Bude – Paradise or Prison?

Our spectacular coastal paradise will soon be awash with swarms of holiday makers. Enthused by our captivating surroundings and intrigued by our menagerie of independent stores, albeit whilst moving with the carelessness of an abnormally lackadaisical horde of sloths.

People will ask me, almost a daily basis, when my favourite time of year in Bude is and I will say summer. The reason is simple, the town is buzzing. Whilst people stopping in the middle of Belle Vue, with a thoughtless that suggests they want to be run over frustrates, the town buzzes. Bude and its people have a rich history of innovation, of overcoming their geographical isolation and for refusing to be excluded when other wished it so. From projects such as the historic canal, to a community combining to ensure proposed rail links did not exclude this North Cornwall corner, Bude has succeed where others would see it fail.

Innovators of the past, such as Goldsworthy Gurney have been replaced by the thriving business of today, such as Gecko and Woolacotts. Better than its own history however, is the fact that Bude creates memories, memories for generations of families who have fallen in love with our mesmerising hideaway.

Such is my personal connection with Bude, where the memories it generates are more precious than ever, that I am also deeply saddened at this time of year.  Saddened because our seasonal high is followed by the autumn and winter low, where buildings like the derelict Strand hotel zone into view with renewed emphasis and yes I know about the Premier Inn. The point however, is that Bude should be flourishing all year round.

The definition of a menagerie is “a collection of wild animals kept in captivity for exhibition.”  If you’ll excuse the wild animals part- oh I’m going to get stick for this, that’s what Bude feels like, like its being opened up for an exhibition, where the work of its talented inhabitants is displayed to enthral the masses, only to then be shut away for another year.

Now I have to say the framework of this piece has been rebuilt following the discovery of this article , in which its author – Sarah Shuckburgh, someone who’s family has a historic connection with Bude states that Bude has been in decline since 1966. Now whilst I would politely disagree, it is true to say that core of the town has not altered much in the 22 years I remember.  Yet change is afoot, the Binhamy farm project, the development of new housing and of course Lidl. Change is something that needs to improve the town and indeed needs to happen if Bude is to thrive during the holiday maker hiatus. I have long stated that Bude needs to invite bigger companies into the town as these are the companies that create jobs, prevent talented individuals from leaving in order to survive and ensures Bude flourishes the year through.

Such is my affection for this town that this article has morphed from its intended form, detailing the difficulties of being disabled and living in Bude, to my concerns over its future. Indeed I was going to write that despite being on an energy sapping hill of monumental proportions and despite half the town being largely inaccessible to anyone with disabilities more harsh than my own, I forgave it. I forgave it due to the memories it has provided.  Instead however, I am here playing devil’s advocate. Questioning whether the actual development, in its current from will advance the town or weaken it.

So lets’ deal with the facts or the two that matter, Bude needs to create jobs and places for its community to live. No one can argue with that. The problem however, is that only a small percentage of the housing development is said to be going to the community and creating more minimum wage jobs will not stop people leaving. What the decision makes, who have for too long opposed change out of some deluded perception that it is more important to focus on the history of the town and not its future, must do now is allow changes that will keep people in the town. Currently I can get drunk in around a dozen different places, get my hair cut in almost as many, visit a variety of charity shops and I will soon be able to shop in four main supermarkets.  Yet I have had to continually rely on the graces of Sainsbury’s for work and entrepreneurial spirit to survive. Even Goldsworthy Gurney was almost bankrupt before he got the recognition his work deserved.

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