Looking for a pantomime? Cornwall’s new Economic Forum appoints Hall for Cornwall chairman as its new boss

Posted By on 21st May 2024

By Julia Penhaligon

The first chairman of the new Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Economic Forum is to be Lord John Hutton, a former cabinet minister under Tony Blair and chairman of the Hall for Cornwall Trustees.

The position was advertised in a 13-page recruitment brief and attracts a £25,000-£30,000 annual remuneration, plus expenses, for attending four meetings per year.

Lord Hutton's appointment is initially for four years, although the very existence of the Economic Forum will be in doubt after the general election.

The 69-year-old Oxford-educated Labour peer, who lives in Cornwall, has business interests in the private healthcare and nuclear industries.  He is a non-executive director of Circle Health Group Holdings and chairman of GMET, which offers “solutions” to the nuclear industry.

In January he also became chairman of the Association of Infrastructure Investors in Public Private Partnerships (AIIP) – a new organisation which seeks to restore the reputation of Private Finance Initiatives in the public sector.

A staunch “Blairite” within the Labour Party, in 2006 he gave an anonymous briefing to BBC journalist Nick Robinson declaring that Gordon Brown would be “a fucking disaster” if he succeeded as Labour Party leader and became Prime Minister.

Lord Hutton said: “I am delighted to take on this role and to act as an advocate and ambassador for Cornwall’s business community.  There are great opportunities ahead of us and I look forward to working closely with businesses to secure the best possible economic future for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.”

Known as Lord Hutton of Furness, he has been chairman of the Hall for Cornwall trustees since 2022.  His close links to the private healthcare sector are unlikely to ease longstanding tensions within the Economic Forum between Cornwall Council and the National Health Service.



The first chairman of the new Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Economic Forum is to be Lord Hutton of Furness, a former cabinet minister under Tony Blair who is also now chairman of the Hall for Cornwall Trustees

The Economic Forum is very much a Conservative Party creation, following the dissolution of the Local Enterprise Partnerships which were born out the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition government of 2010.  The LEPs had replaced Labour’s Regional Development Agencies.  No-one knows what Labour would do next, should it win a general election.

The Economic Forum is however very closely linked to the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Leadership Board, an unelected forum based at County Hall which is seen by chief executive Kate Kennally as providing “strong leadership and effective governance to support greater autonomy” as she prepares to outline her vision of “devolution” at a property developers’ conference in Leeds on Thursday.


This article has 1 comment

  1. The Kremlin comedians starring in this particular pantomime are currently on tour in Leeds playing to the audience with an understudy playing the role of Widow Twankey who bottled out at the last minute, no matter the show must go on.

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