Memorandum by the Cornish Constitutional
Convention (RG 16)
1. Throughout the development of the Government's
approach to regional devolution Cornwall has presented a clear,
distinctive and constructive proposal for Cornwall and the Isles
of Scilly to be established as a regional unit. In 2001 it presented
to Mr Blair an audited 50,000-signature petition calling for the
establishment of devolved, democratic, strategic institutions
(A Cornish Assembly) to enable Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
2. Build upon the emerging economic success
driven by the Government's support for the Cornwall and Isles
of Scilly Objective 1 Programme, including providing governance
for the newly announced and welcome EU Convergence Programme,
and developing new markets building on their unique reputation
3. Configure public service delivery, including
local government, health, education and other services, to promote
local accountability and efficiency.
4. Learn from post-war experience of previous
regionalisation initiatives and strategic partnerships, and to
manage and develop Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as an innovative
and positive peripheral region.
5. During the period 2001-04 a number of
surveys showed public support for devolved governance for Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly growing from 46% in 2001 (Beaufort) to
55% in 2004 (MORI). This degree of positive support is unique
compared with other parts of the Country.
6. The Convention is a voluntary cross-party,
inclusive association. Its objective is to secure a significant
change in the governance institutions for Cornwall and the Isles
of Scilly. It was set up in response to the Government's initiative
to establish democratically elected regional assemblies in the
existing nine regions. Whilst the Convention has supported the
Government in its effort to broker a changed approach to regional
governance it has always maintained its position that the nine-region
geography is inappropriate and cumbersome. The Convention considers
that there is sufficient evidence, covering geography, economic
performance, history, culture and marketing, to support the assertion
that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly form a natural region of
7. The Convention welcomes the Government's
indication that the governance issue should be re-focused. Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly offers an opportunity to consider a new,
constructive approach, tailored to meet the distinct characteristics
of peripherality, with the opportunity to pilot new approaches
to public service delivery which can be more effective and efficient.
A NEW APPROACH
8. Following the NE referendum the Cornish
Constitutional Convention published a pamphletDevolution's
for a fresh look at regional geography and acknowledging the developing
role of "Core Cities". The pamphlet asked what arrangements
might be made to ensure that all parts of the Country had a democratic
format for strategic leadership, accountability and delivery set
in a regional context. It concluded by proposing that Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly could offer an opportunity to develop
9. The pilot proposal includes establishing
a new democratic, strategic and commissioning Body to manage the
whole public sector service delivery budget for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly. It would map strategy and lead accountability,
and accept a duty to promote a productive economy. The proposal
i. abolition of the county council (to transform
into a more focused, devolved "Body");
ii. reform of institutional structure for
local service delivery to form two or three delivery-focused,
locally accountable bodies;
iii. to encourage delegation protocols to
town and parish councils;
iv. to include Strategic Partnerships;
v. adoption of standard accounting, IT systems
and monitoring across the service-delivery public sector;
vi. integration of strategic processes; and
vii. developing and managing relationships
with external partnerships, (including other regions and Agencies).
10. The current position of Cornwall and
the Isles of Scilly is that the public sector service delivery
matrix is confused, fragmented and costly. Different aspects of
service are managed from different places by different bodies.
Often, their ability to work together is hampered as a result.
Where this situation is acute then there is waste and duplication.
This is not simply confined to the two-tier local government structure,
but also affects education and health, especially where they seek
to link up with other services (eg adult care and health), as
well as economic development.
11. The fragmentation also ensures overly
complex and wasteful layers of management of administration:
A local authority CEO asks: "Why
do you need eight of me?"
A local patient asks: "Why do
we need five health trusts, an Ambulance Trust and a Health Authority
which we know nothing about?"
A student asks: "Why does my
education involve half a dozen different administrations?"
A businessman asks "Why are
there nearly 70 different agencies, organisations and departments
trying to help me establish, locate or develop my business?"
12. The situation is exacerbated in Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly because it is a peripheral region. It
is the poorest region in the UK and is an EU Structural Funds
programme region (NUTS2). Low wages, low skill base, high deprivation
indicators and weak infrastructure are being tackled through the
focus of the Objective 1 programme. Productivity (starting from
a low base) is healthy, with Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
outperforming the UK economy to a factor of 2:1
13. Peripherality is a physical factit
cannot be overcome but it can be positively managed. Modern communication,
for instance, is contributing to economic regeneration. This is
attracting a different approach to business and is changing the
factors which affect competitiveness. It is important for central
institutions to recognise that an intelligent approach to managing
a peripheral region will involve a strong degree of local autonomy
set within the strategic framework of achieving Government outcomes.
