Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Cornwall Council democratically depose their undemocratic leader

Around thirty people demonstrated outside County Hall today, on the day councillors were debating a motion of no confidence in the council leader, Alec Robertson. The lively protest, organised by Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance and Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance, had lots of placards. There were chants of 'no ifs, no buts, no public service cuts', 'no council sell-off, it only helps the well-off' and 'Alec, Alec, Alec, out, out, out'.

Robertson has been responsible for the undemocratic way in which he and his cabinet have tried to sell off council services to a private company, as previously reported here.

Many of those present at the demonstration then went into the public gallery to hear the debate. In a turgid discussion which went on for over an hour and which was largely irrelevant the only sensible intervention was from Ruth Lewarne, Liberal Democrat councillor for Penzance East. She explained the need for a secret ballot and that the concept had originally been introduced to stop people from being intimidated which, she argued, might still be relevant today. She also brought the discussion away from personalities and brought it firmly back round to the political issues at stake.

The votes were counted and the result came at about 12:35. There were 63 votes in support of the motion to remove the leader and 49 votes against. According to security, Robertson has already left the building and told them he will send someone to collect his things this afternoon. In other words, he will not be back in any capacity.

This result is a clear indication that this plan has been firmly rejected by Cornwall Councill following a petition signed by over 6000 people in Cornwall. The councillors will now elect a successor. It is hoped that any new leader will scrap these plans at least until after the next election in May next year.

This is a victory for those ordinary people that were prepared to stand up and campaign against these privatisation plans and for democracy.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Cornwall Council cabinet retreat to bunker over privatisation plan

The issue of the Tory-led cabinet of Cornwall Council and their plan to privatise council services has reached absurd proportions. As I have said before "These plans are devastating for Cornwall and will hit workers and users alike. It is also a shocking indictment of a council leadership that has no respect for democracy or the wishes of ordinary people. They must be defeated."

Since then the petition against the plan has received 6000 signatures, meaning there will be another debate at full council on 23 October. It was also announced that Tory leader of the council Alec Robertson would face a vote of no confidence the week before on 16 October. Following these announcements, Alec Robertson said here that he would abide by any decision taken at that meeting. However, many councillors are sceptical about Robertson's position and believe it is an attempt to make Tory waverers come into line and support him.

Then a few days ago the deputy leader of the Council, Tory Jim Currie, an opponent of the plan announced he was resigning from the cabinet. It is unclear whether this will make other Tories more or less likely to back Robertson at the vote of no confidence or whether Currie is himself poised to take over as the leader of the council.

Kevin Lavery the CEO of the council has written a book on how to privatise services. Clearly the issue is not going according to plan.

It is vital that as many people as possible protest outside the meeting to give steel to those waverers that need to vote to remove Robertson. Whilst I would never encourage anyone to vote for a Tory, the hope of the Liberal Democrat, Mebyon Kernow and non-cabinet Independent councillors must be that Currie becomes the new leader and scraps these plans.



Tuesday 16 October

Outside County Hall