Wow, Cornwall will today made history with the Government giving the first ‘county’ devolution deal to Cornwall. The Case for Cornwall has gone from a concept to reality in a short and fast-paced timeframe.
The announcement today, Thursday 16th July of the award of the Cornwall Devolution deal (to give it a name) comes straight off the vote and backing of the Case for Cornwall by the majority of Cornwall Council’s Councillors and the previous to that, the Council’s Cabinet.
The deal, to be signed some time today in Cornwall, includes:
1) Giving Cornwall Council powers for franchising and improving bus services in the area – the first rural unitary authority to gain this power. The plan is for Cornwall Council will take over responsibility for franchising bus services by 2018
2) Gives the Local Enterprise Partnership more say on boosting local skills levels;
3) Gives the council powers to select the projects, working with partners, it wants to see benefiting from millions of pounds of inward investment funding. This will be carried out by Cornwall Council having intermediate body status – for European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund – which will allow it to select projects from April 2016.
4) Make it easier for the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership to integrate national and local business support services to help local firms grow;
5) Enable Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly to work with local health organisations on a plan for integrating health and social care services.
Of course the other ‘asks’ in areas such as housing, planning, tax related powers are not in this deal – yet.
However, the Government has pledged support Cornwall’s aim to create a low-carbon Enterprise Zone and develop geothermal energy production. And Furthermore, support for the creation of a Cornish Heritage Environment Forum.
No doubt there will be people disappointed with the elements of this deal and the lack of inclusion of such areas like planning and housing. But I really hope this deal is just the first phase, and the Council, with its partners continues to engage with the Government and its civil servants which results in Cornwall gaining more devolved powers.
Devolved powers are now possible due to The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill which is currently passing through Parliament and this Bill puts in place the legal framework across the country that will make it simpler for devolving more powers to more places.
The Cornwall Devolution deal has been made possible due to the very hard work and dedication of officers who have worked to make this deal possible. I would like to thank them publicity for this work. Great work, well done.
As as always the devil is in the detail, but I believe this is a good first-step and Cornwall should be mighty pleased with gaining a hard-fought devolution deal from the Government.
It was nice too for the PM to name check Porthleven in his statement on the deal in the WMN.