From: Paul Dyer
Date: Fri, 4 Jul 2014 10:30:17 +0100
Subject: One Cornwall
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Firstly please forgive this rather impersonal letter but there are over 200 hundred Parish Councils in Cornwall and we are writing to each and every one.
For sometime now Chacewater Parish Council has been dissatisfied with Cornwall Council. We have several areas of concern as per the attached letter. Our efforts to be heard are wasted and we feel ingored.
We are prepared to hold two or three meetings across the County, if there is a need, to help with the travel situation. The main aim here is to ensure we have a strong enough voice to enable a full and comprehensive investigation of Cornwall Council and it’s practices in
order restore some form of localism which is sadly lacking today.
Please respond either to me here or directly to our Clerk Mrs Glen Johns email@example.com
Many thanks and best regards
Paul Dyer, Vice Chairman Chacewater Parish Council
Dear Michaelstow Parish Council,
We are writing to you to seek support and comment on the performance of Cornwall Council. Ever since the district councils were amalgamated this Parish Council has seen a reduction in services and a blatant lack of communication and support from “One Cornwall”.
We are also very concerned with what appears to be a lack of cost savings that should have occurred when the amalgamation took place. In the business world if 6 so similarly aligned companies were merged one would expect to see savings of at least 33%, if not 66% in administration costs. Instead Cornwall Council saw fit to employ some really senior managers to oversee the whole business and pay exorbitant salaries to those new officers. Certainly some salaries far exceed the present Prime Minister!! From our perspective there have been no visible signs of savings being made. Most Parish Councils have suffered the indignity of public convenience closures in order to save money and yet every new house built in Cornwall will earn them at least an additional £1,000 in rates. The maths simply do not add up.
A second major issue for us is the planning decisions that have been taken without any regard for localism and local public concerns. Most planning applications we are asked to comment on come back with a reverse decision. Further, very large planning applications have been passed within the Truro area with little or no regard for public view and no regard to infrastructure issues such as road congestion, sewage disposal and hospital capacity. Royal Cornwall Hospital already lacks bed numbers with the ageing population growing and is also, quite rightly, flagging the issues of grid locked roads which are already causing severe access problems. Again these decisions appear to be made against the wishes of the local parish councils and therefore the general public who live in and around these communities. Wind and solar farms are springing up everywhere taking up valuable agricultural land and resources that are irreplaceable. Added to this the enforcement team are overstretched and very inefficient. Planning decisions should be free of politics, reflect the wishes of the communities and NOT be used as a carrot!
Our third area of concern is the use of Cormac for almost every engineering job undertaken within the county and the inefficient way that company appears to be run. How often do you see Cormac vehicles at rest? Should the Council put some if not all of these jobs out to competitive tender? That alone might lead to better hedge trimming and pot hole fixing regimes. I know that hedge trimming is performed by private contractor but Cornwall Council manage it, in our view, not very well.
The fourth issue we would like to discuss is the role of some of the Officers in the “Business Arm” of the Council which deals with concerns such as Newquay Airport as it seems these officers again attract significant salaries and perform more than one function within the Council which must, at times, surely incur a conflict of interest. In this area there should be more clarity as to where the public purse is being spent.
To conclude we feel that Cornwall Council is emerging as a dictatorship rather than a democratic governed body. We have no voice except that of our elected members, many of whom are becoming increasingly demoralised and weaker in terms of voting strength. The Strategic Planning Committee is badly out of balance as there are only two members who are able to represent the views of the Truro area with very little representation further west and so most decisions usually reflect a political position but are NOT true local votes unless, of course, one considers Bodmin local to Penzance. We cannot elect officers within the Council, they employ who they wish. We have no DEMOCRATIC recourse. Cornwall Council is rather like the very old children’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and everyone is afraid to be the small boy.
We, as a Parish Council, wish to be that small boy but on our own we know we will not be listened to. Therefore we are sending you this letter to ascertain your views, thoughts and comments. If there is a positive response we would then like to hold a meeting of all those willing to be involved and endeavour to come up with a way that we can get a more democratic Council looking after the best interests of Cornwall , the county we love and are all proud to be part of.
If possible we would like a response by the end of July so that we can plan for a meeting in September. Please let us know if you prefer a weekday, weekend or evening meeting. We cannot leave this situation to continue for much longer as more damage is being sustained on a daily basis. If we SHOUT loud enough we might be heard!
We look forward to hearing from you.
With many thanks and best regards
Chacewater Parish Council
On 23rd July 2014, a reply to this letter was provided by John Pollard – the leader of Cornwall Council – and in fairness – this has to be published here also:
Dear Colleagues I understand that Chacewater Parish Council has circulated a letter to all Parish and Town Councils expressing their concerns about Cornwall Council. Although I was not directly contacted by Chacewater Parish Council, their letter was shared with me and my response is attached. We are committed to working with our Parish and Town Council colleagues to deliver the best services for Cornwall. This has to continue. I have offered to meet Chacewater Parish Council to discuss their concerns and if your Council shares any of their views I would be pleased to hear from you. Oll an gwella John John Pollard Leader Cornwall Council The text of the message was supplied as a PDF - linked here: REPLY TO CHACEWATER