Answers to the questions we have been asked about the proposed Cornwall Devolution Deal 2022
Why is the Council considering securing a second devolution deal?
Cornwall Council was the first rural unitary authority to negotiate a devolution deal with Government in 2015. That deal allowed Cornwall to deliver better public transport. It allowed us to retain and reinvest business rates in Cornwall. It allowed us to press ahead with deep geothermal exploration, using our natural resources to address the question of energy security in the future. It delivered real and lasting benefits for Cornwall’s residents, communities and the local economy.
The process for our devolution negotiations started with Government inviting Cornwall to enter into early county deal negotiations in accordance with the Levelling Up White Paper.
Given the unprecedented global financial challenges we are currently experiencing, Cornwall Council wants to secure the maximum funding and powers available through a Level 3 deal. In the current tough economic times, the proposed Cornwall Devolution will help provide stability and certainty and enable us to continue to invest in the future of Cornwall: growing our economy and creating homes and jobs for local people; protecting and enhancing our environment, supporting the transition to a carbon neutral Cornwall, strengthening vibrant communities, our heritage and culture.
The benefits of a Level 3 deal go beyond the powers and funding that this proposed Deal brings. Achieving this status will continue to open further opportunities for devolved powers and funding in future and places Cornwall amongst the first in line for Government investment.
Why a level 3 deal?
The Government is currently offering three levels of devolution deals:
Level 1 - offers devolution to local authorities with looser joint working arrangements, with fewer powers and less devolved funding on offer.
Level 2 - offers devolution to single local government institutions without a directly elected mayor such as combined authorities, or a single upper tier local authority covering a single economic area or the whole county geography with a leader and cabinet governance model. Cornwall already has many of the level two deal powers in place as part of the 2015 deal.
Level 3 - the most comprehensive package is a Level 3 deal, for areas with a single institution over a sensible geography, with the strongest and most accountable leadership, such as a mayoral combined authority (MCA), or a single unitary authority or a county council covering a functional economic area or the whole county geography with a directly elected mayor.
Cornwall Council has negotiated a Level 3 deal with the maximum level of powers and funding available for Cornwall.
How has it been negotiated?
Since the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper in February 2022, the Council has worked closely with Government to discuss options for transferring more powers and funding to Cornwall. Through detailed negotiations in person and online we have developed a Level 3 deal which will have a transformative impact on lives and livelihoods in Cornwall over the next 30 years by accelerating the delivery of the 2050 Cornwall Plan.
What other options are there?
The Government’s approach to devolution was outlined in the Levelling Up White Paper, published in February 2022.
The Devolution Framework (p. 140) outlines three levels of devolution possible. The proposed Cornwall Devolution Deal is a ‘Level 3’ deal, meaning it would require a directly elected Mayor. This unlocks a long-term (30 year) Investment Fund and other powers which would not be available without an elected Mayor.
The alternative option is a Level 2 deal, which requires no change to the Council’s governance model. Through the 2015 Cornwall Devolution Deal, Cornwall Council already holds the majority of powers and investment available at Level 2, with the notable exception of the Adult Education Budget. However, to secure a Level 2 deal the Council would need to start the negotiation process again with Government, and there are no guarantees that this would be possible.
When the current administration was elected in 2021, why did none of the parties include in their manifesto, that Cornwall could have an elected mayor?
The Government’s policy to extend new devolution deals to county areas was developed after the May 2021 local elections. In February 2022 the Levelling Up White Paper announced that Cornwall was invited to negotiate a new devolution deal.
What are the next steps?
The current proposed timetable is as follows:
2 December 2022
The Leader takes the decision to accept the proposed Devolution Deal on a ‘minded to’ basis subject to a number of conditions (see Section 3 below).
Post the ‘minded to’ decision
All Member Briefings, briefings to town and parish councils, and media. Focus on communications and informing about the proposed deal and implications.
9 December 2022
Public consultation on the proposed deal launches: ten-week programme of activities.
January 2023 (C&GC) and February 2023 (IRP) onwards
Constitution & Governance Committee (C&CG) and Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) start to consider the governance (including scrutiny arrangements) and Members Allowance implications respectively and make recommendations to Full Council.
24 January 2023
Customer and Support Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee considers the proposed Deal.
17 February 2023
Public consultation closes.
22 March 2023
Cabinet considers the feedback from the public consultation and Overview and Scrutiny and makes a recommendation to Council on ratification of the proposed Deal including the required governance change.
18 April 2023
Full Council considers the merits of holding a referendum on the proposal to change the Council’s governance.
