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Updated September 2016

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Quarterly News From Launceston Town Council - December 2016

This is my first ‘Launceston Link’ report since taking up the post of Town Clerk in August. It has been a very busy time for the Town Council, having said goodbye to our long serving Clerk, Rita Skinner, who is now enjoying her well deserved retirement.

I have been made very welcome by staff, councillors and residents alike. It has been a pleasure walking around this historic town and meeting people, as well as attending a number of meetings and events of the many associations and groups. If you have any questions that you want to ask of the Council, please come and see me or call the offices and I promise I will try and remember everyone’s name in time! In addition to my new post, we are also delighted to welcome Christopher Owens, who has taken up the post of Caretaker at the Town Hall. Christopher’s arrival is as a replacement for Norman Pomery, who is moving to work with our Grounds Maintenance team.

The Council has been involved in a number of important consultations involving the forthcoming Local Plan, which is the document that will be used to decide on all planning matters in Cornwall. It is vitally important that the details of the Plan properly represent the needs of the town both for now and in the future, and town councillors have worked hard to ensure that the document best reflects those needs.

The Town Heritage Days, when historic buildings in our town were open to visitors and which offered guided tours of the buildings, proved extremely popular. One of the buildings used was the magnificent Southgate Arch. The building is currently empty and our Town Maintenance team are undertaking some works on the building, ready for future use. If you are interested in leasing the Arch, please contact us.

The Launceston Matters event in November, when we asked you to come and give your views of the town and tell us what you want to see happen in the future, proved to be very popular and we are collating all of the views and opinions received to see how we can take the suggestions forward. We all know what a fantastic town we have, but we wanted to make sure that those people not lucky enough to live here, had the chance to come and see just how good it is and what we have to offer. Therefore the Council made the decision to invest in an advertising campaign on Pirate FM in the lead up to Christmas. We worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce on the project and the Chamber made a significant contribution towards the cost of the campaign. We would love to know if you heard the advertisements and if so, what did you think of them and is this something we should consider doing in the future?
 

You will have seen work going on throughout the town at both the coach park and on the wall of the multi storey car park. The coach park had some wonderful artist works painted on it but over time these had faded and so having spoken to the original artists, it was agreed to update the site. The Council’s Tourist and Information Services committee has agreed to investigate making a feature of the site, to make it a focal welcoming point as you come into the town. Our Property Manager and his team are working hard on ideas as this publication goes to print. The splendid Barefoot volunteers have overseen the creation of some new ceramic butterflies and undertaken the painting of the multi storey car park wall by the Town Hall, creating a wonderful country scene, that brightens up even the most dreary day.

As well as working on the new town guide for 2017/2018 our Tourist Information colleagues have taken on the photo printing service, previously provided by JayBee Fotos of Westgate Street. Our thanks to Sonia and Tony Hillman for their invaluable help and patience in teaching us how to use the machine.

In the last edition, we told you that our business plan to Cornwall Council for devolved library services had been rejected, however further meetings took place in November and it is hoped that a suitable proposal may be agreed upon in the future.

The Council unanimously supported the concept proposed by Resonance, to setting up a Launceston Development Trust which had identified two potential projects in Launceston. These were the Eagle House Hotel to be run as a hotel with community uses and Polson Fields to be used to provide 100% local affordable housing, possibly with an element of self-build. The projects need community support and in return the assets will be safeguarded for the community. The financing will be through banks, other finance vehicles and individual investors. The Council has agreed to allocate funding to the project and will provide more details on the schemes as they progress.

The Town Council grant awards were considered in November and 38 groups and organisations were awarded grant funding, totalling £14,000. The Council considers applications from any local community organisation and you do not have to be a registered charity. The average grant award is for £300 but more is often given if the Council deems the project to be deserving and your organisation puts forward a strong case for the funding.
 

The Council’s Public toilets will be opened late for the Christmas lights switch on, carols around the tree and late night shopping, but they will be closed on the Christmas Day, Boxing day and New Year’s Day Bank Holidays.

Your local town councillor can be contacted for help, guidance or information on any issues which concern you. Councillors can be contacted through the Town Council office, telephone 01566 773693 or email admin@launceston-tc.gov.uk Your councillors are: Brian Hogan (Town Mayor), Margaret Young (Deputy Mayor), Val Bugden-Cawsey, Paula Bullen, John Conway, Roger Creagh-Osborne, Kirk Denton, Dave Gordon, John Harris, Brian Keighley, Jane Nancarrow, Paul O’Brien,
Leighton Penhale, Steve Phillips, Tony Sandercock and Rob Tremain. Councillor surgeries are held on the second Saturday of the month, as part of the monthly town market.

Our website address is www.launceston-tc.gov.uk and you can message us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @lansontownclerk. The Town Council offices are open between 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

Christopher Drake,Town Clerk

September 2016

The Town Council is opening some of its properties as part of the national Heritage Open Days Festival, to provide special access to some of Launceston’s historic buildings. The Town Hall and Guildhall will host free guided tours on Friday 9 September with the Town Archivist and former Mayor Arthur Wills. There will be opportunities throughout the day to meet the Town Crier Rob Tremain and listen to his Tales of the Town.  Visitors can enjoy tea and cake at our pop-up cafe.  There will be opportunities to gain special access to Launceston Priory Ruins, Southgate Arch and local churches on Saturday 10 September.

