Tourism, new roads and more second homes is not the answer for Cornwall

” … Cornwall is a major tourist area, but its economy is one of the weakest in Europe. EU investments, together with “matched funding”, have injected around £1.5bn into the region, but this has had little impact on raising GDP.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been the perception by successive governments that the Cornish economy is synonymous with tourism, with its focus on unskilled, low-paid and part-item employment.

Cornwall is being directed to build 52,500 houses before 2020. A large proportion of these will be bought as holiday homes or by people retiring to Cornwall. This large-scale “immigration” has vastly distorted the housing market. People employed in tourism cannot afford these houses. Perhaps Cornwall’s perversity in delivering a very large pro-Brexit vote was because there are so many middle-class retired incomers who are putting stress on the social and health services .

Tourism is supposed to generate billions of pounds, but very little of this “sticks” in Cornwall because much of it goes to the major supermarkets, which employ unskilled people on low pay.

Government (and the Cornish will not forget the Brexiters’ claims that EU funding would be replaced by central government) must encourage high-value opportunities, such as those within the digital industries that are beginning to grow in Cornwall. And perhaps government should improve the social and health services, digital connectivity and rail and air infrastructure, rather than pumping more money into roads that primarily serve tourists.

Dr Ben Dobson

Is it time for some more rebellious towns?

Colyton proudly announces itself as “the most rebellious town in Devon” for its part in supporting the Duke of Monmouth against James the Second.

Is it now time for another rebellion?

EDDC is the largest District Council in Devon with a population of about 140,000. It is growing rapidly. All this is happening against the backdrop of relocating EDDC’s headquarters and possible mergers amongst councils, in particular the creation of Greater Exeter.

Does everyone in East Devon want to be part of this process of rapid population growth and incorporation into the Exeter conurbation?

Residents of Exmouth, Honiton and Cranbrook may well look towards Exeter and work in the city, but our more rural and coastal communities increasingly see crowded and congested Exeter as something of which they do not wish to be a part. They tend to look towards the slower population growth and protection of the environment that can be found across the border in Dorset.

Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Beer, Colyton and Seaton, and perhaps Ottery, seem to see themselves more as operating in an economy linked primarily to tourism and agriculture. They have no wish or requirement to be absorbed into the Exeter behemoth. Cleaner and greener.

These communities also have little representation in the hierarchy at Knowle, (or even acknowledged by Greater Exeter) where the leadership is dominated by councillors from Exmouth, Honiton and Axminster.

In such circumstances, and with relocation offering a timely opportunity, is it not time to seriously consider splitting the District Council and introducing a healthy dose of localism?

We already see many functions and services involving cross-authority cooperation. Such sharing of services could and should continue were coastal East Devon to secede. But those coastal communities would have far greater control over their own affairs.

Is it time for Eastern East Devon, or perhaps “Jurassic Devon”, to secede from EDDC and withdraw from the Greater Exeter project?

And maybe join with Dorset’s idea of a Jurassic National Park?

All it takes is a few rebellious people to get it started!

Clinton Devon Estates to take over work of Jurassic Coast Trust

Oh dear sweet Lord – clifftop holiday homes and Disneyland here we come – and definitely no National Park!

An East Devon landowner is set to play a significant part in the future of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

Clinton Devon Estates, which owns and manages 25,000 acres of land across Devon, has pledged its support to the Jurassic Coast Trust which is taking over the management of the 95-mile stretch of world heritage coastline, from Devon and Dorset county councils this July.

The landowner is joining the Trust as one of four Lead Business Partners, currently the only partner in Devon alongside three based in Dorset, and will pledge £3,000 per year to the charity, helping to safeguard its future.

The Trust’s link with businesses and landowners is essential in ensuring it can carry out its work looking after the world class coastline, which stretches between Exmouth in Devon and Studland Bay in Dorset, on behalf of UNESCO for the “benefit of the whole of mankind”.

A large part of the Estate’s East Devon acreage is made up of the Pebblebed Heaths, which are named after the Budleigh Salterton pebblebeds and are a designated conservation area.

The Trust is poised to support the landowner’s existing educational outreach, which focuses on the ecology and management of the heaths by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust.

