More help needed for coastal communities

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A House of Lords report into UK seaside towns and coastal communities concluded that many are in desperate need of better transport, housing and broadband.

Better access to further and higher education for young people in seaside towns is needed too, and chairman of the Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns, Lord Bassam of Brighton, said: “For too long, seaside towns have been neglected.

“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.

“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 report recommends that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is set to replace EU funding after Brexit, is an important opportunity to help support coastal business development and tackle deprivation in coastal communities.

In recent years Girvan has benefited from EU investment to attract more leisure craft to the harbour - £500,000 invested to enhance the facilities and services for sailors.

New pontoons at Girvan were funded by Scottish Enterprise, European Union European Regional Development Fund and South Ayrshire Council through the Sail West project, and following their success South Ayrshire Council and Ayrshire Roads Alliance focused their attention on improving the harbour master’s office, sourcing funding from the FLAG, matched by South Ayrshire Council, for new facilities to provide modern amenities for leisure craft and commercial operators.

In 2017 a Coastal Community Fund project saw £300,000 invested in establishing a 64 mile coastal path on the south west coast of Scotland to improve access routes linking attractions, communities and businesses.

However, the House of Lord report suggests that the Coastal Communities Fund is too small scale to support sustainable regeneration for coastal communities and suggests that the Government reviews the fund’s effectiveness. If it is found to be making a positive impact, then the fund should continue with increased resources.