Full Council considers the outcome of the public consultation, recommendations from Cabinet, the Constitution and Governance Committee and the Independent Remuneration Panel, and decides whether to ratify the deal, make the governance change and make changes to the Constitution including the Members Scheme of Allowances.
26 March 2024
Notice of Election.
2 May 2024
The first election of the elected Mayor takes place.
How has the Cornwall Development and Decision Wheel been used in this process?
The Council uses the Development and Decision Wheel for all major decisions. Please see Appendix 4 of the Leader Decision report, which shows the information that was used to compile the Cornwall Development and Decision Wheel for the Proposed Cornwall Devolution Deal. This report explains why segments of the wheel show a positive or negative impact.
The Proposed Deal is a high-level and long term strategic document, therefore the decision wheel represents the Council’s best estimates of its potential impact. Decision wheels will be completed for decisions arising from the powers and funding provided in the proposed Deal.
What is in the proposed Level 3 Cornwall Devolution Deal?
The proposed Deal will outline what Cornwall Council would receive, including investment totalling £390m.
- A £360m Investment Fund over 30 years to deliver the vision outlined in the 2050 Cornwall Plan [aka ‘The Cornwall We Want’].
- £500k to develop a pipeline of schemes to accelerate the implementation of the Cornwall Transport Plan.
- Devolution of the core Adult Education Budget, as well as input into the new Local Skills Improvement Plans, to deliver our Local Skills and Labour Market Strategy.
- £8.7m brownfield funding, subject to sufficient eligible projects being identified, to help deliver the Council’s Housing Strategy.
- £7m capital funding for housing schemes to also deliver the Housing Strategy.
- £3m capital funding for heritage schemes.
- Up to £10m for a ‘Cornwall Innovation Programme’.
- Commitment to include Cornish in any list of regional and minority languages that appears in future legislation, where appropriate, to enable greater awareness and use of the Cornish language, which supports the Council’s Creative Manifesto.
- The ability to create a Cornwall Land Commission, which will oversee the efficient utilisation of the public sector estate.
- Power to develop Mayoral Development Corporations to help regenerate defined areas.
- A Cornwall Floating Offshore Wind Commission to develop wind power more quickly, minimising the marine ecological impact and maximising job creation.
- Agreement to work closely on any national changes taken forward on second homes.
The full detail can be found in the deal document, here: Cornwall devolution deal (Kevambos Digresennans Kernow) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Is £390m the total Cornwall would receive over the next 30 years?
This represents an initial deal with the majority of funding related to the Government’s current Comprehensive Spending period (which runs from 2022/23 to 2024/25).
This proposed Deal provides opportunities for the Council to secure further powers and funding over time. The current policy direction of Government is to identify additional powers and functions that can be devolved to areas with devolution deals. At Level 3, that includes being able to make the case for transport and housing settlements that provide opportunities for higher levels of funding over a longer period. In the same way that Government is developing ‘trailblazer’ deals with the West Midlands and Greater Manchester (with the latter already benefiting from seven devolution deals secured over eight years), this second proposed Cornwall Devolution Deal, subject to the required governance change to an elected Mayor and Cabinet, provides the platform for the Council to seek more benefits for Cornwall in successive devolution deals.
In fact, other areas with devolution deals have seen significant funding in subsequent spending rounds directly channelled to them, whilst non-mayoral areas have had to competitively bid into remaining national pots. The Transforming Cities Funding (TCF) and City Regional Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS) are examples of this. Of £2.45bn TCF funding nationally, £1.08bn was directly awarded to elected mayors already in receipt of devolution deals, with all other areas having to compete for the remaining funding. CRSTS funding was awarded in 2022, combining existing transport maintenance funding with significant new investment. The Tees Valley mayor received £310m and West Yorkshire mayor £830m, which is additional to what was outlined in their initial devolution deals.
Information on the proposed Deal refers to £500,000 for the promotion of the Cornish language in 2023/24 but the Mayoral election isn’t until 2024 – how will that work?
The Government has agreed that certain elements of the proposed deal can be implemented ahead of the mayoral election, such as the £500k for the Cornish language. Whereas decisions on the allocation of the Investment Fund and the devolution of powers are linked directly to the mayor and therefore are linked to the election in May 2024.
There are things in the proposed Deal that are already happening, such as the preservation of Cornish Hedges and provision of electric vehicle chargers. Will these elements will stop if the Deal doesn’t happen?
The deal is about accelerating progress and gaining a greater share of the funding available in the scenario that work is already underway – EV charging being a case in point. Government’s consideration of supporting “the positive management of Cornish Hedges through the agricultural transition programme or farming reforms” hasn’t started and will only commence if the proposed deal is supported.
