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Life on the Cornish breadline No one smiles in the foodshares except the volunteers, who grin brightly


December 24, 2020   7 mins

The foodshare is on a hill above St Ives harbour, where an end of terrace house will cost you £2 million and you might see a pale blue Lamborghini on the road in a poor imitation of Monte Carlo. Half a million day-trippers come in summer, and half of them stay over, but they aren’t here now. Old St Ives is empty, the church is locked, and the windows of the cottages are dark.

Those who use the foodshare live at the top of the hill in the Penbeagle estate. It is run by the St Ives Community Orchard inside the St Ives Rugby Club, which donated their premises for free. They collect waste food from local supermarkets and give it away, so it doesn’t go into landfill. Unlike foodbanks, of which there are many in Cornwall, you do not need a referral from an agency, which will take your testimony and, if you are judged worthy, issue a chit. You just show up.

There are trestle tables covered with produce: a pile of potatoes and carrots (the only glut here, how British); a few onions; oranges, bananas, apples, and lemons; yesterday’s wilting pastries from the Co-op; four ham and cheese quiches; eight packets of miniature sausage rolls; one pack of noodles; four packets of mashed potatoes; three tins of vegetables; four rice puddings; five packets of crisps; one small box of salad.

Anyone who thinks this is mere bounty, something to be unconditionally celebrated, doesn’t understand food poverty, by which I mean poverty. This food is given with love and concern, and often collected by those who use it themselves. But it is remnants. There is no fresh meat except one packet of sliced beef; no fresh bread; one box of eggs and no butter, fish, green vegetables or milk. What is here is only what others do not want and cannot sell; at the end anything that is left is fed to pigs

I watch a man with two small children walk about, considering what to take; often people think they are not the most in need, and take too little. I see a girl, perhaps 11, with an empty carrier bag and an expression so defeated I am shocked to see it in a child and, later, I do cry, which shames me further. Tears are cheap, and I don’t cry after subsequent visits: immunity is easily caught here.

The children are keen to help. Why wouldn’t they when their parents walk so heavily with their fear, as if carrying a great physical burden? But their chirping is stilled. Here there is no joy in the having; that is a fantasy for people who do not use these places. There is too much pain in the needing. Initially this foodshare was used by people who simply didn’t want to waste food. Increasingly it is used by people who could not survive without it.

No one smiles except the volunteers who grin brightly, for denial. It is quiet, speechless almost, like a deathbed. Just a murmur of thanks and a wave as they go out into the rain. Then a woman with three boys snaps at them as they say what they would like and ask her, too — what she would like? I recognise what I see: not an unloving mother, far from it, but a woman who can take no more. She chides them noisily, and her voice rises further to panic; but then she gathers herself, looks at them, touches them, praises them. She returns from her terror to herself. She smiles a small, tight smile and walks away with her bags, the children trotting with her.

If you are poor, landscape is only a taunt; a physical impediment even, for the hills around the harbour are steep. Those who live in Penbeagle would have lived on the harbour once, and seen seals and maybe dolphins from their windows, but the hunger of outsiders to own a second home, rather than stay in a hotel or caravan park has pushed them up the hill into a council estate that manages, with its pale uniformity, to deny its own Cornishness. “We all live up here now,” says Jo Chatterley, a volunteer, as I drive her to the orchard with what is now the pig food. “Some people don’t even go into the town in summer. They don’t feel welcome”.

The natives of St Ives can no longer afford the picturesque. They are no longer considered worthy of it. A local estate agent called St Ives, recently named the happiest place in Britain (in a survey conducted by another estate agent) — not a town, but a business. Where does that leave people? The old trades of fishing and mining are fetishised beyond the duchy in books and novels, but one is declining, and the other is gone. It is another way of mythologising Cornwall. To mythologise something is another way of not seeing it; and you can’t eat myths.

The orchard is picturesque, though, because only pigs live in orchards; that is, it doesn’t contain any holiday accommodation. The ground is lively and sodden; the apple trees are gnarled and expressive. There are bees; a fire-pit; a vegetable garden. This orchard exists for itself, which is rare in a town which is also a business, and to counter that other epidemic that thrives amid lack: depression. People come here for their mental health; subsistence farming is considered healing, and it is, but not by itself.

