Wednesday, 12 June 2013

First Cabinet Meeting

As with any new job, there are a series of firsts. Today's biggie was the first cabinet meeting.

There were only three substantive items on the agenda for us to discuss. One was the regular performance and budget monitoring report. This details how the council is doing against a range of measures. These range from pretty technical to absolutely fundamental service and they do vary. But the end of year performance was pretty encouraging and that is credit to the officers and, yes, the previous administration.

The second part was the financial out-turn. This showed a £119,000 net underspend. In the scale of the overall council budget this is pretty much breaking even. But the net figure masks the detail of a £4.5 million over-spend last year in adult care and a similar figure predicted for the coming year. With a few other (smaller) over-spends, a few underspends and a pretty good result from treasury management (ie our investments), we get to the final total.

The second item was about whether or not to appoint a new chief executive (or to do away with the post and have simply the legally required 'head of paid service') and, if so, when. This is the start of a long process and all 123 councillors get the final say. Cabinet agreed to recommend that Cornwall Council should have a chief executive. Whilst we have already cut the pay for the top job, in a council with no party in overall control (and that situation won't change in the near future), we felt we needed a steadying hand at the tiller. But this could change if full council decides differently.

Finally there was a confidential item relating to a court case. I would love to be able to give more details - and details will be made public eventually. But, for the moment, any public discussion has the potential to harm the council's financial position and we have, reluctantly, chosen to sacrifice short-term transparency for long-term financial savings. A choice to make decisions in private is one I hate to take, but it is the right one in certain circumstances.

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