Stepping on Madam Chairman’s Nicely Polished Shoes

For the last few days there has been news coverage on a motion that will be debated at Tuesday’s Cornwall Council meeting. This motion has one aim. That aim, is to re-clarify, and give clear guidance for the civic role of the Chairman of Cornwall Council. This motion has been submitted by me, seconded by Andrew Long (MK), and supported by Jeremy Rowe (LD), Jude Robinson (Lab) and Steven Rushworth (Con). This cross-party support shows how important the role of the Chairman is.

The motion is as follows:

“The Local Government Act 1972 sets out that the Chairman of the Council is the civic head of the authority and is given precedence at civic events (this is not the case where there is an elected mayor or, in the case of royal events, where the Lord Lieutenant takes precedence).

Therefore, this Council recognises the intent of the Act and ensures that the Chairman, as the civic head of Cornwall Council, is in attendance and the council lead, at all events relating to the Olympic Torch Relay  including the receiving of the Flame at RNAS Culdrose, at Lands End, at Truro and, if possible, at the handing over at the border with Devon and, beyond that, at all future events of this stature and significance”.

The concern of many Cornwall Councillors is the non-political role of the Chairman is being sidelined when Cornwall Council is to be represented. This has come to the forefront, over the Olympic Torch Relay. Considering Cornwall Council is dipping into the coffers to pay for this event (in Cornwall), it is only right that any representation on behalf of the council is non-political, and represents all of the council; which the Chairman does.

Of course, there has been the accusation of this being political mischief, but how can it, when the motion is supported by all political parties and groups at the council. This cross-party support just goes to show it is non-political, and furthermore, shows the importance of the civic role of the Chairman.

I can honestly say this motion would never have seen the light of day if reassurances had been given to Councillors, clearly accepting that the Chairman was the lead in any civic function required by the Council. Those reassurances were never given and it was felt this issue would have to be dealt by the whole council in an open and democratic way.

The sad part to all this is the perception that senior members of Cornwall Council are squabbling over who gets into any possible photo-shoot. I feel this is unfair, from my point of view it is not the case. Lines have been blurred, and these lines need to be clearly (re)established to make sure this does not happen again.

Roll on Tuesday…

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