Thursday, 28 February 2013

Shameful Coalition politicking continues ...

Since the Council’s recent budget meeting, the shameful behaviour of Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians has continued.

Today, I was in the St Austell office and spent time with a number of staff who were truly shell-shocked by the Coalition decision to slash budgets and cut jobs across the authority.

But the Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems Alex Folkes has had the audacity to spin the result of the vote in an offensive manner. Not only is he claiming that the Lib Dem / Tory budget “will actually boost jobs numbers, not cut them,”

But he is also accusing other councillors of “scare-mongering about where the axe will fall.”

Lib Dem MP Stephen Gilbert has expressed delight “that the Liberal Democrats … have succeeded in freezing our council tax, and investing in our services …  achieved by simply maintaining our council tax collection rates, cutting the council's spend on self-promotion, and reining in the wastage on external consultants.”

This is truly unbelievable and shameful nonsense from the Liberal Democrats, that bears no relation to reality.

In order to be balanced, I note that Conservative MP Sheryll Murray has tweeted an attack on MK, as follows:

“Very disappointed that MK are supporting an increase in Council Tax during these economic times. Shame.”

What is shameful is that the Conservative and Tory Coalition is slashing £546 million from Cornwall Council over a four-year period, while attempting to play politics over a modest council tax increase.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Join MK and help us get more councillors elected

On May 2nd, voters will be going to the polls to elect 123 new Cornwall councillors. Are you angry with the antics of Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors? Do you agree that we deserve better?

Then why not help us to get more Mebyon Kernow councillors elected or even stand as a candidate for a party committed to the protection of our vital public services.

If you want to find out more, you can phone me on 07791 876607.

Lib Dems and Tories vote through more cuts at Cornwall Council - part 3

In my anger at what happened at yesterday’s budget meeting, I am struggling to find words to express my feelings. I would like to share a couple of comments from council colleagues with whom I agree.

The first is Cllr Andrew Wallis (Independent). He wrote:

“For less than a price of a (weekly) chocolate bar, services and functions could have been saved. But I guess having a good election leaflet is better than doing what’s right for Cornwall.

“Staff who work so hard delivering services must feel so undervalued. I spoke to many staff who all wondered if they had a job after today’s vote. Some were in tears. Others just could not believe what had happened. It may have been forgotten by some councillors, but staff are also residents, who can vote and will no doubt be very tempted to put an X in a different box in May. 

“However, the most unsettling part of the day, was when Councillors were gleefully smiling that the motion they supported was carried. It was sickening to watch and I was ashamed to be in the council chamber with them.”

The second is Cllr Jude Robinson (Labour). She wrote:

“Yesterday, I saw politicians as others too often see us, more concerned about election chances than about the people we serve.

“I don’t claim to be better than anyone else, more virtuous or whiter than white. As I often say: ‘only human’. But I do not want to be associated with that kind of politics. In May when the election comes along, the yellow Tories can send an army of volunteers to my ward if they like with leaflets crowing about their tax freeze that saves people around 42p a week. They won’t be telling people about the services that will come to an end or the charges that will be raised or the people put at risk. If I lose on that basis, it’s fine by me – it’s not worth winning a seat with blatant dishonesty.

“In more than 20 years of campaigning and involvement in politics, I have never witnessed such appalling, self serving, shabby, gutless, petty manoeuvring as I did yesterday at County Hall.  I am so sorry that the people of Cornwall are let down in this way.”

I so wish to put it on record that I agree with that last paragraph and wish that I had written it.

Lib Dems and Tories vote through more cuts at Cornwall Council - part 2

It is 24 hours since the majority of Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors came together in an unholy alliance to vote for no rise in council tax.

I am still extremely angry at how they could so casually have voted for yet more cuts and 135 job losses, without any thought about the impact on the people affected.

Yesterday, I was approached by a number of staff who were absolutely devastated at what had happened. Some were in tears. Many are in teams that have just been through reorganisations and redundancy rounds. And now there is more uncertainty and they know jobs are under threat once again.

What most upset me was the nature and demeanour of certain councillors, who were laughing and joking as they voted to cut services. Some even praised our “excellent” staff before voting away their jobs, in order to get a “we voted for 0% increase” headline on their upcoming election leaflets.

I do hope that the electorate sees through the cynicism of so many of their councillors.

