Fresh calls have been made for Cornwall to have its own Cornish Assembly or Parliament similar to those in Wales and Scotland.
A cross-party motion is set to go to a meeting of Cornwall Council next week requesting talks with Secretary of State Michael Gove to get “meaningful devolution” for Cornwall.
The motion, led by Mebyon Kernow leader Dick Cole, has been put forward following the decision by Cornwall Council’s Cabinet to abandon plans to secure a Level 3 devolution deal which required a directly elected Mayor to lead the authority. Council leader Linda Taylor announced the decision to drop the bid last week after public consultation found 69% of people were against the idea.
The council’s Cabinet last week agreed that it would no longer seek a Level 3 deal but instead start negotiations with the Government to secure a Level 2 deal, which would not require a mayor, and try to secure as many of the elements of the Level 3 deal as possible. The Government has already stated that a £360-million investment fund which was in the Level 3 deal would not be available under a Level 2 deal.
Cllr Cole has been an outspoken critic of the proposals which had been considered by the council saying that they were not true devolution and that the authority should have been pressing for far greater powers, responsibilities and funding to be devolved to Cornwall from Westminster.
The MK leader has spent his entire adult life campaigning for more devolution to Cornwall and led a major campaign for a Cornish Assembly which saw a petition with more than 50,000 signatures presented to Number 10 Downing Street in 2001.
In the recommendation to full council which will be presented at the meeting next Tuesday (April 18) it states: “In 2014, the UK Government recognised the Cornish as a national minority through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It pledged that the Cornish would have the “same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.” This was a wide-ranging commitment from the UK state, covering culture, language, heritage, education, territorial integrity and public life.
“We, the undersigned, are therefore disappointed at the content of the “devolution deal,” which principally represents accommodations between central government and Cornwall’s unitary authority, rather than a meaningful devolution settlement as achieved in Wales and Scotland.
“Cornwall Council resolves to inform the UK Government that we wish to commence negotiations for a more meaningful devolution settlement similar to those enjoyed in the other Celtic parts of the UK (ie. a National Assembly of Cornwall or Cornish Parliament).
“Cornwall Council also resolves to request a meeting between the Secretary of State and a cross-party delegation from Cornwall Council as a matter of urgency.”
The motion will be proposed by Cllr Cole and seconded by Loveday Jenkin (MK). It has also been signed and supported by councillors Stephen Barnes (Lab), Michael Bunney (MK), Brian Clemens (Ind), John Conway (Con), Tim Dwelly (Ind), Dominic Fairman (Lib Dem), Hilary Frank (Lib Dem), Leigh Frost (Lib Dem), Andrew George (Lib Dem), Julian German (Ind), Andrew Long (MK), Matt Luke (MK), Thalia Marrington (Lib Dem), Jim McKenna (Ind), Pete Mitchell (Lib Dem), Robin Moorcroft (Ind), Adam Paynter (Ind), Loic Rich (Ind), David Saunby (Ind), Anthony Soady (Con), John Thomas (Ind), Mike Thomas (Ind), Armand Toms (Ind), Paul White (Ind), and Tamsyn Widdon (Green).
A report in response to the motion states that if approved it could have financial implications for the council as well as legal and constitutional implications. In terms of financial implications it states: “At one end of the financial implications spectrum is simply the costs associated with seeking and holding an initial meeting with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to put Cornwall’s case forward. At the other end is the potential departure from the way the local authority is currently funded (as is the case with all English councils) to the Barnett funding model used by the UK Government to allocate funding to the devolved administrations.”
And in terms of legal implications it adds: “The reference to a ‘National Assembly of Cornwall or Cornish Parliament’ would have significant legal and constitutional implications, given it raises questions about the future of Cornwall Council in such a new constitutional settlement.”