Thursday 10 June 2021

G7 - A Tale of Two Duchies


As Royal Navy Culdrose sees helicopters unloaded from giant transporters, cruise ships anchor off Falmouth to house the 5,000 police and as Boris Johnson flies in from his 300 mile journey from distant London, locals have the chance to contemplate the £70 million cost for all this.


This is a truncated version of Tanya Gold’s excellent, “The Prostitution of Cornwall”



"The Carbis Bay Hotel at St Ives, which is hosting the G7 summit this week, contains a parade of ugly beachside villas that rent for thousands a week They exists for people who travel here with their own fantasies, which rarely involve Cornish reality.


There was Daphne Du Maurier and Manderley now it’s Boris Johnson, the G7 and Carbis Bay


It’s an old story: rich and poor competing for the same space.


There is only one road into Carbis Bay and on it a sign: “St Ives Foodbank Welcomes You”.


Living costs are high, but wages are low; work is often seasonal, zero hours and without benefits. If the average Cornish salary is less than the national average, housing costs are explosive. The average house now costs eight times the average salary: and prices are still rising. You buy a house, rent it out (but not to locals, that is unprofitable), and either enjoy the income or sell it on. The old cottages by the sea are rentals or second homes.


It is normal to be evicted for the summer: people camp in fields or squat in campervans. One third of children under five live in insecure and privately rented accommodation, which is some of the worst maintained in Britain. 36% of children in St Ives live in poverty. That isn’t on the postcards.


Cornish people are up the hill on the Penbeagle Estate, a pale and uniform collection of houses, from which they contemplate their own town from a distance. 


Carbis Bay Hotel has destroyed a portion of woodland to build meeting rooms for the summit, despite planning permission being denied for the same site in 2018, and yet still calling itself an “Eco hotel”.


The “global elite”, have had footpaths closed and taken hotel rooms from vulnerable homeless people. Cornwall is two duchies now, and the G7 is happening in one of them.


A resident at the Treneere estate in Penzance says the housing shortage is so acute adult children are living in parents’ garden sheds. People are inhabiting cottages with water running down the walls; or they are evicted so the home can be an Airbnb. “We might as well go back to days of the poorhouse. It feels like that. What about lovely, ordinary people?” They have been obscured, I think, by lovely, extraordinary landscape, and the desire of others to possess it. "