Back to square one for Newquay Safe project?
FEARS have been raised that Newquay could "go back to square one" if Cornwall Council cuts support for the town's award-winning safety partnership, as planned.
The authority announced yesterday that budget cuts mean five key members of Newquay Safe, including project manager Rob Andrew, will have less time to devote to the group.
Today the Cornish Guardian is calling on bosses to rethink their decision, which has been condemned by the town's MP and chief residents' association.
The partnership, which includes around 40 organisations such as the police, local NHS and Cornwall Council, was formed after the deaths of teenagers Paddy Higgins and Andrew Curwell in the summer of 2009.
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The lads fell from cliffs in separate incidents after drinking in local bars.
Dave Sleeman, chairman of Newquay Town Residents' Association, led a march to the Truro council offices demanding action was taken to clean up the town and its gutter-level reputation.
He said Newquay had improved immeasurably in the past three years – but the momentum must not be lost: "Newquay Safe needs support from Cornwall Council – it's essential," he said.
"They've done a fantastic job and gained a lot of respect for what they've done in the town. Why lose that credibility when it's all going so well?
"There's a danger that the good work could be undone and we'd go back to square one."
MP Stephen Gilbert added: "Newquay's Liberal Democrat councillors and I have long been proud supporters of the work of Newquay Safe and we will continue to fight for it while the [council's Conservative-led] Cabinet hold this unnecessary, politically influenced axe above the agency's budget."
However, Mr Andrew said the council never had a fixed budget for Newquay Safe, and any cuts would relate to resources and people's time.
Other council staff who work with the partnership are David Chadwick, the town's community network manager, Jenni Paggett, community networks support officer, Shirley Northey, communications specialist, and Guy Thomas, town centre manager.
Mr Andrew said: "We are in difficult times with budgets. That's the situation. But Newquay has become a much different place from when we started in 2009 and has a much better reputation."
Mayor Kevin Towill agreed, saying he had expected the town council to take more of a lead with the partnership.
He said: "We've got on top of the issues that Newquay Safe was originally set up to tackle. We are now a safe and more family-orientated resort. The partnership is more to do with communication, everyone sitting around the table and working together. It won't be a major financial undertaking for us."
Lance Kennedy, Cabinet member for community safety, public protection and waste management at Cornwall Council, said it would "continue to be committed to the ethos of Newquay Safe but will be unable to provide the current level of support". He added: "It is important that Newquay Safe now finds a new way of working, before the start of the season that will be sustainable both this year and into the future."