Thursday, 2 December 2010

Let's regenerate Hayle

Really big decisions are always difficult, usually contentious and often divisive. The easy thing for a politician to do is keep their head down and try not to get involved. But the right thing to do is to study the detail, exercise judgement and do what’s in the best interests of the people you represent.

I grew up near Hayle and my family have lived in the area for over four hundred years. We have seen the town built from scratch and parts of it fall back down again. All my lifetime they have talked about regenerating Hayle Harbour but, over the years, too many people have bottled the big decisions and so nothing has happened. I want that to change.

If it was easy to regenerate Hayle then it would have been done years ago. It isn’t easy so we need to be prepared to compromise to get a result. We should also respect differing views. Earlier this summer the Mayor of Hayle, John Bennett, was criticised for expressing a personal opinion at odds with the Town Council. I didn’t agree with that criticism. People should be free to say what they think. I respect John Bennett and weighed up his arguments carefully before reaching my own conclusion.

There are four rival plans for a supermarket in Hayle. Three are out of town and one, the ING proposal, would be in the centre at the Foundry end of South Quay with restaurants and other mixed development on the rest of the quay. I think that out of town supermarkets have done a lot of damage over the last twenty years. So if we are going to have a supermarket in Hayle, then let’s at least put it where it will bring new life in to the town rather than bleed more life away from the town. The South Quay proposal would be connected in the most literal sense possible with a footbridge over the harbour to Biggleston’s, one of Hayle’s oldest shops.

If all these supermarkets want to locate in Hayle, I also feel strongly that we should demand something in return. That is why I pushed to get serious negotiators on the other side of the table from ING early this summer. It is also why I have insisted that a community cinema should be part of the plan because Councillor Bob Amos’ Pioneerium project is the brightest idea to come out of Hayle for years.

The ING option on South Quay gives Hayle at least £6 million more than any rival plan because it repairs the harbour walls and delivers the necessary flood defences before anything can happen at all. I have nothing against Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s or ASDA. Each has something different to offer and any one of them could locate on South Quay. They should start thinking about this now. Hayle was built by people with the courage to take big decisions. Now it’s our turn, so let’s seize the day.