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People Places and Spaces

A letter sent to the Culture South West quango by the Cornish Stannary Parliament.

Consultation draft – People, Places and Spaces. Objection to the inclusion of Cornwall as part of Culture South West

Thank you for a copy of ‘People, Places and Spaces’ sent on 7th August 2007 giving advice to submit a response by Friday 10th August 2007.

We understand that the constitutional position is that nothing is done by any government sponsored or official body without statutory authority.

The draft support for the fossilised World Heritage Jurassic Coast coupled with the exclusion from the draft of an achievement by humanity as represented by the Cornish Mining World Heritage, raises the question:-

Has Parliament authorised the suppression of Cornish Culture? Please provide references to the relevant statutory authority.

You will no doubt have noted that there are compliance rules for the establishment and management of all World Heritage sites, including Jurassic Coast, as stipulated by UNESCO in its NARA Authenticity Document.

Article 4 of the NARA Authenticity Document includes an appropriate warning:-

“In a world that is increasingly subject to the forces of globalisation and homogenisation, and in a world in which the search for cultural identity is sometimes pursued through aggressive nationalism and the suppression of the cultures of minorities, the essential contribution made by the consideration of authenticity in conservation practice is to clarify and illuminate the collective memory of humanity.”

Are the UNESCO principles of ‘authenticity’ practiced by Culture South West?

Is Cornwall and the Cornish, of pre-England Celtic ethnic origins, considered by Culture South West to be part of “the collective memory of humanity”?
Until serious and fundamental amendments are made, any independent observer would conclude that the draft document for Culture South West, in its stated ‘priorities’, is nothing short of “aggressive” English “nationalism” to achieve “the suppression of the cultures of minorities”, in this case, Cornish culture. It would also be noted that there is indifference to the law as reflected in the provisions of the EU Race Directive 2000/43/EC, transposed as Statutory Instrument No.1626 of 2003, and the Human Rights Act 1998, apparently encouraged by the exclusion of a statutory guarantee of equality before the law from English law.

Our objection is even further substantiated by the reluctance shown in the draft to implement the principles set out in Article 5, of the NARA document:-

“The diversity of Cultures and heritage in our world is an irreplaceable source of spiritual and intellectual richness for all humankind”.

The UNESCO reference to ‘diversity’ sends a clear message of support for the culture of the Cornish national minority and their right to exist and be recognised as a national minority. Has Culture South West any objection to co-existing with British culture as represented by the Cornish and its language listed by the European Community as one of the lesser used languages of Europe?

It is contended that UNESCO expects the English national majority to demonstrate an element of common human civility towards the Cornish or surrender any legitimate claim to have an authentic World Heritage site anywhere in England.

Historically, England excludes the Duchy of Cornwall which, under its three unrepealed charters of 1337/8, grants the incumbent Duke the right to exercise, in Cornwall only: “The Kings writ and summons of exchequer and attachments”. The Crown Estate is involved, that is, except in Cornwall, but, why is the Duchy of Cornwall given no place in Culture South West?

It is contended that the current structural differences between the public Crown Estate provisions for English people and the privileges of the private Duchy of Cornwall estate in Cornwall expose a cultural legacy of collective punishment and bias against the Cornish national minority on the part of the representatives of the English national majority. This situation is incompatible with modern concepts of cultural and political integrity and should, therefore, be rectified.

To avoid repetition, please accept our wholehearted support for the detailed submission made to Culture South West by The Cornish Gorsedd.

Finally, if Parliament intends the suppression of Cornish culture, please quote the statutory reference, or, you are respectfully requested to prepare a revised draft “to clarify and illuminate the collective memory of humanity” in Britain.

Seneth an Stenegow Kernow
The Cornish Stannary Parliament
9 Coombe park
Bal lake
Camborne, TR14 OJG
Kernow , G.B.
phone - 01209-710938

The Stannaries are part of the territorial possessions of the Duchy of Cornwall by Charters of 1337/8

Minister of the South West - Ben Bradshaw

From the blog Looking for a voice.

