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Cornwall Council leader Alec Robertson goes after no confidence vote

By West Briton  |  Posted: October 18, 2012

Alec Robertson

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SECURITY guards had to be called to the heated meeting in which Cornwall Council leader Alec Robertson was turfed out of office and replaced by his former deputy Jim Currie.

The Conservative leader lost a vote of no confidence at an extraordinary council meeting on Tuesday, triggered after Mr Robertson and his Cabinet refused to scrap plans to part-privatise council services despite a council vote against the project.

After hours of fraught negotiations Mr Currie was elected leader over Cabinet member Neil Burden, who had been put forward by Tory councillor Mike Eathorne-Gibbons.

The turmoil continued after Mr Currie's selection was confirmed when four Cabinet members resigned – Julian German, Graeme Hicks (both Independent), Chris Ridgers and Steve Double (both Conservative) – saying they could not serve under Mr Currie.

Earlier in the meeting, which was being webcast live, council chairman Pat Harvey called in security guards after Cabinet member Mark Kaczmarek called Liberal Democrat group leader Jeremy Rowe a "backstabber".

Mr Kaczmarek then refused to retract the comment at Mrs Harvey's request. He was led from the chamber by two security guards, later returning and apologising to Mr Rowe.

Mr Robertson was voted out of office by 63 votes to 49 after a long debate with opponents criticising his leadership and decision-making and supporters praising his hard work and determination.

Cabinet member Armand Toms (Con) said Mr Robertson had made "amazing achievements" considering where the council had been, while Mr Hicks blamed a "hostile local media" for the lack of recognition of the council's achievements.

Some councillors questioned the need for the vote, with Tory John Fitter accusing the Lib Dems of using it to start their campaign for elections in May.

After the vote, Councillor Graham Walker, the independent who seconded the no confidence motion, said: "I am pleased with how it turned out but sad for Alec. I do recognise the hard work he has done, but he got it wrong. He ignored the wishes of the council on the shared services project and has paid the price for that."

Mrs Harvey and Mr Burden paid tribute to and thanked Mr Robertson for his hard work over the past three and a half years.

In the election of a successor, Mr Currie won 49 votes to Mr Burden's 46. Five councillors abstained.

After being nominated Mr Currie, who had last week resigned as deputy leader over his opposition to the shared services plan, said: "Now is the time to look forward and reinforce the democracy demonstrated by the members this afternoon. I'll hold meetings over the coming days to determine who will make up the new Cabinet.

"This council has six months to run and it has to put some fundamental things right."

He said the council needed to decide policy on key issues such as the budget and the shared service project, adding: "We as a council must control our destiny, not have it done for us by a bunch of city merchants."

The full council's debate on the shared services project on Tuesday can be seen live from 10.30am at www.thisiscornwall.co.uk

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  • beaujester  |  October 18 2012, 9:09PM

    Freemasonry at work?

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  • Cknocker  |  October 18 2012, 12:23PM

    Kaczmarek certainly knows one thing and that is to look after himself. During the whole South Crofty Closure he was extremely vocal against the closure, to quote one tv interview while speaking about the Managing Director "He is a banker by trade, but I would like to call him something else". After the last shift when the ropes were due to come off the headframe he very publicly chained himself to the winder. So it is clear that Mr Kaczmarek was passionate about the mine being reopened. Barely 12 months later he was appointed to the board of the CPR regeneration company who were very anti mining (To be quite frank if it wasn't for them the mine would be in full production by now), now based on his previous antics you would think he would have stood up for his convictions - but oh no he was now adamant that the mine should never reopen. Fast Forward 9 years, with the demise of CPR regeneration following the loss of several court cases against the mine owner, Cornwall Council came out in support of reopening the mine -the all of the sudden Kaczmarek is in favour again! What is the relevance to this? Well a couple of weeks ago Kaczmarek was one of the only cabinet members to vote against shared services, this week he very publicly supported the leader, I can accept that maybe despite disagreeing with the plan he stood by Alec as a friend - however perhaps I'm being cynical: - Was this not an attempt to cover both bases? If Alec Stayed, Kaczmarek was safe due to his steadfast defence of the leader - however if Jim Currie took the job, he was also in a strong position because he agreed with him on shared services. I'll give him one thing - hes an expert on having his cake and eating it!

  • diogenes23  |  October 18 2012, 11:30AM

    "Mr Kaczmarek ... was led from the chamber by two security guards... " And this filthy tempered loudmouth remains as a member of the 'cabinet'. Considering Kaczmarek's role in the dirty deal over the St Dennis incinerator and his appalling behaviour in the Council chamber he, like his unlamented fat friend, should be removed. One can only hope that the electors of St Day and Lanner remember the antics of this self serving parasite and vote accordingly.

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  • DavePz  |  October 18 2012, 11:09AM

    Even better than losing Mr Robertson is the demise of Graeme Hicks. I doubt there is a more arrogant person on the Council - which wouldn't be quite so bad if he wasn't quite so dim. In addition I've never been supportive of those who masquerade under the "Independent" banner solely because they know they'd never be elected under their true colours.

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