Last week, in Mike Thompson’s first column for CornishStuff.com Mike argued “There is a way to go before people can openly see the actions of the Council and trust them” and regretted that no Lib Dem or Independent councillors had ‘made the grade’ to become members of the cabinet.
“The one thing that strikes me about the new cabinet is that not one of these people comes from St Austell” he wrote “I may be biased as I live in St Austell, but I keep getting told that it is the biggest town in the County, and how does ignoring St Austell engender greater trust? There are Cllrs elected here and it is not for me to speculate as to why they failed to make the grade, but I know that it causes deep concern and distrust of the Council’s actions.
Of major concern to me and others that I have spoken to, was the dismantling of the powers of the Standards Committee to be able to sanction or suspend a Cllr who did not act within the Code of Conduct of Cllrs. The ramifications of which mean that a poorly performing Cllr can only cease to be a Cllr if they resign or miss more than six months of meetings. I feel sure that some trust would return if the power to sanction a badly behaved Cllr was reinstated and seen to be effective”
Now after a week of ruffled feathers and disquiet at County Hall at the way the important Chairs and vice chairs of the overview committees have been dished out, St Austell councillor Jackie Bull (Lib Dem) has issued a statement in response to Mike’s article.
Cllr Bull slams the way the Tories handled negotiations after the council elections and claim that indeed two key positions of the council have now been filled by representation from St Austell.
Cllrs Bull’s statement to CornishStuff.com :
KEY POSITIONS FOR ST AUSTELL COUNCILLORS
I am gratified that the Liberal Democrats stood back, after the Cornwall Council Elections, as is customary, to allow the Tory Group to form an administration. There was only a small differential but the Tories did achieve the largest number of Councillors on the Council so this was the right and proper thing to do.
Quite how the Tory Group managed to go for a fortnight of negotiation and be unable to engage the Independents into an agreement does raise all sorts of questions over competency during that process. However, that was the position at the end of two weeks when we, the Liberal Democrats, stepped in to form an Administration enabling the county’s business to forge ahead. We are especially delighted with our piloting of house building and pledge to build Council houses during this Council term.
Myself and my colleague, Cllr Malcolm Brown, chose carefully the positions for which we applied. I’ve always believed that a Councillor should choose the specialisms that best fit their residents’ needs. It is good, therefore, to report that two key positions have come to St Austell. I have been elected as Chairman to Cornwall’s Central Planning Committee and Councillor Brown has been elected Chairman of the Electoral Review Panel. He has also been elected to the important role of Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on the Council. We both sit on Central and Strategic Planning Committees covering large and small development in our area.
Development has long been one of the most important issues in our town and Central Planning will cover all but the very largest of developments. Cllr Brown’s background give him almost unique ability to Chair the Electoral Review Panel. Government are insisting on reviews in Cornwall and boundary changes are bound to ensue. As Cornwall County Council’s past expert on Statistics and Boundaries Cllr Brown will be able to ensure St Austell has logical boundary and fair levels of representation.
Thank you to Mr Thompson, in his recent article in Cornish Stuff, in which he outlined concerns about the dismantling of the Standards Committee. I sat on Standards during the last Council and we were lobbying over and over to Government who had removed powers of sanction on Councillors making the Committee less able to act. It is good to know that Mr Thompson will now, hopefully, be lobbying his own Party and Government to redress that move – it is badly needed!