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Cornwall Council leader Alec Robertson to face a vote of "no confidence"

By WBNews  |  Posted: September 21, 2012

  • Cornwall Council leader Alec Robertson to face a vote of "no confidence"

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THE LEADER of Cornwall Council is to face a vote of "no confidence" next month.

More than 41 Cornwall councillors have signed a petition seeking to remove Alec Robertson over the shared services row.

Cornwall Council is currently looking to create a joint venture partnership with a private firm – BT or Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) – to provide services such as libraries, benefits, payroll and IT services.

Cornwall councillor for Boscawen in Truro, Rob Nolan, said: "Such a fundamental change should be decided by the full council and not just ten members of the cabinet.

"This will tell the cabinet and senior officers that we are not here to just  make up numbers but we were elected by the people and we want to make sure that people's views are heard."

Cornwall Council confirmed that there will be an extraordinary council meeting on October 16 following the motion from those members who signed the petition.

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  • lance99  |  October 14 2012, 4:53PM

    This is a shambles on two counts - 1. The privatisation itself and 2. The lack of democracy and transparency of decision making at CC. Outsourcing/privatisation of major local services is flawed and we can readily find examples of these failures - http://tinyurl.com/8qyzern - the link also refers to BT. The democratic process seems to have eluded the Cabinet but I learn that the CC constitution can be used for the Cabinet to decide policy without an overall majority of Councillors voting in favour. So it is obvious that the Constitution needs amending. Firms tending for contracts have one objective - profit, so this is likely to be made to the detriment of the services provided and the salary and conditions of those working for contractors; so taking money out of the local economy.Whichever way you look at it it's loose/loose for Cornwall.

  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 11 2012, 4:44PM

    Cknocker in your mind the increased goverment subsidy is a bad thing and you would like to focus on shareholders benefitting from taxpayers investment. Your argument says that a threefold subsidies increase has benefitted only the lucky shareholders...but you fail to prove this....you also fail to acknowledge the vast investment made in rolling stock and infrastructure... the increased customer satisfaction as witnessed by big increases in passenger numbers....the vastly superior punctuality record of the service. Your argument only carries water if the service had remained at the same poor level as prior to privatisation and subsidy had increased. The de facto reality is an improved service paid for by subsidy and increased passenger ticket sales and private sector investment {encouraged by the blue chip of government involvement and the commercial expertise within the private sector}. Alternatives could be A. the government could buy all the shares of the train companies or B.the whole service is completely nationalised and we would be back where we started with ancient trains that never arrive on schedule and any improvement s are attended by the usual public body appetite for wasting taxpayers money

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  • Cknocker  |  October 10 2012, 9:34PM

    Sorry I've just picked myself up off the floor after reading that one! Well if we follow that one the country will be well and truely bust - the more someone invests, the more the taxpayer subsidise! Do we follow that through to infinity or do you propose an upper limit? You really don't seem to grasp free market principles, if something can't stand on its own two feet it goes bust - simple. As such if the railways cannot be run for profit (Please bear in mind the largest capital expenditure is on the infrasructure, owned by the taxpayer) then it should not be run as a private enterprise.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 10 2012, 7:44PM

    The subsidy to trains may be higher and it has attracted even higher private investment. If entities risk capital and it works they should be rewarded......free market economy works better than any other system. If you want core services to be entirely paid for and managed by the public servants then at least have the honesty to fess up how massively exspensive that will be and how taxes on the middle class will as usual pay for it...you give the example followed by France who are trying to defy economic gravity.

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  • Cknocker  |  September 23 2012, 4:31PM

    The trains? What is this the Railway system where the tracks and other infrastructure is owned by the state? where all that plush new rolling stock is owned by the state? which is subsidised to a level 3 times greater than when state run? and where is all that subsidy going? straight into the shareholders pockets! How about our core public utilities, where strategic investment in energy networks and supplies do not take place - the very investment required to allow growth! Why are our energy prices now the highest in Europe, if privatisation is the be all and end all? I have no issue with industry (British Steel, NCB, BAe etc) being privately owned, core services are an entirely different issue. How appropriate is the staffing levels within the out of hours GP service - never mind the quality of service, where the stock answer appears to be go to A&E! Any fool can be paid to run a service and then direct the customers elsewhere! How appropriate is the staffing levels within the care sector, where a carer is given only 15 minutes to dish out the care required before moving onto the next client, if they fail to meet their deadlines they face the sack, so when your granny is slow in getting out of bed the care is not what it should be!

