Monday, 16 November 2009

Derelict Cornwall (AS-Level Geography)

Cornwall is a seaside town located to the South-West of England. It is the second most deprived place in England after Durham. Deprivation is measured in six ways in the UK and these consist of income, employment, health and disability, education, housing and services.This is the range of issues that have caused the town to become deprived and in need of rebranding. We will now have a look at some of reasons. These reasons, are all valid through the personal research I have conducted.

It is firstly caused by low wages. Cornwall has the lowest weekly wage in Britain, £329.30 in 2005 which was 25% below the UK average. This is a problem because if people are earning less money then this causes the local economy to suffer as less people are likely to spend money. People who have opened their own business start to suffer which means they have less to offer locals.This is called the negative multiplier effect. With time, young people emmigrate to get better jobs, local businesses shut and issues such as fuel poverty start to arise.Fuel poverty is when electricity, water, central heating etc. becomes a large part of the household’s income therefore they cut their usage on it and this isn’t always good. Families with young children are the main victims as there tends to be more people in a household,not many of them are economically active and if they aren't using enough fuel than health problems can arise as it gets very cold in the winter. Pensioners are still relatively lucky because the government has introduced a scheme called ‘Winter Allowance’ this is where in winter senior citizens get allowances of central heating to prevent health problems from arising. This negative multiplier cycle is likely to continue and get worser. Subsequently, Cornwall is in need for rebranding because this will bring new opportunities and economic boosts to the town.

The main factor which spurred this cycle has to be the declination of the primary sector. This saw a lot of job loss and encouraged emigration of skilled people. There are four main parts of this sector which declined significantly. The first is agriculture. Not just in Cornwall but all UK farmers have to seek other alternatives to earn money because importing, especially from the EU, has become extremely cheap and quick for firms. For example, milk produced in the UK will be a minimum of 21p whereas if it is imported firms only pay 14p. To make being a farmer more expensive, EU subsidies have decreased. In fact, many have had to change their living. The second sector is the fishing market. Due to over-fishing in the past, fish stock has began to decline which automatically cuts jobs as there isn't much to fish. Moreover, the EU have allocated fish supplies to other European countries which meant many fishermen emigrated to other parts of the EU, this causes an economic downturn for the area. The third and the most famous is the declination of the mining industry. The two most well-known forms of mining were of china clay and tin.These sectors declined because of overseas competition and the strength of the UK pound.This has made it harder for overseas customers to buy these mineral. However, when these sectors boom seasonal employment is there for locals. These two did have a major economic and social impact but they also have an environmental impact. The china- clay changed the scenic view of Cornwall and some say made it more picturesque. The tin mining sites e.g. Greevor tin mine have now become some form of industrial heritage to the town.However, the loss of jobs and people does not economically outweigh the new environmental view and industrial heritage produced buy a decline of these sectors. The last area of employment that died was quarrying.This was mainly due to advancements in technology and automation. All of this may be cheaper for firms but had social costs which till today still exist. In terms of economics we would call this market failure.Thus, some form of regeneration needs to step in to offset the declination that took place post 1970.

Cornwall, does not just have issues with the way people can access it, it has problems with the location itself. Cornwall is far away from the core economic centres of London, approximately 4-6 hours away. A location like this is said to be peripheral and this originates from what geographers call the core and periphery theory. This theory states that areas within the core are better off than neighboring or distance towns and states. In the UK, the core as described as being the area from London t o Leeds and Manchester. This area:

1.Produces 75% of the UK’s goods and services.
2.It has the highest wages and levels of investment.
3.It has the densest transport infrastructure- most motor ways, the busiest airports and the densest rail networks are there.

This is theory is crucial to Cornwall because it explains some of the reasons why Cornwall is the second largest deprived area in the UK.If we were to apply this theory to Cornwall we can see why it is becoming deprived, because as the core grows economically, the outskirts suffers as young people emigrate and the focus of infrastructure and tourism tends to be attracted to the core all year round. In contrast, Surrey, another rural area which is located in the core is the UK’s most affluent place. Contrasting to Cornwall’s low wage, in Surrey the average weekly wage is £500 and one of the key reasons for this is that many residents are able to commute to work.
Infrastructure, as mentioned above, is part of the lack of services within Cornwall.For example a basic service like a cash point is 2km away for 39% of households and for 1 out of 15 households the Post Office is over 2km. So access isn’t just insufficient for accessing the place from outside but actually within the town there is lack of access to even the most simple services.

