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A future for Camelford Leisure Centre? 12 October, 2011

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in News.
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As my colleague Alex Folkes writes, the Council’s Cabinet met this morning to debate the future of leisure services in Cornwall. Inveitably, part of that involved a discussion about Camelford Leisure Centre, which has been under threat pretty much since the Tory-led administration first started to look at leisure services last year.

In the end the Cabinet tried their usual trick of pulling a rabbit (or half a rabbit, as I described it to the Leader’s disgust) out of the hat to give the local community a little more time to put a business case together to save their facilities. It bought them a little time and kept the public gallery off their back, but most people in the room were sceptical of the Cabinet’s commitment to Camelford and the possibility of the local campaign receiving the support and assistance they need to meet the new deadline of 31st December.

Throughout this whole issue there has been no real indication that the Tory-led administration in Truro has any understanding of the serious issues facing rural communities. Camelford Leisure Centre serves a large geographical area which includes a number of small schools. Cornwall Council on the one hand claims to be working to improve the health of its residents while on the other hand showing no commitment where it really matters.

Residents in Camelford and the wider area can be forgiven if they take this morning’s concession with a pinch of salt.

Movember The Third 11 October, 2011

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in Personal.
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The month formerly known as November will soon be upon us. If you know me at all you’ll know that for the past two years I’ve taken part in ‘Movember’, a charity drive for prostate cancer research which involves idiots like me spending a month complaining about an itchy top lip while we grow a ridiculous looking moustache.

After last year’s disappointing effort (more terry towelling than Terry-Thomas, I’m afraid) I’ve decided to go for the Zappa again this time, but I will of course be open to suggestions. Have a look at the Style Guide and tell me what you think, although I’ll take the most notice of those who make a donation!

Men’s health is a hugely important issue and the Movember campaign goes a long way to raising awareness of prostate cancer, as well as raising much needed funds. You can find out more about the work this charity does by clicking this link, and expect to read more here about my own struggle with rapidly greying facial hair over the coming weeks.

The Movember Style Guide 2011

“Extreme” measures to raise funds for Cornish charity 27 July, 2011

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in News.
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On Wednesday 14th September Gordon Faddy, the Chair of registered charity “Enable in Cornwall Ltd”, will be taking a dramatic zip wire ride at Adrenalin Quarry, Menheniot to raise much needed funds.

The Zip at Adrenalin Quarry is the UK’s biggest ever zip wire. Longest at 490 metres; highest at 50 metres; fastest at 40 mph. Twin parallel wires cross the flooded depths of the old quarry, sheer cliffs rise on either side.

Enable in Cornwall is a registered charity that works with people aged 16 and above who have a physical disability and/or sensory impairment and live in Cornwall. The organization offers free information, advice, guidance and support to assist clients in overcoming barriers they may face in accessing training, education, voluntary work or paid employment. Moreover, the organization devotes the time and resources necessary to empower disabled citizens to assume active and purposeful roles in their communities. Thus, Enable is part of a vision that is committed to the transformation of Adult Social Care so that the phrase “putting people first” can become a reality.

All money raised by Gordon’s death-defying stunt will be used by the charity to directly support their clients throughout the County. Gordon, a wheelchair user  himself, said “I hope that my efforts will both raise a considerable amount of new funds for Enable and also show that disability is no barrier to having fun and participating in extreme sports.”

If you would like to find out more about the work of Enable in Cornwall please visit their website www.enableincornwall.co.uk or call their office in Bodmin on (01208) 77711. All donations/sponsorship will be very gratefully received.

Jan Powell joins the Lib Dems 17 June, 2011

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in News.
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Jan Powell, the widely respected Chair of Cornwall Council’s Health Committee, has joined the Liberal Democrat Group at County Hall. This has been as a result of the continuing disintegration of the Tory-led administration at the Council and also the work the Lib Dems have been doing locally and nationally to protect the NHS from Andrew Lansley’s controversial ‘reforms’.

