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Cornwall Council

Cornwall Council
Konsel Kernow
2nd unitary term
Coat of arms or logo
Leader of the Council
John Pollard, Chairman, Cornwall Council
Chief Executive
Paul Masters, Interim Chief Executive
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31 / 123
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First past the post
Last election
2 May 2013
Next election
Meeting place
Lys Kernow, Truro

Cornwall Council (Cornish: Konsel Kernow) is the unitary authority for the Duchy of Cornwall, in the United Kingdom (But not including the Isles of Scilly, which has its own council). The council, and its predecessor Cornwall County Council, has a tradition of large groups of independent councillors, having been controlled by independents in the 1970s and 1980s. Since the 2013 elections, it is run by an Independent-Liberal Democrat coalition.

Cornwall Council provides a wide range of services to more than half a million Cornish residents, has an annual budget of more than £1 billion and is the biggest employer in Cornwall with a staff of 12,429 salaried workers (2014.) [1] It is responsible for services including: schools, social services, rubbish collection, roads, planning and more.


  • Establishment of the unitary authority 1
    • Logo controversy 1.1
    • Name changes 1.2
  • Devolution 2
  • Cultural services 3
    • Cultural projects 3.1
  • Cornish ethnic and national identity 4
  • International relations 5
  • Economic projects 6
  • Lender option borrower option loans 7
  • Composition 8
    • Cabinet 8.1
  • Elections and changes 9
    • 2009 Cornwall Council elections 9.1
    • By-elections, 2009 to 2012 9.2
    • Defections, 2009 to 2013 9.3
    • 2013 Cornwall Council elections 9.4
    • By-elections, 2013 to 2015 9.5
  • Council history 10
    • Party control 10.1
    • Notable members 10.2
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Establishment of the unitary authority

Before April 2009, Cornwall was administered as a non-metropolitan county by the Cornwall County Council with Six districts, Caradon, Carrick, Kerrier, North Cornwall, Penwith, and Restormel (a borough).

The Council of the Isles of Scilly was and still remains a separate unitary authority.

On 5 December 2007, the Government confirmed that Cornwall was one of five councils that would move to unitary status.[2] This was enacted by statutory instrument as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England,[3] The changes took effect on 1 April 2009. On that date the six districts and Cornwall County Council were abolished and were replaced by Cornwall Council.

Logo controversy

The proposed new logo, dropped in January 2009

The original proposals for a new logo and motto for Cornwall's new unitary authority were met with widespread criticism from the general public with demands that the old logo and motto be kept.[4][5][6][7] On 29 January 2009, the Cornwall Council Implementation Executive decided to revert to using the former County Council logo with just a change in name from "Cornwall County Council" to "Cornwall Council".[8]

In March 2009, the leader of Cornwall County Council David Whalley announced he would be standing down as a councillor, complaining of personal attacks against him.[9]

The current logo features a chough and the 15 Cornish golden bezants on a black field as used in the arms of the Duchy of Cornwall.[8]

Name changes

On the creation of the new unitary authority it was decided that the name of the council would be changed from Cornwall County Council to Cornwall Council (Konsel Kernow). It has also been decided by the council to change the name of its meeting place from New County Hall to Lys Kernow (meaning Cornwall Court) to avoid using the term county.[10]


The campaign for Cornish devolution began in 2000 with the founding of the Cornish Constitutional Convention, a cross-party, cross-sector association that campaigns for devolution to Cornwall.[11] In 2009, Liberal Democrat MP Dan Rogerson introduced a bill in parliament seeking to take power from Whitehall and regional quangos and pass it to the new Cornwall Council, with the intention of transforming the new council into an assembly along the lines of National Assembly for Wales.[12] In November 2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested in comments to the local press that his government would "devolve a lot of power to Cornwall - that will go to the Cornish unitary authority."[13] In 2011, the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would meet a cross party group, including the six Cornish MPs, to look at whether more powers could be devolved to Cornwall.[14] The subsequent Localism Act 2011 was expected to achieve this but it proved incapable. However, the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill 2015–16 is intended to devolve some powers to Cornwall Council, helping to bring social and care services together, and giving control over bus services and local investment.[15]

Cultural services

Among the services provided by the council is a public library service which consists of a main library in Truro and smaller libraries in towns and some villages throughout Cornwall. There are also the following special libraries: Cornwall Learning Library, Cornish Studies Library, the Education Library Service, and the Performing Arts Library, as well as a mobile library service based at Threemilestone.[16]

Cultural projects

Cornwall Council is promoting ten cultural projects as part of a five-year culture strategy. One project is the development of a National Theatre of Cornwall, a collaboration of the Hall for Cornwall, Kneehigh Theatre, Eden Project and Wildworks, to bring world class theatre to people in Cornwall. Cornwall Council has based its idea on the successful National Theatres of Scotland and Wales.[17]

Another of the projects is the proposed creation of a National Library of Cornwall to resolve inadequacies with the current storage of archives.[18] It is hoped that this will bring some important documents concerning Cornish history back to Cornwall as well as providing better public access to those records already held. Cornwall Council is also involved in the project to build a Stadium for Cornwall.

