Cornwall to get devolved transport powers

Devolution has begun in the bus and coach industry, with a deal being struck in Cornwall that will give the local authority more powers over the county’s buses. It comes as part of a package of changes designed to give Cornwall new powers to control local services. The move, which comes without the previously stated requirement that an authority should have an elected mayor, is said to be an important part of the government’s ‘one nation’ commitment to devolve powers to local authorities across the country.

The devolution deal will give Cornwall council powers for franchising and improving bus services in the area. It will be the first rural unitary authority to gain this ability. The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill is currently passing through Parliament and puts in place the legal framework across the country that will make it simpler for devolving more powers to more places. This devolution deal is not the end of handing powers to Cornwall. If there is a strong case put by the county council the government will continue to listen to proposals put forward on devolving more powers in the future.

Prime Minister, David Cameron, said, ‘At the heart of this one nation government is the belief that everyone, no matter what their background or where they’re from, has the opportunity to get on in life. This devolution deal marks a major shift for the people who live and work in Cornwall – putting power in their hands and giving them the tools to take charge and make the most of the fantastic potential that Cornwall holds. And, alongside our long term economic plan, which has created 19,000 jobs in Cornwall since 2010 and will deliver tax cuts to benefit 2.6m people in the region, we are determined to continue to deliver and make sure opportunity and prosperity reaches every corner of our country.’

Commenting on this news, a First Bus spokesperson said, ‘We share the aim of local councils and national Government, which is to get more people out of their cars and using buses. We’ve worked incredibly hard in Cornwall to improve bus services and are seeing some encouraging results with passenger numbers increasing. In the last few months, working closely with our local authority partner, we’ve bridged the gap left behind by Western Greyhound. Indeed it is widely acknowledged that customers are now enjoying a better service locally. We will continue that improvement and have a wide range of exciting initiatives planned, including investment in our bus fleet, which we’re confident will attract more people out of their cars in Cornwall and on to our buses.’

‘The quickest, cheapest and best way to improve services and attract passengers is through operators and local councils working together. We have numerous examples of working successfully in partnership across the UK and look forward to exploring with our local authority partner how these models can be adapted to meet Cornwall’s challenges.’

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