Cornwall Council has issued a strong rebuke to the latest claims by Cornwall’s Conservtive MPs that the council is spending money ‘unwisely’ on Cornish culture.
The council’s counter attack comes after the Tories chose Gool Peran (St. Piran’s Day) to highlight the creation of a new £100k Cornish Culture Fund. This is in part the Government response to giving the people of Cornwall National Minority Status.
A report on how that’s going is due out later this week but it promises to be embarrassing for the UK government and Cornwall’s 6 Tory MPs who are accused of not doing enough to protect Cornish culture. Steve Double upset many this week by including the teaching of simple greetings in Cornish to Council call centre staff as a ‘madcap scheme’ and used it as a example of a waste of money as ‘only 300 people speak Cornish’.
This new fund will “help Cornish people further develop projects around their culture and heritage complementing the devolution deal signed with local partners in 2015”
Since 2015 the UK government under Tory rule has gone backwards in the level of recognition Cornish Culture and heritage should receive under the Council of Europe Charter for national Minorities
The cut in funding to language and Devonwall should not in theory be happening under the Charter. The government has said it gives Cornwall money, if Cornwall council don’t choose to spend it on the language and heritage then that’s their look out.
The Council of Europe is nothing to do with the EU and so none of this is affected by Brexit.
The Council, in it’s statement hit back : “As well as calling for a review of the Government’s decision to cut funding for the Cornish language, we have also been pressing for the inclusion of a Cornish tick-box in the next census and for the BBC Charter to be revised to include the Cornish language in the list of minority languages, as well as an end to the proposal for a “Devonwall” seat”
The Council Statement in full:
We are surprised at the comments which have been made by Cornwall’s MPs on the creation of the Cornish Culture Fund.
Whilst we welcome the Government’s recent announcement of a £100,000 fund ‘to encourage the further development of Cornish culture and heritage’ we are disappointed that the sum offered is one-off.
Until last year the Government, which has recognised the Cornish language as a British minority language, had provided up to £150,000 a year to support the Cornish Language, this ceased suddenly last year.
The announcement of a one off sum of £50,000 a year over two years, is to support the wider development of Cornwall’s culture, heritage and identity.
Given this significantly reduced level of funding, we will be looking carefully at how best to spend it to support our work in ensuring that the Cornish can access the linguistic and cultural rights accorded by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
We are aware that the Council of Europe will publish the Opinion of its Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities later this week.
As well as calling for a review of the Government’s decision to cut funding for the Cornish language, we have also been pressing for the inclusion of a Cornish tick-box in the next census and for the BBC Charter to be revised to include the Cornish language in the list of minority languages, as well as an end to the proposal for a “Devonwall” seat.
We are optimistic that these issues will be included in the recommendations in the Council of Europe report and look forward to the MPs and central government throwing their full weight behind making the recommendations a reality.
We are disappointed by the suggestion that the Council has not spent the money previously allocated by the Government wisely. The MPs highlight flagship projects such as Kresen Kernow, which has been led and delivered by the Council and supported by the MPs.
We have also led and supported many other cultural projects and activities, including the development of Tate St Ives Phase 2; the redevelopment of King Edward mine, the refurbishment of Duchy Palace at Lostwithiel, the Hall for Cornwall programme (where the £3m invested by the Council has levered in a further £15m, including £2m from the Treasury), £150,000 allocated to St Austell Market House, Launceston’s Causley House and Festival, refurbishment of Duchy Palace at Lostwithiel and the GROUNDWORK interdisciplinary international visual arts festival.
Cornwall Council is committed to supporting Cornish culture and heritage.