Stop Shared Services Petition – Update

Good news, well from my point of view and those who are against the Shared Services (JV) venture the number of petition signatures has passed 6000! As of 8th October the actual and verified number of signatures is:

Paper: 1885

Online: 4348

That gives a total number of signatures (as of the 8th October) of: 6233

The paper petitions are still coming in as I have a further three that have not been counted. I still cannot express how amazed I am on the number of signatures. If that does not show the Council on the 23rd the feeling of the public, then I do not know what will.





Shared Services Still Rumbling On

The confidential briefing on the JV took place today at County Hall.  Even though the briefing was marked as confidential, I checked with legal to ask what I could and could not say. Saying that, I still believe what I am about to blog is in the public interest, and will defend that right if anyone wants to say otherwise.

The first announcement of the day was one of the bidders has pulled out. CSC have decided not to progress with their venture, and informed the Council yesterday! Maybe it would have been nice to know as it happened. Not over 24 hours later.

This leaves BT as the only bidder in the process, and today they gave their presentation of how they are the best company to deal with. To stick within the rules, I will not be discussing the financial figures, even though they are important to the bid.

The first point I will clarify is if the contract is awarded to BT, all staff that are transferred WILL be transferred to a wholly owned company of BT. So the staff will not be employed by the Council but BT.  In the deal, 750 council and 250 ‘health’ staff will be transferred. If that is not outsourcing I do not know what is!

BT has promised to create 1043 jobs in the first four years. However, 38% of those jobs will be low-skilled. This is not a made up figure, but taken from the presentation today. My understanding is many of the higher-skilled jobs will be in health. I am really worried the 396 will be low-skilled and low paid because why would a company pay more than the going rate in the area. This point was raised by many Councillors and they were concerned with this aspect of the bid.  I know a job is a job, but when it could be little more than the national minimum wage, I do not think that is good enough.

Much emphasis was also placed on a lot of services being ‘self-service’. In other words by the dreaded soul-destroying call centre and you having to push more numbers than is in a complicated maths equation. I know I hate this type of service, and would imagine many others are in the similar view.

While I am grateful for BT being open about their deal, and their presentation was very good; I am though concerned it is business as usual and yesterday’s fun and games is being treated like it never happened. I am also worried with only one bid in the running, which could be to the advantage of BT.

I guess everything now will rest on the 23rd to see if the Council finally gives the killing blow to the current proposals, or allows it to go ahead.

Roll on the 23rd!

Petition on Stopping Shared Services is Officially Handed Over

Well it is official, the petition to stop Shared Services going ahead has been officially handed over to Cornwall Council for verification. Once this has been verified, a response will be given to the petitioners on the next course of action. It has been indicated that the petition will be debated on the 23rd October. Which I very much welcome; more so because of the Leaders announcement this morning of he will respect the view of the Council.

The total number of signatures is 5871. This is made up of 1701 paper signatures and 4170 ePetition signatures (as of 1pm today). The sheer number of signatures in such a short space of time (just over 21 days) is amazing. This is because the public really got behind the petition.

I have said before that so many people helped to achieve the target and surpass that magic number of 5000 signatures. It is to those people, both Councillors and the public I would like to say thank you. Special thanks must go to the original motion supporters of Andrew Long (MK), Jude Robinson (Labour) Graham Walker (Indi) and Geoff Brown (LD) who have helped make this petition such a success.

It was great to see so many of the public take the mantle of collecting signatures. One couple who should be congratulated is Bob and Sally Turner. Their endeavours of collecting 1000 signatures is remarkable. There are others too, but they know who they are and they should be proud of their work in getting signatures.

I have to say thank you to the various Unions who helped get the message out. Unison has really pulled out the stops to help highlight this issue.

The whole petition was a team effort, and should be remembered that way.


The Councillors behind the petition officially handing it over to the Monitoring Officer: Geoff Brown, Me, Richard Williams – Monitoring Officer, Andrew Long, Jude Robinson, Graham Walker

We did it: 5000 Petition Signatures and Still Counting

Yes, we did it!!  In under three weeks, the magic target of 5000 signatures has been reached!! I really cannot believe how quick this target has been reached. I believe people have really got behind it, because they feel so strongly about what is happening at Cornwall Council.

The ePetition is near the 4000 signature mark, and the paper version is over 1200. The paper petition final total is going to be much higher as many of the paper copies have not been returned for counting! If you do have a paper version, please could you sent it back as soon as you can? I know the 5000 mark has been passed, but I really believe the total number will be nearer 6000.

There are so many people to thank who have made this possible to name them all would fill the page. I would though like to say thank you to all and everyone. You really have made this possible.

Now, once I have all the various copies and version in, I will present them to Cornwall Council for final verification. Then, I will make sure, along with my colleagues this is an agenda item at the next full council meeting. It will not be on the 16th, as the time frame for checking and getting all the petition in is a little tight!

