Sunday, 23 September 2012

“Use your frustration to push for positive change”

My article in last week’s Cornish Guardian was published under the above title. It was as follows:

This weekend, while “tidying” my home, I came across an article that I wrote some three-and-a-bit years ago. It was titled: “We can all make a difference.”

It started: “Why bother … what is the point … it is already a ‘done deal’ … we cannot change anything. How many times have we heard statements such as these … and to be fair, how many times have we felt downhearted at a lack of progress …”

But the article went on to extol the wonders of “people power” and how people like you and I could actually foster positive change.

It will surprise no-one that the article was written at an optimistic time for me, namely the immediate aftermath of the County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for an incinerator at St Dennis.

I still passionately believe that everyone can make a difference. And yet, I increasingly find myself dismayed at the lack of democracy at Cornwall Council. I would like to give three very topical examples.

Take the incinerator as example one. Even though planning permission was refused, the leadership of Cornwall Council has steadfastly refused to push forward an alternative to incineration. As a result, plans for the waste plant have stormed ahead almost by default. The Leader of Cornwall Council has even lobbied central government to impose the incinerator on the China Clay Area, and the ten-strong ruling Cabinet has ignored a unanimous recommendation from its Waste Panel to explore an alternative proposal.

There is also the proposed “Strategic Partnership for Support Services,” which would allow the private sector to deliver a range of core council services. It was opposed by the majority of councillors at a recent Full Council meeting, but the ruling Cabinet has disgracefully announced that it is still going to proceed with the privatisation anyway, irrespective of the views of elected members.

And then there are the plans for a new archive centre. A working group of councillors recommended that the centre be built at St Austell, but the subsequent report to a scrutiny committee proposed a site at Redruth.

The scrutiny committee voted 11 votes to one to recommend the St Austell site. At the time of writing, the decision has yet to be debated at Cabinet, but the report for the meeting ignores the findings of the scrutiny committee and still recommends the Redruth site.

Though many of us may feel dismayed at what has been happening at County Hall, we must not let this lead us to be disengaged with local politics. We must use these frustrations to redouble our efforts to make sure that things do change.


Cornwall Council’s Cabinet voted by six votes to four not to build the archive centre in St Austell. 


MawKernewek said...

How about setting up a locally owned cooperative company under democratic control of the people using the services, to take over the running of services, thereby cutting the Politburo out, rather than outsourcing to corporates who will have to cut corners to take a profit cut?

The Surly Beaver said...

It is pointless blaming Cornwall Council for foisting an incinerator on you. It is mandated by an EU Directive dealing with waste disposal that mandates incineration in place of landfills on pain of heavy fines for non-compliance.

If MK were running Cornwall Council you'd find yourself in the same position.