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Cornish Assembly Now!
At Friday’s meeting of Mebyon Kernow’s National Executive (12th April), Party Leader Cllr Dick Cole challenged politicians to “show vision and leadership” for Cornwall by campaigning for greater self-government through a National Assembly of Cornwall.

Cllr Cole was speaking at a time when numerous politicians had been marking the tenth anniversary of the creation of the unitary authority in April 2009.

He had been out-spoken in his opposition to this centralisation of local government a decade ago, when he argued that politicians should have instead united around the campaign for a Cornish Assembly.

He told the MK Executive: “Politicians who refuse to see Cornwall through anything other than the structures of local government will keep failing Cornwall and its communities.

He added: “Looking back to 2005, the Liberal Democrats took control of Cornwall County Council on a local manifesto which included a commitment to a Cornish Assembly. Upon winning control of the Council, they published a list of priorities that included a pledge to work with MPs and district councils to ‘establish detailed plans for a Cornish Assembly’ within their first year of office.

“But they did not do this. They jettisoned their commitment to a Cornish Assembly and pushed through the centralisation of local government, while using the ‘language of devolution.”

“One MP claimed that a new council would be able to ‘draw down decision-making power from Government quangos, boards, agencies and other unelected departmental bodies,’ while another stated that local government changes would secure powers ‘from the South West region and central government.’ A third claimed that a unitary authority would be ‘akin to a Cornish Assembly’ which, at the time, I described as palpable nonsense.

“Over the last ten years, Cornwall Council has tried to do its best for Cornwall, albeit as a local council with limited powers, while having to cope with the atrocious effects of austerity and massive cuts in local government funding.

“It is true that the unitary authority did agree a so-called ‘devolution deal’ with the UK Government – but that was not devolution at all. It was essentially an accommodation between the UK Government and local government in Cornwall on a limited range of specific matters. It was so insignificant, that it did not even need legislation in the House of Commons to be agreed.

“At the same time, unelected bodies have continued to grow in influence – both outside of Cornwall and within Cornwall, such as the Local Enterprise Partnership – while Cornwall Council is soon to suffer the further democratic outrage of an imposed cull in the number of elected representatives.

“The nation of Cornwall deserves better. And it is time that all our politicians did show the vision and leadership to get behind the campaign for a National Assembly of Cornwall with all their might.”
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By Dick Cole. Published on 14th April 2019.

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