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29.1.08

A forum for self-determination

Announcing a new Internet forum that seeks to promote dialogue and cooperation between the peoples and nations of Europe and beyond.

It's called Forum des Peuples en Lutte (The forum for the peoples in combat) and its primary language is French, however in the Celtic Nations section English and the Celtic languages are more than welcome.

If you want to talk with Corsicans, Bretons, Occitans and many more this is the place for you, so get the Cornish message out to a European audience.

28.1.08

Living Diversity Newsletter No11

This is the latest news letter from Living Diversity with a number of articles of interest to Cornish campaigners. Why not sign up on the Living Diversity website and be put on their mailing list.

In May 2006 the Brussels-Project was initiated by the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) and the Youth of European Nationalities (YEN), together with a number of member organisations. The project aims to improve the political participation of the two biggest minority-umbrella organisations on European level. This goal is to be reached by directly being present at the main decision makers and institutions and by participation in all relevant politic fields. The long-term goal is to establish a permanent representation in Brussels.

FUEN demands active language policy from the EU-Commission

Three Members of the European Parliament - Michl Ebner, Kinga Gal und Hubert Pirker - have addressed the EU-Commissioner for multilingualism, Leonard Orban, with enquiries referring to the FUEN language resolution from Tallinn.


FUEN desires Sub-committee for minority questions within the NGO's work in the Council of Europe

In a letter to the chairman of the INGO-co-operation of the Council of Europe, Annelise Oeschger, FUEN-President Hans Heinrich Hansen emphasises the importance of the minority work within the Council of Europe.


FUEN establishes language network - Bozen agrees to finance

The FUEN presented the plans for a European language network in South Tyrol, which is to support particularly the small- and smallest languages of Europe. With the motto "Learning from the smallest" an application to the EU-Commission will be handed in. The Provincial Prime Minister of South Tyrol declared himself prepared to co-finance the network substantially.

Fundamental Rights Agency now includes minority focus

The work programme of the new European Agency for Fundamental Rights in Vienna was lacking any sort of reference to the autochthonous minorities and linguistic diversity in their draft from the EU-Commission. The presidents of the FUEN and the YEN have addressed the European Parliament in a letter.


New FUEN internet portal opened
In co-operation with the German Home Office the FUEN has opened an internet portal. The portal communicates information about German minorities and populations in 24 states in Europe and Central Asia. The extension of an overview of further non-German European minorities is planned.


Summit meeting between the FUEN and the EBLUL

The Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) and the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages (EBLUL) met for a "Summit meeting". The dialogue centered on possible co-operations between the two European umbrella organisations - particularly within language promotion and language policy.


Short News / Kurze Neuigkeiten

Termine / Events:

26.1.08

Cornish Tick Box response from ONS

Latest response from the Office of National Statistics which again seems to suggest that the right of the Cornish national minority to record their identity in its own land is not a priority.

The census for England, Cornwall and Wales.

There are many different ethnic, religious and national groups present inthe UK and there is greater demand for information from the 2011 Census than space available in the questionnaire. Current working assumptions suggest that there will be more space than was allocated for the sequestions in 2001, but not enough to enable tick-boxes to be provided for all the groups that are present in significant numbers in the UK. The same census questions will be asked in all parts of England and Wales. For those groups that are not specifically covered with a tick-box, the ethnicity question contains an ‘other, please write in’ box. ONS has produced an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) on the Ethnicity, Identity, Language and Religion question development process to identify the likely impact on race, gender, and disability equality of this policy, in order that any adverse impact can be eliminated or reduced to the greatest possible extent within the available resources. As a result of the EIA ONS have developed principles to prioritise which groups will be covered by tick-boxes and which will be covered by ‘Other’ written-in answers. The prioritisation principles are based on the following themes: Strength of need for information on that group; Lack of alternative sources of information; Clarity and quality of the information collected and acceptability to respondents; Comparability with 2001 data; and Operational considerations such as length of question(s), speed and cost-effectiveness of processing, and ability to collect comparable information in other surveys. As previously mentioned , a White Paper setting out the Government's proposals including the wording of any questions about ethnicity and identity is scheduled to be published in Autumn 2008. However it will not be possible to confirm what questions and response categories are to be included in the 2011 Census until the consultation and question testing programme is complete and formal approval is given by Parliament in 2010. For those groups that will not be covered by tick-boxes, ONS will be liaising with representatives of groups to inform them of the policy and encourage members of the group they represent to make full use of thewrite-in boxes to ensure their community is accurately measured. We will then be developing a policy on how the written-in answers will be output, including in what circumstances outputs from Census data will be produced based on the written answers.