Our tenants in the Southgate Arch have now left and the Council will be undertaking some maintenance before re-letting.  Anyone interested in leasing the Arch should get in touch with the Town Clerk.

The Friends of Launceston Priory held a Medieval Day and Documents and Finds Roadshow on 30 July as part of the National Festival of Archaeology.   The event was very well attended with young and old enjoying a range of activities organised by the Friends

The exterior of the Town Hall has recently been repainted and looks very smart; with the lovely hanging baskets from Homeleigh it is a building the town can be proud of.   The Council is very grateful  to Launceston in Bloom for their continued efforts to keep the town blooming.

Users of the multi-storey car park may have noticed that the Council has banished the psychedelic clouds on the car park wall and it is now a beautiful blue.  Barefoot volunteers have overseen the creation of some new ceramic butterflies and these will be placed on the wall with a background of white clouds and some green grass.  The mural on the coach park wall is also looking a bit worn and it is proposed to paint the entire wall surface and to then ask Barefoot and local children to design and paint new murals. 

The Council had a stand at the Launceston Show again this year.  Councillors and TIC staff were present throughout the day to talk to visitors and to promote the town and its attractions.  The stand was shared with Launceston Chamber of Commerce.

Launceston Town Council will be producing a new town guide for 2017/2018 in September, to be published by Easter 2017.  The project will be managed by Alison and Ruth at the TIC, they will be looking for advertising support as well as re-writing the editorial content and commissioning new photographs.  In October the TIC will be taking over provision of the photo printing service currently provided by JayBee Fotos of Westgate Street.

The Council and local taxi drivers continue to discuss the future location of the taxi rank.  Everyone is agreed that it is not in the right place but no-one can agree where it should go in the future.  At its July meeting the Council resolved to support the idea of a daytime rank, outside the town square, with a pickup point for one vehicle in the town square, and a night time rank in the present location.  Councillors recognised the importance of the taxi drivers in helping to keep the town centre safe at night.  Any move will be subject to public consultation.

A business plan for devolved library services was submitted to Cornwall Council in June.  Unfortunately at the time of writing the Town Council’s proposals have been rejected out of hand.  We hope that Cornwall Council will come forward with some alternative proposals which Launceston Town Council can consider.

Cornwall Council has advised us that three tenders have been received to take over the leisure centres in Cornwall and that they all include the Phoenix Leisure Centre.  A decision will be taken in the autumn and the new management will commence in April 2017.

Mr Daniel Brewer of Resonance gave an interesting presentation to councillors at the July meeting.  He suggested setting up a Launceston Development Trust and has identified two potential projects in Launceston: Eagle House Hotel and Polson Fields (affordable housing).  The projects would need community support, in return the assets would be safeguarded for the community.  Financing would be through banks, other finance vehicles and individual investors.  Eagle House would be run as a hotel with community uses and Polson Fields would be 100% local affordable housing, possibly with an element of self-build.  The Council unanimously supported the concept and has become a founding member of the Trust.

The Town Mayor and other councillors attended a meeting on 13 July to discuss the possibility of a pedestrian/cycle lane and bridge to link Ridgegrove and Newport.   There are potential difficulties with the sloping site but we hope these can be overcome.  Funding will need to be secured and an application is being progressed.  The council is also talking to Cornwall Council about the possible regeneration of Newport Industrial Estate to enhance the riverside for public enjoyment and to provide cross-town pedestrian links.

The Town Council is now a referral agency for Launceston Foodbank.  We can issue vouchers to those in need from the TIC in the Market Arcade and from the Council office in the Town Hall during normal opening hours.

The Town Council grant application forms are available from the website and from the Council offices.  The deadline for applications is 25 September, and late applications will not be considered.  The Council will consider applications from any local community organisation, you do not have to be a registered charity.  Grants average £300 but can be more if you put a good case. 

Following the commissioning of a Job Evaluation report the Council decided to ask the consultant to undertake a review to make sure that the Council’s governance structure was appropriate for efficient working.  The Council will consider the report at its September meeting but the Planning Committee has already decided that it will meet every 3 weeks in order to be able to respond to applications promptly.  The recommendation for other committees is that they should meet less often, not more often!

The Council has said goodbye to three long-standing members of staff recently.  Frances Nally, Deputy Town Clerk, left in June and Dominick Martin, Head Groundsman, left in July.  We were sorry to see them go and wish them well.  The Town Clerk, Rita Skinner, will be retiring in September.  Rita’s replacement as Town Clerk is Christopher Drake, formerly Town Clerk at Seaton Town Council in Devon.   Chris arrives in mid-August so the two Clerks will be able to work together for a few weeks.  Chris is looking forward to living here and to supporting the Council in its work for the community.

