Parliamentary sketch – 13th November 2014
Since we live in a world where people appear more interested and animated by their mobile devices than the people around them, more interested in listening to their headphones than to those around them and more engaged when social networking than when socialising, events like Remembrance Parades are all the more poignant and significant.
As I often do, I attended three last Sunday – at St Ives, Helston and Carbis Bay.
Standing together without electronic clutter or distraction to spend time together, even in silence, helps us all as we collectively become a magnet for all our grief and seriousness. The weight of responsibility on us to honour and respect those who are no longer with us or who have been seriously maimed by conflict is good cause to pause and reflect.
For me the day began with “Oh, valiant heart…” and ended with Pete Seeger’s “Where have all the flowers gone…?” From respect for valour to an overwhelming desire for peace.
Lest we ever forget…
For no evident reason, the national press have been racing to St Ives to run stories about the town’s “neighbourhood development plan” which hopes to discourage the building of more second homes.
There are challenges in law to the achieving of this, desirable as it clearly is.
So I’ve had to tell national journalists that concern about high and growing numbers of second homes in West Cornwall is not provoked by the politics of envy but simply of achieving justice and fair opportunities, especially for local families on local incomes.
I explained to them that I had hoped to bring forward legislation to allow local communities not only, as they wished to in St Ives, control the number of second homes amongst newly built property, but to put a cap on the numbers amongst existing properties too. This would be done by the introduction of a new “Use Class” in planning. Planning applications would need to be granted if you wished to convert a home from primary residential to “non-permanent occupancy” thus giving the local community/authority the power to cap numbers.
My recent surveys of estate agents show that more than four times the number of local homes are sold to second home buyers than are sold to local first time buyers. In places like St Ives, the Lizard, Porthleven seafront, Sennen, Mousehole, etc., the proportion is even higher. I have also pointed out that there are other tax loopholes beyond the 50% council tax discount which the Conservatives granted second home owners in the 1990s (now largely removed) which make second homes an even more attractive investment opportunity for the wealthy than they are already.
Many aspects need to be looked at to create a housing market which gives local families on local incomes a fair crack of the whip.
You can contact Andrew George by email: email@example.com. His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
11th November 2014