IN THE NEWS
How second homes are bringing misery to Britain's seaside towns
An article in the Mail pointing out the issues second homes and Airbnbs are causing across the country.
Luke Pollard’s First Homes Not Second Homes plan is in here in the section on Salcombe and a section on Falmouth with me.
The Tories have created the NHS crisis and should own it
We need to be constantly saying this about the NHS.
Often it feels like shouting into a void. That people have got immune to it and aren’t really *seeing* what’s happening to the service and why.
That 12 years of Tory has made them think it’s inevitable and somehow beyond political.
But, it’s not. The health service and care have been underfunded & neglected by Conservative administrations. They always are.
Our ‘First Homes Not Second Homes’ campaign hits the Telegraph
Out of town cash buyers purchasing holiday homes are a particular problem. “People are struggling to find somewhere to buy but at night there are no lights on in these houses. They are giant piggy banks depriving people of housing,” said Mr Pollard.
Mr Pollard is campaigning for a “First Homes, not Second Homes” manifesto for the South West. This includes calls on the Government to grant local authorities power to quadruple council tax on homes that are empty for most of the year and a licensing scheme for holiday lets.
Top 10 Children's care providers make £300m profit
We’re not in a good place when private companies are making 20% profit margins out of charging councils to look after our most vulnerable children.
This is very worrying - “Councils have reported that spending on residential placements has increased by 84% since 2015, and that they are now diverting funds from areas such as early help for families to meet the spiralling costs”
Financial Times, 16 Mar 2022
Region fears post-Brexit development scheme will leave them short-changed
We are in the Financial Times!
It’s all about the Shared Prosperity Fund and ‘levelling up’ money, or the lack of.
Online link here, if you happen to have an FT subscription!
BBC, 2 Mar 2022
Second homes in Wales could face 300% council tax hikes
They can do this in Labour Wales, as they have devolved powers.
Falmouth Packet, 11 Feb 2022
Holiday lets in Cornwall roughly same amount as families with no home
Campaigners are calling for action after figures showed Cornwall has 15,000 holiday let properties like Airbnbs – roughly the same number as families on social housing waiting lists.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England says that there has been 661% more short term listings in Cornwall as there were five years ago.
The charity also noted that there were roughly 15,000 families on social housing waiting lists as of last September (2021).
This is roughly the same number as the total number of holiday lets available in Cornwall.
For full article:
Leicester Mercury, 10 Feb 2022
Leicester set to declare housing crisis as thousands wait for homes
We tried to do this in Cornwall. I seconded the motion. The Conservatives wouldn’t debate it. Although we did declare a Housing Emergency at Falmouth Town Council level and other councils in Cornwall have followed suit.
Cornwall has nearing 20,000 on our housing list.
BBC, 4 Feb 2022
Cornwall NHS 'busier than any point in pandemic'
Despite two critical incidents being declared and the PM declaring we’re ‘living with covid’ removing all Covid restrictions, Cornwall’s NHS & social care system is still not functioning.
We need some serious support down here with staffing and step down beds for patients to go into after hospital treatment.
Cornwall Live, 4 Feb 2022
Slightly misleading. Households are to get a loan of £200 for energy bills which we’ll all have to pay back over 5 years, and £150 off some council tax bills.
Meanwhile, the energy companies are making millions of pounds in profits. They don’t have to take out loans!
Wouldn’t it have been more sensible to fund help with our bills from a one off tax on those energy companies rather than borrowing it from ourselves?!
Falmouth Packet, 31 Jan 2022
Sue Gray Report: Read the report in full about Boris Johnson party allegations
The report looked at events on 12 individual dates during 2020 and 2021.
The Observor. 23 Jan 2022
Boris Johnson’s ‘bus back better’ plan in tatters as Treasury cuts funding by half
This could really hit Cornwall. The council and our two main bus operators have worked for months to produce a plan to bid for this and improve bus services in Cornwall. If the money’s not forthcoming all that will go.
The Guardian. 12 Dec 2021
Letters: local councils have been undermined
Phillip Inman’s article on the dire state of local government finances sheds a light on what has been going on for decades, something I witnessed as a councillor on various authorities between 1987 and 2017 (“‘Councils have been short-changed. We need more government money’”, Business). Cllr Jayne Kirkham is pulling her punches when she opines that Cornwall has been “short-changed by the government”. In my opinion, local councils have been systematically emasculated by successive governments, at least since the end of the Second World War.
