MP John Pugh 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
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