Your local town councillor can be contacted for help, guidance or information on any issues which concern you.  Councillors can be contacted through the Town Council office, telephone 01566 773693 or email admin@launceston-tc.gov.uk      Your councillors are: Brian Hogan (Town Mayor), Margaret Young (Deputy Mayor),  Val Bugden-Cawsey, Paula Bullen, John Conway,   Roger Creagh-Osborne,  Kirk Denton, Dave Gordon, John Harris,  Brian Keighley,   Jane Nancarrow,  Paul O’Brien, Leighton Penhale, Steve Phillips, Tony Sandercock and Rob Tremain.   Councillor surgeries – second Saturday of the month, as part of the market.

Our website address is www.launceston-tc.gov.uk and you can message us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @lansontownclerk.  The Town Council offices are generally open between 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

Rita Skinner, Town Clerk

May 2016

Launceston Town Council is proud to be one of the few councils in Cornwall to have gained Quality status as part of the new Local Council Award Scheme.  There are three levels of award, Foundation, Quality and Quality Gold.  The Council is now working towards Quality Gold status.

PC Stoppard attended the Full Council meeting in February and updated councillors on police issues.  He said that the police had targeted specific addresses in order to reduce crime, there had been a 6.3% reduction in crime and a 2.2% reduction in calls reporting crime.  Vehicle crime had reduced apart from a spike in February when cars had been broken into in Dunheved Road; the offenders had been apprehended within 30 minutes and property recovered.  

Earlier this year the Town Council commissioned Perfect Moment, cultural, heritage and third sector consultants, to look at Launceston Library, the Town Hall, TIC and Lawrence House Museum, in order to assess the likely costs of taking on the Library building and service, and to see if there were ways to save money and increase income in any other areas.  The report was delivered to Council at the April meeting and its recommendations will be followed up by a small working group of councillors.  The report praised the library staff and the service provided but said that the library building was not fit for purpose and would be financially draining.  There were options to bring down costs such as moving the TIC to the library building.    The report noted that tourism was not a major driver for the local economy, and both the TIC and Library offered community services.   The Town Hall was praised but the report recommended that free lettings should be cut back.  The Council could look at moving the Registrar service to the Town Hall and increase income from wedding receptions.  The report said the museum needed a more business focussed approach to increase visitor numbers and income, but this would require initial investment from the Council as Trustee.

Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that the Town Hall Clock Tower has both wet and dry rot.   Removal of the archive records from the first floor room of the clock tower revealed signs of dry/wet rot growth partly caused by the lack of ventilation. Water has trickled down the inside of the walls seeping behind the lath and plaster. Over a number of years this has resulted in dry rot.  The plaster from the affected walls and ceilings has been removed along with timbers. The area has been left open to allow for the area to dry out before any remedial action can start.

The Annual Meeting of the Council took place on 7 April.  The Mayor and councillors reported on the year’s activities and the Mayor thanked the many volunteers who kept the town alive through their gift of time and expertise.  The annual grants ceremony followed the Annual Meeting, 30 local organisations were awarded grants of £300 each and a further £13,000 was awarded to another 10 projects, ranging the town CCTV to churchyards and the priory ruins.  In addition the Council gives a grant of £10,000 to the Lawrence House Museum each year.  The rest of the museum’s income comes from rent of a flat in the upper part of the house, other grants for specific purposes, support from the Friends of Lawrence House Museum and from donations from visitors.

At its meeting in March the Council nominated Cllr Brian Hogan as Mayor Elect and Cllr Margaret Young as Deputy Mayor Elect, for the civic year commencing in May.  These nominations were confirmed at Mayor Choosing on 12 May.  The Mayoress will be Brian’s partner Anita White and the Deputy Mayor’s consort will be her sister Nicola Gilbert.   At Mayor Choosing Awards of Appreciation were awarded to Mrs Liz Beare, Miss Vera Ellacott, Sue and David Issleib, Revd Mary Williamson and Mr Malcolm Wright, in recognition of their contribution towards the life of the town.  If you would like to nominate someone for an Award of Appreciation please let us know.

There have been several meetings recently to discuss Newport Riverside, and a report has been produced, a copy of which can be found on the Council’s website.  The recommendation is that the land be regenerated for light industrial use, business development, information technology and possibly a Health Centre.    There is talk of an Innovation Centre.  Newport needs regeneration and is an ideal location in the centre of the town for employment.  The proposals could strengthen the quality and quantity of employment opportunities, with enhancement of the estate by river walkways, upper pedestrian links to Dockacre Road, links to ZigZag and pedestrian access to Ridgegrove Hill, with a potential nature reserve area, all accessible by the principal housing areas in St Stephens, Lanstephan, Ridgegrove, Newport and the Kensey Valley.

At a recent meeting of the Youth Council Emma Smith presented the Apple Tree Trail Project for Launceston.  Emma currently has funding for 35 pot-grown, maiden, Cornish apple trees to be planted around the town in the spring. The planting will be a community engagement project and it is hoped that the numbers of trees will increase with a second wave of planting in the autumn. Youth Council agreed to support the project and to present the initiative to their schools with a view to planting additional apple trees on school grounds.  The Youth Council is also actively involved in designing bunting to celebrate the Charles Causley Festival in early June.

