Friday, 19 September 2014

Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils... part four: Scottish repercussions: "Unitary counties and an English Parliament better."

Questions have already been raised as to how the promises made during the Scottish referendum will effect the rest of the country:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils...

Now the vote has been determined and promises have been confirmed, the press in the West Country are making local feelings heard:

Devon and Cornwall call for devolution after No vote in Scotland

By Herald Express | Posted: September 19, 2014

SCOTLAND'S vote for No to independence could potentially pave the way for a major devolution of powers to the Westcountry.

David Cameron, promptly outlining time-table for 'devo-max' to Scotland as promised on a No victory, signalled the start of the process of 'English votes for English laws', ending Scottish MPs voting on English matters.

The prospect of a new English Parliament - along with Welsh and Northern Irish MPs voting alone on policies only impacting their voters - increases pressure for powers on areas including taxation, welfare and health to be devolved regionally.

Cornwall has been at the front of the queue calling for its own elected assembly, with 'Kernow Max' likely to be could be the rallying cry. Cornwall Council will shortly start a 'conversation' with residents on what responsibilities will demand.

The Conservative leader of Devon County Council said the Government has to ensure the South West 'doesn't lose out' as a result of more powers flowing to Scotland.

Mr Cameron said: "I have long believed a crucial part missing from this national discussion is England. We have heard the voice of Scotland and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard.
" He added the question of English votes for English laws, the so-called West Lothian Question, requires a 'decisive answer so just as Scotland will vote separately on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so too England as well as Wales and Northern Ireland should be able to vote on these issues'.

Commons Leader William Hague will draw up the detail of the plans with the same November deadline as that for the detailed proposals for Scotland.

Following his promise - made jointly with Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg - of further devolution to the Scottish Parliament in the case of a No vote, Mr Cameron has come under intense pressure from English MPs concerned that their constituents are being sidelined. The so-called Barnett Formula, which results in the South West getting £2,000 less per head in public funding than Scotland, will continue.

Earlier this week, Anne Marie Morris, Conservative MP for Newton Abbot, told the Western Morning News it was 'logical and long overdue' it was 'altered' to give English people 'a fairer slice of the cake'.

But it remains to be seen how English devolution will manifest itself. But Devon MP Sarah Wollaston was among those warning against regional governance, warning they risked being 'fragmented and expensive'. "A network of city states with devolved powers would do nothing for rural England," said the Conservative MP for Totnes. "Unitary counties and an English Parliament better."

Mr Hague signalled it was 'unlikely' there would be proposals for 'another layer of government', which appears put the kibosh on, say, a South West or Wessex-wide body could mean enhanced powers for existing Devon, Cornwall and Somerset councils.

John Hart, leader of Devon County Council and chair of South West Councils, which represents 41 local authorities, said: "Local government can do many things far more effectively than central Government. Let them devolve the responsibility to us - and the resources - and we will get on and do it efficiently and effectively. We now have to ensure that Devon and the South West doesn't lose out because of the promises made by the Westminster parties to Scotland. Last week we were being urged to fly the Saltire. But I intend to keep on flying the flag for Devon."

On Thursday, Cornwall Council called on the government to give Cornwall 'more freedom to manage its own affairs'. But Cornish nationalist party Mebyon Kernow warned 'renaming Cornwall Council a Cornish Assembly is not devolution'.

The Liberal Democrats are four-square behind an Assembly, and have included 'devolution on demand' in their manifesto. But the Conservatives are less convinced. Sarah Newton, Tory MP for Truro and Falmouth, said: "Predictably supporters of a Cornish Assembly are jumping on the independence bandwagon. Like the Cornish Assembly campaigners I believe that Cornwall is special and has a unique history, language and culture. However I don't believe that we need to create a costly, new institution to express our identity. Do we really need a Cornish Assembly to be proudly Cornish?" She added: "What we do need is more decisions about Cornwall being made in Cornwall. Our Duchy is a distinctive place, with distinctive needs. Distinctively Cornish solutions are needed."