I will keep you informed.

Again, thank you!

2500 Petition Signatures in a Week to Stop Shared Services

I hope readers of the blog will not tire from the subject of stopping shared services. I feel this subject is really worth repeating because if it goes through, it will change how Cornwall Council provides services.

The ePetition has in a week, attracted 2500 signatures. This is halfway to the magic number of 5000 for a debate to happen at the full council. This does not include any paper petition signatures that have been collected ether. As for those I have sent out (on request) 15 of these paper petitions.

First the democratic majority of Cornwall Councillors showed they were against the Partnership for Shared Services, but now and more importantly, the citizens of Cornwall are showing they are against with so many signatures in such a short space of time.

I feel and so do many other people who have contacted me that democracy has been undermined with the original Motion being so quickly ignored. I have been taken aback with the emails and phone calls I have received on this subject. People feel they elect someone to do their best for their community and when they then find out their democratic representative is powerless; even though a viewpoint has been expressed and voted on.

The Government, Local Authorities and town and parish council’s all try to get people in standing for office and taking part in elections by voting in them. But why should they now, when the recent debate and vote has shown the elected majorities view is ignored; with the real power in a few hands. How is that good for democracy? Simply it is not.

I have seen and understood the frustrations town and parish council have when dealing with the bigger cousin authorities. I saw the struggle and arguments between the District Council’s and the old County Council. Now, I have seen the Cabinet system that is simply not engaging with its full council. For instance, one senior Councillor said to me telling his colleagues ‘ignore the council at your peril.’ I think that peril is now very apparent. Something has to change, and change fast.

The executive system, more commonly know as the Cabinet system was introduced to speed up decision-making, and stop the often long and bureaucratic old-style committee. In parts it has worked, but it has also undermined democracy itself with putting too much power in too few hands. The Cabinet system could be better if the scrutiny function could do more than just make recommendations. However, it cannot and adds to the flaws in the system.

I have blogged before about Cornwall Council undertaking a Governance Review. At the start of the process it was pretty balanced on the Cabinet verse the Committee system. Now that feeling has swung firmly behind the Committee system. While the Committee system is not perfect, it does give greater accountability and inclusion in any decision-making process and policy.

So sign the petition not just to stop the privatisation of council services; also if you believe in democracy, and want to place that democratic power back into the hands of all Councillors, who are directly elected by you, the people

The Petition is HERE:

1100 Petition signatures in three days

The Petition to stop Cornwall Council’s Cabinet privatising many of the core  council services has reached a landmark place. In just three days, the Petition to stop the ‘Strategic Partnership for Support Services’ has 1100 (and counting) signatures. This is amazing, and I would like to thank everyone who has signed and helped promote this Petition.

The next landmark place is 5000, as that is the number for the full council to debate the issue again, but with the backing of the people of Cornwall. However, to make a real impact I really want as many signatures as possible. Hopefully 10’s of thousands. As that will those supporters against this privatisation the ammunition to stop the Cabinet selling council services to the highest bidder.

The Petition is HERE, please sign, or if you can help out, I can send you a paper version of the Petition


(Note: If you are CC staff and want to sign, just put in a suitable name in the nickname box as then your name can’t be seen)

Petition to Stop the Strategic Partnership for Shared Services

With the Cabinet arrogance of ignoring the will of the elected majority of Cornwall Council, I and my fellow motion supporters have created a Petition.  These are  Andrew Long, Jude Robinson, Geoff Brown, Graham Walker (and me). The Cabinet might think it can ignore the majority of elected councillors, but will it dare to ignore the will of the people?

The Petition can be found HERE. I will also make paper copies available to anyone who wishes to collect signatures.  If you would like a paper copy drop me an email and I will send you one. Or contact the other supporters who also have copies. As with most things, there are rules to the Petition. These are; you have to be a resident of Cornwall, or you are in full-time education, or you work in Cornwall. There is no age restriction.

The Petition will remain open until December 3rd, or if enough signatures are gathered before, it will be submitted. As for the numbers we wish for, well that is simple. We want as many as humanly possible. But to give an indication where the Petition will go after submission, you need 1000 signatures for it to go to the relevant scrutiny committee and 5000 to go to the full council. However, I would like 1000’s, as that will show the ten on the Cabinet the feeling of the people.

If you really care about the future of Cornwall and the services Cornwall Council provides, then please sign the Petition. Just sign the Petition once, as Cornwall Council do check all the signatures are legal! If you want a paper copy of the Petition, drop me an email and I will sent you it.

The Twitter hashtag for the campaign is #stopsharedservices

The link again is HERE

Thank you and pass the link on to anyone who can help.

BBC News


Porthleven Town Council and the Public Toilets

Last Thursday, Porthleven Town Council met to discuss various issues one being the ‘offer’ from Cornwall Council to take over the running of the two public toilets in Porthleven. Knowing Porthleven Town Council I know they do not like being threatened. (see previous blog HERE).

