Cornwall Council claims mayor deal will bring £390m to Cornwall

By Richard Whitehouse - Local Democracy Reporter

22nd Nov 2022 | Local News

Cornwall Council building (Image: Planning Resource)
Cornwall Council building (Image: Planning Resource)

Cornwall Council has claimed that Cornwall will get £ 390 million if it signs up for a devolution deal with the Government and has a directly elected mayor. However, it does not specify the timescale for the funding or what it could be used for.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced last week that Cornwall was one of the areas in the country which would be getting a directly elected mayor as part of new devolution deals with the Government. Cornwall is seeking a "level three" devolution deal which would give it more powers and responsibilities but the Government has said that in order to do this it would need to have a mayor.

Cornwall Council's leader Linda Taylor and Cornwall's six Conservative MPs had asked former Prime Minister Liz Truss if Cornwall could have a level three deal without a mayor but the request was denied.

Campaigners, Cornwall councillors, and town and parish councillors have all called for a referendum to be held in Cornwall so that residents can decide whether Cornwall should have a directly elected mayor. Cllr Taylor previously dismissed the idea but said that the council would carry out public consultation about the devolution deal.

Some people have highlighted that the change in governance in Cornwall is unnecessary as it already has a strong leader and Cabinet model and so having a directly elected mayor would only add to bureaucracy. They have also said that it could cost taxpayers around £ 1 million a year.

It has been claimed that a directly elected mayor could command a salary of £80,000 and that there would be additional costs for their staff and office. The estimated costs have been calculated on the basis of other directly elected mayors elsewhere in the UK.

A meeting of the full council at Cornwall Council next week will consider a motion from councillors calling for a referendum about whether Cornwall should have a mayor. In response, council officers have stated that Cllr Taylor is expected to make an executive decision to accept the devolution deal which they claim could be worth £390m for Cornwall.

The response to the motion states that "it is expected that the Leader of the Council will shortly consider making the executive decision to accept the proposed £390million Cornwall Devolution Deal on a 'minded to' basis".

No further details are provided on the £390m figure both in terms of the timescale in which it would be provided or what it could be used for. The response also claims that a referendum would cost £967,530 and that: "It is important to note that the council has not budgeted for this significant cost."

The motion which is going to the full council has been made by Independent councillor Tim Dwelly and seconded by Conservative councillor John Conway. It also has support from Independent, Liberal Democrat, and Labour councillors.

It states: "It is clear that many people in Cornwall want to have a referendum before any mayoral system is introduced. The Let Cornwall Decide campaign has seen a petition signed by over 6,000 people (with numbers continuing to rise). Also, over 62 town and parish councils have voted to call for a mayoral referendum, with none wanting a Mayor decided by a single meeting of councillors."

Its recommendation to the council states: "Cornwall Council should hold a vote to decide if a referendum of all voters be held to determine whether Cornwall is in future governed by a Mayor. This vote of full council shall be held after consideration of any public consultation exercise undertaken by this council."

The full council meeting will be held at New County Hall in Truro next Tuesday, November 29.

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