Devon and Cornwall call for devolution as Scotland votes no | Western Morning News
Now Devon and Cornwall people call for devolution | East Devon Alliance
MPs warn against funding carve-up pledge that sees South West trail Scotland | Western Morning News

Why the Scots 'No' should mean a 'Yes' to the Wessex Nation

By TristanCork | Posted: September 19, 2014

The West Country could get greater powers to run its own affairs as a result of the Scottish turning down independence yesterday.

Council chiefs and politicians from across the region said they would welcome devolution for the south west – either in the form of ‘city states’, the shire counties or on a regional basis.

Why the Scots 'No' should mean a 'Yes' to the Wessex Nation | Western Daily Press

Cornwall should have elected mayors under English devolution, says think-tank

By WBEsme | Posted: September 13, 2014

Counties including Cornwall, Devon and Somerset should have a “metro mayor” as the political figurehead for a massive devolution of powers from London, a leading think-tank has said.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank’s vision for 40 different functions of government to be handed to the regions, including greater powers to vary taxes, was published as the Scotland independence vote sparked calls for decentralisation across the UK.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Scottish debate had “re-energised people’s interest and engagement in politics”, and underlined the need for greater decentralisation of power within England.

The IPPR report, backed by Mr Clegg, identifies powers and budgets that could be ceded from 13 different Whitehall departments.

If adopted, its 10-year plan would lead to a new wave of combined authorities, as pioneered in Greater Manchester, with the possibility of directly elected “metro mayors” for regions. IPPR makes clear the plan would not be limited to major cities, meaning it could be appropriate for largely rural counties such as the far South West. It says a “metro mayor” could apply to any single local authority boundary.

It says: “There is a particular opportunity for counties and districts to enhance their relationships, such that rural areas and other towns and cities can enjoy the benefits that decentralisation might bring.”

How powers were divided in the Westcountry would prompt fierce debate. While many in Cornwall are anxious for its own devolved assembly similar to Edinburgh and Cardiff, others believe a greater South West body – perhaps taking in Bristol – would be more effective.

The South West Regional Assembly, based in Taunton and written off as a “talking shop”, was supposed to be a pre-cursor to a fully elected tier of Government before Labour’s devolution agenda was killed off by a “no” vote in the North East.

In his speech, Lib Dem leader Mr Clegg said the time has come to push for action on decentralisation. “You only need look at how the Scottish referendum debate has re-energised people’s interest and engagement in politics over the last few weeks to see that this is an idea whose time has come,” he will say. “Over the last decades, we’ve seen a wave of new powers shifting out to every nation of the UK, except England. With a new consensus now emerging amongst the UK’s three main political parties to extend devolution and decentralisation in the future, I believe we can push forward in realising our ambitions for a stronger, fairer Britain.”

IPPR calls for fiscal devolution to be a central plank of the 2015 comprehensive spending review, with five-year funding settlements agreed and an independent body established to take forward further central-local funding reforms. The plan could eventually lead to property taxes and business rates being devolved to combined authorities and, eventually, a proportion of income tax being assigned to them.

IPPR North director Ed Cox, said: “Whichever way Scotland votes next week, Edinburgh will get new powers and widen the gap with local leaders across England. England has waited patiently while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been given ever great devolution. Now is the time to redress the balance and devolve powers to English city-regions.”

Mr Pickles said that while there was “real scope” for further devolution of power in England, he questioned whether the creation of combined authorities was the right approach. “Localism in England should be about devolving power to the lowest appropriate level – down to councils, to neighbourhoods and to individuals,” he said. “There may be some role for combined authorities on a strategic level to promote economic development and transport, but there is a real risk they will suck power upwards away from local councils and local taxpayers.”

Cornwall should have elected mayors under English devolution, says think-tank | Cornish Guardian

38 Degrees has just initiated a new campaign asking people what such a debate should look like:
38 Degrees | What next for England?

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