Following an investigation by Cornwall Council’s Public Protection and Business Support Service, Shearings Hotels Ltd pleaded guilty at Bodmin Magistrates Court on 09 January 2015 to falsely describing a substance as Smirnoff Vodka when in fact it had been watered down to such an extent that it no longer could be legally described as ‘vodka’.
In December 2013, a routine inspection of The Ship and Castle Hotel in St Mawes, owned and operated by Shearings Hotels Ltd, was conducted by a Trading Standards Officer. During this inspection a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka Red Label was discovered behind the bar. On subsequent analysis a substantially lower alcohol-by-volume (ABV) content was found than the legally prescribed minimum of 37.5%. The actual ABV content of the substance was 28.95%.
The defence stressed that this this was the first time that the company had faced legal proceedings for any such offence and that this was an action of a rogue employee, who has since left the company. Systems have since been put in place including random and mandatory screen testing of spirits to avoid a re-occurrence of the offence.
The Court took into account the Company’s early guilty plea, their co-operation with Cornwall Council and the implementation of improved systems, ordering them to pay a fine £3675.23 and costs of £1,925 making a total of £5600.23.
Allan Hampshire, Head of Cornwall Council’s Public Protection & Business Support Service commented: “The Council has responsibilities in promoting businesses growth in Cornwall but also a strong commitment and responsibility to ensuring that consumers within Cornwall can have confidence in the authenticity and safety of their purchases. Inspections carried out by the service allow us to fulfil these commitments and occasionally as here, will require us to institute legal proceedings. We hope the outcome of this case will reassure consumers within Cornwall and that we consider the truthful description of food products to be a priority area of work in protecting the public.”
Story posted 12 January 2015
Key amnesty offered to tenants who are not living in or are illegally sub-letting council homes is now underway
Cornwall Council and Cornwall Housing are offering a key amnesty during January and February which gives people who are illegally subletting or not living in their council homes the opportunity to hand back their keys.
The key amnesty, which runs until 28 February 2015, allows anyone not living in their council home or illegally subletting it to hand back their keys rather than face possible criminal investigation and potential legal action which could ultimately result in a criminal conviction.
Illegal subletting happens when a council home is let to a tenant and that tenant then moves out and illegally lets the property to someone else – usually at a higher rent.
Not only is this illegal, it prevents much needed homes from being made available to families in genuine need and in addition costs every household in Cornwall money.
Cornwall Council’s Corporate Fraud Team and Cornwall Housing Ltd have been working in partnership since August 2014 to tackle tenancy fraud and, in what is believed to be the first such prosecution in Cornwall under new Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act legislation, a former tenant was convicted of tenancy fraud in December for illegally moving out of and then subletting a council house. The former tenant was given a 12 month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay Cornwall Council’s full investigation and legal after admitting moving out of the property and subletting it.
Jane Barlow, Managing Director of Cornwall Housing said: “This prosecution shows that this type of activity will not be tolerated by Cornwall Housing Ltd. We have been working in partnership with Cornwall Council’s experienced Corporate Fraud Team and three homes have already been identified that we believe have been illegally sub-let.
We have seen evidence of how introducing a key amnesty has worked well in other parts of the country. By bringing the issue to the public’s attention, other authorities saw an increase in referrals to its tenancy fraud hotline and we hope to see the same results here as we know that the overwhelming majority of residents live in their homes legally and that they share our commitment to tackling tenancy fraud. I would also encourage anyone who suspects someone of committing tenancy fraud to get in touch.”
Joyce Duffin, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment said: “It costs on average £18,000 a year to house a family in temporary accommodation. There is huge pressure on the supply of social housing making it imperative that the housing we do have available goes to people in genuine need of help. It’s totally wrong for people not to be living in housing intended for them and to be potentially illegally profiting from it at the same time.”
The initiative has been launched in the wake of a change in the law.
The introduction of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 in October 2013 means people illegally subletting their property can now face a prison sentence of up to two years, a criminal record, or a fine of up to £5,000.
Joyce adds: “I would urge anyone either not living in or illegally sub-letting their council home to get in touch right away.
Once the amnesty ends anyone found not to be living in their home or illegally subletting will face the full force of the new powers.”
Anyone who is illegally subletting or is not living in their council home should hand back their keys to the Council’s Corporate Fraud Team, local housing officer or housing office.
Residents wishing to report somebody who may be illegally subletting or is not living in their home can do so in complete confidence by calling the Council’s dedicated fraud hotline on 0800 7316125 or emailing email@example.com.
Story posted 12 January 2015
The past year may have been a challenging one for Penzance’s celebrated lido Jubilee Pool but as the pool enters its 80th year its future is now looking much brighter – thanks to the hard work, commitment and enthusiasm of a group of local partners.
Following the major structural damage the pool suffered during the storms last February, the prospects for this much loved facility looked extremely bleak. However following the announcement that £1,950,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund had been secured as part of a wider project totalling £2,937,100, organisations have been working hard to enable work to begin on repairing the iconic structure.
Cornwall Council, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership’s Regional Growth Fund, Tempus Leisure, the Friends of Jubilee Pool and Penzance Town Council are all providing significant match funding to support this project.
Regular steering group meetings are now taking place with representation from all stakeholders to progress the project. A design team has been appointed, detailed structural survey work has begun and the construction phase is expected to start in April 2015.
The essential structural works includes repairs to the significant storm damage as well as reinvigorating the pool so it can be more sustainable for the future, with geothermal development opportunities for the pool also being explored.
