Why Oh Why?
They say a week is a long time in politics, and for the Leader of Cornwall Council this week must seem like an eternity. Tuesday’s defeat of the recommendation of looking into allowances for the newly created Cabinet Support Members must have hurt. Aside from the loss of face, the leader now has to contend with two ex-cabinet members who now will be asked to do a Cabinet job, but for zero allowance.
Yesterday, another bombshell exploded in the face of the leader. It turns out that the leader has written to the Sec of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles MP asking for the incinerator at St Dennis is approved. This is despite the fact that Cornwall Council’s own planners and legal team mounted a defence of a decision of refusal that was made by the former County Council. The cost of mounting the appeal is in seven figures, so hardly small change.
This has upset many (if they could be any more upset) backbenchers on this course of action. Especially as this letter would not have come to light unless Dick Cole had found out about it and asked (before a FOI request was made) for the letter. Of course the spin will be all about costs and how much more money Cornwall Council will have to pay in terminating the contract if the decision is upheld.
I believe it is wholly unacceptable for the Leader to behind the scenes write a letter that asks for planning to be approved. Especially when the public stance is to mount a defence which includes substantial costs that defends a democratic decision. The action of sending this letter has a great bearing on the credibility of the Council by saying one thing in public, but carrying out the complete opposite behind the scenes.
I now sit on Strategic Planning, and would hate to think any decision we the committee make is being undermined behind the scenes. For me, it is an affront to democracy, and furthermore undermines the planning process.
Finally, I checked the minutes of the original decision taken by CCC, it lists amongst others, the now Leader of Cornwall Council voting against permission when he was a County Councillor.