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More powers must be about democracy
Following the fantastic news that the Government has confirmed the Cornish will be recognised as a national minority through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection for National Minorities (FCNM), talk is already turning to the “devolution” to Cornwall. Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury – who announced national minority status on the 24th April – has also confirmed that the Government would “take seriously” any bid from Cornwall to control the next tranche of European funding which will be worth more than £500 million.
The following is taken from an article on Dick Cole's personal Blog dated Satuday 17th May 2014 and was published in the Cornish Guardian.

He apparently urged MPs to work with the Local Enterprise Partnership to make the case for greater local autonomy as “part of the growth deal process.” He is reported as saying said that, following the FCNM announcement, “it would seem odd not to take seriously the request that there should be a degree of autonomy in the management of the European structural funds programme.”

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership has “called for a proportionate administration” and “for bureaucratic red tape to be reduced wherever possible under the next EU programme,” while there is an ongoing effort to give Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly some form of “intermediary body” status, which could allow local representatives to deal direct with EU officials.

Local MPs have called for “those charged with managing the Cornwall EU structural fund programme” to be “granted the appropriate delegated powers.”

Meanwhile, one of Mr Alexander’s ministerial colleagues, the Conservative Greg Clark (Cities and the Constitution) recently told a local newspaper that there is an “appetite” to devolve powers to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

He was also even quoted as saying that “Cornwall is a place … that exemplifies par excellence my view that the people that know best what is needed for the area are the people who live and work there.”

But there was little detail related to Clark’s statement other than – like Mr Alexander – it was in the context of “growth deals” and largely related to the Local Enterprise Partnership, which is an unelected body.

I remain extremely concerned that this present debate around more powers for Cornwall appears to have little or nothing to do with democracy and democratically elected politicians. Surely, this has to change.

I believe that central government needs to go much further in terms of the devolution of political and economic powers – and this should lead to the establishment of a Cornish Assembly.
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Published on 17th May 2014.

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