A lack of trust in Cornwall Council and Government along with “promises on a bus” have played a key part in why hundreds of people are against the Cornwall Devolution Deal and a Mayor for Cornwall. The issue of trust in those making decisions for Cornwall has been highlighted in analysis of public consultation on devolution deal.
Cornwall Council has negotiated a deal with the Government which it says will provide more powers and funding to the Duchy. However, in order to secure the deal, the Government has insisted that there would have to be a change in how the council is run with overall control placed with a directly elected mayor.
Under the deal the council would get responsibility for the adult education budget for Cornwall as well as £390million of additional funding which includes a £360m investment fund which would be paid over 30 years.
The issue has divided people across Cornwall and the council revealed this week that whilst a questionnaire carried out online and by post found that 69% of people were against the deal, a separate survey undertaken on telephone and face-to-face found 65% in favour of the deal and a mayor.
A report on the consultation is set to go before an extraordinary meeting of the council’s Cabinet on Wednesday (April5) and includes detailed analysis of the results of the various surveys. The 319-page document also includes responses which have been provided by other organisations including business groups, parish councils and student bodies.
One key area highlighted is how much trust of Cornwall Council and the Government has influenced the thoughts of those who are against the proposals. As well as comments about decisions made by leaders at New County Hall, respondents also raised the example of Brexit and the decision to create a unitary authority for Cornwall in 2009.
It is stated that 900 people who completed the questionnaire issued as part of the consultation said they disagreed with the deal due to “lack of trust in Cornwall Council/reservations about track record”.
The report states: “The level of confidence and trust people have in politics is a key deciding factor in whether people think the deal is a positive thing or not. Although much of the anger and distrust is aimed at the national government, it also applies to Cornwall Council and local politicians.
“There were many references to (the deal being no more than) “promises on a bus” and other parallels being drawn between the deal and Brexit as an example where people felt they weren’t told the whole story or felt politicians didn’t deliver on their promises.
“These frustrations are also visible in the comments that the funding in the deal falls well short of Government promises to replace EU funds. At a local level there is also reference to the process towards becoming a unitary authority, with people feeling their views then were ignored and promised benefits didn’t materialise.”
Some of the comments made in response to the consultation by members of the public about why they did not support the deal included –
• “Cornwall Council have rightly earned a reputation already for wasting money and padding their own nests and this will be yet another example of this”
• “At present our County Council makes poor decisions without clear and open accountability. Giving them more power and money would make a bad situation worse”
• “Because of the historical way Cornwall Council have wasted money in the past and all seem very self-serving before serving the county”
• “Because Cornwall Council has been proved to waste money on unnecessary projects in the past and I believe they will do the same with any money given by the Government”
• “This is like the Tories suggesting that the NHS would benefit from 350million pounds if we left the EU, of course I would agree to that as that’s what the NHS needs, however that did not happen. I would have no faith in a council that can’t get bus timetables to make sense so giving them/you authority to dictate who gets what would not inspire confidence”
The extraordinary Cabinet meeting will take place at New County Hall in Truro at 10am on Wednesday (Apr5). It will be available to watch live on the council website.