This week the West Brit printed two excellent letters exposing the fatuous claim by John Pollard that Cornwall Council’s policy already matches the four pledges of the Charter for Cornwall. Below is the letter the newspaper chose not to print.
People power works! Less than a month after the launch of the Charter for Cornwall, John Pollard, Cornwall Council’s leader, announced a stunning U-turn in Council policy (Letters 2nd Feb). Apparently, the Council will bin its planned 16% increase in the housing target, introduce ‘Cornish affordable housing’ for local people and reverse policies that indirectly stimulate population growth.
It’s all a bit late, and bolting horses and swinging stable doors inevitably come to mind. Yet this is a welcome new ‘vision’ for the Council. Hitherto, this has too often consisted of boosting ‘developments’ for short-term gains with little consideration of capacity issues or community concerns.
What a shame, however, that Cllr Pollard backed up his announcement of the Council’s change of direction by repeating spurious statistics. He must know that the figure of 3% of Cornwall’s land built on includes only the actual footprint of buildings and roads. It doesn’t include gardens, parks, central reservations or former industrial land.
In fact the data he uses, now 12 years old, also state that 91% of Cornwall is ‘greenspace’. Which suggests 9% isn’t. And don’t jump to the conclusion that ‘greenspace’ equals open countryside. According to the same figures 42% of Plymouth is ‘greenspace’, as is 38% of Greater London.
Unfortunately, the unavoidable fact is that in Cornwall our countryside is being built on at a faster rate (almost twice as fast since 2010) than east of the Tamar. No amount of fiddling with the figures alters that.
Playing fast and loose with fake facts might make some question whether Cllr Pollard’s U-turn is genuine. Surely, this isn’t another a case of doublespeak, where Cornwall Council claims to be doing the exact opposite of what it’s actually doing, thus thoroughly confusing everyone. For example, every ‘development’ is hailed as ‘sustainable’, while collectively any idiot can see such a growth rate is unsustainable.
But let’s give Cllr Pollard the benefit of the doubt. If he’s serious about his change of heart, we hope he’ll come and join us. On our website, he’ll then be able to propose some actual policies to meet his newly discovered vision, as well as urge other candidates at May’s election also to sign up to the Charter for Cornwall.