Falmouth: Council urged to remove "silly" woodland goal

  Posted: 13.01.22 at 17:07 by Richard Whitehouse - Local Democracy Reporter

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Councillors warned senior officers that “the population of Cornwall would laugh at you” if they publish a new target to increase the number of people living near “large woodlands”.

Cornwall Council’s health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee met yesterday to discuss the council’s latest budget plans.

However, councillors’ eyebrows were raised at one of the success measures set out by the council under its aims to “help create healthier workplaces, schools and communities”.

This was – the “percentage of Cornish residents that live within 4km of a large accessible wood”.

Loveday Jenkin, Mebyon Kernow councillor and committee member, said: “The population of Cornwall would laugh at you if you put that out as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator).

“Cornwall is one of the least wooded areas of Britain and being healthy doesn’t require being able to get into a large, accessible woodland, it requires people to be able to go out into large, accessible areas where people can be, but it doesn’t have to be a woodland.

“Why does it need to be a woodland? Why not a small willow copse on a neighbouring farm?”

Cllr Jenkin had earlier raised the issue saying: “Please can we take out the being within 4km of a large accessible woodland? That just makes us look stupid.

“The large majority of people in Cornwall live near some sort of wildlife habitat but not necessarily a large, accessible wood and why would they?

“The large majority of people in Cornwall live near the coast, they still live near heathland or moors, why should the KPI be a large, accessible wood and not just a large, accessible habitat?

“That is just giving a sort of external view of what is important in Cornwall which I think does make us look silly.”

Committee chair John Bastin said that he had also queried the performance indicator and why there was a specific reference to woodland.

Rachel Wrigglesworth, Cornwall’s director of public health, replied: “I apologise, it is not one that I would recommend. There are some very good measures like the use of outdoor space – that sort of alternative, we will make sure a sensible tweak is made.”

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