Big savings lost through failure to sign
A LEADING councillor has been accused of leaving County Hall finance chiefs to find an extra £300,000 after refusing to sign off a plan which would have generated extra revenue.
Cornwall Council last year drew up plans to alter discretionary rate relief which is granted to community groups, sports clubs and voluntary organisations.
The new scheme was drawn up following an extensive review by councillors to ensure that the scheme was fair across Cornwall, as the council had inherited six different schemes from the former district and borough councils.
However, the new scheme was not approved by Fiona Ferguson, Cabinet member responsible at the time.
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As a result the council has been unable to get the new scheme in place and inform the organisations affected in time to introduce it for the next financial year.
In the council's budget, which is currently being debated, there is provision for an extra £300,000 being made available.
Officers explained to a meeting of the council's corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee that Mrs Ferguson had not signed off the scheme despite it having been recommended by a panel which worked on it for several months, as well as the scrutiny committee and Cabinet.
Commenting at the meeting Mebyon Kernow councillor Loveday Jenkin said: "This is a mess.
"I don't understand why the portfolio holder couldn't listen to the work of the group.
"If we have to add an extra £300,000 to the budget we need to be clear to the previous portfolio holder that that is the impact her decision has had on the council.
"We are wasting money."
Committee chairman John Keeling said: "We had a working group that did an enormous amount of work on this in what was a very difficult area because it affected almost every member's division. It is disappointing we find ourselves in this position."
Responding to the claims Mrs Ferguson said: "When I came into the Cabinet post I looked at the work which had been done on this and there was a lot of good work done.
"But I wasn't happy with all the conclusions and felt that if there was any chance that any group would receive reduced rate relief they would need to be given a reasonable amount of notice.
I felt there was more work that needed to be done."