Saturday, 14 July 2007

We need devolution to Cornwall – not local government reform

The creation of a unitary authority for Cornwall would be just that - a single unitary authority at the expense of the districts and local democracy. One thing it would not be is a Cornish Assembly.

At the present time, the two principal tiers of local government in Cornwall exist beneath the unelected and unaccountable Regional Assembly, the Regional Development Agency and a whole host of SW-based quangos, over which we have no democratic control.

Under proposals for local government reform, this would stay the same. If a Cornish unitary authority was created, important decisions about Cornwall and its future would still be taken outside of Cornwall; the development of planning policies and the decision about the amount of housing to be built within Cornwall would still be agreed by the SW Assembly; the administration of convergence funding for Cornish communities would still be controlled by the Regional Development Agency in Exeter; and the RDA would still have the powers, for example, to compulsorily purchase South Crofty tin mine and surrounding area without recourse to the democratic process.

What is more; a restructuring of local government in Cornwall at this time would be a major and costly upheaval, which would have no real demonstrable benefit. In fact, it could merit a considerable dis-benefit to Cornwall as it might block any pressure for the meaningful devolution of regional powers and we would still only have a local council in Truro.

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