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Cornwall Council leader says motion of no confidence is 'an insult'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 22, 2012

Alec Robertson

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Cornwall Council chief Alec Robertson faces a backbench rebellion and potential leadership challenge from members angry at plans to privatise council services.

More than a third of the authority's 123 councillors have forced a vote of no confidence in Mr Robertson which could see the controversial leader ousted at an extraordinary meeting next month.

A cross-party coalition of opponents has submitted 42 signatures, one more than the 41 required, to force a motion "to remove the leader from office".

The decision by the cabinet this month to press ahead with a so-called "shared services" proposals despite a vote against the plans by full council has forced the move.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Alex Folkes said recent concerns about the "anti-democratic nature of the administration" had persuaded him to join the rebels.

But he claims the result is not a "foregone conclusion" and wants Mr Robertson to say "how he intends to lead in the future" at the meeting on October 16.

Andrew Wallis, Independent councillor for Porthleven and Helston South, said the leader was "not listening to the elected members". He added: "The direction he is taking this council is not in the best interests of Cornwall."

Mr Robertson described the motion as a "personal insult" but said he had developed a "thick skin".

He told the Western Morning News he had no intention of stepping down as leader, nor reversing the shared services decision, and warned that abandoning the privatisation plans would lead to "mass redundancies".

"I was appointed by the council to do a job and my administration has been phenomenally successful," he added. "I have operated a fully inclusive and open decision-making cabinet and will continue in my role until I am relieved of it."

Independent councillor for Redruth North, Lisa Dolley, claims she has suffered bullying since quitting the Independent group and signing the petition calling for a vote of no confidence.

She claims to have been stripped of her position as council design champion and removed from a board at Coastline Housing Association.

"I didn't want to be tarnished with the Tory brush – I like to follow my morals and principles," she said.

"I am nobody's puppet and don't like to be told what to do."

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  • CCPorkies  |  October 07 2012, 5:11PM

    Ah sounds like Helston 123 is a Robertson family member?? Mr Robertson would tell you he sold it at a profit but other know better!! If Alec had a pair he would have resigned long ago!!

  • Cknocker  |  September 28 2012, 3:23PM

    Ha Ha! We have absolutely no problem recruiting in the South West (Most people start as apprentices and stay till retirement!) Trying to get staff in the Midlands is proving a nightmare!

  • Phil_lip  |  September 28 2012, 3:11PM

    3875 so far on the online version, couple of months to go till deadline but if you know anyone that agrees democracy should not be privatised, which this is the start of then sign here: http://tinyurl.com/ckg2q8h If people moan about it in the future but did nothing then it is their own fault. Cknocker it sounds like you are trying to advertise for staff lol There are a few consultants at the lower end of the pay scale that do extremely good jobs and don't take the preverbial but I have to agree with you on the higher end pay scale consultants and the lies they spread about how important their work is.

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  • Cknocker  |  September 28 2012, 6:57AM

    As an aside, just for clarity, as well as doing pretty much everything in house, our company pays extremely well, offers very favourable terms and conditions and a pension as good as, if not better than the councils. As you say Philip, council massively overuse consultants - part of this is down to a fear of taking responsibility and a belief in many consultants propaganda. I would like to know how much money Cornwall Council spend on say consultants for road design, when they have most of the expertise in staff!

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  • Phil_lip  |  September 28 2012, 12:38AM

    Great to see that someone in business sees the sense of bringing things back inhouse rather than outsourcing, consultants for certain departments get upwards of £120 an hour, some as much as £300 and while they are good to a point if that was brought back inhouse with the government departments that are already out there instead of them outsourcing then the bills would be reduced by a lot and the work quality would go up immensly because you could have teams of up to 8-10 people on one project at a fraction of the cost, you would also have local people striving for a better education to fill the roles instead of them going out of county most of the time. I have been privy to quite a few pieces of consultants work and I would shudder at paying £60,000 out of the public purse for a 3 page report on one project that never got off the starting blocks or in the region of £175k a year for reports on tourism that are frankly very poor and an class of A level students could do better.

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  • Cknocker  |  September 27 2012, 11:03PM

    I work for one of the larger employers in this county, last year we took over a business from a very large multi national company, this now makes us the largest business of our type in the country. Since we took over the larger company, the sheer scale of waste defies belief, the biggest problem they had though was they had done exactly what Cornwall Council are proposing to do. One of the first things our company did was bring IT in house (this had been outsourced to Hewlett Packard), straight away the company saved £12 Million per year. The vehicle fleet came back in house, as opposed to leased. "Partnering" agreements like this one were ripped up - the cost of major projects were slashed by 75% straight away - as an example one project that would have cost nearly £4 million under the "partnership", was reduced to £1.2 Million!

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  • annie_bobby  |  September 27 2012, 9:16PM

    It seems to me that somebody has to take charge and make changes during theses difficult times in order to save money and that is exactly what Alec is doing. Doing nothing is not an option and it is not Alec's job to say "no" to every idea for fear of upsetting people and stick his head in the sand whilst the debts pile up. Some people are always going to oppose every proposition because people are fundamentally scared of change. I see lots of people complaining but nobody offering any alternative solutions, and of course if they did, there would just be plenty of people opposing those as well. It's easy for councillors to vote no and stay popular for another month but somebody's got to think about the bigger picture and the long-run. That DOES take some "thick skin".

  • 3Jumps  |  September 27 2012, 4:17PM

    Good lord, he's still in office? Didn't he overrule an ENTIRE COUNCIL'S UNANIMOUS VOTE? Good to see the guy values democracy so highly that any action against him is an "insult". Sounds like a really great guy who everyone should respect!

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  • 3Jumps  |  September 27 2012, 4:13PM

    Holy ****, the guy's STILL in office in spite of overruling the entire council and basically subverting the very ideal of democracy for personal gain? What a GREAT GUY.

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  • 3Jumps  |  September 27 2012, 4:10PM

    Holy ****, this guy's still in office at all? Didn't he overrule the WHOLE council recently? Oh democracy, you so crazy! Trying to privatize services most people couldn't afford if we did and ignoring the council voting against him! What a GREAT GUY.

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