Cornwall is a gorgeous county. I have to admit the South West of England is my favourite part of the UK and after a short spell living in Somerset and Devon and a longer spell working in the wider South West I hope one day soon to be resident in the bottom corner of England again. As much as I love the quaint fishing villages of Fowey and Polperro or stunning beaches of Newquay and Bude or the panoramic cliff top views as the train arrives in St Ives I can’t help but think that anything West if Plymouth is just a tad too uncivilised to reside in. The main problem seems to be a lack of foresight and planning by Cornwall Council.
You wouldn’t associate Cornwall and the word deprived to look at the yachts moored in Fowey Harbour or the £1 million homes overlooking the ganal near Newquay but it receives more European funding then anywhere in the UK (even more then the horrible deprived ex pit towns in Yorkshire) because there is very little industry in Cornwall other then low paid seasonal tourism jobs. The problems are compounded by the fact that Cornwall’s beauty attracts money. People pay a lot of money to have a Cornish view out of their window much to the detriment of locals with insecure seasonal jobs who have not got a chance of getting on the property ladder in the communities they were born in.
The Cornish seem to resent outsiders (perhaps with some justification) but equally the outsiders generate income for the county that the lack of other major industries does not. The Cornish seem to also resent the European Union flags that fly outside many of the projects but again Cornwall would further struggle without this funding. The Cornish seem to like their own flag despite it not really helping their situation but they fly it nonetheless as if to scare off outsiders .
I can’t help but think a bit of infrastructure might help Cornwall a little. I’m not saying destroying the greenery by extending a 6 lane M5 beyond Exeter to Penzance nor am I naive to think Hyundai might consider creating 5000 jobs with a plant in Truro but decent transport can contribute to reducing social inequalities, reducing congestion and improve the economy. All things Cornwall could do with. In Qunintrell Downs just outside of Newquay a new housing development is being built (not affordable house I should add) highlighting Cornwall Council are not averse to granting permission to building on green spaces. Surely though this could have been a site to improve the road network into one of Britain’s premier resorts. Obviously the council made more money from a housing development which will put further pressure on the fragile road infrastructure.
When London brought in the congestion charge they backed it up with an improved bus offer. Cornwall’s roads seem at breaking point with Newquay, one of the UK’s top seaside resorts having just three single carriageway access routes. The A30 despite being dual carriageway all the way through to Exeter still manages to come to a complete halt. Car parking provision is drastically overpriced with not nearly enough spaces. The car parks that the National Trust operates in scenic villages or glorious beaches make no provision for short stay meaning if you want to stop off at a few locations in a day you have to pay four or five lots of long stay parking charges. This must seriously hamper business that lose out in any passing trade. Why not leave the car at home then? Because Cornwall’s public transport offer is just as poor. The patchy bus network has limited coverage and mainly operated by 1990’s mini-buses which are not particularly comfortable, environmentally friendly or good for dealing with lots of tourists. Equally the rail network is at bursting point during the summer. You can’t spend £millions on rolling stock that would sit empty for most of the year but you could make better use of the resources you have. I travelled on the mainline from St Austell to St Erth on a wedged 2 car train. Of the 200 people on the train (just under half stood in the armpits of their fellow standing passengers such was the crowding) around 70% of them were bound for picturesque St Ives. We were all pretty bemused to step off the 2 car mainline train after an hour and a half from hell to find a 4 car train running on the 5 minute branch line to St Ives. I would have rather have stood for the 5 minutes then the hour and a half. Perhaps Cornwall should close its doors to tourists until it has the infrastructure to accept them rather then just their cash in overpriced restaurants, hotels and attractions.
It seems as though Cornwall Council are happy to collect cash from tourists but not make the necessary investment in infrastructure to support tourism or their own residents. One could argue that surely the huge EU investment in the a Eden Project could have been better spent on something to benefit the people of Cornwall.