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Talks break down at County Hall – Indies reject Tory offer

Tories accuse Indies of being greedy – Indies say Tories are bullying them

Talks have broken down today to form a Conservative – Independent coalition administration at Cornwall Council.

The Independents have rejected the offer put on the table by the Conservatives who won the most seats at last week’s council elections.

The Independents had been offered 4 cabinet seats but demanded more and an outline of policies the Conservatives would want to focus on.

The Independent members met all afternoon today to consider the situation which has emerged during the period since the election. A majority decision rejected the Tory offer.

The Independents will now continue gathering around ex Portfolio Holder for Culture & Economy Julian German as their alternative choice to Phil Seeva as leader. Seeva only took over the Tory group on Saturday  but has tonight said that German’s support for the Capital of Culture bid shows the ‘contempt’ the Independents have for the electorate of Cornwall.

The Conservative Group Leader released a statement after today’s meetings at Cornwall Council

Phil Seeva:

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Phil Seeva

“It is unfortunate that the Independent Group of Cornwall Councillors is unable to reach an agreement with us to form an administration to run Cornwall Council for the good of the people of Cornwall.”

“Despite being the third biggest group on Cornwall Council, they seem to want an amount of power and influence on the council that is not proportionate to the number of seats they won at the recent local elections.”

“Should the Independents move to form an Independent minority administration, comprised of former cabinet members supporting the European City of Culture bid that does not have the backing of the people of Cornwall, this will sadly show the contempt they hold the electorate in.”

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Julian German

Mr Seeva continued “This shows a disregard for the electorate and suggests that their priorities are not really with the people of Cornwall. After all, who do we think will get the better deal from Westminster, a Conservative led coalition or an Independent one?”

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“It should also once and for all kill the myth that Independent Cornwall Councillors are independent, as working as part of a whipped group like this surely shows that the Independents are anything but.”

“The Conservatives on Cornwall Council will now consider approaching other councillors and look to form our own administration ahead of next week’s Cornwall Council AGM.”

However Andrew Mitchell, Group Leader of the Independents responded tonight

“It’s about so much more than the Capital of Culture bid” he told CS “it’s about roads and the NHS and more”

“The Cornish electorate has created a hung Council. Independents seek to represent only their communities and to lead Cornwall in complex and difficult times. The Conservatives approached us with an offer that was unanimously rejected because it ‘required’ us to agree to their manifesto

We are proposing that the Annual Meeting elects the Council’s Chairman and Leader. The Leader is charged to recruit a Cabinet in a timely manner which is proportionate and which will agree to work collectively in Cornwall’s best interests.

Independents recognise that people require direct representation and are accountable only to the people who elected them”

It now looks like the identity of the Leader of the council – and therefore who will form the administration for the next four years – will not be decided until the first full Council meeting on 23rd May and at least two rival administrations will be proposed.

Could the Lib Dems still be dragged into a Council after all?

Now that talk between the Conservatives and Independent group have broken down, it’s possible that the Independents could approach the Lib Dems to revive their coalition which had been in power since 2013. Its unlikely Adam Paynter’s Lib Dem group will be making any first moves given their previous statements.  Libs Dems could either mischievously vote for the Conservative choice and force the Tories into a difficult minority administration, or play tbe part of the knights in shining armour and support the Independents to keep the Tories out of office.

They may be cornering themselves however – if they don’t stop the Conservative group taking over they could be accused again of being the party that put the Tories in power, a label they are desparate to lose. 

And what role now for the ‘forgotten 9’ ? The 5 Labour and 4 MK councillors could now be important after all to balance a similar number of Tory supporting Indies who could walk. 

In the week to come the Tories will be offering those Independents of a blue hue all they can to get enough support to make a workable council. To form a majority they will need to encourage 17 Indies to join them.

Watch this space!

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