Cornwall pays a price for its insane beauty. The average house price is now £254,382; in St Ives it is £100,000 more. Living costs are as high as London, and sometimes higher (the price of a return bus ticket from Pendeen to Penzance is more than £5 and if you don’t have a car you are forced to pay it or risk your life on a bike across the moor that gathers fog, and many do). Parking in summer is £5 a day or more. Restaurants and clothing cost what they always do. But wages are two-thirds of the national average in St Ives, often for a combination of zero hours and split shifts, which mean, respectively, that you cannot take another job to supplement your income, or that you are paid for a part-time job but do a full-time job with a long lunch break.

Before pandemic, Cornish employment was higher than the national average, and the Cornish worked longer hours than the average in “jobs”, I am told, “because there are almost no careers”. In 2019, this felt like a duchy that existed for people who do not live here; then pandemic came, and employment fell. Universal Credit claimants swelled by 135% and it is not enough to live on. Food is the obvious thing to cut back on. You won’t call a bailiff on yourself.

Usually, Jo says, in St Ives you have a seven-month holiday season in which to earn enough to keep yourself through winter. This year it was three months. “You have a lot of people living pretty much on the breadline and there’s a lot of people who aren’t usually over it anyway. People went from doing all right to absolutely nothing pretty much overnight. We are helping people who aren’t used to asking for help”. She knows a self-employed builder with four children and no work this year; when his wife developed breast cancer their income fell to nothing. She knows one family of seven adults existing on one wage.

Ten miles away, in Treneere, Penzance, Liz Sullivan runs Whole Again Communities (WAC). She sits in her office, her leg on the desk (she has hurt her ankle) and tells me how WAC exists to teach people how to cook healthy food – soups, hot pots, pasta sauces – from scratch on a budget. They distribute food, offer cooking classes – in pandemic these were online – and teach gardening, giving out compost and seeds. “We are a real community of making things and managing,” she says. “They don’t go around groaning and begging. They get used to managing. They are incredibly resilient. People are trying so unbelievabley hard and it’s still incredibly difficult. People live hand to mouth. Rent in Cornwall is so incredibly dear. Everything is more expensive down here”.

Owning is unaffordable and there is almost nothing to rent, due to the profusion of holiday cottages. A Rightmove search for Penzance brings up 11 properties, and only one is under ÂŁ500 a month.

Liz explains what people will do to avoid the foodbank. One single mother (her partner is dead) took a full-time job as a carer, walked to work despite her ill-health (she had no car) and left her son with his grandmother, who is shielding: “She had to forgo seeing her son [during pandemic]. That is a typical story”. This girl wanted to be a baker – she is a gifted one – but she has no premises; caring is one of the few jobs you can get. It is the same for a girl who wants to be a beautician, she says: no premises, although many of the shops in Penzance are empty.  She tells me about a chef who left his job to care for his wife, who has complex health conditions, and their three children; they now need donations of food.

“Covid-19 is just one issue,” she says. “It’s not just all of sudden that food poverty has become an issue. It’s just the way it is, and some people cope better than others”. It has been worse since 2010, she says, when the coalition government came to power. “There is, she says, “the exhaustion of living a certain way. Some people, I believe,” she pauses, “people are where they feel they deserve to be”. That is perhaps the saddest part. She shows me a letter of thanks she received, from a woman with ill-health (two of her three children also have complex health conditions): “if we didn’t have the boxes [from you], we would have gone hungry. Tom is digging up the garden and planting the carrot and courgette seeds”.

I meet Lynne Dyer at the Growing Links community garden nearby. She runs a community store cupboard, teaches gardening to children and adults and also runs the street food project, which provides hot meals to vulnerable residents each night. Lynne knows people who are making a loaf of bread last a full week. She knows families evicted from their rental accommodation in summer for the tourist season, who have to camp in fields. She knows a sick man denied his benefits because he could walk 15 yards left destitute for a year and a half. She knows a woman who lost her job under the first lockdown unable to manage on Universal Credit. “She was feeding her children and not feeding herself. These sound like stories from Victorian times, don’t they? One thing about the Victorians – they had the poor house, didn’t they?”

