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Olympic torch invitation raises 'who's in charge' row at council

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 22, 2012

Alec Robertson and Pat Harvey

Alec Robertson and Pat Harvey

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A row over who should represent Cornwall Council at the Olympic torch relay ceremony at Land's End spilled over into a full council meeting yesterday.

The disagreement centres over whether the chairman, Pat Harvey, or leader, Alec Robertson, should take precedence in the county's Olympic celebrations.

Concerns had been raised among councillors that the chairman of the council – the authority's civic head – was being "sidelined" in favour of the Coun Robertson, particularly with regards to the torch relay.

Independent Councillor Andrew Wallis tried to resolve the issue by putting it before the full council yesterday.

He asked the council to recognise the "intent" of the Local Government Act 1972 which sets out that the chairman of the council is the civic head of the authority and is given precedence at civic events. And he called for the council to ensure that the chairman, as the civic head of the council, is "lead and in attendance at all events relating to the Olympic Torch Relay".

Introducing the motion yesterday, Coun Wallis said the chairman's non-political role at functions such as the Olympic Torch events was important, not just for the council, but for the county.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jeremy Rowe supported the motion, saying there had been a "blurring of the line between the chairman and the leader". He added that it was important to make a distinction between the political leadership of the council and the civic leadership.

Councillor Doris Ansari asked for the motion to be amended to recommend that the council write to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) asking for any relevant invitations to be sent to the civic head of the council. Coun Ansari, who previously held the role of council chairman herself, said she regretted that the matter had to be raised at all.

"We shouldn't be having this debate," she said. "It's sad that we're having it. This makes us look like spoilt children throwing our toys out of our prams."

The chairman declared a prejudicial interest in the item at the start of the meeting and neither she nor Coun Robertson spoke during the debate.

The council voted in favour of approving the motion, with Coun Ansari's amendment that the authority write to LOCOG.

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  • HannahJones  |  February 22 2012, 6:46PM

    *rolls eyes in disgust* Neither of them should carry it. They don't deserve it in the slightest. Give it to Julie Kitchen, who apparently isn't good enough.

    Rate   4
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  • Austellgirl  |  February 22 2012, 5:26PM

    Sod the pair of them and ask the Kernow King!

    Rate   6
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  • C5tetra  |  February 22 2012, 3:05PM

    I was also turned down to carry the Torch in Cornwall despite being nominated via two sources and being deemed 'Inspirational' after years of charity fund raising and helping the cause of other disabled people along with being a wheelchair user most of my life. In turn my understanding was that ALL candidates were supposed to be 'Inspirational' Hence, why these two supposed candidates are bickering is beyond me! Do they not already have enough perks with their jobs?! Perhaps the honourable thing would therefore be for their slot for carry the Torch to given to someone more deserving with a mutual handshake of thanks by both parties when the Torch gets given to a more deserving person. I'm available if need be. ;-)

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  • DuporthBob  |  February 22 2012, 2:44PM

    Did Pat Harvey star in Eastenders... Wasn't she married to Frank Butcher?

    Rate   5
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  • DuporthBob  |  February 22 2012, 2:39PM

    "Concerns had been raised among councillors that the chairman of the council – the authority's civic head – was being "sidelined" in favour of the Coun Robertson, particularly with regards to the torch relay." They should race each other to see who the fittest and fastest is and then the winner represents Cornwall Council..... I know who my money will be on!!!!

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  • Smaug  |  February 22 2012, 2:29PM

    Surely, if the torch-monger is to be truly representative of Cornwall today then it should be neither of those but a second home owner, just down from London for the weekend, who has decided that they'll help themselves to it.

    Rate   5
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  • toffer99  |  February 22 2012, 2:06PM

    Good grief, what a pair! Look at those two pictures if you can. Alright that's enough, don't look anymore, or you won't sleep tonight. Whatever happened to the Mayor, the independent, allegedly impartial civic leader who used to do these duties? Taken out and shot by one of the local government reorganisations I suppose. The lady seems the closest equivalent, so I suppose it should be her. At least she's making an attempt at a smile.

    Rate   3
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  • Pastyluvver  |  February 22 2012, 1:22PM

    I was turned down by Seb Coe to carry the torch in Cornwall despite being nominated by my local community for doing good work for free. As neither of these 2 look fit enough to run further than the free lunch queue then I suggest I do it!

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  • JeremyBadger  |  February 22 2012, 1:09PM

    Hey Vockered, I agree with evereything you have written, this jumped up little man needs to be disowned by his fellow Conservatives. Can I volunteer to be the one to place the torch where you suggested?

    Rate   4
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  • vockered  |  February 22 2012, 12:58PM

    "Liberal Democrat Councillor Jeremy Rowe supported the motion, saying there had been a "blurring of the line between the chairman and the leader". There is no "blurring", Pat Harvey is the Civic Head of the Cornwall Council, elected by all of the Council members. Alex Robertson is just an upstart who was elected as the political head of the Conservative Group only by that party's members. It is interesting to note that some of his party's members support Pat Harvey on this issue, so rejecting him! The only contact Alex Robertson should have with the torch is when he sticks it where the sun doesn't shine.

    Rate   -4
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