Sunday, 23 July 2017

Rearguard action by Cornwall Council to keep up councillor numbers

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England asked Cornwall Council to propose a reduction in councillor numbers.  The first proposal of the Indy/Lib Dem administration that the number should be reduced to between 105 and 115 was rejected out of hand by the Commission.

The Commission has also not supported the administration's revised proposal for 99. Instead it has made its own proposal for 87, which it is now consulting on.

This is virtually the same number as the alternative proposal made by the leadership of the Conservative Group for a reduction to 85 councillors.

Usually, the Commission adopts the number proposed by the Council itself.  So, it is an indictment of Cornwall Council that the Commission has not followed its usual practice. This is particularly so as the administration held more than 50 meetings/events/workshops and wrote about 300 pages to support its submission.

Since the election the new Lib Dem led administration has held another three meetings on this and on Tuesday they want Full Council to support yet another submission to the Commission supporting 99. They have also criticised the independent  Governance Review External Group  appointed by the last administration for reaching its conclusions without evidence, although that body conducted about 100 interviews with interested parties before writing its report.

The most troubling point is that the administration is intermeddling in the Commission's attempt to further consult on its provisional recommendation for 87 by asking different questions to those asked by the Commission.  It appears that the administration is trying to elicit responses from the consultation to support its case for 99.

One question it asks is whether you think the new Cornwall Council division boundaries should match parish and community network boundaries without telling you that those boundaries are next for a review.

Fundamentally, this Council is self interested and lacks ambition to work more efficiently.

50 plus meetings on this makes my case.

Friday, 16 June 2017

The 'No Money' Council can find money to protect councillors' jobs

The Electoral Review Panel met yesterday to consider the Local Government Boundary Electoral Commission's decision to reject the Council's proposal for 99 councillors in 2021 and instead to have a final period of public consultation on 87.

If the Council is worried about its reputation with the public or the Commission (and it most certainly should be) it should not be commissioning further work on the Lib Dem/Indy proposal for 99. But it is.

Self evidently the administration should wait until the Commission has given the Council the final number in September and then commence work on working out the new boundaries.

The Lib Dem /Indy led Council's 50+ meetings/events/'workshops' (code for meetings where councillors do not try to take decisions) and its 300 page submission, which the Commission has not supported, is just an embarrassment.

The 'No Money' Council can find money to protect councillors' jobs.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Back to the future at Cornwall Council

On Tuesday Cllr Andrew Mitchell proposed Cllr Adam Paynter to lead the 'Lib Dem/ Independent Coalition of Losers at County Hall.

Cllr Paynter (Lib Dem Leader) and Cllr Andrew Mitchell (former Lib Dem and now Independent Leader) are the rump of the old Lib Dem administration which ran Cornwall County Council until 2009.

Cllr Paynter was the Executive Member for the Environment (his brief included the signing of the controversial contract for the incinerator) and Cllr Mitchell was the Executive Member for the Economy.

During that administration:

The Council borrowed £400m on horrendous terms for periods of up to 60 years;

Cornwall's money was invested in the Icelandic banks;

The airport closed in November 2008 without notice; and

The Lib Dems tried to foist a new (Lib Dem ish) logo on the Council when it became a unitary authority.

When the new councillors turned up in June 2009 the CEO warned us that things were so bad the

Council could end up in Government intervention (thankfully avoided other than for a shortish period in relation to children's services).

Cllr Mitchell remarked this week that he and Cllr Paynter had been Councillors for 17? years.  Perhaps most of their adult lives.

It just seems a bit regressive to go back to those 'heady' Lib Dem days of 2009 and before.

All the (46) Conservative councillors, who have been forced into opposition by the Coalition of Losers, can do right now is ask searching questions as to what goes on at County Hall.  On day 1 they forced the Lib Dem/Indys to bin the European Union Culture bid, saving up to £536k.

Better Leisure for who exactly?

It is being reported that the group to which the Lib Dem/Indy administration at County Hall offloaded the Leisure Centres ('Better Leisure') (group CEO on £200k from memory) plans to reduce the pay of Leisure Centre staff.

I wonder if Cllr Adam Paynter, the new Council Leader, who led the project to outsource Leisure Centres, will try to wash his hands of this?

It sits very badly with the Lib Dems/Indy's recent recruitment of  additional senior Council staff on up to £140k a year.  Will his new Head of Communications and PR (joint overall cost £200k+ a year) be able to explain this to us I wonder?

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Can Cornwall Council make the Pandora more perfect?

Yesterday my hubby and I were out walking our dog and had a drink at the Pandora.

A man from West Country Rivers Trust asked if we would participate in a survey they were doing for Cornwall Council. It would take 5 or 10 minutes.

So we did. Obviously, I appreciate that this man is just doing his job but I am bound to ask the Council what is going on.

The questions meandered around issues such as why did we come to the Pandora , what did we do when we got there, what time of day did we tend to come and what would make it nicer for us. Frankly, I think it is pretty idyllic as it is and alarm bells rang at the idea of the Council stepping in.

 Would we like better footpaths or, perhaps, more dog bins, he asked?

I explained that I had been a Cornwall Councillor for 8 years. The way to get dog bins under the last administration was by looking in existing dog bins and if not much poo, councillors might apply to have them moved to another place more in need. This saved the cost of a dog bin and £150 a year to empty it.

This survey must be a hang over from the previous Indy/ Lib Dem administration as we do not yet have a new one. I am struggling to connect it with reality. I think we need new people at the top in charge of dog bins (and a lot else).

It is clear today that we are not about to get it.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Vote Independent, get Lib Dem?

 'Independent' councillors at Cornwall Council have three choices if they want to be independent. They can join:

1. No administration and vote on each issue as they think fit;

2. The administration of the largest group, on the basis that it has the most councillors and so should produce a stable administration for Cornwall; or

3. A 'rainbow' coalition to reflect the views of as many voters as possible.

Instead it appears that they are doing a deal to create a coalition of losers with the Lib Dems.

I cannot say that I am surprised.

In week 1 of negotiations they fielded a team that excluded key Independent members.  Do I think Andrew Mitchell, the Leader of the Independent Group, was ever going to allow his future to be determined by councillors who had only just been elected? They also briefed that they thought Cllr John Keeling (the Conservative Group Leader) was not up to leading the Council due to health issues.

In week 2, after Cllr Keeling had been replaced at the Group's AGM by Cllr Seeva, they said they could not work with the Conservatives as they did not trust them.  This suggested a touching concern for 'Tories' not previously seen and frankly incredible from (former Lib Dem) Cllr Andrew Mitchell and (current Lib Dem Leader), Cllr Paynter.

There is still time for Independents to be independent. I hope they are.

My fear is that they will put up their hands for another Indy/Lib Dem coalition.  So more more vanity projects like the EU Culture Bid. It seems that if you vote Independent,  you will get Lib Dem.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Standing Down

I am not standing today for Cornwall Council.

It has been a tremendous privilege to represent Truro and indeed Cornwall over the last 8 years. I am extremely grateful for all the support I have received. At least some of the challenge has been valuable too!

I wish all those standing today for Cornwall Council and for the town and parishes too, my very best wishes. As you would expect I advise you to vote Conservative.