The results of a ten-week public consultation on the devolution of further powers along with investment from Westminster to Cornwall has produced a variety of views across a wide spread of residents.
Thousands took part in the consultation, including joint responses from key businesses, public sector organisations and other partners, with the entire process quality assured by the independent Consultation Institute.
The findings from the consultation will inform the debate at an extraordinary meeting of the Council’s Cabinet committee next Wednesday (April 5), which will take place in the Trelawny Room at County Hall in Truro, starting at 10am.
The proposed new devolution deal for Cornwall would bring in additional funding and give new decision-making powers to Cornwall Council, with a key condition that the governance model for Cornwall Council is changed from being led by a ‘Council leader’ appointed by 87 elected Cornwall councillors to a new role of a ‘Council mayor’ directly elected by the people of Cornwall.
The consultation process itself was wide ranging, with over 5,000 people engaged in 82 separate engagement events both online and face to face and including 14 town hall meetings across Cornwall, visits to markets, warm hubs, mobile library outreach, engagement with the Youth Council and students at Cornwall’s higher and further education organisations.
Two separate types of surveys were undertaken which asked the same questions: one was an open ‘consultation questionnaire’ which was available online and via hard copy to all residents.
The second was a ‘representative survey’, undertaken by independent survey experts which guarantee a sample of public opinion from a cross-section of the whole population which reflects the proportions of gender and age group in each geographical area.
The headline results of each of the surveys look quite different, however in the detail, there were significant similarities.
The headline difference saw the open consultation survey receive 6,105 responses, with 69% of those against the deal with a mayor and 25% in favour. The representative survey saw 65% of responses in favour of the deal and mayor, with just 16% against.
However, in both surveys there was a significant inclination by younger people to support the deal with a mayor, compared with older residents.
Those in support of the deal pointed to the benefits the new powers and funding would bring Cornwall, both for current and future generations. Whereas those against the proposed deal were clear in the fact that their opposition came down to the change to an elected mayor for Cornwall.
The feedback from key stakeholders and partners was also mixed. Feedback from key stakeholders including the University of Exeter, Falmouth University, the Cornwall Place Board, the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, Visit Cornwall, six housing providers, the Council of the Isles of Scilly, the National Trust and the Police Commissioner was positive, acknowledging the value of specific powers and funding to support Cornwall’s ambitions.
However, the feedback from town and parish councils across Cornwall who responded to the consultation were mainly against the deal, with 37 responding negatively and just one positively.
You can read the full report on the consultation results in the papers published ahead of next week’s meeting.
Cllr Linda Taylor, leader of Cornwall Council, said: “Firstly I want to say thank you to everyone who took part in this comprehensive consultation.
“It is clear from these results that those who are opposed to the deal and the introduction of a mayor feel very strongly on the issue.
“However, we know that most people want more decisions about Cornwall to be made in Cornwall, and the ‘silent majority’ seems, on balance, to favour the deal, including an elected mayor.
“It has also been interesting to see such a positive response from the younger generation and such strong support from businesses and our strategic partners.
“These findings will shape a very interesting discussion at next week’s Cabinet meeting and at the subsequent Full Council on 18 April.”
Next week’s meeting is open to the public and can be viewed online via the Council’s webcast service.