Monday, 25 August 2008

Fisherman Nick

Nick Clegg was down in Cornwall again on Friday to see the problems facing local fishermen and to meet a young couple who are struggling to be able to afford to live in the village which is their home and where they work.

First off was Newquay harbour to meet fishermen and talk to them about the problems they face. Chief among these is the mountain of forms that need to be filled in the whole time. But they are also concerned with the lack of young people now entering the industry. In the past a fisherman could get a grant that covered 25% of the cost of a new boat and a loan for a further 25%. This not only helped young people into the business, but also helped the boat building firms. Now these young people can't get the same sort of financial help and, even if they can afford a boat, the cost of a fishing licence is almost as much as the boat itself.

So we don't see so many fishermen and the industries surrounding them face collapse as well. Nobody is reporting that there are too few fish in the sea and, if stocks dwindle, then it is not in the interests of inshore fishermen to destroy their livelihoods by over-fishing.

After their discussion, Nick headed out with lobster and crab fisherman Philip Trebilcock. Nick happily lent a hand hauling in the pots and checking that the catch was legal size (at least with crustaceans anything undersized can be thrown back to grow some more rather than dead).

Then it was off to St Agnes to meet a young couple who are struggling to be able to afford to live in the village where they grew up. With a combined income of around £20,000, they cannot afford a mortgage on a house when properties in the village seel for at least £250,000. They have tried renting but most landlords can get more in the summer from tourists and so there are only winter lets available in their price range. So they are living with their parents and desparate to move.

Nick also met with some local developers who have just started building new houses on the edge of St Agnes. These will be shared equity homes but with an upper limit that means that residents cannot buy the whole of the property and so the housing association can ensure that they remain in the affordable sector for people with a local connection.

Finally, Nick went to Truro to appear on the Laurence Reed programme on Radio Cornwall. Apparently Laurence is listened to by 30% of the entire radio listenership in the county. Nick fielded questions from listeners on subjects such as red diesel for farmers, wind farms, the problems of the County Council and dualling the A30.

Pics: Nick chats with Philip Trebilcock on board his boat; Nick at work on the boat; Nick chats to local fisherman Geoff Brown; Nick meets a young couple struggling to afford to stay in St Agnes despite having full-time jobs; Nick and local ppc Terrye Teverson chat with developers building new affordable homes in St Agnes; Nick with Laurence Reed of BBC Radio Cornwall