Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Cornish Guardian column: "The Case for Cornwall"

In today’s Cornish Guardian, my article covered the debate around the “Case for Cornwall” and the “Devolution Deal” to be offered to Cornwall. It includes information that I have already blogged about, but in the spirit of completeness, it is as follows:

In his most recent budget speech, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that his Government was “making progress on a major plan” to give Cornwall “a greater say over local decisions.”

This was a reference to the negotiations between the leadership of the unitary authority and civil servants / ministers in central government, and what has been branded a “devolution deal.”

The Council has, in tandem, produced a “Case for Cornwall.” This has been endorsed by its ten-strong ruling Cabinet, and was presented to the Full Council on Tuesday 14th July (after the Cornish Guardian went to press).

The document is a mixed bag. It seeks some devolution of political and economic powers to Cornwall, alongside greater integration of the National Health Service and social care – not a devolution “ask.” And it includes specific requests for additional funding in certain areas – again not a devolution “ask.”

It will surprise no-one that, in my opinion, the “Case for Cornwall” does go far enough.

Throughout the discussions, I have repeated the MK perspective that the people of Cornwall should be seeking democratic control over the whole of the public sector through a Cornish Assembly.

This is very different to the approach of the Council, which the Chief Executive recently described as a “multi-governance model.”

By this, he meant that local government would be working in partnership with a host of partnerships and boards of limited democratic legitimacy such as the Local Enterprise Partnership, a Public Sector Group, a Strategic Infrastructure Partnership … the list goes on.

It most certainly will not be the meaningful devolution achieved in Wales and Scotland.

And at this stage, the extent of the likely “deal” with central government has not been made public. I believe it will certainly be less ambitious than has been requested through the “Case for Cornwall,” and much, much less ambitious than demanded by Mebyon Kernow.

But whatever the final “deal” offered by George Osborne and the Treasury, I believe that we must accept it, though not as an end in itself.

It is my view we must look to build on the “deal” by continuing the campaign for greater devolution to Cornwall, the creation of our own Assembly and an end to the influence of unelected and unaccountable bodies.

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