And that is it: in west Cornwall people are feeding their neighbours, and kindly though it is, it cannot be a substitute for a functioning state. It is flickers of light inside a catastrophe.

In St Ives yesterday, as she set out the Christmas Eve collection, Jo was anxious to tell me that she knows of only one family that has abused the foodshare scheme. I didn’t want to include that – incidentally, the proportions are identical to the benefit fraud numbers, which are negligible — but I feel I must, because the narrative that such places are run by the politically motivated for the idle and wicked is so widespread. I understand why. It is essential to believe that, because it is absolution for the rest of us: it allows us to avoid responsibility for a child with an empty carrier bag and an adult’s eyes.


Tanya Gold is a freelance journalist.

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Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago

An all too common tragic report, and “locals being pushed up the hill into council estates” sums it up beautifully.

Thankfully, tourist towns are now waking up and stopping 2nd home-owners from out-bidding the local families.

The best answer is to implement the complete reverse of Maggies policy – which was to halve the rates for homes occupied only part of the year.

Multiplying them by 4 instead would start to make a real difference.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I’m sure there is a parallel where the wider UK population thought the Community Charge changes served only the elite – and Brexit – where they felt exactly the same.

chippiedave63
chippiedave63
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Agreed

Simon Giora
Simon Giora
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Not sure it’s that simple. For example, if 2nd home owners let their homes to tourists then reducing the the supply of holiday accommodation reduces tourism to an area. Most seaside towns depend on tourism. It’s possible those towns will survive on day trippers but the evening/night time economy will suffer.

How do you define a tourist town? Do you leave it to the local authority? Local authorities will increase Council tax to maximise income not to maximise tourism.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Giora

I like to remember the existence of Hotels and B&B (with owners on the premises) which served the purposes of tourism without harming locals.

No need to define a tourist town, just “whack” second homes wherever they are …..

pudduh
pudduh
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Giora

Then again it isn’t as simple as continuing with what we have now. If people cannot even live in the county they’re supposed to be working in because there is no affordable housing then how can a tourism industry survive?
There are better ways of developing tourism in Cornwall: subsidise hotels, B&Bs, camp sites, eco-parks, caravan places, etc. The assertion that if there aren’t any properties to rent inevitably means that tourism will suffer is patently and utterly false.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The way to wealth proven time and time again is less rather than more government.

My second home provides the community at least £8000 pa in rates, grounds maintenance and income for building trades. (Over the last 5 years we spent 90k on the property with a new roof central heating and drive) Add in another £5000 that we spend the community during the 16 weeks we live there. Yes I could sell up take my 400k and take a second home in another country and spend my £13k pa elsewhere….

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Good idea – spend it elsewhere – and let someone local move in

Philip Pickett
Philip Pickett
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

What, at 400 hundred grand?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Pickett

Lots of people seem to have £400k to invest, and could afford 4 * local rates, which can be hypothecated over to building affordable housing for local families.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The average wage in that area is the running costs of the house. Heating and rates alone would defeat most families. Also we spend a huge amount in the local economy. A better option would be to entice business into this depressed area. Your Corbyn like suggestion would just result in misery for the local population.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

The answer is to do both of those things …

je.stanley
je.stanley
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

They can’t afford to!

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  je.stanley

That’s my point – incentives need to be put in place so that house prices get squeezed downwards (for locals) until such a time as local teachers, policemen etc. Can live in the town they serve.

The pace at which you implement these changes depends on what you want to prioritise …

steve eaton
steve eaton
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

“LIVE SIMPLY SO THAT OTHERS CAN SIMPLY LIVE”.
— Mahatma Gandhi.

Peter Lockyer
Peter Lockyer
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Do you think the second home owners would stick around if you did that? The likely result would be loads of empty properties, a property price crash, and the poor still not able to afford the housing. Even more closed restaurants and businesses, and tourist towns that look as forlorn as Hastings.

The solutions I think are government funded training schemes, tax breaks for new businesses, and why not a Freeport at Penzance.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Lockyer

Unintended consequences of not thinking things through.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Lockyer

Hopefully the 2nd home owners would sell up – lose some money – and pricing would adjust to local affordability

Bill Brewer
Bill Brewer
3 years ago

So what’s the answer?
The scamdemic will make things worse as small businesses fail and wealth becomes even more polarised. If the second home owners go away will St Ives be better off? I doubt it.

