Cornwall’s Devolution Deal boosted by Chancellor’s Budget announcements

standupforcornwall2

In the budget today Chancellor George Osborne made two announcements which will boost the delivery of Cornwall’s Devolution Deal.

As part of today’s Budget, it has been announced that Cornwall will receive a transport capital allocation of £26.1m for each of the next five years to plan the programme of infrastructure investment required to support the move to a One Public Transport System for Cornwall in December 2018.  The One Public Transport System will help deliver an integrated public transport system with smart ticketing and fares and timetables for combined travel between bus, rail and ferry services.

This will see the integration of routes, timetabling and ticketing for all local bus, ferry and rail services under one identifiable brand which, combined with infrastructure improvements, will provide a consistent level of service based on the needs of the customers.  By significantly improving the service to both existing passengers and non-users we will improve the appeal of public transport, drive up patronage on bus and rail and bring about an upturn in revenue to make the network as a whole more financially viable in the future.

Under the deal, Cornwall Council will also have new bus franchising powers which will enable the Council to specify what services we want to have and when they will run.

Furthermore, the Council are working with the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Great Western Railway on the planned improvements to the rail network.  These include an upgraded sleeper service, enhanced signalling which will allow a new half hourly service on the mainline and improved rolling stock.  The aim is to combine the improvements to rail and bus services to achieve One Public Transport System for Cornwall in December 2018.

As part of the Cornwall Devolution Deal, a priority for Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership is to develop and grow the marine energy sector in Cornwall and today the government has agreed to provide a £15 million funding package to drive work to develop a Hayle, Falmouth and Tolvaddon MarineHub Enterprise Zone.

The Wave Hub, the world’s largest wave energy testing facility, will also be transferred to Cornwall Council to develop the facility as part of this low-carbon MarineHub Enterprise Zone. The package of support includes additional investment, the Enterprise Zone and transfer of ownership of Wave Hub to Cornwall Council to further develop this key asset.

For those who do not know anything about the Wave Hub, it is a wave energy testing facility off the coast of Hayle, in Cornwall.  It was constructed in 2010 to support the testing of wave energy technologies by providing an offshore electricity connection to the national grid, thus enabling developers to test their technology and export power in offshore conditions.

The Cornwall Marine Renewables Enterprise Zone, called MarineHub, part of the Cornwall Devolution Deal and the first low-carbon enterprise zone in England.

MarineHub will include the new Marine Renewables Business Park at Hayle, plus two adjoining sites; two sites within Falmouth Docks and land at Tolvaddon Energy Park that is already consented for industrial and office development. It will add to the region’s existing marine energy assets which include the Wave Hub offshore energy test site 10 miles from Hayle, the FabTest nursery test site in Falmouth Bay, and extensive research and supply chain capabilities.

MarineHub will be managed by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, which also manages the Aerohub Enterprise Zone at Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station.

Good news, makes a change from funding cuts….

Further information on the Cornwall Devolution Deal http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/devolution

Information on Enterprise zones http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/business/economic-development/enterprise-zones/

 

The Case for Cornwall and more powers

Should Cornwall Council be given the opportunity to take on more responsibility which are currently administered in London? The Council thinks so, and has compiled a document called the Case for Cornwall to allow the Council to engage with the Government and start a conversation on devolution.

In the Case for Cornwall document, it sets the scene and how the Council would like to discuss the certain options. Of course all this depends on if the Government is listening and is really serious about devolution.  The report to the Council is HERE; the Case for Cornwall document HERE; and the options are HERE.

For those who are thinking why there is no mention of an Assembly is because this document sets the scene and is a building block, rather than the ‘hey, we want it all and our own self-governing body.’ There is no merit of going in ‘All Choughs Blazing’  and getting the document dismissed quickly and thrown in the bin, the Case for Cornwall explains in a measured way what Cornwall could do. Does the document cover everything? No, but it is a damn good starting point.

Of course, the Council is a democratic body, and if the Council voted to have the proposals for an Assembly included, it could. However, after a passionate amendment from Mebyon Kernow (MK) who called for the idea of an Assembly being included in the document, a vote was taken with 14 people supporting the MK amendment. There were two other amendments from the Tory’s and Labour. These were both lost, with 22 people supporting the Tory amendment and (I counted) eight supporting the Labour amendment.  Finally a vote was taken on the Case for Cornwall and the vast majority of the Council supported the proposals.

As I said before, all these proposals rest on the Governments willingness to engage with Cornwall Council. We in Cornwall also have to be realistic that Cornwall is not the only area asking for more devolution and powers. I do also understand the Government will have a tricky path to navigate on this whole issue as it cannot be seen as giving too much to one and not enough to other areas. And of course, the whole devolution agenda could dramatically change (both positive and negatively) post the General Election in May.

I guess we play the wait and see game.