It is time to reform local government finance and structure in England before repatriating some of the powers it used to enjoy. The surviving remnants of the three-tier system in England (county, district, town/parish) need urgently to be replaced by unitary authorities, while retaining and strengthening the town/neighbourhood councils, which would bring English local government broadly in line with its counterparts in the other three UK nations. Council tax needs to be replaced by a local income tax and/or a land value tax. Just don’t give us any more local supremos, aka mayors or governors. Democracy is not safe if it rests in the hands of a single person, regardless of their mandate, as Boris Johnson proves to us every day.
John Marriott North Hykeham, Lincoln
The Guardian. 4 Dec 2021
‘Councils have been short-changed. We need more government money’
Jayne Kirkham, a Labour member of Conservative-controlled Cornwall council, is angry that the county has been “short-changed by the government”. Cornwall is one of the poorest regions in Europe and before Brexit was a beneficiary of EU social funds. It had been due £100m a year over the next seven years from Brussels.
Having originally promised to replace the EU money lost to councils, the government instead opted to distribute cash through a new shared prosperity fund to “reduce inequalities between communities”. Cornwall has so far secured just £1m from this.
Capital funds for building roads and hospitals don’t, however, pay public sector wages. Before next April, Cornwall council plans to cut 410 posts, about 10% of all council jobs, as part of a draft scheme to close a £55m gap in the 2022-23 annual budget. Councillors will consider the plan at a meeting this week.
The Conservatives swept to power in Truro at elections in May this year after all six of Cornwall’s Westminster constituencies went blue on the coat-tails of Boris Johnson’s 2019 victory.
Kirkham says a mix of service reductions – including the closure of four swimming pools – a 3% council tax rise and a drive to outsource more operations to the private sector and charities will prove damaging.
“There simply needs to be more government money,” she says. “A 1% increase in council tax raises only £3m in Cornwall, so it is hard to see how the council can avoid increasing it by as much as it is allowed.”
Proposals include cutting social worker jobs, despite Cornwall’s new administration admitting that both children’s and adult care services face a surge in cases.
A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies earlier this year showed that local authorities were the biggest losers from government austerity measures, suffering budget cuts between 2010 and 2020 of 40% once inflation was taken into account.
Cornwall Live, 1 Sept 2021
Bodmin family of nine faced with splitting up or moving to Wales because of a lack of housing in Cornwall
This kind of thing is happening now due to a glut of landlords selling up/using their property for other things & a dire shortage of emergency accommodation available to the council.
The private sector rental market and the laws around it are failing to meet the need.
We need long term alternatives, hence my motion to Falmouth Town Council next Monday.
BBC, 31 Aug 2021
Covid-19: Support in Devon and Cornwall to be worked out in days
It seems no one yet knows what being an enhanced response area will mean or get us, despite it being announced last Friday!
No wonder no one has got back to my request for what Falmouth needs since Friday then.
What a shower!
The Guardian. 31 Mar 2021
The Brexit Effect on Shellfishing
Shell fishers and farmers are now taking advice on legal action against the government.
Conservative ministers Eustice and Prentis are still arguing that the EU have got their own law wrong, rather than just getting on and sorting out the mess their Brexit deal has created. It stopped dead the exports of live bivalve shellfish to the EU on 1 January 2021. Most of our shellfish is exported to the EU so this has effectively killed the industry.
I put a motion to Cornwall Council about ways we could help the shell fishers here in Cornwall because the Fal River has an iconic shellfish industry. Providing cheap export licences, rent holidays for shell fishers (Cornwall Council charge rent for using the Fal), supporting investment in infrastructure and extra depuration facilities on the Fal, cleaning up our rivers so that our shellfish wouldn’t need to go through a purification process. Unfortunately, my proposals were put on the back burner by Council leaders because the election is coming up. I am still pushing for them to be taken up and will be doing so right up to the election and beyond if I am re-elected in Falmouth Penwerris.
The Council has signed a deal with Brittany this week to try to run a sea link direct from Cornwall to Brittany to speed up the process of getting our shellfish to the restaurants once it has been depurated/purified.
But ultimately, whatever we do in Cornwall we are merely putting a local sticking plaster on a national problem for an industry that has been betrayed and let down by a government and an Environment Secretary so desperate to get a Brexit deal through by Christmas that they didn’t seem to care who got destroyed by it.
The Packet, 30 Mar 2021
Brittany Ferries, Falmouth Docks shellfish export proposal
A PROPOSAL to bring a ferry to Falmouth Docks to take shellfish and seafood back to Brittany in France has been welcomed as a 'game changer' by the sea food sector.
Last week Cornwall Council and the Brittany region signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding which could see Brittany Ferries bringing one of their vessels into Falmouth Docks to load up with shellfish and seafood.
