Around thirty people demonstrated outside County Hall today, on the day councillors were debating a motion of no confidence in the council leader, Alec Robertson. The lively protest, organised by Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance and Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance, had lots of placards. There were chants of ‘no ifs, no buts, no public service cuts’, ‘no council sell-off, it only helps the well-off’ and ‘Alec, Alec, Alec, out, out, out’.
Robertson has been responsible for the undemocratic way in which he and his cabinet have tried to sell off council services to a private company.
Many of those present at the demonstration then went into the public gallery to hear the debate. In a turgid discussion which went on for over an hour and which was largely irrelevant the only sensible intervention was from Ruth Lewarne, Liberal Democrat councillor for Penzance East. She explained the need for a secret ballot and that the concept had originally been introduced to stop people from being intimidated which, she argued, might still be relevant today. She also brought the discussion away from personalities and brought it firmly back round to the political issues at stake.
The votes were counted and the result came at about 12:35. There were 63 votes in support of the motion to remove the leader and 49 votes against. According to security, Robertson has already left the building and told them he will send someone to collect his things this afternoon. In other words, he will not be back in any capacity.
This result is a clear indication that this plan has been firmly rejected by Cornwall Councill following a petition signed by over 6000 people in Cornwall. The councillors will now elect a successor. It is hoped that any new leader will scrap these plans at least until after the next election in May next year.
This is a victory for those ordinary people that were prepared to stand up and campaign against these privatisation plans and for democracy.