The future of seaside towns Contents

Appendix 5: Visit notes

Note on visit to Clacton, Wednesday 18 July 2018


On Wednesday 18 July the Committee visited Clacton-on-Sea and Jaywick. The Committee met with local stakeholders and representatives of local businesses and public service providers, in a session convened by Tendring District Council. The Committee also visited Clacton County High School and participated in an engagement session organised by the Select Committee Engagement Team.

The following Members of the Committee attended the visit:

Lord Bassam of Brighton (Chairman), Lord McNally, Lord Mawson, Lord Shutt of Greetland, Baroness Valentine and Baroness Whitaker.

This note provides a summary of the key points raised during the course of the visit.

Introduction from Tendring District Council

The Committee was met by Cllr Neil Stock OBE, Leader of Tendring District Council, Paul Price, Corporate Director, Operational Services and Ewan Green, Corporate Director, Regeneration and Planning. The Committee was taken to Tendring District Council offices where an introductory discussion between Council members and Committee Members took place. Cllr Stock told the Committee that Tendring District has the longest coastline of any district in the country. Clacton-on-Sea is the largest urban area in the district, with a population of approximately 60,000. Cllr Stock explained that the decline of the traditional seaside holiday since the 1960s has had a significant effect upon the local economy and that the area now suffers higher than average unemployment, lower than average incomes and pockets of deprivation where ill health and low skills are particular issues. The town has also been left with a legacy of low-quality holiday housing stock which is often used for flats and houes in multiple occupation.

Council representatives were asked what challenges they felt there were to delivering regeneration projects. It was suggested that greater devolution of powers and flexibilities around raising investment would help to support efforts to tackle socio-economic problems in the district. The peripherality of coastal areas was also highlighted as a key challenge and it was suggested that there should be greater recognition of this characteristic by policymakers, and of the specific issues that this presents for coastal communities.

Tour of Holland Haven, Clacton-on-Sea and Jaywick Sands

The Committee was then taken on a bus tour of the local area. The tour began by viewing the coastal defences between Clacton and Holland-on-Sea. The Committee was told that over the 37 miles of coastline, the District contains a number of areas at high risk from tidal flooding and coastal erosion. The Committee was informed about the Essex and South Suffolk Shoreline Management Plan, which is a partnership between the Environment Agency, Essex County Council and District Councils, aimed at managing flooding and coastal change over the next 100 years. The Committee was shown the results of the ‘Hold the Line’ strategy, a £36 million scheme (the majority of which was provided through the Environment Agency, with the Councils raising the rest), which created 23 beaches through the insertion of 23 granite groins. The Council has estimated that this will protect more than 3,000 homes from erosion by the sea over the coming decades.

The Committee then visited Jaywick Sands. This area was founded in the 1930s as chalets and beach huts for holiday makers, particularly those from London. Over time many of the holiday homes were converted to permanent dwellings, partly as result of people moving away from homes damaged in the Second World War. As they were never intended as permanent homes, and many are built of wood, much of the housing does not meet building regulation requirements and elements of infrastructure are below the usual standards. The area has a particularly high density of 60-1000 dwellings per hectare and contains a number of unadopted roads. Mr Price informed the Committee that the area is at high risk of tidal flooding as existing housing is below sea level, and that Jaywick Sands suffers from a number of social and economic problems. Mr Price was, however, keen to stress that Jaywick Sands has a core of longstanding residents with a strong sense of community.

Mr Price showed the Committee the site of some of the work the Council is undertaking in the area. The Jaywick Place Plan is a regeneration project led by the Council and the local Coastal Communities Team which will develop 30 hectares of Council owned land and upgrade existing properties. The Council estimates that this has the potential to develop around 900 new homes. Essex County Council has also provided £6 million of funding to address unadopted roads in Jaywick Sands, helping to improve road surfaces and street drainage.

Meeting with local stakeholders

Following a working lunch, provided by Tendring DC, a meeting was held between Committee members, Council representatives and local stakeholders, including local businesses and representatives from the NHS, the Department for Work and Pensions and Essex Police.