The Mayor started off by saying the tone of the letter was very curt, and if the tone of ‘take it or leave it’ was consultation, then it is a disgrace. The debate by the town council covered how much extra monies would have to be set aside if they took them on.

Also, the council were very concerned by the costs provided by Cornwall Council on running these facilities; they just did not add up. The council contacted a cleaning company to get a rough cost on how much cleaning these two toilets once per day. It was £1000 more than Cornwall Council had quoted.

Maintenance was another area that had a figure plucked from the sky. I know this because it took me quite a while to get the many defects fixed; this added up to more than the £1000 quoted by Cornwall Council.

With all these views aired a vote was taken by the town council on the ‘offer’ from Cornwall Council. The town council voted unanimously to reject the offer because of the information provided was felt to be inaccurate, and Cornwall Council is forcing this service onto town council’s without any consultation.

This vote of rejection allowed me to present my motion of a petition for Cornwall Council to carry on funding of the two public toilets. The motion is as follows:

“We the undersigned believe that Cornwall Council should continue to fully
fund the two public toilets in Porthleven, located at Shute Lane and Harbour

This motion was fully supported by the town council who totally agreed with the points. This petition will be launched at the end of this week, and will carried out under Cornwall Council own petition rules. Click HERE for those rules. Basically anyone can sign the petition as long as they live, work, or study in Cornwall (including children and young people) and the petition has at least 25 signatures. This petition will also be available online.

Maybe now Cornwall Council will listen and change its mind to cutting the funding to 114 toilets in Cornwall.

Petitions – Update

A few weeks ago I posted about Cornwall Council adopting a method of accepting petitions. Well, at Cabinet this was endorsed. The same worries raised by the Scrutiny Committee were raised again. No doubt when its presented to full Council these same points will be aired. The Government says we must do it, so we don’t have much scope on this matter. Link to previous post.

For my area that falls within the area of the Helston and Lizard Community Network (CN) you will need 325 signatures for your petition to be looked at by the CN. About 1% of the population.

For the other CN here is is the link giving you numbers for those areas  Link to page 52


Today, over at County Hall the Communities Scrutiny Committee met. A little gem of a item was Petitions. This was an idea brought in by the last Government to allow Local Authorities to at least look at issues raised by the Public. This was brought about by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009.

Full Agenda Here Link

Cornwall Council has to implement this in two stages. Firstly, it has to have in place a working system of allowing a Petition to be received in paper form by no later than the 15th June 2010. Secondly, it must have a online facility by no later than the 15th December 2010.

Now the question is what makes a petition? Well, this very point was discussed at the Committee today. There were a few different views on how many people it takes to make a Petition (no jokes please). The figures ranged from 100, 50, 25 or 10. The 10 figure was the one laid out in the report. After a debate, a vote was taken and the figure of 25 was voted on and accepted.

The next part was who could submit a Petition. Now this was a fairly clear cut decision by the Committee. It felt that only those who live, work and study in Cornwall would have the right to submit a petition to Cornwall Council. Those not meeting that requirement would not have their petition accepted as official. There is also no age limit on who can submit a petition or sign it. So as long a you can make your mark in pen, pencil or crayon it will be accepted.

Next up was the point on how many signatures would it take for this petition to be presented to Full Council to make a decision on whether to take further action, accept the proposals, do nothing, or to commission further investigation. The petition author would receive a written conformation of the decision. Now the figure agreed was 5000 signatures for it to be debated at Full Council, but a lesser number was agreed upon for it to be discussed at the Community Networks (CN).

This figure was 1% of those who live within the CN. I felt that it would be best served and clearer for the public to understand if a figure was given. I believe the figure using the 1% would be around the 250 mark, But that would depend on each CN as they are not all alike.

The last part was on the appropriate threshold for requiring officers to give evidence on any aspect of a petition. This was agreed to be 1000 signatures.

At the end of the day there will be a cost to you the tax payer to collate and action these Petitions because Cornwall Council has to do this because the Government passed the Act. No figure was given either in officer hours or for the cost to implement this because they don’t know how many petitions they will get. It’s a sort of wait and see plan. My guess is that we will receive quite a lot at first, then it may reduce.Then again they said this with F.O.I. requests, and we get several hundred a month of these.

I personally have my doubts if this will work. I hope the system will not be abused, but used to highlight local and Cornwall wide issues that are important to people. We (as I have said many times) are here to serve the Public. I am just more worried about this snowballing into a huge cost for Cornwall Council with little action or results from it.

Now these recommendation will now go to Cabinet for their tweaks and comments. This will then pass onto  the full Council who will make the final decision on what makes a petition. No doubt the same points raised today will be raised again, but at least the 123 Members will be allowed to air their views and comment.