Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Census: excitement mounts

From the BBC staff journal Ariel's "Earwigging" column, overhearing those water-cooler conversations: "When will we know if the Cornish have beaten the Jedi?"

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Crisis? What crisis?

Lib Dem councillor Jeremy Rowe Tweets:
"Disappointed there were no live tweets from the Cornwall Council Tory Group's crisis meeting last night."

To which Conservative councillor Steve Double replies:
"So sorry about the lack of service but couldn't imagine why you would be interested."

Rumours of a Tory backbench plot to oust thier group leader, Alec Robertson, are almost certainly exaggerated. But they definitely exist. From three different sources, I have heard variously of 12, 15 and even 22 Conservative councillors signing a letter calling for Alec to go - to be replaced by Truro councillor Fiona Ferguson. Fiona tells me it's all news to her.

Another Conservative councillor, declining to comment on rumours of plots or conspiracies, says last night's gathering was an informal affair - and that it'll all be cleared up at a formal group meeting on 6th April. My money is on Alec's survival as leader, but I forecast changes to the Conservative part of the council cabinet come the time of the annual council meeting in May.

My challenge to the rebels: Enough gossip. Show me the letter.

Monday, 28 March 2011

A different kind of LEP

Asked if he had read Sir John Banham's prospectus for a Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, new chairman Chris Pomfret said he had "skimmed through it.....a bit." His salary will be £20,000/year for the part-time job. The remaining board members will be appointed over the next few weeks. "We should do only a few things - but do them really well," said Chris. He doesn't yet know what those few things will be, but drawing up a "to do" list will be top of the new board's agenda. And whereas Sir John envisaged a LEP run along similar lines to a PLC, with equity-holding board members elected by shareholders, Chris seems to favour a more traditional quango model - praising the transparency of the Food Standards Agency, whose board he joined in 2005.

Looking good for council webcasting

Tomorrow's Cornwall Council meeting is being recommended to extend its webast coverage for a further two years. You can see the monthly viewing figures here.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Beginning of the end?

Just received this email about what had been proposed as a 5MW solar farm near Four Lanes:
Please note that the exhibition of the proposed Penhalurick Barton Farm solar farm at the Stithians Centre on Thursday March 31st, publicised in last week's issue of the West Briton, has now been cancelled following emerging Government guidance on renewable energy funding.

Cornwall anti-cuts campaigners in London

Three coachloads of Cornwall's public sector workers and their families made the trip to London for yesterday's anti-cuts demo. The first coach left Penzance at 2am. Stuart Roden, from Unison, thinks there were about 1,000 protestors from Cornwall in total. None saw any trouble. The photo shows a group of Unison members from the Royal Cornwall hospital, Truro, on Westminster Bridge.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A healthy debate? (continued)

In some ways, the debate on the future of the health service, broadcast on BBC Radio Cornwall at lunchtime yesterday (and still available on iPlayer,) was something of a very well-informed rehearsal for the Cornwall Council meeting on Tuesday. With a panel and audience of health professionals and policy-makers, most aspects of the government's proposed reorganisation got a thorough scrutiny.

Thanks to a petition bearing more than 5,000 names, Cornwall's councillors will now be forced to take a position on the government's plans - which I first blogged about in September and which certainly threaten to test the relationship between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

One aspect of the petition which has to be considered on Tuesday is whether or not to hold a referendum in Cornwall, to give voters a chance to pronounce specifically on this particular part of the coalition's programme. The council has already told me that such a stand-alone referendum would cost about £600,000 to organise.

But supporters of a referendum on health policy say it could be held at the same time as the referendum about changing the voting system, on 5th May, and that this would cut costs dramatically. They point out that in Scotland, Wales, and many parts of England, the Alternative Vote referendum is being held alongside local council elections without any apparent difficulty.

It's an idea which has not gone down well with the suits at County Hall. Here's the official line:
"It is the strong advice of the Head of Legal and Democratic Services and the Electoral Services Manager that there should no form of public consultation which runs alongside or in anyway involves the arrangements for the Alternative Vote Referendum. Members will be aware of the importance of that Referendum and nothing should be done which could in any way interfere with or influence the effective conduct of the arrangements for that Referendum in Cornwall."

It seems that public opinion about changing the voting system matters more than public opinion about the future of the health service. So there.