During the meeting Loïg Chesnais-Girard, president of the regional council of Brittany, very firmly put the proposal that he wants to get a freight connection to Cornwall, and wants a ferry link to Cornwall via Brittany Ferries.
The move has been welcomed by local shellfish exporter Martin Laity whose company Sailor's Creek Shellfish operates from Flushing and supports over 50 local fishermen and women.
Mr Laity told the Packet: "It's good news all day long. Good news for Cornwall, good news for Brittany and it's good news for the seafood and fish trade.
"I'm really grateful that they are engaging with the industry. I have talked to friends in the seafood industry, who are big players, and they are like: 'Wow, this is a game changer'."Since the UK left the EU, it has been very difficult for oyster/scallop fishermen to get their catch onto the continent because of stricter rules for non-EU countries wanting to sell ‘live bivalves’ and bottlenecks and delays at ports caused by red tape. Delays are fatal to shellfish.
He said that while Looe and Newlyn had been suggested as possible places for the ferry, 'Looe is a creek with quay and Newlyn has no space.'
"A lot of the groundwork was done by Mike Deeks [former director and general manager of Falmouth Docks]," said Mr Martin. "He collected a lot of data on traffic, roads etc, so Falmouth is the obvious place."
The Packet, 19 Mar 2021
Row over Cornwall leisure centre loans to GLL amid repayment question
A row has broken out over loans provided to leisure centre operators in Cornwall to help them through the Covid lockdown.
Cornwall Council has provided loans to GLL – which operates leisure centres as part of a contract with the council – totalling £3.4 million.
At a meeting of the council’s customer and support services overview and scrutiny committee councillors took the opportunity to quiz Cabinet member Mike Eathorne-Gibbons about the status of those loans.
Labour councillor Jayne Kirkham asked Cllr Eathorne-Gibbons whether the loans would be repaid, what would happen should GLL go into administration and if any security had been provided for the loans.
The Cabinet member responded saying: “It is intended that the loans and grants will be repaid.”
However, this was picked up by Conservative councillor David Harris who said that a report going to the Cabinet contradicted Cllr Eathorne-Gibbons’ response.
Cllr Harris highlighted that in a council performance report it states of the £3.4m loan that “it is considered that there will be a need for a majority of this to be provided for in a bad debt provision”.
In reply Cllr Eathorne-Gibbons said he “noted” what Cllr Harris had said.
However, a clearly angry Cllr Harris said: “There is a difference in giving an answer to Cllr Kirkham which is directly opposed to what is in the papers to Cabinet. Unless what you said was wrong.”
Cllr Eathorne-Gibbons said that it was his “understanding” that the loans would be repaid.
To which Cllr Harris said: “You are a Cabinet member, have you not read the reports? I am not a Cabinet member and I have read them, why can’t you read them?”
The Cabinet member said that he did read the reports and said there was nothing more to say on the matter.
Cllr Harris said it was “unbelievable”.
The committee also heard that the council is continuing a strategic review of leisure centre provision and what should happen going forward.
Cllr Eathorne-Gibbons said that the review had been delayed due to Covid-19 but said that he hoped a report would be available in the autumn.
Cllr Kirkham asked whether all options would be considered including allowing the leisure centres to be run by a charity, community interest company or even taken back in-house at the council.
In reply Cllr Eathorne-Gibbons said that all options would be considered as part of the review, saying that it had to be a “comprehensive approach”.
Pirate FM, 3 Mar 2021
Budget 2021: Reactions from officials across Cornwall
The Chancellor has put coronavirus support for employees and businesses at the centre of his announcement.
The Chancellor has delivered his 2021 Budget with coronavirus recovery at the centre of his announcement.
Rishi Sunak has revealed a number of measures which are set to benefit people and businesses across Cornwall.
Everything from the budget which will affect you:
• The extension of the Furlough scheme until September
• A further extension of the Self Employed Income Support Scheme with 600,000 people who became self-employed last year
• Restart grants to help businesses reopen
• An extension of the reduced rate of 5% VAT for tourism and hospitality businesses for six months
• The 100% business rates holiday extended to June for eligible businesses
• A Super Deduction to encourage investment in businesses
• The introduction of Government-backed 95% mortgages for first time buyers
• The extension of the Stamp Duty holiday for three months
• The scrapping of planned increases in fuel and alcohol duty.
What do MPs in Cornwall think?
The MP for Truro and Falmouth says it gives reassurance to families and businesses.
“Today’s Budget provides businesses and families in Truro and Falmouth with the support and reassurance they need to get through the pandemic.
“With £407 billion of support for families, jobs and businesses, it is right that the Chancellor is honest with the British people about our public finances.
