Thursday, 11 June 2015

Meeting Wednesday 27th May 2015

The group met on Wednesday 27th May at the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall.

Attendees

  • Mike Jenks
  • Mike Reynolds
  • Gary Tranter
  • Christopher Smith
  • Candy Atherton
  • Andy Coote (Chair)
Apologies from

  • Jilly Easterby (has left FXPlus - replacement requested)
  • Jonathan Griffin
  • Richard Doughty
  • Roger Andrew
Andy Coote announced that he would be stepping down as Chair after this meeting
He asked the group to consider if FTF is still needed in the present climate and, if so, for suggestions for Chair to continue the group. He stressed that the main reasons for stepping down were part personal and part that his current activity meant he was less connected with events in Falmouth. He felt the Chair of this group should be closer to the Town's communities and authorities.

In course of discussion the following points were made -

FTF has been useful as a two way sounding board and communications route for FTC

FTF has been useful for collecting, honing and developing opinions from the Town's interested communities.

There have been frustrations in areas such as the Dredging of the Port. There is still good reason to hope for a green light from the MMO in the short to medium term. The issue will then be one of funding. Cornwall Council have removed their capital reserve for this project from budget, though it is possible it can be returned there. Private sector funding is also critical and was in place some time ago, though it may be less certain currently.

The Article 4 direction and Neighbourhood Plan process is under way and long term. It will need advocates and supporters during this process and FTF may perform that function.

FTC has been challenged as local government and localism has changed what it offers and how. That has necessarily turned the thoughts of councillors inward. As the new approach becomes normal practice, there will be a need again for a sounding board and support mechanism.

New issues for the town are also arising. The nighttime economy and reductions in Police numbers are creating some major issues in the Town Centre in the early hours.

It was agreed that FTF should continue and that a reduction of the meeting frequency may help to get more people into the room at meetings. We also need to consider better PR to raise the profile of the Forum. Three big meetings were proposed to take place in February/March, June/July and September/October with Task and Finish groups set up to carry forward projects between meetings.

The agenda needs to be structured to include a regular report from FTC and also from the BID.
The meeting scheduled for 9th September should be the next meeting date. Candy Atherton will present on the Town Councils plans as she was surprised that a number of the plans were news to the Forum. The meeting scheduled for 8th July is cancelled.

No new Chairman was appointed, partly given the numbers present. Andy Coote will ask Steve Gray, as Deputy Chair to step up and chair the next meeting and to initiate a search for a new Chair.

The meeting thanked Andy for his period as Chair.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Meeting - 12th November 2014

Notes of the meeting held at 18:00 on Wednesday 12th November, 2014.

 1) Apologies for absence were received from. Mark James, Shaun Davie, Jilly Easterby, Jackie George, Richard Gates, Paul Wickes, Caroline Robinson and Jonathan Griffin

2) Introductions around the table

3) Welcome Richard Doughty, Director, National Maritime Museum, Cornwall Richard Doughty introduced himself and his background working with the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. He noted the connections between Cutty Sark and Falmouth where she was restored in the interwar years.

Richard acknowledged the work that Jonathan Griffin had put into the first 10+ years of the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall. Jonathan has left a great legacy and there is much still to do. The future is secure for the next 2 to 3 years which will allow Richard to put plans in place for taking the museum forward.

Richard was invited to become a member of the forum which he accepted.

Presentation

4) Kim Conchie, Chief Executive, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce
Kim Conchie began by noting that the stability of interest rates was good news for Cornwall. Cornwall had had a good summer which was important given that between 26 and 30% of Cornwall's GDP comes from tourism.

The EU had confirmed that from the end of March 2015, Cornwall will be entitled to a further €593 million in support which will be administered by the Local Enterprise Partnership. It was, Kim suggested, good news for Cornwall that we were receiving this support but bad news that we were still the poorest English region. This round of funding will also see a transition from a largely public sector led approach to something with much more involvement from the private sector.

The transition to the next round will not be seamless however as there are issues at the central government level in making the funds available. This means that there are private and public bodies which will come to the end of their contracts on 31 March and will have no continuity of funding into the next round. As a result private and more particularly public sector people will be laid off from March.

