Launceston Town Council
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Annual Report

ANNUAL REPORT 2016/2017

Report to the Annual Town Meeting to be held on Thursday 20 April 2017

 

Town Councillors

The following were town councillors during the period, all were elected except where stated:

Cllr Val Bugden-Cawsey

Cllr Paula Bullen

Cllr John Conway

Cllr Roger Creagh-Osborne

Cllr Kirk Denton

Cllr Dave Gordon

Cllr John Harris

Cllr Brian Hogan

Cllr Brian Keighley

Cllr Jane Nancarrow (co-opted)

Cllr Paul O’Brien

Cllr Leighton Penhale

Cllr Steve Phillips (co-opted)

Cllr Tony Sandercock

Cllr Rob Tremain

Cllr Margaret Young

All elected councillors received an allowance of £185.73 for the year.          

THE TOWN MAYOR

The Town Mayor from May 2016 was Cllr Brian Hogan.  The Deputy Town Mayor was Cllr Margaret Young.

The Town Mayor chairs the full Town Council meetings and is also Chairman of the Lawrence House Museum Trust.   The Town Mayor also chairs the annual parish meeting.

The Mayor writes:

This Council has faced many challenges in the past and I am sure they will continue to do so in the future.

Our infrastructure is at breaking point and I believe that localism is the way forward. However I am sure everyone in our community would like to see some action. Endless reports are, shall we say, rather boring! Our town and parish councils need to be given sustainable financial support and then we will deliver the services at the right price and with the right balance of profit. Local people know best what they want and need.

This Town Council has always been willing to work with other organisations within the town and with Cornwall Council and its councilors, to achieve the town’s ambitions where possible. We must build for the future of our community, families and friends. We need good roads for the future and employment, health and social care services and education are just a few of the areas that need attention.

Our town centre is struggling, so perhaps this year there may be some news regarding business rates. Would it not be better for the owners of empty properties to have 50% of something rather than 100% of nothing?

The Town Council looks forward to working with the community, Cornwall Council and any other parties to try and fulfill some, if not all, of these ambitions.

I would like to thank our Town Clerk and all of the Town Council staff for their continued hard work over the last year and previous years. Thank you to all of this Town Council for all their hard work and support.

There are so many organisations and groups in the town that help to make it a wonderful place to live and work. With a positive attitude and commitment we can all make things happen within reason.

AWARD OF APPRECIATION

Awards of Appreciation were made to Mrs Liz Beare, Miss Vera Ellacott, Sue and David Issleib, Revd Mary Williamson and Mr Malcolm Wright at the Mayor Choosing ceremony in May.

MEETINGS

All Town Council meetings and committee meetings are open to the public.  Dates and times of the meetings are published on the town hall notice board, on the website and in the library.  There is time allocated at the beginning of each Town Council meeting and each committee meeting, for members of the public to speak.

COMMITTEES

Committee membership is reviewed annually at the Annual Meeting of the Town Council held in May. The committee structure consists of Finance & General Purposes (Chairman: Cllr O’Brien), Planning and Economic Development (Chairman: Cllr Tremain), Lawrence House Management (Chairman: Cllr Tremain), Estates and Properties (Chairman: Cllr Keighley), Tourism and Information Services (Chairman: Cllr Young) and Staffing (Chairman: Town Mayor).  The majority of councillors receive agendas and papers for meetings via email which assists with savings on postage and stationery costs

FINANCE

The precept for 2016/17 was £435,587. This was an increase of £38,486 on 2015/2016, a percentage increase of 9.7%.

Councillor Paul O’Brien, Chairman of the Finance and General Purposes committee will give a more detailed overview of the financial year 2016-2017 at Agenda Item 3 of the meeting

STAFF

The Council employs five office staff, three caretakers/cleaners, two Tourist Information Centre (TIC) staff and four Grounds Maintenance colleagues, one of whom is employed on a seasonal basis.

CONFERENCES AND TRAINING

The Town Clerk attended a number of seminars and training days run by the Society of Local Council Clerks and the Cornwall Association of Local Councils.  Other members of staff attended training on pensions, finance and council administration.   

COUNCIL REPRESENTATION

Cllr O’Brien is Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Cornwall Association of Local Councils (CALC).  Other councillors represented the Council on outside bodies and their reports can be found at the end of this overview.

TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE

The TIC is run by a full time manager, Alison Jeffery, and by an Assistant Manager, Ruth Maunder.  A small office upstairs houses the Development Officer for the Charles Causley Trust.  This is part of the Council’s ongoing support for the Trust.

The TIC has a wide range of retail items, which include local art and craft, books, maps and guides. The TIC offers local artists the space to display their work on a sale or return commission basis.

The TIC is a ticket agent for the Eden Project and Cornish Rivera Box Office events which include FLIC cinema ticketing and the Charles Causley Festival.   The TIC also sells Theatre Tokens.  Visitors to the TIC can purchase postage stamps, cards, postcards and a small selection of Launceston souvenirs.

Launceston TIC and Tamar Valley Tourism Association offer joint membership to tourism businesses; members receive wider promotion and save money when opting for this.

LAUNCESTON YOUTH COUNCIL

The Launceston Youth Council was established in November 2009.  It consists of representatives from Launceston primary schools, Launceston College and St Joseph’s.    It is run by the young people involved and its objectives are to celebrate the achievements of young people in Launceston and to make improvements to the town environment for the benefit of young and old.

LAUNCESTON CEMETERY

The cemetery is owned and managed by Launceston Town Council, which acts as the Burial Authority.  Twenty  interments took place during 2016/17. The annual risk assessment of the gravestones was undertaken in January.  There has been no increase in fees since 2014.

Although the site is large, there is not a great deal of room remaining for burials, as it has been in use since 1882.  Proposals by Hallam Land Management to offer a piece of land for a new cemetery as part of their plan to build 140 houses at Upper Chapel, have not advanced any further to date . 

Digitisation of the cemetery records has been undertaken during the year, and all the grave spaces and memorials photographed.

DOCKACRE CEMETERY

The Council owns and manages the closed cemetery on Dockacre Road.     The cemetery is locked but visits are permitted by arrangement with the office.

OPEN SPACES AND PLAY AREAS

The play areas at King George’s Field (Priory Park) and Grammers Park continue to be well used.  Both play areas are inspected weekly, with an annual inspection from RoSPA.  

ALLOTMENTS

All three allotment gardens at Grammers Park, Kensey and Dutson continue to be very popular.  There are currently three vacant plots in total across the sites.  All three sites have a water supply.  An Allotment Competition takes place in August each year.

LAWRENCE HOUSE MUSEUM

Lawrence House is owned by the Town Council through a long lease with the National Trust.  The Council is responsible for maintenance of the fabric of the building.  The house contains a museum of Launceston, run as a charitable trust by the Town Council as Trustee and managed by a management committee consisting of councillors, the curator and others with an interest in the museum.   Part of the house is let as a flat and the income from this goes to the Museum funds.

LAUNCESTON TOWN HALL AND GUILDHALL

The Town Hall continues to be very popular.  Income covers the day to day running costs, but does not cover the cost of the loan from the Public Works Loan Board.   Bookings for the Town Hall were varied and included theatre productions, craft fairs and other markets, music concerts and recitals, private parties and wedding receptions, dances and charity fundraisers. In addition we have a growing number of regular hirers including health and fitness classes, acting classes and Popchoir. 

The Council agreed a major upgrade of the sound and lighting in the Town Hall which will provide a whole range of options to all types of hall user

The Guildhall hosted over 40 wedding ceremonies.   The building was used for meetings and training provision, Annual Conferences,  MP surgeries, mediation, support sessions, Access Theatre and community network panel meetings.

LAUNCESTON PRIORY

The Priory ruins are open most days of the week, the site is supervised by the Friends of Launceston Priory.

WESTGATE STREET CAR PARK

The car park continued to be well used and to be a very useful source of revenue for the Town Council, enabling the precept to be kept at a reasonable level.   The car park charges were not increased this year.

The Barefoot Volunteer Group in conjunction with the Launceston Youth Council created the colourful mural on the side of the car park  

COACH PARK

There are three coach parking spaces and these are free for coaches to use. The Town Council will be undertaking improvements at the site to enhance the visual appeal and to provide better visitor information.  

NEWPORT ROUNDHOUSE

The Roundhouse is maintained by the grounds team, and no incidents of vandalism were reported.

SOUTHGATE ARCH

The Arch is currently vacant and the Council has advertised the use of it and is working with partners to ensure best use of the building.