“At the same time, I was elected on a commitment to level up communities like ours, and I am thrilled that this Conservative Government is now making good on that promise – by building our future economy and investing in every corner of the United Kingdom.
“I am also pleased that despite the pandemic, this Government has made the time and found the funds in the past year to continue to invest in Truro and Falmouth, with funding for a new school, new hospital and the continued dualling of the A30, and will continue to do all I can to make sure we get a fair share of national funding as your local MP.”
Cherilyn Mackrory, MP for Truro and Falmouth.
The MP for St Austell and Newquay says it will help Cornwall and the country to build back better.
“This is a Budget that delivers for Cornwall. The extension to the furlough and self-employment-income support schemes are welcome, along with particularly the raft of measures designed to further help our hospitality and tourism industries, which I have long-campaigned for, as we look to ease lockdown measures and re-open for what I hope will be a busy summer season.
“Consumers will also join me in welcoming the continued freezes of fuel and alcohol duty, along with new incentives to help people buy their first homes, with government-back mortgages, and the extension of the Stamp Duty Holiday will help those who have been able to buy homes during the pandemic complete their purchases as planned.
“There is much more to do, but I am proud to be part of this Conservative Government that is doing all it can to help Cornwall and our country recover and build back better.”
Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay.
What does the opposition think?
“It feels a bit like the Chancellor has forgotten about Cornwall in this Budget. Extending the furlough scheme – as Labour has called for previously – will help over tens of thousands of people in Cornwall, and the cut to VAT for the hospitality and tourism industries is welcome, scratch beneath that and there’s a number of issues that go unaddressed.
“Firstly, there was no mention of social care or schools or crime at all; while the very keyworkers who have worked heroically to get us through this crisis are seeing their pay frozen again. The people of Cornwall have got to pay huge hikes to their Council Tax because the Government are refusing to keep their promise to reform Social Care funding or cover the cost of the pandemic.
“Only 2 places in the entire South West received anything from the Towns Fund, neither of those were in Cornwall. There still wasn’t any mention of the Shared Prosperity Fund – or how the money Cornwall receives from the EU Structural Fund would be replaced.
“Labour has been calling for a National Investment Bank for a long time, so it was good to hear the Chancellor take heed of that – I just hope that the government recognises the immense potential of green jobs and growth in Cornwall and will support us appropriately. We need an Investment Bank in Cornwall, not in Leeds. We need local control over our investment."
Cllr. Jayne Kirkham, Labour Deputy Group leader on Cornwall Council
“It’s shocking and depressing that Chancellor has shown so little interest in tackling the national housing crisis. Cornwall has the highest level in the country of households living in fuel poverty. The cut in ‘Green Homes’ funding will hit us particularly hard.
“It’s truly scandalous to see hundreds of millions being handed out to the owners of second properties in Cornwall, when so many local families are finding the cost of housing increasingly unaffordable. Why is the Chancellor not doing more to help Cornwall Council meet this need?
“Perhaps Rishi Sunak needs to talk less to Gordon Ramsay and start listening to local representatives who know how big the gap is in Cornwall between local earnings and local housing costs, is in Cornwall and understand the consequences of this for Cornish communities.
“Stamp duty holidays and 95% mortgages are not going to help most of the Cornish families in need of decent quality, genuinely affordable, secure homes’.”
Cllr. Cornelius Olivier.
Where the budget reportedly 'falls short'
The TUC says the budget 'falls far short' of the level of action it wants to see.
It says the overall level of public investment to stimulate recovery has 'not been increased' by the budget.
The TUC budget submission called for the chancellor to:
• Extend the job retention scheme to the end of 2021, and bring in a wage floor to prevent furlough pay falling below the minimum wage
• Fast-track £85 billion investment in green infrastructure to create 1.2 million jobs over the next two years
• Make permanent the £20 per week increase in universal credit, and end the five-week wait for new universal credit claimants to receive payment.
• Unlock the 600,000 jobs in public services needed to fill vacancies and gaps.
• Fix statutory sick pay by raising it to £330 per week (to match the level of the real Living Wage) and extend eligibility to the two million low-paid workers currently excluded from SSP.
• Raise the national minimum wage to at least £10 per hour.
• Retain the Union Learning Fund, which supports 200,000 workplace learners annually.
• Increase child benefit and child tax credit and remove the two-child limit.
Falmouth Packet, 3 Mar 2021
Smithick, Falmouth residents car parking zone not feasible.
CAR owners in the Smithick area of Falmouth will not be getting a Residents' Parking Zone because the situation is so bad that even with one there is no guarantee they would find a legal parking space.