Kim feels that there is a great opportunity here for the private sector to take the initiative and show that they can develop the project in a better way than was done by the public sector. Because of the nature of European funding, when the first tranche becomes available in October 2015, it will need to be spent by the end of that year. Therefore there is a need for' shovel ready' projects that can begin immediately and use the money within those first three months. Candy Atherton noted that the Falmouth Town Council Art Gallery project could be ready in this fashion and she and Mark Williams will feed that information back to the council.

There may be a need for interested groups in Cornwall to help to move the LEP forward. Richard Wilcox noted that the strategy plan developed by the LEP was not looking at towns and town centres. Kim agreed that he would involve Town Chambers and the local BID groups in working towards potentially replicating Local Action Groups which have been mainly rural in focus and extending them into towns.

Kim highlighted the British Chambers of Commerce ‘Business Plan for Britain’ and expressed a desire to work with as many people as possible to deliver a similar Business Plan for Cornwall.

Discussions

5) Cornwall Council Budget (www.cornwall.gov.uk)
Candy Atherton gave an update on the Cornwall Council budget for the next four years which had been approved at Cabinet and was being recommended to the full council for approval later in November.

Candy noted that as part of a 400 page document covering the budget and the cuts necessary to make £196 million worth of savings, the issue of Falmouth docks had been at most half a page. The removal of capital funding for the dredging is in some ways understandable as the money is sitting tied up and is not looking likely to be spent. Gary Tranter pointed out that the first that Falmouth Harbour Commissioners had heard of this cut was when it were reported in the press. A & P are in the process of creating a business plan for the dredging process which should be complete during November. Gary was asked about the progress of dredging and responded that nothing had moved forward since the last meeting, however the data from the trial trench was now with the Marine Maritime Organisation who were undertaking due process. This is a long process but at present he is cautiously optimistic of a positive outcome. All environmental issues raised so far have been scientifically rebutted. The support of the Town Forum for the Falmouth Docks Master Plan was reaffirmed by the meeting.

As part of the overall Cornwall Council budget, Falmouth Town Council is looking to take on a number of activities and assets from Cornwall Council. There will be many funding gaps as Cornwall Council shrinks the services it provides and Mark Williams reported that the Town Council is looking to develop a priority list of those it might take on as it will be unable to take on all affected services. At present, the Town Council estimates that they will need an 11% increase in precept simply to stand still and it is anticipated that Central Government (DCLG) may impose a requirement to go to referendum for increases in the precept above the level of around 2%. A referendum to Falmouth would cost somewhere in the region of £20,000.

Mark asked if the forum and forum members would be interested in being involved with the town council in deciding which projects should be taken on. Andy Coote noted that David Yelland had submitted a request to discuss an open process for s106 money and how it might be used within the community. Mark Williams noted that Richard Wilcox and also raised this on behalf of the BID. There had been a 106 Falmouth group which was no longer in existence and Mark was minded to revive that group and would include within it some members of the Forum. The forum will receive an unprioritised list from Mark Williams of potential takeovers and management of assets. There is a meeting with portfolio holders at Cornwall Council planned and Mark will add s106 to that discussion.

Candy Atherton reminded members of the forum that it is the right of any member of the public to ask a question of the full Council and then to ask a follow-up to that.

6) Falmouth Town Council – Article 4 Direction and Neighbourhood Plan
Candy Atherton said that a meeting of a stakeholder group for Article 4 Direction and a Neighbourhood Plan had taken place at which several members of the forum had been involved. The big issue that had already been identified was the cost. There was a need to have a planner involved in the project and that was proving to be quite an expensive resource. Falmouth Town Council has applied to government for the £7000 grant which must be used by the end of March. Mark Williams added that the precept submission has to be made by the second week in December and that an allocation for the Neighbourhood Plan would be included. Cornwall Council may be able to provide additional help in kind.

The next meeting of the stakeholder group will be in January 2015.

Reports 

7) Town Leadership – Updates from Town Manager and/or BID Manager
Richard Wilcox reported that a DCLG Minister had visited the Town Team in Falmouth and had been extremely complimentary about the way in which they were working. Cornwall has the most Business Improvement Districts by population in the country and Falmouth BID will be invited to get involved in future Town Centre planning.

Splash, the Falmouth Arts Festival, was included in the top 15 BID projects of 2014.

