The Town Council, BID, Cornwall Council and others have received a number of complaints about the proposed use of the area of benches at the front of the lodges for boat trip ticket sellers this Summer and material has also been shared on social media. In previous years, the boatmen have mainly operated from the highway overlooking the harbour front.
The sole objective of the COVID-19 safety plan is public health and to try to keep people as safe as possible. All advice, including from the highway authority is that the highway should be kept clear of obstruction to help residents and visitors to maintain social distancing.
The Council has been working with the harbour master, Cornwall Council and the two associations (the Skippers Association and the Boatmen’s Association) for many months to try to find ways for them to trade without causing an obstruction to the highway. We have worked tirelessly to explore the options with land at the harbour and the Wharf which is owned and managed by several different organisations. It is extremely disheartening that a solution cannot be found which is acceptable to all – or apparently any – party, including West Pier.
Separating the ticket sellers between two sites was a possible solution which was considered. But this has resulted in concerns from local residents and the strength of feeling this generated is recognised and acknowledged. The partners to the emergency plan have listened to residents’ views, and without the support of local people and the boatmen themselves, the suggestion cannot be pursued.
However, it is also disappointing that during the campaign a number of statements have been made which are untrue, including that this was to be a permanent solution – in fact it was just some of the benches for the Summer months. Nor is this about favouring visitors over residents. It is local people (lives and businesses) who stand to lose most if there is a second outbreak in Cornwall and the safety plan is an attempt by public bodies to prevent this as far as possible.
In the light of public comment, this option is not being pursued and the alternatives do not appear to be possible either. This is not for want of trying to find solutions. The Town Council, Cornwall Council and the Harbour Master are committed to working with others, who wish to find a solution to this in the future. But this is unlikely to occur this Summer.
Businesses of all kinds are expected to operate safely and follow all Government guidance. This includes not obstructing the highway and affect pedestrian flows, being respectful to neighbouring businesses and taking steps for people not to raise their voices or shout. In addition, the concessions proposed by Government for some relaxation to trade through pavement licences only apply to restaurants, bars and cafes, not other services. Cornwall Council enforcement team have identified St Ives as a potential hotspot and they will be carrying out pro-active enforcement visits and will be responding to issues which breach these guidelines. We sincerely hope and urge that businesses and residents will follow sensible advice and all try to play their part in keeping our town safe.
3rd July 2020