Leader John Pollard reflects on the Council’s achievements over the past four years

As Cornwall Council prepares for elections in May, Council Leader John Pollard reflects on the achievements of the authority over the past four years. 

“When I was appointed as the Leader of the new Council in May 2013, I said I wanted to work with all Members to create a “can do” positive and responsive Council and to build better relationships with all our partners. I also said we needed to fight for fairer funding, to bring investment into Cornwall and to build the best, most inclusive vibrant and successful Cornwall possible. 

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“In 2014 we produced a new Council Strategy which set out our aim to create a more prosperous, resilient and resourceful Cornwall, where communities are strong and where the most vulnerable are protected. This means closing the significant economic, funding, inequality, and health gaps that are having a negative impact on the life of many of our residents. 

“So what are our key achievements over the past four years? “ 

Ambitious Cornwall - this is about being ambitious and confident about Cornwall’s future and providing leadership to secure a fairer amount of funding and greater freedom from the Government. 

Case for Cornwall - in April 2015 we published our Case for Cornwall which set out details of additional powers and freedoms we want from the Government so we can create better public transport service and links; better road maintenance; better health from warmer homes; more affordable homes for local people;  more jobs and job opportunities;  better education, social and business connections through superfast broadband / rural internet  better health and social care and emergency services working more closely together.

Devolution Deal - in July 2015 we became the first rural council in the country to be given a Devolution Deal. Our Deal has given us many of the things we had asked more in the Case for Cornwall and means we now have greater control over more than £5bn of Government funding to carry out our plans to improve bus, rail and ferry services, support local businesses, grow our economy and create jobs, improve employment and skills, address out energy and flood resilience needs, make better use of public assets and join up health and social care services.

Budget and Business Plan – over the past four years we have worked hard to protect the key priorities identified by local residents at the same time as delivering the £166m savings we have been forced to make as a result of cuts in our funding from the Government.  This has meant setting a four year budget to help deliver the savings in a planned way, reshaping the Council, and working with partners to delivering services differently.

Capital programme – we have spent around £700m on capital schemes across Cornwall since 2013. These include £89m on improving our school buildings, £105m on highways maintenance; £24m on providing affordable housing, £46m on housing improvements; and £39m on Growth Deal projects.

Business Rates Pilot – last month the Government also announced we had been chosen to take part in a Business Rates Retention pilot. This means we will keep all the income we collect from business rates, rather than giving half of it back to the Government as happens at the moment. If new businesses start or existing businesses expand in Cornwall, this will increase the amount of income available to us.

Futures Group - following the vote to leave the EU we convened a group of leading figures from the business, voluntary and public sector, and organised round-table discussions ranging from tourism to fishing, employment to energy, and farming to higher education to identify potential risks and opportunities Cornwall and to draw up a plan of action to make sure that we are well placed for the future. We have also staged two Summits, and published our “Catalyst for change“ report, and are continuing to work with partners to develop our Manifesto to take to the Government.

Cornwall Local Plan – in November 2016 we adopted our Local Plan which sets out a vision for growth and identifies the quantity and broad location for new housing, community facilities, shops and employment. These policies will be the basis for planning decisions and will help us to resist unwanted and speculative development and help shape communities.  As well as setting overall housing targets for Cornwall, the Plan also supports the development of Neighbourhood Plans promotes and supports economic, protects our unique landscape and environment and improves the quality of new development.

National Minorities Framework - the Cornish became a recognised national minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in April 2014.  Since then we have been working hard to raise awareness of the Cornish National Minority in both Cornwall and national organisations, and to promote the Cornish language.  We have also been lobbying the Government to review its decision to cut funding for the Cornish language, to include a Cornish tick-box in the next census and to revise the BBC Charter to include the Cornish language in the list of minority languages and will be continuing this work following the publication of the Council of Europe Opinion Report.

CORSERV – in 2016 we established a new company to provide strategic direction for our existing arm’s Length and commercial trading companies: CORMAC Solutions Ltd, Cornwall Airport, Cornwall Housing, Cornwall Development Company and our Nottinghamshire joint venture company, Via East Midlands Limited.  CORSERV are also national leaders in developing the Teckal model for local authority companies and will continue to bring much needed funds back into Cornwall.

