Fears that Cornwall will lose control over the spending of the next round of European funding has led to a campaign to 'Stand Up For Cornwall.
Cornwall Council, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and partners and stakeholders have joined forces to lobby the Government to allow Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to retain the power to decide how the European funding allocated to the region should be spent over the next six years.
The Government is currently considering a proposal to set up a new national programme which would take away Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s (C&IoS) ability to make these vital decisions, which the council claims would "jeopardisehe creation of new jobs and growth and creating additional challenges in delivering economic development".
Instead partners are calling for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to retain its operational programme (OP) which sets out the strategy, governance and delivery mechanisms for the 2014-2020 European Programme.
Earlier this week a letter signed by the leaders of all political groups on the Council was sent to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg expressing concern over the creation of a middle-man between Cornwall and Europe.
Julian German, the council’s cabinet member for economy and culture has since travelled to London, where he asked Lord Heseltine and Government Minister Greg Clark for their support. He also met with Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association, to ensure the LGA’s continued support.
A number of leading businesses have added their voices to the campaign, with James Staughton, the managing director of St Austell Brewery the latest to express his support. Other businesses and organisations which have already signed up include the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Imerys, Cornwall Manufacturers Group, Cornwall Marine Network Limited and CoaST.
“The council is committed to designing and delivering the best possible EU programme to create jobs and improve the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The best way to do that is by empowering local businesses and communities to make investment decisions and shape their own future” said Julian German.
“We have been making the case for greater devolution of the 2014-20 EU programme for some time and believe a more local approach will lead to greater investment in the region and create more jobs. It’s a win-win for Cornwall.”
“We have successfully delivered two EU investment programmes over the last fourteen years which have, so far, created 24,707 jobs It would be a huge backward step if we were to lose our Operational Programme after fourteen years at a time when government policy is for more devolution to regions. We will continue to work with both UK government and the European Commission to do all we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.“