Regards

Ethnicity, Identity and Inequalities Branch

Ethnicity&Identity@ons.gsi.gov.uk

23.1.08

Dark reality hidden behind the picturesque scenery

Dark reality hidden behind the picturesque scenery
Ashley Seager, Monday January 21 2008

The Guardian

Behind the picture postcard Cornish harbours,stunning countryside and attractions such as the Eden Project lies a harsh economic reality that makes life tough for ordinary people.

Such has been the upward pressure on house prices from second-home owners and the lack of well-paid jobs, that Cornwall now has the biggest gap in Britain between the average house price and the average salary, according to recent data from Hometrack. With the decline of the china clay industry, more and more people are dependent on low-paying jobs in tourism.

Richard Whitehouse, of the local St Austell Guardian, says the average house price in the region is £180,000 - not far off the UK average of about £195,000. "But the average salary is only around £14,000-15,000 a year, way below the national average. So for many people buying a house is simply out of the question if they have to find 12 times their salary," he says. Wages are among the UK's lowest at an average of £317 a week gross.

Countrywide figures show that one in 10 homes in Cornwall are second homes for people from other parts of Britain - many of them wealthy Londoners taking equity from their highly priced homes and snapping up cottages in pretty coastal villages.

But in places such as the picturesque village of Fowey near St Austell, the second home problem is all too clear. Full of boutique shops, the place is like a ghost town on a January afternoon. Almost every property near the waterfront seems to be advertising itself as a holiday let. "The vast majority of period properties down here are second homes," says Jennie Elderkin, director of Fowey River estate agents.

The town is well kept, and there is no doubt that outside money is keeping the place in good order, with local tradesmen busy renovating properties.

The area is vibrant, with plenty going on and good schools. But a two-bedroom cottage by the water will set you back £300,000 - a price beyond the reach of most first-time buyers.

"Getting on the housing ladder on Cornish wages is well-nigh impossible. Many young people either rent or live with their parents," adds Elderkin.

Small wonder, then, that Restormel borough council has made affordable housing its number-one priority, higher even than the regeneration of deprived towns such as St Austell, which have attracted millions of pounds of European Union funding in recent years.

Cornwall was once industrialised, with thriving tin mines and china clay pits. The historic South Crofty tin mine is to reopen in response to the rising price of the metal. But most jobs are in tourism, where low wages and winter lay-offs are endemic. The Eden Project, just outside the china clay town of Par, is unusual in that it stays open all year and employs some 500 local people.

Dave Smith, who lives in Par, says: "Most people who live here aren't from round here at all. They have moved here from other parts of the country because it is a nice place to live."

In St Austell, Ashley Potter, an estate agent, agrees that half of buyers are not locals. It is not as costly as trendier places such as Padstow or Fowey, he says, but it is hoped that a multimillion-pound redevelopment, financed by the South West Development Agency, will improve the town's fortunes.

17.1.08

Some more delicious home grown localism bought with Cornish currency.

The Old Cornwall society is a true veteran of the Cornish movement and perhaps the focal point around which many other Cornish groups came into existence. I've never really browsed their website before and I was pleasantly surprised.

"Cuntelleugh an brewyon us gesys na vo kellys travyth" (Gather up the fragments that are left that nothing be lost.) is their motto and their mission is to preserve the cultural heritage of Cornwall and the Cornish so that future generation can profit from them and build the new Cornwall. This cultural heritage is language, dialect, sports, festivals and customs no doubt but it is also food. So it is with our traditional recipes and local produce in mind that I would like to draw you attention to the Slow Food movement and in particular Slow Food Cornwall

What is Slow Food?