Council of the Year Award – in December 2015 we were shortlisted for this prestigious top award which is given to councils which demonstrate excellent and innovation for our success in being granted the first rural Devolution Deal, implementing our Strategy and Business plan and securing minority status for the Cornish people. 

Engaging with our communities – this is about enabling and empowering residents, towns and parish councils, the voluntary, community and local business sectors to play an active role in making decisions that affect residents. 

Devolution – we have supported local councils and communities to secure the future of assets and services important to them by taking over their ownership or management as part of our local devolution programme.  So far we have successfully devolved almost 300 assets and services, including 223 public toilets; three library and information services, with over 20 more sites involved in progressing devolution discussions; one sea pool, one skate park, two visitor centres, 12 car parks, 11 buildings devolved into community use, three sports clubs, 44 greens spaces, play areas, allotments and one placed based town package with 36 individual elements, each a project in its own right (including play areas, green spaces, buildings, sports clubs, verges, town spaces, toilets and a car park).  We are also working on a further 50+ proposals with a number of parishes and community groups, including town packages as ‘total place’ projects in Camborne, Truro, Penzance, Newquay and St Austell.

Neighbourhood plans - more than100 parish Councils are now engaged in Neighbourhood planning across Cornwall.  By the time of the new Council nine Neighbourhood plans will have gone through the formal referendum process, one of the highest numbers in England with a range of innovative and locally developed Policies responding to local issues and opportunities. A further two plans are now at formal examination and 12 are approaching the stage of formal submission to move towards examination.

Community grants -  Members have awarded more than 3,000 grants with a value of around £1m to voluntary and community groups across Cornwall over the past four years. Grants have included everything from skate parks and trombones for local bands, to defibrillators and equipment for a community cinema, with many groups using the grants to attract match funding.

Community Network Panels - more than80% of 213 Town and Parish Councils are now involved in the work of our Community Network Panels. To date, the Panels have supported nearly 80 projects across Cornwall to a value of £450,000. 

Healthier and Safer communities – this is about integrating our services with other partners to protect the most vulnerable and ensure that everyone has the best possible opportunity to improve their physical wellbeing and stay safe 

Supporting children and young people - we have transformed our Children and Family Services, moving from the ‘Inadequate’ judgement given by Ofsted in 2009 to a ‘Good’ judgement in 2016 and are now one of the 25% best children’s services in the country.  We have also taken action to address a national shortage of social workers by setting up our own trainee social worker scheme. Over the last 5 years the Cornwall Foundation for Social Work scheme has brought 33 new social workers into the service, with 18 trainee social workers currently in post and is seen as one of the most innovative and successful schemes in the country.

One Vision – we are working with the Council of the Isles of Scilly, NHS Kernow, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust to develop our  “One Vision” Partnership Plan which aims to change the way services work together to improve the lives of children, young people and their families.  The Plan covers a wide range of education, health and social care services and will deliver improved joined up services which meet the needs of our children, young people and families.

Sustainability and Transformation Plan – we areworking with health partners to develop our Sustainability and Transformation Plan- a new five year plan to improve health, wellbeing, and the quality of local health and care services across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Dog welfare - for the 5th consecutive year our Community Protection Team has been awarded the RSPCA’s prestigious Golden Footprint Award for Animal Welfare, for the way it deals with stray dogs.  Over the last four years the team has returned over 4,000 stray dogs safely to their owners.

Tackling doorstep fraud - After receiving 130 reports of doorstep fraud across Cornwall, with members of the public losing an estimated £126,000 to fraudsters, our Trading Standards team has intervened to prevent further losses of nearly £200,000.

Illegal cigarettes and alcohol - Over 4,500 children have attended junior life skills events staged by us on tobacco and alcohol harm.  Our Trading Standards team confiscated over £1,000 of illegal alcohol and over 200 kg of hand rolling tobacco in 2015.

