A long and lively Parish Council meeting covered a lot of ground on August 3rd; we welcomed a delegation from St Breock Parish Council, led by their Chairman Ray Jarrett, who sought our support to change the arrangement under which WREN, the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network, administers the community fund from St Breock Down wind farm.
Mr. Jarrett was critical of WREN’s management of the wind turbine money, saying it was not cost-effective, the administrative fee of £10,000 was excessive, and WREN’s accounting and auditing procedures were not transparent enough. When setting up the management structure for dealing with the fund, Cornwall Council had consulted with the developer REG Windpower and WREN, but not with the parishes most directly concerned. The fund should instead, he proposed, be administered by the St. Breock parish council as the relevant body where the turbines were situated. St Breock would disburse the money in a wholly transparent and auditable manner. The £10,000 management fee would be added to the main fund and divided up pro rata among the seven parishes entitled to bid. He is currently doing the rounds of the various parishes to make the case and solicit their support. Withiel councillors pointed out that, to make the change, he would have to approach Cornwall Council to renegotiate the arrangements. With that proviso, it was agreed to support St. Breock’s case.
We also welcomed Steve Walker, vice chair of Lanivet Parish Council, who seeks a rebalancing of power on the Area Network Panel. This is a body that brings together all the local councils around Bodmin, but Councillor Walker pointed out that it has effectively been ‘hijacked’ by Bodmin Town Council, which had the resources to engineer outcomes and was hoovering up all the money from the development funds. He proposed that the parishes around Bodmin form a body to formulate a joint approach and ensure they got a fair hearing at the Area Network Panel, and this idea was warmly supported by Withiel Parish Council.
The Council discussed four of planning applications and voted unanimously to support them; a holiday let development at Gwynne Moor; an extension at Wayside Cottage, Tregawne (Councillor Nott-Bower declared an interest and left the meeting); and a garden building at the Old Rectory in Withiel, with a rider questioning whether neighbours had been consulted. The PC had been asked by Cornwall Council’s planning officers to reconsider its support for the development of a shed at Trebois, voted for at the last meeting. The planning officer had ruled against it, saying among other things that it was too isolated, and was undesirable because whomever lived in it would be reliant on a private car. Councillors questioned whether the planning officer had ever seen the site; Councillor Coy said the claim of ‘isolation’ was specious as there were 15 houses within 200 metres, on all sides. Councillor Malone said the notion that Withiel had insufficient facilities would effectively rule out any development in the Parish, especially those which had been opposed by the Parish Council but driven through by the planning officers against our wishes. It was decided unanimously to reiterate our support for the development, and seek a hearing at the County Council Planning Committee.
Councillor Cubitt reported on progress with the Neighbourhood Development Plan, and also on Cornwall Council’s review of governance; this is a consultation on how local government should be structured. Four possible models are offered – directly-elected mayors (favoured by national government); an annually-elected leader who appoints a cabinet; a committee structure; or something as yet unspecified. Option 2 (the current system in Cornwall) was the system of choice, directly-elected mayors least-favoured.
Councillor Shearer reported from her attendance at the Bodmin Community Network meeting on 13th July on a new initiative by the current Police and Crime Commissioner which aims to make sure that the police are present at the heart of the community and is asking the public to engage with a survey online at the following link:
Comments are invited until 9th September. Full details of the BCN meetings are on their website.
Councillors began debating how a passing place might be provided on the road between Withiel and Coddles – the long straight leading up to the junction. Various difficulties must be overcome, including procurement of land, and it was agreed to work out details and approach the County Council’s Highways Department.
The next meeting of the Council is on September 7th at 7:15pm; all are welcome.