Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Devolution doesn't guarantee better

Next week the LibDem/Indie Cabinet at Cornwall Council will put their agreed 'Strategy' for 2014-2018 to Full Council for approval.

Part of the Strategy is that the Council ask the Government for more powers for Cornwall to manage ourselves.  This is clearly very attractive but it is important for the Council to consider how far it is taking the devolution agenda.

It is absolutely key to make Cornwall as attractive as possible for inward investment and to encourage the creation of more well paid jobs here.

There is a risk that some aspects of the devolution agenda may put off new businesses establishing here. The Scotland experience suggests that it would be wise to be cautious. Additional tax raising powers may give cause for concern.

To take just one example, the Cabinet recently wrote to the Government to campaign for no cap at all on the rate of council tax that may be levied here. The administration do want not to have to put excess rises in council tax to a referendum vote, as they are currently obliged to do by national legislation.
This would certainly take the pressure off the Council to be efficient and well run. From 2002 until 2009, when the unitary authority commenced with a Conservative/ Independent coalition, the average rise in council tax was generally between 5 and 8% each year.

As the current administration are campaigning against local referendums, their brand of devolution seems to be about devolution to the Council, not devolution to Cornwall.

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