Council Leader visits Liskeard, St Austell and Penzance

Council Leader Julian German visited Liskeard, St Austell and Penzance last week to hear about projects that benefit residents.

It’s been 100 days since Julian was elected as Council Leader in May when he set out some of his priorities for the Council, including supporting and recognising Cornwall’s culture and heritage, working together to tackle the climate emergency and projects that improve the lives of our residents following devolution of responsibilities from government to Cornwall.

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Improving and encouraging people to use public transport is a priority so he travelled by train to experience for himself the improvements to the rail timetable and the new Intercity Express Trains and refurbished Castle Class trains.

Julian started out by visiting Liskeard where he met with members of the Looe Valley Heritage project to hear about the railway branch line from Liskeard to Looe and the installation of augmented reality signage at Liskeard station.

He also heard about work being done to bring forward the Liskeard to Looe Valley Cycle trail after the Council agreed funding earlier this year to support delivery and coordination of a series of walking and cycling trails in South East Cornwall. 

Sue Brownlow said: “This cycle trail will help to link people up with different towns in Cornwall. The community is now looking at getting funding to support the heritage side of the project, gathering people’s memories of using the train line and to culminate in events to celebrate the work that has been done.”

He then walked to the former Liskeard Cattle Market site to hear about community involvement in plans for its redevelopment.

Architect Charles Campion, who has been involved with the community events said: “More than 350 people from the town have come together to shape the ideas and the vision for the site here. It is a great example of how the community, Council and local businesses are working together to create successful towns.”

Julian German said: “The community has come together to create something that everyone will really value and that we will support as it moves into the next phase”.

Julian then took the train to St Austell where he began by visiting Brickfield at Blackpool Pit, Trewoon. Brickfield is part of the Whitegold Project, supported by Cornwall Council, which works with the community to use art to celebrate the culture of St Austell and the clay country.

He met up with artist Rose Martin; Dr Katie Bunnell, Clay Connections Co-ordinator for St Austell Bay Economic Forum and Alex Murdin, Whitegold curator for the Forum, and tried his hand at making a brick.

Dr Katie Bunnell, Co-Curator for the project, says: “Brickfield uses traditional brick making methods as a way of bringing communities together.  Everyone can get involved and if each person makes a single brick, we soon have the materials to make something bigger, so it’s bringing people together to make something collectively.”

Julian’s brick will join the hundreds of others that residents have made to celebrate the unique history of Mid Cornwall and its links with China Clay. They will be fired as part of the Whitegold Festival 2019 in St Austell town centre on 21 September 2019.

Julian also heard from Darren Hawkes, garden curator from SABEF, about the Garden Project which will turn the St Austell area into a vast garden with a wild flower corridor stretching from the A30 to St Austell, through the China Clay area as well introducing some of the new planting that has transformed the town centre.

Alex Murdin said:  “Whitegold is a local community project which is using art and the fantastic gardens around St Austell as part of a new type of regeneration to make St Austell a green and ceramic cultural centre.  Julian got his hands dirty making a clay brick which is part of our community project where we’re taking the raw material of St Austell and making something new from it for the future.”

Julian then visited Biddicks Court where he met up with Chair of St Austell BID Richard Hurst, Andrew Richards from the Townscape Heritage Initiative and Cornwall Councillor Sandra Heywood.  He also heard from Deputy Mayor and Cornwall Councillor Richard Pears and Charlotte Bond, Director of Kneehigh’s Coastal Communities Programme which is based in St Austell Bay. 

He saw some of the improvements that have already been made and heard about plans to transform Biddicks Court with a ceramics project and townscape heritage schemes which will see improvements to 14 key historic buildings and 10 shop fronts.

Charlotte Bond said: “It’s great that Julian, who is a huge supporter of culture, has been able to see for himself some of the great projects that are happening in the area”.

Julian said: “Seeing these projects in St Austell which involve and engage with residents to help generate pride in the area, increase a sense of ownership and celebrate and further develop a sense of cultural identity and industrial heritage, has been fantastic. I’m looking forward to seeing how bringing ceramics into town transforms Biddicks Court and how the townscape heritage initiatives in the town centre will help bring the vitality back to St Austell.”

At Penzance Julian met representatives from Great Western Railway and Network Rail to hear about the improvements to Penzance railway station, the new timetable, the Night Riviera sleeper (which now has a dedicated lounge at Penzance) and the new Intercity Express and Castle Class trains.

David Whiteway, Commercial Development Manager (West) for Great Western Railway, said: “In terms of benefits for passengers, the Cornwall mainline re-signalling work has allowed us to put on more trains in May with more to come in September and we’ve already seen a 25 per cent growth in passenger numbers this year. The sleeper service is celebrating its first anniversary with sleeper lounges and we’ve seen tens of thousands of customers go through the doors in the first year, double the passenger numbers of what we expected to see.”

Julian then took a walk around the town to hear about plans for the bid to the government’s Future High Streets Fund. He also visited the affordable housing development Penzance Depot.

At the Exchange art gallery he heard about the Council’s support for culture projects.

Blair Todd, Deputy Director of Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange, said: “We are extremely grateful for Cornwall Council’s £50,000 support for our prestigious award as an Arts Council Collection National Partner, leveraging £550,000 as an important investment in Cornwall. We were very pleased to welcome Julian German to The Exchange to explain how we will use the Collection to work with local schools, charities and community groups.”

Finally Julian looked at planned improvements to Penzance Promenade ahead of the Tour of Britain taking place next year.

He said: “It’s been a great visit to Penzance with local members and a vast range of partners. It’s a story of the town coming together, all of the different aspects having a vision for Penzance and then working with Cornwall Council to deliver all those different guises. It’s been really inspirational for me to see what other communities can do in Cornwall. If they can come together, have shared vision and then the council can come in and support that.”

Posted on 4 September