The Council is continuing with its plans to conserve the paintings in its collection.  Alison Smith, a qualified conservator based in Newlyn, will be working in the Guildhall for 3 periods of 3 days in May and early June.  Alison hopes to finish most of the portraits in that time, which will leave the large portrait of the Duke of Northumberland and the painting of King Charles I on horseback to be worked on in her studio in the following financial year.

Your local town councillor can be contacted for help, guidance or information on any issues which concern you.  Councillors can be contacted through the Town Council office, telephone 01566 773693 or email admin@launceston-tc.gov.uk      Your councillors are: Brian Hogan (Town Mayor), Margaret Young (Deputy Mayor),  Val Bugden-Cawsey, Paula Bullen, John Conway,   Roger Creagh-Osborne,  Kirk Denton, Dave Gordon, John Harris,  Brian Keighley,   Jane Nancarrow,  Paul O’Brien, Leighton Penhale, Steve Phillips, Tony Sandercock and Rob Tremain.   Councillor surgeries – second Saturday of the month, as part of the market.

The Council was sorry to learn of the death of Colin Warne, a former councillor and Town Mayor.  The present Mayor, Cllr Brian Hogan, represented the Council at Colin’s funeral, together with some of his old friends from his Council days.

Our website address is www.launceston-tc.gov.uk and you can message us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @lansontownclerk.  The Town Council offices are generally open between 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. 

Rita Skinner, Town Clerk

Quarterly News From Launceston Town Council -  February 2016

Launceston Town Council is pleased to welcome three new town councillors – Val Bugden-Cawsey, Paula Bullen and Kirk Denton.  The councillors attended their first Council meeting on 19 January and have all taken on committee responsibilities.   All three are well known in Launceston and active in the community.   It is good to have a full complement of 16 councillors once again and to now have 4 women on the Council!

The date for the annual meeting and grants presentation evening has had to be changed.  We have written to all those awarded a grant but everyone is welcome to attend – the date is now Thursday 7 April at 6.30pm at the Town Hall.  There will be an update on the Council’s activities over the past year, together with news from local clubs and organisations.  Light refreshments will be available.

The reason the date has had to be changed is that on Thursday 21 April there will be a beacon lighting ceremony in Coronation Park to mark the 90th birthday of HM The Queen.  In celebration of this wonderful milestone, beacons will be lit that night across the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and the United Kingdom Overseas Territories, marking this unique moment in history.  The time of the ceremony will be confirmed nearer the date in order to ensure all beacons are lit at the same time, but will be early evening.   Launceston will be taking part in other national birthday celebrations in March and June.  The weekend of 4-6 March is designated ‘Clean for the Queen’ and groups of volunteers (including Councillors and staff) will be out and about cleaning up Launceston.  The hit squads will go out from Launceston Town Hall, where litter picking sticks and bags will be available, along with refreshments.  Among those who have already signed up are St Catherine’s School, Launceston Walking Group and St Stephen’s by Launceston WI.  Groups and individual pickers are welcome, just join in for half an hour or for a whole day if you have the time.  Finally, on Sunday 12 June, the Queen’s official birthday, there will be a street party based in the Town Square, with music, food and fun.  This event will take place in the early afternoon and it is hoped that the celebrations from the street party on the Mall can be streamed to a screen in the square.

Launceston Tourist Information Centre has done well yet again in the Cornwall and SW Tourism Excellence Awards.  The TIC was awarded Silver at the Cornwall Tourism Awards and followed this up with a Silver award at the SW Tourism Excellence Awards.  Launceston was competing with places across the south west of England including Bournemouth, Gloucester and Dartmouth, so did very well.

The Town Council recently agreed its budget for 2016-2017.  The precept for 2016/2017 is £435,587.  This is an increase of £38,486 on 2015/2016, a percentage increase of 9.7%.  The rise for a Band D property is £13.92 per annum.  The total Band D payment will be £158.10 or .43p per day. 

The Council has adopted a twenty year plan for building maintenance and a proportion of the budget for this year is allocated towards works identified on that plan.  We always look at ways of increasing our income sources, and closely monitor expenditure to ensure best value, while continuing to protect and enhance services and facilities.  The Council’s reserves contain £368,003 in ear-marked reserves, and £161,351 in the general reserve.   The reserves will be used to maintain the public buildings, and to help support assets and services which may be transferred by Cornwall Council in the next year or so.  We are particularly concerned about the future of the library and the associated services run from the library building.  Launceston Town Council is in discussions with Cornwall Council about taking on these services but a decision is a long way off and it is by no means certain that Cornwall Council will offer a deal that the Town Council can accept.

The Town Council would like to save the library and associated services for the people of Launceston but not at all costs.  The Town Council already runs a number of services from a variety of locations and it was decided at the January meeting to appoint consultants Perfect Moment to undertake a review of existing and potential services.  The study will look at the Library and related services (Registrars, One Stop Shop, Adult Education), the Town Hall, TIC and Museum.  It will advise on income generation and cost reductions, together with possible co-location of services.   By looking at the complete portfolio, we anticipate that we can identify efficiencies in the way we run services and assets.

