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Lib Dem leader's trip to top project is banned by council

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: February 25, 2010

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has been refused permission by Cornwall Council to visit the Heartlands project at Pool.--P-

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A ROW has broken out after Cornwall Council blocked an attempt by the Lib Dems to bring their leader to see the Heartlands project at Pool.

Party activists wanted Nick Clegg to see for himself how a rundown old mining area is to be transformed using a multi-million pound Lottery grant.

But, just as they were finalising his visit, they discovered it had been vetoed.

Lib Dem councillor Kim Willoughby, who represents the area on Cornwall Council, said she was bitterly disappointed.

She said: "Nick Clegg was excited about coming. It was going to be a fantastic opportunity for the project but, pretty much as soon as Cornwall Council got wind of it, it came about that it was not going to go ahead. They said it was going to be during an election period, but an election hasn't been called. The visit was due to happen very soon, not during the election period.

"This was going to be a huge opportunity for Cornwall. This is something that's on the same scale as the Eden Project. That publicity would have been amazing for the project. I'm devastated."

Malcolm Moyle is the Heartlands' champion, a member of the Heartlands' board, and a staunch Labour supporter.

He said he was mystified by the decision.

He said: "I'm in favour of anything that we can do to publicise it. I would welcome the leaders of any political party, as I would welcome any member of the public.

"I don't know if there's an issue with the Lottery, or whether it's something to do with an impending election.

"What I do know is that once an election is called you will see all these party leaders visiting schools and so on, so why shouldn't they come here?"

Mr Clegg declined to comment.

A spokesman for Cornwall Council confirmed that the party's request to include Heartlands in the leadership tour had been declined, saying: "It is not permissible for the council to allow a politician to use council property in the promotion of a political party or political aims.

"Heartlands is a council-owned site, the project is funded by public monies and is delivered by the council and, as such, to sanction such a request would be wholly inappropriate. Throughout its development, Heartlands has benefited from cross-party support, and is not aligned with any party.

"We will invite all three political party leaders to visit the project in July once the construction phase begins."

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    Paul, Exeter  |  February 26 2010, 1:10PM

    "It is not permissible for the Council to allow a politician to use Council property in the promotion of a political party or political aims". Excuse me. I have obviously been halucinating when I have seen footage of politicians visiting schools, day centres, and other Council property. Or is this another case of Cornwall Council making up the rules as it goes along?

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    TimV, Pz  |  February 25 2010, 8:44PM

    If this story is correct, it appears to indicate there is something profoundly wrong with the corporate culture at Cornwall Council. The decision to prevent the leader of the Liberal Party from visiting a regeneration project smacks of churlishness and over reaching arrogance. One only has to pose the question, would they have refused Gordon Brown or David Cameron if they had proposed a visit to the site? Whether you agree with the Liberal Party or not, its Leader demands a certain respect and assistance, if he attempts to carry out a fact-finding visit. The site may be legally owned by the Council but it should realise as a public body, wholly dependant on ratepayer and tax payer income, it does so in trust for the benefit of the public as a whole. We the public expect councils to afford reasonable co-operation and assistance to our political representatives in the exercise of their public duties. One would have thought that Cornwall Council could have done with all the support it could get, from whatever the political direction it emanates.

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    cheekyman, Redruth  |  February 25 2010, 11:52AM

    The LibDems have ruined the county enough...we don't need Clegg coming down and pretending he had anything to do with this...the only Political Party Leader who should be allowed anywhere near this is Dick Cole.