Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence


Memorandum by Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR) Regeneration (COA 23)

1.  INTRODUCTION

  Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR) Regeneration is one of the Government's 12 urban regeneration companies established in 2003. CPR Regeneration brings together key local partners to generate dialogue, and support a focussed, integrated regeneration strategy for the Camborne Pool and Redruth area. Our partnership comprises local authorities, the South West Regional Development Agency, the Prince's Foundation, as well as local business and education leaders. In setting up CPR Regeneration the Government has recognised the very distinct and urgent needs of our former mining communities in an area that has been successively overlooked by central Government.

  CPR Regeneration is determined to ensure that our recent history of post-industrial decline, and the accompanying prevalence of social and economic failure, is given the same commitment from Government and their agencies as other former mining communities across the UK.

  The Coalfields task force report (Making a difference—a new start for England's Coalfield Communities) published in 1998, argues under the heading—What Makes Coalfields Special—that the coalfields "have a unique combination of concentrated joblessness, physical isolation, poor infrastructure and severe health problems".

  The evidence we present here sets out how the former tin mining communities of West Cornwall have suffered the ill effects of deindustrialisation in the same way, yet received little of the recognition or support.

  We would urge the Select Committee in reviewing the progress made against the Action Plan for the Coalfields published by DETR in 1998, to assess whether there is a case for examining the relative needs of the former tin mining communities of West Cornwall, with a view to making them eligible for the funding and support packages provided for under the coalfield regeneration programmes.

  The area would not only benefit from the funding streams available, but also allow us to fully engage with similar areas and tap into the wealth of experience that has been generated in tackling some of our endemic problems. Whilst there are clearly differences between the West of Cornwall and the UK's industrial heartlands, many of the problems we face are very similar. Not only can we benefit from thinking developed in coalfield communities but some of the solutions we are evolving will also be relevant elsewhere.

2.  THE CPR AREA

  Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR) taken together form a continuous corridor of urban development for over five miles along the inland western spine of Cornwall. Once the prosperous heart of the UK tin mining industry, the area now contains miles of derelict mining buildings sitting like distinct and separate sculptures in an abandoned landscape. This spectacular and unique setting, now the subject of a world heritage bid, masks the severe social and economic decline of the last half century.

  In this context, and in the same way as other former UK mining areas the Camborne-Pool-Redruth area poses a major regeneration challenge. It demonstrates a difficult combination of adverse economic circumstances, environmental damage and social problems. Moreover, the area has suffered generations of industrial decline and lack of investment, exacerbated by a range of factors deterring new sectors of the economy.

  The structural weakness of the local economy has led to unemployment, low incomes and social exclusion for many people in their local communities. The cycle of decline has bequeathed us a weak skills base and a lack of corporate commitment to the area. Low incomes and limited local authority budgets have meant a lack of resources for public and community facilities, and the decline of traditional sectors of the economy has ultimately led to market failures and a serious lack of private sector investment in sites, buildings, infrastructure and services.

  By the 20th century, mining had turned much of the local area into an industrial wasteland, and this was particularly true of the narrow, almost continuous strip, running from the west side of Camborne, eastwards along the northern flanks of Carn Brea, through Redruth and out beyond Scorrier. This area must rank as one of the most heavily industrialised historic sites in the UK.

  Although in later years many of the mines were consolidated, in the boom years most of the individual lode systems were mined by separate companies, each with their own mine buildings, process facilities and waste dumps. This legacy of industrial archaeology is still with us today in the form of abandoned mine workings, surface buildings and contaminated land and groundwater systems.

3.  BACKGROUND AND HISTORY

  Tin mining in Cornwall was at its height in 1870. At one time Cornwall boasted 2,000 tin mines and it was the world leader in tin production. But the discovery of easily-exploited reserves of ore overseas forced prices below the cost of production in Cornwall.

  In 1872 tin was discovered in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. Competition from Malaya and Bolivia increased the pressure on Cornwall's tin mining industry and between 1871 and 1881 it is estimated that a third of Cornwall's mining population emigrated.

  The demand for tin during the two World Wars postponed the industry's slow decline in Cornwall. A handful of mines survived, largely through amalgamation—South Crofty in Camborne was one of them.

  During the 20th century, the tin mining industry careered from boom to bust, with boom experienced during the war years, firmly countered by the bust of the 1930s. Bitter disputes and strikes ensued during the depression and in South Crofty mine, this came to a head in 1939.

  A row over differential pay rates resulted in a strike which pitched miner against miner, family against family, and only ended with the start of the Second World War and subsequent greater demand for tin.

  By 1960 South Crofty had control of nearly six square miles. Demand was high, wages were good, but there was a shortage of men prepared to work underground. Yet again, the changing fortunes of the industry were short lived and miners found themselves facing redundancy once more. Although various ores became briefly profitable during the 20th century, they were unsustainable and on March 6, 1998 the pumps at South Crofty—the UK's last tin mine, were finally turned off for good.

4.  THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CPR TODAY

  The social and economic characteristics, which define the CPR area today, match the characteristics of the other former mining communities of Britain. The history and tradition of mining has left deep rooted marks on today's communities, in particular a legacy of:

    —  Low GDP

    —  Low Wages

    —  Low Household Incomes.

Earnings and Income

  The average weekly wage in Cornwall is amongst the lowest in Britain. The 1998 New Earnings Survey showed average weekly earnings in Cornwall was £271, compared with £352 for Great Britain. When broken down further, on average West Cornwall (Kerrier and Penwith) have lower wages in the east, with Camborne North having the lowest average weekly earnings in Cornwall at £180 (Socio-economic indicators, KDC Action Team, 1999).

