Tuesday, 20 January 2015

MK says unitary's "Case for Cornwall" is not ambitious enough

The leadership of Cornwall Council today tabled a document entitled the “Case for Cornwall” to a meeting of Full Council.

I moved an amendment at the meeting on behalf of Mebyon Kernow, because we felt the document lacked ambition. The motion also challenged other members to support the case for a Cornish Assembly.

Sadly, only ten other members supported our amendment.

My speech was as follows:

I would like to start by saying that, as a group, we obviously welcome the fact that we are debating the potential devolution of powers to Cornwall.

But we are disappointed that the “Case for Cornwall” is not more ambitious, or indeed, more strategic. We are also disappointed that none of the suggestions we made have been incorporated into the document.

It also appears to be a bit “pick and mix” in places.

I would like to give one example; that of planning. The document does mention some controls over renewable energy developments and an “infrastructure planning and delivery mechanism.”

But surely, we should be going much, much further. We should be making the case for all decisions relating to planning to be made in Cornwall. This would include the right to produce a Cornish National Planning Policy Framework, the right to set our own housing targets – without interference from central government – and to ensure that the planning appeal process is also Cornwall-based.

Put simply, we feel the document is about a limited amount of additional “freedoms” for the existing unitary authority – a local government vehicle. We believe this is simply not adequate.

This present draft does not even seek to combat the influence of the growing number of unelected groups and boards, which are taking political and economic power away from the democratically-elected.

We need to bold. We need to be brave. We need to look outside of the constraints of this unitary authority and think about Cornwall as a whole.

And we believe that we need to make the case for a far-reaching new democratic settlement for Cornwall, which involves the devolution of significant political and economic powers.

That is why I wish to move the amendment that has already been circulated to members.

It is a straight-forward amendment, which seeks to follow the same timetable as set out by the Leader.

But it seeks to revisit and strengthen the document, referring it back to a working group that includes members of all political groups on this authority.

And it gives us the opportunity to make the “Case for Cornwall” so much more, by including the option of a Cornish Assembly with meaningful democratic control over the wider public sector, as has been delivered in Wales and Scotland.

Please do not sell Cornwall short. Limited demands today will undermine greater demands in the future.

Please support this amendment today.

The motion was as follows:

1. The principle of submitting a “Case for Cornwall” – seeking to negotiate the devolution of greater powers to Cornwall – to those political parties which could form all or part of the next Government be agreed

2. It is our belief that the draft “Case for Cornwall” set out at Appendix 1 should be more ambitious and that the document should seek more significant political and economic powers.

3. The “Case for Cornwall” be referred to a working group of Cornwall Council, comprising members of all political groups on the authority, in order that the content of the document be strengthened.

4. The document to be changed to include the option of a Cornish Assembly, which would have democratic control over the wider public sector as in Wales and Scotland.

5. The revised “Case for Cornwall” be brought back to Full Council on 17th February, with the intention of submitting it to those political parties mentioned above on or before 26th March.

6. Members to be kept informed as to progress in relation to the “Case for Cornwall” and a further report be brought back to Full Council in May.

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