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200111 | Boris and his promises – time to ‘level up’

Boris and his promises – time to ‘level up’

First meeting between Council and MPs since Election

Picture: (l-r) Julian German, Leader Cornwall Council, Scott Mann MP, Cherilyn Mackrory MP, Cllr Geoff Brown, Steve Double MP, Cllr Rob Rotchell, Cllr Adam Paynter, Bob Davidson (on behalf of Sheryll Murray MP).

by Milo Perrin

What was seen by The Spectator’s commentator Isabel Hardman as enough of a bland question from St Austell and Newquay MP Steve Double to be included in her “Hall of Shame: The most pointless questions at PMQs” this week, got a response that could be seen as equally inane and time wasting from the PM, if viewed from the other end of the country.

But it was seen west of the Tamar as another in a series of promises about funding that he will be held to.

“I warmly welcome the Prime Minister’s continued commitment to invest and level up across our country. This will be particularly welcome in Cornwall, which continues to be one of the poorest parts of the UK. Will the Prime Minister confirm to the people of Cornwall that we will continue to be at the heart of his Government’s plans to invest in the regions of the country?’ – Steve Double at PMQ this week

Hardman concedes in her article “At least in this instance Double was trying to get on record from the PM that Cornwall will be receiving more money in the coming years, something he can hold Johnson to if needs be”. The PM has previously said that he is committed to replacing Cornwall’s Euro funds after Brexit.

A new ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’ is how Cornwall will receive whatever replacement EU funds we will get after Brexit and it is one of the mechanisms that the government will use if they are to fulfill the promise of their new catchphrase of ‘levelling up the economy”. This is their supposed commitment to spreading the wealth of the UK out and away from London and the south east of England.

The fear is that if the Conservatives now concentrate on trying to make permanent their gains from the election in the north of England, seemingly solid Tory areas like Cornwall might not need so much attention. And for attention read money.

Even though we are, as Steve Double reminds us, still one of the poorest parts of the UK, per head of population we receive far less from the central government pot than other, wealthier, parts of the country.

Yesterday, in the first of their regular catch up quarterly meetings since the election, the leaders of Cornwall Council met with Cornwall’s MPs.

Cherilyn Mackrory was attending her first such meeting as the new MP for Truro and Falmouth. She said “It was a very positive and constructive meeting. Collective priorities for Cornwall were agreed including the need for further fairer funding and the pursuit of policies which suit Cornwall’s unique peninsula and rural needs. I look forward to a great working relationship for the benefit of all of Cornish residents”

Fair funding for Cornwall is of course a regular topic at these meetings.

Julian German, leader of Cornwall Council, said after the meeting “There was a good dialogue with Cornwall’s MPs today about how we can work together to make the case for further powers and additional funding for Cornwall.

“We live in a large rural area, and appropriate funding is necessary to ensure that our council can maintain vital services for children, families and adult social care over a wide area.

Cllr Julian German Leader of Cornwall Council

“I’m very grateful for the support from the MPs, who agree that it is vitally important that the balance of power shifts away from Westminster so we can make sure that people in Cornwall see real, tangible benefits.

“I’m encouraged that the MPs listened to our points and I hope that the Government will take action to ensure a fairer outcome for Cornwall’s residents.

“This is a matter of fairness, and as the leader of Cornwall Council, I will continue doing whatever I can to push for us to get the fair funding we deserve.”

Cllr Jayne Kirkham , Labour

Labour Councillor Jayne Kirkham who believes that the general election results confirm Labour’s place as the true opposition in Cornwall reacted yesterday

“We want assurance that the pound for pound replacement for EU funding Boris promised is on its way down here, that the promises for our NHS and Stronger Towns funding is there and that Cornwall will get the funding it deserves on a sustainable rather than an ad hoc basis.

We will hold Boris to account for his promises and expect our MPs to do the same and fight Cornwall’s corner so that all the investment does not disappear up north as a bribe for voters.

We also desperately need a long term solution to the social care issue in Cornwall and have been consistently disappointed by the lack of a social care green paper. That is a matter of real urgency.
And we need government’s assistance to hit climate emergency targets”