What the Independents Really Said

I just thought I would clarify a few issues on what was said at the recent Independent Group Meeting. Two (HERE and HERE) blogs have already made comment, and I thought I would give you the view of someone who was there.

To recap, the Indi’s at the last full council meeting of Cornwall Council made a statement along the lines of “at the moment we do not understand the reasoning behind the creation of the new role of Cabinet Support Member” (CSM).

Fast forward a few weeks and the Group met to discuss this further. Many around the table made valid points as to why these post got created in the first place (you can come to your own conclusions on this one). After all, the Member Champion role was recently created to ‘support’ Cabinet Members.

The role of Education is an important role, and one that must be taken seriously, but as pointed out again this position has no powers and is seen to some as a stand in for when the Cabinet Member cannot make something, as in Law the role of Children, Education and Families Services cannot be split.

Questions have been asked previously what this role entails, and to date, no Term of Reference has been produced to clarify the role. Again, many pointed out how can you accept a role or put yourself up for that role unless you know what the role is. This question is being re-asked and will be re-asked until an answer is given. Until that time no decision on who (if any) will take up this role.

However, The Indi’s are not really satisfied with the offer of Children’s CSM, as they believe the current Portfolio Holder is doing a good job. Many said that if the current leadership is serious about this ‘joint administration’ then why not give a role in economy, finance or another important area. This very message was sent back to the Leadership.

Many Indi’s are also concerned that they are nothing more than the poor partner, and if the leadership want support in certain areas, then treat the Indi’s with a little more respect. As from what I can see, there is only so much a dog will take in beatings until it bites back.

New Leader – Let the Cat fight Begin

News came late last week that Cllr Neil Burden was standing down as the ‘Independent Group’ Leader. To be honest I was quite surprised that this happened now, after all, there have been calls for him to go before from within the Group. For me personally I have never thought that the Group Leader should also be part of the administration leadership, i.e. a Cabinet Member. I have always said this from the beginning when we all got first elected to Cornwall Council. The reason comes down to which loyalty comes first, either the group, or the Cabinet. I really don’t think you can serve both roles at the same time.

Now with Neil gone he can now concentrate on his large Portfolio, Children’s, Schools and Families. This Portfolio is in my opinion one of the hardest roles to do. It covers so much and if something goes wrong it normally results in headline news. The Children’s services side is still under Government ‘review’,  but has made great moves forward under some clear direction.

In the New Year, the Indi Group will meet to decide who takes over the role of chief cat herder. My fellow Cornwall Councillor Blogger, Jeremy Rowe has posted a good article (HERE) that has some kind words about me. Even on Twitter other fellow Councillors said I should throw my hat into the ring, but I think there was more of a mischievous smile behind those comments than anything else. I can state here and now that I won’t be standing for a few reasons including my struggle with the term Independent Group.

So who out of the other 30 people within the Group is likely to stand? That is in itself a good question and with no firm and clear answers.  John Wood is probably the front runner since the announcement. For me, he would make a good candidate. Mike Clayton is the current Deputy Leader, so he might make a claim to the role by being de-facto Deputy. There is also Pam Lyne, Bert Biscoe and Mike Varney who might think about it, but to be honest I think they all would lack the overall support to allow them to claim the title. Another good choice would be John Pollard, but I doubt he would be willing to take on this difficult role of chief cat-herder. Then again another one of the Portfolio Holders might stand, but for me they would not have my support for the reasons I have stated before.

Graham Smith of BBC fame has also blogged about this. You can read about it by clicking HERE, but I think his view on a split Indi Group is doubtful to happen. I do worry about outside interference and certain people wanting as Jeremy makes comment on his blog, a more ‘corporate’ Leader. If this were to happen, then many within the Group are not going to take this interference well.

I guess its going to be a wait and see exercise to discover who will canvas within the Group to seek support prior to making a decision to stand. I think this has the potentional to throw up a few surprises along the way.