PUBLIC CONVENIENCES

Launceston Town Council runs all four public conveniences in Launceston, at the Walk, Race Hill and Westgate Street car parks and by the Round House in Newport.  They are looked after by the Council’s caretaking team.

SEATS, PUBLIC LIGHTS, SIGNS AND BUS SHELTERS

The Council maintains three public lights (Castle Green, Bush Park and Chapel Park) and a large number of seats around the town.   The Council has provided bus shelters in a number of locations around town in partnership with Fernbank Advertising.  The two WWI and WWII memorial seats were installed in the Town Square with funding from Launceston Rotary and Launceston Royal British Legion.

MARKETS IN THE SQUARE

The Town Council, through the TIC and Tourism and Information Services  Committee, runs the monthly markets in the square, which are increasingly successful and popular, with a wide variety of goods, crafts and food.

OUTSIDE CONTRACTS

Launceston Town Council has three contracts with Cornwall Council for grass cutting and horticultural work, and footpath maintenance.   The Town Council’s staff look after the footpaths and undertake grass cutting and horticultural work within the town and in some surrounding parishes.

GRANTS

Launceston Town Council made the following grants to local groups for financial year 2016/2017:

Grant of £300 to the following:

Breathe Easy Launceston and Area

CHICKS

Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust

The Elfords

Hawks Tor Netball Club

Kensey Valley Residents Association

Lanstephan Area Play Park

Launceston All Blacks Mini Juniors

Launceston Choral Society

Launceston Community Transport Partnership

Launceston Day Care Centre

Launceston Electronic Organ Club

Launceston Eventide Trust

Launceston Foodbank

Launceston Football Club

Launceston Ladies Hockey Club

Launceston Male Voice Choir

Launceston Money Advice Centre

Launceston Pre-School

Launceston Railway Circle

Launceston Town Band

Launceston Town Square Events

Launceston Women’s Institute

Launceston Youth Partnership

Launceston Youth Project

Southgate Colts Football Club

Total £7,800 to 26 organisations

Grants awarded from year to year

St Mary Magdalene, St Thomas’, St Stephen’s and St Cuthbert Mayne churches for the maintenance of churchyards - £250 each

Charles Causley Festival - £3,000

Launceston in Bloom - £500

Launceston Youth Council - up to £3,000

Town CCTV  - up to £3,000

Friends of Launceston Priory – up to £1,000

Launceston Carnival - £500

Launceston Municipal Charities - £500

The Council Tax payments for Cyprus Well (£1,304 in 2016/17)                     

It was also agreed to add Launceston Eventide Trust to the annual grants from 2018/19 with an annual grant of £300.

Application forms for grants are available from April each year for grants for the following financial year.

CYPRUS WELL

Cyprus Well was the home of Charles Causley, who died in 2003.  It stood empty until 2013 when, thanks to grants from Arts Council England and Cornwall Council, refurbishment work commenced to secure the building and to ensure its future as a writers’ retreat and centre for literature development.  Launceston Town Council has been involved in the project for a number of years, and continues to support the scheme..  

FLIC

The Town Council no longer has to support FLIC financially as FLIC is profitable and continues to develop audiences for its film shows.  However, the Council continues to support it in a number of other ways, appreciating its success and the fact that it provides a showcase for  theTown Hall.

WEBSITE AND PUBLICITY

The Council website is www.launceston-tc.gov.uk . The Council agreed that the website be updated  and  following a tender process, a contractor has been appointed and work has started on the new site. The Council Facebook page helps us get information over to a wider audience, and we now have over 800 ‘likes’.  The Town Council Twitter feed now has over 500 followers and both Facebook and Twitter feeds will be on the front page of the new website.

The Devon & Cornwall Post and the Cornish Guardian continued to support the Council through articles on its activities over the year.  The Town Clerk continued to write quarterly articles about the Town Council’s activities for the Launceston Link magazine. 

In addition the Council began publishing its newsletter, The Launceston Pulse, which is delivered to households throughout the town

CONCLUSION

The Council continues to work hard on behalf of the community, providing a range of services and facilities.

If you have any queries in relation to our work please contact the Town Council office or one of your town councillors.  We will always be pleased to hear from you.

 

Christopher Drake, Town Clerk

Cllr Brian Hogan, Town Mayor                                                                                                    April 2017

 

 

 

Annual Report Webpage Updated May 2017