Friday, 25 March 2011

A view from the backbenches

This email, sent to all members of Cornwall Council, by the Falmouth Arwenick Independent member Steve Eva:
Dear Alec,
I have no problem with you attending the awards I do how ever have a problem with the fact that you totally ignore the fact we have a Chairman of the Council. Your position is as leader of the political side of the Council and the Chairman's job to be the figurehead which given the chance she does extremely well. If you have a problem with that maybe you should look at your own role which you have attracted a lot of bad press on behalf of us all and if that is not enough for you maybe you should give someone else a chance and step aside.
I guess that means councillor Eva's vote can no longer be relied upon (if it ever could) to support the Conservative-Independent administration.

Neil Murray

Neil Murray, Looe fisherman and husband of Sheryll, has died in a fishing accident. My deepest sympathies to Sheryll, Sally and Andrew.

Message from the leader

Cornwall Council leader Alec Robertson writes:
"I am extremely pleased that Cornwall was shortlisted for both the "most improved council" award and the award for "community involvement" at this year's Local Government Chronicle awards. These awards are designed to highlight the very best practice in local government and being nominated is a fantastic achievement for any council. The fact that we were shortlisted for the "most improved council" award following the challenges of the transition to a unitary authority, including inheriting a number of failing services, shows the significant progress we have made over the last twelve months. This is an achievement which we should all be celebrating. Given this national recognition for the work of the Council, I am disappointed but sadly not surprised by criticism of attendance at the awards ceremony. The suggestion that this has cost a huge amount of council taxpayers' money is not true. As the Cabinet member with responsibility for performance and improvement it was right that I should represent the authority at such a prestigious event but I made it clear that it was important to keep the costs to an absolute minimum. The facts are that the Chief Executive was a judge for one of the categories and, as such, was eligible for a free place at the ceremony. He was also already in London attending meetings and so there were no additional costs for either his travel or accommodation. One of the other officers was also attending meetings outside Cornwall and so only incurred a small additional cost for travelling to London. The two people specifically representing the NewquaySafe project, one of whom was a Council officer and the other a police officer, were also already in London attending a meeting at the Home Office about the project. As a direct result of that meeting the project has been awarded a £10,000 grant to enable it to mentor other councils on its work. The other members of the group attended the ceremony as guests of outside organisations at no cost to the Council, and also paid for their own travel and accommodation. I am very proud of Cornwall's achievements which are increasingly being highlighted on the national stage and I would call on everyone to join me in celebrating Cornwall's successes."

The council tells me the cost to the taxpayer was less than £500.

Andrew is first

Congratulations to St Ives MP Andrew George for being Cornwall's first Parliamentarian to sign Therese Coffey's extremely wonderful Early Day Motion 1593. Still time for Cornwall's other MPs to add their names.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Our showbiz correspondent writes...

I'm sure we all feel the pain of those from Cornwall Council who went all the way to the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, for last night's Local Government Chronicle awards party - and came away empty handed. The council had been nominated in the categories for "most improved" and "community safety."

The media industry is no stranger to this sort of beano and I confess I am sufficiently veteran to have seen my share. The knowledge that you must have done something right to even have been shortlisted still seems like small consolation when "the prize for ..." goes to someone else.

So I make no criticism at all of Cornwall Council for not bringing back any silverware (in broadcasting, the gongs tend to be made of plastic.)

I do wonder, though, if it was strictly necessary to send EIGHT people to sit round the table, eat the food, drink the wine, listen to the speeches and then take to the dance floor (I offer a small reward for any photos.) I also question the composition of the council group - only one elected politician among them. I suspect some councillors might want to inquire who hands out the invitations for this kind of jolly.

The Local Government Chronicle invitation to councils to buy a table for last night's bash declares, without any obvious irony: "Boost the morale of your staff - providing excellent services would not be possible without your staff. Show them how they are valued by inviting them to the awards for a night of reward and recognition."

Should I ask the council for details of how much last night's travel and accommodation cost the taxpayer? My guess is somewhere north of £1,500.

