Last Thursday Cornwall Council’s Strategic Planning Committee showed that it was neither ‘strategic’ and you could hardly call what it was doing ‘planning’. Councillors ended up in the worst of both worlds. First, they supported yet another massive urban extension to the west of Truro to add to the 1,500 houses they’ve already permitted at Langarth. And then they effectively kicked the prospect of a Stadium for Cornwall into the long grass. At a stroke they managed to alienate both the stadium lobby and those unhappy at the ongoing desecration of our countryside in order to build houses to meet external demand.
The news triggered a hornet’s nest of activity on Facebook. The Its Our Cornwall FB page got 52,000 hits in little more than a day, 11,800 people were engaged, over 1,300 likes, comments and shares occurred and the page received 180 more likes. This was a phenomenal level of activity 50 times higher than the norm. The news that the countryside between Treliske and Langarth is now doomed has focused peoples’ anger. They’re angry at the way Cornwall is being sold to upcountry developers and mega-construction firms, angry at our failure to build the genuinely affordable housing local people need, angry at the ongoing scandal of second home ownership and de-Cornishized villages.
This response was truly heartening. Maybe at last a slumbering democracy is waking up to the social and environmental engineering that an unaccountable elite imposes on us while our complacent elected representatives twiddle their thumbs and fail to protect us from it. But what do we do now? Moaning on social media might make us feel a little better but does little to stop the forces determined to ransack our landscape in their narrow pursuit of profit.
Some have called for a march or other direct action which might kickstart conversation about a more permanent resistance group. On Sunday 12th April an organisation called Community Voice on Planning has called for a ‘national’ day of action on the theme ‘Listen to the people’s voice on planning’. Events planned include a rally in Oxfordshire while Save the Countryside of Cheltenham is organising a walk around an area where 4,800 houses are planned. Meanwhile, the East Devon Alliance is holding a twin funeral for the death of democracy and the countryside outside council offices.
Should we turn this ‘national’ day into an international one and add to this day of action? Can we organise something in Cornwall – the obvious possibilities would be a countryside walk around the Truro extension and/or rally at County hall/Lys Kernow. We have a month. Is there any interest? Or are there other suggestions?