One of the projects being pursued by the Council at the moment is the multi-use train in East Cornwall. That might not sound like a very important or sexy project, but it could bring huge improvements to places like Launceston.
Virtually everyone has heard of the Camel Trail and the benefits it has brought to Padstow, Wadebridge and Bodmin - as well as the places in between. In North Devon there is the Tarka Trail which has done much the same and Devon are now re-constructing the old Granite Way which links the Tarka Trail with the Tamar.
Our new trail aims to link the Granite Way with the Camel Trail, predominantly along the old railway line. Once complete, it will allow walkers, bike and horse riders to travel from Barnstaple to Padstow - or on any section in between. That will bring lots of tourists to our area and hopefully provide lots of new customers for existing local businesses and attractions. It should also provide new opportunities for the likes of cycle hire, B&Bs and so on. It will also be publicised as part of a European network of such trails and so should bring in many visitors from overseas.
It's not just visitors who will be using the new trail. Local people know that it is surprisingly difficult to go for a walk in the countryside from Launceston. There are very few paths and the roads tend to be quite busy - not an attractive walking proposition. So the new trail will open up a lot of options.
The trail will be funded by a mixture of money from Europe, from those promoting cycling and a small amount from Cornwall Council. The tricky thing is that all these different sources rely on each other, so all the partners need to be kept on board or the whole thing will fail. This is particularly difficult in the present climate.
Key to the success of this project is the support of local landowners over whose property the trail will run. Last Friday, the local Cornwall Councillors met with some of them to discuss the prospects for the trail. Overall, there was a good level of support with most businesses seeing the prospect of increased returns. Of course, there are also some concerns and part of the reason for the meeting was to identify these and work to make sure they were ironed out.
I'm keen that this project is seen to benefit the whole of our town and so the next meeting will be opened up to all businesses in Launceston so that they can see the opportunities for themselves. I'll post details of the meeting when I have them.