Wouldn't it have been nice to reward some refuse collectors, or fire-fighters, or social workers? Or indeed anyone from the front line. But for the record, here are the names - and minimum annual costs (as published on the council's website) - of those who I'm sure will not have anything resembling a hangover this morning:

Kevin Lavery, chief executive (£200,000), Michael Crich, corporate director, Resources (£140,000), Gill Steward, corporate director, Communities (£140,000), Kim Carey, corporate director for Adult Care & Support (£125,000), Paul Masters, assistant chief executive (£90,000), Carole Theobald, head of Communications & Strategy (£70,000) and Rob Andrew, Localism Area Manager (annual salary below threshold for publication.) Alec Robertson, council leader (basic allowance plus leader's allowance £34,600). .

I hope they had a good time.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Funny old world

Twenty two years after the South West Water Authority was privatised by a Conservative government, effectively penalising people in Cornwall for living close to the coast, a Tory-led government introduces measures to spread the cost more equitably around the country. For the many, not the few, and all that. We don't yet know the detail of how George Osborne proposes to use public money to offset Cornwall's high water bills. This is what South West Water had to say:
"On behalf of our customers, we welcome the Prime Minister and Chancellor's commitment to address the unfairness of water charges in the South West caused by three per cent of the population funding the clean up of 30% of the nation's bathing waters since 1989.

"We await more details on how much support will be allocated and when it will be available. We will continue to work closely with the government to examine the practicality of options to help customers."

The glittering prizes

I wonder who from Cornwall Council is headed for London this evening for the annual Local Government Chronicle awards dinner. Cornwall is nominated in the "most improved council" category. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

We're all going on another holiday

We shall to have to wait to see how much time Cornwall councillors spend debating this motion next week:
"Cornwall Council notes the recent government white paper on changing bank holidays and instructs the chief executive to respond that any change in Cornwall should lead to the creation of a public holiday on St Piran's Day to reflect our unique cultural heritage."
The government is currently consulting on whether to scrap the May Day holiday (introduced in 1978 to mark International Workers' Day) and have instead a public holiday on St George's Day (23rd April) or Trafalgar Day (21st October.)

Trafalgar Day used to be marked by parades and parties to celebrate Nelson's 1805 victory, although enthusiasm for this diminished after the First World War. St George's Day was also quite a shindig in the 16th century but again, ran out of steam after a couple of hundred years (St George incidentally was born in Syria, the son of a Roman soldier and Palestinian mother. The bit about the dragon was completely made up.)

I have no idea what the impact of a St Piran's Day holiday might have on Cornwall's economy - but I imagine that to be closed for business, when the rest of the UK is open, won't help the bottom line. There is also the question of whether it should be St Piran, St Petroc or St Michael.

Monday, 21 March 2011

When a campaign is not a campaign

Here is Cornwall Council's answer to my question about last week's Census Tweet:
"We are not staging a campaign for people to say they are Cornish. We are supporting the work of the census office to raise public awareness about the census and the importance of people taking part in the process. As part of that process, we have been raising awareness of the opportunity for people to identify themselves as Cornish if they wish to do so."

And a reminder of what Friday's Council Tweet actually said:
"Our campaign to get people who call themselves Cornish to say so on the Census has made it onto wikipedia "

Cornwall opinion poll suggests Labour surge as Lib Dems slump

Marketing Means is a polling company based at Ashburton, Devon, and their latest survey of voting intentions has made it on to the front page of today's Western Morning News. The pollsters have kindly sent me the data specific to Cornwall:
Conservatives - 36%
Labour - 27%
Liberal Democrats - 18%

This is quite a turn around from last year's general election result, but before Labour supporters get too excited let me point out that the headline is based on rather small numbers. For example, the total sample size in Cornwall was only 75. Of these, only 22 said they would now vote Labour (but only 12 said they would vote Liberal Democrat.) 27 supported the Conservatives, 5 would vote Green, 8 for UKIP and one "other."

Marketing Means claims to have pioneered a more localised approach to poll weighting and demographic adjustment to take into account the growing pluralism of British politics. Their website say this "led to them accurately predicting the South West region's results in 2005, and being the only pollster in 2010 election campaign series in the Independent on Sunday to consistently predict that the Conservative Party would fall short of an overall majority in the House of Commons."