And today, I saw a number of senior officers, who are struggling to understand how they can make the cuts that the local representatives of the Coalition parties voted through – damaging cuts such as the likely £855,000 that will be cut from Adult Care and Support, or the £479,000 from the smaller Strategy, Localism and Communications budget.

The situation is dire and I remain disgusted with the cynical short-termism of the Coalition and the majority of their local councillors.

Lib Dems and Tories vote through more cuts at Cornwall Council - part 1

Yesterday’s budget debate at Cornwall Council was a total shambles. The Conservative and independent administration put forward a modest 1.97% increase in council tax – which would equate to a rise of 41p a week per band D property.

Both the Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups put forward amendments for no council increase.

The Liberal Democrat amendment was debated first. Councillors were told that it would lead to 135 job losses and cuts to a wide range of council services. It was a poor and damaging amendment, and was put forward by the Lib Dems specifically to be voted down by the other groups on the authority so they could crow about attempting to keep council tax down on their election leaflets.

But the Lib Dems were outflanked by the Conservatives who backed the amendment – it was opposed by Independent, MK and Labour members.

I am outraged at what happened and I will be commenting in more detail later today. But for now, my contribution to the debate was as follows:

This is an important day for this Council. And I believe we should – collectively – be doing what is best for Cornwall.

And we should be doing the best we can to safeguard the public services that we provide.

I have listened to what prominent members of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups have had to say; I have listened to their arguments for no rise in council tax – and it fills me with dread.

I am saddened that the priority of the two main groups on this council is political posturing and what goes in their election leaflets.

I am particularly saddened at the extremely short-sighted approach to this year’s budget debate.

This cannot be allowed to be a political game, and it disturbs me that members from both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have privately told me that freezing council tax was the wrong thing to do – but that they would be voting for it because of the election.

But they have also said that they will be voting for the freeze because of the election and/or the machinations of their opponents.

That is shameful.    

We should be doing what is right for Cornwall. And that is why the MK group will not support either amendment calling for no rise in council tax.

The amendments are damaging.

We have no intention of voting for (i) the removal of the communications budget, (ii) the destruction of the localism team, (iii) yet more staff redundancies or (iv) cuts to member budgets which support small community budgets.

I would ask that members focus on the big picture today. The Coalition has slashed our grant funding – for which both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – have to take equal responsibility.

And when councillors address the scale of the cuts – they often quote the so-called “savings target” of £170 million we are expected to achieve over a four-year period which we are only half-way through.

But the reality is that this level of cuts – if you add in the extra assaults on local government budgets such as the localisation of council tax – it equates to a reduction in spend of £546 million over four years.

Your government has reduced the “spending power” of this authority by £546 million.

That is the key point. The Coalition Government has reduced the spending power of this authority by £546 million.

In an email from Cllr Ferguson which I read this morning, she blames the profligate spending of the previous government for the cuts.

Indeed, we hear much from Coalition politicians about the need to cut the deficit, to reduce debt, and for everyone to – what is it you say – “share the pain.”

But the cuts to local government funding have been truly disproportionate – the cuts have been above and beyond what other government departments have experienced.

And you have been largely silent on this key issue – preferring to support the Coalition in its ideological attempts to dismantle local government.

Now I would not be foolish enough to stand here and claim that there were not efficiencies to be made from 2010 onwards, but the level of cuts are damaging in the extreme.

And that is why we have problems with so many of our budget envelopes and why this administration cannot find the money to fund public toilets, to repaint double yellow lines, or resurface pot-holed roads, or even properly maintain its own buildings.

We should be sending a strong message back to the Government that the cuts are too deep and need to be reversed.

And members of this authority should know better than to grandstand on the issue of council tax.

The MK group has had the issue with the detail contained within all budgets from this administration, but today we need to focus on looking ahead and shoring up the base budget as best we can.

I appeal to everyone in this chamber to put politics to one side and to retreat from the gamesmanship that has dominated the last few days.

We will be backing the Cabinet recommendation and re-affirming our commitment to the delivery of quality public services.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Pit Association seeks sponsorship for new fundraising booklet

The Indian Queens Pit Association will be publishing a new publication in April, to raise much-needed funds for the ongoing improvements at Indian Queens Pit.

