I have had a really interesting series of meetings with some of our local parish councils, listening to the excellent work that is going on. We are fortunate to have active local councils here and many of them do so much to support our local communities. While we may notice the beautiful parks and new play equipment, much of this work goes unnoticed, so I am pleased to be able to shine a light of some of the excellent work I have seen.
Since 2010, parish councils have had the opportunity to take on new responsibilities. Many have responded with determination and creativity to Cornwall Council proposals to cut essential services such a public toilets and libraries. Through new partnership working, not only with Cornwall Council, but with local businesses, the provision of these services is often transferred from Cornwall Council to the local councils and are often described to me by local residents as ‘better than they were before’.
Parish councillors are volunteers and are supported by professional staff. While some local precepts (taxes that pay for the services provided by the parishes) have risen and some quite steeply, from my experience this is to pay for the new services that are excellent value for money. It’s common sense really. They are small organisations with less layers of management to pay for. Their decision making and delivery of services is closer to the community that they serve, with connections to other local people and organisations in their parish working together, they are more able to ‘get things done’.
Perranzabuloe Parish Council is a good example of partnership working. The Parish Council provide a wide range of services, from beach patrols to Library services, with their staff working from the same Parish owned building as the two Perranporth Police Officers and the new Tri Service Officer. There is also a new Community Navigator who liaises with a wide range of community groups, the local NHS and care services. Together this dynamic team provide a wide range of support for people living, working and visiting Perranporth. They draw in considerable support from the business community and voluntary organisations of the area and help make Perranporth the great place that it is.
Feock Council has been undertaking really important work with local GPs on social prescribing. I was pleased to learn that they plan to continue this work as it has proven so valuable. Again, this is a commonsense approach where GPs can refer patients to a dedicated member of the Parish team, who can help that person to connect with the help, support and fun that is available in the local community. That could be a local walking or craft group or help with financial advice. No two people are the same, so the social prescription is tailored to the individual with the sole purpose of improving their wellbeing.
Thank you to our Parish Councils who work so hard.
First published in the West Briton 15/08/19