Cornwall Council

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Cornwall Council
Konsel Kernow
Cornwall Council logo.svg
Council logo
Cllr Mary May, Independent
Vice chairman
Cllr Hilary Frank, Liberal Democrat
Leader of the Council and Liberal Democrat group
Cllr Adam Paynter,
Liberal Democrat
Leader of the Conservative group
Cllr Phil Seeva,
Seats 123 (62 needed for a majority)
Composition of Cornwall Council, 2017.svg
Political groups
     Liberal Democrat (38)
     Independent (30)
Other opposition parties
Length of term
4 years
Last election
4 May 2017
Next election
4 May 2021
Meeting place
New County Hall.jpg
Lys Kernow
United Kingdom

Cornwall Council (Cornish: Konsel Kernow) is the unitary authority for the county of Cornwall in the United Kingdom, 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. In 2014 it had an annual budget of more than £1 billion and was the biggest employer in Cornwall with a staff of 12,429 salaried workers.[1] It is responsible for services including: schools, social services, rubbish collection, roads, planning and more.

Establishment of the unitary authority[edit]

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.

Number of councillors[edit]

Currently (2017,) the council has 123 councillors, the independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is proposing that Cornwall Council should have 87 councillors in future.[4]

Logo controversy[edit]

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.[5][6][7][8] 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".[9]

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.[10]

The current logo features a Cornish chough and the 15 Cornish golden bezants on a black field as used in the arms of the Duchy of Cornwall.[9]


On the creation of the new unitary authority it was decided that the name of the new council would be Cornwall Council (Konsel Kernow).[citation needed]


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 Act 2016 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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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][dead link] 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] The Cornish people were finally recognised as a National Minority by the British Government on 24 April 2014 and incorporated into the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities giving the Cornish the same status as the United Kingdom's other Celtic peoples, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.[22]

International relations[edit]

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.[23] 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.[24][25]

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.[26] The project has received £4 million of European funding that will be spent in Cornwall and Brittany.[27]

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.[28]

Various fact finding missions have been organised by councillors to study how other regions and small nations of Europe govern themselves successfully. Independent councillor, Bert Biscoe, organised a fact finding mission to Guernsey in 2011 to see if the island's system of government could be adapted to work in Cornwall.[29]

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.[30]

Economic projects[edit]

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.[31] No further progress has been made on this since it was originally mooted.

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.[32]


Cornwall Council Electoral Divisions Map

The composition of Cornwall Council following the 2017 election is:

Party Councillors
Conservative 46
Liberal Democrat 37
Independent 30
Labour 5
Mebyon Kernow 4
Vacant 1
Total 123


The cabinet consists of Adam Paynter, the Council Leader, and nine other cabinet members. It consists of 5 Independents and 5 Liberal Democrats.[34]

Party Cabinet Member Portfolio
Liberal Democrat Adam Paynter Council Leader
Independent Julian German Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources
Independent Mike Eathorne-Gibbons Customers
Liberal Democrat Edwina Hannaford Neighbourhoods
Liberal Democrat Sue James Environment and Public Protection
Independent Bob Egerton Planning and Economy
Independent Sally Hawken Children and Wellbeing
Liberal Democrat Rob Rotchell Adults
Independent Andrew Mitchell Homes
Liberal Democrat Geoff Brown Transport

Elections and changes[edit]

2009 Cornwall Council elections[edit]

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.[35] 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.[36]

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.[37] The cabinet of the council was therefore formed as a coalition between the Conservatives and the Independent bloc.[38] 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.[39]

By-elections and defections, 2009 to 2013[edit]

In August 2010, Councillor Neil Plummer of Stithians left the Independent group and joined Mebyon Kernow.[40] He later left Mebyon Kernow and stood for re-election as an independent.

In June 2011 Liskeard North councillor Jan Powell defected from the Conservatives to join the Liberal Democrats.[41]

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".[42] Graham Walker, councillor for St Austell Bethel, defected in protest over the coalition government's education policies.[43]

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."[44] 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.[45]

A total of 5 by-elections were held to Cornwall Council in the 2009-2013 term of office. They are illustrated in the table below.