I am the author of the 40-page A4 booklet and it will tell the story of Indian Queens Pit and feature a number of historic photographs of the monument. The booklet will also include over sixty old photographs of St Enoder Parish, with much historic information of interest to local people.

The Pit Association is presently seeking sponsorship to support the fundraising initiative. We are trying to raise £900 to cover the costs of producing the booklets, so that all monies raised from the sales can go towards improvements at the Pit. 

We would be delighted to hear from any individuals or businesses who would like to sponsor the booklet, and the names  of all sponsors will be recorded on the outside back cover of the publication.

Anyone interested in being sponsors of the booklet can find out more by contacting me on 07791 876607.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Infectious zest ...

In this week’s Cornish Guardian, I was featured in the “Guardian Country” section written by Michael Williams. It was entitled: “The infectious zest of Dick Cole” and was as follows:

Robert Stephen Hawker, of Morwenstow, was a people's parson and Dick Cole is a people's politician.

Within minutes of meeting Dick you are aware of a man deeply committed to Cornwall and Cornish causes. He is as native as Goss Moor or Roche Rock: his zest infectious.

I drove to Fraddon, where he lives with his wife Ann, on a wet grey Sunday morning, a thick mist blotting out the landscape of Guardian Country. It was the kind of weather Joseph Hocking might have worked into one of his novels.

We talked in his study, lined with hundreds of books. Naturally politics are strongly represented: Isaac Foot, Michael Foot, Jeremy Thorpe, Jo Grimmond, John F Kennedy – an impressive cast of characters.

Despite the grey hair, he looks younger than his 45 years. He was brought up just outside Indian Queens and his family has lived in and around St Enoder Parish for hundreds of years; Chapel people.

His great, great, grandfather John Cole made a bit of history by becoming the very first clerk of St Enoder parish in the late 1800s.

Dick worked as a farm labourer and gardener near Summercourt between 1983 and 1988. He had been educated at Indian Queens Primary School and Newquay Treviglas School, and then achieved three A levels through correspondence courses and was accepted into university.

He studied archaeology and history at St David's University College, Lampeter, from 1988 until 1991 when he graduated. But he continued at the university for the next three years undertaking postgraduate research and teaching work.

In 1994, he crossed the Tamar, going west, settling in his beloved Cornwall, in Clay Country.

He joined Cornwall County Council's archaeological unit and went on to produce over 80 reports for it.

Projects included excavations of the Romano-Cornish enclosure at Killigrew, near Trispen, the Glasney College, at Penryn, and the Perranzabuloe medieval church, near Perranporth. Lost to the sand dunes for two centuries, the church was excavated in 2005.

St Piran, of course, was one of our great Cornish saints. An Irishman, he built his chapel and Cornish people flocked to see and hear him as news of his teaching spread.
Dick married Ann, a fellow archaeologist – they had met at university – at St Enoder Church in 1999.

They were married by Canon Pat Robson, a top-class vicar and the author of The Celtic Heart: An Anthology Of Prayers And Poems In The Celtic Tradition.

Ann now works for the Historic Environment Service. Ann and her husband are both keen supporters of Redruth Rugby Club.

As Dick put it: "It's an ideal way of relaxing. We can forget about our work and we try to get to every home game, and some away matches, too.

"Yes, that Redruth ground has a wonderful atmosphere and history."

We agreed that the preservation of traditional sports like hurling and Cornish wrestling was important. "Our sporting tradition is fantastic," he said.
I asked Dick about his Cornish hero.

He said: "It has to be Richard Jenkin who did so much for Mebyon Kernow and Cornwall.

"You have to admire his doggedness, never giving up, constantly working for a better deal for Cornwall. I counted it a great honour to be one of the bearers at his funeral.

"And then there are ordinary people, they're my heroes too. Working Cornish struggling to make ends meet. They have to inspire you and I have such people in my parish."

I asked him about the River Tamar: "The Tamar is the Cornish natural boundary: this great river helps give us our identity."

Dick joined Mebyon Kernow in 1988 and, four years later, he was elected as press and campaigns officer. In 1997, he was chosen as party leader and has now served longer in that role than anyone else.

Of current MK representation, he reflected: "We have six councillors on Cornwall Council and 20-plus on town and parish councils.

"We shall certainly be contesting the next general election but we won't be making our selection for that until after the Cornwall Council elections in May."