The proposed Deal sets out the shared ambition of the Government and Cornwall Council to collaborate more closely on our priorities outlined in the Deal. The proposed Level 3 Devolution Deal provides the strongest foundation for the Council to accelerate progress towards delivering the 2050 Cornwall Plan. For more information, see ‘Why is the Council considering securing a second devolution deal?’ on the Council’s Devolution webpage.
It looks as if the amount of funding in the proposed Deal is lower than funding previously received from the European Union. How will the proposed Deal ensure that Cornwall doesn’t fall further behind?
The investment in the proposed Cornwall Devolution Deal is in addition to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (which replaces EU funding). For information on the new investment included in the proposed Deal, see ‘What is in the proposed Level 3 Cornwall Devolution Deal?’ on the Council’s Devolution webpage.
Would the investment fund increase in line with inflation?
No. The investment fund is set as a fixed amount each year as part of the deal. This is the same in all devolution deals.
Will the position of Chief Executive be devalued or impacted by the deal?
The position of Chief Executive of Cornwall Council remains unchanged in the proposed Cornwall Devolution Deal.
What additional influence would Cornwall benefit from?
Although not specifically referenced in the proposed Deal Cornwall would also benefit by the elected Mayor becoming a member of a small but influential group of Mayors (known as the M10 group) with direct access to Government ministers and able to lobby on matters of importance for the Duchy. It is clear from the scale of devolution and investment secured by the existing mayors, that they are highly influential both nationally and internationally – the latter in terms of securing direct foreign investment. As more areas agree mayoral devolution deals in the future, the more important it is for the Duchy to have a voice at that level. The title and role of an elected mayor is more understood across the globe, with high-profile regional mayors in the UK, for example Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester and Andy Street in the West Midlands, already using the position to secure investment.
How does it compare to other devolution deals?
The proposed Deal contains all the powers and funding available to county unitary authorities aiming for Level 3 of the devolution framework (available on page 140 of the Levelling Up White Paper).
We have compared the 30-year £360m Cornwall Investment Fund, which is the key element of our proposed Deal, with the amount provided by the Government in other deals. Our analysis shows that Cornwall Investment Fund is worth £21 per head per year, compared to an average of £18 per head for the existing (Level 3) devolution deals. For example, East Midlands has a population of over 2.2 million and has received an Investment Fund of £1.14bn - equivalent to £17 per head.
In addition, the proposed Deal provides a number of measures tailored specifically to Cornwall and aligned to the delivery of the 2050 Cornwall Plan and other local strategies. These include a Floating Offshore Wind Commission to enable offshore wind power to be developed more quickly, and commitment to work with the Council and Plymouth City Council on a sustainable future for the Tamar Crossings. In developing the proposed Deal, we have closely reviewed the Government’s devolution agreements with other areas, in order to seek equivalent or enhanced provision for Cornwall.
How will the deal support Cornwall’s priorities, particularly tackling the housing crisis?
The proposed Deal recognises the significant housing challenge Cornwall faces. The deal addresses housing supply, improving conditions in the private rental sector, and acknowledges the pressures of tourist accommodation on Cornwall. The deal includes:
- The ability to designate mayoral development areas, and set up Mayoral Development Corporations to help deliver strategic sites
- A Cornwall Land Commission to join up discussions about the public sector estate. The Commission would identify opportunities to increase the delivery of new affordable homes
- £8.7m brownfield funding across 2023/24 and 2024/25 for new homes on brownfield land
- £238,000 capacity funding to bring forward a pipeline of housing projects for funding
- Up to £10m capital in the current Spending Review Period to support housing delivery and heritage-led regeneration
- Joint working between Government and the Council to improve decency in the private rented sector, including a pilot to improve enforcement
- Joint working to investigate what changes could support the supply of safe and sustainable short-term holiday accommodation
Having raised this important issue through the negotiations on the proposed Deal, the Government has recently announced its intention to introduce a registration scheme for short-term holiday lets as part of new legislation proposed in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, currently being debated in Parliament. This is not just an issue that impacts on Cornwall, which is has to be addressed through national legislation.
However, paragraph 83 of the Deal acknowledges the negative impact large numbers of second homes can have in a single area and Government commits to work closely with Cornwall Council on any future changes taken forward in this space – in reality that means the practical implication of the proposed legislation (e.g. registration scheme and change of use requirements).
How would climate change action be supported through the deal?
Several measures in the proposed Deal will support Cornwall to meet the Government’s pledge for the Duchy to become the first net zero region of the UK.
Key among these is Floating Offshore Wind Commission, which will accelerate the offshore wind development process, increasing renewable energy supply and bringing new jobs to Cornwall.
