Dr Joanie Willett and Will Coleman

Citizens’ take-over of Cornwall Council

On Saturday 1 November, a unique opportunity for Cornish people to take direct action by saying what the priorities for Cornwall should be is being made possible at County Hall, Truro.

The all-day event, which aims to gather views on the Cornish identity and discuss what it is like to live and work in the county, focuses on answering the question ‘What does the future hold for people living in Cornwall?’. The event is being organised by Politics lecturer Dr Joanie Willett from the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in collaboration with the storyteller, performer, educator, and cultural activist Will Coleman.

Participants will work with Dr Willett and Coleman to develop a ‘citizens’ manifesto’, by discussing what the priorities are for Cornwall. This information will be presented to an invited audience of key people drawn from Councillors and those involved in planning, strategy and service delivery in Cornwall, and who will observe the afternoon’s discussion.

Dr Willett whose specialism is in the politics of identity said:“Everyone tells us that Cornwall is a great place to have a fantastic quality of life, and many people agree with that. But most of the time people also add a ‘but’ – saying that Cornwall is fantastic, ‘but it’s almost impossible to get a job that will cover my housing costs, or, ‘but it’s hard to access the services that I need because everything is so far away’. We want to explore that ‘but’, and have a real conversation about the issues that are faced by those living in Cornwall.”

She added:“It’s also important how we imagine our lives to be in Cornwall, in the future. We see this as part of a much bigger debate into what we would like the future in Cornwall to be like, and we will be making a film about the day, so that we can continue the discussion at a screening early in the New Year.”

The day will be built around participant’s stories, with discussion groups looking at individual, community and Cornwall-wide stories of what life in Cornwall is like. This includes questioning whether people feel that they are able to be a part of the  positive lifestyle on offer, what keeps participants in Cornwall, and what they love and hate about the place.  Groups will also talk about what they imagine the future to be like in Cornwall, compared to what they would like Cornwall to be in the future, and how to get to that point. A ‘citizens’ manifesto’ will be drawn together from discussions made earlier in the day to think about Cornwall’s priorities, in the afternoon session

The event is part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science which celebrates social science research and its relevance to many areas of life, from personal wellbeing to the sustainability of the economy. During the festival, which runs from 1 to 8 November, University of Exeter researchers will open up their research to a number of different audiences with events in Devon and in Cornwall.

The family friendly ‘take-over’ event is at County Hall, Truro between 10 – 4pm and participants’ are encouraged to register for the event through the Facebook or by emailing.  The event is free-of-charge and refreshments and a pasty lunch will be provided for those taking part.


Date: 22 October 2014

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