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Ghost Town

Ghost Town.

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Ghost Town

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Okay, hands up everyone who thought that at the first attempt Cornwall Council would approve £10 million of public money towards the costs of building the Stadium for Cornwall?

If it helps, my arms are still firmly by my side.

Before anyone from the Cornish Pirates or any other staunch supporter of the project bombards my inbox with suggestions of disloyalty, negativity or general unhelpfulness let me just explain that I have always supported the Stadium project and am more than happy for my taxes to be spent on it.

I was the first journalist in the south west in recent years to start writing about the idea for a Stadium some six or seven years ago and sought to canvas the opinions of Cornwall`s Members of Parliament at the time.

The response was encouraging with only Andrew George and Julia Goldsworthy failing to even acknowledge my requests for two minutes of their time.

But back to my original question.

The about turn from wanting no public money to requesting a big chunk of the surplus in Cornwall Council`s Capital Projects Budget caught many of us by surprise and I think the speed of the about turn did the Stadium project no good.

There was simply no time to canvass opinion or lobby members and the elected critics, who have been spoiling for a fight from the word go, were suddenly given a huge opportunity to ambush the plan. They took it. 

I did a newspaper interview with Cornish Pirates owner Dicky Evans just over a year ago in which he clearly stated that no public money would be used on the Stadium. I fully accept his argument that due to the perilous state of global economics things have had to change but by asking Cornwall Council for £10 million suggests that some of the funding has already been sourced. Sports stadiums tend to cost a bit more than that.

However what happened yesterday in the Council Chamber in Truro once again portrayed Cornwall as little more than a retarded backwater in an economic sense.

I have no problem with anyone who voted against the Stadium because they are entitled to their opinion. I applaud those who voted in favour but despair of those elected members who failed to discharge their civic duty, put their own self interest before the needs of the people who put them in office in the first place, sat on their hands and abstained.

During the debate I exchanged tweets with Cllr Andrew Wallis and after the result of the vote asked him what Cornwall had actually achieved by voting against the funding proposal. I`m still waiting for his answer.

The feuding amongst the ruling Conservatives also seems to have played a major role in the result and considering how popular that party is currently at national level the next date at the ballot box for all of them could be interesting.

Voters, and especially those who are well below retirement age, aren`t interested in the chicanery, gerry-mandering and petty squabbling turning key votes into nothing more than a scrap to pick your mates for the dinner time game of football in the playground. They want investment, opportunity, jobs and a future in Cornwall.

That can happen in this instance if the funding for the Stadium can still be sourced privately. After all, the necessary planning permissions remain in place. And Cornwall Council can still redeem themselves in the eyes of the voters if the Cabinet decides to ignore yesterday`s non-legally binding vote.

Council Leader Alec Robertson will have to publicly display the biggest get of gonads in Cornwall to achieve that and whilst some of his Tory peers might consider it “political suicide”, those with the real power at the next elections – the people of Cornwall – may well just reward him.

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