There is a revolution coming and it scares me. The scope for self destruction is enormous. The Great Reset is not the answer, it will make things worse. As O’Brien says in 1984; “Power is not the means, it is the end.” The people driving the Reset are not benign, they do not care for the poor or the planet, only for power and control. The utopian promises should server as a warning because there is no such thing but it seems people are falling for it hook line and sinker.

chippiedave63
chippiedave63
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill Brewer

I agree the New Reset is going to bring untold misery to us the masses which gates sorus and even our Prince Charles have stated, there are just to many of us

David McKee
David McKee
3 years ago

Readers can carp, of course you can. But when all is said and done, this is outstanding journalism. Why do I say that? Because it makes me want to do something about it, not just pass on to the next article.

Well done, Tanya. You are a credit to your profession.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  David McKee

Agreed. The solution that is proven to work is to do nothing. Just reduce the impediments to economic activity. Start with abolishing taxes, rates and fuel duty for those communities and watch income levels soar,

Teo
Teo
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

… and watch house prices soar. 🙂

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  Teo

The average worker in Hong Kong or Singapore used to live in small cramped houses. Now they live in big apartments with gyms swimming pools and security. There are solutions

Mark Melvin
Mark Melvin
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Sorry James. You are wrong. The average worker in HK and Sing live in dormitories where beds are shared, etc, etc. That is why the Covid stats soared in SG. HK is now China so you know what they do to their statistics. I walk past these mainly highly dilapidated buildings daily.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

Shared dormitories are for immigrant contract workers not Singapore residents. Singapore looks after its own first and foremost.

We should do the same

Martin Davis
Martin Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Yes, but the state was and is behind the provision of housing in both places. Limited land you see. Freehold not available, only leasehold. State housing and privatisation. Sensible solution…for them.

Toby Josh
Toby Josh
3 years ago

I would love to have a garden in the area where I grew up. Economic reality has required me to move all over country these past twenty years. I would love to be a beautician, but once again, economic reality beckons. I hadn’t realised until now that I was a victim.

keisenberg
keisenberg
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby Josh

Ok, I’m a Yank and grew up in a 6 story pre-war, 90 family apartment house. No garden but a lovely park across the street. NYC in the sixties – says it all! I left NYC for after ‘enjoying’ a gov’t funded tour of the orient. I look around headed to Vermont’s ‘northern kingdom’. No work and ended up in Michigan for there last. 50 years. Hey Toby, loose the victim, get another job/profession/ no cheese with your wine.

Toby Josh
Toby Josh
3 years ago
Reply to  keisenberg

I think you have somewhat misunderstood the tone, and indeed the text, of my comment.

Julia Wallis-Martin
Julia Wallis-Martin
3 years ago

Well observed, but ruined by passages such as the following: ‘.. But their chirping is stilled. Here there is no joy in the having; that is a fantasy for people who do not use these places. There is too much pain in the needing’.

The author of the article would benefit from attending fewer Creative Writing courses.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago

‘Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole’, ‘Boots County Columns’, ‘Scoop’, E Waugh.

Carl Goulding
Carl Goulding
3 years ago

I very much doubt that the “narrative” is as widespread as the author wants us to think it is. In fact I think the majority of people in this country hold exactly the opposite view. As to pointing the finger at who is responsible in the first place for the child with an empty carrier bag? Well I suppose you could start with the plague of London Lamborghini driving locusts. I wonder how many of them are volunteers in the local community?

chippiedave63
chippiedave63
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

I do not agree loal people on crap wages cannot afford to live in the towns or villages that they were born in. People who can afford a second home that only use it occasionally should pay far more rates this might stop them from purchasing second homes and turning those places nto ghost towns in the winter

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  chippiedave63

Your solution….

More tax…

Try zero income tax and zero rates for business. Try zero fuel duty for business that set up in rural areas. Try something that works.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  chippiedave63

The problem is that these are ‘desirable’ places to live. Just because you’re born in a nice area doesn’t mean you have a God given right to live there. I’m from a rather nice rural seaside area. The house price to local wages differential is huge there, I can’t afford to live there.

With or without 2nd homes these places are always dead during the winter.