The Slow Food movement began in 1986 after Carlo Petrini, an Italian journalist, saw a new branch of McDonalds at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome. He thought it essential to set up a ‘slow food’ movement to counter the global takeover of ‘fast food’, and to protect regional and/or traditional food and drink.

Since the 1980s, Slow Food has become an international organisation with 83,000 members worldwide, which not only promotes food and wine culture, but also defends food and agricultural biodiversity worldwide.

The network of Slow Food members is organized into local grassroot groups—Condotte in Italy and Convivia elsewhere in the world—which organize campaigns, courses, dinners, tastings, visits, education etc. 

Slow Food Cornwall works to promote the objectives of Slow Food within Cornwall and within the close-knit network of the movement.

Seems like a worthwhile project and what better than to pay for Cornish food with a Cornish currency?

It's sad to say but the folk of Devonshire have beaten us to it yet again. In Totnes a local currency, the Totnes Pound has been up and running for some time now and seems to be a success. The aim is to promote local services and produce and it seems to work so why not a Cornish dinar in all our towns? Why not a Cornish dinar released as a joint effort between the Cornish Stannary Parliament and the towns from Transition Kernow ?


All those interested in creating a local currency in Kernow should study this workbook by Bernard Lietaer and the Global Community Initiative: Community Currency Guide

13.1.08

Identity and law

The civil government of Cornwall was vested in the Duchy by the first of the Duchy Charters in 1337: A Charter of 1337 taken from the UK Statute Law Database

In fact, the first thing to be enumerated - being inter alia, annexed and united to the Duchy for ever - is the civil administration of the territory of Cornwall.

Therefore we have given and Granted for Us and our Heirs and by this our present Charter Confirmed to our same son under the name and Honor of the Duke of the said place: the Castles Manors Lands and Tenements and other things underwritten that he may be able to preserve the State and Honor of the said Duke according to the nobility of his kind and more easily support the charges in this behalf incumbent to wit the Shrievalty of Cornwall with the Appurtenances so that the aforesaid Duke and other Dukes of the same place for the time being at their pleasure make and constitute and may make and constitute a Sheriff of the aforesaid County of Cornwall to exercise and perform the Office of Sheriff there as hitherto it hath been accustomed to be done without the let or impediment of Us or our Heirs for ever

A County at that time was the territory presided over by an Earl/Count and rendered in Latin as 'comitatus', this is what has been translated above into 'county'. Within this there was a vice-comitatus (or Shrievalty) under the jurisdiction of the sheriff but who was normally the principal officer of the King of England. Within Cornwall, however, he was, actually, the principal officer of the Earls (and, later, the Dukes) as the above extract shows.

As with all things related to the creation of the English and then later British state such terms became ambiguous (leading to various Imperial half-truths) and eventually the territorially equivalent terms of comitatus and vicecomitatus became reduced, and rationalised, to 'county' as we understand administrative counties today. At no point however have the powers of the Duke over the civil administration of Cornwall been removed. As can been seen above this Duchy charter of 1337 is part of UK statute law, and it has on numerous occasions been reconfirmed by other acts of parliament also to be found on the statute law database.

The Duchy of Cornwall Management Act 1863 (c.49)

The Words “Possessions of the Duchy of Cornwall,” and the Word “Possessions” applied to the Duchy of Cornwall, shall include Regalities, Hundreds, Castles, Honours, Lordships, Manors, Advowsons, Forests, Chases, Woods, Parks, Messuages, Lands, Buildings, Rights of Common, Mines, Minerals, Rights of Entry, or other Rights in respect of Mines or Minerals, Rentcharges in lieu of Tithes, Fixtures, Services, Rents, Pensions, Annuities, annual Sums reserved on any Sale, Disposal, or Enfranchisement made under the Powers of this Act, Rights, Privileges, Easements, Possessions, Tenements, and Hereditaments whatsoever, whether in possession or reversion, Parcel or reputed or claimed to be Parcel of the Duchy of Cornwall, or annexed to the same.

The 1863 act being reconfirmed by the Tamar Bridge Act 1998

(1) Nothing in this Act affects prejudicially any estate, right, power, privilege, authority or exemption of the Crown including (without prejudice to the general law concerning the applicability of statutes to the Duchy of Cornwall) the Duchy of Cornwall and, in particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, nothing in this Act authorises the Authorities to take, use, enter upon or in any manner interfere with any land or hereditaments or any rights of whatsoever description......

......belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall or enjoyed by the possessor for the time being of the Duchy of Cornwall, without the consent of the Duke of Cornwall testified in writing under the seal of the said Duchy or, as the case may be, the consent in writing of two or more of such of the regular officers of the said Duchy or of such other persons as may be authorised under section 39 of the M1 Duchy of Cornwall Management Act 1863......

De Jure our Cornish administration (the civil government of Cornwall) is legally and constitutionally within the Duchy of Cornwall and not England even if 'de facto' this is clearly not the case.

So when did this change? When did the civil government of Cornwall get handed over to Westminster and what acts of parliament support this blatant alienation from the Duchy of Cornwall? With what mandate were these changes to the civil government of our territory made? Where the Cornish consulted?

On the TGG site under "Territory and People" and "County?" you will find a letter sent to the Duchy back in 1997, which sets out the questions that need to be answered within a constitutional context. The response was predictably useless.

Two forum threads on this topic: Cornwall 24 and This is NOT England.

12.1.08

A St Pirans day bank holiday

A recent publicity stunt/campaign by the travel agents Thomas Cook brings to mind the Cornish call for a St Pirans day bank holiday. Thomas Cook with some reason make the following points.

Did you know…?

• We only get eight public holidays per year. Most of our European neighbours have as many as 12

• The Spanish top the tables with a massive 16 Bank Holidays a year

• Brits are at the bottom of the Bank Holiday league with only the Romanians ranking below us

• There are 121 days between the last Bank Holiday in August and the next public holiday atChristmas – nearly a third of the year


So we know about their campaign but do they know about ours? (If you haven't please do sign and forward the St Pirans petition it closes on the 30/1/08). The answer is probably not, perhaps it'd be worth contacting Thomas Cook Cornwall and suggesting a joint campaign. For that matter wouldn't it be fantastic to see Skinners, Sharps or St Austell Brewery backing a St Pirans day holiday in the same way that Wells Bombardier does for England and St Georges day.

Unfortunately Cornwall seems lacking in organisation and structure when it comes to such single issue campaigns; a campaign for an Internet domain name for Kernow also springs to mind. If we look at the other home nations and regions of Europe we find structured and enduring campaigns for national holidays, domain names etc but not in Cornwall. These are not the most important issues facing Cornwall, that's clear, but they can generate popular enthusiasm and touch the imagination of those normally disinterested.

What to do? The Cornwall 24 website and possibly Cornish World magazine, that we in the Cornish movement owe much too, would seem the ideal focal points for the campaign for a St Pirans day holiday. The C24 website is popular and its readers come from across Cornish society.

I don't just mean a thread on the subject but rather a dedicated web page with on going petition, arguments in favour, information on St Piran, current actions and news. Really we need a long lasting steering committee of dedicated individuals to promote a St Pirans day holiday and keep the ball rolling until we get what we want, the same could be said for the domain name and other single issues. Until then wouldn't it be good to see C24 take up the flame and keep the idea alive in peoples minds of a real St Pirans day to celebrate Cornwall?

So what about it C24, I'm sure there are plenty that would be happy to help?

Call for Cornish ethnicity on the 2011 UK census

The Cornish branch of the Celtic League have been lobbying a number of organisations and individuals as part of the campaign approved at this years Celtic League AGM to include a Cornish nationality option in the 2011 Census.

One of the more prominent individuals lobbied is Communities Minister Hazel Blears. a copy of the correspondence to her is set out below:


"Hazel Blears MP
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Department for Communities and Local Government
Eland House,
Bressenden Place,
London SW1E 5DU

hazel.blears@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Dear Hazel Blears

National Identity Tick Box for Cornish on 2011 Census

I am writing to you on behalf of the Celtic League to determine what authority and/or influence the Government have over the content of the population censuses that are undertaken every ten years by the Office of National Statistics throughout the UK, Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

At our last AGM in 2007, the following resolution was passed:

"That the Annual General Meeting of the Celtic League in Cardiff on 29 th September, 2007, calls upon the Westminster Government and the Office for National Statistics to include a specific Cornish tick box in the Census planned for 2011 so giving the Cornish people parity with the other Celtic Nations and National Minorities of Great Britain."