HeadStart –we are supporting thousands of young people aged between 10-16 years to deal better with difficult circumstances, and help manage emotional and mental health challenges before they become serious issues through our successful HeadStart Kernow scheme.  First set up in 2014, the scheme has already supported around 10,000 young people in 61 primary schools, 10 secondary schools and one special school across Cornwall, and provided specialist training to more than 100 practitioners. Last year we were awarded £8.9m from the Big Lottery Fund’s HeadStart programme and we are now using this money to help make a real difference to the lives of thousands more children and young people across Cornwall. 

Early Help Hub - 18 months ago we became the first place in the country to set up an integrated Early Help Hub to ensure that children and families needing help are connected with the right support at the right time from the right service.  Developed with the Cornwall Foundation Partnership Trust, the Hub provides a single point of contact for information, advice and guidance about services for children and young people and their families as well as access to a range of universal and Early Help services.  Staffed by professionals from both health and social care services, the Hub currently receives around 1,200 referrals a month.

MARU – sitting alongside the Early Help Hub, our Multi-Agency Referral Unit provides a joined up response to concerns about the safety of a child.  Staffed by professionals from our social care team, heath partners and Devon and Cornwall police, the MARU has played a key role in improving safeguarding services for children and young people in Cornwall by ensuring that concerns about their safety and wellbeing are dealt with appropriately.

Supporting vulnerable people - we have introduced three new services to provide modern community support opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to develop life skills and get involved in other local activities and facilities. Cornwall Council’s new services at The Elms in Redruth, The Leats in Truro and The Old Magistrates Hall in Camborne replace the Murdoch and Trevithick Day Centre in Redruth, which was in a poor state of repair and no longer able to meet service users’ needs.  As well as providing a modern service with new opportunities, the three new services also mean that people can attend a service close to their home and local community.

Transforming Adult Care services – we are taking direct action to address the increasing challenges facing adult social care in Cornwall with the development of a new three year plan which will reshape services to help more people stay in their own homes or in their local community. The aim of the draft Transforming Adult Social Care: The Cornwall Offer, is to help people with social care needs access the support they need so they can live as independently as possible in their own homes for longer. Developed in partnership with health organisations and care providers, the Cornwall Offer sets out a series of measures designed to transform adult social care by providing a greater focus on providing more constructive advice and help earlier.  We will be working with partners to develop Extra Care housing schemes for older people as alternatives to residential care, addressing the issues of rising care costs, a shortage of care workers and increasing pressure on acute hospital services.

Healthy workplace - 200 businesses across Cornwall have signed up to our Healthy Workplace programme, benefiting approximately 40,000 employees.

Supporting tenants - we have worked with partners to set up the Cornwall Responsible Landlord Scheme which supports private landlords and lettings agents to offer safe, well managed and better quality accommodation whilst keeping up to date with what the law requires of them. 160 members have signed up for the scheme so far, covering 3,000 properties across Cornwall. We are also taking action against rogue landlords – with 1,105 enforcement notices served on private landlords and 34 successful prosecutions, resulting in court fines of more than £79,000.

Keeping Cornwall healthy – our Public Health team has been working hard to help local residents enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Over the past four years the team have helped 12,500 to stop smoking for at least four weeks, and supported more than 5,000 adults and children to manage their weight. More than 4,100 people have also used our Promoting Health Information Line (PHIL) since it was set up two years ago ,85% of schools are taking part in our Healthy Schools scheme, with 303 receiving special awards for their work.  We have also been promoting sexual health, with 8045 young people registering to the C-Card and reduced the number of teenage pregnancies by 37% since 2012.

Keeping Cornwall Safe - we have built a new Emergency Services Community Station in Hayle, the first in Cornwall to co-locate fire and rescue, police and ambulance to improve partnership working and integration between these services.  We have also built a new service headquarters , including a new Critical Control Centre, and a Community Fire Station at Tolvaddon.  The Control Centre is also the base for the new CCTV scheme involving town and parish councils.  Over the past four years our Fire, Rescue and Community Rescue service has attended over 17,300 operational incidents, more than 2,860 co-responder incidents on behalf of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, and over 450 flooding incidents. Staff have also conducted over 20,870 Home Fire Safety Check visits and 2953 Fire Safety Audits for business premises.

