Cornwall Council (Cornish: Konsel Kernow) is the unitary authority for Cornwall, in England, United Kingdom (except the Isles of Scilly, which has its own council). The council, and its predecessor Cornwall County Council, has a tradition of large groups of independents, having been controlled by independents in the 1970s and 1980s. Since the 2013 elections, it is run by an Independent-Liberal Democrat coalition.
Cornwall Council provides a wide range of services to more than half a million residents, has an annual budget of more than Â£1 billion and is the biggest employer in Cornwall with a staff of over 22,000 (now substantially reduced). It is responsible for schools, social services, rubbish collection, roads, planning and more. For some seeking greater autonomy for Cornwall, the new unitary council could act as a catalyst for further devolution to the region or even as a stepping stone to a Cornish Assembly.
"Establishment_of_the_unitary_authority">Establishment of the unitary authority
Before April 2009, Cornwall was administered as a non-metropolitan county by the Cornwall County Council with five districts, Caradon, Carrick, Kerrier, North Cornwall, Penwith, and one borough Restormel. The Council of the Isles of Scilly was and still remains a separate unitary authority.
On 5 December 2007, the Government confirmed that Cornwall was one of five councils that would move to unitary status. This was enacted by statutory instrument as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England, The changes took effect on 1 April 2009. On that date the six districts and Cornwall County Council were abolished and were replaced by Cornwall Council.
The original proposals for a new logo and motto for Cornwall's new unitary authority were met with widespread criticism from the general public with demands that the old logo and motto be kept. On 29 January 2009, the Cornwall Council Implementation Executive decided to revert to using the former County Council logo with just a change in name from "Cornwall County Council" to "Cornwall Council".
In March 2009, the leader of Cornwall County Council David Whalley announced he would be standing down as a councillor, complaining of personal attacks against him.
The current logo features a chough and the 15 Cornish golden bezants on a black field as used in the arms of the Duchy of Cornwall.
On the creation of the new unitary authority it was decided that the name of the council would be changed from Cornwall County Council to Cornwall Council (Konsel Kernow). It has also been decided by the council to change the name of its meeting place from New County Hall to Lys Kernow (meaning Cornwall Court) to avoid using the term county.
In 2009, Liberal Democrat MP Dan Rogerson introduced a bill in parliament seeking to take power from Whitehall and regional quangos and pass it to the new Cornwall Council, with the intention of transforming the new council into an assembly along the lines of National Assembly for Wales. In November 2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested in comments to the local press that his government would "devolve a lot of power to Cornwall - that will go to the Cornish unitary authority." Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also said he would meet a cross party group, including the six Cornish MPs, to look at whether more powers could be devolved to Cornwall.
Among the services provided by the council is a public library service which consists of a library in Truro and branch libraries in the towns and a few villages. There are also these special libraries: Cornwall Learning Library, Cornish Studies Library, the Education Library Service, and the Performing Arts Library, as well as a mobile library service. The headquarters is at Threemilestone.
Cornwall Council is promoting ten cultural projects as part of a five-year culture strategy. One project is the development of a National Theatre of Cornwall, a collaboration of the Hall for Cornwall, Kneehigh Theatre, Eden Project and Wildworks, to bring world class theatre to people in Cornwall. Cornwall Council has based its idea on the successful National Theatres of Scotland and Wales.
Another of the projects is the proposed creation of a National Library of Cornwall to resolve inadequacies with the current storage of archives. It is hoped that this will bring some important documents concerning Cornish history back to Cornwall as well as providing better public access to those records already held. Cornwall Council is also involved in the project to build a Stadium for Cornwall.
Cornish ethnic and national identity
Cornwall Council backs the campaign for the Cornish to be recognised as a National Minority in the UK. The council's chief executive Kevin Lavery wrote a letter to the Government in 2010, writing, "Cornwall Council firmly believes that the UK Government should recognise the Cornish as a national minority under the terms of the Framework Convention." Adding that, "Cornwall Council believes that the Government's current restricted interpretation is discriminatory against the Cornish and contradicts the support it gives to Cornish culture and identity through its own departments." Cornwall Council's support was officially reaffirmed as council policy in 2011 with the publication of the Cornish National Minority Report 2, signed and endorsed by the then leaders of every political grouping on the council. The council took an active role in the promotion of the options for registering Cornish ethnicity and national identity on the 2011 UK Census.
Since 2008 Cornwall Council and the former county council, together with Cornwall Enterprise, and Cornwall Sustainable Energy Partnership, have been involved with a Protocol of Cooperation between Cornwall and the Conseil gÃ©nÃ©ral du FinistÃ¨re in Brittany. The protocol aims to allow the two regions to work more closely on topics of common interest and engage in a knowledge exchange with the possibility of jointly applying for European funding. Cornwall is also a member of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, a partnership of European regions, which aims to promote and highlight the value of these regions to Europe. Cornwall comes under the Atlantic Arc Commission sub-division of 30 regions, which has been used to advertise the potential of renewable energy off the Cornish coast to Europe.
A scheme arising from these partnerships is MERiFIC (Marine Energy in Far Peripheral and Island Communities) which seeks to advance the adoption of marine energy across the two regions, including the Isles of Scilly. The project has received Â£4 million of European funding that will be spent in Cornwall and Brittany.
Cornwall County Council organised an event in Brussels in 2008 to promote various aspects of Cornwall, including the Cornish language, food and drink and showcasing Cornwall's design industry. This was part of the Celtic Connections programme of events put together by the Celtic regions as a showcase for culture in Europe.
Various fact finding missions have been organised by councillors to study how other regions and small nations of Europe govern themselves successfully. Independent councillor, Bert Biscoe, organised a fact finding mission to Guernsey in 2011 to see if the island's system of government could be adapted to work in Cornwall.
