Last week the Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities announced the much-anticipated Levelling Up White Paper that set up the Governments vision for redistributing much of the wealth in this country away from London toward places like Cornwall. Since I was first elected twelve years ago, I have made clear that economic regeneration in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle was my number one priority so it is very positive to see that the Government is developing the vision for how we can improve all areas not just focusing on the large cities such as Manchester or London.
The new White Paper has set out a new vision for Cornwall within the United Kingdom as we have been designated one of the nine counties invited to negotiate a new ‘county deal’. This will give local leaders more control over areas such as transport, skills, and infrastructure and is part of the largest devolution of power from Whitehall to local leaders in modern times. My hope is that as this develops, substantially more powers will be given to Cornwall Council and Cllr Linda Taylor to help address the housing situation in Cornwall and I am very supportive of the proposals for a revised planning policy on holiday homes and other potential solutions.
The Levelling-Up White paper also referenced and confirmed some funding that has previously been announced, including the £23.7 million packages for Camborne through the Town Deal. Projects such as the ‘Fibre Park’ tech hub, the new funding for the rugby club, and projects regenerating areas in the town centre will make a genuine difference and are a welcome boost for the town.
The traditional, 20th century model of retail taking over the town centre and residential being primarily on estates around the outskirts of town may have run its course. We need to rethink the purpose of our town centres and more and more retail goes online and goods are delivered directly to the home. We need to get better at making our town centres more of a mixed space for living and working and improving the public realm and streetscape. As more people opt to be self-employed and often make use of digital media to work from home, there is likely to be a change in what our towns are for in the decades ahead. This new funding for Camborne will give us the finance to promote some of the changes that can secure our future prosperity.
While much has been made of the slogan ‘Levelling-Up’ since the 2019 election, I am very pleased to see the government is continuing to deliver on that agenda and I look forward to meeting with my colleague Michael Gove in the coming months to ensure that this progress is only built on in the future.