I’m pleased to review the most important events of last year and take a look forward to the year ahead.
Last year we had two key priorities – Neighbourhood Planning and improving the Vestry Rooms.
In terms of Neighbourhood Planning, we completed all of the administrative and legal requirements and began work on the Plan itself.
In November and December we conducted a Residents’ Survey involving every household in the Parish. The Survey asked questions about housing location and housing need, green spaces, community facilities, economic opportunities and commercial development.
We achieved a fantastic response of 40 % and as a result, have a wealth of evidence to support the development of our Neighbourhood Plan.
Following analysis of the responses, we published the results in January.
Then, in February, we held two community engagement events to inform residents about Neighbourhood Planning and to find out whether they supported the Parish Council’s five draft objectives which would shape the Plan.
Not only were these events well attended and really appreciated, but the five draft objectives were supported unanimously.
As a result of those events, at least a dozen residents are now working alongside Councillors – in the Objective Groups to develop the Plan – and in the Steering Group to oversee progress.
I am particularly pleased that the Steering Group is chaired by Mick Hanley, who took the lead role in producing the Parish Plan and that Mick will be ably supported by our Neighbourhood Plan Project Officer, Lucy Davis.
Lucy gained considerable knowledge, skills and experience from producing the St Ives Neighbourhood Plan and so we can be confident that St Erth will have its own, high quality Plan, at the earliest possible date.
Last year, we considered initial plans to renovate the Vestry Rooms but before we can make any decisions about the future of the building, we are seeking legal and planning advice about what could be possible.
It will also be sensible to wait for the findings of our Neighbourhood Plan Objective 4 Group, which is considering the future use of all community buildings in the Parish and what the role of the Vestry Rooms should be in that context.
The work of this Objective Group will be informed by discussions with the School, the Church and the Chapel and from consultation with community groups and residents.
So, whilst it is important to improve this building, it is more important to ensure that the public funds which may be needed are spent wisely and for the right reasons.
As always, planning has featured prominently in the work of the Council and we are: still involved with the development at Church Street; in talks with the developer of the Chenhalls Road site; and are gearing up to consider another application about Mably Solar Farm.
So far, we have been able to resist two planning applications to demolish the listed footbridge at the Railway Station and are due to have the next round of talks with Cornwall Council and Network Rail about this and what is happening with the West Cornwall Transport Interchange.
We will keep residents informed about all of these issues.
We are currently involved in a campaign to make the Parish a safer place.
Major developments have an impact on infrastructure and so we are focusing our efforts on what residents have told us are their greatest concerns – traffic congestion, the speed of traffic and pedestrian safety.
In response to those concerns, we have sent a list to Cornwall Council of the improvements that are needed to improve the safety of all road users and pedestrians.
The ‘20 is Plenty’ campaign is not only providing us with a list of specific issues but is also suggesting some potential solutions – and the more evidence we have, the stronger our case to Cornwall Highways to make the improvements.
So, it has been another busy year for the Council and one which has had its challenges as well as its opportunities.
Looking to the year ahead, we will continue to take every opportunity to involve our residents in ways to improve the quality of life.
To achieve that, we will focus our efforts on:
• developing the Neighbourhood Plan;
• securing as many highway and other improvements as possible; and
• increasing our conversation with residents so that we never lose touch with what matters most to them.
That is the end of my report – thank you.