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Tourism: Seaside Economy

Volume 718: debated on Monday 29 March 2010


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (John Denham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Strategy for Seaside Success: Securing the Future of Seaside Economies was launched on Thursday 25 March.

The aim of the strategy is to help ensure our seaside towns have the help they need to build on their heritage and take advantage of the new opportunities to develop strong economies and communities for the future. While many seaside towns have had to confront particular economic challenges in recent years, seaside towns have unique histories and retain a special place in the development of modern Britain.

A renewed interest in these places, coupled with new possibilities to develop and use low carbon economies and tap into the global digital economy, provides an excellent opportunity for seaside towns to become great places to live, work and visit.

This strategy builds on support the Government have given to seaside towns since 1997 through a range of mainstream policies together with targeted support to some of the most deprived seaside authorities.

We have given councils more powers to tackle their own problems locally, through devolution, while the regional development agencies have given seaside towns significant support to promote economic development. The North West Development Agency has invested over £200 million in its seaside towns, and over £86 million has been invested in coastal areas by the East of England Development Agency.

The Government’s Sea Change initiative has put £38 million into improving seaside town infrastructure in 32 seaside areas since 2008. The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided over £234 million to 864 projects in English seaside reports to support their regeneration. Over £99 million has been targeted on 21 of the most deprived seaside resorts through the Working Neighbourhoods Fund and New Deal for Communities.

The new cross-government strategy is directed at key areas where action is most needed. The package of support it outlines includes:

a new £5 million Seaside Towns Grant fund to help the 25 most deprived seaside local authorities tackle long term worklessness and drive regeneration;

a pledge to extend the Sea Change programme to help improve seaside town infrastructure after 2011;

the Heritage Lottery Fund to look at how more support can be given to iconic piers which are a unique part of many seaside towns historic infrastructure;

new licensing rules for councils over houses in multiple occupation will help tackle problems around poor quality seaside housing, and we will look at what else is needed to prevent unsuitable landlords getting holiday caravan site licences;

support for a “Seasiding” campaign with festivals to attract cultural investors and strengthen non-seasonal economies to help them become year round visitor destinations;

exploring options to exploit new opportunities on the coast to benefit seaside town economies, including taking advantage of their natural advantages and location to be at the forefront of the shift to a low carbon economy. New UK offshore wind licences could be worth £75 billion and create 70,000 new jobs by 2020, many of which could be in coastal areas;

ensuring that communities across the UK, including seaside towns, benefit from the Government’s commitment to extend new digital networks, including super-fast broadband, across the country;

regional development agencies and tourism boards to give maximum promotion to seaside towns in their region;

learning from the neighbourhood policing pilots in seaside and other areas on how to deal effectively with anti-social behaviour and crime in seaside towns; and

a focus on stronger co-operation across government to improve regeneration outcomes in seaside towns, including Regional Ministers as seaside champions, and improved delivery of on-line personalised public services in seaside towns.

Seaside towns face complex economic and social issues so this strategy will evolve. It will help to ensure all our seaside towns to reach the standards of the best and become year round economies that flourish and grow in the 21st century.

I have placed copies of the strategy in the Library of the House.