This was the view of Cornwall Council's transport and parking department after a request for a feasibility study into a Residents' Parking Zone (RPZ) was requested by its ward councillor Jayne Kirkham.
Falmouth Packet, 14 Feb 2021
Cornwall Council to prioritise spending with local suppliers.
Cornwall Council has agreed to place a new emphasis on ensuring that it spends more money locally after pressure from a Falmouth county councillor.
The council’s Cabinet has agreed to accept a series of recommendations which were made following an inquiry into working with a developing local supply chains.
As well as ensuring that more of the council’s cash is spent with Cornish companies the changes will also ensure that those suppliers also provide social value – such as by paying their staff a decent wage, provide training and opportunities for staff and improving health.
Cornwall Live, 22 Jan 2019
Demand for council to declare a 'climate emergency' in Cornwall
A motion calling on the council to do more about climate change has been proposed by Liberal Democrat councillor Dominic Fairman and supported by his colleague and Cabinet member Edwina Hannaford but Labour's Jane Kirkham wants it to go further.
Cornwall Council is set to debate what more the authority can do to tackle climate change but councillors are in disagreement before the meeting starts.
A motion calling on the council to do more about climate change has been proposed by Liberal Democrat councillor Dominic Fairman and supported by his colleague and Cabinet member Edwina Hannaford.
The motion also has support from other Lib Dem and independent members of the council.
However Labour councillor Jayne Kirkham will table an amendment to the motion which she says is a "watery version".
Explaining on her Facebook page that she had had many emails about the issue she added: "I supported a bolder motion to align Cornwall with other councils who want to take urgent action on global warming.
"Labour have strong policy on climate change and the green economy. We were also the government who enacted the Climate Change Act.
"Therefore, I have proposed an amendment to the listed motion, seconded by a Conservative councillor, Martyn Alvey, to restore the motion to something that aligns with the declarations made by Manchester, London, Brighton and other councils around the world."
In her motion Cllr Kirkham calls on the council to "declare a climate emergency". This is an internationally recognised declaration which has been used by authorities in the UK and across the world to acknowledge the impact of the changing climate.
The amendment also urges the council: "Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources necessary to achieve the target for Cornwall to become carbon neutral by 2030 and commit to work with other councils with similar ambitions."
Cllr Kirkham has included the wording of the original motion as well but has amended to stating that the council aim to move towards carbon neutral by 2030.
The climate change is one of three that will be discussed at the full council meeting on Tuesday (January 22). The other two concern a tick box for the Cornish on the 2021 census and another to address under-resourcing of the council's countryside access team.
Falmouth Packet, 17 Jan 2021
Falmouth councillor launches laptop appeal for pupils.
AN appeal to find laptops for pupils in Falmouth who don't have them to study online at home has been launched by a concerned town councillor.
Falmouth town councillor Jayne Kirkham says she has been in contact with a number of Falmouth schools and some report that their students do not all have the equipment to be able to study online from home ...
Cornwall Live, 2 July 2020
Cornwall Council spends almost half its money on contractors from outside the county
Councillor Jayne Kirkham says council should support local companies and help protect and create jobs with 47.7% of council spending going outside Cornwall.
A bid has been launched to get Cornwall Council to spend more money locally and use providers which are environmentally friendly and socially responsible as it is revealed that almost half of its spending leaves the county.
Labour councillor Jayne Kirkham is set to table a motion at next week's full council meeting urging the council to spend more of its budget with local firms.
And, at the same time, she is aiming to encourage the council to give those firms which share the council's environmental and social aims more priority.
The Falmouth councillor has been backed by Conservative councillor Philip Desmonde and said there was clear cross-party support for the idea.
Cllr Kirkham's motion, which will be tabled at Tuesday's (July 7) meeting, states: "This council resolves to use its spending to improve our local communities, economy and environment."
The motion states that due to the impact that COVID-19 has had on the economy "it is critical that we use the money we have to drive economic recovery in Cornwall on a scale that we have never seen before".
Documents going to the council meeting state that 47.4% of the money spent on contracts for Cornwall Council goes to businesses registered outside of Cornwall.
In addition 33% goes to large businesses outside Cornwall - those with more than 250 employees.
Cllr Kirkham said that the council should be looking to encourage and support more small and medium-sized businesses in Cornwall to be able to win contracts.
Speaking about her motion she said: "It is an unusual case where Labour and Conservative interests have aligned. Cllr Desmonde is looking at it from a Cornish business angle while I am thinking about it in a much wider way.
"It is not a new idea. Councils in Manchester and Preston have already done this and have boosted the local economy and helped local companies and organisations.
