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Lib Dems have shown a real lack of maturity after leader went

By West Briton  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

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IT has been an eventful and, let's face it, rather chaotic ten days at County Hall with the loss of Alec Robertson as council leader followed by a series of bizarre events which resulted in every political grouping voting for a leader from someone else's party.

Alec Robertson deserves credit for the hard work he has put in over the past three years.

It is easy to criticise, but leading a divided council without a majority is a thankless task and there have been achievements.

Under the last Lib Dem regime, Cornwall Council was one of the worst performing councils in the country, in the bottom 4 per cent, adult social care and social services were in special measures and borrowing was out of control. Now it is one of the most improved councils in the country, adult care and social services are improving rapidly and the finances are back on track with council tax frozen.

The jury is still out on the new council which has its work cut out to establish authority.

After the divisive events of last week, there was a very strong case for a "unity" administration where all parties worked together over the next six months for the good of Cornwall. Extraordinarily, the Lib Dems rejected an offer to work with the new council leader they themselves elected which shows a real lack of maturity on their part.

Once the dust settles, it will be important to learn lessons and sort out the institutional weaknesses inherent in the way this unitary authority was set up.

Firstly, the notion that, after a vote of no confidence, councillors must elect a new leader immediately is clearly bonkers and the procedural rules need to be overhauled to enable an interim leader to act as caretaker for a couple of weeks to allow time for a considered transition to someone new.

Secondly, the council is too large and finds it difficult to reach clear decisions, so we should consider cutting the number of councillors.

At the same time, we need to strengthen local accountability by passing more control to parish and town councils.

Finally, we need to review the way the council is structured. The advantage of the current Cabinet system is that it is easier to make decisions, but too many councillors feel excluded. The alternative is a committee system where more councillors are involved but it is harder to make decisions.

A third option would be to replace the office of the chief executive with a directly elected mayor for Cornwall with a political staff to manage the council.

My own favoured model is that pioneered by Kent County Council – a cross between a Cabinet and a committee system which gives them the best of both worlds.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 26 2012, 1:42PM

    well said doitdreckly. us ordinary people are at last waking up to these pseudo intellectuals creating havoc with our county

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  • Doitdreckley  |  October 26 2012, 9:05AM

    It does not make any sense that the Liberal Democrats are in government with the Tories nationally who together have made big cuts to local government. This means that services are threatened so the Tories locally were trying to do something about it with the part privatisation which the Liberals locally objected to. To use a frequent phrase from Big Ger: you couldn't make it up.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 25 2012, 11:56PM

    Thankyou moderator The one bone of contention in the news article is where the author says ''Extraordinarily, the Lib Dems rejected an offer to work with the new council leader '' I would like further explanation of this assertion . If this can be verified it is hugely daming for the fib dems.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 25 2012, 11:41PM

    if lib dem poloticians were being banned from cr****ing on the beaches perhaps this story may be getting a priority...come on moderator..

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 25 2012, 10:23PM

    Worryingly this article was stuffed down the back of tic web pages on about page 7...only once the people start commeting does it appear on page 1. It's almost as if the dominant local media and political party are in some savillesque type cahoots to bury the truth..

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  • John1000  |  October 25 2012, 8:54PM

    I want to know who has been responsible for all these improvements at a time of such cuts to the budget. It's outrageous to balance the books and improve services and someone should pay for it. The cabinet system has clearly failed and we should move back to the old set up of committees and long and drawn out decision making that we all felt so involved in. In terms of leadership, it's time we put back in place the type of leadership that led us into failing across the board. We cannot and should not have any success stories, it goes against the grain, is simply not on and will leave us nothing to complain about.

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  • John1000  |  October 25 2012, 8:48PM

    I want to know who has been responsible for all these improvements at a time of such cuts to the budget. It's outrageous to balance the books and improve services and someone should pay for it. The cabinet system has clearly failed and we should move back to the old set up of committees and long and drawn out decision making that we all felt so involved in. In terms of leadership, it's time we put back in place the type of leadership that led us into failing across the board. We cannot and should not have any success stories, it goes against the grain and gives us nothing to complain about - it simply will not do.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 25 2012, 8:35PM

    With greatest respect Dee i think the author lays down some very usefull benchmarks which can be challenged directly. W e are unlikely to see a difference in our day to day lives until the destruction/bad management becomes catastrophic. My opinion is that the problems, in large part, rest with us the voters being apathetic. We have'nt embraced the importance of the united authority and only circa 10% of us vote in local elections. I'd suggest a program of education in the importance of local democracy may be a first step.

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  • Big_Ger  |  October 25 2012, 7:47PM

    Cornwall needs a smaller county council, say some 60 members, with powers limited to the basic functions of local government.

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  • dee_2  |  October 25 2012, 7:29PM

    "My own favoured model is that pioneered by Kent County Council – a cross between a Cabinet and a committee system which gives them the best of both worlds." Who exactly are you? While I have no time for the Libdems I still expect an article to be impartial. This article looks as if its been written by a tory. I'm sure the Libdems would argue that their problems from 2004 - 2009 were due to the previous administration. As for 'improvements' under Robertson's leadership, I have seen repeated press releases from Cornwall Council telling us all about the wonderful job they are doing and how highly respected they are by government, but I look around me and think, as many others do, 'Am I missing something?'

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