30th June 2007

Ben Bradshaw MP
House of Commons
Westminster London

Dear Mr Bradshaw

I understand that you have recently been appointed Minister for the ‘South West’. Could you please enlighten me as to what geographical area the ‘South West’ alludes to, I am aware of the boundaries of the Historic Wessex and Cornwall (Kernow) are these the same as ‘The South West’, if they are not when and who designated the geographical area. As there have been a number of Regional Ministers appointed, and that this appears to be a new constitutional development , can you advise me what your responsibilities are to the people of ‘The South-West’ are ? As a resident of North Somerset, I am assuming that I live in the South West. I very much look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely

I will post the reply !


Cornwall County Council are So Good at Making Bad Decisions

Cornwall County Council seem to like making One Big dodgy decisions. As if making Cornwall into One Big unitary authority wasn't enough (presumably run by Lib Dems, a utopia they'll be lucky to get), Cornwall County Council also want to build One Big incinerator to deal with all of Cornwall's rubbish.

This is going completely against central government guidelines which state that waste should be dealt with close to it source, not carted up to 50 miles from where it was collected with all of the extra pollution that this entails.

They plan to build this big monstrosity in St Dennis in the Clays, (and one of the leaders of this decision is on record as saying that it's best to build such a beast in a 'deprived' area as there is not as much opposition). They say it's harmless, and they say it won't disrupt the village, and they say that burning our rubbish is the best thing for Cornwall.

But what they don't say is that there are proven health risks attached to incinerators, that not only do they want to build it on a green field site, but that they want to drive a new road through a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and that with growing awareness about climate change, packaging, recycling and reducing rubbish in general Cornwall's One Big Incinerator will very likely end up as One Big Very Expensive White Elephant.

And even worse, most of the 'consultation' to date on this whole disaster has been with invited persons only, strictly behind closed doors, sometimes even with a police presence.

For more information, or to get involved with the campaign,



Equality Before The Law

In light of the two applications the Cornish Stannary Parliament has made to the European Court of Human Rights -ECHR – CSP v UK and Application to the European Court of Justice- the CD would like to share the following information provided by the Democratic Audit.

The Democratic Audit discloses a series of breaches of international standards rights across the spectrum of ‘democratic’ rights. These are not random pockets of non -compliance, but examples of systemic weakness. This weakness calls into question the health of British democracy itself. The Audit’s principal findings are:

The Equal Protection of the Law

Britain’s inability to afford all citizens the equal protection of the law is the most serious and damaging failure to meet international standards. No general right of equality exists. Weak and narrow laws against discrimination on grounds of race, sex, religion and disability exist in different parts of the country, but do not apply uniformly throughout the UK. Religious, but not racial, discrimination is prohibited in Northern Ireland; racial, but not religious, elsewhere. People are not protected against discrimination in other significant areas of their lives, including old age, health and sexual orientation. Government officials – such as immigration officers – are actually exempt from major antidiscrimination laws. Some government legislation and practice actually promotes intolerance towards homosexuals.

The pdf document
The Democratic Audit website


MP Andrew George on the Unitary Authority

It is not realistic to believe that Governments will let Cornwall carry on forever with virtually no power and two layers totalling 331 councillors.

At some stage responsible politicians have to face up to the challenges and opportunities of difficult decisions about the future of Government structure here. However, before being able to deal with this, it is my unenviable task to respond to the predictably misleading comments from Tory councillors and supporters (and their “Independent” allies) which have been given prominence in recent weeks. Therefore, those who, like me, prefer to avoid tiresome Party tribalism and yahboo point scoring should look away now (and come back after the next sub-heading)!

The Inconvenient Truth: Cornwall deserves political leaders who can put their party differences aside and take Cornwall’s concerns to Government rather than squabble themselves to a standstill. It is therefore regrettable that a succession of mainly Tory councillors have engaged in a campaign of brazen dishonesty. Misinformation has to be corrected before we can move on and face up to the new challenges in Cornish local government. So I begin with (for them) a few inconvenient facts:

• Tory, Independent and other councillors voted for the abolition of Penwith, Kerrier, etc, councils and for a Single Unitary Authority earlier this year. I have not voted for such a proposal.

