Penzance Council votes to pledge support and take action on key local issues on transport and health care
As the cost of living crisis deepens, cuts to public services continue, and prices continue to rise, Penzance Council is committed to representing the concerns of local residents and make a stand.
At its Full Council meeting on Monday, the Mayor of Penzance brought forward three motions to address three pressing concerns for local people living in the Penzance Parish:
- The increased parking charges at Cornwall Council car parks
- The erosion of services:
- The proposed closure of the ticket office at Penzance Train Station
- The reduction in face-to-face Post Office services
- The reinstatement of the 24/7 urgent treatment centre at West Cornwall Hospital
Revised car parking charges were introduced by Cornwall Council in May this year which has seen a big increase the cost parking in and around the town and is having an effect on local businesses and those who live and work here.
Whilst Penzance Council ultimately supports the efforts to reduce the number of car journeys, in line with its Climate Emergency Action Plan, it does recognise that parking is still essential to the vitality of our town centre as public transport links are not always reliable and cycle-friendly routes are still sadly lacking. As a result, people are having the drive around looking for free on-street parking in residential streets which is contributing to more carbon emissions and is causing a great deal of disruption for residents. The ending of free overnight parking by Cornwall Council is also not helping as the parking problems during the day are now being extended beyond working hours.
Penzance Councillors unanimously voted to call on the Cornwall Council Portfolio Holder for Transport, Cllr Connor Donnithorne, to engage in a discussion with Penzance Council to explore the potential for alternative parking arrangements that better suit the needs of local residents and businesses such as discounted schemes.
There also seems to be worrying trend to cut services in a way that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable people in our community, especially the digitally excluded. We are now over half-way through a three-week consultation by GWR on proposed changes to railway station ticket offices, including the office at Penzance. The proposal for Penzance is to initially reduce the number of ticket office windows this autumn, before a full closure in September 2024. The staffed ticket office at Penzance railway station provides an invaluable service to residents and visitors alike, especially given the currently bewildering complexity of ticketing arrangements across the rail network.
Similarly, multiple Post Offices have closed across the Parish of Penzance in recent years: all of the outer lying communities of the parish (Newlyn, Mousehole, Heamoor and Gulval) are now served by a Mobile Post Office van which, while no substitute for a permanent Post Office, provides a lifeline for those in our communities who find it difficult to get around and/or to use online services. Recent changes by Post Office Ltd have resulted in some of the funding for this service being withdrawn so that there are serious concerns as to its long-term viability.
Penzance Councillors unanimously voted to support the retention of a staffed ticket office at Penzance Train Station and objects to the proposed closure by GWR. It also supports the continuation of face-to-face Post Office counter services across the Parish of Penzance and will be making representations to both GWR and Post Office Ltd to keep such vital services.
The third area of concern for our local communities is the continued closure of the Urgent Treatment Centre at West Cornwall Hospital, with the prospect of only limited reopening times. This inevitably means that the people of West Cornwall, along with the many visitors to the area, are currently having to travel to Truro to access urgent care between the hours of 9.00pm and 8.00am, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
This places a real burden on people who are ill/at risk or in pain to make a decision as to whether or not they should wait until the morning to get treatment or find transport to get them to A&E at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.
Penzance Councillors voted to support the reinstatement of the 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre and will call on the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board and Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust to reinstate the service as a matter of urgency. We also encourage individual members of Penzance to support the petition organised by West Cornwall Health Watch which is available to sign at the Penzance Council Offices (as is the GWR Ticket Office Closure petition).
“As a Council that is here to represent local people we cannot remain silent and will do all that we can to retain and improve local services for everyone” said Cllr Stephen Reynolds, Mayor of Penzance.
“If we all decide to take no action because we feel there is ‘no point’ then we can be assured that nothing will change. If we come together and make a stand there is always the possibility that change can happen!”