Cabinet member is latest to quit Tory group
A SENIOR Cabinet member at Cornwall Council has resigned from the Conservative party citing a decision by party colleagues to support a freeze on council tax bills.
Armand Toms, Cabinet member for adult social care, has spoken out repeatedly against the decision by the council to support a Liberal Democrat budget proposal which set a zero per cent increase in council tax.
Mr Toms, councillor for Looe East, warned that it could lead to cuts in services for the most vulnerable.
Mr Toms said: "I have spent four years working very hard to bring the services up to a reasonable level and I think what we are being asked to save and the increases in demand do not match up."
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He added: "I cannot support the budget, therefore I am going against my group.
"I could have stayed and fought from within but I am not prepared to do that and not be able to voice my concerns. That is why I have done what I have done."
Mr Toms is the latest Cabinet member to resign from the Conservative group over the budget. Carolyn Rule and Lance Kennedy have already resigned in protest, while Stephen Rushworth was sacked from his Cabinet post for voting against the Cabinet proposal.
Mr Toms, Mrs Rule and Mr Kennedy are all now independent members and there are now just two Conservative members on the Cabinet – Mr Currie and Joan Symons.
Fiona Ferguson, Conservative group leader, defended the decision to freeze council tax saying: "The bare facts are that to accept the Government grant for Cornwall of nearly £5 million and freeze council tax, we needed to save less than 1 per cent of a net budget of over £500m. Few people in Cornwall will believe that should be so very hard."