7 July 2007

The results of the consultation with people in Cornwall through leaflet and questionnaire by Cornwall county council are now available in a report by PFA, Bodmin on the county council website.

There were 665 unique responses but the leaflet was not delivered to some areas.

The report begins with a warning: “the many and varied responses received on the questionnaire are open to subjective interpretation.” As I explained in this post, perhaps that is what the county council wanted in choosing this sort of consultation rather than a straightforward yes/no vote on their proposals. However, PFA have helpfully produced quantified answers.

On the first question about support for a unitary council if it is financially sound, 49 percent said No and 34 percent said Yes. On the other two questions about more local decision making there were comfortable majorities in support.

Thus, most people – well, 49 percent – opposed the unitary council proposals or the principle of a unitary council.

In its response to the report Cornwall county council does not mention the 49 percent of opponents though it does reproduce the figures, more comfortable for it, of the other two questions.

This isn’t a response; it is the politics of an ostrich.

The county council has put up another response to the unitary issue on its website, a leaflet called Towards one Cornwall . Here it is casually dismissive of the
71 000 people in Cornwall who voted in the district polls. It does not, of course, mention the 49 percent opposed to the unitary council in its own survey; rather it says “the vast majority of people have been confused by the conflicting messages” about the unitary council. Oh come now, voters are well used to conflicting messages in any election and well able to make up their minds. I do not believe the county council would be talking condescendingly like this if the majority had supported the proposals. Perhaps we see here a new Liberal Democrat approach: an end to all elections because the voters get confused.

Of the 81 percent vote in the district polls against the unitary proposals, the county council says it “carefully considered” it and then dismisses it as insignificant. This is shameful.

It really isn’t worth spending any more time on Cornwall county council. It has thoroughly discredited itself through the high-handed way it has handled the unitary issue and the Liberal Democrat party finds itself seriously tainted by all this.