The media today has been full of speculation about a possible devolution “deal” for Cornwall. The subject even made the front page of the “i” newspaper. It stated that “although details of the plan are still to be finalised, the Health Service Journal (HSJ) and the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) reported that the Chancellor George Osborne will announce a new deal for Cornwall in next week’s Budget.”
It will certainly be an interesting week, if we do find out what responsibilities central government are willing to “devolve.”
Cornwall Council’s Cabinet are debating their “Case for Cornwall” on Wednesday, and a special Full Council meeting is planned for the 14th July. But the Cabinet meeting will presumably also know the nature of the Government’s “deal” by then.
I am fearful that the “deal” from Osborne will be much less than what people are hoping for. Indeed, talk of “NHS devolution” is devolution at all, but the integration of health and social care.
I am also fearful that the “deal” will be a shadow of the unitary authority’s “Case for Cornwall,” which itself lacks ambition for Cornwall. Neither the speculated “deal” or the Council’s “case” reflect any national “conversation” with the people of Cornwall, as the whole debate is stifled and focussed on a “negotiation” between local and central government, with the centre considering what limited powers it is willing to divest to the unitary authority.
Whatever is “offered” to Cornwall this coming week, I will continue to argue for a far-reaching new democratic settlement which could then be presented to local people in a binding referendum as happened in Wales and Scotland.
I will keep people up-to-date with what transpires this coming week.
I can also report that I have been invited onto Radio Cornwall on Monday morning – time to be confirmed – to speculate on the speculation!