Winter Wellness - we have helped more than 5,000 households across Cornwall to keep warm through this scheme over the past four years. This includes helping households with the costs of heating oil, coal, logs/ top up gas / electric and repairs to their heating and boilers.

Housing support – Cornwall Housing has prevented more than 5,500 people from becoming homeless over the past four years, and has helped keep 757 people in fear of violence safe in their homes so they did not have to find somewhere else to live.  Staff have also arranged for adaptations to be carried out at 2,312 homes to make them more suitable for tenants and supported 283 tenants into a wide range of training courses.  They have also provided 1,756 households with energy advice and helped tenants to access more than £668,000 in benefits and grants. 

Driving the economy – this is about securing economic progress which is sustainable, addresses inequality, makes use of natural and cultural assets and builds on the strengths of our key industries. 

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Strategic Economic Plan - we have worked closely with the Local Enterprise Partnership to drive economic growth through programmes such as Growth Hub, Superfast Cornwall, Kresen Kernow, LEADER, Carluddon Tech Park, the Marinehub and Aerohub Enterprise Zone to support our Strategic Economic Plan. Key successes include supporting more than 17,000 businesses and supporting 5,700 more people into work.  Over the past four years Cornwall’s GVA has increased by almost £500 million, with our ongoing economic programme set to generate more than £600m investment in projects across Cornwall. This will help create 6000 jobs and 82,100sqm of new workspace, support 752 more enterprises, help to reduce the flood risk for 1,762 premises, and provide 66 new alternative fuel charge points and, even, a deep geothermal well.

Superfast Cornwall – this ground breaking partnershipbetween the EU, Cornwall Council and BT has seen £132m invested in upgrading our broadband infrastructure – making Cornwall one of the best connected rural places in world.  This has helped create 2,000 jobs and safeguard a further 2,500, with a £200m annual economic impact for Cornwall. The Superfast programme has supported 80,000 fibre connections to the high speed world, of which 12,000 are from businesses, enabling entrepreneurs to compete locally and internationally in sectors that previously would not have been possible with slower speeds. Superfast Cornwall continues its roll out in Cornwall, with another 8,600 premises set to benefit from superfast broadband access by early 2018.

Investing in our rail services – In 2014 we worked with the Local Enterprise Partnership and First Great Western to secure a £146m package of rail improvements to lift the local economy, create new jobs and provide faster rail journeys.  These improvements, which will transform the railway in Cornwall between Penzance and Plymouth, include the introduction of new intercity trains between Penzance and Paddington, a two train per hour service between Penzance and Plymouth, expanding the Long Rock train maintenance site at Long Rock, and a completely upgraded Night Riviera Sleeper service. This transformation has been made possible by the investment that Cornwall Council, working with GRW Network Rail, has put in place in bringing forward the railway signalling improvements, the depot enhancement in Long Rock and the upgrade of the Sleeper carriages.  

Investing in our road network - we successfully secured almost £300m of funding from the Government to carry out improvements to A30 between 2014 and 2019 – this includes the scheme to dual the A30 at Temple, and proposals to improve the A30 between Carland Cross and Chiverton Cross. The £60m scheme at Temple, which will help boost economic growth, reduce traffic congestion and accidents, is due to be completed in July. By putting forward a design to dual the road which significantly cut the cost of earlier proposals, and agreeing to contribute £10m towards the cost of delivering the scheme, the Council ensured that the delivery of this much needed project was brought forward by at least five years. We are also working with Highways England to address issues on the A38.  We have secured significant levels of investment through the Growth Deal to deliver transport improvements to encourage and facilitate economic growth in housing and employment.  These schemes include A39 Falmouth Gateway, Redruth Strategic Employment Growth Package - Newquay Strategic Route (phase one complete), A38 Cornwall Gateway (Carkeel), Bodmin Cornwall’s Cycling Town, Truro Western Corridor , St Erth Multi Modal Hub and Callywith Roundabout .

