"Local politics reduced to pointless populist posturing"by John McTernan / April 14, 2016 / Leave a comment
On 5th May the town of St Ives in Cornwall will hold a referendum on second homes. Burdened by its own popularity—a couple of years ago it was the ideal place to live in the UK—locals are striking back at holidaying visitors and the second homes they buy in the town. The proposal put on the ballot is to amend planning decisions so that, while homes already built in the town could still be sold on to new-comers, brand new developments can only be sold to those who live nearby. This is local politics reduced to pointless populist posturing.
It is first and foremost a protest at success. The beauty of St Ives transcends its remoteness and the difficulty of getting there from most of the country. This is rare for coastal towns in the UK. Many have struggling economies and unemployment with at best an uneasy social mix of retired people on fixed incomes, a rental sector split between the unemployable and hard working Eastern Europeans—even hipsters hoping they have found the new Brighton or Margate. A popular seaside town with the wealth that tourism and second homes bring is not a problem; it is something that should be welcomed.
It is also a policy doomed—Canute-like—to fail. The central problem it seeks to address is local people being priced out of h…