regular Community Network meeting for Camborne, Pool, Illogan and Redruth.

First on the agenda was the management plan for the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty along our North Coast to Godrevy. It may come as a surprise to some that areas in and around Camborne are designated AONB but it only takes a bit of exploring to find that out for yourself.

Next we had our debonair Portfolio Holder for Localism, Jeremy Rowe, adopting a hair shirt on the tortured progress of devolution from Cornwall Council to local towns and parishes.

Nobly, Jeremy took responsibility starting off with an arrogant approach, which led to bad relationships between the Unitary and local councils. Even more nobly, he declined to mention that the Conservatives were running the council with the support of the Independents at the time. He also paid tribute to the exceptional work of Ray Tovey – the previous Conservative Portfolio Holder, as a shining example.

Jeremy has actually been very helpful and has worked extraordinarily hard at getting the whole devolution on track and mending fences with local councils. But frustration with the whole issue remains and fair play to him for spending his evenings doing what he can to make the whole thing work better.

The upshot was; Cornwall Council has made mistakes but let’s move forward. They are trying really hard on this despite staff shortages and huge pressures. Let’s work together as we all need it to work. That is fine by me. Today I will be asking Jeremy why the rugby ground in my ward of Treswithian, may be left out of Camborne Town Council’s negotiations to take over open spaces in the town and parish. The official line is that it generates an income stream for Cornwall Council.

Actually, that is tiny compared to the amount Cornwall Council will save by devolving the open spaces to us. The ground was bought with Camborne Park by Camborne Town Council many years ago. Leases and covenants have expired but the intention for it to be owned by the people of Camborne for leisure was clear. And Cornwall Council acquired the land in the local government reorganisation, so what moral right does it have now to hang on to it?

Lastly, many areas of CPIR will be part of a trial on recycling plastic. Don’t do anything different unless you get a mailing from Cornwall Council but please – everyone – remember to recycle what you can!

More information on recycling in Cornwall