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The power of BBC Radio Cornwall

I've just taken a phone call from a chap called Colin Matthews, a retired funeral director from Camborne, who is on holiday in Morocco. Given the events in Libya in the past 24 hours, feelings are running high across North Africa and the streets of Casablanca are packed with demonstrators. Colin phoned his favourite local radio station to tell us this news. Laurence Reed is back from holiday tomorrow. How long before Col Gadaffi calls for a chat?

Not much of a no-fly zone at incinerator site

A pleasant Sunday morning stroll at Trevisco reveals the nature of Cornwall Council's attempt to stop birds nesting in hedges which might have to be ripped out when if the incinerator gets its planning permission. There are lots of gaps in the netting. So many gaps, in fact, that I do wonder if this is a serious effort to keep wildlife out of the hedge - or merely a cynical box-ticking exercise, to demonstrate that all possible means have been taken to protect the environment when if the incinerator gets the go-ahead.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Sun sets on green energy scheme

The government is considering a 5 kilowatt limit for its more generous feed-in tariffs for solar-generated electricity schemes. Cornwall's landowners had been hoping for a £1billion gold rush - but now the next wave of planning applications for large-scale projects might be the last. The 5KW limit is 100 times smaller than originally planned.

The Secretary of State for Energy Chris Huhne announced at the beginning of February that the Government was intending to carry out a fast track consultation on proposed changes to the tariff, which provides financial support for renewable electricity production at local level. Today's announcement of the timetable for the consultation means that Cornwall Council has just six weeks to persuade the Government to re-consider this proposal.

Julian German, the Council's cabinet member responsible for the green energy programme, says the Government is giving confusing messages to local councils:
"The Council has followed Government's guidelines which allow us to generate green electricity and then sell it. It is hard to believe that only six months after creating the legislation which allow us to take this route, they are now considering taking away the incentive that made it so financially viable. We are extremely disappointed that on one hand the Secretary of State announced that local authorities have the opportunity to generate and sell electricity from renewable technologies, and yet now, on the other hand, they are planning changes to the feed-in tariff which is central to the profitability of our plans to take up this opportunity."

Council nets St Dennis hedgerow ahead of incinerator decision

Cornwall Council is wrapping a hedegrow in St Dennis in anti-bird netting, in anticipation of getting planning permission for a £110 million waste incinerator. The council believes any delay to the start of construction could cost £1 million a month. But anti-incinerator campaigners say the move threatens wildlife. A decision on whether or not the incinerator (Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre) has planning permission is expected in the next few weeks.

The council's just emailed me this:
"The cost of purchasing and erecting the netting is approximately £10,000. The cost of delays to the opening of the CERC are approximately £1,000,000 per month. If the decision is given early say in April and the Cabinet accept the Revised Project Plan, say in June, then the netting could potentially save £2,000,000. The Council had two options to try and mitigate costs due to delays associated with nesting: a) cut down all mature trees and flail the hedges or b) net the trees and hedges. If planning permission was not obtained and trees had been cut down there would be ongoing detriment to the environment in the form of the loss of mature trees, however if nets were used they can simply be removed with no lasting detriment to the environment. St Dennis, St Enoder, and St Stephen Parish Councils and the local Councillor were informed of the works and the reason for the netting. In addition the St Dennis News was also informed. The netting will be taken down if planning permission is not given or when construction on the scheme begins. The netting is being inspected every day by Cornwall Environmental consultants to check no birds or animals trapped and it is secure and not fastened in an unsafe manner."

Counting only Cornish?

Cornwall Council Tweets to say:
"Our campaign to get people who call themselves Cornish to say so on the Census has made it onto wikipedia"
I have asked the obvious question, namely if we can now look forward to a "council campaign" for people who consider themselves English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Jedi etc etc to say so on the Census. I can understand why the council would want to campaign for maximising overall participation, but I'm puzzled why this campaign should be limited to those who call themselves Cornish. Does nobody else pay council tax?

Glass half full or half empty?

The Department of Communities and Local Government is giving Cornwall Council £294,240 as a reward for meeting various "targets" set by the previous government. But before they quaff too much champagne up at County Hall I should point out that this is only half of what the council is actually entitled to. DCLG minister Bob Neil said:
"The reward grant being paid today is for agreements made before June 2008 and is being paid at a 50 per cent reduction. In making these payments in this way the Government has struck a balance between the urgent need to cut the national deficit and secure economic recovery, whilst also recognising the achievements of councils and their partners who have worked together for their area."
Cornwall is one of 81 councils to get the "Performance Reward Grant" - which from today is abolished.

