Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Political groups - working together at County Hall?

And on a positive note – this was my article published in last week’s Cornish Guardian.

After the local elections in May, there were discussions between the three main groups (Conservative, Independent and Liberal Democrat) on Cornwall Council about the possibility of a “rainbow” or “one and all” administration.

I was disappointed that they were unable to come to an agreement.

From my perspective, it could have meant, for example, the whole Council coming together to challenge the disproportionate level of central government cuts to Cornwall Council.

But I have to complement the administration formed by the Independents and Liberal Democrats. They are attempting – unlike previous administrations – to engage with all political groups across the authority and to encourage a more inclusive atmosphere.

The new leader, Independent Councillor John Pollard from Hayle, has pledged to work with all councillors “to create a positive and responsive Council.” Labour and Mebyon Kernow have stated they intend to “work constructively with the administration” while UKIP has stated it “will co-operate where it can.”

The new administration has certainly made a concerted effort to ensure that members of all political groups are appointed to positions of responsibility – an initiative which was welcomed by all groups except the Conservatives who, for reasons that I do not comprehend, declined to be part of the arrangement.

I have been appointed as Chairman of the Environment, Heritage and Planning Portfolio Advisory Committee, while other committees will be chaired by members of the Labour Party and UKIP. The sole Green Party councillor will be the vice-chairman of the Transport and Waste Portfolio Advisory Committee.

I believe that such inclusiveness is to be applauded and I hope that it will lead to a period of more positive politics at County Hall, which will allow the Council to be more united in demanding a better deal from central government.

It is also to be welcomed that, at this week’s meeting of Cornwall Council, councillors from a range of groups have come together to put forward a motion to oppose moves by the Home Secretary to transfer of control over fire and rescue services away from local authorities and, in the case of Cornwall, out of the Duchy.

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