G7 in Cornwall: Residents call for ‘legacy fund’ as sweetener for weeks of summit disruption

Advocates fear area scarred by inequality will see no tangible benefits from hosting diplomatic jamboree

<p>The imposing security fence which has been erected around the G7 summit site in St Ives, Cornwall, June 8 2021. Leaders from around the world are expected in the seaside town later this week.</p>

The imposing security fence which has been erected around the G7 summit site in St Ives, Cornwall, June 8 2021. Leaders from around the world are expected in the seaside town later this week.

Community leaders in Carbis Bay and St Ives have called for the area to be given a “legacy fund” as a thank you for living with weeks of major disruption in the run-up to this weekend’s G7.

Residents say that, while tens of millions of pounds have been ploughed into security and temporary infrastructure here, the Cornish community itself will see no tangible benefits from hosting the diplomatic circus.

Now, they are demanding a sweetener be made available to ensure a positive local endowment.

New affordable housing provisions, improved mental health facilities or the reopening of the closed Edward Hain Hospital have all been put forward as projects that would cost relatively little while making a huge difference to the area.

One suggestion is that St Ives School, which has had to close because it borders Tregenna Castle, where world leaders will be staying, could be provided with a capital grant to upgrade parts of its 70-year-old building. Another is for a new community centre.

Gill Scott Anderson, co-founder of the town’s Community Pantries food share programme, said: “There is hardly a single person who is not facing some disruption because of this, whether that’s businesses having to close, people being stopping by police, or community facilities like footpaths being taken over. So, I think it would be the right thing for the government to ensure there is a lasting legacy fund.”

Roads, railways and more than 44 areas of footpath have been closed in the lead-up to the summit. Residents have been told to carry ID at all time while entire streets have been fenced off with military-grade fencing.

A naval ship currently sits off Porthmeor Beach, while 5,500 police officers and several hundred army personnel have been dispatched to the area from across England. Thousands of protesters are set to camp in a nearby field.

Advocates for a thank you investment say it would also help address growing local disquiet at world leaders being ensconced in luxury hotels in what is England’s poorest region: a third of children live in poverty in St Ives, while wages across Cornwall are, by some calculations, £4,000 below the national annual average. Some 20 per cent of people here work in the tourism sector which has been especially savaged during the coronavirus lockdowns.

HMS Tyne is seen in just off the coast at the G7 summit site in St Ives, Cornwall, June 8 2021. Leaders from around the world are expected in the seaside town later this week.

Andrew Mitchell, an independent member representing St Ives West and Towednack on Cornwall Council, said that while he supported the summit being held in the area, some financial stimulus should now be made available to the area.

“In my electoral division, we have 35 per cent child poverty,” he said. “Across Cornwall, there is huge food bank usage. So, anything that started to redress that would be right.”

Downing Street did not respond to request for comment but Derek Thomas, the Conservative MP for St Ives, West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said that Boris Johnson has already announced St Ives is to receive £19.9 million as part of the government’s Towns Fund.

While the prime minister said this would be a “fitting legacy” following the G7 summit, others pointed out that dozens of towns across the UK are receiving similar cash injections and that the amount earmarked for St Ives was in fact less than the £25 million the town originally applied for.

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