Helford is a beautiful fishing village in Cornwall.
Its problem is its beauty.
70% of the properties in the village are owned by people whose main home is elsewhere. Otherwise, Helford is a small village with fishing as an important industry, landing about £1,000,000 worth of fish a year. Furthermore it is the only fishing port in the UK which has no proper facilities for landing the fish – fishing boats offload their catch into dinghies, and four-wheel drives come down to the beach to receive the fish from the dinghies. Back breaking work, in a flourishing local industry which helps what is left of the local community to survive.
And do we think that the second-home-owners enjoy the fresh fish when they find the time in their busy lives to visit? Most certainly they do. It’s sold locally helping local shops to survive.
In the winter, the village is like a small ghost town.
It would be logical for the fishing community to want to improve their lot, to build some kind of facility to ease their burden and possibly to allow for a bit of expansion in the local industry. This is actually what the local community want to do. They have shown their plans to the local councillors, who are all in favour of the scheme. Kerrier District Council supports it. The plans are pretty modest really. It’s only a small village! They want to build a road along the side of the river – all but invisible from most angles. And they want to build a jetty to allow their small fishing boats to unload straight onto vehicles instead of from boat to dinghy and from dinghy to vehicle. And to load diesel, nets, water and stores straight onto the boat, rather than via the dinghy.
Strange, therefore, that there have been nearly 200 letters of protest against the planning application for the project. It seems that roughly half the letters were sent from addresses outside Cornwall. What is even more interesting is that a number of the letters were from identical pairs of names at two different addresses!
One holiday-home owner had the courage to be interviewed on TV, and I give him full marks for that. He was Mr Nick Jacobs who spoke from his Mayfair address, and he felt that as a second home owner of some thirty years standing, he was entitled to his view, which was (paraphrasing) that he didn’t want a new road, which would lead to car-parks and basically the ‘industrialisation’ of the village.
What he and his fellow protesters don’t appear to grasp is that the village owes its existence and its character to the fishing industry. The way to preserve that character, and to stop the community from dying and fossilising, is to promote, encourage and improve the local fishing industry. If that doesn’t happen, then in not too long a time, the visitors will arrive to find there are no locals, no shops, no-one to look after their precious holiday homes. So they will have to arrange all to arrive at the same time, to give some semblance of community...what a joke that would be!