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Seaside Towns

Volume 534: debated on Thursday 27 October 2011

11. What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on support for seaside town economies. (76864)

My two Departments, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government, have regular discussions with the Treasury about support for economies. My hon. Friend will know that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced the coastal communities fund, which will be available from April.

Two Select Committee reports have identified that one of the main problems facing coastal communities is poor transport links. May I invite the Minister to visit the warm and welcoming English riviera to see the challenges and opportunities there, which could be fully addressed by better transport links?

A visit to the English riviera is an enticing invitation, and I will be delighted to go there. My hon. Friend is right to say that connectivity is a concern for all coastal communities, and I know that he is waiting for a decision on the south Devon link road. I cannot pre-empt that, but I think I will go by train this time to avoid any delays.

Will the right hon. Gentleman place in the Library a copy of the advice he received from BIS officials—not DCLG officials—on the historical disadvantages that seaside towns and cities face, particularly those relating to access and business failures? Clearly the advice was not forceful enough, because neither Torbay nor Plymouth was successful in this round of bids for local enterprise zones, as he well knows.

As the hon. Lady knows, we have had discussions about Plymouth. I very much hope that all the representatives of Plymouth will join in putting together an area to attract business that is very much in keeping with the enterprise zone proposal. Of course I will put together a package of the research and make it available to her.