"On the social policy value we should be looking to use suppliers that look after employees, provide apprenticeships and also have a local supply chain themselves.
"For the environment side we should be looking to use more local suppliers to cut down on the distance that needs to be travelled to provide those services - we should not be getting things from the north when they can be supplied more locally. It doesn't make sense.
"I want these things to be the thread that runs through everything that we do."
Cllr Kirkham is also hoping to encourage the council to simplify its procedures to make it easier for local companies to bid for contracts, saying that at present it can be complicated.
Cornish Stuff, 2 July 2020
Spend local for a greener, socially responsible Cornwall
A bid has been launched to get Cornwall Council to spend more locally and use providers which are environmentally friendly and socially responsible.
Labour councillor Jayne Kirkham is set to table a motion at next week’s full council meeting urging the council to spend more of its budget with local firms.
And, at the same time, she is aiming to encourage the council to give those firms which share the council’s environmental and social aims more priority.
Jayne, who also introduced the Climate Change Emergency amendment to the Council in 2019, told Cornish Stuff
“Cornwall has been hit hard economically by the Covid pandemic and we thought this was a good time to propose a different way for Cornwall Council to choose its suppliers and use its spend to help the people of Cornwall, the environment and support the Cornish economy as much as possible. We hope our other partner organisations will follow our lead”
This motion takes two themes to be prioritised when the Council decide who to choose to carry out work or provide services for us and how that work will be done in the future.
to maximise Social Value and
to minimise Climate Impact
in every contract we award, rather than awards just being based on cost and quality.
Jayne continued “The idea comes from Labour councils such as Manchester and Preston who have increased the amount they spend in their local areas drastically and had very positive effects on their local communities and economies by using these criteria when awarding contracts.
They ask suppliers to work with them to use local goods and employees, minimise their carbon footprint, provide local training and apprenticeships, build the capacity and sustainability of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors and many other criteria set out in the motion and in Cornwall Council’s Social Value Policy 2016.
The motion also looks at the methods by which suppliers have to bid for contracts. Currently bidding for a contract to do work for Cornwall Council can be a very laborious procedure. We would like to streamline that process so that smaller local providers will be able and supported to bid more. The Council are already re-organising to set up an online platform. We would like to simplify the process even further.”
The Labour councillor has been backed by Pool and Tehidy Conservative councillor Philip Desmonde and said that there was clear cross party support for the idea.
In her motion, which will be tabled at Tuesday’s (July7) meeting, it states: “This council resolves to use its spending to improve our local communities, economy and environment.”
The motion states that due to the impact that COVID-19 has had on the economy “it is critical that we use the money we have to drive economic recovery in Cornwall on a scale that we have never seen before”.
Documents going to the council meeting state that 47.4% of the money spent on contracts for Cornwall Council goes to businesses registered outside of Cornwall.
In addition 33% goes to large businesses outside Cornwall – those with more than 250 employees.
29% of contract spend goes to Corserv companies and is counted as spend in Cornwall. This is not always the case. Only just over 5% of spend goes to Cornish businesses with between 1 and 10 employees.
Cllr Kirkham said that the council should be looking to encourage and support more small and medium sized businesses in Cornwall to be able to win contracts.
Speaking about her motion she said: “It is an unusual case where Labour and Conservative interests have aligned. Cllr Desmonde is looking at it from a Cornish business angle while I am thinking about it in a much wider way.
“It is not a new idea, councils in Manchester and Preston have already done this and have boosted the local economy and helped local companies and organisations.
“On the social policy value we should be looking to use suppliers that look after employees, provide apprenticeships and also have a local supply chain themselves.
“For the environment side we should be looking to use more local suppliers to cut down on the distance that needs to be travelled to provide those services – we should not be getting things from the north when they can be supplied more locally. It doesn’t make sense.
“I want these things to be the thread that runs through everything that we do.”
She also said that where the council was looking for services which could not be provided in Cornwall then it should be working with companies which could train staff to acquire the skills needed to provide those services.
“As a council that is something that we could commission, we can bring people down here and get local people trained and set up so that we end up having similar suppliers in the local area.
“All this will help to build up Cornwall, create jobs and a decent wage for people.”
Cllr Kirkham said that she thought people would be surprised by how much Cornwall Council spends outside the Duchy.
She added: “If you keep that money in Cornwall you keep the profit in Cornwall which would, in turn, be spent in Cornwall, with Cornish businesses.
“If it flows out then that profit goes out of Cornwall and will never come back.”
The motion is now not expected to be debated at full council as Council Officers have recommended it be sent for consideration to the Cabinet which will then make a recommendation to full council.