Local stakeholders were asked for their assessment of the adequacy of the funding provided by the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF), a government initiative which provides grants to coastal communities for regeneration projects. Council representatives stated that they welcomed the initiative and that there are a number of CCF funded projects underway in neighbouring areas. It was also highlighted that this type of grant-based funding, that is usually concentrated on single projects, does not necessarily work for all coastal areas. It was suggested that funding mechanisms that could be delivered as a ‘package’, and would deal with a range of issues at a time, might be a more effective approach in some areas. In addition, local business representatives highlighted the significant amount of time and resource needed to complete the application process for the CCF and other funds. Council members also emphasised that businesses don’t always want to rely on external funding.

Concerns were raised about the impact of leaving the European Union on the EU financial support that had previously been made available for coastal communities, including through the European Maritime Fisheries Fund. It was suggested that place-based funding should be considered as a replacement.

There was also agreement that greater support should be offered to local coastal businesses, particularly those that rely on tourism. It was suggested that business rates could be revaluated to mitigate the impact of seasonality on businesses in seaside towns. It was noted that Colchester has implemented a Business Improvement District, a scheme where business led partnerships are created through a ballot process. A Business Improvement District is a defined area in which a levy is charged on all business rate payers in addition to the business rates bill. This levy is used to develop projects which will benefit businesses in the local area. However, there was some agreement amongst the group that this type of scheme might not work in an area like Clacton, due to its propensity for smaller, independent businesses.

Health and wellbeing

The Committee heard from representatives from NHS North East Essex, who outlined the initiatives that had been undertaken to redesign the delivery of healthcare in the local area. This included work to invest in existing buildings and infrastructure to make them fit for purpose, and to deliver a model of care that is focused on prevention and the treatment of long-term conditions. They also highlighted work undertaken in Colchester to create primary care hubs combining health and leisure facilities, along with access to pharmacists. Health representatives expressed concerns regarding the local workforce, noting that it is difficult to encourage staff at all levels, including GPs and those working in the acute sector, to come and live and work in the local area.


A local representative of the Department for Work and Pensions told the Committee that there is a high level of unemployment in the area. Specifically, it was suggested that some groups are “entrenched in worklessness” and are in a perpetual cycle of receiving different benefits that is difficult to break.


The Committee heard from a Community Policing Team Inspector with Essex Police. It was explained that the biggest challenges for the local force related to: the proportion of young adults classed as ‘vulnerable’ in the area, who tend to have a high incidence of mental health issues; the ‘county lines’ drugs trade; and the high incidence of mental health problems throughout the broader population, including issues relating to alcoholism. A number of initiatives have been introduced to help to tackle some of these issues. These have included the Essex Street Triage Scheme, which involves ensuring that mental health professionals travel with police in their cars, to ensure that individuals with mental health problems, who come to the attention of police, receive the appropriate care and treatment rather than ending up in custody. The Committee also heard that budget cuts have had an inevitable impact across all support services and on the resource capabilities of the police force.


Committee members asked the group what changes they would like to see to help to support improvements in the area. The suggestions included:

Visit to Clacton County High School

Members then attended a workshop organised by the Select Committees Engagement Team at Clacton County High School. The workshop was organised with a group of Year 12 students. The students were asked a set of four discussion questions about living in Clacton-on-Sea. Discussions were facilitated by Members of the Committee. A summary of the discussion from each question is included below.

Discussion topic 1: What do you like best/like the least about Clacton-on-Sea?

The key themes to emerge from this discussion, included:

Discussion question 2: If you could make any changes to Clacton, what would these be and why?

The key themes to emerge from this discussion, included:

Discussion question 3: Are you aware of any initiatives to improve the local area/opportunities for young people. If so, what is your opinion on these?

Discussion question 4: Where do you plan to live when you are an adult? Why?

