It was no mean feat to prepare Cornwall and Scilly for the return of visitors after three months of complete lockdown! At the forefront of our minds was the need to keep people safe and coronavirus in retreat. It is to the credit of everyone involved that we have achieved what we set out to do. There is no doubting the concern that many shared both across West Cornwall and on Scilly regarding the spread of coronavirus. In Cornwall very few cases of coronavirus occurred prior to the 4th July when holiday-makers could return and, as far as we are aware, no cases had occurred on Scilly. The logical assumption was that, as you open up to visitors from parts of the country where coronavirus had hit hard, cases would increase. I’m pleased and relieved to report that this has not been the case. Coronavirus was in retreat on July 4th and this trend has continued with just 10 people testing positive to the disease across Cornwall (none on Scilly) during the week leading up to August 22nd. This is because the vast majority of people have done exactly what was required of them from March right up until now and we should share a sense of ‘achievement’ due to the way that we have kept coronavirus at bay!
Despite this good news the reality is that most businesses have endured the most horrendous downturn in trade and work to secure ongoing financial support to ensure our economy can stabilise now and recover next year has not let up! Despite the tourism doors opening once again we all know that the measures imposed, such as socially distancing, have reduced the earning power that businesses would normally anticipate.
The Government has indicated that businesses that are adversely affected will receive further support during the winter but the devil will be in the detail.
One business that has met with the most brutal of beginnings is Penzance Heliport. Right now an anonymous campaign is being staged against the company as if to rub salt into the wound! I accept that the helicopters have interrupted the peace and quiet many were used to but the current situation is not the making of Penzance Heliport. Coronavirus tripped up the delivery of the intended aircraft and, to meet commitments in the order book, two helicopters were drafted in providing less passenger seats and additional noise! A replacement helicopter has now been secured. It is quieter and will fly less journeys and arrives in Penzance this week. Once the training flights are completed the AW139 will take over the commercial scheduled flight programme. Since July I’ve had a number of conversations with the operator and I know that every effort is being made to reduce the impact on residents.
Parliament opens again next week and back on the agenda will be the UK Fisheries Bill, Environment Bill and the Agriculture Bill. Each one offers true dividends for West Cornwall and Scilly and I hope we seize every opportunity afforded once these Bills become law!