The deputy leader of Cornwall Council has resigned in the ongoing row over the proposed privatisation of some of the authority’s services.

Councillor Jim Currie, who represents Feock and Kea for the Conservatives, announced his decision yesterday in an email top leader Alec Robertson.

He said he fears the council’s leadership will press ahead with the Joint Venture scheme, which could see a contract worth £300 million being handed to a private company.

He wrote: "I am resigning from the Cabinet today as I feel that I have pushed the cause of retaining Council control over Joint Ventures as far as I can with the cabinet.

"The financial risks involved with the rush into the new Joint Venture proposals are unacceptable.

"The JV is basically too large to control. We have wasted £42m+ on the Unitary, £42m+ on the Incinerator and we are now proposing to risk a great deal more on the Joint Venture.

"I welcome your somewhat ambiguous offer to respect Full Council decisions on the 23rd October but I know you will never let go.

"I could not leave local government with billions of pounds of Cornish Taxpayers money at risk and on my conscience.

"Alec, this matter has never been personal."

The letter comes despite an announcement from the council leader that he would abide by any vote to put the services sell-off on hold when it is discussed by full council on October 23.

Councillor Robertson is already facing a no-confidence vote at an extraordinary meeting of the council next Tuesday, which could see him immediately removed from his position if the vote goes against him.

Councillor Andrew Wallis, who has been fighting to get the privatisation plans on hold, said Councillor Currie’s decision was a real blow to the council leader.

He said: “The third paragraph in Jim’s letter is really damaging, as it strengthens the case after the announcement on Monday is nothing more than a ruse to survive the 16th, then still press on with the JV.

“You cannot forget Jim has been in the inter-circle of the Cabinet, and was the Portfolio Holder for Finance so would know more than most.

“Jumped before pushed? I do not think so, as I think the resignation is perfectly timed for the no-confidence vote on the 16th. I think now, there is only one possible replacement candidate for the no-confidence vote.”