Note on visit to Blackpool and Fleetwood, Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6 September 2018


From Wednesday 5 September to Thursday 6 September the Committee visited Blackpool and Fleetwood. The Committee met with representatives from: Blackpool Council; the Blackpool Housing Company; Merlin Entertainments; Blackpool Pleasure Beach; Associated British Ports; Wyre Council; Hillhouse; Blackpool and The Fylde College; Blackpool Opportunity Area Partnership; and the Growth and Prosperity Programme.

The following Members of the Committee attended the visit:

Lord Bassam of Brighton (Chairman), Lord Knight of Weymouth, Lord Lucas, Lord McNally, Lord Shutt of Greetland, Baroness Valentine and Baroness Wyld.

This note provides a summary of the key points raised during the course of the visit.

Wednesday 5 September

Introduction from Blackpool Council

The Committee was taken to Blackpool Council offices where, over a working lunch provided by the Council, an introductory discussion between Council members and Committee Members took place. Council representatives told the Committee that Blackpool does suffer from a range of social and economic issues, including lower than national average life expectancy, issues relating to drug and alcohol abuse and that the area therefore scores highly on the indices of deprivation. Council representatives explained that Blackpool’s social and economic problems stem, in part, from a “legacy of success.” Council representatives suggested that housing, and issues relating to the standard of housing in the town, is one of the key challenges in Blackpool.

Council representatives highlighted a number of issues relating to the tourism industry. They suggested that tourism is still a significant element of the town’s economy and that Blackpool attracts around 18 million people a year, with around 28,000 residents relying on the tourism industry for work. However, due to improvements in transport links, visitors are becoming less likely to stay overnight, opting just to visit for a day trip. The Council also cited problems with the image and reputation of the town.

Some positive changes were also highlighted to the Committee. The recent addition of a large Sainsbury’s near the train station had brought employment to the area. The council has recently moved its headquarters into the middle of the town, which it is hoped will encourage companies and businesses to do the same.


As the Council considers housing as one of the most significant challenges facing Blackpool, Council representatives organised for Members to see for themselves the extent of the problem, in the form of a visit to two HMO properties. Members were taken round properties that were deemed to be typical examples of the problematic housing stock in Blackpool. Both properties were in extremely poor condition and had been converted to house a number of tenants.

The Committee were told that, following the decline of tourism activity, the town was left with a large number of former guest houses and hotels. Over the past 40 years there had been an ongoing process of conversions from guest houses to residential properties, often to HMOs. It was suggested that there are now 8,000 privately rented homes in the inner area of Blackpool—50% of all housing stock. This has resulted in a prevalence of poor quality housing, and some areas becoming very densely populated.

This situation was being compounded by the fact that private landlords are relying on tenants in receipt of housing benefits to occupy these properties. The Committee heard that over 80% of privately rented homes are let to recipients of Housing Benefit. Rent and capital values in the area are based on Local Housing Allowance rates, with little premium for large or higher quality homes, leaving no market incentive for improvement. Council representatives also suggested that within this local population there was a high prevalence of social and health problems, including mental ill-health, and drug and alcohol dependency. The Committee was told that the Council often feels limited in the action it can take to tackle antisocial behaviour, including that it found closure orders difficult to implement successfully. Council representatives suggested that the “evident deprivation” was hindering a successful tourism economy and detracting higher spending visitors, business and young professionals from basing themselves in the centre of Blackpool.

Blackpool Housing Company

The Committee then visited a housing project completed by Blackpool Housing Company, which was wholly owned by Blackpool Council. The Council had implemented a number of initiatives to address housing issues, often through investing its own money and through its wholly owned companies. It had been acquiring, converting or refurbishing homes for market rent in inner Blackpool since 2016. The Committee was told that the Company is wholly commercial, borrowing through the Council and requiring a lower return than private investors. The Committee was taken around a property which the Company had renovated; a former hotel which had been converted into a set of two-bedroom flats. The Committee was told that in two years, the Blackpool Housing Company had delivered 200 homes.

Members were also taken round Foxhall Village, an ‘urban village’ of new homes. This was a £12 million public sector investment to build 400 new homes. 160 homes had been built via a development agreement with a private partner to date, 50% of which were affordable, with the others available at between £125,000-185,000. It was hoped that better quality housing of this type would encourage professionals to live there, improve the environment for people already living in the area and trigger further development of retail and leisure facilities in the town centre.