It was Dick Cole who produced the Declaration For A Cornish Assembly, in 2000, which was signed by over 50,000 people and handed to Downing Street in December 2001.

He headed the MK list for the European elections in 2009 when the party polled 11,534 votes in Cornwall – more than governing Labour – and in 2010 he stood in the Westminster parliamentary election, for the St Austell and Newquay seat, when he polled over 2,000 votes.

Typical of Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac, a sign which personifies leadership and a desire for power and promotion, he has a great appetite for service.

He was elected to represent the St Enoder Parish on Restormel Borough Council in 1999 and re-elected in 2003 and 2007.

He was also elected to the local parish council in 1999 and was in the chair there from 2003 to 2005.

Then, in 2009, he came to an important crossroads. He explained: "I resigned from my job as an archaeologist so that I could stand for election to the new unitary council."

He was elected with 78 per cent of the vote and, for the past four years, he's been a full-time councillor, working 45 to 50 hours each week on council activities.
He is chairman of the Planning Policy Advisory Panel and vice-chairman of the Governance Review Panel.

He was a major player in the robust incinerator debate at St Dennis and he is well aware of growing public concern over the erosion of our precious Cornish countryside through more and more wind turbines.

He said that a recent 549-page report emphasised that more work should be done on the impact of turbines on the landscape.

Dick has been personally responsible for more than 35 successful applications for funding on behalf of local groups in St Enoder parish, raising over £480,000 for play equipment and improvements to community buildings, as well as new ones.

Specific examples include over £80,000 towards a new bandroom for Indian Queens Band, built in 2006 and £55,000 towards a new skatepark and multi-use games area for the Indian Queens Recreation Ground in 2011.

It is an impressive list and there's no doubt he'll be motivating further worthwhile projects in the future.

If there were more Dick Coles, Cornwall would be a better, more purposeful, place. Yes, Mr Hawker would be proud of him.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Cllrs Brian Higman and Matt Facey join Mebyon Kernow

I am very pleased to be able to announce that Brian Higman (above right) and Matt Facey (above left) have joined Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall.

They are both prominent parish councillors from within the St Austell and Newquay constituency.

Brian Higman is a former Liberal Democrat councillor, who represented his local area on Cornwall Council for ten years between 1999 and 2009. He also served on Restormel Borough Council prior to 2003 and was Mayor of the Borough in 1994-1995. He continues to serve on Roche Parish Council and is involved with many local organisations, including the Roche Victory Hall.

Brian Higman has described himself as disillusioned with the Lib Dems, whom he left in 2010, and “fed up with ‘national’ politics.”

Explaining his decision to join MK, Brian said: “Now is the time to ensure that politics in Cornwall is actually for the good of Cornwall. That is why I am pleased to be joining and supporting Mebyon Kernow.”

Matt Facey is a businessman from Mevagissey who is presently Vice-Chairman of his local Parish Council. Matt is also heavily involved with his local community and continues to make representations on a wide range of issues such as planning and flooding problems.

He added: “I am not interested in top-down politics dictated by Westminster. We have all seen the nonsense spoken by career politicians and it is time to bring politics back to our villages and towns.”

I am absolutely delighted that Brian and Matt have chosen to join Mebyon Kernow. They are respected champions for their respective communities and I hope that many more people will follow their lead and help us build a stronger team to push for a better deal for Cornwall.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Findus lasagne anyone?

My article in today’s Cornish Guardian concentrates on the ‘horse meat’ food processing scandal. It is as follows:

At the beginning of last week, I was rushing between meetings and knew that I would fleetingly be at home at midday.

I stopped off to grab something for dinner and splashed out £1.29 on a “special price” Findus frozen “Beef Lasagne,” that I could quickly throw into a microwave.

I wasn’t expecting a gastronomic delight, but the packaging did state it was “made with three layers of fresh pasta, beef bolognese, bechamel sauce and cheddar.” It also claimed that “our pasta and bolognese are freshly made and quickly frozen to ensure that you get the best taste.”

Within two days, along with millions of other people, I was less-than-impressed to see the very same packaging featured on the six o’clock news, when it was discovered that certain beef lasagnes contained no beef at all but up to 100% horse meat.

It is manifestly clear that politicians have failed to reassure the general public about what has happened. Interviewed on Sky News, Government minister Owen Paterson argued that “he would be perfectly happy to eat a frozen ready-meal lasagne for his Friday night dinner” – though I doubt that many people can picture him tucking into a £1.29 lasagne after a busy week of pushing Coalition policies.

