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

Sewage outflow on to Cornwall’s beaches

0912Haylestorm211258931At the last Cornwall Council meeting, I put in a question to the Cabinet on the regular sewage releases on to our beautiful beaches. 

As well as being damaging to our economy and tourist industry, the sewage is bad for health.  When the beach is closed, there are signs to let people know but this is not enough.

Last time it happened, I saw people turning back from the beach at Godrevy to go elsewhere – not realising that the beach further down was open.

The Environment Agency had already been to the beach to test the water – before the outflow, so the extent of the pollution may not be recorded but it is there. The quality of bathing water is really important to Cornwall’s tourism. Businesses that depend on the beach have to cancel their activities if they can’t get in to the sea.

I am also concerned that with all the new building in Camborne, this will get worse.  South West Water have told me they have no plans to upgrade the sewage works at Kehelland. Recently, I asked a Planning Officer if the sewage outflows were a reason to refuse development until the problem was sorted. I was told No. SWW have permission to release into the bay so increased pressure on the system is not a reason for refusal. This is wrong, in my view. It’s about time we stopped dumping our sh*t in the sea.

Here is the question and the response from Cllr Joyce Duffin, the Portfolio Holder.

Discharge of Sewage

To: Councillor Duffin

From: Councillor Robinson

Cornwall’s beaches are among the best in the world and a key part of our economy, yet are compromised regularly by the discharge of sewage due to inadequate sewerage systems. What action or lobbying has the council undertaken to prevent South West Water’s regular discharge of sewage onto Cornwall’s beaches?

Reply: Councillor Duffin

The problem of Combined Sewer Overflows (or CSOs) is not limited to Cornwall, or to the South West Water (SWW) region but is a national issue. Much of our old sewerage system is based on combined sewers whereby both foul water and rainwater are carried in the same pipe. This means that heavy rainfall can cause the system to become overwhelmed resulting in a mixture of raw sewage and rainwater being released in a controlled fashion into watercourses and eventually washed down onto beaches. CSOs are regulated by the Environment Agency (EA). Permits are based on a complex range of conditions, including their potential impact on bathing water or shellfish water compliance. Investment in the sewerage system is governed by OFWAT, who are responsible for approving SWW’s 5 year business plan. If CSO discharges lead to deterioration in bathing water quality compliance then the EA can add improvements in their National Environment Programme and SWW in their forward business plan.
The Council’s Scrutiny Management Committee reviewing Flood Risk Management recently interviewed SWW and questioned their representative about the issue of CSOs. SWW has estimated the cost of separating surface water from existing combined sewer systems at around £2 billion, in addition to huge disruption to town centres and infrastructure. SWW’s current 5 year business plan has allocated £463 million on improving the sewerage network across its region. Cornwall Council is the Bathing Water Controller on 79 of the 82 designated bathing waters in Cornwall. The Council works closely with both the EA, SWW and, with the assistance of bathing water champions, we provide notifications where bathing water quality could be impacted. The Council communicates with and meets with both the EA and SWW when issues are brought to its attention to help ensure that water quality standards are maintained and where possible improved at designated bathing waters in the county.
Both myself and the Cabinet Member for Communities will be attending a meeting in October with representatives of SWW, the EA and Council officers with responsibilities for environmental health, beach safety and flooding and coastal environment strategy to discuss the implications of new Bathing Water Standards and explore improvements to the situation. The Council will also be pursuing this issue through the work to implement the Cornwall Deal which has a specific section on how we manage flooding, coastal erosion, water supply and quality. This will give us an opportunity to explore if the three responsible organisations can agree and resource standards that exceed minimum legal standards in Cornwall.