Cornwall Council – Beach Management Strategy
The link between Cornwall and its beaches is a strong as the link between bread and butter. The beaches are not just important because they look nice, but they are a significant economic and environmental asset for Cornwall, and provide an iconic image. They are without doubt a major reason why people visit and indeed live, in Cornwall.
With near 300 beaches around Cornwall’s coastline there is plenty of choice from sandy dunes to rocky coves. Out of these beaches Cornwall Council manages leases or delivers services on 86 beaches with 46 of these are privately owned.
At a recent meeting of the Environment and Economy Scrutiny Committee the item for discussion was the Draft Beach Management Strategy for Council Councils owned beaches. The draft strategy describes the fundamental management tasks that the Council should provide on those identified beaches and the Additional management tasks that the Council should take if beaches are to retain their important role in Cornwall’s economy and environment.
As with all policies costs and funding are a major factor. It is of no surprise that Cornwall Council is looking of ways to reduces it spend in this area without downgrading the service it provides. One of the many areas it is looking at is beach cleaning.
There has been a discussion as to why the Council and therefore the tax payer should pay for the cleaning of beaches that are not owned by the Council. Out of the 46 private beaches 13 of these are cleaned by the Council. Is it right that the tax payer should pay, or should the land owner pay, or at least contribute to there running? This is a very difficult question as most people would not care (or not given it the thought) who owns the beach as long it is a clean and safe beach.
The current budget for 2010/11 is £287,000 and for 2011/12 it is £269,000. This is not a small amount of money, but if you look at it on a more strategic level this budget generates far, far more to Cornwall and therefore could be seen as money well spent.
My personal view is that we don’t suddenly stop cleaning the beaches not owned by us, but to talk to the landowners to see if a deal could be reached that is beneficial to all parties. Those other major beach owners (National Trust and Duchy of Cornwall) would no doubt be horrified if they were suddenly told it is now your problem, but nether should we be scared of saying “come on pay your shares”.