Launceston Town Council recently joined the Launceston PubWatch scheme.  We will do everything we can to support its work, and the work of the police, in keeping our town safe.  Our membership means that anyone banned from licensed premises in Launceston is banned from the Town Hall whenever alcohol is sold as part of an event.

The Town Hall will be hosting the first of a series of bi-monthly Antiques and Vintage Fairs on Saturday 12 March.  Launceston has a number of vintage shops, and the charity shops stock some interesting bits and pieces.  If you like browsing for the unexpected to brighten up your home or yourself then Launceston has a great deal to offer.

The Town Hall and TIC have been busy during the winter but the wet weather and short days do not mean the grounds staff have nothing to do.  Over the past couple of months they have undertaken extensive hedge and tree management at our allotment sites and at Stoursombe. The BT phone box is now being restored ready to be placed in the garden at Lawrence House in the spring.  The cemetery paths and hedges have been tidied up and the paths in the Priory ruins have been edged and covered with new chippings.  The timber supports at the car park entrance have been replaced.

The Lanstephan play area committee has been successful in its fund raising for a play area on an abandoned piece of land on the estate, thanks to two or three determined women.  The vision is for a green space, working with the landscape.   The area will be re-surfaced with tarmac, with natural features, trees, shrubs and benches; equipment will be minimal.  So far the committee has raised funds from the Pocket Park scheme (DCLG), from Cornwall Council, Tesco Community Fund and Launceston Rotary.  In the light of this Launceston Town Council has agreed to take on the ownership and maintenance of the site once it has been made good. A further bid will be made to Cory Environmental. 

Town councillor can be contacted for help, guidance or information on any issues which concern you.  Councillors can be contacted through the Town Council office, telephone 01566 773693 or email admin@launceston-tc.gov.uk      Your councillors are: Brian Hogan (Town Mayor),   Margaret Young (Deputy Mayor), Val Bugden-Cawsey, Paula Bullen, Roger Creagh-Osborne, John Conway,   Kirk Denton, Dave Gordon,  John Harris,  Brian Keighley,   Jane Nancarrow,  Paul O’Brien, Leighton Penhale, Steve Phillips, Tony Sandercock, Rob Tremain.  

Councillor surgeries – second Saturday of the month, as part of the monthly Market in the Square, 9am-1pm. Contact Launceston TIC if you would like more information about the markets.

Our website is www.launceston-tc.gov.uk and you can message us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @lansontownclerk.    

November 2015

The Finance & General Purposes Committee considered the Town Hall hire charges and the car parking fees for the Westgate Street car park at its November meeting.  It was decided not to increase the charges.  We understand that Cornwall Council will not be increasing parking charges in its car parks in Launceston, which is good news.

The Committee also considered nominations for Awards of Appreciation and the names of four people have been put forward for approval by the Full Council.  Presentation of the Awards will take place at Mayor Choosing next May.

The Council has agreed to make grants available to 40 organisations within the town, the total expenditure will be £21,000.  The successful applications came from a huge range of organisations, benefiting young and old, the active and the less active.  The grant cheques will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Council, to be held on 21 April.  Grant applications can be made by any organisation which works with the local community, forms are available on our website or from the office.

The town Emergency Plan is gradually taking shape.  We now have an umbrella plan for the whole area but to be really effective we need mini-plans for defined areas, eg Ridgegrove, Lanstephan, Kensey, Stourscombe, Hurdon etc.  The Council would like to involve local residents groups, and organisations such as the Rotary, Lions and WI.   We hope to hold an informal meeting early in the New Year.  Please contact the office if you would be interested in finding out more.

The Mayor and Town Clerk have been involved in meetings and walk-rounds with officers and members of Cornwall Council, together with outside consultants commissioned by Cornwall Council, to consider how we can improve traffic flows in the town centre and pedestrian links between the town centre and residential areas.  A public meeting will be held in the New Year.

There is no further news on Launceston Library as this goes to press.  Cornwall Councillors have decided to offer local libraries to local councils if they wish to take them on.  However at this stage it seems that all the costs of running the library will be passed to the local council, which would be beyond our means.  The only way Launceston Town Council can take on the Library will be if an income-generating asset is passed to us, namely a car park.  We will be discussing and negotiating on this over the coming months, but as budget time is here again time will be very tight.

The Town Council has three vacancies at present, two due to resignations and one due to the sad passing of Cllr Graham Facks-Martin MBE after a long illness.  Graham was an invaluable source of good advice, achieved over a lifetime of public service, and he continued to attend our meetings until very shortly before his death.  Graham was made an Honoured Burgess in 2012 in recognition of his long service to the town. 

There is also a vacancy for a Cornwall Councillor for the Launceston Central ward.  The election will be held on 14 January, together with the elections for the Town Council, as the requisite number of requests for an election has been received.   The Notice of Election will be published on 4 December, and anyone interested in standing for Launceston Town Council or Cornwall Council will be able to register their interest then.

