The day is rapidly approaching when the G7 summit conference arrives in Cornwall. The government is committed to allowing people to voice their protests in a peaceful manner. To facilitate this, they have created 4 protest zones which are approved and will be the only sites in the area where protesting is allowed.
The G7 meeting is taking place in Carbis Bay, near St Ives, with access available mainly down the A3074 from the A30 trunk road at Hayle. The other access is via the B3311 from Penzance. Peaceful protest will be facilitated in specially selected sites in Falmouth and Truro in Cornwall, and Plymouth and Exeter in Devon.
Truro is close by Carbis Bay, being a mere 23 miles from the GT meeting, and Falmouth is 26 miles away. Plymouth Hoe is 76 miles away and Exeter 106 miles. Plymouth is best reached by the A38 from Cornwall, which involves crossing a toll bridge on the A38. Given the poor road infrastructure in Cornwall and the determination of the protesters, especially the Extinction Rebellion group, to cause havoc and disruption, this has all the hallmarks of total chaos.
The major media hub is based at Falmouth and has resulted in the commandeering of a town square, causing major damage to the businesses, just as the tourist season starts its long road to recovery.
It also means that Cornwall’s police force have a major security operation on their hands, and officers have prepared for the event with sniffer dogs, drones, police boats, and thousands of extra officers drawn from forces all across England. To ensure the safety of the attendees and the locals (like me), the police presence has been increased to 6,500, of which 1,500 will be from the Devon and Cornwall police force and 5,000 drafted in from other forces, so it will be one of the biggest forces in the UK for that weekend.
It is not just police officers or people; there will be police animals as well, they will have 150 police dogs coming down to work with them and they will be policing land, sea, and air, so lots of staff and lots of resources will be needed. This does not count the staff from MI5 and the security forces from attending countries. The policing budget for the event stands at £70,000,000.
The police have acknowledged that this will entail major disruptions, but as of today they can’t be specific about road closures, diversions or other disruptions. The railway line from St Erth to St Ives will be closed as that runs along the rear of the Carbis Bay Hotel.
All this is putting a huge strain on the logistics of the operation, and to provide accommodation for the police and other personnel the MS Silja Europa arrived in Falmouth at the weekend. This is going to provide a really attractive target for the protestors. Not just the ship, but the access roads to the ship will prove to be a magnet for protests.
All this activity and disruption is having an effect on the county, and an atmosphere of measured apathy prevails throughout Cornwall. Unless you are unfortunate enough to be close to Carbis Bay or the designated protest zones then people aren’t too bothered about the situation.
We are generally planning to stay in our home locality whilst all this is going on, and the roads will be horrendous, with the two major highways having to endure the seasonal high volume of tourists and the added influx of protesters. The police are already setting up OPs on the A30 and A38 main roads. One word of warning to the protesters: the locals don’t suffer fools gladly.
It all points to a few days of fun and amusement for all.
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