NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
…but many ask, ‘Are Cornwall Council up to the job?’
Many eyes in Cornwall will be on the Westminster Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne when he delivers the so called ‘emergency’ budget on Wednesday 8 July, 2015.
There are enormous concerns over exactly which welfare payments are to be cut and how the general public are to be expected to pay off even more of the UK Government’s eyewatering £1.56 trillion debt, an alarming 81.58% of total UK Gross Domestic Product, incurred when inept bankers, financiers, politicians and the entirely foreseeable calamity of subprime mortgages triggered the great world recession of 2008.
Perhaps even more relevant for Cornwall, is the leak of information which indicates that devolution or ‘home rule’ for the Duchy is now likely to be announced by Osborne following considerable planning in readiness for it at Cornwall Council.
Information received by the Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League indicates that there has been a flurry of meetings between senior staff at Cornwall Council and Westminster civil servants who have been frantically working on Cllr. John Pollard (Ind), leader of Cornwall Council’s flagship ‘Case for Cornwall’ project. We have also been given to understand that public consultations held across Cornwall recently were something of a sham and that Cornwall Council’s grab for power was very much a ‘done deal’.
Although an ‘insider’ has informed us that final arrangements are still to be put in hand between representatives of the Council and Westminster at a meeting later in July, it looks as though the Chancellor is seizing this opportunity to make a major and historic announcement over Cornwall’s future and in the process, to offload many Westminster financial problems on the Duchy.
So, which powers, services and budgets are likely to come Cornwall’s way from London?
Pollard has talked of the need for Cornwall to have powers to shape its own economic destiny, with controls over transport, energy, housing, environment, heritage and the emergency services.
Certainly, Cornwall based control over health, welfare and social care spending with a pooled budget of some £2 billion is extremely likely.
The devolution of all transport powers, including the re-regulation of buses, has also been under serious discussion and is a likely candidate for a shift in power.
The League is also aware that a single Cornwall ‘blue light’ service has been very much on the agenda and indeed, a combined emergency services officer is already being trialled in Hayle. Cornwall Council have already expressed their keen ambition to take possession of the police buildings ‘estate’ in Cornwall which is substantial and to not only scale it down but to make those remaining facilities ‘tri-service’. Quite how this will fit with an existing Devon and Cornwall police structure is currently unknown.
Several MPs, including the Conservative MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, George Eustice, are known to favour a Cornwall based heritage body which will bring much pleasure to many who want English Heritage thrown out of Cornwall.
In the case of the enormous amount of extra funding needed, proposals, such as allowing a share of fuel duty generated in Cornwall to be retained locally, are highly unlikely to have been supported by Westminster. That said, many other funding avenues such as powers to pool and invest capital receipts from Cornwall’s public sector estate, are likely to have been looked on more favourably. Even defence land assets have been examined.
A source within Cornwall Council said, ‘It is“increasingly apparent” that the lobbying of government which had taken place had “paid dividends” but that there will be differences between the Case for Cornwall and the “government’s proposed deal for Cornwall”.
Cllr. John Pollard (Ind), leader of Cornwall Council, has refused to comment on which powers could be included in the deal but said “For some weeks and months we have been preparing a ‘Case for Cornwall’ which are the things we think Cornwall could benefit from having. We have been discussing those with officials and civil servants and those discussions continue.”
With devolution comes huge power and what is for sure is that many in Cornwall do not favour Cornwall Council and its current policies over massed housing development. Indeed, there has even been talk of ‘closed door’ and un-minuted meetings between Council officials and developers. Perhaps the ultimate aim is finance for the huge costs to come.
Others, including members of the Cross Party ‘Cornish Constitutional Convention’ and certainly of the Party for Cornwall, Mebyon Kernow, believe that the correct way forward for Cornwall is to have a properly elected legislative Assembly in lieu of the current Council.
That said, one of our sources within Cornwall Council has said that many Independent Councillors who have shown a remarkable ability to preserve their long standing political careers will soon declare that Pollard’s ‘Case for Cornwall’ was the eventual aim of all. We have been given names of a number of Councillors who have privately expressed such views and who are preparing for self congratulation but for the sake of expediency and to protect our sources, the decision has been made not to reveal names.
There has been much discussion of the need to have the matter fully dealt with and all structures in place by 2017, the date of the next elections for the unitary authority in Cornwall.
With news already being deliberately leaked to the press and media, we are extremely grateful to our sources within the Cornwall Council for the information passed over.
There is a obviously degree of speculation but much more will be revealed on Wednesday and in the days and weeks ahead.
If this goes as the constitutional planners in the Council intend, Cornwall will be the first area outside of Scotland, Wales, the north of Ireland and some major cities to win a devolution deal.
Convener – The Cornish Branch of the Celtic League
Caderyor – An Kesunyans Keltek Scoren Gernewek
Circulated by the Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League
4 July, 2015
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE
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