Thursday, 28 May 2015

Penzance public meeting

Last night was the first of four public meetings for the Council to try to get a mandate for its campaign for more powers.

There were about 20 people present excluding Cornwall Council members and officers. Almost all were already known to the Leader of the Council for their campaigns on other issues.

I think most were in favour but they fairly asked if the cost to Cornwall had been assessed and the availability of the necessary expertise.

I cannot say what they felt about the Council's campaign to make it easier to raise council tax. The Leader took no vote on this! I think there has only been one case of the public voting for more tax and that was in Milton Keynes in 1999.

I have to question whether another 3 similar meetings will give the Council the mandate it seeks. People that take the trouble to turn up to a meeting to discuss devolution tend to be in favour.

The Council's approach to the challenge they want to take on is ambitious but also naive. I hope the Government will not drop a lot of new powers on them too quickly. "Too much, too soon" can cause as many problems as "too little, too late".

At the moment the Council is getting help from the Civil Service to write their case for power. This must still be using up hundreds of hours of officer time when they say they have no money. Will the Civil Service stay to help the Council implement it?

The proposals last night were presented by the Chief Executive. If all goes to plan in Edinburgh today he will be leaving at the end of July and Cornwall will be managing without a CEO for a bit.

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