Investing in our buses – last year we secured £12m from the Government to support our plans to improve bus services over the next three years. This money is being used to join up bus routes, improve bus shelters and bus stops, integrate ticketing and timetabling for bus with local rail services, and to provide new and improved vehicles and is part of the One Public Transport element of our Devolution Deal which will see £130m of Government funding used to develop an integrated rail, bus and ferry transport network across Cornwall .  The project, which will come into service in Dec 2018, also includes the new half-hour rail shuttle between Penzance and Plymouth. offering enhanced mobility to many people, encourage reduced car reliance, improve air quality and reduce congestion, and putting Cornwall on a par with major metropolitan centres in terms of public transport . Last month also saw the introduction of a fleet of 37 brand new double decker buses under an innovative partnership between the Council, First Kernow and Go Cornwall which has seen Cornwall’s two largest operators contribute £10.5m in providing new vehicles and upgrading existing buses in Cornwall over the past 12 months.

Parking – we are committed to modernising parking in Cornwall to make it more response and productive.  We are working with town and parish councils and local communities to address the issues of traffic and parking.  Last year we carried out a town parking review in the seven areas identified as having the biggest parking problems - Bude, Falmouth and Penryn, Newquay, Penzance, St Ives, Truro and Wadebridge - and are developing solutions for each of the towns which will be considered by the new Council in May.

High flying airport - Cornwall Airport Newquay is now the fastest growing regional airport in the country – thanks to the support provided by the Council. In October 2014 we worked with LEP and MPs to persuade the Government to grant a Public Service Obligation to the Newquay to London Air Link, securing £2.8m of Government funding to safeguard the route for a four year period.  This is the first PSO granted for any English airport.  Since then passengers numbers using the airport have risen significantly, RyanAir has returned to Cornwall and is now operating new routes, Flybe has introduced new jets on the Newquay to London route, and we removed the £5 airport development fee from March 2016 as part of a package of measures to help encourage new airlines to fly from the airport. 

Supporting local businesses – over the past four years we have spent around £2 billion on goods and services, of which around half (£1 billion) has been spent with local suppliers in Cornwall “, including small and medium sized enterprises.  Our Regulatory Services have helped over 2,000 new businesses and supported 180 businesses that export goods and provided 25,000 businesses with tailored regulatory business advice.

Leading licensing reform nationally - Our Licensing Team were asked by the Government to lead a project to review how we can make the licensing system simpler, less burdensome and more effective in order to support the economy.  The results of the review have been presented back to the Government but a number of changes have already been implemented in Cornwall.

Supporting Cornwall’s culture and heritage - we are supporting a wide range of cultural and heritage projects, including Kresen Kernow, the new archive centre being constructed on the site of the former Redruth Brewery which will provide a home to the world’s largest collection of manuscripts, books, maps and photographs relating to Cornwall.  We have also supported the redevelopment of Tate Gallery , the works at King Edward Mine, the work of the Cornwall Museum Partnership to help museums to education and thrive and the redevelopment of the Mining World Heritage site, and are playing a key role in the redevelopment of the Hall for Cornwall.  Last Summer we played a major role in the exciting Man Engine tour which was seen by more than 150,000 people across Cornwall. We are also working with MAGA, the Cornish Language Partnership, to encourage the use of the Cornish language. In October 2015 we agreed a new Cornish Language Plan which set out the way in which we will protect and promote the Cornish language in accordance with the European Charter and the Framework Convention for National Minorities.

Stewardship of our assets – this is about working collaboratively with partners and communities to strengthen the relationship between our environment, your community and you

Environmental Growth - in December 2016 we became the first place in the country to launch an Environmental Growth Strategy which aims to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to work together to increase environmental, social and economic prosperity. A first of its kind, environmental growth is focused on helping nature to do more for us.

Renewable energy - we are working hard to ensure that local communities, residents and businesses are benefiting from the move to a local carbon economy with measures to reduce fuel bills and ensure that the benefits from renewable energy remain in Cornwall.  Our collective energy switch initiative delivered savings of more than £500,000 for residents’ energy bills and saw £3m invested in energy efficiency measure across 1,700 homes.  We are encouraging energy developers to voluntarily provide an annual cash grant to local communities which host their schemes and supporting the development of community-owned energy projects where surplus income from the energy owned collectively by local residents is kept within the local area and then reinvested where the community needs it most.  Around 25% of Cornwall’s renewable energy is currently locally owned, and we are committed to driving this up to 50% by 2030.