  At ward level, mean household incomes are very low. 1998 CACI PayCheck data (which estimates gross household incomes at ward level) shows that mean household incomes in Camborne North and Redruth North wards are the fourth and fifth lowest in the county. In Redruth North 43.3% of households were estimated to have annual incomes of less than £10,000, and 42.7% in Camborne North.

Economic Activity and Unemployment

  In March 2002 Camborne and Redruth's unemployment rate of 3.9% was considerably greater than the South West and Great Britain averages of 2.2% and 3.3% respectively. Typical of former mining communities is a high level of economically inactive people. This is true also of the CPR area.

  The proportion of "Other Inactive" people in the study area is roughly 50% higher than the average for Cornwall or England & Wales. In particular, 18.9% of the population in Camborne West are classed as "Other Inactive" and 17.4% in Illogan North.

  Whereas, Cornwall generally has a high proportion of retired people in its population, this is not the case in many of the wards in the CPR area. While an average of 20.3% people in Cornwall are retired, the figure in the study area is as low as 15.2% in Camborne South and 17.1% in Illogan South and Redruth South. Only Camborne West has a higher figure (26.0%).


ZoneTotal Economically Active RetiredOther Inactive
Camborne North65.3% 20.1%14.6%
Camborne South68.4% 15.2%16.4%
Camborne West55.1%26.0% 18.9%
Illogan North62.3%20.3% 17.4%
Illogan South66.0%17.1% 16.9%


ZoneTotal Economically Active RetiredOther Inactive
Redruth North63.7%19.5% 16.9%
Redruth South73.1%17.1% 9.8%
Kerrier66.2%20.0% 13.7%
Cornwall68.1%20.3% 11.6%
England & Wales71.1% 17.3%11.6%

Source: 1991 Census, CCC

Deprivation

  Areas within CPR fall in the worst 10% of wards in the UK for five indicators in the index of deprivation. This can be seen in the table below:

  ILD 2000: Rank of Indices (within 8,414 wards in England)




Health

  Poor standards of health are common in former mining communities. Miners working in the tin mines of Cornwall were often forced out of work due to ill health and it was rare for men to continue working into their 40s. Today, the standards of health in the CPR reflect the area's mining tradition.

  As in other areas with high levels of poverty, and low economic activity, the relative poor health of local residents in CPR has a significant impact on the economic climate of the area. In addition, the limited access to affordable housing coupled with pockets of severe deprivation and social exclusion add to the sense of hopelessness of many residents and the inevitable spiral of decline.

  More generally, studies of mortality and morbidity have highlighted higher rates of mortality and morbidity amongst specific groups that are more at risk of poverty, e.g. the low paid, the unemployed, lone parents etc.

Education and Skills

  Exacerbating the blight of unemployment and economic inactivity are other factors, including a low level of learning and low skills base, and poor educational attainment of the general population.

  GSCE attainments in the CPR area are below the LEA averages at both A-C and A-G grades. A A-C grade the attainments are also below the average for England. The average point score per 15 year old also falls below LEA and England averages and there relatively high levels of absenteeism, although predominantly authorized.

Transport connections

  Mining communities across the UK are traditionally isolated, and inaccessible from other employment opportunities in the region. Cornwall is one of the most isolated parts of the UK. The town centres of Camborne and Redruth suffer from poor road access and high levels of traffic congestion. Poor public transport means the car is the primary source of local transport. There is poor provision of cycling and walking facilities, and the transport interchanges are woefully underserviced.

5.  ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS

Past Mining Activities

  Past Mining Activities have given rise to more areas of contaminated land per hectare in CPR than any other part of the county. The area around the South Crofty Mine has been mined for copper and tin since at least the 16th century and there are many surface and stream workings which pre-date this time. There are a number of other deep mines in the area, such as Dolcoath and Wheal Agar which have also had a long history of active mining.

  A consideration of the nature and scope of contamination due to past mining activities requires an appreciation of the types of mining that have been undertaken, the nature of the mined ore and the impurities that it may contain, and the methods used to concentrate the ore and produce the final metal product.

  Contamination due to mining activities is fairly widespread in the study area. Obviously, contamination is likely to be present in the vicinity of the surface workings. It will also be present in the near vicinity of most of the shafts in the area. However, the main concentration of contamination is likely to be associated with those mine that have had a long history of working in the area such as South Crofty, Dolcoath, Wheal Grenville, Tin Croft, King Edwards, East Pool and Agar. Other areas are affected, such as the valley of the Red River and a number of other watercourses, which have suffered from tin streaming works and the routes of former and existing railways and tramways.

  Throughout the study area there is also potential subsidence risk, predominantly related to the presence of mine workings. This usually represents a programme of pitting and trenching, geophysical methods if appropriate and drilling to define the concealed workings.

6.  CONCLUSION

  CPR Regeneration has set out the case above for the inclusion of our declining area within the remit of Coalfields Regeneration. It is clear to us that the problems in our region are of the same order of those in the coalfield communities. If we are excluded from these vital discussions, purely because our land was mined for tin, rather than coal, then an area in deep decline will continue to be ignored by Government.

  We believe there are lessons that have been learnt in trying to regenerate coalfield communities that are as relevant to the former tin mining communities in West Cornwall. Equally, our own attempts to bring regeneration within the Camborne Pool Redruth area will demonstrate solutions that can be of specific benefit to former coal mining communities. Using joined up thinking when addressing both communities will be of benefit to both.

  The voice of the ex-tin-mining community, added to that of the coal mining community, will only strengthen the case for investment and assistance in our economically blighted regions. CPR Regeneration hopes to be able to give oral evidence to the committee, to further press our case, and to add our voice and enthusiasm to this vital debate.


 
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