University College Falmouth faces 6.6% funding cut

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is cutting its total grant to University College Falmouth by 6.6%. The University of Plymouth faces a 5.5% cut while the University of Exeter a 4.5% cut. They are among more than 120 universities facing cuts this year. Only one, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is seeing an increase in funding.

NHS referendum would cost Cornwall £600,000

My thanks to Cornwall Council for answering my question about how much it would cost to organise a county-wide referendum about the proposed changes to the National Health Service, as implied in a resolution to be debated on 29th March: £600,000.

The council says there might be cheaper ways of getting the public's views, such as local polls, a survey or questionnaire - but a full-blown referendum would cost more than half a million pounds.

Hmmm. For amusement and mischief-value alone, it might just be worth it. In the context of the overall NHS budget, which is more than £100 billion, this is just loose change.

Follow the money

We're running a story on BBC Radio Cornwall tomorrow morning about the financial arrangements between Cornwall Council and Cosgarne Hall, the St Austell charity which provides accommodation for people whose lives are so chaotic they can't live anywhere else.

John Coventry, who is secretary to the charity and who has been a vocal campaigner against the council cutting its Supporting People budget, tells me that there isn't an arrangement between the council and Cosgarne Hall - because the relevant Supporting People contract is with him personally.

It's a complex tale and one which the council itself is now looking into. Some councillors, notably Truro's Fiona Ferguson, have asked if the £288,000 worth of contracts with Mr Coventry represent best value for money.

Accounts filed with the Charity Commissioners show that Mr Coventry and his wife, as owners of the properties which house up to 40 Supporting People clients, received rental income of more than £193,000 in the 15 months to March last year.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


Anyone know how many Cornwall Council departments are under-achieving to such an extent that they need a special agenda item at their scrutiny meetings for "Good News?"

A risk-averse press release

I'm grateful to South West Lib Dem Euro MP Graham Watson for sending me a press release which calls for a "risk-averse approach to nuclear power." So much more sensible than the alternative.

Off the rails

If you are a First Great Western train passenger I'd love to know what you think of the idea that it might be cheaper for shareholders to surrender the franchise than to upgrade the rolling stock. FGW emails me thus:
"We have to take a decision before the end of the year as to whether we are going to exercise our contractual right to extend the FGW franchise to March 2016."

Time and motion

Today's Guardian has got us all wondering which 5 per cent of BBC staff in Cornwall are under-performing. It would mean there are probably two of us. I suggest that to make it fair, it should be another column on the weekly rota.

More than 5,000 petition over NHS changes in Cornwall

The Cornwall Council on-line register of paper petitions is a site worth keeping an eye on. For example, more than 5,000 have now signed this Labour-inspired one:
"Petitioners oppose the move of Adult Community Health Services, including the operation of the 14 Community Hospitals, out of the NHS to a Social Enterprise Community Interest Company and asks Cornwall Council to debate the matter at a full meeting of the Council so that all 123 elected representatives of Cornwall can consider the issue fully. It also requests that Cornwall Council carry out a referendum to see whether the people of Cornwall support (or oppose) this move BEFORE implementation by NHS Cornwall."
It must now be debated at the full council meeting on 29th March. Interesting.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

What do you think of it so far?

This blog is now a year old - give or take a few days.

In the continuing interests of reader-engagement, feedback and quality control, I invite you to submit your opinions about any or all of the 570 entries penned so far.

This was the first blog of its kind, specific to BBC local radio. In these cost-conscious times I should point out that the burden on licence-fee payers is nothing at all, as it's written in my spare time (as a form of therapy.)

Among the stories which subsequently attracted a wider audience, there's been quite a bit of stuff about Cornwall Council, whose constitution has had to be reviewed twice because of blog entries. The blog was first to report that the general election Con-LibDem deal would mean constituency boundary reviews leading to Devonwall. The blog can also claim to have re-written the official timeline of Cornish history - who can forget the Kilbrandon Report? There have been hitherto unplumbed inquiries into who spent what during the general election campaign. My personal favourite was the one about the council visit to the lap-dancing club: Flashman & The Angels.