A huge % of the population live in estates and probably not in their favourite location. I think a large majority of us would love to live in a nice house, with beautiful views, in a seaside town/village, with a thriving set of pubs and restraunts and good connections to the outside world. Thus these houses are really expensive.

Also whilst I’m troubled by 2nd homes, people could just game the system with ease. What’s to stop a husband owning their London apartment and the wife owning the Cornish holiday home? In a moral sense what’s the difference between 2 single people each owning a house or a married couple owning 2 houses?

Or is there going to be a hugely complex set of rules and regulations about who can own what, where, when? Someone checking if the house is ‘used’ enough as a main residence or not.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

If you were to ask across the West who is responsible for the woman and four children with the carrier bag in cities and towns, mostly it would be the woman enabled by the State. People who are not capable of supporting a family are paid to have a family they cannot support. This produces what is called ‘The Welfare Trap’ where unsuitable parents are paid to raise children who then become unsuitable parents themselves, in a cycle of poverty and social dysfunction.

I have lived in inner city and around the towns with welfare cultures. It is real. There are safety net needs, but from what I have seen the majority are really people who, often generations ago, fell into the welfare Trap.

In the old days you had the ‘deserving poor’ and undeserving poor’ with social stigmas. Now this has largely been broken down with great unintended consequences.

Family and personal dysfunction is almost like genetic as it mostly fallows parent to child over and over. Children brought up in crime, drugs, violence, poverty, failing at school, and so on tend to be the ones who repeat this, the Prisons are mostly filled by men raised by a single parent. Lack of scholastic achievement is passed down, as is poverty just as in other groups high school achievement and wealth are.

It is much more complex than this article seems to show. There is not an answer like give them a lot of money.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

For most of us lesser mortals houses aren’t investments or safe deposit boxes but homes where we live our lives in reasonable comfort and security, go to work and, ideally, raise the next generation who will do much the same in not dissimilar circumstances and be able to return the kindness and so on.

Something has gone seriously wrong here, and those that help to perpetuate this iniquity, not least those most able and used to what is euphemistically known as, ‘making money in their sleep’ need to start questioning and truly understanding what the fundamental difference is between ‘making’ and ‘earning’.

It’s a simple (or brutal) choice depending on the difference between a virtuous circle or a vicious one so much as all the ‘bs’ handwringing makes for an entertaining read it’s not exactly rocket science.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Owning a house is very much investing $ for one’s future. A mortgage is not just rent, it is to have capital in the form of a house at the end, through involuntary savings, for old age, and to put ones successors onto the ladder of success. If anyone has ever bought a house without thinking of finally paying it off, and thus having this Capital, I have not met them.

emskipooo
emskipooo
3 years ago

I would like to mention that this article, as emotive and thought provoking as I found it to be, omitted (in my opinion) a lot of positive aspects about the Community Foodshare project. One great thing that I am personally passionate about is the sheer abundance of food ‘waste’ that has not been thrown in the bin to be collected for landfill.

I have, in the past, witnessed hungry and homeless people be criminalised for taking from the skips at the back of a frozen food retailer (not in St Ives) what is now being shared freely amongst the community in this town. Please take a moment to celebrate how far removed from that scenario the Foodshare has become.

I agree, some of the other deeply unjust societal issues raised do exist and are definitely underrepresented by the media in general. They quite rightly, should and are being debated in the comments below, but it’s not fair for the readership to miss out on knowing some of the amazing things that this project has achieved too.

