Friday, 24 February 2012

The 16 million pound question

The reason for Scott Mann's resignation as Deputy Leader of the Conservative group (at least, the first reason he gives in his letter) is that there is a secret plan to put council money into the stadium project despite the Conservative group twice voting that there should be no such funding.

At full council on Tuesday, my colleague Doris Ansari asked Chris Ridgers - the Cabinet Member for the Economy - to repeat the assurance given by his predecessor that there would be no more public money for the stadium (beyond the £120k given for the feasibility study).

Chris's reply was rather cryptic. He referred to the debate happening at a scrutiny committee the following day. But if you read the papers for that committee, all you find is a non-answer suggesting that it is unlikely that any public money would be involved. But there was also a confidential paper which I haven't seen (despite asking for it) and I have no idea of its contents.

So did that paper commit the council to spending more money, either directly or as backup to the main partners? In the light of Scott's resignation letter, I think that all councillors, and the public, has a right to know. And so I have sent the following letter to Cllr Ridgers and to Council Leader Alec Robertson:

Hi Chris
On Tuesday, when asked at full council about investment in the stadium project, you said that we should wait for the debate at E&E scrutiny the following day. For those of us unable to make that meeting, all we had to go on was the public paper which seemed to indicate that there would be no further public money going into the project.

Scott's resignation letter today talked about a secret plan to invest up to £16m of public money in the project despite, he said, the Conservative group voting twice against such a plan.

I think that all councillors, and the people of Cornwall, are due an explanation, unequivocally and in the open. Will you give an undertaking that there will be no further public money invested in the stadium project. If not, will you set out the plans and allow all members to vote on them as they were able to when they voted in favour of Fiona's amendment against capital investment as part of last year's budget process.

I look forward to hearing from you


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