Mer Kernow? Cornwall should have its own Mayor argues MP amid further devolution calls
Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter
Cornwall could become the latest Celtic nation to win further autonomy from Westminster, after one of their MPs has called for a directly elected mayor for the county.
North Cornwall MP Scott Mann gave his backing to a Mayor of Cornwall following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comments about County Deals to provide devolution to local areas.
In his Levelling Up speech last week, the Prime Minister highlighted the benefits that metro mayors have had in areas like Liverpool, Manchester and the West Midlands.
Mr Johnson said that it helped to drive devolution to those areas and to attract investment from outside.
Cornwall already received the biggest devolution deal of any rural authority and has been bidding to take even more responsibility and powers.
Scott Mann said that, while some of his Conservative colleagues might not agree, he felt that a Cornwall Mayor could help.
“I don’t think there is a universal agreement among the MPs to have a directly elected mayor but I am in favour.
“I know Ben Houchen, the Mayor of Tees Valley, and I have seen the work that they have been able to do there. He has the ability not just to draw money from central government but inward investment from private investors as well.
“He is the key figure in the Tees Valley and people know that if they want to get involved in a project then he is the man to talk to.
“In terms of Cornwall, we have the council which is great, we need to have them, and the LEP is also great and we need that. But to have someone who is a single point of contact to attract inward investment could be a game changer for Cornwall.
“We already punch above our weight in Cornwall in terms of devolution and we could continue that and have even more.
“The Government is discussing with Cornwall Council areas of devolution and I think there are a lot of interesting ideas which could help Cornwall.”
He also said that Cornwall could have more control over planning which could help shape future developments in the Duchy.
Cornwall Council leader Linda Taylor said that she was in support of the County Deals proposals but said there had been no conversation about whether a directly elected mayor would be required.
She said: “I will support any initiative that can help us to put bids in for where we can get more funding.
“We are a Conservative administration and we have six Conservative MPs who are a doorway from the Prime Minister’s step – we will get the deals that are right for Cornwall.
“We need to make sure we are having all the right conversations and get the best deal, talk about a directly elected mayor, it’s not on our agenda, I have to say.
“It is not so much about having a mayor but having the right leadership in place.”
St Ives MP Derek Thomas has welcomed the County Deals, but said he would be pressing for a Duchy Deal.
He said: “This is great news for Cornwall. This County Deal will let us make decisions for Cornwall in Cornwall – giving us the same control that mayors in London and Manchester already have. We’ve seen how those tools can boost the economy in our great cities: now let’s do the same in the great ‘county’ of Cornwall.
“I will, however, be asking the Prime Minister for Cornwall’s deal to be called a Duchy Deal.”