By-election Date Incumbent Party Winner Party Cause
St Keverne and Meneage 20 September 2012 Pam Lyne Independent Walter Sanger[46] Conservative Death
Wendron 24 November 2011 Mike Clayton Independent Loveday Jenkin[47] Mebyon Kernow Resignation
Bude North and Stratton 27 October 2011 Nathan Bale Liberal Democrat David Parsons Liberal Democrat Resignation
Camborne North 13 January 2011 Bill Jenkin Conservative Jude Robinson[48] Labour Resignation
St Austell Bay 26 November 2009 Richard Stewart Conservative John Oxenham[49] Liberal Democrat Resignation

2013 Cornwall Council elections[edit]

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 and defections, 2013 to 2017[edit]

In February 2016, the Independent councillor for Redruth North, Lisa Dolley, who had been Deputy Leader of the Independent group on the council, defected to the Liberal Democrats.[50] She later left the Liberal Democrats and designated herself as a standalone independent in December of that year.

In September 2016 Paul White, the Conservative councillor for Camborne Roskear, left the Conservative group and designated himself as a standalone independent.[51]

In December 2016 Hanna Toms, the Labour councillor for Falmouth Penwerris, was expelled from the Labour group after pleading guilty to two counts of benefits fraud before Truro Magistrates Court. She continued to sit as a standalone independent.[52]

Later in December 2016 Jon Stoneman, the Conservative councillor for Camborne Trelowarren, left the Conservative group and designated himself as a standalone independent.[53]

A total of 14 by-elections were held to Cornwall Council in the 2013-2017 term of office. They are illustrated in the table below.

By-election Date Incumbent Party Winner Party Cause
Four Lanes 1 September 2016 Derek Elliot UKIP Nathan Billings[54] Liberal Democrat Resignation[55]
Newlyn and Goonhavern 28 July 2016 Lisa Shuttlewood Conservative Maggie Vale[56] Liberal Democrat Resignation
St Teath and St Breward 14 July 2016 John Lugg Independent Dominic Fairman[57] Liberal Democrat Resignation
Newquay Trevligas 14 July 2016 Mark Hicks UKIP Paul Summers[58] Liberal Democrat Resignation
Menheniot 14 April 2016 Bernie Ellis Conservative Phil Seeva[59] Conservative Death
Wadebridge West 14 April 2016 Scott Mann Conservative Karen McHugh[60] Liberal Democrat Resignation due to being elected as an MP at the 2015 General Election[61]
Launceston Central 14 January 2016 Alex Folkes Liberal Democrat Gemma Massey[62] Liberal Democrat Resignation due to mental ill health[63]
Camborne Pendarves 20 August 2015 Harry Blakeley UKIP John Herd[64] Conservative Resignation[65]
Constantine, Mawnan and Budock 7 May 2015 Neil Hatton Conservative John Bastin[66] Conservative Resignation[67]
Camborne Treswithian 7 May 2015 Viv Lewis UKIP Jude Robinson[68] Labour Resignation[69]
Mevagissey 6 November 2014 Michael Bunney Labour James Mustoe[70] Conservative Resignation[71]
Mabe, Perranarworthal and St Gluvias 17 July 2014 Michael Keogh UKIP Reginald Williams[72] Conservative Resignation[73]
Illogan 10 July 2014 Terry Wilkins Conservative David Ekinsmyth[74] Liberal Democrat Resignation as a result of his falsely claiming to have an MBE.[75]
Wadebridge East 5 September 2013 Collin Brewer Independent Steve Knightley[76] Liberal Democrat Resignation following a motion of censure[77]

2017 Cornwall Council elections[edit]

The Cornwall Council elections were held on the 4th May 2017. The Conservatives increased their seat tally to win a plurality of seats, but the Liberal Democrat/Independent coalition continued with a reduced majority.

By-elections and defections, 2017 to 2021[edit]

A by-election is expected in the Falmouth Smithick division following the death of Labour councillor and former Falmouth and Camborne MP Candy Atherton.[78]

Council history[edit]

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[edit]

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
2017 No overall control

Notable members[edit]


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External links[edit]