Thursday, 6 December 2007

Mr Whalley needs a boat!

On Wednesday, I attended the second meeting of the 24-strong Joint Implementation Committee, which has been tasked with devising the proposed unitary council. Held at the offices of Restormel Borough Council, it was certainly frustrating for me to be there as a member of the public and unable to take part in what the generous amongst us would call the ‘debate.’

I did not go to the meeting in a positive frame of mind and left it very, very concerned about the process.

Rather than try to give a full report of the meeting, I will detail three things that I am sure people will find of interest.

First, it was announced that the Council had signed a contract with a consultancy firm to do the ‘baselining’ data collection work to inform the creation of the new council. The councillors were informed that the cost would by up to £710,000. The Committee did not vote to agree the contract – they were simply told it had been done. Where is the democracy in this?

Second, there was considerable debate around what they called the ‘localism agenda.’ It was noted that because the elections would not take place until 2009, there would be a boundary review and the proposed boundaries of the sixteen suggested area networks would also be reviewed. Lib Dem leader David Whalley pushed hard for some aspects of the networks to be piloted in some areas, even though the geography of all these areas was still to be decided. It led wonderfully to independent councillor Pam Lyne exclaiming in frustration: “With respect, Chairman, if you want to go to sea in a boat, you need a boat!”

And third, the leader of Restormel asked about the forthcoming boundary review which he rightly identified needs to be carried out in tandem with the work on the area networks. He was immediately told by one Lib Dem councillor that the issue that he had raised was ‘irrelevant.’

I don’t know about you, but I am worried for Cornwall, its communities and its public services.

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