Thursday, 4 August 2011

Penzance harbour and why Alec Robertson says one thing and does another



I read with interest Alex Folke's blog about Cornwall Council's latest press release, recognising the councils work as being one of the most creative councils in the country. As the great leader Alec Robertson proclaims:
“As Eric Pickles recognised earlier this year we are a “can do” council which has never been afraid to do things differently” 
          .....
“Our proposal involves working with communities to improve their local areas by making change happen. Rather than imposing solutions, we want to support local people to work with us to identify and then solve the problems they face. We will then work with them to develop the best ideas and create business plans around their proposed solutions”.
Alex goes on to note that this lacks clarity and is hardly innovative, I can only agree with Alex on this, click this link for his blog.

But to look past the fluff and lack of plain English and the obvious congratulatory attitude between Pickles and Robertson, are these words really true? As someone who has lived in Penzance through the Penzance harbour fiasco and various attempts to impose the Option A solution on Penzance against local opposition, it is clear that Tory led Cornwall Council has no idea how to work with local people. In fact quite the opposite, when opposition was met to their proposals at every juncture the council became more combative. Relations between Cornwall councillors and Penzance groups became shall we say hostile? with opposition groups trading insults with councillors over who was more like various Nazis (no I am not joking). The upshot of it all was that the residents of Penzance chose sides, were divided by council threats to move the Scilly ferry to Falmouth.  Clearly this is a textbook example of how a council should not interact with residents and is in fact a textbook example of imposing solutions and not supporting local people.

I don't think anyone in Penzance for or against Option A would agree that Robertson worked with the local community in PZ, which leads me to ponder, would anyone in Cornwall agree with Alec Robertson's fluff? 
Would the people of the Clay Country agree that solutions were not imposed upon them? Did they feel that the incinerator was a result of a collaboration between themselves and Cornwall Council? I doubt it. 

For background on the Penzance Harbour fiasco I recommend this Cornish Zetetics blogpost.