Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Where is the democracy in the "devolution deal"?

Among MK’s key complaints about the recent “devolution deal” from central government was that it was, obviously, very limited in scope, and it was not democratic to give more influence to unelected bodies with limited democratic legitimacy such as the Local Enterprise Partnership.

At today’s meeting of the Constitution and Governance Committee, there was a report about what impact the “deal” would have on the Council’s governance arrangements. As you might expect, I challenged the lack of democracy at the centre of so many of the proposals. Here are a few snippets:

“Agreement is required to be reached as to which organisations will lead the delivery of each policy area.”

I did and will continue to argue that it is not appropriate or indeed democratic for unelected and unaccountable bodies to lead.

“At the current time there is a draft proposal to establish an oversight board comprising the Leader, Chairmen of the Local Enterprise Partnership and Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and two MPs supported by executive officers. This will have oversight of progress in implementing the Deal and be a single reporting route to Government.”

So much for trusting Cornwall Council to "lead" on oversight of the deal.

“There is a requirement for an appropriate overview and scrutiny function for the Deal to be agreed. The Deal envisages that this will comprise elected representatives and business representatives. Whilst this does not preclude the use of the Council’s existing scrutiny arrangements but with co-optees from the business sector, it is perhaps appropriate to consider a separate scrutiny function whose focus is limited to the delivery and impact of the Deal."

Again, so much for trusting Cornwall Council to "lead" on oversight of the deal.

“A Boundary review will commence in 2017 and it is clear that the Government’s expectation is that the number of local councillors will reduce.”

I would have thought that it was time to address the democratic deficit in Cornwall – not make it worse.

The report is worth reading to understand the nature of what is happening. It can be found at:


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