Localism and control

There is an interesting ‘New Statesman’ article on the renewed, relative, prosperity of  Preston, where, as county town of Lancashire, localisation of expenditure has been a great success.

When you think about the success it should not be surprising for it stands to reason that every time you make a purchase at Sainsbury’s the profit goes to High Holborn, and every national company that you purchase from represents an export of profit from your locality. Surely it cannot be long before the Preston ideas are replicated elsewhere. But as ever, it is not always quite so clear cut.

To take a (for me) local example, the Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service (CFRS) entered into an agreement with Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service to buy, jointly, some Aerial Rescue Platforms after the fatal fire at the Penhallow Hotel in Newquay showed up organisational ineptitude in the CFRS, (and which the same article shows that, to their credit, the CRFS took steps to rectify). This is government deciding it is not big enough and has to co-operate in order to provide an optimal service – or, dare I say, provide ‘the best deal’.

Perhaps Brexiters in Cornwall (which, remarkably, although receiving the greatest English income from EU finance, still voted ‘leave’) and elsewhere, should note that Cornwall has nowhere else to go. It is either the Atlantic (where America is the first stop) or the nearest land mass to which they have the good fortune to be just about attached  – the Tamar rises near to the northernmost Cornish parish of Mowenstow, only just inland from the coast and, just next door to the village of Welcombe, in Devon.

Any reminders of a largeish island offshore of Europe are of course entirely co-incidental. Welcombe is much prettier than Calais.

If we consider, as I tend to, that, ideally, all government should be as local as possible then we are clearly in Brexiteer territory. But, are we not in Cornwall Fire Service territory too? In order to provide the best service to their local Cornish residents and visitors CFRS realised they had to co-operate with those people over the water – the Devonians.

So yes, we want local control but we also want to hone advantages by combining with others in order to provide the best local control. That is having control – and neither giving it away or taking it back.

As a sometime resident of Cornwall I’m conscious of its isolation – it has little alternative but to get on with – and cherish – its only neighbour. For it has only one. Just the same as the UK – it has just the one neighbour – the EU.

If we want fires put out – both actual and political – I suggest we get the best local control by putting real effort into getting on with our neighbours. Local control and pooling of purpose is a win win.

As Brexiters, too late, may, perhaps, be beginning to discover.



  1. Donald Liverpool -

    For the record – here’s a few mistakes ( based on neoliberal philosophy ) made by North West councils: Rochdale council owns and runs some warehousing, Warrington runs a business park, Chorley, Stockport and Sefton own and run shopping centres. Perhaps Stockport should be given a pass as they bought the Merseyway from the receiver. The councils that make up Greater Manchester are the majority owners of an airport.
    My initial enquiries indicate Preston does none of these things. Score one for a combination of devolutionist and neoliberal philosophy.

  2. Peter May -

    That, at least, is encouraging…

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