The proposed Deal also includes commitments from Government to:
- Work with Cornwall Council to examine whether simplified and consolidated funding for housing retrofit schemes could meet net zero targets more quickly and cost effectively.
- Give the Council, as a devolved organisation, a meaningful role in planning our future energy system for net zero.
- Support the Council to introduce heat network zoning in places where geothermal heat networks could be the most cost-effective way to decarbonise heating and hot water. This includes support to develop the business case for a geothermal heat network supplying decarbonised energy at Langarth Garden Village.
What about support for Cornish distinctiveness?
The proposed Deal includes a number of Government commitments that are in recognition of the Cornish language being included in the Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Cornish within the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
This includes £500,000 of funding to support Cornish distinctiveness in 2023/24, specifically the protection and promotion of the Cornish language. It also includes a commitment to include Cornish in any list of regional and minority languages that appears in future legislation, where appropriate, to enable greater awareness and use of the Cornish language. Furthermore, Government also commits to work with the Council to explore further ways to support the ongoing protection and promotion of Cornish in private and public life. Government will consider the case for supporting the positive management of Cornish Hedges through the agricultural transition programme or farming reforms.
Can more information be provided about the Adult Education element of the proposed Deal?
Our ambitions to grow and transform our economy are dependent on being able to develop the knowledge and skills of our workforce. We want employers in Cornwall to be able to find the skilled workers they need locally – and we want to help local people develop the skills they need to get good jobs in Cornwall and increase their prospects. National policies are not always suited to deliver the improvements we need locally. The Deal would provide us with a massive opportunity to upskill our workforce, giving us more control to ensure education and skills development programmes meet the needs of people and businesses in Cornwall. The Deal would devolve the budget for the provision of adult education to Cornwall Council. This would give us flexibility to tailor the adult education provision to local needs and priorities as a result of the Adult Education functions and budget being devolved from Government to Cornwall Council.
You can read more about all aspects of the proposed Deal in the Consultation Summary Document, available here.
What does this deal offer to Adult Social Care?
There is commitment in the Deal for Government, the NHS and Cornwall Council to work together to improve public health, health and social care services and invest to address key issues in the health care system in Cornwall:
- The Deal would provide a boost to joint plans by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Cornwall Council to regenerate a site in Pool to provide a new Health Hub alongside new housing for local people.
- The Government would work with Cornwall Council to develop innovative ways for improving public health. A key focus would be on reducing rural and coastal health disparities and tackling complex health issues such as childhood obesity and healthy ageing.
For more information, see Paragraphs 111 – 116 of the proposed Cornwall Devolution Deal.
How will equity and fairness across all parts of Cornwall be guaranteed?
Cornwall Council serves every area in Cornwall and this will not change if the Council decides to accept the proposed Cornwall Devolution Deal. All eligible voters in Cornwall would have the opportunity to vote for the elected Mayor. The proposed Deal acknowledges the need for new powers and funding to support sustainable growth across the whole of Cornwall – as evidenced by the Council’s approach to the Shared Prosperity Fund.
With Parish Councils being asked to take on more areas of responsibility, how will the proposed Deal help support smaller parishes?
The proposed Deal will help support smaller parishes through Government’s commitment to work with Cornwall Council to explore testing the concept of a simpler approach to neighbourhood planning ahead of securing powers through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to introduce Neighbourhood Priorities Statements. The Council supports neighbourhood planning, but recognises the process would benefit from simplification to encourage more parishes to help shape the development and growth of their local area.
What are the governance changes required to secure a Level 3 devolution deal?
To secure the proposed Deal, Cornwall Council would need to change its governance model from a Leader who is elected by the 87 members of the Council, to a Mayor elected by the people of Cornwall eligible to vote. The elected Mayor cannot also serve as a member of the Council; so, in effect Cornwall Council will consist of 87 members as present, plus the elected Mayor.
What would change with the introduction of an elected Mayor?
An elected Mayor would provide a single point of accountability, directly elected by the people of Cornwall. They would serve as a champion for Cornwall and give our area greater voice and representation at a national and international level to attract more investment to the Duchy.
As part of the proposed Deal, some powers and funding currently held by Government would be given to Cornwall Council. For example, the Adult Education Budget.
Is this just another layer of governance / bureaucracy?
No; the position of elected Council Mayor would replace the existing position of the Leader of the Council.
What are the key differences between the Council’s current Leader and Cabinet model and an elected Mayor and Cabinet model?
There are a variety of publications on elected mayors. The document published by the House of Commons Library at Directly-elected mayors - House of Commons Library (parliament.uk) (May 2022) explains the powers of an elected Mayor and confirms that “Local authority mayors do not have additional powers over and above those available in authorities using the leader and cabinet model or the committee system”.
