Conservative leader of Cornwall seeks more devolved powers to tackle second homes crisis
Cornwall Council Leader, Linda Taylor, has said that she will seek further devolved powers for Cornwall in order to help tackle their second homes crisis.
The Conservative council leader told the Local Government Chronicle that the council recently submitted an expression of interest in discussing a county deal with the government.
Since 2015, the unitary council has had some devolved powers over transport, skills and funding distribution. They now want more control over planning and taxation to help it manage the impact of tourism.
That would include the ability to require planning application from anyone wanting to change accommodation from residential to holiday use, and to increase council tax on second homes. They also want to close a loophole where holiday homes are able to register as businesses.
She told the LGC that visitors to the county “go to our coastal hotspots and think everybody’s living an idyllic life. But the harsh realities are, not everybody is.
“One of my commitments is, I want to follow through on what the prime minister says,” she added. “I want to level things up in Cornwall so that everybody has an opportunity.”
“I am definitely demonstrating strong leadership by virtue of the fact that the people of Cornwall put their trust in with the Conservatives”.
“I’m making a strong case that I don’t think we need to have a directly elected mayor,” she added.
Her comments came after the Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall has told tourists not to visit Cornwall unless they have booked to do so as the Covid rate surged to the highest in the UK.
Public Health England reported that Cornwall now has six of the top eight areas for infections rates anywhere in the country.
During the seven days leading up to August 20 Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly recorded a total of 4,439 cases, which was more than double the 2,231 recorded during the previous week – a 101% rise.
Figures for Wednesday put Cornwall at the top of the list for the rate of new cases, with 771.3 cases per 100,000 over the previous seven days.
The high rates come after the Boardmasters Festival was held in Newquay in mis-August. Almost 5,000 coronavirus cases had been linked to that festival so far.
“It’s about people coming on spec really,” Visit Cornwall’s Malcolm Bell told Sky News. “The NHS is coping here, we are very very busy. And the last thing we need is a load of unplanned, impromptu visits.
“For those who have booked, please come down – it’s wonderful weather. Please stay outside. Please stick to the guidelines of face, space and hands, masks, and the rest of it.
“But please don’t come down if you think, ‘ooh it’s lovely weather let’s go down to Cornwall and see what we can do’.”