Deputy Cornwall Council leader Jim Currie quits over opposition to move to private shared services
DEPUTY council leader Jim Currie spectacularly resigned today over his objection to the plan to hand services to a private company.
The Conservative had been tipped to stand as leader should Councillor Alec Robertson lose a vote of no confidence as leader of Cornwall Council next Tuesday (October 16).
But Councillor Currie would not be drawn on whether he would do so after quitting the Cabinet, giving up his position as deputy leader of the council and member in charge of finance and corporate resources.
Already an outspoken critic of the plans, his resignation e-mail to Mr Robertson today, copied to all other members and seen by the West Briton, said: "I feel I have pushed the cause of retaining council control over the 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 (authority), £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."
He told the West Briton: "Honestly, I have done everything I can do.
"I have been out on a limb for a very long time and will just have to let the thing take it's course and it's down to the membership and that's what the council is supposed to be about.
"It's absolutely the courage of my convictions and nothing else.
"The amazing thing is how many other people on the council think the same way across all parties. It's tremendously non-political.
"It's an inevitability at this stage. I have done everything I can to try to influence the process and exhausted that.
"The sensible thing is to step back if you're out of step with the rest of the Cabinet."
The vote of no confidence was triggered by Mr Robertson's decision to press ahead with plans to privatise services despite a council vote against it.
A petition has also forced the issue to be debated again by full council on October 23 and Mr Robertson has said he will abide by the decision taken then as to whether to continue with plans to create a joint venture with a private company to run some services.
*See this week's West Briton for more.