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Coastal Towns

Volume 455: debated on Thursday 18 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what action her Department (a) has undertaken and (b) is planning to undertake to improve the (i) economic competitiveness and (ii) quality of life for residents of coastal towns. (115763)

The Department recognises that coastal towns have a distinctive role to play in sub-regional and regional economies. It supports efforts by the regional development agencies to ensure that coastal areas in their regions are helped to achieve their full economic potential, as part of wider strategies to deliver sustainable growth.

The Department's memorandum to the Select Committee inquiry on coastal towns in March 2006 sets out the significant Government funding and support, much of it through Communities and Local Government programmes, which are focused on the areas of greatest need, including some coastal towns. They include the new deal for communities, neighbourhood renewal fund, and local enterprise growth initiative.


On 16 May 2006, the Department held a summit for coastal towns and cities to discuss their vision for the future and how central Government could help them deliver their priorities. Key issues to emerge focused on transport and connectivity, skills/employment and affordable housing.

This summit, along with other city summits held around the country have helped inform proposals in the Local Government White Paper “Strong and Prosperous Communities”, launched in November 2006. This offers a stronger role for local partnerships, giving local authorities more scope to lead their communities and to better address local needs and opportunities reflecting what is important locally which can vary significantly between places, including coastal towns.

Local authorities are already under a duty to prepare a Sustainable Community Strategy which sets the strategic vision for an area. We are building on the successful pilots of local area agreements—the delivery plan for the strategy—which will now be available to all local authorities. We want to encourage multi-area agreements—where there is interest locally—which will extend this approach to those strategic issues which are best tackled across local authority boundaries. We will continue to work closely with these local authorities—whether in coastal towns or elsewhere—to help promote their further economic and social development.

In the White Paper, we announced our intention to promote the concept of City Development Companies for English cities and city-regions, in particular their role in attracting private investment and driving economic development and regeneration. We are currently running a consultation on this, which should be of interest to all towns and cities.

Together with the DTI and Treasury we will be considering further through the Treasury review of sub-national economic development how Government can best devolve more powers and resources to regions, towns and cities, including those in coastal areas.