European Capital of Culture bid is passed by Cabinet, but I did not support it

Being the lone voice in a Cabinet is sometimes difficult, but when you cannot support an item you need to make sure your voice is heard and standby those views. The case in question is the European Capital of Culture bid (ECoC). My previous post on this issue is HERE.

Prior to today’s meeting, there was enough concern about the original decision by Cabinet. This resulted in the decision being ‘called-in’ by scrutiny who felt the process getting to the Cabinet decision was flawed. As Scrutiny felt there was a ‘flaw’ in the process of the decision – and as per the Constitution – sent the decision back to Cabinet for further consideration, and to consider if it made the right decision in the first place. For those who do not want to read on, the Cabinet voted 8-1 in favour of the bid (I voted against it). For those who want to know why, please read on.

I believe the process of getting to the shortlist phase is flawed for many of the same reasons as Scrutiny. Originally, the amount to get to the shortlist phase, was £536k, but now, on ‘relooking’ at the amount, this is now £336k. However, whilst this money is already in a budget (£60m) of EU match-funding, the costs most people seem to be missing is the estimated £10m that Cornwall Council will need to commit for this bid to work. This is not in the Council’s budget plan, and there is no clear way how this could be funded.

There is one thing of using existing budgets for something, but how do you square it when you really need a lot more for this to work. At today’s Cabinet meeting I commented how projects like the ECoC will find the money. Yet, corporately, money cannot be found for vital services in Cornwall. In reference to my point today, I talked about Post-16 transport funding.  Whilst this is a discretionary service of the Council, and it is important to note, the Council receives no support from Government to pay for it; even though they have made it mandatory for young people to stay in education (or training) till 18 years old.

If I had £10m, I could fund Post-16 transport for around eight-years. This is just one case of how money could be spent rather than on this bid. My point is we must fund for the most vulnerable and concentrate on our key services as highlighted in my previous blog.

Much has been made of this is a Cornwall-wide bid and not just Truro. Yet, Truro City Council was not really consulted prior to the bid paperwork going public. Furthermore, the City Council has only supported the ECoC bid by a narrow margin of 9-8. Hardly a ringing endorsement, but a democratic decision nonetheless.

A puzzling question that needs to be answered is how in reality will a Cornwall-wide bid work? Will it just concentrate on the existing sites like Eden and other large tourist attractions? If so, how will those who do not have a site like this near to them feel the ‘benefit’ of the ECOC? If commercial businesses are to benefit, it is a must they have to contribute, rather than the taxpayer footing the bill.

If town and villages are to be involved why haven’t they been asked?  Will it be left to the town and parish councils to find funding? A of example on costs is Helston Town Council made a decision not to have the Man Engine due to the costs of this one day event. If it is Cornwall-wide, then serious consideration needs to be made how these town and parish council will fund it, or will it be only the ones with the precepts large enough to contribute?

Another point I made today was on political support for the ECoC. Cabinet is made up of two group/party, Independent and Lib Dem. Yet the Council is made up of eight groups/party/standalone. I made an amendment for this decision to be made by full council as all 123 members can have a say, especially on the commitment of further funding like the £10m. This was not supported, but I am hopeful when there is money assigned, this can be debated via the capital programme which has to come to full council at a later date. A long-winded route to a simple debate on a yes/no option on the bid.

It is should be noted, the bid rule makes it clear any bid needs to be grassroots and supported from there. No reference has been made of this, or asked the public about their views.

In short, I voted against this because the bid is flawed on the timeline needed, monies could be spent on the most vulnerable, and there is not full political support for the ECoC. Not to mention post Brexit, there is little chance of winning the bid. As I said before, I was the lone voice, and the other eight members of Cabinet voted in favour for a bid and the £336k to proceed.

 

 

10 comments

  • Gilly Zella Martin

    Well done Andrew for standing by your beliefs, you have done the right thing.

  • Ruby

    I think it’s disgusting, you have one blog about Helston Community College refurbishment, a refurbishment that couldn’t take place ages ago using council money as the council claimed they couldn’t afford the money that had previously been promised in principle. Now all of a sudden a bunch of idiots on the cabinet (yourself excluded) can find the money for this. I hope they all get booted out at the election.

  • Gilly Zella Martin

    If this is an example of decisions made by the majority cabinet, then perhaps it is a case in point for not having a cabinet system as an administration. Either that or Cornwall Council just needs a complete new cabinet apart from you Andrew. This vote would I believe have been far fairer put before the whole council. I am really amazed that the majority of cabinet members can be so irresponsible, or am I really!

  • Maum

    This doesn’t bode well for those of us living in Helston then, the town council seem to struggle to use finances wisely as it is, if they have to pay towards this it’ll end up on our precept. Are the cabinet members that voted for this living in cloud cuckoo land.

  • Grenville Prowse

    I totally support you Andrew, and well done for voting as you did. I think that the usual crew will push this lke mad with no clear idea what hte benefits will be. The figures they use to support their bid will be ghuess work as usual.

  • Jenny Pearce

    Shame there are not more Cllrs like you, well done. Cornwall will end up with people on the lowest wages, the highest council tax and the fewest services. But hey ho, everyone will make their way to Truro for its assets, the Hall for Cornwall, museum, cathedral, a statue of a drummer, Waitrose and a Primarks! Bet no other city can beat that in their bid!!

  • Cllr. Wallis spoke well today at the Extraordinary Cabinet meeting called to discuss the “Call In” in respect of the “Truro-Cornwall” City of Culture Bid.
    As a senior City Councillor I can confirm that the Town Clerk of Truro City Council was not advised until the l8th January, 2017 about the Bid which was to be discussed and decided on the 25th January by the Cabinet and the Truro City Council had no knowledge of the Bid until it was reported on the news.
    I have attended every meeting and asked a Public Question at the Scrutiny Committee of the 14th February, 2017 but there is no reference to the Question or the answer I received at the meeting or my Supplementary Question in the Draft Minutes.
    I have learned that over and above the original expenditure of £536,000 – NO MONEY IS COMING FROM EUROPE.
    If the Bid is accepted then Cornwall Council will have to find anything from £10 MILLION – £30 MILLION which will have to be found from the Council Tax payers of Cornwall. I just cannot understand what is going on.
    There is of course promises of “jobs” no doubt they will be the same as usual for the Cornish people – making beds, cleaning lavatories, washing dishes and serving meals – while the “others” make the profit. It makes me so sad.
    Cornwall is different – in spite of what Savid Javid the Communities Secretary said at the Conference held in Cornwall before Christmas but if you take time to read the EU Commission Guidance you will see that among other things it is about “behavioural change” – we must become more outward looking …
    So when the “bids team” come to Helston/Porthleven do not be satisfied with “pretty pictures” and what I consider to be a “Kindergarten” presentation – ask for detailed papers ahead of the meeting… read them carefully and when you have done so make a considered and informed decision.

  • Tony Martin

    Surely this decision can be overturned by the new administration in May. Even if the intial outlay is lost it would prevent further funding from being wasted on this.

  • Well done for standing against this waste of our money. Yet another example of our undemocratic Cabinet system that was forced upon us.

  • Maureen

    Thank you for standing up for Cornwall against this. The fact you stood against it is worth far more than the fact the other members won their vote.

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