Second home ownership financed village’s modernisation

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From: Richard Cole, Runswick Bay, Saltburn.

AS a lifelong resident of Runswick Bay, I take exception to GP Taylor’s column (The Yorkshire Post, November 26).

My family bought our present home in Runswick Bay in 1957; my father was the Runswick Lifeboat mechanic. Even back then, my sister and I grew up the only children of our age living in the village. There had been second home ownership in the village as long as anyone could remember, popularised as far back as the Staithes Group of artists. With the decline of fishing and local employment, families were moving out of the village, more to find work and the chance of better housing /social amenities than being priced out by the rich.

At the time my parents bought in many thought they were mad, because the whole village was predicted to slip into the sea at some time in the near future. Mr Taylor’s persecuted locals were content enough to sell up and get out into a modern house. I dare say their descendant’s may look at the place now and occasionally regret that decision, but nobody was driving them out.

Visitors who see this beautiful village should understand that it is largely second home ownership that has financed its modernisation. Many second home families that have come into the village over the years bought little more than derelict hovels that nobody would live in nowadays. Those people have, on the whole, made it what it is today – not the locals. Despite that investment, many properties remain too small for modern living. For the majority, their car is parked up to half a mile from their property. Virtually everything in Runswick Bay is on a slope– all of which makes living, especially retirement to the village, difficult.

I cannot speak for what happens in other villages, but Mr Taylor has misunderstood Runswick Bay. He fails to mention major village achievements such as the Runswick Bay Rescue Boat – a privately funded local community venture that would never have got off the ground without the quiet patronage and support of his second home owners. The village harvest festival in September quietly raised £1,700 for the Air Ambulance and Zoe’s Place. When required to do so, this village will pull together as a community in a way that might surprise even Mr Taylor.

Of course we all regret the breakdown of social community, with the loss of local pubs and shops but it is happening everywhere. It is ridiculous to hang social changes in consumerism simply on the door of second home ownership.