“There is something inevitable about the journey to a Cornish Assembly” said David Whalley, leader of the old Cornwall County Council from a speach made in 2007 at the annual conference of the Cornish Constitutional Convention.
Its now 2017 and no Cornish Assembly. While Scotland, Wales and Mannin are recognised, have varying degrees of devolution, Cornwall and the Cornish remain under the assimilating English ‘county’ council level; the ‘journey’ to a Cornish Assembly either stopped in its tracks or derailed.
Although the Cornish language was finally recognised in 2001, and Cornish ethnicity recognised in 2014, recognition for Cornwall itself remains as far away now as it did back in 2007, and Cornwall’s electorate seems happy to maintain the status quo.
Yet the electorate do have increasing issues. Planning. Westminster’s centralised House Planning Policy Framework (HPPF) imposes unsustainable housing targets upon Cornwall that exceed the amount required for the natural growth of Cornwall’s current population. So what happens to the excess? The excess allows for the further ingress of incomers, 2nd homes and holiday home ownership, that brings about another issue, parking. More incomers, more cars, less parking space!
We place the blame on Cornwall Council, but despite claims of devolved powers and Cornwall’s ‘Local Plan’ the Council has little choice but to comply with Westminster’s diktat. While the Council has rejected planning applications in the past, most are over-turned on appeal by a planning officer in Bristol, these challenges are expensive and leaves the Council short of funds.
Yes we can start petitions, hold protest meetings and demonstrations that rarely prove effective in changing Westminster’s policies. The reality is we need a Cornish administration, a Cornish Assembly that would serve not only to recognise Cornwall as an entity in its own right, but would also enable devolved powers; the autonomy to control planning decisions, build affordable housing etc; either that or continue to accept the status quo: the developer’s paradise, car parking hell and the further undermining of Cornwall’s infrastructure.