Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Tory PPC votes to put Cornwall's £500m convergence funding in jeopardy

Another key debate at today's council meeting was a UKIP motion to stop funding the Cornwall Council European office from April 1st next year. The cost of the office is about £33k per year and yet it plays a vital part in helping us to secure convergence funding (the next tranche is worth about £500 million) as well as to lobby to ensure that we are able to spend this money on the sort of projects that we think would most benefit Cornwall.

As some Conservatives said, they may be Eurosceptic, but they think that whilst the UK is part of Europe, we should be trying our best to make sure that we get as much out of it as possible. The return rate on investment of our European office is something that could probably only be beaten by coming up trumps on the lottery.

It was a one-sided debate in which UKIP councillors attempted to claim that their party's MEPs were better advocates for Cornwall than our Brussels office. Opponents of their motion pointed out that the UKIP MEPs have the worst attendance rates in Europe, voted against the recent EU budget cut and can't even be bothered to turn up to most fisheries meetings.

So the final vote was not really in doubt. But there were two Tories who voted alongside the six UKIP councillors - Bernie Ellis and Scott Mann. Scott is the Conservative PPC for North Cornwall - an area which has benefited hugely from EU Objective One and Convergence funding. Yet Scott voted for a motion which would put this funding, and our ability to control how it is spent, in jeopardy.


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