It was more than a little heartening to have rattled Alec Robertson’s cage at Cornwall Council’s Cabinet meeting this morning and provoke him to a patronising rebuff and rudeness, beginning “You’re new here, Cllr Robinson….”
Newsflash Alec: I was elected by people in Camborne North to represent them, not get my feet under the table and fall asleep in a cosy club. Whether I have been a councillor 3 months or 3 years, please note that I intend to keep challenging when I think something is wrong and no amount of condescending blokes will stop me.
The proposal I object to is this: the appointment of councillors as Cabinet Support members with a suggested Special Responsibility Allowance of £8000 a year each because it is difficult for 10 Cabinet members to cope with all the work and according to Cabinet members this will help them make better decisions.
This at a time when staff pay is frozen, when the budget for the most vulnerable people in Cornwall has been cut by £16 million, when social care for the elderly and disabled is frozen, people are losing jobs, benefits are being cut, support for students cut, the NHS is having to save £billions … I’m sure I don’t need to go on.
Every day, we ask staff in the public sector to do more for less. How come Cabinet members want to do less and Tory/Independent councillors want more? This is the worst of elected representatives, who have the power to award themselves more dosh, so they decide it is an option instead of thinking of other ways to deliver.
I didn’t get a chance to suggest anything at the Cabinet meeting because Alec didn’t allow me to but here are some alternatives:
- If the Cabinet members aren’t up to it, sack them and get some who are
- If they are so overloaded, look at ways to make their work more strategic and policy driven instead of delving into detail.
- Delegate more policy work to the scrutiny committees.
- Find other members of the Independent and Tory group who can give voluntary support (oh the temptation to mention the Big Society is too great) in return for learning the ropes – it may also help a smooth transition when you get the courage to sack the lame ducks.
But thanks as well – very relieved the pally ‘we’re all friends here’ phase is over.