The table below provides a comparison between the two models.
Current Leader & Cabinet Model
Proposed Elected Mayor & Cabinet Model
|Appointment||Simple majority vote of Council||Most votes at public election (the elected Mayor is an additional post to that of the 87 elected Member seats on the Council)|
|Term||Annual||Due to rules on first term, if first election is May 2024, first term will be 5 years. Thereafter from 2029 Mayoral elections will coincide with local elections and term will be 4 years|
|Removal during election term
Resignation of post
No longer a member of the Council (i.e. statutory disqualification / death)
|No change compared to current model|
|Member ‘Motion to remove the Cabinet Leader’ at Extraordinary Council meeting (that met the requirements of the Constitution and was supported by a majority vote at Council)||Possible to have Member ‘vote of no confidence’ (which doesn’t itself remove but can often put significant pressure to resign). This is therefore a similar position to that of elected Members generally who cannot otherwise be removed from office|
|Powers to appoint Cabinet||Appoints all Executive members (minimum of 2, maximum of 9, of which one shall be Deputy Leader)||No change compared to current model. One shall be Deputy Mayor|
|General extent of decision-making powers||
Limited to Executive functions which may be delegated to members of the Cabinet, committees of Cabinet, area committees or an officer
Requirement for Overview and Scrutiny Committees
|No change compared to current model|
|Decisions re: new corporate plan / strategy (including annual budget)||Simple majority vote of Council||Simple majority vote of Council bar an amendment which requires 2/3rd majority vote. See * below|
|Divisional responsibility||Yes||None - the elected Mayor does not have responsibility for an electoral division|
|Change of governance model||
By Council vote providing such is not within:
No change compared to current model
(NB. a Mayor cannot make the decision to abolish or retain the post – such a decision must be via Council resolution or referendum as outlined. In the event of abolition of post, Mayor continues in post for remainder of the mayoral term)
See ** below
How would decisions be taken if the governance model changes?
The split between functions – executive (those functions which would rest with the Elected Mayor and Cabinet) and non-executive (those functions which rest with Full Council) – would remain the same. The split between executive and non-executive functions is set out in legislation. The position is that all functions are the responsibility of the executive unless legislation says that they cannot be and therefore they rest with Full Council. Examples of non-executive functions are approving the budget and policy framework, approving members allowances and certain licensing, planning and electoral functions. As is the case currently, in respect of executive functions, the elected Mayor may choose to discharge those functions themselves or delegate those functions to the cabinet as a whole. They can also delegate those functions to:
- A committee of cabinet members,
- Individual cabinet members,
- An Area Committee (we do not currently have any), or
- An Officer.
*Full Council would still need to approve the Council’s budget, plans and strategies, proposed by the elected Mayor and Cabinet. These make up the Council’s Budget and Policy Framework. Approval of the elected Mayor’s budget, plans and strategies are on the basis of a simple majority. Any amendments proposed to the budget, not agreed by the elected Mayor and Cabinet needs a two-thirds vote to pass.
As with a Leader and Cabinet model, Full Council must appoint at least one overview and scrutiny committee in the elected Mayor and Cabinet model to hold the elected Mayor, as part of the executive, to account. The Council has five Overview and Scrutiny Committees. A review of the Overview and Scrutiny function is currently being undertaken as planned prior to the devolution deal. This review will now also consider, what changes (if any) are recommended if an elected Mayor and Cabinet governance model is implemented. The content of the Devolution Deal provides a commitment that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee with responsibility for holding the elected Mayor to account in relation to the proposed Deal will have a Chair and Vice Chair who are from a different political group to that of the elected Mayor.
Would it be possible to have an elected Mayor from one party whilst the majority of the Councillors are from another? If so, how would that work in practice?
Yes. The same is also possible in the current model of Leader and Cabinet – although unlikely. How it would work in practice would depend on a number of factors including:
- The approach of the elected Mayor
- Who the elected Mayor chooses to sit on their Cabinet
- The approach of the majority party
What specific powers would the Mayor have as a result of the Devolution Deal?
The elected Mayor’s specific powers would include the power to designate a Mayoral Development Area and then set up a Mayoral Development Corporation.
What is a Mayoral Development Area and Mayoral Development Corporation?
A Mayoral Development Area (MDA) is an area designated by the elected Mayor for regeneration or development. A Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) is a statutory body created via secondary legislation to bring forward the regeneration of a designated Mayoral Development Area. The MDC has the powers to acquire, develop, hold, and dispose of land and property, as well as securing Government investment to regenerate and revitalise the MDA to create jobs.
Is an elected local authority Mayor the same as a Metro Mayor?
