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.”

The vote was 64 in favour, 24 against and one abstention. The opponents were principally the Conservative and UKIP groups.

“Politics as usual” is no longer acceptable

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Councillor Dick Cole (leader of Mebyon Kernow the party for Cornwall,) made it clear that MK did not think the proposals went far enough and that the likely influence of unelected bodies such as the Local Enterprise Partnership was far too great. In his keynote speech at the Party’s 2014 Conference, held at New County Hall in Truro, he had described how the referendum campaign had energised Scottish voters and had shown that “politics as usual” is no longer acceptable.

Councillor Cole told the meeting yesterday that his party would continue to campaign for proper devolution for Cornwall, for a Cornish Assembly and an end to the growing unelected quangocracy.

There was a ‘closed session’ to see the “Devolution Deal” offered by central government, which had dictated that the debate could not be in public. The confidential “pink papers” were distributed in the meeting and collected at the end of the meeting. The councillors agreed to delegate authority to the Leader to sign the “Cornwall Devolution Deal” and Prime Minister David Cameron, who is to visit the Duchy today, has now confirmed that Cornwall will gain major powers devolved from central Government.

cameron cornwallThe 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, which is based on the proposals set out in the Case for Cornwall which were formally agreed by the full Council on Tuesday, 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.

The final area of agreement is heritage and culture, with the Government pledging support for the creation of a Cornish Heritage Environment Forum.

Sources include: