Councillors jostling for new cabinet positions
A complex round of political horse trading is under way in Cornwall as new council leader Jim Currie seeks to name a new cabinet.
Leading councillors within the Independent group are said to be jockeying for four positions alongside up to five Conservative posts on offer.
A key party meeting of the coalition's junior partners will attempt to select its preferred cabinet members tomorrow, just before the full council meets to debate the part-privatisation plans.
Mr Currie faced moves from a minority of his Tory group at a meeting on Friday to expel him in retaliation for accepting the leadership nomination from the Liberal Democrats.
The new leader, of the council though not of the Tories, is said to be "keeping his cards close to his chest" as to who will help him run the authority until elections next May.
And the identity of those promoted to coveted senior roles – which attract an allowance of more than £30,000 – may even determine whether the Independent group continues to support the Conservatives in coalition or leaves them to run the council alone.
A source in the Tory group said there was "a will to continue" the current deal, but juggling the positions and portfolios was proving complicated.
Deputy council leader, Independent Neil Burden, who narrowly lost the vote to Mr Currie, said the group meeting would provide two names to add to Mr Currie's preferred five.
Mr Burden said an announcement of the cabinet was hoped to be made at the council meeting, though the individual jobs might not be assigned until later.
"The trouble is now that we have got to pick horses for courses," he told the Western Morning News.
He added: "It's such a short time period – the ideal would be the scrutiny chairs because they know what they are talking about."
Two Tory cabinet members and two from the Independents resigned at last week's dramatic meeting. This would leave two positions up for grabs from the Independents. Bert Biscoe, John Pollard, Andrew Wallis and Chris Pascoe are being touted for the roles.
Lib Dem leader Jeremy Rowe described a "bizarre" political situation in which he had persuaded Mr Currie to accept his party's nomination because the Tories would not.
"We had to talk him into it," he added.
"I suspect Jim will do what he can to make it acceptable and if it isn't he will appoint his people and take the flak."