by Ted Hunter
A key council committee today stepped up its efforts to find out if second home owners could be swaying the Cornish vote at elections.
One in twenty homes in Cornwall are now owned by people who mainly live outside of the county and just come here on holiday.
By definition, the great majority of those with a townhouse and a Cornish retreat are fairly well to do, if not rich.
The council is leading the way for many other rural areas of Britain where rich people buy second homes – to find out if these householders are ‘second-home’voting’.
No evidence is available yet but the suspicion that second home owners vote in Cornwall is strong at an official county level.
The Council’s Electoral Review Panel is lobbying Whitehall for more information about who votes where so they can get to the bottom of things.
The law is ‘unclear’ on the issue and the Government, despite Cornish appeals, have “declined to clarify the rules and regulations.”
But the Electoral commission says clearly that if a second home is for recreational purposes, no registration is permitted.
The worry is that second home owners are either voting in the wrong place or – even more scandalously – possibly voting twice.
Lib Dem Cllr for Launceston Alex Folkes pushed the issue at County Hall today.
Cllr Folkes told the News: “I want the council to use the list we have of homes who claim a council tax discount to be automatically listed as second homes.
“That’s what the debate today centred around.
“I suggested that there should be a presumption that registration from such properties should be barred, unless the person can prove that they should be entitled to vote.
“Unfortunately, there was a lack of information in one of the reports.
“It meant we don’t know where we would stand if someone challenged us on this legally.
“It’s been put off to June: but I’m relatively comfortable with this result because it is a big debate and we want to get it right.
“The Electoral Commission and other local authorities with large numbers of second homes are looking closely at what Cornwall is doing.”
Cornwall is Britain’s second homes hotspot and despite sporadic protests and mumblings little is ever done to address the resultant economic imbalance.
Pembrokeshire in Wales by contrast banned the building of new second homes on its National Park coast in 2002.
Famous second home owners include Laurence Llewellyn Bowen, who with his wife Jackie owns a Port Isaac property.
Last August the local paper reported Madonna had bought a home on the Roseland – although strangely no-one knows where it is, and she has never been seen there.
Later the evidence the local rag cited as proof of this ‘story’ was found to be a ‘housing association’ press release whose author ‘thought’ Madge had bought a pad.
Mind you it wasn’t so long ago they told us all there was a Great White Shark prowling Newquay – after a local bouncer wound them up “for a joke”.
Anyone who sees Madonna surfing a Great White Shark across the Roseland Peninsula can call the Snoring Guardian on 0800-WE-R-TOTAL-MORONS
And if you have any real news – MAIL US! – we’re on firstname.lastname@example.org
We don’t claim to get everything right – but at least we’re more interested in telling the truth than ramping up our circulation with a load of made-up rubbish.
Drifting back to the issue of second homes then – other areas of Britain with large numbers of second homes include the Isle of Wight, Dorset, Cumbria, Northumberland and Norfolk.
In London, less than three per-cent of properties are second homes.