A couple of weeks ago the Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, visited our area to track the progress being made with delivering superfast broadband for Cornwall and also to see the Heartlands project in Pool.
Whilst he was here I took the opportunity to show him the work underway on Hayle's South Quay and also to discuss Hayle's position as part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining World Heritage Site. This has recently become a subject of a lot of debate between Cornwall Council, the UK government and UNECSO, a committee of the UN based in Paris which deals with world culture and designates "world heritage" status. It was great to get the Minister to Hayle to see what all the fuss is about.
The problem has come about because of a report written last year by UNESCO following the decision by the Government and the Council to allow the crucial redevelopment of South Quay to begin. People have talked about regenerating Hayle all my life time and it is great to see work underway. Cornwall Council and ING worked hard to use the development to enhance Hayle's heritage. However, an ill-judged intervention by English Heritage sparked irrational concern at UNESCO, setting in train a totally unnecessary sequence of events.
Later this month, at their annual meeting thousands of miles away in Doha, UNESCO will decide whether to place the Heritage site on an 'In Danger' list because of the building works. One of the weaknesses of the way UNESCO is structured is that decisions are made by committees of people from all sorts of different countries and the local people who do understand Hayle are not allowed a voice.
The suggestion that Hayle should have its heritage status qualified couldn't be more wrong. I am supporting the Government and Council officers fighting Cornwall's corner. Far from damaging the site, the works on South Quay are actually enhancing the historical value of the old port, repairing the harbour walls and old sluice gates as a starting point before beginning to build on the Quay. The owners of the site, ING, have worked with architects specialising in historical renovation and they are bringing the Quay back to its former glory.
I have long argued that Cornwall could make more of its industrial heritage to promote a new dimension to tourism and a few years ago I organised a conference in Redruth to promote the idea further. It culminated in the decision last year to build the Cornwall Archive in Redruth. I have also always maintained that World Heritage Site designation is a welcome additional string to our bow which can help support our local efforts and it would be bizarre if some far away committee decided that all this positive work should be penalised.
George Eustice can be contacted at email@example.com or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.