My Members Question and the Response
My first Members Question to full Council was directed at the Leader of the Council. I blogged before about my concern as to why so many senior officers went to the LGC awards (HERE), and why the Leader sanctioned this, or at least didn’t say something to reduce the numbers. I might have understood if they took lower tiered staff in reward for their hard work, but they didn’t.
In response to my question I received a rather curt reply along the lines of yes, it fails the ‘tabloid test’, but it was still a really good idea for everyone to go, because it gives Cornwall national recognition. As well as we should be proud of being nominated for ‘Most Improved Council’. Also thrown in to the response was it only cost £500 to attend.
The Leaders comments received a round of applause from the Tory faithful (at the moment), which I felt I had to respond by saying “it is nice to see the Tory Party now fully supporting the Leader”. This was in response to the cloak and dagger, rumour and counter rumours of a challenge to his leadership (read more about it from Jeremy Rowe and Graham Smith). My comment raised a cheer and laughter from certain quarters of the chamber. I could not help but notice that my comment received a few smirks from the blue side too.
As part of the procedures on questions a Member is also entitled to a supplementary question which mine was as follows-
“Does the Leader still think it is appropriate that during austere times with pay freezes and redundancies, several already highly paid Officers should attend an awards ceremony at the expense of the Cornish Tax Payer? Bearing in mind it is not only about the financial costs, but you as the Leader in allowing these Officers to be away from their primary function at Cornwall Council and much more importantly, the negative perception this sends out to both the public and members of staff?”
I received no answer to my supplementary question apart from “I will get back to you in writing”. This is hardly in my opinion an answer. Let’s hope I do get that answer, or at least the simple yes or no to it.
You may think I am a killjoy and should not complain about people attending functions like these, especially if they cost the tax payer very little. My real point to all this is the message it sends to public who are worried the service they currently receive from Cornwall Council could be cutback, or completely stopped.
The staff must also feel aggrieved because many at Cornwall Council are having to re-apply for their jobs, or don’t know if their job is still going to be there in 6 months. Try telling a member of staff how good it is to be nominated for an award of Most Improved Council when they don’t know if they have a job. To them the nomination will seem like a cruel joke.
Many Councillors including myself reluctantly voted in favour of the budget in January and last October on the understanding that we as Cornwall Council run a tight ship in order to benefit the public. We (and I use the collective we as after all I am part of the Council) must do much better in these difficult times.