We are aware that last year the Westminster Government decided once again not to include the Cornish under the Framework Convention for the Protection for National Minorities (FCPNM) and that the Cornish ethnic group is not currently officially recognized by the Government. However, I am writing to you to ask what the implications of this are for the purposes of the population Census mentioned above. Assuming that the Government has some influence and/or authority over the content of the next Census in 2011, would the Cornish still nevertheless be entitled to have their own tick box response category?

You may be interested to know in the 2001 Census, the Cornish were given their own code (06) and 34,000 people in Cornwall and 3,500 people in the rest of the UK made use of this option, even though there was little official publicity to advertise the fact that this could be done. Taking into consideration the fact that it was neither clear which tick box to mark and that people had to first deny being British to utilise the option, this was a significant phenomenon, given the conditions and it represented 7% of the population of Cornwall.

Those people wishing to describe their identity as Welsh were also given their own code, like the Cornish, but in March of 2006 the ONS announced that there would be a separate tick box response category for Welsh in the 2011 Census. We would therefore like to know if this decision had to be approved by the Government beforehand or does the ONS have the authority to make such decisions independently?

If the Government needs to approve the type of decision that would allow the Cornish their own separate tick box response category, would the Government be prepared to do this for Cornish? If not, are you able to provide us with a clear reason why? In view of the fact that Cornish was given its own code for the 2001 Census, would not the logical step therefore be that Cornish is now given its own separate tick box response category in 2011?

We look forward to receiving your response to theses questions."

See related articles on Celtic News at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/2071
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/2110
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/2147
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/2370

9.1.08

MIDAS - a call for Cornish Journalists

Midas is a European Association of Daily Newspapers in Minority and Regional Languages and recently I recived the following letter from one of their staff. It might be of interest to any Cornish journalists who write about minority language issues. So if this sound like you why not contact them?

I know that you are very much involved in the Cornish issue. You contacted Midas last year regarding Cornish and Breton speakers.

I'm wondering if you know some journalist writing for Majoritiy Press in English from UK or in French from France or Belgium on promotion of minority protection and use of languages. The journalist could write about Cornish or Breton speakers or any other old minority in UK, France, Belgium or Spain.

Midas is trying to contact directly journalist from majority daily newspapers in order to raise awarness on our issues.

Please forward some names of journalists from majority daily press who are open minded to minority issues.

Thank you

Günther Rautz
Secretary General MIDAS
__________________________
EURAC research
Viale Druso/Drususallee 1
39100 Bolzano/Bozen
Italy
Tel. +39 0471 055 210
Fax +39 0471 055 299
Email: g.rautz-AT-eurac.edu
Websites:
http://www.eurac.edu/about/collaborators/GRautz/index.htm
http://www.midas-press.org/
http://www.eurac.edu/
http://www.eurac.edu/miris

4.1.08

Some Cornish localism if you please









2008 and decentralisation still seems to be on peoples minds or at least that's the impression one gets from the OurKingdom blog.

Recently, perhaps following Conservative noises about 'localism', OK has run two articles on the subject (of course the word 'devolution' tainted as it is by Nu Labour would burn in their Tory mouths). Jonathan Bryants (Brighton and Hove, Direct Democracy): Where localism should exist and Colin Bakers (New Forest): A vision of the localist revolution are worth a read.

Two points though:

1) Decentralisation, localism and devolution are still hot topics, at least amongst a certain clique.

2) When it comes to Cornwall which has shown a desire for devolved government greater than any part of England what do we get from these proponents of bringing power down to the people?

.......Silence.......

When it comes to discussing decentralisation Cornwall seems to have completely vanished; to have fallen off the map.

Why has this exceptional and popular call for devolution been ignored? Groups such as Charter 88, Direct Democracy and other advocates of decentralisation were truly underwhelming as they clamoured to support the Cornish in their call for bringing power closer to home. Even after a group of volunteers in one season collected a petition of 50,000 signatures calling for a Cornish assembly still we got the cold shoulder from the UKs democratic reformers. Why is Cornish devolution, decentralisation, localism -call it what you will- not to their tastes?