Air quality - We have declared three air quality management areas across Cornwall and brought in a new air quality strategy in order to tackle pockets of poor air quality caused by increasing road traffic.

Protecting open spaces – we are working with partners to maintain beaches, playgrounds, parks and open spaces and countryside and heritage sites across Cornwall. Seven of our parks and open spaces currently have prestigious Green Flags, with seven of our beaches receiving Blue Flags and a number of beaches also receiving Seaside Awards last year.

Keeping Cornwall clean – we work closely with our waste contractor to keep our streets clean, recycle waste and deal with incidents of fly tipping as quickly as possible. Over the past four years we have collected more than 464,000 tonnes of rubbish from the kerbside, as well as 130,000 tonnes of recycling. We have also had more than 16,000 incidents of fly tipping reported to us. . Firmer action is also being taken against those that fly tip with five successful prosecutions over the last year.

Essentials for living – ensuring that Cornwall has got the right infrastructure and the right number of house to meet the needs of our residents and businesses and that our planning policies allow us to thrive.

New homes – we are on target to deliver more than 3,000 new affordable homes over the past four years for people with a local connection by the end of this month to help meet Cornwall’s specific housing needs. We are also working with partners on a number of new housing schemes, including the Homes for Cornwall partnership which will see 300 new homes, including affordable homes and homes to rent, built on 11 Council owned sites across Cornwall over the next five years, and our own Housing Development programme which will see the Council investing £240m to build attractive high quality homes that people can afford in areas of high demand.  We want to deliver up to 500 new homes a year under this scheme, with the first two sites currently underway in Tolvaddon and Bodmin. We have also brought 500 empty homes back into use over the past four years, and used the £2m Empty Property Loan funding we receive from the Government to help 90 residential properties be brought up to the standard where they can now be rented or sold. 

Raising educational standards – we want all our children and young people to receive a world class education.  In 2014 we set up the Raising Aspiration and Achievement Strategic Partnership Board (RAAS), which includes representatives from the education, business, commerce and enterprise, parents and carers , and are working with schools and colleges to deliver the RAAS Strategy to ensure that every child reaches their full potential. 

Outstanding early years – 97% of our early years settings in Cornwall are now rated as “good” or “outstanding by Ofsted,  compared to a national average of 93%. 

Improving our schools - we have spent £37.5m carrying out essential repairs and maintenance at maintained primary and secondary schools since 2013. We are investing £40m in creating 2,414 additional pupil places by expanding 25 primary schools across Cornwall by September 2018.  The works include building extra classrooms, halls and kitchens to provide additional school places where they are needed most. 

Supporting local buses - we are committed to supporting public transport and over the past four years have spent £23.5m subsidising local bus services, including weekend and evening services, which would not operate without our support.  We have also spent £20.5m to pay for the 12 million journeys made by concessionary bus pass holders.

Planning  - our planning service have processed 31,620 applications over the past four years.  Officers deal with an average of 18,000 pieces of work every year.  Recent improvements include the introduction of paperless planning for town and parish councils.  Following the adoption of the Local Plan last year our rate for successfully defending planning appeals has increased to 90%.

Maintaining our roads – we manage 7,300 km of roads, 4,300km of footpaths and nearly 900 public open spaces across Cornwall, as well as bridges, street lights and signals.  The total value of these assets is more than £8billion and is the single most valuable public asset managed by the authority.  Over the past four years we have surfaced 3,300 miles of road – about a third of the entire road network, and filled in 73,000 potholes.

Partners working together – this is about working with partners at an international, national, regional and local level to ensure that public services are delivered effectively.

Tri Service officer - in April 2015 Andrew Hitchens became the country’s first tri services officer.  Based at the Hayle Tri Service Emergency Centre, Andrew is a qualified fire fighter with Cornwall Fire and Rescue and Community Safety Service, an emergency first responder for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and has also been trained in specific crime and disorder duties with Devon and Cornwall police.  This pilot project has proved a great success and is now being expanded across the whole service.

