It’s what we do in Cornwall, we moan, get angry or get a ‘bit teazy’ as we d’say down here and our anger manifests itself when people buy-up Cornish housing stock. Often referred as ‘2nd homes’ they can form part of a larger multi-property portfolio of a single individual. The fact that these portfolio holders are depriving someone in Cornwall of their first home, is not worthy of consideration; their ‘bolt-holes’ are their priority, not some uppity individuals in Cornwall trying to get on the housing ladder.
We get annoyed about planning and the unsustainable housing targets directed upon Cornwall by central government. New housing built that does little for those earning the average wage in Cornwall, but more to accommodate the more affluent east of the Tamar. Attracting population growth that affects climate change, imposes negatively upon our finite resources and infrastructure, is not only unsustainable, but also detracts from our quality of life.
The latest target of our anger are holiday home owners that have taken full advantage of a loophole and have claimed over £50 million of grants. These grants were made available to small businesses in Cornwall to help them survive during the coronavirus pandemic.
These holiday home owners have taken advantage of a business rate loophole that has properties valued for business rates when the owners declare their property is available to let as ‘holiday accommodation’ for 140 days or more in a year. Any property registered for business rates, rather than Council Tax (Cornwall Council loses thousands of pounds in lost Council Tax) is likely to qualify for small business rate relief. This provides 100% relief from business rates, so no tax is due on properties with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.
We are angered at the poverty in Cornwall and how it impacts upon our children and future generations. Cornwall, (despite denials from Westminster) continues to suffer underfunding to the extent that the council has to impose exponential council tax rises just to keep our essential services running – not to make them any more efficient.
The aforementioned issues are nothing new and all the main political parties are guilty. Also, apart from appealing for more funding, Cornwall Council is virtually impotent. It can do very little but remain culpable in directing the policies of Westminster upon the towns and communities of Cornwall.
People vote for ‘More of the same’
People complain to councillors, make protests and start petitions – all to little or no avail. Yet (and perhaps the most bizarre and ultimately self-defeating action) they insist upon voting for the parties that impose those unsuitable and unsustainable policies upon Cornwall that impacts heavily against them. Can they therefore expect any support, or indeed sympathy, when they essentially vote for ‘more of the same’?
Many decades have proven that Cornwall cannot make the changes required by voting for the main political parties that deliver ‘more of the same’ – more second homes, more holiday homes, more unsustainable housing targets, more development and more underfunding that contributes to more Council Tax rises.
We require real change – and that requires real devolution – drawing down powers from the halls and chambers of Westminster, to the streets and communities of Cornwall.
Although not full independence, a Cornish Assembly would allow devolution to the extent that affords the people of Cornwall to have more say in how their lives are run. Locally elected politicians can take the key decisions about Cornwall’s future, not the unelected bureaucrats or MPs at Westminster, who are dedicated more to their party and retaining their £80,000 salary plus expenses than their constituents.