Blackpool Tower

The Committee then visited Blackpool Tower and met with business leaders in the visitor sector, including Merlin Entertainments who run the Tower. The Committee was told that the Tower is a successful attraction. The local authority had some stake in many of the attractions in Blackpool, and Merlin stated that it had a very good relationship with the Council. It was noted that although it had been a profitable summer, Blackpool still has many day visitors but not as many people staying overnight. The possibilities associated with a career in the hospitality and leisure industries were emphasised; business representatives noted that there were a number of recruitment challenges and that it was important to emphasise these possibilities to young people locally.

The first day of the visit concluded with a working dinner, hosted by Blackpool Council, during which the Committee heard from council, business and community representatives.

Members were told that Blackpool’s visitor economy sector was experiencing issues around employment, skills and recruitment. Recruitment had become a challenge, particularly around management level. The business leaders told the Committee that they felt there was little desire amongst young people to work in tourism. Unemployment in Blackpool was relatively low, but there were around 20,000 residents unable to work, often due to ill health. Members were told that there is a sense that low levels of aspiration are prevalent in Blackpool and that they often see a cycle of worklessness.

There was a sense that some areas now feel unsafe for residents, particularly at night, as a result of high levels of anti-social behaviour relating to drug and alcohol abuse. It was suggested that solving the housing issues around HMOs was key to addressing some of the social problems experienced in Blackpool, but there was also recognition that action by the Council was making a difference.

Thursday 6 September

Fleetwood Dock

The Committee visited Fleetwood Dock, and met with representatives from Blackpool Council, Associated British Ports, Wyre Council and Healthier Fleetwood. Fleetwood is the most recent area to have formed a parish council (known as Fleetwood Town Council), which was established following a referendum in June 2009.

Members were told that all five wards of Fleetwood fell within the top 20% most deprived wards nationally, with two of the town centre wards being in the top 10% (according to 2015 figures). Fleetwood had a high proportion of people (around 34%) living in rented accommodation and high concentrations of houses in multiple occupation. Around 55% of residents were in work, but there were high percentages of people working part time hours and the average household income was lower, compared to other areas in Wyre. Fleetwood also had the highest rates of overall crime in the area.

Wyre Council explained that some of these issues had been caused by the overall decline in Fleetwood’s traditional employment sectors—fishing and tourism. It was suggested that the decline in fish stocks and the introduction of quotas had diminished the fishing industry in the area, with fish now being driven in to Fleetwood for processing.

Members were told that Fleetwood had some of the lowest life expectancy in Wyre borough. All five wards in Fleetwood were significantly above national averages in terms of the prevalence of chronic disease, such as diabetes and coronary heart disease. There were also significant levels of drug and alcohol abuse, and poor mental health and social isolation amongst the local population. There were high numbers of children in care and a high proportion in care due to abuse or neglect.

To outline what steps were being taken to address some of these health issues, the Committee heard from a local GP, who had instigated a number of programmes aimed at improving the health of the local population. Many local residents were suffering either residual health problems from the industries they used to work in, or problems such as mental health related issues caused by the loss of the fishing industry in the area. Three local GP practices had come together to approach the area’s problems. They had helped to develop Healthier Fleetwood, which was described as a “residents-led, social movement”. The group had so far set up a community choir and a table tennis club, which had helped residents’ health, in terms of providing a source of physical activity and fostering a sense of community.

Representatives from Wyre Council and Associated British Ports outlined their aspirations for regeneration of the area. The key challenges for the area were that; Fleetwood had a limited future as a commercial port; there were areas of under-utilised land; and there were legacy issues relating to the quality of the existing infrastructure. Members were told that the Council were hoping to secure between £10–30 million of investment, ideally in the form of a public/private partnership, to unlock the opportunities offered by developing the port. The aim of this development would be to redevelop the marina, through developing its tourist, retail and residential offer, and attract some of the visitors from Blackpool and the Lake District to visit the area. Representatives stated that funding had, so far, been difficult to secure.

