Cornwall will welcome some of the most powerful world leaders from tonight – with thousands of delegates, journalists and police in the county ahead of the G7 Summit.
After months of preparation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will play host to the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and the US at Carbis Bay in St Ives.
“This is the biggest security and policing event in England this year,” Superintendent Joanne Hall, from Devon and Cornwall Police, told Sky News.
“You can imagine the complexities that come with it, the logistical challenges – but we’ve been planning for months now and we’re ready and prepared for this event.”
Around 6,500 police officers from every force in the country are in Cornwall to protect the summit.
As well as 4,000 rooms booked, around 1,000 officers will be accommodated on an Estonian cruise ship docked in Falmouth, with more than 16,000 meals prepared each day.
In recent days, the event has seen sleepy parts of Cornwall transformed into locked-down secure zones – with military radar equipment on beaches, police on jet-skis and British naval warships patrolling an exclusion zone around the beach-front venue.
The summit officially begins on Friday and ends on Sunday – but preparations for the event have already had an impact on the lives of those living in Cornwall.
“My business is shutting down Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” says Roger, who runs fishing trips in St Ives.
“One of the skippers can’t get here, and we’ve just decided it’s not worth going late and having bad reviews. It’s exciting times as to what they [G7 leaders] may do but at this moment in time it’s a hassle.”
Susan Mountain sells wetsuits at a shop on the beach front.
“It shouldn’t have been done now because of COVID and they should have just held it on Zoom and done it that way. It would have saved a lot of money.
“At this time of year it’s going to be a great disruption to locals and holidaymakers,” she added.
But for many companies, the G7 Summit is a welcome financial boost, after hospitality was so badly hit by COVID-19.
There is – perhaps unsurprisingly – an official G7 Summit chocolate bar, made by Wadebridge-based Kernow Chocolate.
Alex Shapland, who runs the company, said: “We got an email out of the blue from one of the offices in Whitehall and they approached us to make them a bar of chocolate!” he told Sky News.
Alex says there were strict specifications from the UK government.
“They wanted milk chocolate flavoured with sea salt – and we used Cornish sea salt. It’s all come together and it’s a privilege and an honour to be one of the suppliers.”
Tourism and council officials estimate the summit will bring £50m into Cornwall – with the hope of long-term investments.
And while the county is at the cutting edge of several sunrise industries (lithium mining, satellite launches from Newquay Airport and space communications at Goonhilly to name but a few), some of the poorest parts of the UK are in Cornwall.
Sandra spoke to us in the town of Camborne.
“I can’t see why they think it’ll bring in so much money. St Ives is already a very rich place to live.
“I think it’s just a quick flash in the pan of money. We won’t get nothing out of it, no,” she added.
Throughout the summit, protests are planned – with groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Kill The Bill and ResistG7 all arranging events.
Overlooking Carbis Bay, a huge alternative version of Mount Rushmore, depicting the G7 Leaders built out of electronic waste, has been constructed by artist Joe Rush.
From Friday – all eyes will be on Cornwall – with no shortage of problems for the leaders to sort out.