Anyway how about a new years cure for this obscurity and ignorance.

The first comes in the form of a newly created website for the long standing: Cornish Social and Economic Research Group (CoSERG)

The Cornish Social and Economic Research Group (CoSERG) is an independent research group concerned for the future of Cornwall and the Cornish people. It was founded in 1986 by a group of individuals concerned about the lack of a Cornish perspective in both research and the preparation of important policy documents in Cornwall.

Then for a bit of further reading on the Cornish paradox try Bernard W. Deacons new book imaginatively titled -Cornwall- (University of Wales Press - Histories of Wales).

Cornwall, one of Britain's most popular tourist destinations, is also one of the least well understood. In Cornwall today, there is a greater recognition of Cornish identity, and the close Celtic ties with Wales and Brittany, than ever before. But its Celtic history co-exists with a thousand years of political and cultural influence from England. Imagined as both Celtic country and English county, Cornwall is a land of contrasts. This book traces the creative tensions produced by its unique history, from an independent British kingdom through a culturally distinct medieval province and a prominent industrial region in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to its present location as a post-industrial paradox: nation, region and county all wrapped in one.

So there you go, no excuses now, read up and when you are ready we'll still be here.

The Breton Party / Parti Breton / Strollad Breizh

New years wishes from a Breton political party. I have included a couple of their recent publicity posters as I think they are really quite good. MK take note! It reads "there is a first time for everything" and then goes on to say "don't miss your first engagment".

The Breton Party / Parti Breton / Strollad Breizh: www.partibreton.org/jeunesbretons

Hello,

A new year has just started and Ar Vretoned Yaouank, the youth movement of the Breton Party/Strollad Breizh, wishes you a very happy new year, all the best for 2008. We hope that you fulfill your projects and you will continue to sustain your values of democracy and freedom with great succes.

Best wishes!

Bloavezh mad!

Ar Vretoned Yaouank / The youth Movement of the Breton Party / Strollad Breizh
BP 5040356104 Lorient Cedex Brittany


3.1.08

BBC respondes to Celtic Leagues concerns

The Chairman of the BBC, Michael Lyons, has said that he is "sorry to learn" that the Celtic League has reservations of the Corporations coverage of political developments that have taken place in the Celtic countries in recent years.

He was responding to correspondence sent to him by the Leagues General Secretary, Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, in November.

A copy of the letter from Michael Lyons is set out below:

13 December 2007

Our ref : 14975773

Dear Rhisiart

Thank you for your letter of 22 November, received on 3 December, regarding the Trust's recently announced impartiality review into the BBC's network news coverage of the four UK nations.

I am sorry to learn that you feel that the BBC has largely ignored the political developments that have taken place in the Celtic nations over the past ten years. I am passing your letter to the project author, Professor Antony King, and the Project Director, Mike Robinson, for their information as they undertake the review.

I am enclosing some further details about the review for your reference. As you will see, the subject of the review was chosen following feedback from the Trust's Audience Councils and audience research. Concerns about issues such as a lack of representation of the nations on network programmes, and insufficient focus on the news from the devolved nations on network news, have been regularly raised to the Trust.

Thank you for making me aware of your concerns.

Sir Michael Lyons
Chairman

2.1.08

Direct Democracy

Direct Democracy are a Tory think tank who have been making some interesting noises about 'localism' and other forms of democratic reform. 


I have always seen the largely English UK conservative right as being one of Cornwalls biggest foes and source of many of our problems, but still, times change. The Cornish Constitutional Convention also contains individuals from the conservative camp; are they aware of DD? Have a look at what they write below, visit their website and make up your own mind .

True direct democracy

By stark contrast to the UK Government's timid dabbling, truly impressive direct democracy could be seen in action last week in the Swiss Canton of Obwalden. In a referendum, more than 90% of residents of the Canton (population 33,755) voted to introduce a flat income tax rate of just 1.8 percent. The U.S.
Cato Institute argues that this result is not only positive news for tax competition within Switzerland, but will also put more pressure on Europe's welfare states to reform oppressive tax regimes. They urge voters in other Cantons to exercise their constitutional right of initiative and petition for a chance to vote for similar low-rate flat tax systems.

