Last night I attended a public meeting organised by the Trelawney Alliance. A panel including George Eustice, Mark Kaczmarek and Council planning officers faced the wrath of local residents over the content of Cornwall Council's Core Strategy.
Despite much obfuscation and many statements designed to hide the truth it was clear that the residents were not in the mood to be bamboozled by jargon and planning-speak.
The same old, same old tired arguments as to why it was vital for the future of Cornwall to build 48,000 houses were trotted out. How building an East-West road was crucial to providing jobs (not at all about providing the opportunity to build more housing). How we had to build unaffordable houses so that our children might have a shot at getting on the housing ladder at some point in the future. How it was stale projections and old, out of date statistics that controlled levels of housing demand - and not policies set by the people that we elect.
Even though Cllr Stuart Cullimore asked the question several times there was no answer to one of the conundrums posed by the 'Can Do Cornwall'. It is Cornwall Council's desire to build 30,000 houses in 10 years but only create 15,000 new jobs - how does that work on any basic economic platform?
Cllr John Rowe also summed up the Council's approach very well. Reminiscent of fast-food chain hustling it seems our planners are obliged to ask "Do you want housing with that?" whenever there is any real opportunity for economic regeneration.
George Eustice did what he does best - talked at great length about nothing. He handed out copies of his answer to the Tory Core Strategy which basically boil down to do nothing for 10 years (when he will probably not be requiring votes anymore) and 'Lets build on Brownfield sites before Greenfield'. The problem here is that he doesn't define what he means by brownfield and as CoSERG have pointed out many times many of the technically defined 'brownfield' sites around Camborne are actually green fields.
The person next to me said that she was even more depressed on leaving the meeting than when she went in. She felt it was clear that there was no intention on behalf of the powers that be to listen to anyone - just to go through the motions and tick the boxes.
This sentiment is probably accurate but if we allow ourselves to think in this way it will be self-perpetuating. It is essential for the future of Cornwall that ordinary people and groups get together and force the planners to listen - silence just indicates acceptance.
There are a few weeks left of this round of 'consultation' if you care about how Cornwall will look in twenty years then get out there and do something now!