An elected local authority Mayor is not the same as a Metro-mayor of a combined authority. The latter is subject to different legislative provisions and is distinct from the councils which make up the Combined Authority area and who may have their own leaders (or elected mayors).
What impact may the introduction of an elected Mayor have on the role of local members?
Local members (councillors) will continue to operate in the usual way. They will continue to be appointed to serve on the Council’s Committees. Members will continue to use Casework Assist for their queries. The public will be signposted to their Local Member for support in the first instance. The elected Mayor will have no divisional responsibilities.
What will happen to the civic functions the Council’s Chairman and Vice-Chairman carry out?
The roles of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Council are planned to remain as they are currently. It is not planned for the elected Mayor to take on the civic responsibilities of the Chairman of the Council.
Who decides whether to accept the proposed deal and change in governance?
The initial decision by the Leader of Cornwall Council is to accept the proposed Deal on ‘a minded to’ basis, subject to various conditions including Cabinet’s consideration of the outcome of the public consultation on the proposed Deal including the required change in governance and of any recommendations made by the Customer and Support Services OSC in respect of the Deal. Only at that point will a decision be taken by Cabinet to accept the Deal. If such a decision is made, Cabinet will make recommendations to Full Council to ratify the Deal and to make the required change to the Council’s executive governance model. In January 2023 the Constitution and Governance Committee will start to scope out and consider the governance (including scrutiny arrangements) and will make recommendations to Full Council on any changes to the Council’s Constitution. In February 2023 the Independent Remuneration Panel will start to consider Members’ allowance implications (including for the mayor) and will make recommendations to Full Council on any changes to the Members Scheme of Allowances.
Full Council will consider the outcome of the public consultation, recommendations from Cabinet, the Constitution and Governance Committee and IRP at a meeting in July 2023 and will make final decisions on whether the Deal is ratified, whether the required governance change is made, what changes are made to the Council’s Constitution including the Council’s Members Scheme of Allowances. If Full Council make the decisions necessary to proceed with the Devolution Deal, it will also need to agree to send the outcome of the public consultation to Government for consideration. Government will look at this to help them determine if the statutory tests are met to proceed with the making of the secondary legislation. The Council and Government will then take the steps necessary to agree and pass the secondary legislation which is required to finalise the deal.
What happens if the political make up of Cornwall Council changes? Will that mean the devolution deal won’t happen or that the Mayoral system will be overturned?
Under the proposed timetable, Full Council will be asked to ratify the proposed Deal and to decide whether to change the Council’s executive governance model to an elected mayor and cabinet. Both decisions require a simple majority to pass. If the political make up of Cornwall Council changes this would not automatically mean that the proposed Deal does not happen or that the mayoral system will be overturned. If changes in the political make-up of the Council happened before the Council meeting in July it may impact on the votes for the aforementioned decisions.
If changes in the political make-up of the Council happened after the Devolution Deal and Mayoral system of governance were implemented and the Members wanted to explore the Council’s options to change its governance (for example, from a Mayor and Cabinet to a Leader and Cabinet) and the implications of this, these are set out on the Council’s Devolution webpage (see ‘Would the Council be able to change its governance model in the future?’).
What are the provisions relating to a referendum?
The Council may change to an elected Mayor and Cabinet model from its existing, Leader and Cabinet model via resolution of full Council. Other ways to change the governance model include referendum (whether petitioned or resolved by the Council); or government-imposed referendum. The result of any form of referendum set out above would be binding upon the Council. A valid public petition would need to be signed by 5% or more of local electorate.
At the Council meeting on 29 November 2022, it was decided that the merits of holding a referendum would be discussed at the Council meeting in April 2023 when the outcome of the public consultation was known.
In the case of the Council resolving to hold a referendum, there is no statutory timetable for the holding of the referendum although given budgetary implications and practical arrangements for holding the referendum, a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 6 months should be allowed. In contrast, generally a petitioned referendum has to be held by the next first Thursday in May although it can be held earlier if the Council so chooses.
The question on a referendum ballot paper for a change to an elected Mayor and Cabinet model would need to accord with that set out in Regulations and therefore would simply read:
“How would you like Cornwall Council to be run?
By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors. This is how the council is run now.
By a mayor who is elected by voters. This would be a change from how the council is now run.”
Why is the Council currently opting to undertake a public consultation instead of resolving to hold a referendum?
A governance referendum, provided by the Local Government Act 2000, caters for the situation when the sole issue of changing the Council’s executive governance model is being considered - and it should be noted that this is the purpose for which the legislation was drafted. The Council is not in that position.
