Row erupts over our MPs attitude to Cornish Culture and how to spend £100k – Grand Bard: "I'm not entirely impressed…"

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“Cornishness is for life, not just St.Piran’s Day”

This week, as we await the first report on how the UK government has responded to giving Cornwall National Minority Status, a row is erupting over use of a new £100k fund for Cornish Culture, the attitude of our MPs and how they are representing Cornwall up the line.

The National Minority report is not expected to be favourable to the government so ahead of the announcement, Cornwall’s 6 Tory MPs have used St Piran’s Day to laud an announcement about the creation of a £100k Cornish Culture Fund.

Communities Minister Lord Bourne said when announcing the fund :

“Cornwall has a rich history and distinctive identity. 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.”

The fund could also be used to further boost the Cornish language, from Cornish classes to providing textbooks for learners. Efforts to revive the language by increasing the numbers of speakers have been successful, and this has benefitted the local and visitor economy through the promotion of the cultural distinctiveness of Cornwall.

Cornwall Council has a core spending power of £1.7 billion over four years and this distinct fund will boost the progress made on building the profile of Cornwall’s culture and heritage as part of the devolution deal”.

However the Tories chose to use the announcement as a way of attacking the Lib Dem led Cornwall Council saying “many people feel the money (culture spending) has not always been well spent by the council” – but she accompanied her story with a lovely photo of herself with Will Coleman and his Man Engine – a Cornwall Council funded project!

“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.” she concluded.

Cornwall’s MPs hail £100,000 grant to create a “Cornish Culture Fund” – but Double says teaching Cornish is one of the Council’s ‘mapcap schemes’

A senior council source described Tory statement as “incoherent …given comments about Heartlands and Kresen Kernow, two flagship projects that Cornwall Council has led, delivered and raised millions of pounds to achieve. We have heard some comments from DCMS officers re Cornwall’s ambitions and the MP’s response to it. All very unhelpful”

The official couuncil response is due out today (Tuesday).

Steve Double MP for Newquay and St Austell upset the Cornish Language community by saying in response:

“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.”

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Bardh Meur / Grand Bard Merv Davey

Gorsedh Kernow exists to maintain and give expression to the national spirit of Cornwall as a Celtic country.  Through groups, societies, events, competitions and ceremonies Gorsedh Kernow offers non-profit making support and education that upholds Cornish Celtic culture and history.

Merv Davey, Grand Bard of Gorsedh Kernow told CS

“Any funding for Cornish Culture is welcome although am intrigued to know why the Cornish, as a national minority, receive so much less than proportionately other national minorities within the UK such as the Welsh and Scottish.

I doubt if it will impress the Council of Europe’s FCNM committee who we suspect will be quite critical of the UK Government’s attitude to the Cornish as a National Minority. I am not entirely impressed by the anecdotal evidence provided by Sarah Newton and Steve Double as to attitude of the Cornish public to the Cornish Language. Certainly “teaching council officers to answer the phone in Cornish when only 300 people list it as their primary language.” was a press artefact not related to any factual detail about expenditure on the Cornish language”

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