Kate Ponting, countryside learning officer at Clinton Devon Estates, said: “We have had an informal, mutually supportive relationship for a long time as our paths have crossed over the years.

“The Estate owns land very close to, or on the Jurassic Coast, and the Trust is keen to extend its work in East Devon, so the partnership should afford more opportunities for collaborative working.

“We have a lot in common with the Trust whose work is based on geology; the geological story of the Pebblebed Heaths is part of our shared heritage which we’re passionate about.

“We hope to celebrate this heritage further, through extended community engagement and we’re hoping the Trust’s expertise will enhance what we already do.”

The Trust also plans to provide downloadable audio guides about East Devon’s geology for the Clinton Devon Estates’ website.

Guy Kerr, Programme Manager for the Jurassic Coast Trust, said: “We are delighted to have Clinton Devon Estates on board as one of our Lead Business Partners. The East Devon pebblebeds are a crucial part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and we look forward to working closely with Clinton Devon Estates to preserve this landscape and enthuse people with its incredible stories.”

Former EDDC councillor tells MPs to do what she didn’t – promote local tourism

Mrs Kerridge is the former EDDC Tourism Champion … criticism is too little too late – as she was in a position to change the situation!

Town councillor Sheila Kerridge said while visitor numbers are falling in Devon but are up 10 per cent in a decade in Yorkshire – where the budget is 100 times bigger.

She argued that Sir Hugo Swire needs to fight for more tourism cash for all of his constituency.

Cllr Kerridge, the former tourism champion at East Devon District Council (EDDC), told a meeting last week: “Devon only receives £45,000 per annum. Yorkshire receives £5million. I want this committee to do something about that – not just for Sidmouth but all of East Devon.

“We should lobby our MP to go to central government to say tourism is vital for the South West, vital for East Devon and vital for Sidmouth.

“Let’s get him to say we need more money. We want our share. We should lobby, lobby, lobby to get our fair share.”

Cllr Kerridge cited figures showing visitor numbers to Devon are down four per cent compared by 2006.

Her calls came after news Sidmouth Town Council had joined third sector tourism board Visit Devon as an early adopter after its relaunch.

Town clerk Christopher Holland said: “We are one of the first councils to get on board with Visit Devon. It can be moulded to how we want it – we don’t want it just to be for Torbay or the English Riviera. We can promote what we want to promote.

“Visit Devon is a good brand but Devon is far behind Cornwall in how we promote ourselves as a destination. We need people to turn off the M5 before they get to Cornwall.”

Cllr Simon Pollentine said: “EDDC have dropped East Devon as a brand by not investing in it. This council is continuing to invest in tourism promotion and they aren’t.”

Cllr Ian Barlow questioned if it was value for money and said £1,000 could buy a lot of promoted posts on Facebook and Twitter.”

“Rural tourism worth more than farming”

“TOURISM generates more revenue and provides more employment for the rural sector than farming, delegates at a recent seminar were told.

John Hoy, head of rural at consultants Bidwells, was speaking at the firm’s latest event, which was themed around the wealth of diversification opportunities available to the rural sector.

Whether it is glamping, holiday lets, sporting events, filming, wedding venues, concerts or even hosting festivals, the tourism sector offers an array of profitable opportunities, he said.

And tourism is set to play an even more important role in the rural sector in a post-Brexit environment especially if it is incorporated into any replacement scheme for CAP.

Mr Hoy said: “The value of tourism for the rural sector is very poorly understood.

“If we look for example at the numbers around tourism and agriculture there are 365m trips to rural destinations each year, generating £18.6bn for the rural economy and providing 340,000 full-time jobs.

“So tourism actually generates more revenue and provides more employment for the rural sector than farming, which might surprise many who work in this industry.

“It is therefore really important that the linkages between farming, the environment and our unique landscape is recognised in how the CAP is reformed going forward.”

Mr Hoy was the chief executive of Blenheim Palace for 14 years, before he joined Bidwells in January.

During the presentation, he talked through the potential key areas that must be addressed in order to ensure that the tourism industry continues to thrive post-Brexit.

These include reinstating tourism planning guidance, developing a skilled workforce, reducing red tape and improving public transport.
The rural industry must look at innovative new ways to generate income in a post-Brexit environment – and the returns could be very rewarding, said Mr Hoy.

