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“So much for all those Tory promises”
When the United Kingdom Government signed off the so-called Cornwall Devolution Deal in 2015, it claimed that it was "historic" and a “major step” in their commitment to “extend opportunity to every corner of our country.” The Prime Minister David Cameron said the deal would put power in the hands of local people and talked about the “fantastic potential that Cornwall holds.”
The deal also included reference to “Cornwall’s rich and unique heritage, including its historic revived language and passionate communities.” It even noted the importance of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

At that time, I saw it somewhat differently from the press office of the Conservative Party.

Through Mebyon Kernow, I welcomed the fact that devolution was being talked about but criticized the very limited scope of the deal. I described it as unambitious, and also hit out at the growing influence of unelected and unaccountable entities – such as the Local Enterprise Partnership – which have no democratic legitimacy.

Some two years on (Friday 21st October 2016) the Communities Minister, Sajid Javid, was at an event in Exeter titled “South West Growth Summit.”

Speaking in the context of a potential “devolution deal” for the 17 local authorities in Devon and Somerset, he branded the previously “historic” Cornwall Devolution Deal as “not ambitious.” He made reference to the fact that the deal did not include any new money (even though it was Conservatives who refused various requests from the unitary authority for additional investment) and went on to tell the attendees from those two counties: “What’s the point of going down that route?”

In his speech, he disparagingly added that “some in Cornwall see their county as distinct from the rest of the region, a special case that should be handled separately from everywhere east of the Tamar.” He linked this statement to a few more comments about rivalries and tensions in the wider South West, before adding “that whole attitude has to change.

So much for the Conservative’s promises and their (threadbare) commitment to Cornwall, Cornish distinctiveness and our “rich and unique heritage.”

I can cope with Tory politicians contradicting each other and showing one and all that their spin does reflect any reality. But I am worried that central government seems to be, once again, looking to promote a “large south west” model for future governance which would see Cornwall’s distinct needs marginalised – just as the UK Government is pushing forward with a boundary review which disrespects Cornwall’s historic border.

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Published on 15th November 2016.

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