Democratic development: Devolution Deal for Cornwall

Members of the unitary authority yesterday backed the “Case for Cornwall” which, the Council says, “sets out the increased powers and freedoms the Council wants to secure from the Government to enable Cornwall to take greater control over its own affairs.”

“Politics as usual” is no longer acceptable

Dick Cole at MK Conference 2014
Councillor Dick Cole (leader of Mebyon Kernow the party for Cornwall) – in his keynote speech at the Party’s 2014 Conference, held at New County Hall in Truro, described how the referendum campaign had energised Scottish voters and had shown that “politics as usual” is no longer acceptable.

He told the meeting yesterday that his party would continue to campaign for full devolution for Cornwall – a Cornish Assembly.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who is to visit the Duchy today, has confirmed that Cornwall will gain major powers devolved from central Government.

The Cornishman reports that Mr Cameron – a yearly visitor – said: “This devolution deal marks a major shift for the people who live and work in Cornwall – putting power in their hands and giving them the tools to take charge and make the most of the fantastic potential that Cornwall holds. ”

Under the terms of the deal, Cornwall will have greater powers over areas of public spending which are currently controlled by London. The deal covers a range of key areas including transport, employment and skills, EU funding, business support, energy, health and social care, public estate, heritage and culture. Other areas include:

  • Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly given Intermediate Body (IB) status. Decisions on allocating €603.7m of European funding to projects will now be made locally rather than at Westminster;
  • an agreement to work with agencies in Cornwall on a number of proposals to improve employment and skills opportunities, reshaping training and learning provision, developing new apprenticeship opportunities and improving careers advice for young people;
  • an agreement to support Cornwall’s aim to create a low carbon Enterprise Zone and develop geothermal energy production, as well as working with partners to help address the current constraints on the national grid and to develop proposals to improve energy efficiency in homes;
  • and joining together funding for flood defences from a range of partners, including the Environment Agency and South West Water and the South West regional flood committee, providing a joint investment programme to improve coastal defences.

Mebyon Kernow members have reservations about the deal. They single out the growing influence of unelected and unaccountable entities – such as the Local enterprise Partnership – which have limited democratic legitimacy but nonetheless dominate the deal. Cllr Cole concludes:

dick cole 4“We need to build on the ‘Deal’ and to construct a powerful public campaign for a powerful Cornish Assembly with full democratic control over the whole of the public sector in Cornwall.”

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