It's clear, though, that the blog has its critics - who are also cordially invited to say why I should spend more time on the tennis court.

Thank you for reading - and whether you like it or not, another year of blogging is about to be foisted upon you.

Saint Therese

I'm ashamed to admit that until yesterday I had never heard of Therese Coffey, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Suffolk Coastal.

But now that she has tabled Early Day Motion 1593 I have no hesitation in describing her as charming, witty, intelligent, hard working and stunningly attractive.

If you haven't already read Early Day Motion 1593 then I urge you to do so, as I'm sure you'll agree it's the most perfectly crafted form of words to enter Parliament in a very long time.

Indeed, you might like to draw Early Day Motion 1593 to the attention of your own Member of Parliament, possibly encouraging them to add their own names to what I'm sure will be a very long list of supporters.

In the interests of balance and impartiality, I should point out that other EDMs might be available.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

It's an ill wind

News that the UK government is trying to learn lessons from Japan's nuclear power crisis makes me wonder what the implications might be for Cornwall's renewable energy sector, and the off-shore wind industry in particular. Buy now?

Cornwall Stadium? £120,000 just to stay in the game

A fascinating Cornwall Council cabinet meeting tomorrow, as members debate a recommendation to progress plans for a sports stadium at Threemilestone, near Truro.

The game of poker unfolding before our eyes is gripping as the private and public sectors face-off across the table. Who will blink first? The stakes just get higher and higher. The recently published feasibility study says the total cost of the project could reach £41 million. It says the maximum council capital contribution would be only £5 million. The prize could be 400 jobs and an attraction generating a £3 million customer spend each year.

Who is to say if the odds implied in these figures are credible or not? The word "risky" doesn't begin to cover it.

To continue with the design and development work now requires taxpayers to stump up £120,000. What happens next, no-one knows - although there are plenty who'll tell you that once hooked, the gambler just keeps going until he runs out of money.

Incinerator decision due on 16th April

I'm grateful to Cornwall councillor Dick Cole's blog for drawing my attention to this important date.

Empty chairs

The National Union of Teachers has had to change the format of a planned "debate" about the future of state education in Cornwall because none of those supporting the government's Academies programme was prepared to take part.

Instead, the NUT will stage a public meeting at the Princess Pavillion, Falmouth, on 21st March. The union's general secretary, Christine Blowers, is among the speakers.

Among those declining the invitation to take part is Bob Mitchell, whose job title is now "Principal" of Bodmin College. Until it became an academy at the start of the year, he was simply "headmaster."

Bodmin's acquisition of academy status has required it to advertise for a new headteacher - Bob's new job means he's too busy. The school has also appointed a separate business manager. A few weeks ago I called Bodmin College to ask if I could interview Bob. I'm keen to find out how these changes will improve the quality of teaching. I'm still waiting for the return call.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Lib Dems find it's grim up north

My thanks to the Conservative Home blog for reminding me that Liberal Democrats used to really like by-elections. As my colleague Brian Wheeler reports, maybe UKIP are becoming the new Lib Dems.

What does it mean in Cornwall? At the moment, absolutely nothing. The next round of Cornwall Council elections are not until 2013. The Liberal Democrats still have a large (but shrinking) political machine capable of getting voters to polling stations.

As Lib Dem councillor Alex Folkes has blogged, it's too early for his Cornwall team to panic. But his Lib Dem colleagues in Scotland and Wales, and anywhere else where there are elections in May, must already be contemplating what to do with all the spare time they are about enjoy.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

No shortage of LEP applicants

It seems that, so far, 71 people have applied to join the board of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership. Good to see that enthusiasm for spending taxpayers' money has not been dented by the unfortunate start to the project in December. Interviews and appointments due shortly.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Second homes register likely to stay secret

It looks as if Cornwall Council has the Information Commissioner on its side when it comes to judgement of the "public interest test" on disclosure of second home addresses. The Commission has been down his road before, most recently on 8th February last year, in a case involving the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. An earlier case even went to the Information Tribunal, and again found in favour of the council. It looks as if we shall to have rely on intelligence gathered on the ground by the political parties themselves. So when it comes to the harvesting of votes from second home addresses the richest, and best organised, political parties are likely to have the edge.