Once again, the previous year proved to be very busy for the Council – and it also proved to be a very rewarding year as well. Until the recent launch of our new website, however, we’ve struggled to let the outside world know how busy we’ve been; the challenges we’re facing; the projects we’re undertaking; and the successes we’re achieving but I’m very pleased to say all that is changing.The truth is that over the past twelve months, outstanding progress has been made in several areas and I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the highlights:
I was really pleased that the Parish Council not only organised a Jubilee Cream Tea and entertainment for all age groups to enjoy but was also able to financially support our local community groups which joined together to put on a really entertaining weekend of events.
The Jubilee holiday certainly had the feel-good factor and it was great to share in that community spirit.
The production of the Neighbourhood Development Plan for St Erth will be the major project for the Parish Council over the next 18 months and I’m pleased to report that we have made good progress with our preparation. For example: we have reviewed our Parish Plan and have undertaken workshop sessions on project management; evidence gathering; consultation; and engagement. These are the basic skills we need to enable us to work effectively with the community on a shared vision for the future of the whole Parish. This photo shows Parish Councillors involved in a Neighbourhood Planning workshop.
With our Neighbourhood Plan in mind, we have also provided a detailed response to Cornwall Council on its draft Local Plan. This was a joint response with our neighbouring Parish of Gwinear-Gwithian as we have much in common and know that we can achieve more for both communities by working together. Also during the year, individual Councillors agreed to become responsible for specific areas of work, such as: housing; transport; and the environment. This arrangement will certainly help us to progress our Neighbourhood Plan; manage our increasing workload; and therefore, make the time Councillors volunteer, more effective.
IMPROVING COMMUNITY FACILITIES
I’m proud that we’ve been able to provide a new, inclusive swing at Battery Mill Park. As the name suggests, this swing can be used by anyone but especially provides children with a disability, the same opportunity as able-bodied children. The design of this swing also enables the parent or carer of the child to use it with them and so this has been a really important addition to the Park. Still on the theme of improving facilities for everyone, the Council is now waiting for confirmation from Awards for All, which is part of the Big Lottery, that our grant application for £10,000 has been successful. Together with the grant of £5,000 from the Hayle Area Partnership, the Big Lottery grant will enable us to deliver our flagship project of a Youth Shelter and Community Picnic Area at the new Green Lane Park.
Again, this was a collaborative effort, involving the Parish Council, Cornwall Council, St Erth Residents Association and Penwith Community Development Trust which carried out consultation with our young people to ensure that what we thought should be provided was actually what our young people wanted.
We have also been supported by Cherry Trees Garden Services who donated the labour costs for clearing the site in preparation of the development of the Park.
As well as a Youth Shelter, picnic tables will also be provided, together with a new pathway, which will ensure the facility can be accessed by everyone. When work is complete, it will provide a safe and exciting facility that everyone can use and we can all be proud of for years to come.
THE PUBLIC TOILETS
As everyone knows, Cornwall Council closed the toilets recently due to the way in which they have decided to manage their money but I can confirm that the Parish Council is actively exploring all options to have them re-opened. Obviously, we are aware just how important this facility is to residents and visitors and so this matter is high priority for us.
If the toilets re-open, however, the Parish Council will have to find the money and that is the ‘bottom line’ as they say! The Council will soon be considering a report, containing costed options and subject to funds being available, it is my hope that we can re-open the toilets in time for the School Summer Holidays this year. Following that, we will need to agree with the community, the best overall option for the future.
THE WEST CORNWALL TRANSPORT INTERCHANGE
It is now over a year since Cornwall Council granted itself Planning Permission for this development which now depends on whether European Funding can be secured towards the £12 million pounds needed.
Whilst the Parish Council felt able to support some elements of the application, we fought hard to oppose the elements we did not,representing the objections expressed by many of our residents. Ultimately, however, Planning Permission was granted and faced with that fact, the Parish Council turned its attention to negotiating as much community benefit from the scheme as possible.
Firstly, I am pleased to confirm that we have agreed with Cornwall Council:
1. A feasibility study, which will offer options for significant investment in Treloweth Lane and from its junction with Tredrea Lane, up to the crossroads, making these routes far safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. The Study, when complete, will be presented for public consultation; and also
2. We have reached agreement, in principle, for the Parish Council to receive an annual levy from car park income, which will enable us to fund investments and improvements. The highway improvements and the car park levy depend on whether the Park and Ride scheme finally goes ahead but if we are going to have it, then we need to squeeze out the most community benefit from it
FINALLY – THE PARISH COUNCIL’S NEW WEBSITE
Less than a year ago, it was only an aspiration to have our own website and I’m so pleased that this is now a reality. Our new website offers different ways to communicate, such as Twitter and Facebook which will allow us to engage much more effectively – especially with our young people. Our website will compliment other ways in which we communicate, such as the Notice Board, mail shots, press releases and the ‘Down Your Way’ column in the Cornishman – but the key difference will be its inter-activity. Local people are discussing important issues on-line and it is essential that we are able to take part in those discussions so that together, the best decisions can be made for everyone.And that really does remain our focus – always to do what is in the best interests of our community.