Guest post: A devolution dilemma

Cornwall Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Kim Conchie, reacts to yesterday’s news that Cornwall Council has abandoned plans to pursue a devolution deal with an elected mayor.


I think local politicians obsessed about the mayor role without properly explaining what a Devolution Tier 3 deal actually would have given Cornwall & Scilly in devolved powers.

If the consultation – or was it a campaign? – had started with: Do you think it would be better if Cornwall had more say over allocation of our health and care budget, to decide what housing and skills development we need to keep young people here, to plan public travel and budget, to decide if we need a Tourist Tax, Congestion Zones, clean water directives? Then I believe people would have grasped what was at stake and been more enthusiastic.

As it was, none of us could articulate exactly what powers we’d get or when and with how much more money!

We all think Cornwall gets a raw deal from Westminster policy-making – the south west, let alone Cornwall, wasn’t even mentioned in last month’s Budget. Levelling-up seems to be synonymous with buying votes in northern red wall seats. Our place as still one of the lowest wage regions of northern Europe seems to get overlooked.

Hey ho. That opportunity’s gone. We now need to concentrate on getting the max Tier 2+ devolved powers in a bespoke plan for Cornwall. We need clarity in our ask of Government to enable our aspirations through productivity and wage improvements, key sector development, skills, health, transport, housing, energy. That’s it: a short and sweet list. And when do we want it – NOW!

Even though we’re not going to have a mayor, the LEP is still going to be folded into Cornwall Council in the next few months. So, we will need a much more dynamic, decision-making Cornwall Economic Board to be the source of advice and conduit of action for the Council leader to apply the Tier 2 powers and more.

It is thriving 21st Century businesses that will enable us to prosper. We need Government funded support to start the balls rolling in the sectors that need big upfront investment like Clean Energy and Critical Minerals, then watch the private sector fly. We’re innovative, dynamic and collaborative and desperate for the opportunity to be a shining light of a 21st Century economy.

Tier 2+++ please.