Monday, 15 October 2012

Some thoughts on the Society Cornwall survey...

Tomorrow the 16th of October the leader of Cornwall Council faces his vote of no confidence. Brought about from his unwavering support for a Joint Venture on Shared Services (see my thoughts on that here and here) despite the vote of councillors against the scheme and the hugely popular petition against the scheme. Before tomorrows protest on the issue outside Lys Kernow starting at 9:30 and this fateful day the leadership can take little comfort in a survey conducted by Society Cornwall on attitudes toward local government in Cornwall. Here's a picture of their results:

http://www.societycornwall.co.uk/news/how-you-feel-about-local-government-in-cornwall/
Now there are caveats to the survey, it was only a sample of 129 Cornish residents over 5 days. But despite the small number of respondents there are clear conclusions. The cabinet system is widely condemned 47%  against it as the best form of governance with only 10% agreeing  and thus 43% presumably I don't know. Or in other words 61 don't like the present cabinet system, 13 do like it and 55 I don't know. Small numbers clearly but nonetheless a clearly identifiable trend.

Now as always with types of governance we have to evaluate that the actions of particular body have to be separated from the style of organisation. That is to say, have the decisions of the 10 strong cabinet made people dislike the cabinet or is it the organisational structure itself? Personally I strongly dislike the Cabinet model and don't think it's suitable for Cornwall Council, the Joint Venture for Shared Services is an excellent example of how this system is undemocratic despite the entirety of Cornwall Councillors voting against this privatisation partnership the cabinet remains resolute in supporting the scheme. In a more democratic system then the majority clearly expressing their will would have meant the plan was axed and it begs the question what is the point of having 123 councillors if only 10 have a say in s major change in policy like this?

I think it could be suggested that the fact 48% of people think that their community is not well represented clearly demonstrates that people feel the council to not be democratic and or responsive to the views Cornish public. Again is this a result of the rule of the Tory-Independent regime? or a result of the strangely exclusive and unrepresentative cabinet system? Either way this is bad news for Alec Robertson's besieged leadership and although only a snap shot, a clear indication that people aren't happy with his administration. Suggesting that him being removed from power tomorrow would be supported by the people of Cornwall.

All of the questions and answers are intriguing but I am perplexed what to make of the last question. 53% of respondents agreed that party politics should have no place in local government with 22% disagreeing. Obviously has a long history of electing independent councillors and this is reflected, yet it does not take into account that all but 2 of Cornwall's Independent councillors are in a group in coalition with the Tories, this group is in all but name a political party and keeps the Tories in power. I am deeply confused as to the point of voting Independent if by proxy you are voting for Tories or any other party for that matter. With this in mind I do wonder if those 53% of respondents think voting for Independents in any way equates to keeping party politics out of Cornwall, or if this is a sign of frustration with Cornwall's quasi-independent councillors?

Personally I really like this survey conducted by Society Cornwall, the study of the views of the Cornish public towards government is long overdue and can only add to the democratic process. I implore my readers to look at their website and join if they so wish. http://www.societycornwall.co.uk/join-society-cornwall/