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Cornwall sets out savings and devolution plan

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Cornwall Council has set out plans to save £196m. The authority also proposes devolving powers, assets and funding to town and parish councils.

Chief executive Andrew Kerr outlined the authority’s strategy for 2014-18 in an interview with LGC. The council believes it is the only one in England to have set out detailed plans for delivering savings over the entire four-year period.

With £68m of savings to be made in the first year alone, Mr Kerr admitted job losses would be “in the upper hundreds”.

The council, which employs 6,500 people, will seek to cut £31m from its pay bill by 2018.

Mr Kerr described the “crisis” in funding as “an opportunity to reshape the council”.

He said it would set up a central team of lawyers, property experts and community development officers, which would “devolve assets down to the places where they are best managed”. Ninety-six individual projects to hand responsibilities to local communities could be implemented by April 2015.

“It may be that town and parish councils are better set up to run playgrounds, some car parks, toilets, some bits of the roads and decoration of the towns,” he said.

“On the back of that we’ll give them the assets that allow them to do that and borrow money.”

Mr Kerr said the council was also going to work with communities to identify land that it could potentially buy, as it wants 47,000 homes built by 2030.

The authority is also considering setting up a new, arm’s-length green energy company that could develop wind farms, solar and wave energy.

Mr Kerr said that was preferable to an external company because the move was “about retaining the money in the Cornwall economy”. He added that the council could undertake further commercial activities in future.

“At the moment we’re thinking of energy because it’s the most obvious market,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Kerr said Cornwall was in talks with the government about a “total place” budget settlement for all public services. The council would be “pushing quite hard” for this over the next few months, he said.

The strategy will go to full council on September 23 and the budget will be set in November.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Strange, I thought going unitary council, was the answer to farming work out to town and parish councils, or can't county afford what the district councils provided (a good service at limited cost to the public) now they want to give it back. Was this the plan B, no one admitted to.

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