Reducing low pay, police merger proposal and electoral boundaries considered at Full Council

Reducing low pay for workers, the potential merger of the Devon and Cornwall and Dorset police forces and the future of Cornwall’s electoral boundaries and divisions were all considered at a meeting of Cornwall Council at New County Hall yesterday.

Members agreed that Cornwall Council should seek to achieve Living Wage Foundation accreditation by 31 March 2019, working with those who deliver the Council’s service contracts in Cornwall to move towards paying their staff a real living wage. A further motion was passed that Cornwall Council become a strategic advocate for the payment of the foundation living wage in Cornwall.

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Calling this a “top priority” for Cornwall Council, Council Leader Adam Paynter said: “Independent research has shown that paying the foundation living wage can be good for business and good for the workforce. As well as the financial benefits, paying workers the living wage can have a positive impact on productivity and staff turnover which in turn can provide direct benefits to customers and residents through better delivery of services. It can also help to improve levels of staffing and help existing workers to build a sustainable career over the long term.”

Members also debated their response to the Local Government Boundary Commission’s announcement that from 2021 Cornwall Council be reduced by 36 Councillors, to a total of 87.

In addition, Members agreed a motion in response to the Government’s recommendation on a new cross-border “Devonwall” parliamentary constituency, outlined recently in the Parliamentary Boundary Review.

Cornwall Council’s Leader Adam Paynter said: “ We strongly object to the principle of a cross border constituency and will continue to reiterate our absolute opposition to the proposals for the South West region because of this. Maintaining the integrity of Cornwall’s historic border is of the upmost importance. It is an issue which must be addressed.” 

Members also endorsed a motion about the proposed merger of Devon and Cornwall police force with the Dorset force, expressing severe reservations about the way in which the consultation on the merger has been conducted. The motion stated that Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel had expressed serious concerns about the lack of detailed information available and in particular the lack of published evidence about the envisaged benefits of the merger. As a result, there was little option other than to resolve to oppose the proposed merger.

Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods and Public Protection Sue James said: “It is my belief that people in Cornwall want police officers in the community to enable them to be and to feel safe.  They want to be able to talk to and work with them to tackle anti-social behaviour in its broadest sense, they want local crime and offenders dealt with effectively locally and they want a visible uniformed presence in their community.

“This merger would go totally against our priority of localism, and councillors voted to give a clear message to the corporation souls who have to make a decision on whether or not to proceed with this merger.”