Hillhouse Technology Enterprise Zone

The Committee then visited Hillhouse Technology Enterprise Zone, before attending a presentation by its site Director. The site was established in 2016 and was occupied by over 40 companies including chemical and polymer production companies such as Victrex, AGCCE, Global Renewables and Addison. It was one of four Enterprise Zones in Lancashire which combine into the Lancashire Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Cluster.

Hillhouse was located on the former ICI manufacturing plant on the Wyre Coast, which was acquired by the NPL group in 2003. A detailed masterplan was being developed, which aimed to create jobs and opportunities for development of businesses, in chemical and polymer manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, engineering, and low carbon and sustainable industries. This aimed to generate an additional 3,000 jobs over the lifetime of the Enterprise Zone. Government financial incentives, in the form of Business Rates Relief and Enhanced Capital Allowances, were available at the site for businesses which invest in expanding their business. The Committee heard some work had been done with Blackpool and the Fylde College looking at job opportunities for students.

Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone

The Committee then went on a brief tour of Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, followed by a discussion with local educational leaders at the Lancashire Energy HQ, during a working lunch hosted by Blackpool and Fylde College. The Committee heard about the key challenges around education in the area. Local educational leaders explained that the picture at Foundation Stage and Key Stage 2 was good but that performance at secondary level, particularly Years 7–9, was a problem. Over half of Blackpool pupils attended secondary schools which ‘require improvement’, compared to 10% nationally. This was reflected in attainment figures, with the second lowest rate of pupil progress in England, and only 48% achieving grades 9–4 in English and Maths at GCSE. It was suggested that the quality of teaching at this level was poorer than at other levels such as Key Stage 4, and that this was linked to lack of leadership in schools and the more general issue of the difficulty in attracting staff to the area.

The Committee was told that post-16 education in Blackpool was performing better, with Blackpool being home to some of the nation’s best sixth form and further education provision. There were issues around intergenerational worklessness, but an adequate number of jobs were available locally, so a significant focus for local educational leaders was to connect more students with jobs. This was being done by trying to engage more businesses with schools, and by ensuring that continual assessments were done between the needs of the local labour market and the skills and courses offered at the further education level. The Committee also heard that the town has been chosen to be one of 12 Opportunity Areas nationally, with a focus on how the school system can improve social mobility, back by £6 million core Opportunity Area funding.

Note on visit to Margate, 12 September 2018


On Wednesday 12 September the Committee visited Margate. The Committee met with local stakeholders, service providers and business representatives in a session convened by Thanet District Council. The Committee visited the Dreamland amusement park, the Turner Contemporary gallery and also viewed a number of housing regeneration projects.

The following Members of the Committee attended the visit:

Lord Bassam of Brighton (Chairman), the Bishop of Lincoln, Lord Lucas, Lord McNally and Lord Shutt of Greetland.

This note provides a summary of the key points raised during the course of the visit.

Background presentations

The visit began with a number of background presentations from:

The Committee heard that Thanet was perceived as having a peripheral location, creating barriers to economic growth and inward investment. Coastal parts of the district, including substantial parts of Margate, were characterised by large Victorian and Edwardian properties that, since the decline of domestic tourism in the 1960s, had been subdivided into flats, bedsits and Houses in Multiple Occupation. A long-term lack of housing investment, and low rises in property values, had led to issues around quality and housing standards.

A number of social and economic challenges were also set out. In recent years the district had seen a significant increase in rough sleeping, with Thanet having the highest number of rough sleepers in Kent. Thanet also had the highest concentration of looked after children in the county, with a total of 548; of these 244 had been placed by other local authorities (being drawn from a total of 93 different councils). These children – particularly those placed from outside the district – were vulnerable and could potentially be exposed to high risk exploitation. Over 23% of people in Thanet were living with a long-term disability (compared to a Kent county average of around 17%) and, in the Cliftonville ward of Margate, transience and demographic change were proving harmful to community cohesion and resilience.