Cornish ethnic and national identity

Cornwall Council backs the campaign for the Cornish to be recognised as a National Minority in the UK. The council's then chief executive Kevin Lavery wrote a letter to the Government in 2010, writing, "Cornwall Council firmly believes that the UK Government should recognise the Cornish as a national minority under the terms of the Framework Convention." Adding that, "Cornwall Council believes that the Government's current restricted interpretation is discriminatory against the Cornish and contradicts the support it gives to Cornish culture and identity through its own departments."[19] Cornwall Council's support was officially reaffirmed as council policy in 2011 with the publication of the Cornish National Minority Report 2, signed and endorsed by the then leaders of every political grouping on the council.[20] The council took an active role in the promotion of the options for registering Cornish ethnicity and national identity on the 2011 UK Census.[21]

International relations

Since 2008 Cornwall Council and the former county council, together with Cornwall Enterprise, and Cornwall Sustainable Energy Partnership, have been involved with a Protocol of Cooperation between Cornwall and the Conseil général du Finistère in Brittany. The protocol aims to allow the two regions to work more closely on topics of common interest and engage in a knowledge exchange with the possibility of jointly applying for European funding.[22] Cornwall is also a member of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, a partnership of European regions, which aims to promote and highlight the value of these regions to Europe. Cornwall comes under the Atlantic Arc Commission sub-division of 30 regions, which has been used to advertise the potential of renewable energy off the Cornish coast to Europe.[23][24]

A scheme arising from these partnerships is MERiFIC (Marine Energy in Far Peripheral and Island Communities) which seeks to advance the adoption of marine energy across the two regions, including the Isles of Scilly.[25] The project has received £4 million of European funding that will be spent in Cornwall and Brittany.[26]

Cornwall County Council organised an event in Brussels in 2008 to promote various aspects of Cornwall, including the Cornish language, food and drink and showcasing Cornwall's design industry. This was part of the Celtic Connections programme of events put together by the Celtic regions as a showcase for culture in Europe.[27]

Various fact finding missions have been organised by councillors to study how other regions and small nations of Europe govern themselves successfully. Guernsey in 2011 to see if the island's system of government could be adapted to work in Cornwall.[28]

Since 2010 Cornwall Council has been a full observer member of the British–Irish Council due to the Cornish language falling under the BIC's areas of work.[29]

Economic projects

Cornwall Council, in partnership with the Eden Project, is bidding to have the world's first Green Investment Bank based in Cornwall. The Council is also working with the NHS and Eden to tackle fuel poverty by creating a Cornwall Together co-op which will buy electricity at lower-than-market prices.[30] No further progress has been made on this since it was originally mooted.

Lender option borrower option loans

Cornwall Council are servicing nearly 30 long term lender option borrower option loans (LOBOs) totalling £394 million. The council is locked into some of the deals until the year 2078, paying interest at more than double the current market rate.[31]


Cornwall Council Electoral Divisions Map

Cornwall Council is currently controlled by an Independent-Liberal Democrat coalition. The composition of Cornwall Council as of May 2015 is:

Party Councillors
Liberal Democrat 37
Independent 36
Conservative 31
Labour 8
Mebyon Kernow 4
Independent (Non-aligned)* 2
Unspecified 1
Total 123
* Group composed of 1 Independent and 1 Green Party member.


The cabinet consists of John Pollard, the Council Leader, and nine other cabinet members. It consists of 5 Independents and 5 Liberal Democrats.[33]

Cabinet Member Portfolio
John Pollard (Ind) Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Reputation and Performance
Jeremy Rowe (LD) Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Devolution and Localism
Jim McKenna (Ind) Adult Care
Andrew Wallis (Ind) Young People
Geoff Brown (LD) Communities
Bert Biscoe (Ind) Transport
Edwina Hannaford (LD) Planning
Julian German (Ind) Economy and Culture
Adam Paynter (LD) Resources
Joyce Duffin (LD) Housing and Environment

Elections and changes

2009 Cornwall Council elections

Elections for the new unitary Cornwall Council were held on 4 June 2009 and there were 123 members elected, replacing the previous 82 councillors on Cornwall County Council and the 249 on the six district councils.[34] The outgoing Cornwall County Council had 48 Liberal Democrat members, nine Conservatives, five Labour, one from the small Liberal Party with the remaining 19 seats held by Independent candidates. Mebyon Kernow had no county councillors, but nine district councillors, before the two-tier system was abolished.[35]

The Lib Dems lost overall control of Cornwall Council to 'no overall control' - this means that no single party has overall control of the new council despite the Conservatives have the largest number of councillors, however they do not have enough for a majority control.[36] The cabinet of the council was therefore formed as a coalition between the Conservatives and the Independent bloc.[37] The Conservatives received 34% of the vote (50 seats), followed by the Liberal Democrats on 28% (38 seats), the Independents on 23% (32 seats) and Mebyon Kernow on 4% (3 seats). The turnout was 41%. Labour, the Green Party, UKIP and the BNP failed to secure any seats in Cornwall.[38]

