Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cornwall Council needs to support the Penlee lifeboat day

I was extremely saddened to read today that the Penlee lifeboat day will not take place this year. The organisers are blaming the amount of forms and organisation and are quoted by the BBC as saying this is "Bureaucracy gone mad". I can't express my frustration properly at this situation. Penlee lifeboat day is a great event, after Golowan one of my favourite days of the year in Penzance. I have a great amount of respect for the RNLI and the volunteer crews that not only risk life and limb to save others but invest a huge amount of time in fundraising, training and out on shouts.

These people go the extra mile to help others, a sentiment that Cornwall Council could do well to learn. Why Cornwall Council -whether it be the councillors of the leading Conservative/ Independent group or civil servants- can not go the extra mile for our brave lifeboat crew and their essential fundraising is beyond me. We should be bending over backwards to help these people not snubbing them in such a way. I think the least Cornwall Council could do is help these people, give them assistance in running the event and make this event work. If they can't do this out of a sense of good will toward good people, perhaps they need to realise that without fundraising the essential lifeboat service couldn't exist, surely of benefit to Cornwall?
My pic from a previous Penlee Lifeboat day,
a great opportunity to see the RNLI in action and donate to them.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Why do English cities get devolution and not Cornwall?

Devolution has many benefits, among them it frees areas from "Whitehall control" to allow more local specific solutions to be found, it allows areas "to decide for themselves how to boost their local economies". Devolution promises to help "young people looking for jobs" and "businesses to expand". Now these arguments and the quotes in italics, are not the words of me or a member of Mebyon Kernow or the Welsh Assembly or the Scottish Parliament or a London Assembly member, they are not the words of a nationalist but of Nick Clegg. Announcing the plans to devolve power to eight English cities (Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield) the benefits for these cities are:

1. More power to invest in growth.
2. More freedom to support local businesses.
3. More power over budgets and resources to drive infrastructure and development.
4. Powers to deliver the skills training local people and businesses need.

Certainly these positive attributes of devolution are not merely confined to cities. Cornwall could do with more power to invest in growth. Cornish businesses could do with tailored help. In infrastructure too, we could do with some investment. There are obvious advantages to a tailored Cornish skills training package being rolled out to help our economy.

My only question is why can't the government see that Cornwall could benefit too from such measures? That a Cornish assembly could easily form an integral part of localism. It is obvious to me that is cities can be given the powers and responsibility to fix their own problems why not Kernow? We as much as anywhere on this isle deserve to have change, so we too can be ambitious, so we can drive growth by investing in infrastructure, skills and training. The time has come for Cornwall to gain devolution we were ignored when London, Scotland and Wales were granted their own powers, hopefully this time can be our time.

All quotes taken from the Communities and Local Government website.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Duchy, Republic and republicanism in Cornwall

The campaign group Republic is launching a campaign to abolish the title and estates of the Duchy of Cornwall, this is of prime importance to Cornwall. As we know Duke Charles Windsor is one of the biggest landowners in Cornwall, as well as this he has a multitude of rights, privileges and perks that places him in the position of sovereign of Cornwall. Since the position of Duke of Cornwall was created in 1337, successive Dukes have used incomes from Cornwall and in particular mineral rights from the mining industry to build a massive property portfolio that spreads far beyond Cornwall. Suffice to say Charles Windsor is where he is now and rich as he is now as a result of monies raised west of the Tamar. The future of the Duchy of Cornwall and it's Duke should be decided by the people of Cornwall.

The Republic campaign blasts the office of Duke as 'arcane, archaic and unfair', I certainly have no problem with this assessment. I greatly agree with the Republic's logic. The days of monarchy have passed, people of great power and influence in a democracy ought to be elected and accountable to the people who pay their wages. Further the taxpayer can ill afford to subside others lavish lifestyles especially when they are already extravagantly rich. It sticks in my throat that taxpayers money gets siphoned off for the royals at the same time as the NHS is being sold off as unaffordable and there are recruitments freezes and redundancy drives for teachers, policeman and servicemen.  In my household if we were hard up, I'd be thought of as an idiot if I stopped spending money on food and clothes for my family whilst still spending money on ultimately pointless luxuries such as jewellery and foreign holidays, I don't see why this logic hasn't yet penetrated the thick skulls of Westminster.

The Republic group wants to abolish the Duchy of Cornwall and for that money to be 'nationalised' into the treasury. So rather than a millionaire earning an extra £17.8 million a year, this would be spent on essential public services. Republic have put forward this plan:

The campaign calls for stewardship of the estate’s land and property to be transferred to the Crown Estate or a separate board of fully accountable commissioners, with its net profit passing directly to the Treasury for the benefit of all taxpayers.

A good plan, it is a textbook case of nationalising assets, however I think it does Cornwall a disservice and neglects to recognise that Cornwall has provided for centuries the economic backbone of the Duchy estate as it is today. It may sound a crudely simple thing to say but the Duchy would be nothing without Cornwall and this should be recognised if the title of Duke is abolished. As an alternative I would suggest that lands in Cornwall should be gifted to Cornwall, either to Cornwall Council or hopefully to a Cornish assembly. So the considerable landholdings, farms, quarries, beaches and rivers would be run and administered from Cornwall and any profits made reinvested here. This would mean that the considerable holdings outside of Cornwall would be lost to us but we would go a long way to getting back some of the toils of our mining ancestors.

Of course the other big question raised by the prospect of abolishing the Duchy, is what does this mean for Cornwall's constitutional status? It would also break the line of rule through the Cornish kings, Saxon and Norman Earls and English Dukes...

This is Cornwall story on Republic's campaign
Webpage on the Republic site for the anti-Duchy campaign