The Council is considering a change to its executive governance model because it is a requirement of securing a Level 3 Devolution Deal. Therefore, the benefits of the proposed Deal should be considered in conjunction with the required governance change. This cannot be catered for by a referendum, which only enables a set question on the governance change to be asked (as set out above).
A public consultation can focus on both the content of the Devolution Deal and the required change in governance and invite considered views on both issues. It provides greater opportunity to understand the views of stakeholders and it gives a much richer picture of both the concerns and the opportunities stakeholders see.
A referendum would be costly to organise – the costs of holding the referendum would be in the region of £967,530 and would need to be funded by local taxpayers, as Government will not contribute towards the costs of holding a referendum. The costs for the public consultation will be in the region of £60,000. Even if the Council decided to hold a referendum, there would still be a requirement to undertake the planned public consultation – so the costs of both would apply.
The public consultation will include a representative survey of Cornwall’s population undertaken by an independent research company on behalf of the Council.
Although the outcome of a public consultation is not binding on the Council it will need to take the outcome of the public consultation into consideration when making the decision whether to proceed with the Devolution Deal including making the required governance change.
Views obtained via a public consultation will also be taken into consideration by Government when they decide whether the statutory tests are made out to proceed with the making of the secondary legislation. The secondary legislation is subject to local consent and Parliamentary approval, and it brings into effect the devolution from Government to Cornwall Council.
A representative sample of 1,100 Cornwall residents will be identified using a similar methodology to the Council’s regular Resident Survey, with quotas on age, gender and area. (See Consultation Plan, p. 6-7).
Consultees are invited to provide the first 3 or 4 digits of their postcode (i.e. TR3, PL12), however submitting this information is not mandatory and our geographical data will therefore not be complete. Depending on the volume of responses, we may be able to aggregate feedback to sub-geographies within Cornwall, but it is unlikely that we will be able to provide that information at electoral division level.
Would the referendum cost less if it was all done by postal ballot with a link to voting online?
A postal only referendum would not be possible as the Council has to comply with legislative provisions relating to the holding of a referendum on a proposed change to its executive governance model. This provides for voting via postal ballot papers and voting at a polling station.
What happens if the proposed deal and/or change in governance is rejected?
If the proposed Deal is rejected, then it does not proceed. Likewise, if the change in governance to an elected Mayor and Cabinet is rejected then the proposed Deal does not proceed. This means that Cornwall would not receive the funding and powers set out in the proposed Deal. Given that the powers and funding support Cornwall’s priorities in the 2050 Cornwall Plan, it is likely that the progress of some of our agreed strategies and objectives would be put at risk.
It is difficult to accurately predict future Government policy, but historically we have seen areas with elected Mayors receive greater access to funding announced in each spending review period. This has been greater in amount and without the need to compete for funding. Rejecting the proposed Deal might, therefore, reduce the likelihood of new government investment in the future. With other areas negotiating more devolution deals, it appears increasingly likely that future funding will be prioritised towards areas with devolution deals. If an area doesn’t have a deal, they will not receive funding in the same way.
Given that a proposed Deal has been negotiated with Government, if it is rejected by Cornwall Council, we expect that other areas will be prioritised above Cornwall if there was a desire to seek devolution in the future.
Who can stand for Mayor?
Any person can stand for election as elected Mayor, provided he/she satisfies the eligibility and qualification requirements for standing as a councillor, which also apply to an elected Mayor. See the guidance from the Electoral Commission. It would be possible for an existing Councillor to stand for election as elected Mayor; but if elected, upon that person taking office as elected Mayor, an immediate vacancy would arise in that Councillor’s seat on the Council.
When and how would a Mayor be elected?
The Mayor would be elected in May 2024. The election will be combined with the Police and Crime Commissioner election to reduce the overall cost. Mayors are elected under a ‘First Past the Post’ system (following reforms implemented by the Elections Act 2022). The first term of the elected Mayor would be five years and thereafter the elections would coincide with the local elections and the term would be four years.
If the Government changes what is the commitment to the proposed Deal over the next thirty years?
The proposed Cornwall Devolution Deal between Government and Cornwall Council has been reached by way of a collective agreement of the Cabinet of Full Council. If Full Council ratifies the proposed Deal, the Government will take steps necessary to implement secondary legislation which will set out the additional powers being given to Cornwall Council. This legislation would continue to have effect even if Government changed. If the new Government wanted to introduce significant policy change relating to Levelling Up and Regeneration it would require legislation to be amended and/or revoked. As mentioned above, the Labour Party have recently stated that they wouldn’t look to revoke any powers devolved to areas - in fact, the reverse is suggested with devolution accelerated.
Bristol recently terminated their deal and continued to get financial support – could that happen in Cornwall?
