May Parish Council report

Parish Council Chairman Sue Kirkby has relinquished the Chair because of ill-health, and a tribute to her hard work by County Councillor Chris Batters drew loud applause from a dozen members of the public at the May meeting of the Council. Sue said she thought the stress of the chairmanship may prove too much for her, and Coun Batters praised the super job she had done since she took over the Chair in 2013. Sue will continue as a councillor, and will also work on the Neighbourhood Plan for Withiel, for which she has been largely responsible.

Janet Shearer was elected Chairman, with only Councillor Harper voting against, although he offered no alternative candidate. David Cubitt was unanimously elected Vice Chairman, while Councillor Nott-Bower agreed to take over Read more

Yet another wind farm

Withiel Parish Council has objected to a plan to establish another wind farm in the area, this one of five turbines 360 feet tall at Scotland Corner above Rosenannon. The Council has told Cornwall’s planners that there are already 41 turbines visible from the Downs above Withiel, which is probably a greater concentration of turbines than anywhere in Britain, and more are in the planning process. Not only is the cumulative impact ruining the landscape, and thus affecting tourism and property prices, but the local Grid is unable to cope with the random, intermittent generation Read more

Withiel Parish Council Report – February 2015

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 Read more

Neighbourhood Plan

A meeting to discuss a Neighbourhood Plan for Withiel, held before the February Parish Council meeting, attracted 15 people who endorsed Council Chairman Sue Kirkby’s suggestion that work should continue this year on producing a Plan for the area.

The Government is promoting the production of Neighbourhood Plans, which it says will be taken into account when important decisions affecting parishes are taken. The Withiel Plan will eventually form part of the Cornwall Local Plan and will establish where development can be expected to take place, among other things.

The work on bringing the Neighbourhood Plan to this point Read more

Money for community projects

Withiel Parish Council’s money from the solar farm at Kerriers has finally been lodged with Cornwall County Council and is now available for community benefit projects. The first applicant will be the Playing Fields Committee, who have ambitious plans to improve the Village Hall.

Parish Council Chairman Sue Kirkby, who has been pursuing the new owners of the solar farm for this ‘Section 106’ money, reported to the January meeting of the Parish Council that £35,000 had now been paid, and that the County will hold the money while the Parish Council vets applications for grants. Anyone in the community can apply, she added, but the stipulation is that any project must benefit the whole community.

Councillor Simon Coy, who chairs the Playing Fields Committee, told the council that an application currently being worked up would seek some £10,000 Read more

Parish Council to reduce tax

Withiel Parish Council has reduced its precept for 2015, meaning that people in Withiel will pay less tax to the council next year. The precept has been cut by £250, a small saving for every household. Councillors discussed cutting the precept even further, but decided in the interests of prudence to maintain a stronger reserve. With the County Council facing cuts of £194 million, the economic situation is far from clear.

From a financial standpoint the last year has been very successful for Withiel. The council’s inadequate cash reserves have been rebuilt and now meet the guideline of 50 percent of the precept. While a careful rein has been kept on spending, a major benefit arises from the fact that Councillor Simon Coy acted as Clerk on an honorary basis, reducing our biggest item of expenditure to near zero. This situation could not continue indefinitely, but Read more

Motorcycle noise – an end in sight?

The intractable problem of motorcycling in Cork Woods, which has defeated Parish Councils for years, seems to be coming to a resolution, Withiel Parish Council believes. At its November meeting, clarity was obtained for the first time on who owns what land, and Councillor Harry Harper said he had stopped the motorcycling in his fields and the portion of Cork Woods he owns.

The Council is also pushing ahead with the Neighbourhood Emergency Plan and has begun planning for next year’s precept, and is warning that with Cornwall Council facing budget cuts of £194 million over four years, services they currently provide may disappear. If town and parish councils take the work on, they’ll have to pay for it themselves.

The meeting opened with a tribute to the late Ivan Martyn. Councillor Coy said Ivan had given years of service to Withiel Parish Council as Clerk and as a Councillor. He brought to the Council the benefit of his wide legal experience and a wealth of local knowledge, and was instrumental in getting the Village Hall built. A minute’s silence was observed in recognition of Read more

MP hears Withiel’s concerns

North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson attended the October meeting of Withiel Parish Council but held out no hope that he would help stop the spread of wind turbines. He was more positive on better broadband, and on the money Withiel is owed for the solar farm at Kerriers – but on turbines, the shutters are down.

It was pointed out that while Cornwall Council claims it is encouraging the proliferation of turbines because of national policy, other counties have not interpreted that policy in the same way – in fact this tiny parish has more wind turbines than Surrey, Sussex and Kent put together. Mr Rogerson said this was because the wind was in the west, but if you’ve stood on Beachy Head or Box Hill you’ll know there are many places in the Home Counties where wind turbines would be just as valid – or as useless – as Withiel. If the government was doing to the Home Counties what it is doing to Cornwall, there would be a riot.

Mr Rogerson said that the distribution of wind turbines was “unfair” but Read more

Complaints against councillors rejected

A list of 15 complaints by former Withiel Parish Council Chairman Richard Thomas against Councillor Patrick Malone and Councillor Janet Shearer under the Code of Conduct have been rejected by the Monitoring Officer for Cornwall Council after investigation.

Mr Thomas sought a review of the rejection of some of his complaints against Councillor Shearer, but his appeal was also rejected, with Mr Thomas being described as “disingenuous” for complaining of actions which he had himself effectively endorsed in writing.

Mr Thomas’s complaints against Councillor Malone included Read more

Parish Council report

Withiel Parish Council is seriously concerned that the money promised to the Parish as compensation for the establishment of the solar farm at Kerriers – a total of £35,000 – may not be paid. The Council has always been dubious about the promised money because of anecdotal evidence of renewables companies selling their assets, thus avoiding having to pay what was due to communities. The Council originally opted to take the Kerriers money as a lump sum rather than in instalments over ten years because of its worries that the money could disappear. At a meeting with executives of Munich-based  Kronos Solar GmbH, the company that developed the solar farm, Parish Council Chairman Sue Kirkby asked directly whether the obligation to pay compensation to communities under what’s called ‘Section 106’ would carry over to new owners if the installation was sold, and was assured that it would.

It is now believed that Kerriers was sold even before the mud was dry on the road, with Kronos capitalising on the asset while a new company invested to draw the 25 years of guaranteed subsidies. The problems raised by contract-flipping Read more