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The Growing Resistance
The Right Honourable Nicholas Clegg
The Deputy Prime Minister
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA 14th July, 2010
Dear Deputy Prime Minister
CORNWALL and BROKEN POLITICAL PROMISES
I am instructed to write to you over a number of issues which relate to Cornwall and should be obliged if you would afford me the courtesy of a reply. I have emailed you on several previous occasions but to date there has been no response.
In Cornwall we have an average weekly wage which is £100 less than that for England (£329.30 weekly in Cornwall, £429 in England); we pay on average 40% more for our water bills; we are denied affordable housing and blighted with the scourge of second and holiday homes; the much vaunted holiday industry which accounts for 19% of Cornwall income pays minimum wages; our electoral system is skewed by the possibility of second home owners voting here as well as in their place of origin and we pay high prices for fuel and all manner of other things.
Can you imagine the shock and despair when the BBC yesterday announced that the Regional Development Agency says it has been told by the Government not to process any more applications for a series of European-funded schemes. This money was intended for Cornwall and given by Europe. This is not acceptable.
I attach as an appendix to this letter the Liberal Democrats’ ‘Programme for Cornwall’ which was signed by three Liberal Democrat MP’s. Time after time we have been promised a Cornish Assembly but there seems to be a yawning gap between what our local MP’s tell us and what occurs in the faraway Westminster Parliament – a discredited and unpopular institution for which many of us now have little time. Will you be allowing our elected representatives proper time to introduce such a Bill or are this to be another broken promise? The Prime Minister during a recent article in the Western Morning News dated Friday 9th July, 2010 said that working as a coalition government, he intended ‘to set Cornwall free, to do what's best for Cornwall’. It is about time. As with Wales, Scotland, the North of Ireland and indeed London, we are mature enough to run our own affairs.
Minister for Cornwall
In opposition, your Conservative partners appointed a ‘Shadow Minister for Cornwall’ Mr. Mark Prisk. Now you are the Government in Coalition, where is this Minister please? Is this another broken promise?
Cross Border Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies
A further article in the Western Morning News suggested that the coming Constituency boundary reforms might see a cross border Constituency MP.
Indeed, Mr Dan Rogerson MP placed this question before you on 5th July, 2010:
‘I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his statement. He will be aware that the boundary between Cornwall and England was set more than a thousand years ago, sadly by conquest. Will the direction that he and the Government give to the Electoral Commission through the Bill take account of such ancient boundaries?’
Your response was as follows:
‘I hear what my hon. Friend says about the boundary between Cornwall and England, although I am sure that many of his constituents would be delighted to know that they are also citizens of England and the United Kingdom. The rule of thumb will be that the Boundary Commission should seek to redraw boundaries according to the simple principle that constituencies should be of a more equal size than they are at the moment, within the parameters that I have described. That will be the predominant requirement on the boundary commissions, and it will be of greater weight and importance than any other considerations.’
I ask you not to brush aside the ancient laws and treaties which confirm the border between Cornwall and England as the east bank of the River Tamar. A ‘cross border’ MP is not acceptable under any circumstances. Cornwall deserves its proper representation at Westminster and not ‘shared’ MP’s.
You would be ill advised to ignore that settlement of a thousand years when Cornwall became England’s first colony, a situation which sadly exists today.
Furthermore, I utterly refuse any citizenship of England for I and our membership and that of dozens of other organisations in Cornwall as well as people with no affiliation regard ourselves as Cornish, not English or of England, with British and European Citizenship and this fact is confirmed on our passports. I now invite you to withdraw that comment as you are obviously unaware of the deep insult and upset you have caused.
I also ask that this message is firmly conveyed to those responsible for such matters for as things stand, and in reflection of events a few years ago of which you may be unaware, there are already calls for open protest on the borders of Cornwall, on the Tamar bridge and so on and I can assure you that should this Coalition Government continue to aggravate and ignore the Cornish then we shall have no option other than to take this matter to the streets. I happen to know of at least two organisations in Cornwall who are already discussing this. It has happened before and if necessary, it will happen again and I shall be pleased to assist in the organisation of such protests and to call in support from all quarters. Voter apathy in Cornwall is considerable as one and all we slowly but surely turn away from Westminster as a means of governance which sadly fails Cornwall and her peoples.
I do not wish to sound brusque for I am not normally that way inclined but I do feel it necessary to make clear that my organisation, my kith and kin and others are weary of the trickery of the Westminster Government. We are Cornish, Mr. Clegg, we have a strong sense of identity and of belonging and we are increasingly frustrated.
Accordingly, I have copied this letter to the Prime Minister, to all six of Cornwall’s Westminster MP’s and to the Chief Executive of Cornwall Council seeking their responses.
You would do well to listen to your MP’s in Cornwall, a small group lost in your Palace of Westminster but people who know only too well the aspirations of the people of Cornwall.
In the words of Mr. Cameron, ‘Cornwall is a special place. But in the past not enough politicians visited and talked to people here. Instead they issued diktats from London. I'm making an effort to change that. To make sure the Cornish voice is heard. To set Cornwall free, to do what's best for Cornwall.’
Empty words again or a promise? I await your response.
Michael J Chappell
Scryvynyas – An Kesunyans Keltek Scoren Kernewek
The Prime Minister
Dan Rogerson MP
Andrew George MP
Stephen Gilbert MP
George Eustice MP
Sarah Newton MP
Sherryl Murray MP
The Chief Executive, Cornwall Council
Appendix: A Programme for Cornwall
The Liberal Democrats
A PROGRAMME FOR CORNWALL
Cornwall is justified in making a case to Government for priority treatment, fair funding and more decision-making powers.
• Green Peninsula
Cornwall wants to become a leader for green policy, at cutting edge green technology and the test bed for new green investments. This should include:
- renewable energy;
- waste reduction strategy (including a review of the incinerator);
- green transport.
• Cornish Assembly
Cornwall deserves more power, to take on the functions of:
- Regional Development Agency;
- Planning, especially Regional Spatial Strategy;
followed by policing, environment, careers, jobs
• Housing Action Plan
Local working families are losing out. Cornwall must secure the delegated authority to resolve the Cornish housing crisis; including:
- control on second homes, - new planning and tax controls;
- drop the 70,000 houses for Cornwall (in the Regional Spatial Strategy);
- more affordable and less unaffordable housing.
• Funding formula review
Fair funding for Cornish public services:
- for Cornish schools and Council under the Government’s review of Local Government Finance;
- accelerate achievement of health funding target (currently £56 million per annum under target).
• Driving the economy
Make sure that Cornwall ’s Regional Aid creates a lasting legacy:
- green jobs;
- super fast broadband;
- planning controls on out-of-town retail;
- bigger and independent University of Cornwall .
• Cornish culture
Promote Cornish distinctiveness:
- stadium for Cornwall ;
- enhanced recognition of Cornish culture and institutions.
• Minister for Cornwall ?
Promised (along with 46 other local Ministers) by the Conservatives before the General Election.
- Cornwall needs more power, rather than a Governor sitting in Whitehall .
Andrew George MP
Stephen Gilbert MP
Dan Rogerson MP