Cornwall’s MPs have welcomed the Government’s £100,000 funding boost for culture and heritage projects across the county.
The Government has confirmed it is awarding Cornwall Council a £100,000 grant, spread over two years, to create a Cornish Culture Fund.
On Gool Peran, the annual celebration of the Patron Saint of Cornwall, local MPs Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay), George Eustice (Camborne and Redruth), Scott Mann (North Cornwall), Sarah Newton (Truro and Falmouth) and Derek Thomas (St Ives) have urged the council to seek the public’s views on how the culture funding is spent.
Mrs Newton, who claims to have led the push for funding with Mr Eustice, said: “The Government has committed significant funds to Cornwall since 2010, including around £750,000 for promoting the Cornish language, but many people feel the money has not always been well spent by the council”.
The current budget for the language is zero and has been since it’s £150,000 a year budget was cut by central government in 2015 despite the national minority status protection that should encourage investment, not stop it.
A formal response from the Council is expected in the morning to the Tory allegations.
The Truro MP continued “Cornwall has a distinct culture and heritage which is vital to our way of life as well as the local economy, jobs and tourism.
“It is essential the latest injection of £100,000 is spent wisely and we strongly believe local people should have a say on which projects should benefit.”
Mr Eustice said: “We have a number of iconic cultural venues across the county which have benefited from significant investment, such as Heartlands. I’m looking forward to the opening of the Kresen Kernow archive centre in Redruth, and hope to see some of this money spent on the Cornish language which is an important part of our cultural heritage”
Meanwhile, the Government has responded this week to the Council of Europe’s advisory committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCPNM), a treaty that aims to protect the rights of minorities.
The response focused, in part, on Cornish language and culture and confirmed the £100,000 grant is part of the response. The full progress report from the Council of Europe on how the government has responded to the FCPNM will be published later this week.
Steve Double has though upset the Cornish Language community by adding
“A recurring trend at the moment is that people I speak to on the doors in Mid-Cornwall don’t believe Cornwall Council has, to date, invested the money it has been given to promote culture well or in the best interests of the people of Cornwall. For example, spending money on teaching council officers to answer the phone in Cornish when only 300 people list it as their primary language.”
“I very much hope that Cornwall Council will listen to the people of Cornwall and spend this money that the Government has given it sensibly on promoting Cornish culture in a tangible way and not on one of their madcap schemes or vanity projects, which they are so fond of.”
CS tried to contact John Keeling, leader of the Conservative group at the Council for ideas on how a Conservative council would spend the money but couldn’t get a response.
A spokesperson for Cornish pressure group Kernow Matters To Us reacted to the Tory announcement today, telling CS:
‘It always causes amusement when the Cornish people are expected to be so grateful for the return of what is in effect their own tax money to be spent on Cornish matters.
£100,000, although a significant amount, is only a little more than the salary of ONE Member of Parliament. Bearing in mind that a member of the House of Lords claims £300 a day for just turning up places this sum into some perspective. So, a large amount to those of us on minimum pay but nothing when compared to the sums spent on the arts up in the English cities.
Vanity projects are better described as Heartlands and Eden where millions of pounds of public money have been spent with no consultation at all. Consultants have been ‘flown in’ from up country and we, the people of Cornwall left with the white elephants they have created.
More than 300 people speak Cornish. Speakers are now in the thousands and this is thanks to those who have tirelessly given over their time and money to progress it.
The language is an integral part of our culture.
We remain astonished that the MPs require public consultation on how £100,000 over two years is to be spent. How much of that sum will be eaten away by the costs of such a consultation?
The way ahead for Cornwall is for complete devolution of all cultural, heritage and related management to a Cornwall based organisation, democratically accountable and taking into account local stakeholders, be they groups, societies or individuals and for this constant begging for crumbs under the well stocked tables of Westminster to stop.”