elisedlangley
elisedlangley
3 years ago
Reply to  emskipooo

Thanks for pointing that out Emma! I don’t like how the foodshare was depicted at all. Hope it doesn’t make people not want to come as it sounds like a very depressing place to visit. Generally people and kids that come collect the free waste food are happy, cheerful people (as much as we all can be at the moment), and often it’s people who aren’t in serious need but have come along to simply help save good food from going to landfill. Yes life is hard, especially now, people are struggling and it’s going to get a lot worse so I hope that the foodshare will help those who really need it. But it’s a countrywide problem and personally I think it’s far worse in other towns. We do sometimes battle to get rid of all the food we get so appreciate when people come even if they aren’t in urgent need. They are generally conscious of need and take less food if there are a lot of people though. The food might not look like much to Tanya but we get a great variety of food every single day and it varies greatly. Meat collected is put into the freezer for meals that are cooked up by the chefs and we do deliveries to those who are in need and can’t collect so that’s why she didn’t see fresh meat.
Very emotional writing and perhaps this is how Tanya saw us but I think it was because she felt they must be pretty desperate to come collect the food, so that’s how she read their expressions. It’s certainly not ‘like a deathbed’ – people get a chance to socialise and chat and we’ve made so many new friends through foodshare.
I also don’t agree with comment “The natives of St Ives can no longer afford the picturesque. They are no longer considered worthy of it.” – I feel welcome in St Ives, summer & winter, sure it might get a bit hectic at certain times but we are just lucky enough to be able to enjoy it in the quieter periods too. I often feel sorry for the tourists who pay their hard earned cash to come for just one week & then it rains the whole week, while we’re lucky to live here all year round. Even if we can’t afford to live down by the beaches, it’s literally a 20min walk to the beaches and cliffs and loveliest out of season.
Yes it’s awful that so many houses are second homes and empty for much of the year and house prices are crazy and locals can’t afford to buy (I don’t think any houses are anywhere near 2 million though!) but on the other hand, many locals chose to live at the top of town as there is more parking and garden space and many locals have chosen to rent their homes to the tourists and live out of town so get good income that way.
Apologies to Tanya that I didn’t spend more time chatting to her to give her my perhaps rose-tinted view of life in St Ives. PS there are no pigs in the orchard but otherwise I like the orchard description. All our leftover food goes to some very well fed pet pigs up in Halestown. They are getting too fat so hope that more people come and collect our free food & limp pastries.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  emskipooo

I knew a guy who lived off the supermarket skips in Uni. He saved his money and is now at 40 worth a least a couple of million, maybe more.

andrewmarkhamiltons
andrewmarkhamiltons
3 years ago

For the life of me I don’t understand the argument if ‘I was born here so should be able to buy my own home here’..where is this written?..still, this 2nd home abuse is scandalous.

Stefan Hill
Stefan Hill
3 years ago

The island Ã
land has great amount of local rule. They have decided that only locals may buy proper. Outsiders may rent.
The system seems to work just fine to benefit the locals.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Stefan Hill

What is the actual demand to buy houses?

Dave Baron
Dave Baron
3 years ago

Guernsey has a very effective housing system that ensures locals can still afford to live there. I live in Cornwall, wages are low and there is no way my daughter’s generation will be able to afford to buy a house plus there is virtually no social housing which drives prices in the private rented sector to insane levels. https://guernseyrelocation….

Dalla Jenney
Dalla Jenney
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Baron

I was brought up in SW London and can’t afford to buy a decent home there now. On your logic, perhaps only born and bred Londoners should be able to buy in London, and anyone from elsewhere ought only be allowed to rent, or like Guernsey, only those born in London should be able to buy affordably? After all, why should London be different from Cornwall/ Cotswolds/ Norfolk/Guernsey/Aland? Not sure why this argument is always one way. Obviously this rule would benefit locals. Doesn’t make it right or fair. Just engrains social advantage.

Jennifer Britton
Jennifer Britton
3 years ago

There are “cornwalls” in the US too: towns or areas that have become attractive as second home markets and pushed up housing prices to unaffordable levels for year round residents. What to do?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Some year rounders have sold their homes for much more than they could ever have expected to get. The same is true in Cornwall. They do then have to move but for some that’s okay.

Philip Pickett
Philip Pickett
3 years ago

I lived down there in the 1950s as a child, started a family there in the 1970s and can honestly say that affordability of housing for the lower paid has never been any different in Cornwall. My heart goes out to these poor people though as gather there are a lot more people living there now.

Joe Tee
Joe Tee
3 years ago

You lost me when your claimed benefit fraud was “negligible” . Back in May, even the BBC reported it as around £1,500,000,000 for just the first few weeks of the pandemic.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Tee

A harsh comment given the article was referring to the locals of St Ives – not the crooked businesses that lied to get grants and furlough payments.

je.stanley
je.stanley
3 years ago

I’ve never really understood second homes! Why go to the same place over and over again?
Why invest 400 k in one place?
That’s a lot of holidays in hotels all over the world!!
Do the right think and spend your money paying for your holiday accomodation and leave the houses to the locals!!

