Former MEP calls for Europe funding changes

A politician has called for Cornwall to come off the "welfare gravy train" of European funding.

Cornwall councillor and former MEP Lord Robin Teverson said it was time to start weaning the county off the cash.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has been classed as one of Europe's poorest areas and has received hundreds of millions of pounds over two decades.

But Chris Ridgers from Cornwall Council said it would be "dangerous" if the funding was cut off completely.

The latest round of European funding ends in 2013.

Lord Teverson said: "It's done a lot of good things, but I think you can have too much of a good thing.

"It's much better to move forward and to say we're now self dependent and we're quite capable of looking after ourselves."

'Knowledge-based' industry

Although the local economy remains well below the average compared to the rest of Europe, it has improved slightly and looks to be on track to be upgraded from "less developed" to a "transitional" area.

Mr Ridgers, Cornwall council's portfolio holder for the economy and regeneration, said funds would still be available if transitional status was awarded.

"I think it would be quite dangerous if the funding was cut completely," he said.

"I would say the European Union has pumped hundreds of millions of pounds into Cornwall to move us to a position where we have a knowledge-based industry and creative industries, and we push forward on our low-carbon technologies."

Not everyone is certain this is the right time to be making the transitional move.

James Jobling Purser runs a Penryn-based company specialising in surveying underground mining operations in 3D from South Africa to Mexico.

He said: "European Funding has been massively important to us. We've had several different grants over the years to get us off the ground.

"I would like to see other people have the same opportunities that we have had."

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