Liberal Democrat councillor Adam Paynter will remain Leader of Cornwall Council for the next 12 months, after defeating Conservative councillor Phil Seeva by 34 votes.
At Tuesday’s full meeting of Cornwall Council, Cllr Paynter was nominated by Cllr Loic Rich, seconded by Cllr Joyce Duffin and voted in with 67 votes, beating Cllr Seeva, the only other nominee, who was nominated by Cllr David Harris and seconded by Cllr Tom French and received 33 votes.
In his pre-vote speech, Cllr Seeva said he did not expect to win but warned the council his party would be holding them to account, something he felt it had not been doing well over the last year.
In a speech, in which each topic was preceded with the words ‘Shame on you’, Cllr Seeva criticised the council, claiming it was not supporting the most vulnerable people in the Duchy. He also complained about councillors falling asleep during meetings and claimed party politics took precedent over many other matters.
Mary May was re-elected as chairman of the council and Hillary Frank defeated Cllr Tom French to return as vice-chairman.
In his address Cllr Paynter announced all the previous year’s cabinet would be remaining in position.
Adam Paynter (Lib Dem) - Leader
Julian German (Ind) - Deputy Leader and Portfolio holder for Resources
Mike Eathorne-Gibbons (Ind) - Portfolio holder for Customers
Sally Hawken (Ind) - Portfolio holder for Children and Wellbeing
Rob Rotchell (Lib Dem) - Portfolio holder for Adults
Edwina Hannaford (Lib Dem) - Portfolio holder for Neighbourhood
Sue James (Lib Dem) - Portfolio holder for Environment and Public Protection
Bob Egerton (Ind) - Portfolio holder for Planning and Economy
Andrew Mitchell (Ind) - Portfolio holder for Homes
Geoff Brown (Lib Dem) - Portfolio holder for Transport
Cllr Paynter then delivered a rallying call for Cornwall to be ambitious for itself and its people and claim its place on the national and international stage.
Delivering his first state of Cornwall in the National Context speech, Cllr Paynter said: “In a world such as this it would be easy to shrink away from responsibility, looking passively at the events of the wider world. But I believe that now, more than ever, is the time for leadership; the time for putting Cornwall firmly on the map in the consciousness not only of people in these islands but beyond; the time to create a vision for our people that provides opportunity for one and all.”
He talked about the fight to secure new powers for the residents of Cornwall through New Frontiers, the proposal agreed by all partners on the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Leadership Board for changing the region’s economy to bring an additional £2bn and create 20,000 new jobs by 2030, and the Council’s ‘Fairer Funding’ campaign, which has over 88,000 people saw on social media.
Cllr Paynter said: “Working closely with the Local Enterprise Partnership on which I sit, Cornwall is now attracting national and international interest in its world class areas such as creative and digital industries, and is ambitious in emerging areas such as space technologies with its Spaceport bid. This Council has also levered in European funding to support low carbon projects including the UK’s first deep geothermal project, enabling energy to be generated from hot rocks.
“We need to grow our strengths in global industries like renewable energy, creative and digital technologies, and build on our mining heritage to exploit our lithium resources to develop batteries for electric vehicles.”
He called upon fellow Councillors to help make Cornwall Council the best it can possibly be as it works with partners, under its double devolution programme, to give local control over more community facilities.
“Devolution at all levels is as much a philosophy as it is a programme. I want power and services to reside at the level that best serves our residents; whether this is control of a library or powers devolved from Whitehall,” he said.
He highlighted the success of the devolution programme in the way local services are provided. For example,
Cllr Paynter said delivering good quality services and listening to residents would remain core priorities.
“The ability to travel; clean, open spaces; affordable housing; access to good schools; control of important community assets. These things matter. We’ve been told by our residents that these services matter, so we’ve worked hard to deliver. But there remains more to do. If we are to deliver our priorities we must continue to push for more powers, continue to shape our services based on residents’ needs and work through consensus and partnership,” he said.