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Coastal Communities

Volume 611: debated on Monday 6 June 2016

15. What steps his Department is taking to help increase growth, prosperity and the number of jobs in coastal communities. (905277)

We have invested more than £120 million across the UK through the coastal communities fund, which is helping to create or safeguard more than 18,000 jobs, provide more than 12,000 training places and attract more than £200 million of match funding. We have also announced a £90 million four-year extension to the fund.

The Minister will be aware that tourism plays an important role in our coastal communities, so how damaging does he think the potential fracking wells on the Fylde coast would be to our tourism industry in the Blackpool area?

I should hope that fracking would not have an impact on tourism as such, although I understand the sensitivities involved in that issue. We are doing a lot to support tourism in the hon. Lady’s constituency through the coastal communities fund. Wyre Borough Council was given a £1.55 million grant in 2014 to create new attractions along Fleetwood seafront to attract more visitors throughout the year. Lancashire County Council got just under £250,000 in 2015 to unlock the heritage potential of Lancaster’s historic St George’s quay. I believe the fund is doing well around the country, particularly in the hon. Lady’s constituency.

I welcome what the Minister has said about support for coastal communities, but he will be aware that they have been particularly badly affected by membership of the European Union and the impact of the common fisheries policy. This has resulted in much derelict and redundant dockland. What additional support can the Government offer to regenerate our now redundant dockland?

Returning briefly to the coastal communities fund, I should point out that it has been highly successful and has helped to generate a tremendous return. For every £1 invested by the fund we get about £8 back. We regard that as highly successful, which is why we have extended the fund over another period of four years, with a budget of £90 million. In England, bidding for round four is now open. I believe the coastal communities fund would do very well for the coastal communities of our country, whether or not we are in the European Union.

Coastal tourism is valued at more than £8 billion and is a key contributor to the UK economy. A recent report from the National Coastal Tourism Academy identified significant opportunities for further growth and highlighted the need for strong partnerships between the public and private sectors. What is the Minister doing to foster these strong partnerships?

I thank the hon. Lady for pointing out the National Coastal Tourism Academy report. From memory, we helped to fund the creation of that body, so it looks as though we are getting good value for money there, too. She talked about the importance of partnerships; we entirely agree. We have set up 118 coastal communities teams around the country to bring together in partnership local authorities, voluntary groups, charities and residents to design an economic plan for the revival of their areas. We will be celebrating the success around what we now like to call the Great British coast with a Great British coastal conference in Brighton on 30 June. Perhaps the hon. Lady would like to come down in a spirit of partnership and celebrate it with us.