Together with Arts Council England, Cornwall Council and LiteratureWorks, Launceston Town Council is a partner in the Charles Causley Trust’s Spark to Flame project, to preserve and promote the legacy of Charles Causley in Cornwall and beyond. The Trust has appointed a Development Officer, Jen McDerra to deliver the project which takes its name from Causley’s poem, Kelly Wood. Jen took up the post in September 2015 with a view to establishing a lasting legacy for Causley’s significant contribution to the arts.  Jen is based at Launceston TIC.  The Charles Causley Festival now has a professional festival organiser, Sara Black, so the 2016 Festival (3-5 June) should be better than ever.

Slow progress on the expansion of Launceston Medical Centre appears to be being made.  Launceston is prioritised by NHS England for a category 3 (strategic) scheme in the next tranche of funding , however further decisions from NHS England centrally need to be made before the project can proceed. In the meantime preparation on the expansion scheme continues, with detailed requirements being drawn up. Local Cornwall Councillors plan to meet with health colleagues in November to keep the Launceston Medical Centre expansion in the spotlight and to understand the outcomes of NHS England decisions. This will be reported back through the Community Network.

Once again Launceston will be celebrating the run up to Christmas with a number of fun events.  The annual Lighting Up Launceston Christmas lights switch-on will take place on 19 November, and from 20-22 November there will be an ice rink in the town square!  The Food and Rink Festival weekend is not to be missed.  The Christmas Tree Festival at St Mary’s will take place between 4-13 December, with a Christmas Market on 12 December and Carols in the Square on 17 December.  The Late Night Shopping evening, with fantastic entertainment, takes place on 4 December.   The Christmas with Causley service of carols and poems takes place at St Thomas Church on 8 December at 7pm.   Launceston Town Councillors will once again be preparing and serving a Christmas Lunch at the Town Hall on 15 December.  The lunch is by invitation only but we are always glad to know of people to invite.  Families, singles, couples, young or old – anyone who would enjoy a social lunch, who might otherwise find Christmas difficult for whatever reason, or just to say thank-you.

The Town Council offices will be open until 24 December but will then be closed from 25 December, reopening on Monday 4 January.   The Town Hall will be closed over the festive period but FLIC will be showing Minions on Saturday 2 January at 3pm.  The public toilets will remain open except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.  Charges in the Westgate Street car park will remain in place, except for the three Saturdays in December before Christmas, when parking will be free.  Parking is also free on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Your local town councillor can be contacted for help, guidance or information on any issues which concern you.  Councillors can be contacted through the Town Council office, telephone 01566 773693 or email admin@launceston-tc.gov.uk      Your councillors are: Dave Gordon (Town Mayor), Brian Hogan (Deputy Mayor),   Roger Creagh-Osborne, John Conway,    John Harris,  Brian Keighley,   Jane Nancarrow,  Paul O’Brien, Leighton Penhale, Steve Phillips, Tony Sandercock, Rob Tremain and Margaret Young.   Councillor surgeries – second Saturday of the month, as part of the market.

Our website is www.launceston-tc.gov.uk and you can message us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @lansontownclerk.    

Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year from councillors and staff.

Rita Skinner, Town Clerk

September 2015

Launceston Town Council is pleased to welcome two new councillors, Steve Phillips and Roger Creagh-Osborne. Steve is a member of the Finance and General Purposes Committee and Roger a member of the Planning and Economic Development committee.  Contact details for both are on the website or available from the office.  On the other side, we said good-bye to Sarah Hiscock in July.  Sarah first worked for the Council on voluntary work experience, did some maternity cover for us and was then offered a permanent post at the TIC.  Sarah is now developing her career at the St Austell Brewery.   The Council has interviewed for this post and Ruth Maunder will be joining us in September. 

The Council attended the Launceston Show again this year, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce.  The day was fine and the Show was well attended.  Councillors and staff enjoyed meeting friends old and new, sharing information about the council and promoting events in the town.

Cllr Paul O’Brien and Cornwall Cllrs Alex Folkes and Jade Farrington attended a meeting to discuss traffic in Newport, specifically at the bottom of St Thomas Road, and the bottlenecks caused by the narrow road bridge.  A survey of traffic movements was undertaken in October 2014 and is currently being analysed.  Three scenarios to relieve pressure on the bridge were suggested but only the option of a new footbridge alongside the existing bridge and the removal of the pavement are viable at present.    Plans are being prepared for consideration, and a further walk-round has taken place.  The general consensus from the meeting was that traffic at Newport made the area dangerous for pedestrians and something needed to be done urgently.

As many may know, roof repairs to St Mary’s Church are being undertaken over the next few weeks.  This is to replace rotten timbers, some of which caused a fall about a year ago.  The church will remain open to visitors during the work.  The church welcomes 10,000 visitors each year, 6-8,000 during the summer months alone . 

An active group of local residents has formed the Lanstephan Area Play Park committee to try to establish a play area on a currently disused piece of land on the estate.   The area cannot be developed for housing.  There are 350 homes on Lanstephan and local residents support the idea.  The estimated the cost of the play area is in the region of £80,000.  Launceston Rotary has already committed some funds and the committee are actively looking for further support from other organisations.  The ground is owned by Cornwall Council and the group hope that this will be gifted to them, and that eventually the Town Council will take on the maintenance of the area and the equipment.

