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Seaside towns neglected ‘for too long’

Many seaside towns and coastal communities are in desperate need of urgent improvements, a group of peers has warned.

A new report published by the House of Lords’ regenerating seaside towns committee said urgent improvements are needed to transport, housing and broadband to help coastal resorts reinvent themselves.

The lords found poor-quality housing is a significant problem for many seaside towns and many feel ‘left behind’ by national strategies aimed at increasing economic growth and productivity.

The committee also found many coastal towns have limited access to education, particularly to further and higher education institutions, which is ‘severely curtailing opportunities and denting aspirations’ for young people in these areas.

It also adds that inadequate transport connections are holding back many coastal communities.

In particular, the report calls on ministers prioritise improvements to the coastal transport network when it takes decisions on planning and investment.

And it also calls on the government to work withlocal authorities, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and businesses to improve access to high-speed broadband in coastal areas.

The lords also singled out the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is set to replace EU funding after Brexit, as an opportunity to help support coastal business development, and to tackle deprivation in coastal communities.

But the report says the government must be clear about how coastal areas will benefit from the fund, which should prioritise solutions for areas where there has been persistent deprivation, including disadvantaged coastal communities.

‘For too long, seaside towns have been neglected,’ said committee chair, Lord Bassam of Brighton.

‘They suffer from issues rooted in the decline of their core industries, most notably domestic tourism, but also in fishing, shipbuilding and port activity, and from their location at the ‘end of the line’. The potential impact of Brexit on these towns, particularly the hospitality sector, also remains an open question,’ he added.

‘A single solution to their economic and social challenges doesn’t exist. What is needed is a package of strategic initiatives and interventions where national and local government work together to address issues such as transport, housing, post-school education and high-speed broadband.’

The full report – The Future of Seaside Towns – is available to read here.

Photo by fsse8info

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