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Deputy Cornwall Council leader Jim Currie quits over opposition to move to private shared services

By WBNews  |  Posted: October 09, 2012

  • Jim Currie

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DEPUTY council leader Jim Currie spectacularly resigned today over his objection to the plan to hand services to a private company.

The Conservative had been tipped to stand as leader should Councillor Alec Robertson lose a vote of no confidence as leader of Cornwall Council next Tuesday (October 16).

But Councillor Currie would not be drawn on whether he would do so after quitting the Cabinet, giving up his position as deputy leader of the council and member in charge of finance and corporate resources.

Already an outspoken critic of the plans, his resignation e-mail to Mr Robertson today, copied to all other members and seen by the West Briton, said: "I feel I have pushed the cause of retaining council control over the joint ventures as far as I can with the Cabinet.

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"The financial risks involved with the rush into the new joint venture proposals are unacceptable. The JV is basically too large to control.

"We have wasted £42m+ on the unitary (authority), £42m+ on the incinerator and we are now proposing to risk a great deal more on the joint venture.

"I welcome your somewhat ambiguous offer to respect full council decisions on the 23rd October but I know you will never let go.

"I could not leave local government with billions of pounds of Cornish taxpayers' money at risk and on my conscience.
"Alec, this matter has never been personal."

He told the West Briton: "Honestly, I have done everything I can do.

"I have been out on a limb for a very long time and will just have to let the thing take it's course and it's down to the membership and that's what the council is supposed to be about.
"It's absolutely the courage of my convictions and nothing else.

"The amazing thing is how many other people on the council think the same way across all parties. It's tremendously non-political.
"It's an inevitability at this stage. I have done everything I can to try to influence the process and exhausted that.
"The sensible thing is to step back if you're out of step with the rest of the Cabinet."
The vote of no confidence was triggered by Mr Robertson's decision to press ahead with plans to privatise services despite a council vote against it.
A petition has also forced the issue to be debated again by full council on October 23 and Mr Robertson has said he will abide by the decision taken then as to whether to continue with plans to create a joint venture with a private company to run some services.
*See this week's West Briton for more.

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  • Phil_lip  |  October 11 2012, 12:28AM

    oops, on my last para it is in the US that has happened, and won't be long before it happens in Europe and here.

  • Phil_lip  |  October 11 2012, 12:13AM

    BarryG you are perfectly right, there has to be change in the way the council works, the way the money is spent, the way the staff are treated when they try to do a job within the remit they are given but it is not anything like the term luddite that you throw into the conversation. If any more is privatised of the council services there will be no accountability, if you do not believe me read your contract with SWW very carefully and you will see it has no responsibility to its customers, and if you go further and read the legislation around drinking water, waste and delivery of a service that is held at the environment agency and national records office then you will see how much of a say you really have. This is not conspiracy this or that, it is a fact and since Thatcher sold off public services (rail, water etc.), then more with the bins, now this, next the police (and even coppers know this is going to happen) and the nhs (which will be the same as the US health service and insurance schemes if we don't stop it now) the people of this country will be treated like dirt if they are not on over £50,000 a year. We allow our politicians to go round the world peddling democracy and raping other countries for their resources and all the while they strip democracy from under the feet of the people that elect them, you really need to be more aware of what is happening. I was speaking with an ex-councillor last night and he came up with an idea, get rid of agency staff (who cost upwards of £25 an hour) and consultants (upwards of £100 an hour) and bring it all back in house, then re-arrange the pay structure to make sure the people working as civil servants do their job properly, basic wage then a two tiered bonus system. Not saying it is perfect but it makes a lot more sense than selling everything off and letting services drop and people suffer with no one held accountable. barryg you might want to also look into the way corporations have been given the same rights as a human being as entities under the human rights charter, again not conspiracy but fact.

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  • josdave  |  October 10 2012, 8:19PM

    He hasn't come to his senses there's an election coming up and he's afraid, quite rightly, that he and many others who have gone along with the dictatorship that calls itself a cabinet are at risk of losing their places at the trough of OUR money.

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  • cox1191  |  October 10 2012, 8:16PM

    Cornwall Councillors actually wrestling back democracy from the overpowerful cabinet system (or Robertson to be more specific) is good news but it has not actually happened yet has it! Perhaps now they have reinserted their backbones they might target the real dictator (Lavery) and dispose of his services

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  • ackedoff  |  October 10 2012, 7:37PM

    Barryg there is nothing in Mr Curries email which says hes against change, what it does say is that he has had enough of the flagrant waste of, and risk taking with, tax payers money. Primarily he is unhappy about the undemocratic way the council is being run. There is nothing small about the objections to this project inside or outside of the council, to be quite frank its quite a big majority! No one denies times are tough and likely to get tougher but following through on a project which has the potential to fail with the subsequent loss of jobs is not the way to go particularly if evidence elsewhere points against it. A good example of this is the failure of peninusula health to maintain the staffing levels at a local hospital, why? probably becouse they are running things on a shoe string. Peninsula Health are the subject of another joint project and are due to take over some services provided by Adult Social Care. I wouldnt want my Grandma looked after by a company who cant even ensure adequate staff at a local hospital....would you? Yes there is a promise to create jobs but 500 in 10yrs will not make much of an impact on the economy of Cornwall which ever way the project goes. The bottom line is that these projects are poorly thought out, steam rollered through by a minority against the wishes of a majority of elected members and their constituents. There is little evidence that there has been a robust analysis ofany alternatives other than redundency Not the way I would like the future of my life in thisw county decided I can tell you

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  • BarryG  |  October 10 2012, 3:32PM

    Councillor Currie seems againgst everything which requires change. Beware those who so vehemently resist change in Cornwall, they either have a vested interest in the status-quo (political or business ambitions?) or are just luddites stuck in a rose tinted glasses view of a past Cornwall. Personally I want to see more change and quicker, our kids need jobs, our businesses need investment. If this council deal contractually brings this to Cornwall, why the sudden vocal minority againgst it? Surely nothing to do with an council election in May 2013 ? I say embrace change because 'Nothing comes of Nothing'!

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  • ackedoff  |  October 09 2012, 11:18PM

    I guess the reasons why Mr Currie hasn't resigned before are probably the same as why many of the other councilors have collectively votes to allocate the money in the first place......peer pressure.....or is that another word for bullying? What ever the reason well done Mr Currie for finally coming to your senses......any chance you can now force an investigation into this alleged waste of tax payers money? £84 million is no small sum in any ones eyes and its not Lavery's or Robertson's money..........its mine and every other council tax payer in the county! Its time someone was brought to book for allegedly playing around with our money!

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  • robertwebber1  |  October 09 2012, 11:04PM

    Surely Alec Robertson is finished now as Jim Currie's resigning is an invitation to Tory councillors to vote no confidence in the Leader?!!

  • Doitdreckley  |  October 09 2012, 9:21PM

    A lot of the money that Mr Currie claims has been wasted has been on his watch so why didn't he resigh before?