Bristol City Council did not have a devolution deal with Government. Bristol City Council moved to a mayor and cabinet model of governance in 2012 following a referendum purely on the issue of governance. This locked them into this governance model for 10 years. Recently, they held a further referendum on changing its governance model and the outcome of that referendum was to move to the committee governance model from its current mayor and cabinet governance model.
Would the Council be able to change its governance model in the future?
If change to the Council’s governance model happens by way of a resolution (without a referendum), the Council cannot make a further change by way of resolution to the Council’s governance model for a period of five years, starting from the date the resolution is passed. The Council can only make a change sooner than this, by way of a referendum. If a change to the Council’s governance model happens by way of a referendum, this locks the Council into its new governance arrangement for a period of ten years. Any subsequent change must also be by way of a referendum.
**The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill makes provision for additional obligations to be placed on councils who have secured a Level 3 devolution deal. If the council subsequently proposes to change its executive governance model from that of elected Mayor and Cabinet to another governance model then the obligations include notifying the Secretary of State, who will consider whether they should amend or revoke any legislation which passed powers and funding to the Council under the Level 3 Devolution Deal.
What would happen to the LEP?
The functions of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP (CIoS LEP) will be integrated into the Council’s internal governance arrangements. The Council has engaged with its local partners and with Government in taking steps to establish alternative governance arrangements which reflects the fact that the functions of the CIoS LEP covers both the areas of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. Cornwall Council will submit an integration plan to Government which sets out its alternative governance arrangements.
Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly have already decided to establish the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Economic Prosperity Board (EPB), a joint committee of the local authorities, to deliver the Shared Prosperity Fund. The EPB’s role could expand to oversee other functions and programmes set out in the deal including the functions previously undertaken by the CIoS LEP. The EPB has also established the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Prosperity Advisory Panel to engage business voices in the Council’s decision-making processes, maintaining a culture of constructive challenge and scrutiny.
How much will this change cost the Council?
The change is cost neutral to the Council between now and 31 March 2025. The Government will provide £750,000 of capacity funding to support the additional cost of changing governance model between now and then. This will cover any additional allowance (recommendations on this will be made by IRP to Full Council who will make the final decision on this matter) to be paid to the elected mayor above the current £27,991.89 paid to the Leader. The capacity fund will also cover the cost of any additional support that the mayor requires. Further mayoral capacity funding beyond March 2025 will be subject to the Government’s Spending Review for the period 2025/26 to 2027/28.
The first mayoral election in May 2024 is eligible to be paid for from the Investment Fund (whereas a referendum is not) and will coincide with the Police and Crime Commissioner elections to reduce the cost. Thereafter the mayoral election will coincide with the election for the 87 Cornwall Council members.
The cost of all the upfront work being undertaken by the Council on the proposed devolution deal, including the cost of the consultation (circa £60,000), is being covered by a one-off £300,000 budget reserve that was created on the back of the first deal in 2015 in readiness for the opportunity to secure a second deal with the Government to arise.
Could the Council have negotiated more funding and investment?
The proposed Deal compares favourably with others in terms of the Investment Fund and the additional funding available. The Government uses a per capita (per person) calculation to broadly determine some of those funds. For example, the £360 million Investment Fund equates to £21 per capita. This compares favourably to the average of £18 per person across the other areas that have secured an Investment Fund.
Government budgets are set on three-year cycles known as Spending Review periods. The current period covers 2022/23 to 2024/25. For this reason, much of the available funding for departments in this period has already been committed. Departments are unable to commit to spending beyond the current spending period without the certainty of knowing what funding will be made available to them by the Treasury.
The next Comprehensive Spending Review will take place in Autumn 2024, to come into effect in 2025/26. In anticipation of this, the Government is providing the Council with £500k of capacity funding to cover the cost of developing a pipeline of transport schemes to then secure more significant implementation funding from the Department of Transport from 2025. Likewise, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is providing £238,000 of capacity funding to enable the Council to develop a pipeline of housing schemes in readiness for implementation funds being made available from 2025.
Do the costs of the Mayor’s Office include the cost of a referendum and the cost of a deputy mayor?
There has been no decision on holding a referendum to decide whether the Council moves to an elected mayor and cabinet governance model, therefore the costs of a referendum are not included. More information relating to the costs of a referendum are set out on the Council’s Devolution webpage (see ‘How much will this change cost the Council?’ and ‘Why is the Council currently opting to undertake a public consultation instead of resolving to hold a referendum?’).
The allowance to be paid to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor will be decided by full council, following recommendations on the same by the Independent Remuneration Panel - just as the allowances for the Leader and Deputy Leader are determined now.
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