Teo
Teo
3 years ago

Observed the food bank policy from the very beginning there establishment was deeply politically motivated drawing on base ideology from both the left and the right, there is also a religious element in the mix that combination makes it difficult to counter argue the policy of demoralisation.

Jo C
Jo C
3 years ago
Reply to  Teo

The Foodshare has no religious element. The belief that utter waste of food being thrown out is appalling, especially when people are hungry is rooted in community.

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago

Ms Gold does herself commute regularly from her home in Cornwall to review London restaurants though. Presumably she is not actually paying for the train or the meal and gets a fee on top. So I don’t quite know to take this.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  nick harman

What’s the problem? She reports on what she sees. Do you discount war reporters who are not direct victims of the wars they report on, and get paid for their reporting? Are those running and using the St Ives foodshare the only voices worth hearing?

Jos Vernon
Jos Vernon
3 years ago

Many of my friends were unable to buy a house in the place they grew up – so they had to move out. And in London the prices really are London prices. The average wage may be 50% more but the average house is 160% more.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Jos Vernon

The people I knew in my old parts of London all had to move elsewhere when they grew up as the prices were above their means. What is so odd though is how the people now living in those houses mostly are not wealthy. Mostly migrants who do not appear to be well off, and old people not yet displaced. My Mothers house in London has four neighbors, one Pakistani, Tunisian, American, and Nigerian.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jos Vernon

That’s true in most big cities though. I grew up in NY living with my parents. Affording it on your own is quite different. I guess I didn’t expect to live as a young adult in the style to which I had become accustomed living with my parents. Nor did I necessarily believe it was my right to do so.

Peter KE
Peter KE
3 years ago

Second home owning, airbnb’s and holiday letting are all anti-social and we need tax changes to punish those involved.

Christopher Laughton
Christopher Laughton
3 years ago

A good, thoughtful article – thank you.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

Thank you for this important article Tanya.
My question is, who are the MPs for these areas and what are they doing ?

emskipooo
emskipooo
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Hi Claire D,

Here is a link for our MPs website. Please do ask him and let us know. I’d be really interested to hear what he tells you!

https://www.derekthomas.org/

John Caslin
John Caslin
3 years ago

I live in West Cornwall. There is another side to the coin. I have spoken to the owners of several local businesses. They have vacancies but despair of the poor attitude of potential employees, particularly school leavers. Actually turning up every work day would be a good start.

G Matthews
G Matthews
3 years ago

As you say, the only industries are fishing and mining. In fact the latter is seeing signs of recovery as it turns out Cornwall has lots of the rare earths needed for electric car batteries which are currently supplied by child slave labour in the Congo. All it needs is a government industrial policy to say that we will only allow batteries with ethically sourced rare earths, and ban frozen imported factory farmed fish from Asia like Tilapia which is just a generic white fish.

Paul Bradbury
Paul Bradbury
3 years ago

Is the author a grockle?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Bradbury

Not if it’s Cornwall.

Grockles are tourists visiting Dorset – in Cornwall they are called Emmets

Alfred Prufrock
Alfred Prufrock
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Tourists from Dorset visiting Cornwall are called Grommets.

shirley smith
shirley smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Nah, you have to go to Blackpool to see a Grockle

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  shirley smith

It seems the term has become more “national” than I thought Ă°ĆžÂ€â€

opn
opn
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Is it true that grockle is derived from Graeculus ?

opn
opn
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Us ‘as grockels t’Debnsher too.

Rebecca Bartleet
Rebecca Bartleet
3 years ago

Tourism and second homes are a symptom of a bigger problem, they are not the cause. Holiday homes which are empty for many months of the years has been a thing in Cornwall since the end of the 19th century. Tourism and the servicing of holiday homes is an important part of the Cornish economy, just heavily penalising second homes will merely create more problems.

Cornwall’s problems are caused by an all round lack of development. A large percentage of the population live rurally, transport infrastructure and public transport and poor compared with most other parts of the U.K. Wages are low, but living costs are high, skills training is relatively weak and productivity is very low. Much of this is due to the fact that the vast majority of businesses are small and cannot offer the same training and career development opportunities that bigger businesses can.

