The new cabinet of Cornwall council met the press today. A main topic of conversation was how the uncertain national picture will impact on the workings and ambitions of the new Lib dem /Independent administration at County Hall.
“The overall result was clearly a shock but we’ve got to work with whatever we’ve got” said Council Leader Adam Paynter
“At the local level, to be clear, we’ll be working with our MPs positively – we do have 6 returning MPs, so we do know who they are, but we do need to work with them to make sure they work really hard for the people of Cornwall.
“Theresa May is trying to form the government, we’ll see over the next days and weeks if that will operate successfully, we’ll have to see whether they’ll be another snap election perhaps later in the year, but from our point of view we’ll very much be looking to work with whoever is in government. Certainly, in my role as leader, I’ll be working very closely with Whitehall and making sure that Cornwall’s voice is heard.
“For me, Alot of what has happened is actually positive – Brexit will be a massive issue for Cornwall, a massive issue for the Council, so the Hard Brexit that was being portrayed previously by Theresa May I think will soften. That will be positive for Cornwall and could well be very good.
“We have 6 Conservative MPs that will potentially be working with a Conservative government, so we’ll look to work with them to get the best outcomes for Cornwall”
Mike Eathorne-Gibbons, who has “partnerships” as part of his portfolio, added: : ” On balance it is probably good news for Cornwall , as I think they (the MPs) are likely to have more influence as might otherwise have been the case. Individually we know the MPs reasonably well, as of course two of them have been Cornwall Councillors previously, so they understand exactly where we are coming from. It’s an opportunity for Cornwall to stake it’s place in national issues”
CS asked if the cabinet feared that major decisions will be delayed, like the space port and replacing European structural funding?
Adam Paynter: “Potentially it could do. We have a number of outstanding Secretary of State decisions that could affect Cornwall on all sorts of planning matters aswell as items like the Spaceport which will be very important and clearly we are keen as an administration to see if we can bring something like the Spaceport to Cornwall , which I think will be essential for our economic prosperity – so we are hoping that the government will stick to alot of the areas that they were looking to bring forward. Time will tell. There has been a bit of continuity so if we had had a completely different government potentially some of those decisions would have been stalled even further”
Cllr Paynter expected the MPs to use the government’s slim majority to our advantage.
“One thing that will be different is that the six Cornish Conservative MPs, and equally across the south west, where there are a number of Conservative MPS, are going to become even more important, they need to stick together in that very very small majority to deliver for Cornwall – their voice will be so much stronger to deliver for Cornwall. I think the general public would expect that. We’ll be looking to our six MPs to really stand up and work really hard to make sure that we can deliver these things and move forward as quickly as possible”
The council’s priorities will be laid out in the following few weeks said Council Leader Paynter.
“The reason we haven’t got a manifesto up and running is clearly because we are a joint administration – it’s a group of Liberal democrats working with a group of independents – clearly the independents group all stood on different tickets to get elected. By their very nature the Independents are all independent . they work as a group to make sure the administration can work successfully but we are working together to come forward with our aims and priorities for this council. The Lib Dems had three clear aims, around protecting adult care funding, building council houses and around fair pay, so those will still be there but we are still working on getting to exactly where we’ll get to”
Even though priorities haven’t been announced one of the first decisions made by Adam Paynter was to drop the controversial European capital of culture bid. “I made that desicion on day one. We were timed out of that actual bid but the money is still there in the culture budget. I spoke to many cultural partners at the Royal Cornwall Show and they were content with the decision as we were simply timed out. It’s a bit early to say where that particular money will actually go to but we have lots of other exciting ideas around culture in Cornwall and culture will be important for this cabinet aswell”