Since 2010 Cornwall Council has been a full observer member of the Britishâ"Irish Council due to the Cornish language falling under the BIC's areas of work.
Cornwall Council, in partnership with the Eden Project, is bidding to have the world's first Green Investment Bank based in Cornwall. The Council is also working with the NHS and Eden to tackle fuel poverty by creating a Cornwall Together co-op which will buy electricity at lower-than-market prices.
Cornwall Council is currently controlled by an Independent-Liberal Democrat coalition. Composition of Cornwall Council as of April 2015:
The cabinet consists of John Pollard, the Council Leader, and nine other cabinet members. It consists of 5 Independents and 5 Liberal Democrats.
Elections and changes
2009 Cornwall Council elections
Elections for the new unitary Cornwall Council were held on 4 June 2009 and there were 123 members elected, replacing the previous 82 councillors on Cornwall County Council and the 249 on the six district councils. The outgoing Cornwall County Council had 48 Liberal Democrat members, nine Conservatives, five Labour, one from the small Liberal Party with the remaining 19 seats held by Independent candidates. Mebyon Kernow had no county councillors, but nine district councillors, before the two-tier system was abolished.
The Lib Dems lost overall control of Cornwall Council to 'no overall control' - this means that no single party has overall control of the new council despite the Conservatives have the largest number of councillors, however they do not have enough for a majority control. The cabinet of the council was therefore formed as a coalition between the Conservatives and the Independent bloc. The Conservatives received 34% of the vote (50 seats), followed by the Liberal Democrats on 28% (38 seats), the Independents on 23% (32 seats) and Mebyon Kernow on 4% (3 seats). The turnout was 41%. Labour, the Green Party, UKIP and the BNP failed to secure any seats in Cornwall.
By-elections, 2009 to 2012
In a by-election in the St Austell Bay electoral division on 26 November 2009, the Liberal Democrats gained the seat from the Conservatives. Three parties contested the seat, the Liberal Democrats got 48% of the vote, the Conservatives got 47%, and Labour got 5%.
Labour gained their first seat on the council at the Camborne North by-election in January 2011, winning by just 27 votes. This was a gain from the Conservatives, after their councillor had resigned.
In a by-election at Wendron in November 2011 Loveday Jenkin of Mebyon Kernow was elected, gaining the seat from an independent.
A by-election held on Thursday, 20 September in St Keverne and Meneage, following the death of independent Councillor Pam Lyne, was won by Walter Sanger (Conservative).
Defections, 2009 to 2013
In August 2010, Councillor Neil Plummer of Stithians left the Independent group and joined Mebyon Kernow.
In June 2011 Liskeard North councillor Jan Powell defected from the Conservatives to join the Liberal Democrats.
In May 2012 two Liberal Democrat councillors left the Liberal Democrat group to join the Independent Group. Chris Pascoe, the councillor for Threemilestone and Gloweth, resigned in protest over the national actions of the Liberal Democrat party and the introduction of the "pasty tax". Graham Walker, councillor for St Austell Bethel, defected in protest over the coalition government's education policies.
In September 2012 another Liberal Democrat councillor resigned from the party. Tamsin Williams, the member for Penzance Central, defected to Mebyon Kernow, having previously been a member of it in the 1990s. She was the second member to defect to Mebyon Kernow since 2009, and her change of allegiance came after "bad decisions made by the London parties." During the same month of September 2012, one Independent councillor, Lisa Dolley, left the council's Independent Group to become an ungrouped independent.
In March 2013 Conservative cabinet member for Looe East, Armand Toms, defected to the Independents over the party's decision to freeze Council Tax rather than increase it.
2013 Cornwall Council elections
The Conservatives lost 18 seats, meaning they were no longer the largest group in the Council. A new coalition was formed, between the Independents and the Liberal Democrats.
By-elections, 2013 to 2015
In September 2013, a by-election in Wadebridge East division was triggered by the resignation of the sitting Independent councillor Collin Brewer. The by-election was won by Steve Knightley of the Liberal Democrats with 408 votes, a majority 9 over the Independent candidate Tony Rush.
In July 2014, a by-election in Illogan division was triggered by the resignation of the sitting Conservative councillor Terry Wilkins as a result of his falsely claiming to have an MBE. The resulting by-election was won by Liberal Democrat David Ekinsmyth with 277 votes, a majority of 60 votes over Stephen Richardson of Mebyon Kernow.
Also in July 2014 was a by-election in the Mabe, Perranarworthal and St Gluvias division, which was triggered by the resignation of UKIP councillor Michael Keogh. The contest was won by Reginald George Peter Williams of the Conservative Party with 406 votes, a majority of 1 over the Liberal Democrat candidate John Ault.
In November 2015 a by-election was held in Mevagissey, triggered by the resignation of Labour councillor Michael Bunney. Conservative candidate James Michael Mustoe won the election with 348 votes, a majority of 67 over UKIP candidate Michael Williams.
By-elections will be held on 7 May 2015 in Camborne Treswithian and Constantine, Mawnan and Budock following the resignations of UKIP councillor Viv Lewis and Conservative councillor Neil Hatton, respectively, in March 2015.
Cornwall County Council was established in 1889 and abolished on 31 March 2009. It was succeeded by the unitary authority. The Isles of Scilly remained a separate unitary authority.
The following table shows party control of the Cornwall Council and its predecessor Cornwall County Council, following each election since 1973.
- Joseph Trewavas VC (1835â"1905)
- Sir Edward Bolitho, Chairman 1941 to 1952
- Sir John Carew Pole, 12th Baronet, Chairman 1952 to 1963.
- Official website