Published: Thursday, 23rd July 2015
The government has granted Cornwall the first of its new county deals, devolving powers over health and social care integration, bus services and economic development to the unitary council.
However the devolved powers fall short of Cornwall’s wish-list. It had requested to be allowed to use a share of fuel duty paid locally to help maintain roads; retain a share of stamp duty to finance affordable housing and take control of government-owned land to provide social housing.
Cornwall had also made a case for retaining part of the income from right-to-buy sales to invest in building new homes. In addition it wanted greater influence over the development of the power grid and geothermal energy and more local control over coastal protection.
John Pollard, Leader of Cornwall Council, welcomed the government’s announcement. “This is the first stage of a longer journey towards delivering the full case for Cornwall,” he said. “Cornwall has the opportunity to develop a devolution deal which will provide a blueprint for other areas. This is no short term fix. We are serious about a different approach to economic growth and strong communities.”
In a separate but related development the government suffered a defeat in the Lords over its proposal to require elected mayors as part of devolution deals in major conurbations.
During a debate on the Cities and Local Government Devolution bill, peers passed an amendment which said that a secretary of state for communities and local government could not use their power to make an order creating an elected mayoralty “as a condition for agreeing to the transfer of local authority or public authority functions”.