Jayne told Cornish Stuff she was disappointed by the officers recommendation rather than debate and vote on it next Tuesday.
“Myself and Philip Desmonde have done a lot of work over a number of months talking to officers and members to explain the concepts behind it and why it matters.” she said. “I am disappointed that it is likely to be referred to cabinet rather than voted on at full council because, if it were passed at full council, it would immediately become policy. If it goes to committee or cabinet there is always the possibility it will get changed or sidelined. However, the main recommendation is for a new framework to be drawn up and I intend to have input into that and it will be scrutinised.
Cornish Stuff, 25 Feb 2020
Where is the PM’s plan for Social Care?
Today was Budget day at Cornwall Council.
Comment & Opinion by Councillor Jayne Kirkham (Falmouth Smithick; Deputy Group Leader, Labour)
The budget was very late this year and hence, very difficult to scrutinise or plan an alternative.
The budget is also full of holes after 2021 and does not balance for the last 3 years of the term.
Take social care for example. That has a budget gap for 2021/2 of over £10million. The council administration have given no idea how that gap will be filled.
There is no long term settlement for social care from central government. The social care budget is made up of ad hoc one year payments. There is no clarity past next year. The £1.5 billion for social care promised by the government turns out to be a third comprised of a council tax increase of 2% this year on top of the maximum 1.99% council tax rise allowed by government.
That is why council tax is going up nearly 4% plus the rises for the town and parish council and police precepts. Council tax is a regressive and unfair tax.
We have been waiting for years for a green paper for social care so that it can be properly and strategically reconsidered and funded differently. The PM said during the general election that he had a plan for social care. Where is it?
We can’t employ and train care staff if we don’t know if we will have the money to continue their employment next year. This is particularly worrying considering that after December, recruitment from abroad will be curtailed because of the government’s new immigration policy.
I listened to Prof Michael Marmot talk about his report on Health Inequalities on the radio this morning. He said that we have lost a decade. He said cuts in funding in deprived areas outside London have deeply affected the people there. He said that the poorest women’s life expectancy has fallen.
He also said that early intervention in children’s lives to reduce poverty was vital.
That justified all that the last Labour government did with Surestart, preschool funding and tax credits which lifted a million children out of poverty. All those people are now being shunted onto Universal Credit and inequality is increasing.
Local government has been ignored by the Tories for so long, Public Health has been cut out of the NHS & given back to councils and then cut. Next year it will no longer even be ringfenced. The government must produce a long term plan for local government expenditure and complete the fair funding review so that councils can plan ahead.
Cllr Olivier (Penzance) put an alternative budget in for a 2 year capital fund of £0.5 million for local communities to bid for capital investment in buildings for youth services to go in. This would not have affected services or revenue and would have helped with matchfunding for youth projects. It was not accepted.
We were pleased, however, that the council accepted the recommendations of the Vitality of Towns Inquiry and agreed to set up a towns fund of £4 million to support Cornish high streets.
Cornish & Devon Post, 23 Feb 2021
Cornwall council tax bills to rise by almost 5%
CORNWALL Council has agreed its budget for the coming year, which includes raising council tax bills by 4.99%.
However, while the budget plans for 2021/22 and business plan for the next four years was voted through, it did not receive support from Conservative or Labour councillors.
With council elections set for May, the council meeting this morning (Tuesday) was dominated by a clear division between the Liberal Democrat/Independent administration and Conservative opposition.
The Liberal Democrat and Independent Cabinet had proposed the budget and the increase in council tax, which includes a 1.99% general increase and an additional 3% to fund adult social care.
For a Band D property in Cornwall, it means that Cornwall Council’s share of the council tax will increase by £1.52 a week.
No alternative budget proposals had been put forward by councillors ahead of the online meeting this morning.
Council deputy leader Adam Paynter proposed the budget plans saying that the decision to increase council tax had not been made “lightly”.
He said that it had been one of the most difficult years in which to set a budget due to the uncertainties posed by COVID-19 and the lack of a long-term funding commitment for councils from the government.
Conservative councillor David Harris opened his comments by acknowledging that setting the budget must have been difficult and the challenges being faced by the council.
However, he then set out why he and the Conservative group was unable to support the budget.
He first highlighted proposed savings which include £18m from adult social care and another £3.5m which are “flex targets”, which he said would more accurately be described as “hope targets”.
Cllr Harris said that a “Herculean effort will be needed to reach these targets”.
The Conservative councillor said that there were a number of areas “where this council has failed or set itself up to fail”.
He said that every Cabinet member should be challenging where things were going wrong.
