Archive | December, 2013

Does Cornwall really have a budget crisis?

14 Dec

Every time you open a paper of listen to the local news, you hear how services are being cut to save money for the cash strapped Local Authority.
I cannot help feeling there must be some kind of political choice being exercised over what is cut and what is not.

Recently, I have heard that Cornwall Council are going to withdraw the service for spraying weeds sprouting through the pavements and paths. This is now going to be down to Parish and Town Councils. In most cases it has been suggested that the local contractor responsible for grass cutting in the Parish takes on the weed control, provided they have suitable training. However, nobody is going to perform this additional duty for free, and so the cost will be met from the Parish precept or rate. In other words the public will have to dip into their pocket for extra payment.

There are areas of Cornwall Council expenditure where it is not quite so easy to turn off the tap. These include duties performed by so called “arms length” bodies, who provide out sourced services. They rely on their income from contracts with Cornwall Council. One of these bodies is Cormac.

Now for some reason, it would appear that more work has to be found for Cormac employees. It cannot be that there are no pot holes to fill or roads to resurface, it might be that Tarmac is difficult to work in the cold weather, or that the budget for road work has been spent. Therefore somebody has had to sit down and dream up something else to keep Cormac workers employed.

The thing that they have come up with concerns parking, or rather no parking. It turns out that if you have a stretch of yellow lines, parking regulations cannot be enforced unless you display a sign saying how parking is restricted.
Some of you who have spent a quiet off-season day at Poly Joke, or West Pentire, or a relaxing pint at the Bowgie, will know the narrow road leading from Crantock village to the headland car park. This stretch of about three quarters of a mile has yellow lines either side, and is in any case too narrow to park on, or traffic would be unable to pass.

In recent days, without any reference to local people or the Parish Council, Cormac have erected 57 two metre metal posts either side of this stretch of road with plates at the top that state that parking is restricted April to September. This unfortunately infers that parking is allowed at other times. This is a very scenic area and these poles are hideous.

Therefore when it comes to spending money, green weeds no – metal weeds yes.

Keep warm this winter – burn a few coalition manifestos

2 Dec

The Coalition’s latest latest pronouncements on energy price rises is a sham, and once again will cause Cornwall to suffer more than any other part of the UK.

The latest statements by Coalition apologists indicate that the massive profits of the energy companies will not be affected at all by the ruse dreamed up to deflect the flack caused by the predicted price hike of £170 per year for the average householder. Under the new scheme the Government will not be forcing the energy companies to reduce their prices, but will be funding the reduction by a hit on the taxpayers from general income tax.

One might be forgiven for thinking that as we have very few high earners in Cornwall, this would be a benefit to us, City rich kids paying our bills. Not a bit of it! The effect on the taxpayer is being softened by adjustments to the “Green Levy”. The part of this fund that will be altered, is the part that provides money for the insulation of homes occupied by the poor and disabled. The project won’t be stopped, just slowed so that the cost can be spread over a longer period. The part of it that will be put right to the back of the queue, or so they have stated, is the payment for the biggest cost improvement, that where property has a solid wall without a cavity.

As you might have guessed, over 50% of Cornwall’s housing stock falls into this category. This is mainly because of poor build quality in days gone by, the age of the housing stock, and the number of historic and listed buildings with cob walls or similar structure.

The reason given by the Government for not reducing the profits of the energy companies is because they are supposed to use a proportion of this for improving the infrastructure. If you consider the means of heating an average room, electricity is twice as expensive as the cheapest, and oil is a third as expensive but rising. The cheapest is gas. There is no high-pressure gas main in Cornwall, and less than 50% of houses are on any sort of gas supply.

Never mind, cuddle up to an MK member to keep warm, nobody else will do the trick!