It is also interesting to see the transport facilities available to Cornwall. Cornwall, comes under the Restomal council which includes places such as Newquay and St.Austell. From the centre of Cornwall, the railway station which actually has connection with Paddington London and is close whereas, the Airport is 12 miles away and the ferry port which 27 miles away. In this way, it makes sense why tourists prefer to go to somewhere like Surrey. It has better rail links, is in the core of London and has more airports close by to it.

Tourism is an industry which has been around in Cornwall for ages and has provided locals with extra economic growth. However, this industry isn’t reliable enough for Cornwall to survive. The jobs created tends to be seasonal as Cornwall tends to attract seasonal tourism due to the weather. These jobs also are poorly paid as they are seasonal and don’t provide a stable financial base for locals.Even businesses suffer because locals don’t spend much and then if tourists only come for a short period then the revenue earned in this period tends to provide the main income for the whole year. Only 33% of these profits remain in Cornwall because as local business don’t tend to survive so hotel and leisure chain move in there and eat 67% of Cornwall’s profits.

In contrast to its image of a holiday destination, Cornwall has the UK’s highest percentage of derelict land.

The figure above depicts the population structure of Cornwall and this is important to understand some of the issues discussed previously. As you can see, at the top the number of senior citizens outweighs the UK average. This is because Cornwall’s scenic view attracted inward migration of older/retired people and this meant that more economically active people were needed to support the dependent population. It isn’t just the extra older people that need support, Cornwall has UK’s fastest growing population and this made the dependent population quite large. However, this is actually an adverse event because as we identified before the economically active, young people are emigrating from Cornwall to get better and more highly paid jobs. This leads to an unbalance and puts much more pressure on the local council and the young people who actually stay in Cornwall. What is surprising (to some extent) is that council tax in Cornwall is below than the English average for council tax. Perhaps, the council sees the need of locals to have extra rather than have better services.

Another issue in Cornwall is the increasing number of second homes. In 2006, Cornwall was top of the country for the number second homes, it had 5.6% of all the holiday homes.This is a big problem for locals and causes conflicts between locals and holiday makers. This is because as more people buy second homes the prices of houses increases in Cornwall and many locals consider this unfair as permanent residents in Cornwall cannot even afford to buy one house for themselves. These reasons are aiding deprivation in Cornwall so through regeneration the local authority has to come up with a method to make sure these things do not happen.

Each one of this small events leads to another and in the end they all seem to interlock. We call this the cycle of deprivation and go on for absolutely forever. The question now lies how do the locals, council and the central government cope with this ever-changing cycle? What incentives do we introduce and what will now deter the young from moving away?


  1. useful information sharing. thanks and i like your blog.
    - St Austell

  2. I am from Cornwall and I have to say that this report is mostly rubbish! I do not think you have any idea what you are talking about. Have you done any research? Tourits do not prefer to visit Surrey to Cornwall, they vist places like Cornwall to escape the "core"! Cornwal is a County and not a town. Hotel chains do not take 67% of profit from tourism, there are very few chain hotels in Cornwall most are private and locally owned. Where did you find these figures? There is more than one railway station in the centre of Cornwall and I think you will find the A30 (Road) is an excellent road with fast connections to the rest of the country. Cornwall is a very poor county but most of the information compiled here in your report is woefully inaccurate and quite frankly an insult.

  3. Dear Anonymous, for the purposes of this geography spec this is an example of the info that must be used. I got this information through my teacher and textbooks. Personally, I have been to Cornwall myself and got the feeling it was a very lively down but we are all here trying to get a good a-level so we have to use information which portrays Cornwall negatively. I published your comment because I think you make an extremely important point, just because statistics, teachers and textbooks say something doesn't mean it is necessarily true for everyone! Thanks for that again!