The Council often receives complaints about uneven paving in the town.  Pavements are the responsibility of Highways (Cormac) and early one morning in July Cllr Dave Gordon joined the pavement inspector on his bi-monthly inspection visit, together with Cornwall Cllrs Folkes and Farrington.  The town’s paving is historic and therefore cannot absolutely meet modern standards, but it adds to the character of the town and is of great significance.   Any complaints should generate a repair within 24 hours; Cllr Gordon said that 26 repairs were identified on their visit and all were completed by the following morning. 

The Friends of Launceston Priory held an open day as part of National Archaeology Week, and had a very successful day.  A professional archaeologist was on hand to demonstrate archaeological techniques and an exhibition in St Thomas Church Hall brought the Priory’s medieval past to life.  The Friends hope to run a similar event next year, to help maintain awareness of this precious part of Launceston’s history.

The Council joined with the Royal British Legion and other organisations to commemorate VJ (Victory over Japan) Day on 15 August.   There was a parade, a short service at the war memorial and 2 minutes silence.  As a further commemoration of the end of WWI and WWII the Town Council is purchasing two very handsome seats, each of which have a particular WWI or WWII design.  The  Royal British Legion have generously offered to purchase one of the seats and it is hoped that Launceston Rotary will also be the Council’s partner in this.  A few months ago the Council purchased five of the Tower of London poppies and it has been decided to give one on permanent loan to the Lawrence House Museum, as part of its War Room displays, to present one to the Royal British Legion and to display the remaining three in a cabinet in the Town Hall.

The Town Council recently adopted an Emergency Plan for the town.  A copy can be found on the Council’s website.  A test will be run in September – just to make sure it works!  (The test will be desk based).  We hope we will never need to use it but it is good to be prepared.

Thank you to everyone who has responded to our Library survey, we will publish the results in the autumn.  We have had some fascinating responses, and there are some excellent suggestions for service enhancement which could be implemented whoever runs the service in the future.  Cornwall Council officers recommended a tender process for the whole service but Cornwall Councillors did not accept this recommendation and at the time of writing we are waiting to see what the next steps might be.  The Town Council wants to preserve the library service, but not at any price.  The Council is also determined that any settlement should be fair across the county. 

A new grant giving fund has been established.   The Ruth Burden Community Trust Fund is being administered by the Cornwall Community Foundation, and supports community projects within the parishes of Launceston South and Central, Lawhitton, South Petherwin and Lezant. Grants range from £250.00 to £1,000.00.  Larger sums can be awarded in exceptional circumstances.

The mural on the coach park has recently been cleaned and repainted by Barefoot volunteers.  The smaller paintings done by local primary schools should be back next term.   The coach park is covered by the Council’s Parking Order, and any vehicles which are not coaches can, and will, be ticketed.  We try hard to promote Launceston to visitors and the least we can do is provide 3 coach parking spaces for them.  Stray cars and vans parked on the coach park are unhelpful as there is nowhere else for visitors’ coaches to go.

Finally, a reminder or two.  The Town Council grant application forms are available from the website and from the Council offices.  The deadline for applications is 25 September, and late applications will not be considered.  The Council will consider applications from any local community organisation, you do not have to be a registered charity.  Grants average £300 but can be more if you put a good case. 

The Council makes Awards of Appreciation each year.  If you know someone who deserves an Award, please let us know.  There is a short form to complete and the decision is taken by the Council.  Awards are presented at Mayor Choosing in May.

The Town Mayor is always happy to visit residents with milestones in their lives, such as a 100th birthday or a Gold or Diamond wedding anniversary.  Just let us know the details if you know of someone who would like a visit, which will include a small gift.

Your local town councillor can be contacted for help, guidance or information on any issues which concern you.  Councillors can be contacted through the Town Council office, telephone 01566 773693 or email admin@launceston-tc.gov.uk      Your councillors are: Dave Gordon (Town Mayor), Brian Hogan (Deputy Mayor),  Ashley Crapp, Roger Creagh-Osborne, John Conway,   Alex Folkes, John Harris,  Brian Keighley,  Graham Facks Martin MBE, Jane Nancarrow,  Paul O’Brien, Leighton Penhale, Steve Phillips, Tony Sandercock, Rob Tremain and Margaret Young.   Councillor surgeries – second Saturday of the month, as part of the market.

Our website is www.launceston-tc.gov.uk and you can message us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @lansontownclerk.  The Town Council offices are generally open between 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. 

