John Pollard

John Pollard has been a Hayle Town Councillor for 30 years and is now as a Cornwall County Councillor is Cabinet Member Portfolio Holder for Localism, Sustainability and Devolution.

John Pollard’s talk followed the lively discussion last week which had been aroused by the previous talk on traffic management for the town, when both the ownership of local facilities and the extent of the local Town Councils powers had provoked a debate.

Talk
In his talk entitled “What can localism do for you” John Pollard set out an informed and appropriately critical appraisal of the progress of Localism and Devolution since the formation of the unitary authority.

In introducing the subject the speaker explained his long involvement with the Hayle Town Council, which had always felt itself the poor relation and explained how Council Officers, Town Council Members and the Community had worked together and from this the plans for the regeneration of the Hayle Harbour are now coming to fruition. This pattern of Officers, Members and Community working together was what the speaker hoped and expected of the new Unitary Authority. In reality he said the results have been patchy. There are practical difficulties, Cornwall Council is the geographically the largest Unitary Authority in the country with the difficulties of large travel distances and within these distances there is a significant variation of concerns; the huge importance of beaches in Penwith does not instantly translate to Truro.

John Pollards presents his Trust Talk to a keen audience at the Guildhall

John Pollard suggested that the faltering start of Localism in the County was also down to a reciprocal problem of both the reluctance of Town Councils to take up the new powers and the reluctance of the former County Council to devolve powers. With these indoctrinations entrenched within the separate cultures of Town and County Halls the introduction of Localism and Devolution coincided with large budget cuts further impeding the implementation of the changes. The bringing together of six former districts and the County Council into a Unitary Authority had been painful.

The speaker illustrated the words of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in introducing the Localism Bill and showed how the Secretary was saying nothing anyone could object to but questioned what the Act actually means as these changes are implemented. There was criticism of the new boundaries and the groupings of former towns and parishes into community networks. He explained that the nineteen new Community networks formed in Cornwall are serviced by only ten network managers.

His criticisms stated John Pollard highlighted the opportunities these changes present, which he said need to be grasped by Town Councils. He highlighted the County Councils recent decision to offer Town Councils freeholds; the right of Communities to build introduced in the Act and the importance of the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy in returning revenue back to the neighbourhood in which it was raised (refer to earlier St Ives Trust Report on Planning and Localism www.stivestrust.org/future/planning-and-localism/ for more information.)

The speaker concluded:
We must strive to make the idea of Localism and the principle of devolution effective. The principle is correct, the practice so far patchy but it should become more fully embedded in the next Cornwall Council. There is a need to change the attitude of many of our partners. If the legislation is to benefit the people of Cornwall, we need to be positive.

Discussion

The speaker opened a discussion with the audience that was reflective of many the current concerns of the town: the development of a Neighbourhood Plan, the management of local facilities and the provision for car parking.

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