A DESPERATE plea has been made to 'save our headland' over fears Cornwall Council could sell the threatened Ships and Castles leisure centre site to developers.

The plea was made during a public meeting on Saturday organised by the Falmouth Needs a New Swimming Pool action group to discuss future possibilities for the threatened leisure centre site on Pendennis Headland.

People attending the meeting were told by Cornwall councillor Jayne Kirkham that there was no money from Cornwall Council which had made it very clear it was not going to subsidise leisure centres.

"The land could be sold by Cornwall Council," she said. "It is up to them what it is sold for. We couldn't control it and influence what that land was used for. A valuable piece of land could be sold from under us. As a town we have to decide how important that headland is to us or how important it is that Falmouth has a swimming pool or some sort of sports facility."

The possibility of Cornwall Council selling the land for a profit provoked outrage from local resident Maribel Veal who said her family had walked around the headland for generations.

"We have to remember that this is part of Falmouth and we say Cornwall Council has control," she said. "Who are they? They're supposed to represent us. I've walked around the Point with my mother when I was this high and then with my children and my grandchildren. My mother is 92 and said this Point has not changed in all of my life. We are not just talking about building something we are talking Cornish history.

"Who are we to pass it on? We talk so much about renewing the environment and holding it for the future. Are we going to say 'Oh, we've flogged it off because we couldn't be bothered to look at an alternative?'."

She said any developer of the site wouldn't give a 'darn' about Falmouth and would just be in it to make a profit then be gone. "They won't be local peoples' houses will they? They'll be for the elite. Look to development? Yes, but not on that site. Make developers pay to maintain that site for future generations."

It's stealing Falmouth's history by stealth

She said there was so much land around Cornwall so why couldn't a developer be allowed to develop on that land with the onus being that they fund the renewal of Ships and Castles.

"Once this site is gone, it is gone for generations," she said. "Don't sell your granny for a quick fix. This is a taste of what's to come. It's stealing Falmouth's history by stealth."

Cllr Jude Robinson said the reason the town council had set up its own survey was because the Cornwall Council one 'is a load of flannel' to make people very confused to give them the answers they want.

"What the town council wants is to form our response to Cornwall Council and get behind the community in what they want," she said. "As far as I am concerned the headland belongs to us, it doesn't belong to Cornwall Council. It might be their's legally, but the idea that they can sell it off for whatever they want is really just so annoying."

Cllr Zoe Young suggested one way of making money at the site would be to provide somewhere to park with facilities for people who are forced to live in camper vans because of the Cornwall housing crisis and for holidaymakers.

Ben Maude said Falmouth has already seen 'incredible' encroachment by the rich.

"The Liner in front of Gyllyngvase and for me the symbolism of having luxury housing looking down upon Falmouth and for us forever looking up at the wealthy is just too far to go," he said.


Last day of trading for Falmouth pub at centre of flat development plans

Cllr John Spargo said the group needed to work with the other threatened leisure centres, as there was a danger of being split.

"GLL are very poor and running that place down," he said. "If we keep it open longer, it gives them more of a chance to run it down more."

Closing the meeting Cllr Kirkham said trying to get the deadline extended was all well and good, but if Cornwall Council said no that was it. "My concern with this keeping it open longer is that we put all our eggs into one basket, they've already said they won't subsidise it for GLL to run it for longer so we've said keep it open for longer. If they say no then bang, that's the end of it, so we need an alternative we need something to come out of this rather than just keep it open for longer."

Cornwall Council's consultation ends October 31. Cabinet will meet on December 15 to make decisions on the futures of the four threatened centres, with possible closure on April 1.