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.

3 comments

  • gemmafinn

    I attended CornwallVSF's AGM today and at a table discussion it was commonly agreed that the council is viewed as spendthrifts who waste taxpayers money.So keep up the scrutiny! It's good to know that the people of Cornwall still have honest representatives!

  • Anonymous

    It's good that as a County Councillor you are scrutinising other people's spending.
    Could I politely request however that with your other hat on (Porthleven TC) you could encourage the TC to do something that is within their remit ie the park. Compared to Helston or even Breage, the park is a disgrace – both in terms of its appearance as well as the amenities provided. The TC is often criticised for only ever saying "no" and often regarding issues like planning over which they have no real influence. Please could you encourage the TC to be pro-active over this issue (the councillors after all are trustees of this park) and help build a park that the village can be proud of?

  • Cllr Andrew Wallis

    Dear last Anon,

    Please feel free to contact me with your concerns. However, I have asked for this issue to be discussed at the May meeting. Hopefully you will come along a express your views.

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