Sunday, 7 March 2010

Thanks to Radio Cornwall

Over the last week, Radio Cornwall ran a number of features focusing on local government in Cornwall. It started with a short ‘debate’ between the group leaders (see blog entry for 1 March). This was followed by a series of interviews with cabinet members to discuss issues such as transport and waste collection. It finished with an ‘Any Questions’ debate between the four group leaders on the Council that was recorded on Thursday night and broadcast on Friday lunchtime.

As well as me, Alec Robertson was there for the Tories with Neil Burden for the Independents, while Robin Teverson represented the Liberal Democrats.

From a personal perspective, I think it went well and I was glad to see the issue of the proposed incinerator raise its chimney frequently during the debate. The line of the Conservative leader was that terminating the contract would be “catastrophic” while Robin Teverson challenged the administration to re-negotiate the contract with SITA using its ‘commercial leaverage.’ It was obvious that Robin did not grasp the full consequences of the Contract, signed by the previous Lib Dem administration, and associated procurement rules. I invited him to attend meetings of the Waste Panel to find out more. He declined but under pressure from Laurence Reed suggested a “tutorial – one to one – with Dick.”

I also repeated MK’s call for a Commission to investigate the extent of the underfunding that Cornwall and its communities suffer. In one exchange (that was edited out of the broadcast programme) my Conservative opponent in St Austell and Newquay, who was in the audience, stated she could guarantee fair funding from a Conservative Government. I asked when I would be getting a letter to that effect from David Cameron. No date was given but it was suggested that Dave would like to meet me!

Other topics covered included the extent of wages paid to the Chief Executive and the Corporate Directors – in this discussion I focussed on the scandal of low wages in Cornwall; and the possible out-sourcing of public services – I made it clear that I supported quality public services provided through the public sector and not pared-down services provided through the private sector.

I hope I did MK justice. I would also like to thank BBC Radio Cornwall for hosting this debate and fostering greater debate about local government in Cornwall.

No comments: