Helston Town Council has agreed to hire a van for the next five years, following a lengthy debate on the pros and cons.

Mayor Jonathan Radford-Gaby said the council had taken on “an enormous additional amount of responsibility” over the last year to 18 months and needed a van so that officers could perform their duties.

One of the few dissenting voices was councillor Gillian Geer, who said she largely shared the view of people who visited her shop, adding: “I personally feel that in the present climate of money being tight for everybody, for us to be seen as a council going out, whether buying or leasing a van, it is the wrong time.”

She would prefer for the council to hire a van of the necessary size when needed, “rather than have a van sitting for most of the month for the odd occasion it is required.”

Councillor Martine Knight agreed, saying a hire budget already existed and was “not being utilised properly.”

However, Mr Radford-Gaby argued that if town warden Craig Bowcutt had a van to hand all the time it would enable him to be more efficient in his tasks.

These include litter picking, some notice board maintenance and weed killing. The council also has to inspect all the equipment and state of the town's play areas.

Members heard from town clerk Chris Dawson that each playground inspection took between 30 and 45 minutes, with walking between the sites on top of that.

Councillor Ronnie Williams described a van as “a must,” while councillor Mike Thomas claimed most people assumed the council already had one and were “incredulous” it didn't.

“People will be able to see what, as a town council, we are doing for them,” he added.

It was confirmed that other staff members and councillors would also have use of the van for council business.

Councillor John Martin saw the leasing of the vehicle as “the first phase,” saying: “We can test the usage of the van, prior to any purchase. I believe purchase will be necessary but maybe we start off hiring.”

A suggestion from Mr Williams that the council went straight into buying one found no support, with members agreeing in a majority vote to contract hire a van from Cormac for a five-year period.

Councillors Martine Knight and Gillian Geer recorded their names against the proposal, with the remainder in favour.