24 January 2021
Last week it was announced that the G7 conference is coming to Cornwall in June. The leaders of the world’s 7 richest democracies are descending on Cornwall to discuss recovery from coronavirus and, as Boris Johnson said, “uniting to make the future fairer, greener and more prosperous.” He also said, “Two hundred years ago Cornwall’s tin and copper mines were at the heart of the UK’s industrial revolution and this summer Cornwall will again be the nucleus of great global change and advancement.”
So what will Cornwall get out of the international attention on Carbis Bay and the world’s press in Falmouth? Will it be Covid-safe for thousands to descend from across the globe when Falmouth’s world famous Sea Shanty Festival, due to happen at the same time, has been made a virtual event again? Will the requirement for security cost the Cornish taxpayers, or put them at risk?
St Ives has huge numbers of tourists but insecure jobs, low pay and high levels of child poverty. Housing costs are simply unaffordable for most. Tourism alone won’t make us prosperous and neither will the G7. We have to use this opportunity to showcase the whole of Cornwall to the 1000+ members of the world’s media. Falmouth is my home town. It’s vibrant, innovative and creative. Packet ships are a symbol of our history and the spirit of adventure still thrives here. But we also need to focus attention out of the town centre. We need to show them how great wealth sits alongside deprivation in Cornwall. Our estates like Pengegon, Old Hill and Treneere are just a stone’s throw from superyachts and multimillion pound waterside properties.
De-industrialisation hit Cornwall decades before the north of England and we are a case study in what happens when investment in replacement industry doesn’t occur. Cornwall is ripe for ‘levelling up’.
We are surrounded by all the natural resources needed to make it happen. Wind, waves, sun, granite as a geothermal source and minerals like lithium. The next, green industrial revolution should be based around our coast where we can make the most of our assets. But we also have great creative, digital, food and health technology sectors, amongst many others.
Cornwall's Climate Change agenda leads other parts of the country after a Labour Council amendment declaring a Climate Emergency and a 2030 target for carbon neutrality. Our greener economy should be leading Cornwall’s New Industrial Revolution. Cornwall needs well-paid, full-time, secure jobs in the industries of the future.
The G7, if it happens, will give us a chance to show the world the real Cornwall of today but also the huge potential of Cornwall tomorrow. We need to seize this opportunity and make sure that no visitor leaves thinking that all we are is porths, pasties and Poldark.