It will pay dividends in terms of efficient public services and
economic productivity, whereas a larger, broader, less focused
and more traditional approach deprives Cornwall and the Isles
of Scilly, increasing the need for sustained intervention, raising
the cost of public services, depleting the ability of Cornwall
to generate revenue.
14. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have
pioneered the use of communications technology to enable economic
success and lessen the impact of peripherality assumptions. This
has helped support the distinctive brand (through locally based
marketing institutions and the linking of agriculture to production
and marketing for example) and the benefits of geographic position:
the development of environmental technologies and supporting infrastructure
and "know-how" can have a positive influence on economic
success and energy supply way beyond Cornwall. There are also
opportunities to link evolving education infrastructure to facilitating
i. A recent consultancy to analyse the knowledge
economy, commissioned by the SW Regional Assembly as part of its
preparation of an "integrated regional strategy", found
that, with London as the centre, the knowledge economy "trickled
down" motorways. The consultant said that the knowledge economy
stopped at Exeter!
ii. We asked if building a university, setting
up a medical school, the presence of digital media development
and creative software companies, and growing commercial research
capacity showed signs of a knowledge economy. He agreed. We then
pointed out that we were describing Cornwalloff the motorway
map, beyond the influence of the Centre, but with a strongly developing
knowledge economywe need a periphery-focused analysis to
be understood. He looked confused!
15. This Government has led a partnership
which has produced a step-change in socio-economic performance
in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly over the past decade. It has
focused investment and intervention. Arising from this the lesson
has emerged that the centre needs to consciously assert a presence
in peripheral regions, to counter the economies of scale and the
tidal drift of centralisation sapping capacity and dynamism, if
it is to achieve parity, cohesion and relative prosperity in places
like Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It is important to understand
that the distinctive needs and opportunities of a peripheral region
should be intelligently managed. In turn, this will achieve a
sustainable, productive economy together with efficient public
16. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly wish
to promote a new, developmental institutional structure for governance
and delivery, building on the lessons learned about intelligently
managing this peripheral region, and responding to the national
need for efficiency, cost-effectiveness and productivity.
17. The success of the present Objective
1 programme has derived partly from the clear focus as a NUTS
2 region, and partly from the intense focus of partnering Action
Zone initiatives to address particular problems in particular
areas. In many ways the approach mirrors that which would be adopted
in regenerating a major city.
18. Whilst Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
includes a large component of rurality, it is far more complex
than that. Sectoral benchmarking shows that manufacturing, knowledge-based
SME's, aspects of niche tourism (eg cultural tourism) and a strong
media base all resemble a more metropolitan profile. The scattered
settlement pattern and sparse population spread, mixed with the
spread of small, economically driving towns, offer a spatial and
cosmopolitan enigma which might be characterised as a "distributed
city". Cornwall's brand has the potency of a major city and
its developing airport at Newquay is reinforcing connectivity
with metropolitan culture.
19. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has
a very strong sense of identity, which is a world-wide recognition
point. This identity is founded upon a multi-layered cultural
inheritance which spans at least 5,000 years. The intensity of
archaeology, which is uniquely conserved, mingles with the legacy
of the industrial era, and is enriched by a strong linguistic,
literary and artistic expression. Cornwall, in partnership with
the Government, is seeking designation as an "industrial
landscape" World Heritage Site. Many regeneration projects
are built upon environmental and cultural heritage formats and
themes with good economic outputs. The constitutional development
of Cornwallfrom kingdom to Duchyevokes much interest
and informs the strength of recognition by its growing population
with Cornwall as a strategic, democratic and economic unit.
20. A recent spatial study examining the
role of Cornish towns and the inter-relationships with neighbouring
Plymouth shows that the behaviours which underpin the Cornish
economy show Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to be a self-contained
This is borne out by work undertaken in the 1990s by the Plymouth
which led to the disaggregation of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
21. The SW is the largest regional construct.
It is increasingly referred to as a "region of regions"
(most famously by Chair of SWRDA, Juliet Williams). The scale
of the SW reinforces the peripherality of Cornwall and the Isles
of Scilly. The tendency to slip into developing and applying standardised
assumptions and strategies for the whole south-west "region"
leaves Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly either protesting the
need for a distinct approach, or being ill-provided for within
a standardised format.
22. Efforts to encourage regional funders
(eg RDA) to devolve regeneration funding in order to promote accountability,
incisive engagement and good monitoring have been stiffly resisted.
The advent of a second tranche of Structural Funds (announced
Dec 2005) will bring to the fore the need for programme delivery
to be administered within the bounds of the Objective 1 region.
Such an approach
maximises the benefit of the programme,
promotes good governance.
