Saturday, 14 July 2007

Liberal Democrats are misleading Cornwall

Cornwall needs its politicians and community representatives to show vision and leadership to win greater self-government for Cornwall. But we have been failed by the political lightweights who lead the London-biased political parties in Cornwall. This is especially so with the Liberal Democrats who have reneged on their election pledge to fight for a Cornish Assembly.

We must never forget that in 2005, Liberal Democrat candidates for election to Westminster and Cornwall County Council stood, successfully, on a local manifesto which included a commitment to a Cornish Assembly. They had a wonderful opportunity to unite Cornwall, to bring local people and their democratic representatives together in a real crusade to build a democracy for Cornwall that would truly be fit for the 21st century. But they chose to do nothing and have squandered our hopes.

And then on 23rd January, 41 members of Cornwall County Council – exactly half of the Council’s membership - voted to submit a bid to central government for Cornwall to be governed by a single unitary authority. Thirty-six of these councillors were Liberal Democrats, supported by three independents and two Labour representatives. Only five of the Liberal Democrats voted against the proposal.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) consultation ended on 22nd June - the Government’s decision on whether the bid will proceed will be known in late July.

As a result, over the last few months, the people of Cornwall have had to put up with an inordinate amount of spin, half-truths and misinformation spilling forth from County Hall. We have had to watch as they spend thousands and thousands of pounds publicising their flawed plans for democratic reform.

In it they have continued to claim that they would ‘give local communities more say,’ even though decision-making would be centralised to Truro and democracy would be weakened – not enhanced. They also said that it would ‘create a stronger voice for Cornwall,’ even though the government has already made it clear that no extras powers would be devolved to unitary authorities.

What is more, the Liberal Democrats fronting the push for unitary status know that they are misleading local people on this issue. I attended a recent meeting at County Hall, where we were addressed by Mr David Prout, the Director of Local Democracy at the DCLG. When I pressed him on the issue of greater powers, he confirmed that a unitary authority would not be able to draw down powers from regional and central government. He actually said that a “unitary authority will be a unitary authority” and that there were “no goodies” on offer.

Continuing Liberal Democrat assertions that by shrinking democracy in Cornwall, we will somehow be allowed extra powers are frankly nonsense and do a disservice to the whole political process.

1 comment:

Diggerb said...

Hi all at MK, Mitten Da..
well done to all at MK a great Blog site for the party, very interesting and very informative, lets hope its not abused, I just wish I could do more and get involved in the party as a Cornishman Born and Bred, unfortunatley my Occupation does not allow it, keep up the good work.

Kernow Bys Vyken

Paul Barnes