Rita Skinner, Town Clerk

NEWS FROM LAUNCESTON TOWN COUNCIL – May 2015

We were sorry to lose two of our councillors in March, Susan Roberts Alfar and Maurice Davey.  Both made a valuable contribution during their time with us.  At the time of writing there are two vacancies, which will be filled by election or co-option.  The next election for the whole Council will be in May 2017, for a four year term. At its meeting in March the Council nominated Cllr Brian Hogan as Mayor Elect and Cllr Margaret Young as Deputy Mayor Elect, for the civic year commencing in May.  These nominations were confirmed at Mayor Choosing on 14 May.  The Mayoress will be Brian’s partner Anita White and the Deputy Mayor’s consort will be her sister Nicola Gilbert.   At Mayor Choosing Awards of Appreciation were awarded, to Cherry Warne, Jacki Ellis Martin, Jim Edwards, Launceston in Bloom, celebrating  its 20th anniversary in 2015, and Launceston Police Cadets.  
A few years ago, in response to public demand, the Council re-opened the allotments at Grammers Park.  We now no longer have a waiting list for allotments and in fact some are standing empty.  The cost of an allotment plot is modest and all three (Kensey, Dutson and Grammers Park) have a water supply from a stand pipe.  If you would like an allotment please get in touch with the Town Hall.  Working an allotment is sociable and healthy and you are rewarded with your own fresh, probably organic, vegetables and soft fruit.  You might even have a chicken or two.  Chickens are permitted on allotments but due to some concerns about welfare recently we have introduced a policy on keeping chickens, and will be asking for a small deposit from anyone wishing to keep a few birds on their plot.  
The Council joined with the Royal British Legion to commemorate VE Day on 8 May.   Those participating marched from the Town Hall to the town square; the standards of the Royal British Legion, Royal Naval Association, Royal Air Force and Town Council were paraded, the Town Crier spoke and wreaths were laid on the war memorial.   A national 2 minute silence was held at 3pm.  That evening a beacon was lit on Windmill Hill, with 1940’s music from the Launceston Town Band.  VJ Day will be commemorated on 15 August.
As part of its ongoing programme of devolution of services Cornwall Council has been carrying out some public consultation on the future of library services in Cornwall.  Cornwall Council may retain a few key libraries, and will continue to provide the book service to all, but many libraries will be run by their town or parish councils, by trusts or other community groups.  The Town Council has attended the meetings organised by Cornwall Council and is determined that the library service, together with all the other services that are provided at the library (Registrars, One Stop Shop, children’s activities) should be maintained for the local community.  
At the Town’s Annual Meeting and Grants Presentation Evening the Council was able to make further grants available from the residual funds of the Launceston Forum, as well as presenting cheques totalling £18,000 from its own funds to over 40 community organisations and charities.  Seven organisations had applied for a grant from the Forum funds, and all received some or all of what they had requested.  St Giles on the Heath Primary School received £420 for a school trip subsidy, Launceston Carnival £500, Cornwall International Male Choral Festival £200, Launceston Town Band £1213.51 towards a new Cornet, Launceston Eventide Trust £200, Launceston Barefoot £500 for the Graff Jam at Priory Park and Launceston College Phoenix Football Club £150 for a football pitch marker.  These awards and the youth shelter in Priory Park effectively close the work of the Launceston Forum.

The first Launceston Community Day, organised by the Town Council and held at the end of March, was a great success and the Council is very grateful if everyone for their support.  We hope to run another event in 2016 or 2017.  People generously gave donations towards refreshments (delicious cakes made by Cllr Margaret Young) and £73.73 was raised.  This sum was given to the Christmas Lights appeal.

The Council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee was recently consulted on RenewableEnergy in Cornwall.  The committee agreed to support Renewable Energy in principle but there wereconcerns on the extent of cover of the countryside by expansive solar farms and the high density ofwind turbines in the area.  The committee supported solar panels on buildings, geothermal energy and exploration of new energy sources.   

Launceston Town Council has decided not to proceed with a Neighbourhood Plan.  This is mainly because the most vulnerable areas, in terms of unwanted development, are in neighbouring parishes and the town cannot influence decisions taken there.  Additionally the cost of a Neighbourhood Plan would have been several thousand pounds.   We will rely on the Cornwall Local Plan, the First Hearings Session for this ran from 18-22 May at the Atlantic Hotel Newquay.  A Second Hearings Session is due to be held in Truro from 6 July.
A new Town Guide has been produced and is now available from the TIC and other places around town.  It is a full-colour guide to the town and its history, covering places to visit, shops and businesses, local clubs and societies.  The guide is free, and has been well supported by local businesses through advertising.  The Council is very grateful to those businesses  and we hope that people reading the guide will give them their support by shopping locally.  Many businesses in town are part of the Launceston Loyalty scheme, a card can be picked up from the TIC and will give the holder some kind of deal or discount at participating shops every time they shop.
The conservation work on paintings at the Town Hall will commence in the summer.  The first to be conserved will be the portrait of Charles Causley – the conservator will be working in the Guildhall and it will be possible to come and watch and ask questions as she works.  The exact time will be announced on our Facebook page, but it is likely to be during the week of 17 August.
Your local town councillor can be contacted for help, guidance or information on any issues which concern you.  Councillors can be contacted through the Town Council office, telephone 01566 773693 or email admin@launceston-tc.gov.uk      Your councillors are: Dave Gordon (Town Mayor), Brian Hogan (Deputy Mayor),  Ashley Crapp, John Conway,   Alex Folkes, John Harris,  Brian Keighley,  Graham Facks Martin, Jane Nancarrow,  Paul O’Brien, Leighton Penhale, Tony Sandercock, Rob Tremain and Margaret Young.   Councillor surgeries – second Saturday of the month, as part of the market.

Our website address is www.launceston-tc.gov.uk and you can message us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @lansontownclerk.  The Town Council offices are generally open between 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.