Monday, 20 June 2011

The further implications of Jan Powell leaving the Conservatives

The decision by Jan Powell, Cornwall Councillor for Liskeard North, to leave the Conservatives and join the Liberal Democrats is, of course, hugely welcome for myself and my colleagues.

Jan's decision was prompted by the behaviour of Conservative Council Leader Alec Robertson which Jan has described in the following terms:

“The Leader of the Council has become remote from rank and file members of all parties and has marginalised councillors from the democratic process. The choices he makes always seem to be those most damaging to Cornwall and are not the choices I campaigned on, notwithstanding the tight financial restraints the Council is operating under. An example of this was the ill-informed attack on the Supporting People programme and was the principle reason why I voted against the administration’s budget this year.”

“There has to be openness and transparency in everything we do and consultation must mean exactly that. Over the last 12 months there has been a marked contrast between the behind-closed-doors approach of Cornwall’s Tory leadership and the open-minded, people people-first outlook of the Council’s Liberal Democrats."

“The people of Cornwall rightly expect us to do our best to protect the services they value so highly and I’m very much looking forward to making a start on the vital work needed to put things right at County Hall. There are particular concerns over the Tory proposals for the NHS and I have been impressed with the Liberal Democrat drive for a fundamental rethink. The whole issue requires careful and structured scrutiny with proper emphasis to protect - not privatise - our world-respected National Health Service.”

One of the reasons that Jan left the Conservatives was because she was arbitrarily removed from her position on the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee. So we now have the political parlour game of trying to work out who the administration will seek to nominate in her place.

The rumour currently doing the rounds is that it will be Joan Symons, recently dumped by Cllr Robertson from the Cabinet. But Joan was given a position as a Cabinet Support Member as a consolation prize and is not allowed to hold that and also be chair or vice chair of a scrutiny committee. So if she takes on the Health role, she will have to resign from being a CSM and Cllr Robertson's reshuffle falls apart further.

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