The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been looking to reassure local businesses concerned about the fallout from the EU referendum result.
With Britain now set to leave the EU following yesterday’s vote, there have been fears over what it could mean for Cornwall’s European funding programme.
“The UK is still part of Europe, and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly still have an EU programme worth some £500 million to 2020,” LEP chief executive, Sandra Rothwell, said.
“We will be working to ensure that this doesn’t change for at least two years while the terms of the UK’s exit are negotiated and existing treaties remain in place.
“Whatever the detailed outcome of those negotiations, it is critical that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly continues to receive the same level of investment and is not short changed as a result of the referendum result.
“This funding was allocated in recognition of the very real needs of our economy to support growth and create jobs, and the exit campaign pledged to match it at least pound for pound to 2020 in the event of a leave vote.
“The LEP will work with the business community, Cornwall Council, Council of the Isles of Scilly and our MPs to maintain investment at EU levels.”
Meanwhile, John Pollard, the leader of Cornwall Council, said: “Now that we know the UK will be leaving the EU we will be taking urgent steps to ensure that the UK Government protects Cornwall’s position in any negotiations.
“We will be insisting that Cornwall receives investment equal to that provided by the EU programme which has averaged £60 million per year over the last ten years.”
“Cornwall more than many other regions, owes a great deal to the EU”
Kim Conchie, chief executive at the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, added: “Cornwall Chamber of Commerce is absolutely committed to supporting and inspiring businesses through any changes that might now happen.
“The British Chambers with our 41 overseas connections will keep our ears to the ground for any changes being suggested by British businesses, export markets and foreign governments and will let you, our members, know immediately.
“Britain is the World’s fifth largest economy and is in a powerful position to look afresh at new markets as well as refreshing trade agreements with European countries.”
Professor Anne Carlisle, vice-chancellor and chief executive of Falmouth University expressed her disappointment at the result, but insisted that Brexit would not deter the university’s ambitions.
She said: “Cornwall more than many other regions, owes a great deal to the EU.
“The European Union has invested more than £100 million pounds in improving access to Higher Education across Cornwall along with numerous other projects designed to drive economic growth. In addition the educational, social and cultural benefits that the university has derived from being part of the EU are huge.
“However, day-to-day, Falmouth University is not reliant on funding from the EU. Our key strategic objectives to get our graduates great jobs and to help grow Cornwall’s economy will continue. Our financial modelling is robust and contingency plans are always in place to ensure business continuity.”
David Walrond, Truro and Penwith College principal, commented: “A general post-Brexit concern for colleges everywhere is that any sustained economic downturn will further reduce investment in education and skills. After years of cuts, the sector secured just a little more funding stability at the last Spending Review. There was a belated recognition too that we cannot close the UK productivity gap without adequately funding further education.
“Beyond these wider concerns for all colleges, there are specific local concerns. One is that, whatever the assurances given, EU investment in employment, skills and education in Cornwall, once lost, might not be replaced. That is why many across Cornwall will be looking closely to see that assurances are now followed up politically.”