Cornwall Council is undertaking two reviews on how it is governed. The first is working with the Boundary Commission to look at the numbers of Councillors, which will need to be in place for the 2021 Council election. The other review is how the Council is structured, ie with the strong leader model, Mayor, hybrid system or committee. The reason for both reviews is because we said we would undertake them as part of our devolution deal.
A series of public meeting has been taking place around Cornwall to gather those views. There is also a series of ‘evidence gathering sessions’ who are asking different agencies, partners and members for their views. The questions asked are:
- Is the current Cabinet and Leader system the best way for Cornwall to be governed;
- What should Cornwall Council responsibilities be and what should the Towns and Parish Councils responsibilities be;
- How should decisions about public services in Cornwall be made in the future.
The events outlined the options open to Cornwall and were an opportunity for people to discuss how they think decisions about public services in Cornwall should be made in the future. That feedback and suggestions will be used to help inform the full Governance Review.
The Council has also set-up an online poll. This can be accessed HERE. Please take the time to see the short films and other related information. But importantly, take the survey.
One of the questions is should Cornwall have a directly elected Mayor? much like you see in London and other metropolitan areas. Why is the review asking the question about having a Mayor? The Government has said, powers can be transferred to areas that have a directly elected Mayor. For instance, a Council can lower business rates, but cannot raise them about 2% unless you have a Mayor.
I am not sold on, in fact, I do not believe Cornwall should have a Mayor. Yes, the Mayor is democratically elected by residents one of the true if only plus point on why you should have a Mayor. Whereas A Leader is elected by the members of the Council – the same as town and parish Mayors and Chairpersons. At Cornwall Council the Leader is voted into position every 12 months. This gives the safeguards to make sure the wider membership are engaged and the Leader is not off on his own agenda. Mayors are for a set election period and unless no-confidence motions are tabled, and other legal reasons, you cannot remove a Mayor. I also believe too much power is in the hands of one person, and lacks accountability.
The Leader and Cabinet system works. I say this as both a former back-bencher, and in the Cabinet now. The biggest challenge is how those not in the Cabinet are engaged. This comes down to culture from both the Cabinet and back-benchers. It is also understanding what you can and cannot do.
I look forward to the outcome of people’s views, and how we can make a governance system that delivers good services in Cornwall.