By-elections, 2009 to 2012

In a by-election in the St Austell Bay electoral division on 26 November 2009, the Liberal Democrats gained the seat from the Conservatives. Three parties contested the seat, the Liberal Democrats got 48% of the vote, the Conservatives got 47%, and Labour got 5%.[39]

Labour gained their first seat on the council at the Camborne North by-election in January 2011, winning by just 27 votes. This was a gain from the Conservatives, after their councillor had resigned.[40]

In a by-election at Wendron in November 2011 Loveday Jenkin of Mebyon Kernow was elected, gaining the seat from an independent.[41]

A by-election held on Thursday, 20 September in St Keverne and Meneage, following the death of independent Councillor Pam Lyne, was won by Walter Sanger (Conservative).[42]

Defections, 2009 to 2013

In August 2010, Councillor Neil Plummer of Stithians left the Independent group and joined Mebyon Kernow.[43]

In May 2011 Councillor Loic Rich left Mebyon Kernow, having been a spokesman for the party, first to join the Tories, then subsequently becoming an independent. He gave as his reason;"I found it very frustrating being in a party, along with the opposition parties, which seemed to be in deliberate denial of the UK's economic and social needs."[44]

In June 2011 Liskeard North councillor Jan Powell defected from the Conservatives to join the Liberal Democrats.[45]

In May 2012 two Liberal Democrat councillors left the Liberal Democrat group to join the Independent Group. Chris Pascoe, the councillor for Threemilestone and Gloweth, resigned in protest over the national actions of the Liberal Democrat party and the introduction of the "pasty tax".[46] Graham Walker, councillor for St Austell Bethel, defected in protest over the coalition government's education policies.[47]

In September 2012 another Liberal Democrat councillor resigned from the party. Tamsin Williams, the member for Penzance Central, defected to Mebyon Kernow, having previously been a member of it in the 1990s. She was the second member to defect to Mebyon Kernow since 2009, and her change of allegiance came after "bad decisions made by the London parties."[48] During the same month of September 2012, one Independent councillor, Lisa Dolley, left the council's Independent Group to become an ungrouped independent.

In March 2013 Conservative cabinet member for Looe East, Armand Toms, defected to the Independents over the party's decision to freeze Council Tax rather than increase it.[49]

2013 Cornwall Council elections

The Conservatives lost 18 seats, meaning they were no longer the largest group in the Council. A new coalition was formed, between the Independents and the Liberal Democrats.

By-elections, 2013 to 2015

In September 2013, a by-election in Wadebridge East division was triggered by the resignation of the sitting Independent councillor Collin Brewer. The by-election was won by Steve Knightley of the Liberal Democrats with 408 votes, a majority 9 over the Independent candidate Tony Rush.[50]

In July 2014, a by-election in Illogan division was triggered by the resignation of the sitting Conservative councillor Terry Wilkins as a result of his falsely claiming to have an MBE.[51] The resulting by-election was won by Liberal Democrat David Ekinsmyth with 277 votes, a majority of 60 votes over Stephen Richardson of Mebyon Kernow.[52]

Also in July 2014 was a by-election in the Mabe, Perranarworthal and St Gluvias division, which was triggered by the resignation of UKIP councillor Michael Keogh. The contest was won by Reginald George Peter Williams of the Conservative Party with 406 votes, a majority of 1 over the Liberal Democrat candidate John Ault.[53]

In November 2014 a by-election was held in Mevagissey, triggered by the resignation of Labour councillor Michael Bunney.[54] Conservative candidate James Michael Mustoe won the election with 348 votes, a majority of 67 over UKIP candidate Michael Williams.[55]

By-elections were held on 7 May 2015 in Camborne Treswithian and Constantine, Mawnan and Budock following the resignations of UKIP councillor Viv Lewis and Conservative councillor Neil Hatton, respectively, in March 2015.[56][57] Labour candidate Jude Robinson, a former councillor, was elected for Camborne Treswithian by eight votes over former Conservative councillor David Biggs following five recounts.[58] Conservative candidate John Bastin was elected to Constantine, Mawnan and Budock by 997 votes over Liberal Democrat candidate Rowland Abram.[59]

Council history

Old County Hall in Truro, which used to be the Council HQ, but is now awaiting conversion to a high quality hotel.

Cornwall County Council was established in 1889 and abolished on 31 March 2009. It was succeeded by the unitary authority, Cornwall Council, which incorporated the previous Cornish district councils as well. The Isles of Scilly remained a separate unitary authority.

Party control

The following table shows party control of the Cornwall Council and its predecessor Cornwall County Council, following each election since 1973.

Year Control
1973 Independent
1977 Independent
1981 Independent
1985 No overall control
1989 No overall control
1993 Liberal Democrat
1997 No overall control
2001 No overall control
2005 Liberal Democrat
2009 No overall control
2013 No overall control

Notable members


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External links

  • Official website
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