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27.5.08

Mebyon Kernow on Unitary Authority Shambles

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has branded the ongoing move towards a single unitary authority for Cornwall as an ‘undemocratic shambles.’

This follows recent developments in the ‘One Cornwall’ saga, which include the news that the ‘Boundary Committee for England’ (BCE) is unwilling to agree a council of around 130 members as proposed by the ‘Implementation Executive’ and the district councils; and that the BCE aims to carry out further consultation on council size which means it is unlikely that there will be time to “implement new electoral arrangements … for elections in May 2009.”

The elections would then have to be fought on the basis of the present division boundaries for Cornwall County Council, which would mean there would only be 82 councillors for the whole of Cornwall.

The Party for Cornwall has also written to the Prime Minister calling on him to rescind the ‘Cornwall (Structural Change) Order 2008,’ through which the single unitary authority will be created, and put all the ‘One Cornwall’ developments on ice.

In the letter to Gordon Brown, MK Deputy Leader Cllr Phil Rendle calls on the Prime Minister to “intervene now to prevent Cornwall falling into chaos.” The letter reads:

“A unitary authority is being imposed on Cornwall even though 80% of its people are against it and so are the district councils and the vast majority of town and parish councils.

“It is only Cornwall County Council (CCC) that has been calling for a single council in Cornwall, replacing the County Council and the six district councils, with as few as 100 councillors. There are currently 82 County and 249 district councillors.

“The One Cornwall Implementation Executive (IE), set up to police this changeover, has increased that figure to only 130, even though Mr David Whalley, and a small coterie, has recently broken ranks with the two bodies he chairs by calling for only 90 councillors.

“The Boundary Committee is at sixes and sevens claiming it has not been given sufficient evidence to make a decision on council size and threatening that they will not even be in a position to make a decision before the unitary council elections in 2009.

“There is great confusion and lack of information on how the process towards the unitary is proceeding. We understand that members of the IE are becoming increasingly impatient with those presenting progress reports to them.

“Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall calls on the Prime Minister to:

· Rescind the Cornwall (Structural Change) Order 2008.
· Put all One Cornwall developments on ice.
· Allow the County and district councils to resume their work as before.
· Put a five year moratorium on local government change in Cornwall.”

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall is also angry that central government has launched a consultation paper suggesting that the 2009 May local elections should be pushed back to June to coincide with the European elections.

Commenting on behalf of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall, Party Leader Cllr Dick Cole said:

“This would mean that, with the present principal councils being abolished on 1st April, Cornwall would have no councillors for over two months. It is almost unbelievable that central government can come up with such strange proposals.

“Mebyon Kernow is very concerned that the ongoing chaos around the ‘One Cornwall’ set-up will undermine both local democracy and the delivery of quality public services.”

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