23. This is not to say that external support,
partnership and inward-investment will not be required; it will
be gratefully receivedit simply means that the regeneration
region will be robustly capable of supplying the full range of
management and administration required. If you don't run your
own regeneration then you will be undermining your ability to
adequately manage regeneration following the exit from Structural
24. Current arrangements also lack any genuine
democratic legitimacy. This is not sustainable, and raises fundamental
questions about the ability of institutions affecting such a diverse
and large zone to gain influence and support amongst the many,
diverse communities within the zone. Indeed, the SW is a region
of regions, and one of those regions is Cornwall and the Isles
of Scilly. It does not sit easily or productively in the orthodoxy
of a macro-south-west.
25. To embed promising economic success
and growing social cohesion, and to ensure efficient, productive
delivery of public services, and to successfully develop devolved,
democratic governance to achieve these outcomes, it is important
that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is able to develop its thinking
about future governance, to be ambitious and strategic in its
approach, and to build on key assets.
26. In turn, this would enable the basis
of a new partnership, founded on a revised and more equable status
quo. It is the contention of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
that a new partnership of regions between a revised SW and Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly would enable a stronger and more effective
degree of positive cooperation, and would be a practical means
of tackling disparities. It would also enable a more diverse range
of more broadly based partnerships between regions (not necessarily
confined to the UK), promoting trade and drawing in resources
to benefit the country as a whole.
27. The process of developing a new strategic
and commissioning Body for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and
the developments needed to succeed, will offer an approach which
may provide a model to be applied elsewhere in the Country as
the Government moves towards a more variable, responsive and locally
tailored approached to devolved governance.
28. By approaching devolved governance in
a more flexible way, responding to socio/geo-economic characteristics
in a more localised way, the Government could take the bold initiative
to engage with core-cities and look creatively at other parts
of the country in different, tailored waysCornwall and
the Isles of Scilly offers a discrete opportunity to look at a
variable model for devolved governance in the regional context
in a strongly branded, developing area not dominated by a metropolitan
drivera "distributed city".
29. This opportunity offers a chance to
explore new arrangements for service delivery, governance and
economic development in addition to, and complementary with the
development of city-regions.
30. Current arrangements for service delivery
in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (which they may commonly share
with other remote, peripheral and rural or sparsely populated
area) are fragmented, expensive, duplicatory and confusing for
the users. They are capable of significant improvement. Improvement
will spring from bringing together management, strategic and commissioning
functions for the whole service delivery sector under a single,
democratic Body focused upon an identifiable regional area. This
will involve a strong element of reorganisation and shifting of
functions from various quarters, including the existing SW region,
but the outcome will achieve efficiency, improvement and productivity.
31. There is significant opportunity to
devolve functions from the macro-regions, from Government and
from a range of national and sub-national agencies. Equally, the
need for reform of local government (particularlybut not
exclusivelyin two-tier areas) can encourage local delegation
to the most useful and responsive levelsenhancing the roles
of local strategic partnerships and parish and town councils.
In building the principle of devolved governance and delivery
into every cascade of the public sector it is inevitable that
accountability will be enhanced. It may inspire greater public
engagement and take-up of services.
32. Cornwall has shown a very strong degree
of public and institutional support for developing a new, leaner
form of democratically elected strategic leadership "Body".
The region of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has also shown,
through its performance in delivering the Objective 1 Programme,
and in its public sector performance (as monitored by the now
complex inspection regimes) to be generally working to a very
high standard. This suggests that the opportunity exists to build
on the strong public sector resources to be more efficient, pro-active
and coherent. It also offers the opportunity for the developing,
strong regional economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to
capitalise on, and embed, the very promising levels of productivity
growth now emerging, with positive revenue potential for the Exchequer.
6 Devolution's Future. Cornish Constitutional
Convention. 2005. Back
Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Sectoral Analysis Own Nankivell.
Publ: Cornwall LINC 2005. Back
Cornwall towns Study. For Cornwall Council (Planning Department)
by Roger Tym & Partners. Cornwall. 2004. Back
Interpreting Local Conditions J Payne. Pub. Plymouth Business
School. 1996. Back
Also In Search of Chunky Dunsters. SWRDA Cultural Consortium
Study 2001. Back
The evolving SW Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) sees Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly demanding that it be treated as a discrete
sub-region-a claim borne out by geography, spatial experience
and regeneration programming, and supported by Ministers. Nonetheless,
the RSS process has ignored Cornish requirements and has proceeded
to introduce counter-productive zoning arrangements. This approach
has resulted in a spatial approach for Cornwall which is defensive
rather than positive. Back