Backbench Cornwall Councillors will debate Shared Services

The next meeting of Cornwall Council’s entire membership takes place on the 4th September. For this meeting I have submitted a Motion that has cross-party support from Independents, MK, Lib Dem’s and Labour. The Motion is on the recent decision by the Council’s Cabinet on Shared Services. My previous blogs on this topic are HERE. The Councillors who have put their names to the Motion in support are Graham Walker, Andrew Long, Geoff Brown and Jude Robinson.

The Motion is as follows:

“In view of its far-reaching consequences, including its potential impact on Council governance and elected Member accountability, this Council believes that it is not in the best interests of the people of Cornwall for the Council to enter into the proposed Strategic Partnership for Support Services.”

There are two main points to this Motion. The first is my unhappiness on the whole process and recent outcome at Cabinet. Only eight Councillors voted in favour of this at the recent Cabinet with one voting against, the Portfolio Holder for Finance abstained, after making his views pretty clear on his unhappiness on so much of the proposals.

The second part is to allow those outside of the Cabinet the ability to debate this fundamental change to how Cornwall Council provides services. As many Councillors feel these changes are so far-reaching for Cornwall, but are not given the ability to debate this issue and give their individual views. After all, 123 Councillors are elected to Cornwall Council!

The number of services that are being fully/part-privatised is staggering, and it is full of risks. In fact I believe massive risks. You only have to Google shared services to see how many other local authorities have run, or are running into trouble with these ‘partnerships’. Only last week, Mouchel has gone into administration, and they have a multi-million deal with Bournemouth Council.

I have also asked for all the information that has been provided to the Cabinet to be made available to the entire Council. I am pleased to say, this request has been accepted and the full membership will be able to see everything which the Cabinet had access to. I am sure there are a few nervous people on the amount of information that will be made available. A lot of it is very sensitive. A least the debate will be conducted with all the information available. This is only right and proper. That information is HERE at item 22.1

I should point out that even if the Council votes and decides to this Motion, it does not mean the plans for shared services are stopped. This is because the Cabinet has the executive functions for this type of decision. Like it or not, these are the current constitutional rules at Cornwall Council. However, if the Motion has overwhelming support, the Cabinet will be in a difficult position to carry-on with the plan.

Let’s hope if the support there is not for the shared services plans to go ahead they will be dropped. Much like when the Leader asked the Council for their views on the stadium. The decision of the Council was not to support the principle of using tax payer’s money. The Leader made comment the Cabinet would respect the view councils view, and Cabinet would not progress with the stadium plans. Think it will happen again if the vote goes against shared services??

Personally, I am looking forward to the debate