The chairman of Cornwall Council has been accused of not considering the housing emergency in Cornwall to be “urgent” after she refused to allow a motion on the subject to be discussed by councillors.
Pauline Giles decided that the motion from Colin Martin should be referred to the council’s cabinet for discussion as it relates to an “executive function” of the council.
However Cllr Martin highlighted that while she was allowed to do that the council’s constitution also allowed her to let the motion be debated if it was considered to be an urgent issue.
Cllr Martin asked the Conservative chairman: “Do you consider the housing situation in Cornwall to be sufficiently urgent to allow this motion to be discussed today?”
Cllr Giles responded: “I am referring this matter to Cabinet. I understand how important this is, I really do. It will be referred to Cabinet and will be reported back in six months.”
Cllr Martin said: “I consider that you don’t believe it is sufficiently urgent.”
Independent councillor Tim Dwelly then raised a point of order asking Cllr Giles to explain her decision not to allow the motion to be debated and also why the matter was being referred to the Cabinet and not a cross-party overview and scrutiny committee.
Cllr Dwelly was already disappointed after a separate motion he submitted regarding the housing emergency was dismissed by Cllr Giles in favour of Cllr Martin’s motion.
Cllr Giles said that she had held a meeting with the Vice Chair of the council and council officers from the legal and democratic services department to decide how the motion would be dealt with.
She said: “It was discussed that it is an executive function and it was decided that it needed to go to Cabinet. It is not going to overview and scrutiny committee and I will not be taking anymore points of order on the same subject.”
In explaining his motion Cllr Martin said that he welcomed comments from the council leader that everyone in Cornwall should have a secure home.
He said that his motion was trying to ensure that everyone gets a chance to have a say about the action which is needed to improve the situation.
He said: “There is no single silver bullet that will solve the housing problems in Cornwall. Some of these suggestions will require new money and new powers from the Government.”
Cllr Martin said that it was vital that everyone in the council works together to tackle the housing emergency.
However he said that he was disappointed that the council had not been able to discuss the issue at today’s council meeting.
The motion has been referred to the Cabinet which will report back to full council on what it will do.