'Poldark' in the 21st Century - How art mimics the real life of Cornwall today

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‘Poldark’ in the 21st Century

How art mimics the real life of Cornwall today

by Orlando Kimber, businessman and consultant

The TV series ‘Poldark’ which returns on September 4th, tells the story of a heroic figure fighting the forces of greedy land-grabbers who care nothing for the community of country folk. This same battle is being fought today by a group of 71 town and parish councils under the banner of Cornwall for Change (C4C).

Whilst the drama of Poldark is set in the late 1700s, the same conflicts occur today in 21st century Cornwall where, incredibly, one in five children under 16 live in poverty and the house prices are far beyond the reach of those earning an average wage.

Property developers are able to take advantage of the permissive planning laws and Cornwall Council is too weak to do any more than nod through wave after wave of applications, for fear of being penalised by the system. The encouragement to build comes from Westminster and is regardless of the special status of Cornwall’s economic and natural environment. Despite homes for over 100,000 being built, the public infrastructure of doctors, hospitals, roads, sewage and schools is at breaking point and no adequate investment is being made to keep pace with the inrush of population.

There is a stark contrast between the lives of the rich and poor; fishermen and farmers struggle to survive; the economy is at a low point; and the price of food and a roof over our heads is high. Is this a Sunday night TV drama or modern life that is described here?

Holidaymakers who enjoy the wonderful coastline, sun, sand and ice-cream are generally unaware of the drama unfolding inland.

Ross Poldark fights to make his own business prosper whilst genuinely caring for the welfare of those who work for him. Modern Cornwall has plenty of spirited enterprising individuals but the official group known as the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) ignore them. Instead the LEP plunges ahead with the mantra of ‘economic growth’ driven by Central Government and ignores the unique quality of the local environment and the needs of local people.

C4C, together with its alliance of member organizations, believe in a future for Cornwall where the needs of local people are met first. This requires a shift to ethical governance that balances economic progress with the unique landscape, historic sites and the needs of local people. The fundamental proposition is that development must be made to work for one and all, and should not be a privilege of big companies who want a quick profit.

C4C works with a wide range of groups to challenge the interpretation of the National Planning Policy Framework and specifically, the detail of the Local Plan, which lacks a credible evidence base and is unsustainable.

We also continue to lobby Cornwall Council with the demands of town and parish councils who feel helpless against the inrushing tide of development that goes against local interests.

What would Ross do now? Only you know the answer to this.

A petition to ‘Save Cornwall’s Green Fields’ is running at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-cornwall-s-green-fields and an appeal is being made for it to be signed by all those who cherish Cornwall, whether they live there or not.

#KernowMatters proud to support the work of C4C

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