Britain’s events industry alone is worth over £41bn to the economy through direct visitor spend, he told the audience.

Mr Hoy also gave guidance on some of the do’s and don’ts when hosting events and highlighted the additional incomes which they can provide.

“There are huge opportunities in all of these areas and the rural sector needs to look creatively in the post-Brexit market that we are in,” he said.
“It needs to be more entrepreneurial, find other things to do and discover just what opportunities are out there.”

How to reinvent the tourism wheel in Exmouth!

Owl says: The headline shouts “Survey shows Exmouth popular with visitors”. BUT they don’t mention wanting a watersports centre, and Owl is certain that is what Councillor Skinner and his “Regeneration Board” will spin!

The survey has been used to say that people spend half as much money in Exmouth as in the rest of East Devon. Might that be because they are not STAYING in Exmouth just visiting? Duh! And owl bets they STILL spend more than visitors to “regenerated” Seaton!

[Surveys commissioned by EDDC] reveal much praise for the town from visitors, although the results show the amount of money they spend is lower than in other local areas.

The 2016 Exmouth Visitor Survey quizzed 1,000 people who visited between June and October.

The survey, commissioned by East Devon District Council for the Exmouth Coastal Community Team, was carried out by the South West Research Company.

The survey found visitor satisfaction levels were generally good, with high scores for accommodation, places to eat and drink, outdoor places to visit, the beach, ease of navigation, public transport, the upkeep of parks and open spaces, cleanliness of the streets, and the general atmosphere. …

… Areas where visitors were less satisfied with Exmouth included shopping, the range of indoor attractions and places to visit, nightlife and evening entertainment, the availability and cleanliness of public toilets, and car parking. …”

Exmouth seafront family business to be evicted for “regeneration”

“The owner of an Exmouth café has been left ‘heartbroken’ after being forced to close following plans to build a multi-million pound development on the seafront.

The family-run Harbour View Café and Chip Shop is set to disappear from the seafront after 40 years of trading, following East Devon District Council’s plans to build new development called Queen’s Drive Leisure Area. …

… Dawn said that they first found out about the development plans eight years ago.

She said: “The initial plan was that all of the independent businesses would be involved in the new development.

“I don’t know when that changed because it all went very quiet for a while, and then by 2014 we were given a formal notice and the council said we had to leave by September that year.

“At that point we had to decide whether we wanted to take it further and go to court or to agree to the end of the lease. And because we didn’t have the resources to take the fight all the way we had no other option but to agree to it.”

Since that point Dawn said that the council had given them an extension of their lease, but now that has ended and 2017 will be the last season. “I am grateful that the doors aren’t closed yet, but we did think that we would have at least another year of trading,” she added.

“The council have told us that we need to be out by the end of August, but I just wish we knew why. For the business to close in the peak of summer is the worst time for us as we will be so busy.

“We also have 19 members of staff that we will have to make redundant and we will still have to pay our mortgage somehow after August.

“Obviously we would love to keep Harbour View alive and we are currently looking for a new home. But it just scares me to know what the development is going to look like in three years’ time as I don’t know what I will be looking at.” …

… A spokeswoman for East Devon District Council said: “Change isn’t always easy to accept but Exmouth is a growing town with residents and visitors whose desires and expectations are changing as well. The council is committed to giving townspeople and visitors more and better attractions and facilities and that includes the Queen’s Drive site. Exmouth is the biggest town in Devon and it is starting to up its game.

“The café operators have known for two years that the Council is taking the site back and we have during that time supported them with a further season extension and free rent. We did this so that they have time to prepare to leave and plan for the future of their business.

“Mamhead Slipway, the Strand, the Premier Inn and M&S are all signs that Exmouth is embracing change and benefiting from new assets. A café at Orcombe Point could be next. Meanwhile Queen’s Drive investment is getting back on track.

“When the Council takes the Harbour View Cafe site back at the end of August we will also be preparing to move the road and car park and consultation will be under way on the water sports centre. For the Harbour View site in particular, once the council has it back, then we have the freedom to consider the best way forward and the best timing to bring a new and fresh eating place to what is one of the finest locations in the south west. …