The pool is scheduled to reopen in Spring 2016. A programme of activity which aims to raise the profile of the pool and increase usage is also being developed which will help towards securing its financial viability.
Adam Paynter, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Partnerships and Chair of the Project Steering Group said “The Jubilee Pool is an iconic structure with national importance as one of the few remaining Art Deco seawater pools. It is much loved and well used by local people and visitors and this project and partnership will enable it to be better utilised year round and support a range of activities, including the provision of quality training and volunteering opportunities, festivals, events and sports”.
The Mayor of Penzance David Nebesnuick said “The Town Council had contributed a large proportion of its funds to ensure that this bid was strong. As Mayor I am pleased work has now commenced and look forward to the Pool returning next year to the Town Council's management so that it can once again become an integral part of the town's life.”
A major fundraising initiative by the Friends to raise £160,000 has included a number of high profile events throughout the summer, including art auctions, food festivals, concerts and music events at the poolside. More recently the Lido Winter Ball and a concert by comedian Jethro have seen capacity crowds and all proceeds going towards their goal.
Martin Nixon, Chair of the Friends said “We’ve been overwhelmed by the public support and generosity towards the pool this year. So far we’re halfway towards our fundraising target of £160,000 and I’m confident we can achieve this and thus play a significant part in restoring the pool to its former glory. It’s been very gratifying to see all stakeholders working in partnership towards a common goal- that of saving this unique facility. We all share the view that the pool will become a principal catalyst for the future regeneration of Penzance.’
Story posted 09 January 2015
At Bodmin Magistrates Court on 6 January 2015, Mr Andrew Arnold a 59 year old part-time farmer from Ramtor, Rosenun, Liskeard, failed in his appeal against a ban, secured by Cornwall Council in July 2010 and made under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, preventing him from keeping sheep.
The Council originally prosecuted Mr Arnold in 1998 when he was given a 7 year ban from keeping cattle following a number of joint inspections with State Veterinary Service vets. In 2010 Mr Arnold was found guilty of welfare offences against sheep, again following inspections carried out by Cornwall Council and the DEFRA’s local Animal Health vets, this time he was banned from keeping all farmed animals for five years. In 2013 the Council again prosecuted Mr Arnold after visits revealed he was keeping sheep in breach of his previous ban and further sheep welfare problems. An extra nine months were added to Mr Arnold’s on-going ban from keeping sheep.
The Council opposed Mr Arnold’s appeal outlining the history and facts surrounding the previous cases with evidence provided by two vets from the Animal and Plant Health Agency and by an Animal Health Inspector for Cornwall Council.
After considering the evidence before them the Magistrates refused Mr Arnold’s appeal and awarded £400 costs to the Council. The current Court imposed livestock ban will therefore stand until April 2016.
Allan Hampshire, Cornwall Council Head of Public Protection and Business Support said, “We are pleased with the outcome of this case which demonstrates the Council’s commitment to upholding orders of the court and ensuring the health and welfare of farm animals in order to maintain the good reputation of the farming industry in Cornwall.”
Story posted 08 January 2015
On 5 January 2015, at Truro Magistrates Court, Cornwall IFCA successfully prosecuted Stephen Long (63) of The Old Dairy, Mankea Barns, Roskrow, Penryn and his son Austin Long (32) of 1 Godolphin Rd, Falmouth for four fisheries offences. The defendants pleaded guilty to inaccurate completion of the fishing log book, an inaccurate landing declaration, the landing of cut-out scallops and obstruction of a fishery officer. District Judge Gray handed down fines and costs totalling £10,100 which are to be paid within 28 days.
On 7 August 2014 the scallop dredger Morel Margh FH12, owned and skippered by Stephen Long, was seen entering Falmouth docks to land scallops. Austin Long who is crew aboard his father’s vessel was seen disembarking with a carrier bag which was later found to contain a large quantity of scallop meats which must not be removed from their shells prior to landing. When confronted by officers on the wharf, and under later questioning at an interview, Austin Long lied to officers by claiming that he had cut out the scallops on the wharf. This was disproved by evidence gathered by MMO and Cornwall IFCA officers who had CCTV and video recording of the Morel Margh and its crew at the wharfside. This was accepted by Austin Long when he pleaded guilty to obstruction. As master of the Morel Margh, Stephen Long was prosecuted for the other three offences.
Scallops are an important target species for many fishermen working within the Cornwall IFCA district and there are many local, national and EU regulations for their conservation. The purpose of making it illegal to land scallops which are not whole is to ensure that all scallops may be inspected for compliance with their legal minimum size. The minimum size exists to allow scallops to grow to maturity and breed, providing a good chance of continuing success for scallop fisheries. In this case it was proven that lying to a fishery officer did obstruct the officer in the performance of his functions. This is a statutory offence in its own right, akin to perverting the course of justice.
After the guilty pleas were entered, the court was told of three former successful prosecutions against Stephen Long for other cut out scallops and undersized scallops offences. The Judge referred to this during his sentencing, as well as the substantial prosecution costs incurred, which had resulted as a consequence of gathering evidence to disprove the lie about where scallops had been cut out.
Cornwall IFCA Principal Enforcement Officer Simon Cadman said “This Authority prioritises a lot of enforcement work to manage scallop dredging activity in order to maintain a sustainable inshore scallop stock. I am pleased that the court has reflected the seriousness of the offences by imposing substantial fines and costs. This should send a clear message to the scallop fishing industry to remain within the regulations which are of benefit to its own future.”
08 January 2015
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