Having had a number of discussions with Jan over the past few weeks I know that this has not been a decision she has taken lightly. In her own words:

The recent actions of the Leader have made my position within the Conservative Group untenable and I have been left with no option but to seek support from a party through whom I can make my voice heard and properly represent the electors who voted me in.

The Leader of the Council has become remote from rank and file members of all parties and has marginalised councillors from the democratic process. The choices he makes always seem to be those most damaging to Cornwall and are not the choices I campaigned on, notwithstanding the tight financial restraints the Council is operating under. An example of this was the ill-informed attack on the Supporting People programme and was the principle reason why I voted against the administration’s budget this year.

There has to be openness and transparency in everything we do and consultation must mean exactly that. Over the last 12 months there has been a marked contrast between the behind-closed-doors approach of Cornwall’s Tory leadership and the open-minded, people people-first outlook of the Council’s Liberal Democrats.

The people of Cornwall rightly expect us to do our best to protect the services they value so highly and I’m very much looking forward to making a start on the vital work needed to put things right at County Hall. There are particular concerns over the Tory proposals for the NHS and I have been impressed with the Liberal Democrat drive for a fundamental rethink. The whole issue requires careful and structured scrutiny with proper emphasis to protect – not privatise – our world-respected National Health Service.

Jan’s move will once again leave her free to represent her electorate without the restraints imposed by the dictatorial leadership cabal in the top floor bunker at County Hall, and she will continue to work in the manner she has always done on the Health Committee – inclusively and with an open mind.

Alec’s Cornwall – independent voices need not apply 9 June, 2011

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in News.
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As others have already blogged, Jan Powell has been ruthlessly removed by the Leader of Cornwall Council from her position on the Health and Adults’ Overview and Scrutiny Committee at County Hall. This has clearly stemmed from her opposition to the Tory-led administration’s budget and her view that the role of Chair of such a committee carries with it the responsibility to independently scrutinise the work of the Council’s Cabinet. It is yet another blow to the Leader’s now plainly laughable claims of ‘openness and transparency’.

This is depressing news and demonstrates a bizarre control-freakery at the heart of the administration. It is very difficult to understand the thought processes of the Leader if he believes that such a heavy-handed approach will be anything other than counter-productive as he tries to shore up a desperately disillusioned coalition at County Hall. Jan was an excellent – Conservative – Chair of one of the Council’s most important committees. Her approach to scrutiny was objective, well-informed and inclusive and it speaks volumes of the malaise at the heart of the current leadership that such independent methods are clearly not welcome within their ‘vision’ of Cornwall.

Of all the errors and poor judgement calls of the past few weeks, this is the one least likely to be looked upon with any pride or fondness by an increasingly out-of-touch administration at County Hall.

“Health and Wellbeing” 20 April, 2011

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Item 11 at this morning’s Cabinet meeting concerned the setting up of a ‘Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board’ to oversee the Coalition government’s proposed changes to the NHS. I won’t go into tremendous detail about it here because a) there isn’t enough space and b) I’m not sure I have a full grasp of the changes anyway, if I’m being completely honest. (This link may provide a useful starting point if you want to start to come to terms with the enormity of what Andrew Lansley is proposing.)

Opinions are sharply divided about the effect the so-called reforms will have on our Health Service – for what it’s worth I think the proposals represent a dangerous and unnecessary leap towards privatisation – but the fact remains that local councils will have to have some input on the process when (after a ‘pause’) Lansley puts his amended proposals forward. For that reason Cornwall Council will need to have taken some steps in the right direction.

It is for that reason that I spoke in today’s debate to give a cautious welcome to the Council’s view that it should be an ‘early implementer’, but I also made clear that – when the board overseeing the changes is up and running – the work that it does must be clearly and openly presented to the Cornish public. As part of that request I put in my now traditional plea for the use of Plain English. I hope someone’s listening.