Via - in 2016 we set up a new highways joint venture with Nottinghamshire County Council to provide highways and fleet management services in Nottinghamshire. Via East Midlands Ltd -the first highways joint venture of its kind to be developed in the UK, has a turnover of £40m a year and employs around 630 staff, the majority of whom has transferred from Nottinghamshire County Council, with a small number of staff, including HR and finance managers, provided by Cornwall Council. 

BeachWise - in 2016 we joined with South West Water, the Environment Agency, Keep Britain Tidy, Marine Conservation Society, RNLI, South West Coast Path Association, South West Water, Surf Life Saving Great Britain and Visit Cornwall  to form BeachWise, a new partnership to promote safe enjoyment of the South West’s beautiful beaches and clean bathing waters.  The first project for the new group, which brings together beach safety advice and useful information from all the organisations involved , was to create a new online tool, with 20 top tips to help beachgoers enjoy a safe, fun, healthy and relaxing day by the sea .

National leader in supporting businesses – we have been working hard to cut red tape and reduce unnecessary regulatory burden on businesses in Cornwall through our Better Business for All programme. The scheme, which has received national praise as the best partnership in Cornwall, provides a single point of contact for businesses to contact our regulatory services such as trading standards, environmental health, animal health, licensing, planning and fire and community safety rather than having to contact them all separately.

Doing things differently – we worked with Visit Cornwall to create a new Visit Cornwall Community Interest company led by the private sector to market Cornwall as a key tourist destination.

Leisure centres  - we have secured the future of our leisure centres by awarding the contract to run them from April to GLL who have an impressive track record in running leisure centres in locations all over the country under the national brand of ‘Better’. This decision ensures that the leisure centres without a subsidy from the Council, saving almost £3.5m a year which can be used to support other services.

South West Procurement Board - we have been working with our public sector partners from across the South West to jointly tender for contracts to ensure that we get the best value for money for local council tax payers. 

Efficient, effective, and innovative – this is about identifying, designing and adopting innovative approaches to funding, technology, assets and our workforce to enable us to meet future financial challenges and deliver services effectively.  

Sharing public buildings – we are continuing to work with police and health partners to share services and buildings to reduce running costs and generate money from the sale of surplus property through our One Public Estate programme.  We have already saved millions of pounds by redesigning our buildings in County Hall and Dolcoath to make them more efficient,  constructed a new purpose built building in Bodmin, enabling us to move staff from costly leased offices, and refurbished St John’s Hall in Penzance .  These savings have been used to support essential services.

Digital improvements – over the next three years we are investing £18m in updating our IT systems to make it easier for residents and businesses to access our services digitally in the future. Our Digital Investment Plan will ensure that more services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not just during office working hours, and also make it easier for people to track the progress of their service requests. It will make it easier to share information between different services, and between partners which will, in turn, increase efficiency.  This is particularly important in areas such as health and social care where it is vital that staff from different organisations can access the information they need quickly. 

“Looking back at the list of achievements listed above it is clear that this administration leaves Cornwall more stable and financially sound with a level of services that other authorities have failed to achieve” said John Pollard. 

“None of this would have been possible without our staff and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work and commitment.  98% of our staff live in Cornwall and while the local media does not always portray us in a good light, surveys have shown that our residents and partners value the professionalism with which our staff continue to deliver services for Cornwall, despite the climate of cuts and change. 

“However, while we have achieved a lot over the past four years, we know there is still more to do.  One area we clearly need to do better is communication.  We need to do more to explain what we are doing, and to involve members of the public in shaping our policies and decisions.  This means listening to what people and communities are saying.  We are committed to achieving this and are putting in place measures to improve the way we engage and communicate. 

“I said when I was elected as the Leader I was determined to build - not just to cut and reduce  - and I am proud that, despite the challenges we have faced, Cornwall is well placed as it approaches an equally uncertain future.

You can download a copy of our achievement in PDF or find out more on our organisational performance pages.

 Story posted 17th March.