Cornwall Council – 10 years of transforming and sustaining public services, in the face of reducing funding from Government.
Ten years ago this month, Cornwall Council came into existence, as Cornwall County Council and the six District and Borough councils merged to create one of the largest councils in England.
Coinciding as it did with the aftershock of the global economic crash, the Council was immediately confronted with what has since become a decade of austerity and an unprecedented squeeze on public finances. We should be proud of the fact that from day one, the Council responded with an equally unprecedented level of innovation and bold decisions that have minimised the impact on public services in Cornwall.
Ten years on, the Council is acknowledged as ‘making its own weather’ and laying the foundations to deliver a prosperous future for Cornwall with the creation of a self-sustaining economy and an organisation that is less reliant on Government funding. Given this significant milestone, it is worth reflecting on the Council’s journey over the past 10 years and highlight ten significant achievements that symbolise our shared commitment to improve the quality of life for ‘One and All’.
1. It is easy to forget that back in 2009 the Council had a number of failing services, most notably Children’s Services. Fast forward ten years and we have witnessed a complete transformation with children and families in Cornwall benefitting from one of the best Children’s Services in the country!
2. Thanks to the financial support from the Council, the last ten years have also seen Cornwall become better-connected, with the provision of fibre broadband enabling the Duchy to have one of the fastest growing digital sectors in the UK.
3. Through the enterprise of the Council, Cornwall has played host to many successful ‘firsts’ over the last ten years, not least of which was the start of the Olympic torch relay in 2012 with over a billion people watching the torch begin its journey around Great Britain.
4. From securing Minority Status for the Cornish in 2014 to the creation of Kresen Kernow – our new state of the art archive centre – the Council has provided clear leadership in the enhancement and celebration of Cornwall’s culture and heritage.
5. Through a series of bold investments, the Council has ensured that Cornwall is a global leader in the development and deployment of renewable energies, most notably in marine and geothermal renewables enhancing the Duchy’s green peninsula credentials.
6. The Council was the driving force in securing the historic Cornwall Devolution Deal in 2015, which to this day remains the only rural deal agreed by the Government and has led to a host of benefits being realised, including tangible improvements to our public transport network.
7. The last ten years have seen the Council become a bastion of ‘ultra-localism’ – as acknowledged by the current Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government – with our commitment to localism, or as we refer to it as ‘double devolution’, seeing a host of public assets, including numerous libraries, devolved to local communities.
8. A sustained commitment to improving Cornwall’s infrastructure has seen the Council complete multi-million pound investments in road, rail and air connections, most notably assuming the role of Highways England to dual 4.5km of single carriageway on the A30 generating an extra £134m per annum for the Cornish economy.
9. We should be proud of the fact that Cornwall Council is currently the top authority in the country for the number of affordable homes provided and at the same time we have made huge strides in reducing rough sleeping in the Duchy.
10. Finally, as well as putting roofs over more people’s heads, the Council is also putting more money in their pockets; our accreditation as a Foundation Living Wage employer is providing an extra £10 million to help Cornish households cope with the rising costs of living.
Of course the Council never stands still and our 10th anniversary coincides with two further landmark events, both of which are destined to have a profound and positive impact on Cornwall. Firstly, the launch of our new integrated children’s services directorate, Together for Families, provides an enhanced single ‘front door’ for families to access education, health and social care services across Cornwall. Secondly, the start of direct flights from Newquay Airport to Heathrow will link Cornwall to over 200 global destinations and immediately open up countless new trading opportunities.
As a result of the willingness of all three political administrations to take bold and brave decisions over the last ten years, Cornwall Council is now regarded as one of the vanguards of local government with an award winning workforce dedicated to delivering further improvement.
Current and past members and officers of Cornwall Council can look back at the first ten years with a great deal of pride and look forward to the future with justified confidence.
Councillor Mary May – Chairman of Cornwall Council
Councillor Adam Paynter – Leader of Cornwall Council
Kate Kennally – Chief Executive of Cornwall Council