Council's privatisation plans placed on hold
1:09pm Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in News
Plans to sell off Cornwall Council services to a private company are on hold following a debate at New County Hall today.
The controversial proposals had led to a vote of no confidence in former council leader Alec Robertson last week after attempts to push the deal through despite opposition from councillors.
A motion passed by the council yesterday will see the plans put on hold to allow a full investigation of the future of council services to take place.
The emergency debate was triggered by a petition of more than 6,400 signatures calling for the shared services scheme to be stopped.
The proposals would have seen services, including libraries, human resources and benefit payments, passed on to a private company to run alongside the authority.
Speaking during today's debate, Councillor Andrew Wallis, who started the petition, said: “It is often said democracy is dead or dying in Cornwall, but I say that it is clearly alive if so many people's signatures have brought this issue back to the table again."
Councillor Walker, who put today's motion forward, said: “With council elections just six months away we should remember who we serve and make this a manifesto issue. Do not let the cabinet make this decision, do not let politicians decide, let the public decide.”
Former cabinet member Steve Double stood down after last week's tempestuous council meeting.
He said: “I would support the Joint Venture, I believe it is an incredible opportunity for Cornwall and for this council and I ask members not to kill this here today.
“I believe with one possible partner pulling out then we have the opportunity to talk directly to BT.
“I would encourage you to consider what is on offer here very carefully; £150 million of savings in the next ten years, which I cannot see us getting anywhere else.
“There are up to 1,000 new jobs for Cornwall, of which over 70 per cent will be paid more than the current average for the county.”
Falmouth Boslowick councillor Mike Varney told the meeting: “I am saying we should support this motion and get the scheme onto the table.
“This could be the best thing since sliced bread, it could be great news for the people of Cornwall.
“I ask members to come to the briefings, to attend the meetings, and just to approach this with an open mind before making any decision.”
The motion was passed, with 93 members voting in favour, no one voting against and seven abstentions.