Why Norwich needs London defectors

Norwich left and Chapel Porth Beach in Cornwall, right

Norwich (left) and Cornwall (right) share similar problems when it comes to housing. - Credit: Archant

“I’ve lived here all my life – but they’ve ruined it now.”

Writing from Cornwall this week, I overheard a local chatting to a neighbour while eyeballing a nearby house renovation.

The street was lined with cars, bins in town are overflowing and house prices in this part of the county have rocketed.

In a year Brits couldn’t leave the country they discovered beauty spots on their own shores, and Norfolk has not escaped this trend.

In the past year the average house price in Norwich has increased by 7pc.

Part of this is down to the stamp duty holiday and the fact that people saved more for housing deposits. 

But, experts are certain, a significant factor is the number of people moving out of huge metropolitan cities to areas with a better standard of living.

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And these newbies arrive with a raft of benefits.

On average they bring with them more disposable income to spend with local businesses. 

They bring a more diverse skill set which they may, in time, choose to lend to a nearby firm instead of commuting.

It shifts the face of Norwich on a generation – one which has more diverse opinion and comment.

Some of these benefits come at a cost to those of us which have long-committed to the city.

For hard-working people who want to continue building their life in Norwich it means making compromises, stretching finances further, sleepless nights and pressure.

I and many of my generation fall into the latter category.

But, unlike my Cornish counterpart, I don’t resent the people bringing prosperity into our city.

We cannot have it both ways.

The stamp duty holiday has come to an end and hopefully prices will even out.

But we will retain the influx of talent for generations to come. That, if nothing else, is something to celebrate.

  • Space travel? Haven’t we got enough to worry about down here?

Sir Richard Branson jetted off to space this week, which is something apparently we’re all supposed to be very excited about.

The British billionaire will be joined on the “part-time astronaut” list next week by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson poses with SpaceShipTwo at a Virgin Galactic hangar at Mojave A

British entrepreneur Richard Branson poses with SpaceShipTwo at a Virgin Galactic hangar at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, Calif. The Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket exploded yesterday during a test flight. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File) - Credit: AP

Neither set out with plans of doing anything remotely useful when they got there. No, they’re seeing how it works as a tourism proposition.

Before long space travel will be available to those with a few million to spare.

Good for them. 

The rest of us will stay here on the ground, recycling disproportionately large cardboard boxes containing only a tea strainer, delivered in a long-axel diesel van. 

While they’re up there commoditising - I mean, conquering - space, ordinary people are doing their bit to try and combat the real, tangible issues we’ve got on the ground.

We can safely assume these rockets aren’t powered by olive oil, so environmentalists can add their fuel consumption to the ever-growing list of things to worry about. 

Between them the pair have reportedly spent in excess of £1bn in their “my-horse-is-bigger-than-your-horse” contest.

Meanwhile the former Mrs Bezos - now Scott - has just announced she’s donating another $2.7bn to charity, bringing her total to $8.5bn in less than a year.

She wrote: “We are attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change. We are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands.”

Thank goodness someone’s putting their funds to better use.

  • Don't like the pub policy? Then drink somewhere else

This week one of Norwich’s best-loved landlords revealed he’d only be welcoming customers who have been vaccinated at least once.

Phil Cutter, landlord at the Murderers, who has a strict 'no vaccine - no entry' policy. Picture: DE

Phil Cutter, landlord at the Murderers, who has a strict 'no vaccine - no entry' policy. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Having already been closed because of a track and trace alert after months of operating at partial capacity, it seems fair enough.

The policy has been introduced by Phil Cutter at The Murderers, who has been open about how hard his sector has been hit by the pandemic.

But instead of thinking: “I’ll drink elsewhere”, people who have chosen not to have the vaccine have targeted abuse at the landlord.

They’ve threatened to put his windows in and boycott the pub.

Whether or not people want to have the vaccine is entirely personal and the decision respected. 

But at this stage, making ends meet for a business is personal because it comes down to putting food on the table.

However Phil’s decision has not been respected.

He has been held up as a scapegoat and threatened.

Phil has said the decision is not about discrimination, he just wants to keep his business and staff safe. 

And if it was about discrimination, surely he would have banned none vaccinated people from the start?

Norwich isn’t shy of a pub or fifty – so if anti-vaxxers don’t feel welcome at The Murderers they can easily go elsewhere.

What they cannot do is judge and attack how other people – whose position they likely will never understand – choose to survive.