Seaside towns big winners at regeneration awards

East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Southend-on-Sea and Bridlington were the big winners at the Institute of Economic Development (IED) awards night, which was held last month.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s refurbishment of Bridlington Spa earned it the Most Sustainable Outcome award.

As part of the Bridlington regeneration strategy – dance, theatre and conference venue Bridlington Spa was identified as being ideally placed to capture the regeneration aspirations of the town and the local authority, given its unique position as a physical and spiritual landmark for over 100 years of Bridlington’s history. The development was undertaken as the focal point for regeneration of the whole area.

The £25m refurbishment project ran from 2006-2008 and East Riding of Yorkshire Council submitted its nomination for the IED award to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Bridlington Spa’s re-launch. The nomination also highlighted how, in midst of the economic downturn, the council took the management and operation of the facility in-house rather than as a contracted service to ensure that regeneration plans for the resort could be maximised.

The impact of the project has been far-reaching: there were 300,000 visitors to Bridlington Spa in 2018 compared to just 130,000 in 2008; and over 1,000 events will be held at Bridlington Spa in 2018-19, up from 159 in 2010-11. Total ticket sales have increased from 36,614 to 88,514 in eight years and income from the Christmas/New Year pantomime is up by 368% in the same period. A new café opened in 2017 and, in 2018, the long-term aim of the regeneration strategy to secure a new 80-bedroom hotel for the resort was realised with the opening of the new Premier Inn hotel with restaurant and bar facilities providing over 50 jobs for local people.

Councillor Andy Burton, portfolio holder for economic investment at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: ‘To many Bridlington is the Spa and the Spa is Bridlington. We have taken a tired and underperforming seaside attraction to a point where we have re-established Bridlington Spa as an iconic, multi-purpose landmark building in Bridlington which has significantly increased visitors to the town and provided enormous benefit to the local economy.

‘We entered the IED awards because Bridlington Spa is a shining example of a successful economic development project and we, and our community, are extremely proud of it; and because it is working well and we wanted to share this good practice with others. It has been a very long journey, but we are delighted to have won this award from our national professional body.’

IED Chair Bev Hurley said: ‘We would like to congratulate East Riding of Yorkshire Council on winning our Most Sustainable Outcome award for 2018. Judges were impressed with the risk-taking and entrepreneurialism of the project which has created a strong and sustainable income-generation model for the future. Operating the facility in-house is out of vogue but appears to have been central to the success shown.’

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council scooped the Most Innovative Strategy award, with the council’s economic development department beat off fierce competition from around the country to win the award for two projects which address skills gaps.

The first, A Better Start Work Skills, is a Big Lottery funded project which helps parents of young children and expectant parents develop skills and confidence for returning to work, training, volunteering or education. The aim is that with an improved family financial situation and happier home life, parents will have better opportunities for their own future and through this improving the lives of children under four.

A programme of free events with employers, training providers, education institutions, the National Careers Service and Job Centre Plus is held in community venues and a mobile crèche is available providing free childcare which allows parents to focus on the content of the sessions.

The second, 60 Minute Mentor South Essex, is an inspirational employer-led mentoring service available to selected students across south Essex (Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock, Basildon, Rochford and Castle Point) and provides aspirational role models to young people at risk of disengagement. Schools are able to choose ten Year 8 students.

On the programme, students are matched with a positive role model from a local employer for a seven-month period. During this time each young person receives four structured mentoring interventions, including two group mentoring sessions and two 1-2-1 mentoring sessions. The initiative was developed following feedback from local business that young people lacked the key employability skills needed to excel in the workplace.

Councillor James Courtenay, Cabinet Member for Growth at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: ‘We are absolutely thrilled to win this award and have our work formally recognised by the IED. We are very proud of our range of skills projects aimed at addressing skills gaps in south Essex. A Better Start Work Skills has resulted in parents setting up their own businesses, receiving offers of employment and completing new qualifications.

‘86% of attendees this year have said that as a result of attending the session, they would be more likely to attend training or look for employment. 60 Minute Mentor South Essex has to date provided 501 young people with access to an aspiration workplace mentor, established and maintained a strong network of 54 passionate mentors from 35 local businesses, and engaged with 29 schools across south Essex.’

IED Chair Bev Hurley added: ‘We would like to congratulate Southend-on-Sea Borough Council on winning our Most Innovative Strategy award for 2018. Our judges were particularly impressed with the new, different and well-measured ways in which difficult to reach communities are re-engaged with the local economy.’

For more information on the awards, visit the IED website.


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