Is Pugh really doing enough for Southport?

john pugh mp ots southport

By Tom Duffy

No Goverment Investment Southport Mr Pugh

Blackpool’s iconic illuminations are one of many seaside attractions across England to benefit from a record £36 million government investment to boost growth in coastal areas.

The money – from the Coastal Communities Fund – will support projects that will create nearly 3,000 jobs and almost 1,500 apprenticeships and training places. It is the biggest round of cash provided by the Fund for schemes that are also attracting £36 million in additional financing.

Projects to benefit include:

Blackpool’s world famous illuminations receive nearly £2 million to help create new light shows that will become a major tourist attraction and create and support nearly 550 new jobs

Tate St Ives will get £3.8 million to help extend the art gallery so it can welcome 76,000 new visitors a year to the area and create more than 200 local jobs

a cycle and walking path in Dawlish linking the town centre with the iconic Exe Estuary Trail tourist route and designed to increase visitor numbers will receive £1.3 million and create more than 35 local jobs

Scarborough’s historic market will get £2.7 million to refurbish the market and create space for 30 new businesses creating more than 80 jobs and apprenticeships

Supporting coastal communities to unlock their enormous potential, boost local economies and contribute to the wider area is an important part of the government’s long-term economic plan.

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:

I created the Coastal Communities Fund because, as someone who grew up on a small island, I know how much difference targeted investment can make to people’s lives. It’s already supported scores of coastal communities from the Highlands of Scotland to the south coast of England.

Projects benefitting from the latest round of funding include a new Submarine Museum in Helensburgh, and a restored harbour at Carbost in Skye. Overall, hundreds of communities across the UK will benefit, creating jobs and making sure that some of our most remote and fragile communities share in the economic recovery.

Coastal Communities Minister Penny Mordaunt said:

Backing our coastal towns so they can rise up and drive forward their local economies is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain. This money will help create jobs, boost skills and open up new business opportunities, benefitting hardworking people in coastal communities across the country.

These fantastic projects demonstrate the creativity, enterprise and passion needed to help seaside towns become year round destinations that people are proud to live and work in.

More than £90 million has been allocated by the Coastal Communities Fund to projects around England’s coast, in total these will create more than 11,000 jobs, provide over 5,000 training places and apprenticeships for young people and attract more than £128 million in other investment.

The Coastal Communities Fund was created in 2012 to invest in seaside towns to help them achieve their economic potential, reduce unemployment and create new opportunities for young people in their local area.

Today’s announcement brings the total of the Coastal Communities Fund spending to £116 million. Across the UK, it is funding 211 projects, which will create almost 12,400 jobs and provide over 6,000 training places and apprenticeships. The programme’s first annual report is published today.

ots-southport-John -pugh- Sea-Wall-460x285

MP John Pugh last week led a debate in the Commons this week on ‘Coastal Towns and Economic Development’.

It was very well attended with many other MPs queuing up to sing the praises or cite the problems of their bit of the coastline.

According to John it was necessary to raise the voice of the seaside and coast so that it would not be drowned out by lobbying from the cities.

“There is no doubt that cities are crucial for the country’s economic development but there are a lot of us on the coast and we don’t all work in the traditional bucket and spade industry. We want the attention of Government and the funding and recognition that follows that.”

The MP made a plea for a joined up approach to seaside towns with all government departments including Transport and the Treasury- focussing on coastal towns.

“A better rail service or a Vat cut for inbound tourism (as happens on the continent) would help as much as any specific grant.”

The MP pointed out that since the Select Committee Report on seaside towns that he had helped commission, research showed that seaside towns had held their own in terms of employment.

However, research also showed that many resorts along the south coast had fared better than their counterparts in the north.

In explaining this new North/South divide he pointed out that one reason could be that we put too much emphasis on city centres when it came to regional development. He told the Commons that 3.2 million lived in coastal towns and that coastal businesses employ more people than the motor industry.

The north isn’t just Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds he claimed. “Flats in central Manchester are not where most of us live.”

We on coastal can make our own weather and fight our corner but we don’t want to be afterthought in terms of government or regional policy.

Full transcript of debate here.

TV Coverage here

It seems that John Pugh can see faults, but is he able to fix them?

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