• There were two bids for a Single Unitary Authority: the County Council version which had 82 members (same as County Council) and 16 area bodies; and the District Councils’ Single Unitary which proposed a Council of 249 councillors (same as number of district councillors) and 6 sub-area bodies.

• The Government (not local MPs) decided which option should go forward.

• I opposed the County Council’s view that it should operate with only 82 councillors.

• I objected to any suggestion that the boundaries of local decision-making bodies should be drawn up in Truro rather than by local people and I reflected the concerns that both proposals may mean local communities would be micromanaged from Truro.

• I criticised both bids for being timid and failing to show ambition to draw down powers from unelected quangos and agencies based in Bristol and elsewhere in the Government zone of the South West.

• I have made clear to Government Ministers that before any changes they must clearly set out the extent, route-map and timetable for the devolution of powers to Cornwall; and

• This is a Labour Government initiative, by the way. Though, Cornish local authorities were not forced to respond to the “invitation” they were asked by Government (rather menacingly) do you want to lead the reform or be reformed by us?

The Tories spent much of their time in Government taking powers away from local authorities such that they have become little more than Agents of Central Government. Now they accuse me of being responsible for the Government’s reform. They voted for a Single Unitary Authority. I didn’t. Labour councillors have, of course, attacked what is a Labour Government initiative. And Johnny-come-lately “Cornish Assembly campaigners” have, of course, joined in the opportunistic criticisms, but won’t tell us by what realistic route they intend to achieve their claimed objective. The dairy industry would collapse with all this butter not melting in their collective mouths…Cornwall has the opportunity to create a new strong tier of government and to strengthen the ability of local communities to make decisions themselves (on planning, neighbourhood matters, local environment, etc) or we can allow the same tiresome political tribalism, irresponsible opportunists, etc, to undermine our ability to take the argument to Government rather than squabble amongst ourselves and thus end up with a pigs ear of local government reform as happened in 1974; and which left us with a bizarre legacy of local government which we are having to deal with now.

Where do we go from here? The politically sane are welcome back at this point! So what is needed in a new Government structure in Cornwall? I believe there are two things – first a decisive move towards a Cornish Assembly and, second, the protection of local community interests so that our towns and villages do not find themselves “run from Truro”.

Devolution: First, we should note that many decisions which affect Cornwall are taken by people appointed by Government to run quangos in the Government zone of the South West. Wouldn’t it be better if those decisions were taken by locally accountable, directly elected representatives who have the best interests of Cornwall – rather than their paymasters in Whitehall – at heart?Let’s be honest. Who do you think should decide:

• whether we should build the equivalent of five new Penzance’s in the next 15 years?

• how many of the homes to be built should be affordable to “local” people?

• how much taxpayer’s money should be spent in private rather than local NHS hospitals?, etc.

Government appointed agents based in Bristol or elsewhere (as at present) or by representatives elected to a Cornish body? There is no justification for these matters to be taken out of the hands of locals. That’s why energies should be concentrated on working together to achieve that.

Locally run: Secondly we should apply a simple principle: that those decisions which affect only one community should be taken by people in that community and not by people outside. For example, there is no reason why residents in Penzance should have their neighbourhood parking arrangements decided by elected representatives from Saltash and Bude. It is not right for the County or District Council to pre-determine that there should be 6, 12, 16 or whatever local community decision-making and public service delivery bodies. The building blocks of our local democracy are parish and town councils and it is up to them to determine where their local community boundaries lie. Local councils with vision, ambition and ability should be given the opportunity to take on a much greater role and resources to run local services and if they wish to form a cluster of local councils to achieve a greater economy of scale that is up to them, not up to desk officers in Truro. It is unlikely that the “status quo” in local government would have continued for many more years, but it is important that the tribal squabbling is put to one side and that responsible and constructive politicians now work for the best outcome for Cornwall and for our local communities.

Andrew George MP31st July 2007