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  September 23 2012, 4:15PM

    We are all socialists then...we all want good services and, if we are sensible, we all want not to waste money providing them thereby diluting the good work our hard earned taxes might do. Many here seem determined that public service admin is the route. In my view it is not because thier is no imperative to succeed fiscally....you encourage an addiction/dependence on the bootomless pit of gov taxes {our money} and a culture of waste within the organisation via a sloppy management attitude {you will always be bailed out eventually why bother with balnacing books? We can trade examples of good/bad public/private enterprises all day , without an indepth analysis we have only anecdotal insights bound to be fallible. The arguments re jobs is emotive but is an aside from creating lean efficient services, fit for purpose and staffed appropriately, which benefit the whole of society and the service itself....someone mentioned the trains...despite the problems mentioned we have new rolling stock , passenger numbers on the increase and trains run on time....some of us remember the old days...

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  • Cknocker  |  September 22 2012, 6:19PM

    The crazy thing with set ups like this is that the private sector is trying to make a profit out of services that have no revenue stream. In other words the private sector is paid to carry out the work - as we all know the private sector these days sees annual growth in profits as sacrosanct - how many times do we hear dissappointment at only 3% increase in profits year on year? If there is no way of increasing revenue, how can the private sector increase their profits to meet their shareholders demand? By cutting costs, how do you cut costs in providing services, whether it be social care, libraries etc, where the largest cost is actually staff? By cutting the payroll of course! If this goes ahead in five years time we will have no public services fit for purpose, but I'm sure both the council and the contractor will be telling us how wonderful it all is. Just look at Serco and the out of hours GP service! If you can call it that!

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  • Cknocker  |  September 22 2012, 5:26PM

    I was fairly indifferent to this proposal until Friday - whilst I did not agree with it, I wouldn't have actively opposed it. However after hearing this (oops hang on, I best not say what I think, as he considers a vote of no confidence a personal insult, he would certainly consider what I think a personal insult!) supposed leader of the council on the radio, I am absolutely vehemently opposed to it. It is quite clear that he does not truely believe his plans would stand up to scrutiny, otherwise he would not be calling everyone else too thick to understand (Now Mr Robertson, I DO consider that a personal insult). Any councillor who backs this man will in my mind have commited political suicide, as every man and woman in this county should be absolutely enraged by his attitude to both the council and the general public, and should not consider voting for anybody who backs this style of dicatorial "leadership" - the thing with leadership is you have to convince others to follow you (Generally by winning an argument) NOT by saying stuff you all I'm doing my own thing.

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  • ackedoff  |  September 22 2012, 4:40PM

    Doitdreckly, what you haven't mentioned here, and its probably not your fault as its something that seems not to have been mentioned by Lavery and his cronies, is that yes this project may possibly create jobs, 500 infact, but over 10 years! Little comfort for those who loose their jobs in a cost cutting exercise by the new company in order to make it pay. You might want to look at the loses made by the joint venture in somerset and IBM. £10m in the first year! and how many jobs? The reason why councils have no money is due to the mismanagement of the countries finances in government and greedy bankers. I for one don't think we are "all in this together" as Cameron constantly crows, I haven't messed my finances up and don't see why I and the people of Cornwall should suffer by having poorly thought out projects such as this foisted on us in the name of "prevailing economic situations" and cost cutting. Yes social care figures are rising but had governments taken the advice given by various agencies years ago and managed budgets accordingly then maybe we wouldn't be in this mess.

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  • onoes  |  September 22 2012, 4:30PM

    I guess a few points to make: If he sees the Cornish people's wishes to be democratically represented as a personal insult then maybe he lacks the maturity for this role. So basically he's saying that if he runs these business units directly they will be far less efficient than if another organisation led by a different person does it, even after they've skimmed off their profit margin. Is that an admission of incompetence? Privatised contracts always look cheaper on the face of it, but rarely are when looked at holistically and in retrospect. The basic theory is that if all the staff are forced to work for less money and poorer terms and conditions (exploited?) there should be more money left over. The shortfalls in their service are either deliberately covered up (Serco Cornwall out of ours GP contract) or result in additional costs being incurred in other parts of the public purse (Atos disability checks creating a massive caseload for the appeals service, G4S needing the army the army in to cover the Olympics) or both. Even in cases where a privatised system has been running for some time and proven to be less efficient and more expensive (the railways) the contracts are put back out to tender when they come up, which rather begs the question of what the real motivations for privatisation are if it's demonstrably not efficiency or cost saving. It's almost like the decision makers have worked for these companies and plan to return some day...... Which brings me to my second to last point. As the unelected chief executive of the council has clear links to Serco, surely that either disqualifies him or Serco from having any involvement in this process. Finally, the chair of the parliamentary public accounts committee is currently calling for Serco to be investigated by the national audit office over their failures to meet the terms of their GP cover contract in Cornwall and their now freely admitted repeated lying to cover this up. Until that's all resolved I assume they will not be considered for any more contracts to privatise taxpayer funded public services in Cornwall?

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