Pressure grows on council leader as row over privatisation plan intensifies
An anti-cuts alliance has added its voice to the growing calls for embattled Cornwall Council leader Alec Robertson to resign.
The campaigners claim the Tory leader – who faces a motion to remove him from his post next week from critics of privatisation plans for council services – is "cynically manoeuvring" to cling on to power.
They are calling for voters to show their support for the bid to oust Mr Robertson by demonstrating outside the council chamber, at County Hall in Truro.
The latest attack comes after deputy leader Jim Currie spectacularly resigned from the Cabinet in protest at the joint venture plans.
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Mr Currie, who is set to stand as successor to Mr Robertson if he is deposed on Tuesday, quit via an explosive e-mail this week, which suggested he also regarded with scepticism the leader's offer to drop the plan if it failed to win grass roots backing.
Howard Newlove, spokesman for Cornwall Anti Cuts Alliance (CACA), said: "The alliance believes it is speaking for the majority of the Cornish people in condemning both the Council's deeply flawed privatisation proposals and the undemocratic way they have been handled. We believe it is time that local services were run in the interest of local people, not for the profit of large multi-national companies."
"Alex Robertson's cynical manoeuvring to cling to power on the 16th October is a reminder of why he and his leap-in-the-dark sell-off needs to go."
Support is said to be growing daily for a cross-party coalition to remove Mr Robertson.
Mr Currie, an outspoken critic of the shared services scheme, is said to be able to win a majority at the full council meeting next week.
He yesterday told the Western Morning News the issue at stake was the "dignity and supremacy" of the council and said he would do nothing to undermine that.
He also added that it would be a "watershed" moment if the vote "goes against Alec", but refused to declare formally that he will stand.
Mr Robertson surprised councillors with a pledge to scrap the £800 million "shared services" scheme if councillors refuse to give it support at a later debate.
But, according to rebels within the Tory group, the move was seen as an attempt to win support ahead of the no-confidence vote.
Sources from across the political spectrum say a cross-party coalition now has sufficient votes to topple the leader.
In a response to Mr Currie's resignation, Mr Robertson reaffirmed his pledge to "respect" the will of the council and stated his absolute determination to continue to push for the shared services plan to be approved.