18 November 2009

I shall post here continuing good news for Cornwall, developments which will positively help the people of Cornwall and the local economy and everyday lives. Everyone who wants the people of Cornwall to succeed in the modern world will welcome them. This post covers the second half of 2009. Vorsprung Cornwall 1 and 2 cover 2007, Vorsprung Cornwall 3 and 4 cover 2008, and Vorsprung Cornwall 5 covers the first half of 2009.

* Tonight, 18 November, is the festival of lights in Truro. People parade the streets, often in costume, on floats with lanterns they have made, young people to the fore. It is a newish thing for Truro but defying the winter dark with lights is as old as the hills. A joyous night, Cornwall celebrating, confident, happy.

* The Ofsted inspection of Gwinear primary school describes it as “an outstanding school.” Read the 24 October 2009 report here and note the many outstanding scores. (November 2009)

* The September festival at St Ives is now in full swing, a fortnight of music, guitars aplenty, song, drama, open art studios, and poetry recitals. The festival goes on strongly. Indeed, Cornwall has numerous festivals: for example, Trevithick day in Camborne, Golowan and Mazey day in Penzance, Obby Oss in Padstow, Run to the sun and the music festival in Newquay, the agricultural show in Wadebridge, and next month Lowender Perran in Perranporth, and many more. There is a strong celebratory and varied culture across the county. Art galleries, publicly and privately owned, everywhere in Cornwall are putting on exhibitions throughout the year.

* Business Cornwall reports that the pottery at Lelant in west Cornwall is closing as the owners are retiring but a wine shop and cafe is to open in the premises and that £480 000 is to be spent on improvements at Carn Brea Leisure Centre at Camborne. These are good stories of enterprise and investment in Cornwall when we face economic difficulties. Additionally, three gangmasters have lost their licences after an investigation into the living conditions and wages (and other matters) of some migrant workers. This is positive news that the authorities will act to protect workers and this enhances Cornwall’s reputation and supports the work of decent gangmasters. (September 2009)

* The report by John Mills into the temporary and unplanned closure of Newquay airport as it transformed into a civilian airport has now been published. There are some criticisms about management of risks and the project and some sensible recommendations for the future but nothing alarming. Mills rightly sums up the airport project as having “created a vital and excellent asset for the benefit of the whole county.” It’s important to recognise that. (August 2009)

* A parliamentary answer shows how much unsung outstanding progress has been made in council house standards in Cornwall. Three former districts, Caradon, Carrick, and North Cornwall had council houses; the other districts had disposed of theirs. In 2004 a large 46 percent of these council houses in Cornwall failed to meet the decent homes standard; in 2008 this had fallen to 7 percent. In numbers the fall was from 4964 houses to 767. That is still too many and the 2008 percentage in former Caradon, 14 percent, is much too high but government and local councils have worked well to tackle this in Cornwall and throughout England and make homes decent for people. The new unitary council must continue with this work.

The detailed data is at DEP 2009-2057 here (July 2009).


3 December 2008

The RAF has run a military airport at St Mawgan, near Newquay; and for a while now Cornwall county council has at the same place run a commercial, civilian airport, called Newquay, Cornwall airport. The RAF provided the air traffic control. The county council was right to step in a few years back and take over the commercial part of the airport; it was costly to do this but right to ensure that in the twenty-first century Cornwall had an airport to help its economy and people. For this and for the continual development of the airport the county council deserve much credit.

In 2006 the RAF announced its decision to close down the military side in 2008; this was two years advance notice for the county council who was to take over the air traffic control and fire services there and obtain a CAA licence. In March this year the RAF delayed their withdrawal from 1 August 2008 until 1 December to help the county council. In a media statement the council said the delay would ensure a “seamless overnight handover” and a “seamless transition.”

However, two years later, December, and the council isn’t ready and the RAF has said its people are committed to other work elsewhere and their deadline cannot be altered again. The upshot is that at the last minute the airport has closed to passengers for about three weeks while the county council gets up to speed. The date of reopening is only a hope at present and not guaranteed.

Let’s get this clear. The county council is run by the Liberal Democrats who hold all the portfolio (executive or cabinet) posts; county council officers work under Liberal Democrat direction and supervision. At bottom, no matter what the part of others might turn out to be, this airport foul up is down to the Liberal Democrat administration at the county council which appears to have been surprised by the lack of readiness. Ironically the council’s newspaper for this month has a two-page spread on the council’s “masterplan” for the airport. The Libdem administration should accept responsibility for the foul up because it is responsible for it.

It isn’t just the airport, is it? This is the Libdem council that fouled up about the county’s fire service . This is the Libdem council that foisted the unitary council on to an unconvinced electorate, albeit with the active support of the Labour government. This is the Libdem council that took so long to agree on unitary councillor numbers that unitary elections have been postponed until, well, no one knows but perhaps June but probably autumn next year. This is the Libdem council that will probably not have all the unitary elements in place until even later than that. This is the Libdem council of whom assessment reports do not glow. Did I mention their council newspaper, Your Cornwall, delivered free to all households in Cornwall and which this month had only five job advertisements, though such advertisements were to help to pay for it?

Three months ago I put up a quiz about the Liberal Democrats in Cornwall after the unitary seats nonsense: was their county administration a pantomime, or a farce, a circus, an opera buffa, a burlesque, or a cabaret? That was before the shambles of the airport. Eventually, at some ever-receding date we shall get the chance to vote on this Liberal Democrat record.

Additamentum 18 December 2008
The Civil Aviation Authority has now granted Newquay Cornwall airport an operating licence and the airport will reopen on 20 December 2008.