February’s Parish Council report began with an unscheduled contribution from Anna Hoyle, who thanked the people of Withiel for their help after her home in Retire burned down last year. People might notice, she said, that she was wearing some of their clothes… she had been left without a stitch, and the community had rallied around to provide for her needs. The insurance assessor had remarked that nothing like that would have happened in Cardiff, where people would be looting her house rather than trying to help her get back into it. “It made me realise what living in Withiel parish was all about, and that is why I wanted to be here and not put in a house in St Austell,” Anna said. “I’ve been her for 30 years, and I belong where I belong.”
She had a cautionary word about insurance. “Check that your insurance covers cob buildings. I had to fight my insurance company because they said I hadn’t told them it was 20 percent cob. I was able to prove that I had, but it’s a salutary lesson.”
Also before the meeting proper, County Councillor Chris Batters said people may have heard the Prime Minister complaining that Cornwall Council had £200 million in reserves. This, he said, was a misrepresentation, as Mr Cameron had included money ring-fenced for use solely on specific projects, not for general Cornwall Council use. It had £17 million of reserves held for schools, the Tamar Bridge, Port of Penryn and Port of Truro; £64m in long term commitments such as repayment costs for assets like school buildings and other projects; £37m held to deliver specific projects funded by central government; £9m for one off costs related to cutting the budget by £196m; and £5m held for insurance purposes. “The actual reserves are in the region of £42 million,” he said. “That is not excessive. Last winters storms brought about an unexpected repair bill for more than £30 million.”
On the subject of storm repairs, David Horne warned that unstable-looking trees are threatening the new footbridge at Lawellan; Parish Council Chairman Sue Kirkby and Footpaths Officer Janet Shearer are to take a look.
During the meeting proper, there was much discussion of Cornwall Council’s decision to stop salting and gritting roads in Withiel, and what might be done about it. There are legal and liability problems with people and parishes doing their own gritting. Parish Clerk Robin Turner is to talk to the Parish’s insurers to establish the facts, and the issue is to be raised at the next Bodmin Community Network meeting.
The Neighbourhood Plan (dealt with in a separate article in this issue of News & Views) was discussed. Chairman Sue Kirkby has done a great deal of preparatory work and has obtained a grant of £474 as seed money to cover preliminary costs. Councillors thanked her for the efforts she has made on our behalf.
The Playing Fields Committee has made an application for £10,000 for improvement work to the Village Hall, the money to come from the ‘Section 106’ payment from the solar farm at Kerriers. The project will ultimately cost £32,000, and the Committee is seeking grants from elsewhere. The Parish Council supported the application unanimously. There was more discussion of an request for £500 seed money from the Ruthern Valley Players to stage a pantomime in 2016; support was agreed by majority vote because the revenue will go to support the Village Hall project.
Other items discussed included road closures for water works, the establishment of a lending library in the Village Hall, superfast Broadband, and finance issues. The full minutes of the meeting will be posted on www.withiel.com.
The next Parish Council meeting will be on March 4th. All are welcome.