Cllr Harris said that adult social care had “missed every savings target” and that a new IT system had gone £8m over budget.
He highlighted the council’s estate transformation plan which he said was rejected by a scrutiny committee which was “ignored” by the Cabinet.
And he said that the budget for that project had increase from £87m to £100m.
Cllr Harris also raised concerns about the council’s capital programme which was now totalling £1.3billion and said that this included borrowing £700m and would result in the council paying £21m in interest every year.
He said: “I don’t dispute we need to spend capital money but our record here is not good.”
The Conservative councillor listed problems with the Saints Trail project, Langarth Garden Village and the Pydar Street regeneration as examples of where the council’s capital programme had faltered.
He closed his comments saying that the money to pay for the projects “does not come from the magic money tree, it comes from the people of Cornwall”.
Malcolm Brown, speaking on behalf of the Lib Dem group, said that Cllr Harris was inviting the council to reject the budget.
He said: “I find that totally unacceptable as no alternative has been put forward.”
Cllr Brown said that councillors had had numerous opportunities to propose alternative budgets since the autumn and none had come from the Conservatives.
He also highlighted that the council was proposing a council tax increase at the same rate as had been approved by Conservative councils in Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire.
Cllr Brown said: “My main feeling is not annoyance but sorrow that the council cannot come together at a time when we are facing new challenges, opportunities and uncertainties.”
He added: “None of my colleagues like that we are having to put council tax up so much. But if we do not do what the government expects us to do, we will be penalised in the future and Cornwall will suffer.”
Mebyon Kernow leader Dick Cole said that his group would “be acting responsibly” and support the budget proposals.
He said: “We could have chosen to play politics and vote against the budget and protest against council tax rises but that would have been totally the wrong thing to do.”
Cllr Cole added: “We surely need to be coming together as a council and doing more to put pressure on the government to find a new and fairer way to fund services in Cornwall.”
Labour councillor Jayne Kirkham said that the Government had again passed the responsibility for funding adult social care to local taxpayers.
She said that around £1,000 of an average council tax bill in Cornwall would be spent on adult social care and that the council now relied on council tax for 75% of its income which she said was “too big a burden” on local taxpayers.
Cllr Kirkham said: “Council tax is an unfair and aggressive tax and business rates are becoming unworkable. This council is in a really difficult, horrible position.”
Conservative councillor Dave Biggs responded to councillors who highlighted that his group had not proposed an alternative budget.
He said that if they had done so it would have cost the council to draw up that proposal which he said would be “irresponsible” as he said it would almost certainly be voted down.
When the budget and business plan was put to the vote it was passed with 67 votes in favour, 42 against and one abstention.
Unison South West, 16 May 2017
Candidate profile: Jayne Kirkham
In our second interview with a UNISON member running for Parliament on June 8, we talked to Jayne Kirkham about the realities of life in Cornwall and what motivated her to stand to be an MP.
Stretching from north to south coast, Truro and Falmouth covers some of England’s most beautiful landscapes. Living standards are squeezed, though, with average wages almost ten percent lower than the GB average. Over one in five people work in care and health-related jobs, so the crisis in social care is an everyday reality for them and their families.
Standing for election on June 8 in Truro and Falmouth is UNISON member Jayne Kirkham. Jayne works as a teaching assistant and is steward at Falmouth school.
Before moving to Cornwall she worked as a solicitor for Thompsons and specialised in health and safety cases – including some on behalf of UNISON.
Why are you running for Parliament?
I am running for Parliament and for Labour because I worry that the country, and Cornwall, won’t stand another five years of the Tories.
What did you learn from being in UNISON?
I learned from UNISON that organising together is the best way to stand up for workers. I saw too how public services are being squeezed hard and that wages are dropping painfully in real terms.
What would you say to public service workers voting in this election?
Labour wants to change things for the better for you. Getting rid of the pay cap for NHS workers, a decent level of minimum wage, banning unwanted zero hours contracts, new rights for unions, protecting workers’ rights especially if and when we leave the EU, and building houses you can afford to live in.
What do you think the key public service issues are in your constituency?
Low pay and job insecurity are a real issue in Truro and Falmouth. Also, terms and conditions being eroded when workers are pushed into the private sector and the cap on public sector pay meaning that public sector workers are getting poorer in real terms. Affordable housing for key workers too. These are all things Labour plans to tackle when in government.
What issues do you particularly care about in politics / your constituency?
I care a great deal about secure jobs and low pay in Cornwall. Also about the NHS and the changes that are due to shut local hospitals. There’s also academisation and the drop in funding per pupil for our schools by 2020. I work in a good school, so I feel very strongly about cuts in school funding.