The BID AGM will take place on 27 November at 6pm in the National Maritime Museum and all are welcome. A new Festival of Sport is being added to the 2015 schedule, the dates being 25th July to 2nd August. Tempus Leisure have signed as a headline sponsor for the Spring Festival and the J class yachts will be back in Falmouth 23 – 27 June, sponsored by Falmouth BID and Pendennis shipyard.

The Falmouth.co.uk website is being revamped with improved business pages and other design improvements.

There has been more destination work undertaken as part of the PR remit of the BID with an emphasis on regional press within a three hour drive of Falmouth and also in the M4/M5 corridor. BID is also targeting business to business press with emphasis on the Marine, education, food and drink and creative sectors. A further extension of the partnership between BID and the Cornwall Marine Network will make available another £50,000 worth of free training for eligible businesses.

In recognition of Falmouth success in the South-West in Bloom, we will be entered into the national competition in 2015.

8) Any other business (preferably notified in advance)
David Yelland raised the issue of section 106 money. This was covered in the main meeting and is minuted there.

Caroline Robinson noted that the FSB infrastructure survey will be released shortly. She drew attention to a meeting jointly run by BBC Radio Cornwall and the FSB to be held at Kingsley Village on Wednesday, 26 November. Titled ‘When, Where, What Time, How Much?’ The meeting will be recorded for later broadcast on BBC Radio Cornwall. Details can be found at http://www.fsb.org.uk/cornwall/infrastructure-debate.

Andy Coote asked Tim Light if there was anything that we should be worrying about in reports that the Fal River Visitor Information Centre might need to close as a result of rent increases. Tim said that there was nothing that should concern Forum at this stage.  

9) Next Meetings Dates and Venues for future meetings (all starting at 6pm.)
Andy noted that meetings will continue to be held at the National Maritime Museum and thanked Richard Doughty for their hospitality.

Meetings as currently planned are set out below. There are some members of Forum who are unable to make Wednesday evenings. Although this was not raised at the meeting, should we be considering meetings on different nights of the week at some stages of the year?

Venue currently booked at NMMC •

  • 21st January
  • 11th March
  • 13th May
  • 8th July
  • 9th September
  • 11th November 

The meeting closed at 7:55 PM.

Attendees
Andy Coote (Chair), Falmouth Business Club
Steve Gray (Deputy Chair), Falmouth Town Council
Kim Conchie, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce - Guest
Tim Light, Fal River Links
Mark Williams, Falmouth Town Council
Jeremy Edwards, Falmouth Chamber of Commerce
David Yelland, Falmouth Bay Residents Association
Gary Tranter, Falmouth Harbour Commissioners
Mike Jenks, Falmouth Civic Society
Sally Stiles, Falmouth Age Concern
Dick Stiles, Falmouth Civic Society
Candy Atherton, Cornwall Council and Falmouth Town Council
Richard Wilcox, Falmouth BID
Richard Doughty, National Maritime Museum

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Meeting - September 2014

Cornwall Council Budget Consultation 
Cornwall Council had recently launched a consultation on the cuts necessary to achieve a balanced budget. £196m needed to be cut. The details were set out in a 160-page document available on the Council website.

It was difficult to drill down very far as the figures were very much at summary level but the implications were pretty daunting. Although things like charging for on-street parking were inevitably getting the headlines other far-reaching areas, like social care, were going to be hit very hard.The loss of Visit Cornwall and the devolution of activities to local councils was noted as having a major impact on Falmouth. Well-handled, the devolution could bring a useful local input to the provision of services but only if these were properly resourced.

Cornwall Council was inviting comments. There is an on-line form to submit comments on their website and a series of consultation sessions is planned. The Falmouth one would take place in the Town Council building at 4:00 on 21 October. The Council Cabinet would be discussing the budget on 5 November and the full Council would endorse the final budget on 22 November.

It was difficult to see what could be done about such swingeing cuts, especially as the detail was so unclear. The meeting agreed that the priorities should be to support the Town Council in making sure that additional services were not foisted onto them without matching resources and that the very successful town team should continue to be supported.

Possible Neighbourhood Plan and Article 4 Direction for Falmouth
A useful meeting had been held with representatives of Cornwall Council to discuss the possibility of producing a Neighbourhood Plan and the overlap between this and the suggestion of an Article 4 Direction to put controls on the number of houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs) in the town.