Many of the more aspirational young people seek good and interesting work elsewhere. We have lived here for over 20 years but my husband (who was born in Plymouth) has had to work away from home for almost all that time, doing the weekend coupmmute. Our my son was born and brought up here, but sadly I cannot see him staying and working down here once he graduates next summer.

Having said that, more young families are beginning to come down and set up businesses especially in the area of food and drink production. We now have super fast broadband which has attracted more tech businesses, many of them in film and animation. The boost in working from home that Covid has brought about may well help too. I have a friend whose (very successful) business is installing air conditioning in holiday homes which suffer badly from damp because they are empty for the winter months! I also have many friends who live here full time but supplement their income by converting outbuildings into holiday cottages.

Proper investment that will provide better paid and more varied work for Cornish residents is what will boost Cornwall, not hammering second homers, many of whose second homes are former family homes in any case.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Well this just makes me angry, as it should anybody, but it just goes to show that Tanya Gold can write something really, really good when she has a mind to and when she’s not hobbled by her self-obsession with identity politics and gratuitously revels in and forever seeks to reinforce what apparently makes us all different.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

This was not a good article, just an emotive one. Citing examples of a problem do little to explain the problem. Why are these people unable to afford their needs? Are they what would once have been called ‘Deserving Poor’? As discussing this value has been made a cardinal sin the story of poverty can never be told as all the elephants must be ignored, less one be declared ‘Uncorrect’ and be canceled.

andrew
andrew
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Let the citizens of St Ives decide their own policies regarding housing, taxes, etc

larry tate
larry tate
3 years ago

We musn®t forget the big picture. We are animals, thinking animals but no more than that. We exist in Nature, under her ferocious and predatory umbrella. Life is not easy for any species, simply because we are under the laws of Nature. Which laws?
Well, take a look around, there®s nothing remotely close to compassion or love in Nature, things like that are human inventions, fabrications of the mind. One has to be strong to survive in this world, and that is it.
You want to feel compassion, you want to help the needy, the poor, the weak, well, go ahead and do it, but please dont come and preach about it to the rest of us. Preach about (if you must) being strong and wise, of not starting a family when you can®t afford your own house, not to mention your own food.
Compassion weakens us, and that is poor advice. Nature is all for the strong, lets follow her steps. She®s never wrong.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  larry tate

Actually, as Dawkins said, Altruism cannot exist in creatures with selfish genes as altruism is giving up survival opportunity for a non-related individual. Thus such a quality would be selected against.

Except for humans where such a complex society must exist for any of us to survive we need altruism to maintain society, as we need society for us to be able to pass on our own genes via our offspring.

That and of course that we are children of God, and so have the ability of innate decency and Love.

katiepert1970
katiepert1970
3 years ago
Reply to  larry tate

What a silly thing to say.

Philip Pickett
Philip Pickett
3 years ago

Most second home owners rent their properties out throughout the year providing holidays for the millions of tourists that visit Cornwall every year, thus supporting Cornwall’s only real large-scale & lucrative industry, tourism. Without such income, there would be even less money coming in to Cornwall to support any idea of local families getting mortgages to buy properties – even if the 2nd owners sold up at half price. Other solutions may be at hand; in fishing & farming now a deal is imminent – and mining, where rich deposits of lithium have been located in old tin mines- let’s hope!

Jo C
Jo C
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Pickett

Tourism isn’t Cornwall’s most lucrative industry. That would be agriculture.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

Some of these people are probably more Thatcherite and aspirational than Osborne ever was.

Nicholas Rynn
Nicholas Rynn
3 years ago

I suspect many second homers in St Ives are less Grantham Thatcherite and more Islington Labour.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rynn

I have direct experience of wealthy middle-class labour/libdem voters. Right-on and perpetually outraged. Often in government employ. Probably taking up half the health budget. If only Esther McVey had been set on them instead of benefit seekers.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

It’s not called Islington-on-Sea for nothing. As you say, the higher levels of the public sector, the grasping, righteous progressives, are the new aristocracy.

Chris Hopwood
Chris Hopwood
3 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rynn

Doesn’t Dominic Cummings live in Islington and didn’t Boris live there until recently??