Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Newspaper column 22 July 2015 - The Deal for Cornwall

This week in the constituency has been one of the most eventful for me since the election.  Last Thursday morning the Prime Minister announced the ground-breaking Deal for Cornwall (“the Deal”).  He then travelled to County Hall in Truro to meet with leaders from Cornwall Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership (“LEP”), Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS) and the Cornish MPs to continue discussions about implementation of the Deal.

On Thursday evening the PM then met with the MPs to discuss a number of issues, including the Government’s continued commitment to invest in Cornwall. Then on Friday morning I accompanied him again as he met with tourism business leaders at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. 

The Deal for Cornwall has provoked significant debate since it was announced.   The six Cornish MPs were involved in the discussion at Westminster and we are committed to working together to bring sensible change to Cornwall.

Cornwall Council had prepared their “Case for Cornwall” that proposed the devolution of wide-ranging powers to the Council.  In contrast, the Deal for Cornwall spreads the devolved powers across a number of bodies working together.

I have been campaigning for the integration of health and social care services for some time.  While the NHS is currently managed by central government, our local council manages social care.  This is a barrier to communication and integrated care.  The result is that patients remain in hospital beds, the so-called blocked beds, while they wait for a place in a care home.  An integrated countywide solution will help alleviate this pressure. 

I also campaigned on job creation; and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP will play an even greater role in our economic future. The LEP and Cornwall Council, working together, have been given greater power to assign European funding to growth projects in Cornwall. 

We have also been given the chance to improve our transport system. The Government is already investing more in our roads and railways than we have seen for many years. Now we have the chance to have greater management over our bus services to make sure we have an integrated public transport system that works for Cornwall.

This deal is a partnership between the Government, the Cornish MPs, Cornwall Council, the LEP, and the health authority. It is not just about giving more powers to Cornwall Council.

Cornwall is in many ways a unique place and we face a number of challenges that require different solutions to those made possible when services are run from central Government.

For most of my life people in Cornwall have expressed that the Westminster Government (of all political parties) has felt remote and detached from Cornwall. I believe we should see the Deal as a positive step that addresses this remoteness and has some great possibilities that we should be focusing on.

We clearly need to make sure that these changes are implemented in a sensible way that ensures positive outcomes for Cornwall.  We are now being given a unique opportunity to stand up for ourselves and take responsibility for a number of key services.