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Cornwall devolution on track, but individual projects face challenges

Cornwall is making progress in its devolution project overall, but the status of several aspects of the devolution deal is uncertain.

A paper submitted to a meeting of Cornwall Council’s audit committee shows that of the nine themes of the devolution deal, five are rated ‘amber’, meaning they are out of tolerance but the council has a plan to bring them back under control.

The five rated amber are health and social care integration, energy, intermediate body (IB) status, business support and flood resilience.

However, the remaining four themes are rated green and none are rated red.

The report says: “The nine theme summaries show that progress remains largely positive; nonetheless, as is expected with projects of this magnitude, there are some elements of the deal themes where the complexity and absence of a blueprint have understandably stymied progress.

“In those areas, workstream leads are focused on working with their counterparts in the Civil Service to ensure progress accords with the respective implementation plans.”

The first stage of the health and social care integration programme, engagement with the public, has been completed, with over 2,000 responses and 250 people attending engagement events.

However, the paper says that the programme has been paused to allow Cornwall Council to engage with the government and NHS England in order to understand new requirements for health and social care providers to work together to create a blueprint for implementing the forward view and achieving financial sustainability.

Similarly, the business support programme is experiencing delays because devolution of the assets of the Business Growth Service has been removed from the devolution deal after the service closed last year.

Although it is still expected that the service will be devolved eventually, a number of local LEPs have challenged the Department for Business and Skills on the issue.

However, progress has been made in a number of other areas in February and March. For example, Cornwall has received £13m funding from the European Union to unlock its geothermal energy resources, matched by £1.5m from the council. The Department for Transport has also confirmed a transport capital allocation of £26.1m for Cornwall for each of the next five years.

However, Cornwall Council’s transport planning advisory committee has recommended that the council cabinet defers choosing a franchising and enhanced partnership option for the One Public Transport system for Cornwall until the details of the emerging Buses Bill are understood. The bill currently only grants power over bus franchising to combined authorities with elected mayors.

See the most recent edition of PSE for an article by Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, on Cornwall’s experience of devolution.

(Image c. Tony Armstrong)

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