There was a heated exchange in the council chamber this week over the future of Cornwall’s airport in Newquay – and still no clear answer on whether all councillors will have a say on it.

There has been much discussion lately about an urgent decision by Cornwall Council to find “potential investment partners” to ensure the future financial success of the airport, which is run by the Conservative-led council and is subsidised by Cornish taxpayers to the tune of £3m every year.

A number of opposition councillors are concerned any business partnership could lead to loss of control of the airport by the council and endanger its future as a result. Council leader Cllr Linda Taylor has stressed the move “is not about the council walking away or looking to close the airport”.

She said earlier this month that in terms of transparency, the decision to enter into a partnership has been discussed at the relevant scrutiny committee and will come to cabinet for a decision in the usual way. However, there have been calls for any decision to be made by the full council and not just cabinet members.

The decision-making process led to a terse exchange between Cllr Tim Dwelly (Independent, Penzance East) – who has been critical of the move to find a partner – and deputy leader Cllr David Harris (Conservative, Gloweth, Malabar and Shortlanesend) this week at New County Hall / Lys Kernow.

During a discussion about the council’s capital programme at a meeting of the full council, Cllr Dwelly said: “We have these capital programme updates for all of us to consider, quite rightly, to have a vote as a full council; every single member gets to vote on it.

"Can I ask the Deputy Leader to clarify and give a pledge that any possible sale or transfer of the airport, which is an extremely important asset of this council, comes to full council for a vote.”

Cllr Harris replied: “You used the expression ‘sale’. That is not correct. We are looking for a partner to work with us to keep the airport and the wider area going, which I believe answers your question.”

Cllr Dwelly then said: “My question was very clearly will this council have a vote on any change of ownership at the airport – anything, whether it’s a sale, a minority stake, a partnership, a joint venture? Will we have a vote, every single councillor?”

To which Cllr Harris responded: “The decision-making process, Cllr Dwelly, as you well know, will be in accordance with this council’s constitution and cabinet will be advised by the gentleman at the top table [monitoring officer Henry Gordon-Lennox]"

This prompted Cllr Dwelly to return: “I’ll take that as a no,” to which the deputy leader replied: “You may take it as what you wish, but the decision-making process will be in accordance with the council’s constitution. Thank you."