Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Council unanimously backs Lib Dem motion on RDA replacement

Today at full council I proposed a motion welcoming the abolition of the regional development agency and its replacement with a local enterprise partnership for Cornwall.

We wanted to see the LEP working for the good of Cornwall, not for some amorphous south west region. To combine Cornwall with counties further East will be to our detriment. There are the cultural and historic arguments and these are important. But what is more important is that it is all too easy to ignore Cornwall's needs if you are also trying to think about Dorset, Bristol, Devon and Somerset at the same time.

The new LEP should cover Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly only. And including the Isles of Scilly should only happen if the people there feel their interests are best served by joining with us.

This was the direction that Cornwall Council was already pushing and Prime Minister David Cameron had given guarded support to us when he visited a couple of weeks ago. But we still felt that our case would be stronger if it had the unanimous support of the entire council and, thankfully, that is what we got.

In my speech I made the point that we should not think of ourselves, or be thought of, as being at the end of the line. We are also at the start of the line and we need to be proud and confident of our case when it comes to Government or European funding. Such confidence is much more difficult to project if you are struggling to be heard among the different councils of the South West of the UK.

We hope to hear in a couple of months whether the Government is acceding to our request.

Later on in the meeting, the Council also backed a cross party motion calling for a commission to investigate the funding that Cornwall receives and calling on our MPs to continue their fight for a more equitable settlement. There was an amendment put forward by the Council's leadership which sought to do away with the commission element of the motion, but this was defeated by 42 votes to 34 (a rare defeat for the leadership) thanks to genuine cross party support - including from a number of Cabinet members.

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