It should be the job of the LEP not only to look to the new but also to foster and support the old. It is no good letting the perpetual Cornish industries of farming and fishing and mining fall by the wayside while bureaucrats experiment with introducing new business and industry. My point is that the RDA sought to impose solutions from above, this resulted in patchy performance and did little to support existing industry and business. Politically too the same approach prevailed in the RDA, far off in Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth, unelected bureaucrats (and a handful of token councillors) and the seemingly obligatory consultants envisaged grand schemes of redevelopment with no regard for the local area or existing tried and tested business and industry.
The prime example of this was South Crofty, closed in 1998 due to costs and regulation, rather than mineral exhaustion. Many hoped that the advent of Objective One money could be used to reopen the mine, to utilise the natural resources of Cornwall and the skills and ingenuity of the Cornish people to create decent jobs and bring money into the area. However this was not to be even when a new concern bought the mine the RDA for years and years spent what must have been a great deal of time and money, drafting plans to bulldoze the surface structures and to redevelop the land. Time and again Compulsory Purchase Orders, were threatened a multitude of plans were put forward including shops, houses a new road and even a leisure center all oblivious to attempts to rework the mine or even the danger and cost of building over mine workings and their associated shafts. After the best part of a decade and High Court Challenges by South Crofty's owners, the RDA finally reluctantly gave in and 'allowed' the old tin mine to be. The implications of acting like lord and master were completely out of tune with the idea of public sector bodies serving the people and encouraging business. It does occur that the fortune spent fighting this protracted battle could have been spent better by both the mine owners on reopening and the RDA on other regeneration projects. (For those interested in the long and winding battle between the mine owners and the RDA here's the Falmouth Packet archive.)
|South Crofty Mine Pool, the graffiti reads the words of a folk song by Chris Bryant:|
CORNISH LADS ARE FISHERMEN AND CORNISH LADS ARE MINERS TOO,
BUT WHEN THE FISH AND TIN ARE GONE WHAT ARE THE CORNISH BOYS TO DO?
A lament at the loss of the industry but also indicative of the despair felt at the RDAs solutions and methods.
Photo taken from: http://www.cornwallcam.co.uk/bestofinland/scrofty2.htm