Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Why cleaning beaches is a vital council task

This morning the Environment Scrutiny Committee of Cornwall Council met to discuss beach management. Not the most important task one might think. But, in my view, an absolutely fundamental role for the Council and one on which Cornwall's largest industry depends.

There are hundreds of beaches in Cornwall. Of these, many are owned or managed by the Council. Others are privately held but to which the public has access. The debate was about how much effort (and money) Cornwall council should put into keeping them clean.

I argued to the committee that it was important that Cornwall Council cleans its own beaches and also makes sure that many of the biggest private beaches are clean - even if it means us paying to make sure they are.

Tourism is the number one revenue generator for Cornwall. Whatever we might say about Cornwall being a venue for all sorts of activity, we are known as a venue with superb beaches. Whether visitors are coming for 'bucket and spade' summer holidays, surfing or walking the coastal path, they will spend a lot of their time on our beaches. And so our reputation as a destination will take a nosedive if we try to penny pinch and neglect them.

Many councillors made the same point. Cllr Bob Egerton talked about beaches being actual visits and compared them to the future projects such as the Stadium for Cornwall which, at the moment, is only hypothetically going to bring visitors and income to the Duchy.

As with so much else, at a time of recession, I think it is more important for the Council to concentrate on getting the basics right rather than having high blown ambitions.

The scrutiny committee agreed and passed quite a forceful resolution urging the Council to invest in the quality of our number one attraction.

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