Two separate articles that have been published this week show the scale of the Cameron government’s inability to grasp Cornwall’s needs – or indeed to provide anything close to an acceptable amount of funding for the territory.
Wednesday’s ‘Guardian’ included a front page article headlined: Cameron ‘buying off’ Tory MPs threatening to rebel over council cuts with the quite staggering story that, in return for Conservative MPs backing down on their threats to vote down their own local government cuts, Cameron is going to offer increased financial support to councils in the more affluent shires of England. The more deprived Town Halls, more likely to be run by Labour, will suffering smaller or no additional financial help. The county council which is earmarked to receive the biggest tranche of extra cash is that well known county of deprivation, Surrey. This part of Southern England, will receive an additional £24,000,000, according to ‘The Guardian’. It’s not just Surrey getting a large bail-out – Hampshire, the article reveals will receive £19,000,000 with both Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire being given £9,000,000. In comparison Middlesbrough, Knowsley, Hull, Liverpool and Manchester – the council areas with the most deprived wards will receive no extra cash.
You may expect that Cornwall, one of Europe’s most deprived areas would, perhaps be in line for a big cash injection. After all, all of the territory’s MPs are Tories. This has only been deemed enough for Cornwall to be given an additional £3,000,000. How it can be justified that Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire receive a total of £42,000,000 compared to Cornwall’s figure of £3,000,000? The only possible answer would be ensuring the Conservatives save council seats in May and avoid an embarrassing Parliamentary defeat. Unfortunately Cameron has neglected to recognise the fact that he is playing with people’s lives here – whilst he may save some of his councillors and MPs, the most deprived parts of England will be suffering even greater hardship.
If anyone needed any reminding of the struggles that the Cornish face, they only needed to read an article on ‘The New Statesman’ website this week. Entitled The real Cornwall: a county poorer than Lithuania and Hungary , the article lifts the lid on “Food banks, domestic abuse and poverty in David Cameron’s favourite holiday destination.” The article looks into the economic situation in the Redruth, Camborne and Pool district, which, in territory’s mining heyday was one of the richest parts of Cornwall. Tim Wigmore’s piece reveals that 2,095 people used Redruth’s Food Bank during December, and a new Food Bank had to be opened in Pool due to local’s finding it difficult to afford the bus to the existing facilities in either Redruth or Camborne. The article also goes onto discuss the related domestic abuse figures, and the fact that in Camborne, over 40% of children have some form of intervention from the local authority/social services. As a teacher myself, I know how much these services cost. If the piece in ‘The New Statesman’ isn’t enough to make the Conservative party think again about diverting some of that absurdly high amount of extra money from Surrey to Cornwall in order to support the far greater amount of financial need than for the likes of leafy Leatherhead and Oxshott, then it would appear that the Tories are heading back down the road to becoming The Nasty Party again.