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 for modernisation and improvement work on the Village Hall. This work was likely to cost in excess of £30,000, but a priming grant from the Section 106 funds would facilitate access to other sources of grant funding.

Councillor Kirkby has application forms for funding, and it’s open to anyone in Withiel to apply. The fact that Cornwall Council is holding onto the money occasioned some comment; it was originally thought that the Section 106 money would be held in the Parish’s account. Cornwall is holding onto some £41 million of Section 106 money, and with enormous pressure on its own funds, it must be eyeing the pot with envy.

Councillor Kirkby began the January meeting by expressing condolences for the loss of Katherine Liddicoat, saying she did not realise until she read News & Views exactly how much of a loss she is going to be to Withiel. The issue of the continuing development of Great Brynn Barton was discussed; there is no consensus over who is responsible for what at the road junction there, but County Councillor Chris Batters suggested that any failure to adhere to planning conditions should be officially reported to Cornwall Council. The state of the road near Ruthern, at the entrance to the ford at Cork Woods, is also giving concern.

It was agreed that when the contract to maintain Withiel’s footpaths is advertised this year, it should be for a period of three years instead of one. Councillor Shearer reported that she and Councillor Kirkby had attended the AGM of the Camel Ramblers group, who were complimentary about the state of Withiel’s footpaths, which they said were better than most in the county. It was also decided to write to all relevant landowners in Withiel seeking permission to place the small yellow footpath-making arrows on their property.

Finally, everyone is invited to a special meeting starting at 6pm on February 4th – an hour before the next Parish Council meeting – to discuss the Neighbourhood Plan. The Chairman has been pursuing the possibility of grant aid for producing aspects of the plan, but there are onerous bureaucratic constraints, including limits on timing. If you want to influence the Neighbourhood Plan, come to the Village Hall on February 4th.