Monday, 2 August 2010

Concerns over lack of accountability for Cornwall LEP

Last Tuesday, Cornwall Council unanimously agreed a Lib Dem motion in favour of a Cornwall Local Enterprise Partnership where we would invite the Council of the Isles of Scilly to take part (but couldn't take their involvement for granted). We also made clear the need for genuine democratic accountability.

Since then, it appears that some people from the business community have been trying to take control of the project and the Council's own website appears to take the involvement of the Isles of Scilly for granted.

So I have written to Council Leader Alec Robertson asking him to make sure that the preparations for the LEP follow the spirit as well as the letter of what we agreed at Full Council.

In my letter, I say:

The Council's consultation on the LEP seems to take the involvement of the Council of the Isles of Scilly for granted. The Council was quite specific in agreeing that this involvement cannot be taken for granted. The Council of the Isles of Scilly should be invited to participate and we need to make the case to them for their participation. Could you confirm what approach has been made to the CIoS and what response has been received? If no approach has yet been made, could you ensure that the statements being made by Cornwall Council are adjusted to reflect this?

We stressed in our motion that the LEP should be a partnership between the Council(s) and business. It would be entirely wrong, in our view, for the LEP to be dominated by business or for those who do not have democratic accountability nonetheless to have a veto on the work of the LEP. Could you assure me that Cornwall Council, whilst continuing to forge strong partnerships with business to make the LEP as resilient as possible, is preparing a bid that retains democratic accountability at its heart?
A Cornwall (and Isles of Scilly) LEP can be a strong voice for enterprise and development in Cornwall, but it must be accountable to the people of Cornwall.


Pete said...

Hard to believe that there will not be the same old private sector snouts in the same old public sector trough, but that was a worthwhile effort Alex.

I appreciate the reality that it's impossible for you and the LDs to demand much, but, if you've not done so already, perhaps in a follow-up to Cllr Robertson you could specify the minimum acceptable extent of democratic, or at least democratically accountable, oversight.

And drop in some hint about the Cornish penchant for hogs pudding.

admin said...

You appear to assume that there is a disconnect between the "people of Cornwall" and the business community in Cornwall. Why would you think that active engagement by the business community in Cornwall would be a bad thing for LEP. Lets face it, even when you consider the presence of 19,000 council workers in Cornwall, there is still no evidence that Councils create jobs in the private sector. It is the private sector that creates jobs and a viable economy.

Please- get real

Pete said...

Of course, I don't think that active engagement by the 'business community' in Cornwall would be bad for the LEP, or for the public who will be funding it. Some private sector involvement in allocating LEP resources would be a Good Thing. Some bosses of Cornish business are arrogant clowns, some are not: hopefully the LEP will be advised by the latter.

What I think would be bad for the Cornish public, LEP and the Cornish economy would be if the Cornish 'business community', who would be the ones getting public money from the LEP, are the only sort of people controlling the LEP. This rumour of exclusive not-even-elected control of the LEP is the point of the letter to Cllr Robertson (qv).

Since you discount evidence of the public sector creating jobs in the private sector, I'll be lazy about the evidence myself, and just note that I'd be interested to see the effect of withdrawing public funding of private tourism, transport and care services in Cornwall.

Dorian said...

I agree with you Alex. I am deeply suspicious of a business "community" that is dominated by a small group of people who will look after their own interests and exclude the rest.

It is true that businesses create jobs and pay taxes but this really, really runs the risk of being a stitch up from day one.

Deeply worrying.