Indeed, he said that the issue was not one of “public safety” but “labelling.” Paterson told reporters that “what is absolutely totally unacceptable to us all is that there should be products marked as processed beef, which contain significant amounts of processed horse.” He later claimed that the whole debacle stemmed from either “gross incompetence” or an “international criminal conspiracy.”

What I think this scandal highlights most of all is the unregulated, almost shady, manner in which certain food products have been prepared for shops and supermarkets.

One newspaper columnist summed it up rather well for me. She rightly described how the scandal has “opened a window on the hidden unsavoury food world, in which live animals are transported vast distances across borders for slaughter, before being stripped down to constituent parts to be shipped back again in blocks of frozen offcuts that may be stored for months on end before being ground down to unrecognisable ingredients in our everyday meals.”

The regulation of the food processing industry in continental Europe is clearly inadequate, and the British Government needs to do more to make sure that the testing of food products on sale in the UK is greatly increased.

Last Friday, when rushing between meetings, I didn’t buy a lasagne. I chose to devour a locally-produced Cornish pasty for my dinner.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Cornwall Council sets a housing target of 42,250

The pre-submission draft of the Local Plan – which will set out Cornwall’s planning policies for 2010-2030 – was debated at Cornwall Council today.

As the Chairman of the Planning Policy Advisory Panel (PPAP), I presented a series of recommendations.  These included higher affordable housing targets, a commitment to more affordable housing when public land is redeveloped, the inclusion of Areas of Great Landscape Value and Areas of Great Historic Value, a commitment to carry out more work on the cumulative and other impacts of renewal energy developments, as well as revised policies on landfill, infill sites in rural areas, and retail developments.

I was pleased that most of these recommendations were accepted with a handful of rather limited further tweaks. The meeting did then descend into a certain amount of chaos as the housing target for the next twenty years was considered.

At the start of the debate, I spoke in favour of PPAP’s recommendation of 38,000, which we have consistently backed up with a range of detailed evidence.

The first amendment was for the officers’ latest recommendation of 45,400 – down from their earlier recommendations of 54,000, 49,000 and 48,500. This was voted down by 60 votes to 42.

A further amendment for a housing target of 29,000 was moved by Bert Biscoe and overwhelmingly defeated.

At this point, representatives from Bodmin, Falmouth and Newquay argued for higher housing allocations for their towns. An amendment was moved, adding 1,900 housing units to Bodmin, 1,100 to Falmouth, and 1,300 to Newquay, bringing the overall housing target to 43,250.

My fellow MK councillors and I could not support this increase and voted against the amendment. It was however passed by 58 votes to 33.

The document will now be consulted upon once again, with the results reported back to the new Council after the May elections for the newly-elected members to refer it to the Secretary of State so that it can be presented to the Planning Inspectorate for the necessary Inquiry.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

A grant for Indian Queens Pit

I am pleased to be able to announce that I have been able to secure a grant of £6,090 for the Indian Queens Pit Association. The money comes from the latest round of funding from the Big Lottery’s Awards for All programme.

The money will be used to purchase kitchen fittings, heaters, tables and chairs for the new community building, which the Association has just constructed in the car parking area alongside the Pit.

This is great news for our project. The building itself has been completed and this latest grant will ensure it will soon be ready to be in use by the Pit Association and the wider community.”

The overall project cost over £120,000 with grant funding from the Clay Country Local Action Group (£60,000), Cornwall SITA Trust (£30,000), St Enoder Parish Council (£12,000) the former Restormel Borough Council (£4,630) and a large amount of local fundraising.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Coalition hypocrisy over Devonwall seat

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian focused on the collapse of the parliamentary boundary review. It was as follows:

I am delighted that MPs have voted to postpone the redrawing of parliamentary boundaries. A total of 334 (mostly Labour and Liberal Democrat) MPs backed the delay, which was opposed by 292 (almost entirely Conservative) MPs.

This is great news for the territorial integrity of Cornwall and it means that a “Devonwall” seat cannot be created in advance of the next General Election.

It has also led to an undignified row between the two partners in the Coalition and their local representatives. Lib Dem MP Dan Rogerson accused the Conservatives of failing “to support the cause when the chips were down.” Tory MP George Eustice accused the Liberal Democrats of being “totally inconsistent” on the issue of “Devonwall.”