There was hierarchy of plans. What had been known as the Cornwall Core Strategy had changed into the Local Plan. This covered Cornwall as a whole. Alongside this, an extensive piece of work had been done identifying sites in and around Falmouth and Penryn which might be used to accommodate the agreed level of growth. This had been called the Local Development Framework but was now seen as part of a suite of Local Development Documents. The identified sites were included in an Allocation Development Plan Document (or Allocation DPD).

The Allocation DPD was being revised to take into account the revised housing allocation target for the Falmouth and Penryn area agreed by Cornwall Councillors.

A Neighbourhood Plan (NP) would fit in beneath these.

The boundaries of the NP would be fairly critical. The Community Plan had covered Falmouth and Penryn as a whole. The Allocation DPD covered a slightly wider area which included some of the neighbouring parishes who had been invited to participate in its production. However, it was clear that some of the local parishes might be reluctant to fund an NP, let alone be enthusiastic about absorbing a large share of the green-field development, and the current view in the Town Council was that the NP boundary should be drawn in a more limited way, perhaps only covering the boundaries of Falmouth.  

The proposal for an Article 4 Direction might cover only a limited area in the town. One idea was that this area could form the basis of a much more limited NP, thus saving the cost of running two consultation processes. There was a problem with this, however: an Article 4 Direction was essentially about preventing development while an NP was about facilitating development. A geographically-limited NP would struggle to find development sites in the middle of town.

The discussion highlighted a preference for a much wider area for the NP, preferably including Penryn, rather than the very limited (Article 4-sized) or Falmouth-only solution.

There was also a degree of scepticism about the effectiveness of an Article 4 Direction. Some of its proponents saw it as a 'way of controlling students. Others believed the effort would be better put into raising standards of existing HMOs. The meeting noted that HMOs are inhabited by a diverse population, not just students and that a holistic approach to housing might be more helpful.

It also suggested that a simpler and cheaper approach to an NP might be to seek to get the basic principles of sustainable housing and communities better articulated in the Allocation DPD. A high-level document on Development Standards was expected from Cornwall Council but had not yet been forthcoming, In the absence of this, we could feed in our own views on the benefits of master-planning for new developments.

Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta 2014
This had been a very enjoyable, very well organised, very well attended event. The location had been so much better than before, the events through the town had been attractive and the music simply splendid, especially as it was free.

There had been some problems with parking and some traders in areas not involved had reported very low footfall but the general feeling was that it had been good for the town attracting considerable national attention.

There were two evaluation surveys, one for visitors (closes 15 September) and one for businesses (closes 28 September).

Town Team
In the absence of the Town Manager and BID Manager, the following were noted:

It had been a very active year for events so far. Splash! the Autumn art event would be running between 20-28 September. The Oyster Festival would then bring the season to a close 9-12 October.

The government had published a consultation on the right to challenge unfair parking policies. This was open until 10 October.

Shorts
Dredging - things are moving forward and the Harbour Commissioners are more confident now than ever before. No budget has yet been identified.

Sea bird breeding area - there was no further news on the proposal to designate Falmouth Bay as protected area for key seabirds

Cycling Proposals for Falmouth and Penryn - there was no further news on the cycling proposals

Falmouth Bay – a Friends of Falmouth Bay group had been established to look after some of the infrastructure overlooking the bay. Cornwall Council were being helpful in this work.

The Falmouth Beaches Management Group had also been reconstituted with the aim of getting the beach back to Blue Flag status.

Scottish referendum: No one seemed terribly keen on the idea of storing nuclear missiles in the AONB of Trefusis headland as had been suggested as a possible consequence of the Scottish devolution vote.

Penryn is kicking off a Town Team to echo the Falmouth Town Forum.

Future meetings
12 November - at NMMC as usual (subject to confirmation) - at which the guest will be Kim Conchie CEO of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce.

The dates for the 2015 meetings are here.

Attending the meeting which was held on the 10th were:
Andy Coote (chairman) - Falmouth Business Club
Chris Smith - Community Plan
David Yelland - Falmouth Bay Residents Association
Gary Tranter - Falmouth Harbour Commissioners
Jackie George - Watersports Centre
Jilly Easterby - Falmouth Exeter Plus
Jonathan Griffin - National Maritime Museum Cornwall
Mike Jenks - Civic Society
Sally Stiles - Age Concern Befrienders