Cameron's localism - the post-bureaucratic age

We write on Open Democracy's
'Our Kingdom' blog about how the new 'post-bureaucratic' age message that David Cameron has been outlining in recent weeks and months is essentially a localist vision of future society. Indeed, many of the specific policy announcements that have emanated from Conservative Central Office are welcome endorsements of ideas that Direct Democracy have been advocating for some years now, such as direcltly-elected sheriffs, localist welfare reform and greater parental choice in schooling. We urge Mr Cameron to reinforce this vision during 2008 and to put forward still bolder reforms in crucial areas such as devolving town hall funding and constitutional reform, without which genuine localism cannot become a reality.

A new years note from Mebyon Kernow

2007 will long be remembered as the year that we had to suffer the undemocratic disgrace of Liberal Democrat county councillors and MPs retreating from their commitment to a Cornish Assembly and forcing an unpopular unitary authority onto Cornwall.

At the same time, we have had to continue to suffer under-investment from central government, threats to our public services, the growth in inequality in Cornish Society as well as the ever-worsening housing crisis.

In this coming year, MK will be working hard to build a strong pro-Cornwall alternative to the Liberal Democrats and the other London-centred political parties.

You can keep up-to-date with MK activities throughout 2008 on our website and the MK blogsite of MK Party Leader Cllr Dick Cole, which can be found here. The blogsite contains Dick's New Year Message to the people of Cornwall and postings on a range of other issues.

Mebyon Kernow - Campaigning for a better deal for Cornwall in 2008.

UNITARY DECISION DEVALUES OUR LOCAL DEMOCRACY

MK angry at undemocratic decision.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has condemned the Government announcement via a ministerial statement that Cornwall County Council’s bid for unitary status will proceed and that the first set of elections will take place in 2009.

Cllr Dick Cole, a prominent Restormel councillor and MK’s prospective parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay, has damned the news. He said: “Spin and misinformation has triumphed over democracy and the views of 80% of Cornwall’s population and now we will all have to live with consequences of this misguided New Labour project that has been so enthusiastically backed by local Liberal Democrats.“I, for one, am tired of hearing the ongoing Lib Dem claims that the setting up a single unitary authority will somehow lead to greater devolution to Cornwall. This is a nonsense. The reality is that this ‘unitary authority’ will be a ‘unitary authority’ and, to quote a senior civil servant from the DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government), there will be ‘no extra goodies’ on offer. “This is a sad day for Cornwall and our local democracy.”

Cllr Loveday Jenkin, MK’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Camborne and Redruth, added: “Far from celebrating the government decision on the County Council’s unitary bid, the people of Cornwall are fed up with being told what is best for them. “The unitary bid process paid no heed to the wishes of the people and rather than devolving decision-making on services to local people, this flawed scheme has already reduced democratic control and put decision-making in the hands of a small and unelected 'Implementation Executive' until 2009. “Whilst this committee wastes time on 'visioning exercises,' there is no serious effort being put into a clear plan for maintaining (let alone enhancing) the existing delivery of vital daily services such as street cleaning, rubbish collection, looking after play areas and management of leisure services across Cornwall.”

Cllr Richard Clark, PPC for the St Ives Constituency, has meanwhile hit out at the very basis of Cornwall County Council’s proposal for a single council for Cornwall. He said: “Nothing could better indicate the County Council's unpreparedness for unitary status than the recent employment of Deloitte MCS Ltd to collect information about the people, processes, property and assets that currently support the delivery of local government services in Cornwall, as a preliminary to developing plans for future delivery. “It is clear that promises of improved, more cost-effective services had no basis in analysis and forward planning and this is a shameful betrayal.” Cllr Clark, who is the Deputy Mayor of Penzance, is also calling for the maximum devolution of decision-making power to town and parish councils. “As it is now certain that the district councils will be abolished, it is up to Cornwall's town and parish councils to seek the devolution of decision-making powers to preserve what we can of locally exercised democratic control."