A meeting with the Leader & the Chief Exec of Cornwall Council

The Chief Exec of Cornwall Council Kevin Lavery had arranged a meeting with the Helston and Lizard Community Network. This took place at the One Stop Shop, Isaac House. I welcomed this, as its sometimes hard to have a conversation with Kevin whilst over at County Hall due to busy schedules. The Leader of the Council was there too in his official role, and being a Councillor in this Network

There are 7 Cornwall Councillor in this network, but only two managed to attend due to diary conflicts, or due to some other reason. That gave Mike Clayton and I more time to talk. The brief was simple. Ask what you like. Now this is the type of brief I like as there can be no prepared answers.

I raised a real concern I have, and from speaking to other Cornwall Councillors they have the same issue. This is the relationship between the Cabinet and the Council. Now in principle I support the Cabinet system, but I have some very grave concerns on how this is being interpreted at present. I said to Alec and Kevin that if nothing changes and there is a change of rule from central Government on how a Council is set up, then the Cabinet is in real danger of being replaced by a Committee system.

What I would like to see from the Cabinet is a change. At present a lot of back-bencher’s feel they are out of the loop on how decisions are made. I am not asking for every detail to come to Council as we would not get anything done. But what I did say is (and I use my own expression). that the Cabinet ‘throws a few bones to the council’. This way, the other 113 Members feel they are actively involved, and not just there to make up the numbers. Since the formation of Cornwall Council there have been only 3 real policy debates by the Council. Everything else has been done by the Cabinet.

If some items were referred to the Council for their views those back-bencher’s would feel they are included in major policy and expenditure decisions.  I did not expect any promises from either Kevin or Alec, but I felt I have given my eight pennies worth. What took me back was Kevin agreed that there is a concern on this issue,  and would welcome more debates and decisions at Council. As there is a ‘them and us’ feeling at present.

Now this is not going to change over night (or at all) because there are various legal and constitutional issues that need to be over come first, but its not impossible. I came away that at least I had said something that had been bothering me for sometime.

For me, I can’t help liking Kevin and Alec. I really think they want Cornwall Council to work, and to be a leading Council in the UK. To do that they need the Members support and we need to support them. Its a two way street in my book.

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