It All Went Horribly Wrong
The AGM of Cornwall Council took place today. The first part of this meeting is to elect a Chairman and Vice-Chairman for the coming year. Both the current Chairman, Pat Harvey and her Vice-Chairman, John Dyer were unanimously returned to office by the Members of the Council.
The most troublesome area of the whole agenda was item 19.1. This was a recommendation that a Independent Renumeration Panel would be formed to investigate how much (if any) Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) could or should be paid for the newly created Cabinet Support Member.
In theory many members are not against the idea of Cabinet Support Members (CSM), but the real sticking point comes down to the SRA. It would be almost be impossible to justify voting for extra allowances in the current economic position of cuts and job loses. There is also a more sceptical view that these new roles were soft landings for the two recently ‘demoted’ Cabinet Members. For the record, I think Joan Symonds and Lance Kennedy have been poorly treated and have been hung-out to dry in a most unpleasant way.
The Independent Group have been offered one of these new roles as part of the ‘coalition’. Today, the Indi Group further clarified its position with a short statement that was read out by Mike Clayton, the deputy of the group. It goes as follows:
“The Independent Group is yet to be convinced of the justification for the role of the CSM. The group reserves its right to defer filling the vacancy allocated until justification of the role is given clarity which will enable an informed decision to be made”.
This means the group are not totally opposed to the idea, but as a collective we are unconvinced this is the right way to go and need (with a capital N) convincing this is the right course to take. Everyone at the pre-council meeting of the Independents agreed with this statement. It even requested that the whole item be pulled to allow time to investigate the issues.
No doubt this statement would not have gone down well with the leadership. Because it showed that the Independents are not to be taken for granted and should be listened too (as well as other groups) when major decisions are taken.
In the end a vote was take to remove part (b) of the recommendation and this was carried 55 for 35 against. This means that the CSM can be formed, but cannot have a SRA.