So what is the truth?

The Coalition Agreement between the two parties was cobbled together in order to deliver a reduction in the number of MPs and a greater equalisation of constituency size (which would have made it easier for the Conservatives to gain an overall majority in the future), and a referendum on a new voting system (which, if it had been successful, would have made it less difficult for the Liberal Democrats to win parliamentary seats).

The inevitable consequence of such changes would have been the creation of a cross-Tamar constituency and both parties know this.

Local MPs from both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats did support the Keep Cornwall Whole campaign, and backed an amendment in the House of Commons to protect parliamentary boundaries in a number of areas including Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Sadly, their influence was very limited and the amendment failed, with over 95% of Coalition MPs voting against it.

And after the failure of the amendment, five of Cornwall’s six MPs trotted through the division lobby to vote for the Bill in the full knowledge that this would lead to “Devonwall.”

But when plans for Lord’s reform stalled, the Liberal Democrats withdrew their support for the boundary changes, claiming that the Conservatives could not “pick and choose” which Coalition policies to support. The Tories meanwhile pointed out that the boundary changes and Lords reform were not linked in the Coalition agreement, and that it was a “cynical” move by the Lib Dems to halt a measure that would have greatly benefited the electoral hopes of the Conservative Party.

Following last week’s parliamentary vote, local Liberal Democrats are crowing that they have defeated “Devonwall,” while accusing the Conservatives of putting their “party’s interest before that of Cornwall.” They seem to have conveniently forgotten that it was Liberal Democrat MPs, including those from Cornwall, who voted through the legislation for the boundary changes in the first place, and the reason for their shift had nothing to do with the views of the people of Cornwall.

All three Cornish Tories last week voted for the boundary changes and “Devonwall.” They seem to have conveniently forgotten their opposition to the creation of such a seat, which included Sheryll Murray MP telling campaigners at the Saltash Keep Cornwall Whole Rally in October 2010: “We must fight the destruction of our historic border by the political map … we will fight on and on …”

The truth is that the whole episode has highlighted the cynicism all too often found at the heart of politics, as well as the shameful double standards of the Coalition parties.

Council tax benefit, planning policy panel and an interim Chief Executive

Apologies for my failure to blog for the last ten days or so. This has simply been a consequence of back-to-back meetings, and I would like to bring readers up-to-date with some key activities of the past two weeks.

At the Full Council meeting on 29th January, Cornwall councillors debated the consequences of the decision by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition to pass responsibility for council tax benefits onto Cornwall Council, with an inadequate funding allocation that left a massive financial black-hole of over £5 million. Conservative councillors and most independents voted to impose 25% council tax on low income households of working age. It was a disappointing meeting and I am proud that all MK councillors opposed the administration on this telling vote.

Two days later, I chaired a meeting of the Planning Policy Advisory Panel to review a number of issues relating to the Cornwall Local Plan and make further representations to the next Full Council meeting on 12th February. The paperwork for the meeting totalled 594 pages. Members reiterated opposition to the long-standing officer recommendation for housing targets of about 49,000 as well as their revised target of 45,400, in favour of a figure of 38,000 that I put forward.

We also increased affordable housing targets, agreed to revise how new homes could be brought forward by local people in rural areas, sought a review of retail policy, and agreed that further work needed to be done on the cumulative impact of wind turbines. The majority of the Panel also wished to continue to support the planned eco-town near St Austell - I was one of two councillors who opposed the project.

We have also had the news that the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) has decided not to enter into a joint venture with Cornwall Council and British Telecom, throwing the whole “part-privatisation” project – which has consistently been opposed by MK councillors – into doubt.
And today, I sat on the nine-strong interview panel for the post of “interim Chief Executive,” following the decision of Kevin Lavery to resign from his employment with the Council. We were unanimous in recommending the present Assistant Chief Executive, Paul Masters (see right), for the role and this will go forward to Full Council next week.

I am very pleased with the recommendation. Paul is a Cornishman, who joined North Cornwall District Council as a young man and has worked his way up through the ranks of the former district council and into the unitary authority, building up an extremely comprehensive understanding of local government in Cornwall. Paul is wedded to Cornwall and I trust his appointment will be a good for Cornwall.