Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Tories vote to kick localism into the long grass

As expected, the Tory led cabinet today voted to hold a review of the plans for community network areas. The network areas were a key part of the move towards unitary status as they form the link between Cornwall Council and the parish and town councils.

Tory Leader Alec Robertson refused to allow any discussion on the networks themselves saying that today was about 'holding a debate about a debate'.

The paper put before cabinet said that there could be no 'one size fits all' way for network areas to work. That is quite right. But in deciding to hold a review under the terms we were told today, it appears that the Tories want to have all decisions about the structure of the networks decided centrally. They refused an option which I asked for of allowing the network areas to grow organically within outer boundaries.

And so there will be yet more discussion and consultation with parish and town councils and yet more delay before anything is up and running. In the meantime, all decisions will continue to be made centrally. We were told that there would be no decision made until October or November at the earliest.

I am told that there is no champion within the cabinet for the localism agenda. Lance Kennedy is nominally in charge and we would hope that he has the desire for strong local decision making powers at his heart given his involvement with Bodmin Town Council and CALC. However, if no member of Cabinet is actively arguing for community decision making then I worry that this review will just be a pre-cursor to the abandonment of any pretence of localism.

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