Despite these challenges recent years had also seen a number of positive developments. The visitor economy had seen significant growth since 2013, and now accounted for 10.6% of local employment. The opening of the Turner Contemporary, followed by Dreamland, along with the operation of good quality high speed trains into London had helped to draw more day visitors into Margate. The seafront area within the town had also been modified as part of a 2011 project delivering £6m improvements to sea defences. Popular perceptions of the town had begun to change as a result, and strong historic connections to London were once again coming to the fore. The creative industries and heritage sectors were also benefiting from these positive trends.


Following these initial briefings, the Committee then travelled to Dreamland. Originally opened in the late 1800s on the site of a seaside zoo and gardens, the park featured a number of historic rides and attractions including the Scenic Railway, a Grade II listed wooden rollercoaster that was almost 100 years old.

Following a period of closure in the previous decade, a number of regeneration initiatives and projects had been pursued to return the park to active operation. After a compulsory purchase order was acquired by Thanet District Council a number of funders including the Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and private backers had invested to restore the Scenic Railway and rejuvenate the site. The park was seeking to make the most of its heritage, with historic rides returned to operation, while at the same time establishing a programme of music events which would tie into the wider emerging appeal of Margate. In recent years a new 15,000 capacity music venue had been added to support this operation. The park had also been landscaped, with a number of art installations incorporated.

Turner Contemporary

The Committee then travelled to the Turner Contemporary gallery. Opened in 2011, the gallery had first been conceived in the 1990s, when the county and district councils had conducted feasibility work around the prospects for culture-led regeneration in Margate. In 2002 Kent County Council had put together a team of staff to help bring forward proposals for an art gallery, which intended to draw upon the historic link between Margate and the painter JMW Turner. A total of £17.4m funding for the gallery was then provided by the county council, the regional development agency, Arts Council England, trusts, foundations and private individuals. Land for the site was committed by Thanet District Council; the gallery is built upon the site of a historic boarding house where Turner stayed on visits to Margate.

Since opening, the gallery had played host to over 2.9 million visitors, with an average of 350,000 to 400,000 visits per year. It was estimated that these visits had contributed around £68m to the local economy, and the gallery was closely associated with a revitalised cultural and arts scene locally, and an associated growth in businesses in these sectors. Over 20% of visitors to the gallery were locals, and the gallery was actively working with local schools on engagement programmes.

Housing and Dalby Square

The Committee also visited Dalby Square, in the Cliftonville area of Margate, and heard about housing regeneration work undertaken there. The Dalby Square Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) had been running since 2013, with a funding allocation of £2.5m, of which 75% was provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with the remainder drawn from Thanet District Council.

The programme was intended to restore the built environment of the square in a manner that was sympathetic to original designs and building techniques. The core aim of the project was to prove that these late C19th houses were attractive, robust, highly adaptable and ‘future proof’. In bringing vacant properties back into use the Council and partners had sought to provide affordable, high-quality housing to locally based key workers. Some properties within the square had been converted for the specific purpose of allowing multiple generations of the same family to live together, and initial feedback from occupants of these properties was overwhelmingly positive. Efforts had been undertaken to ‘future-proof’ these properties for climate change, with steps taken to minimise flood risk, conserve water, and provide efficient heat and energy use. A partnership had been developed with the University of Kent to assess performance in this regard.

An earlier round of THI funding had been used to effectively transform a number of run-down buildings in the Old Town of Margate.

Margate Task Force

The Margate Task Force had been in operation since 2009 and was a multi-agency approach intended to provide support and interventions for local people who were at risk of social exclusion. The Task Force brought together officers from 14 different agencies and co-located them within the offices of Thanet District Council. Those agencies included the police, fire and probation services, as well as housing, community safety and the Department for0 Work and Pensions teams.

The Task Force was set up to provide early interventions, and actively worked on the streets of Margate on schemes to prevent homelessness, improve access to services and address anti-social behaviour.

Group discussion

Following site visits, and after a working lunch hosted by Thanet District Council, the Committee held discussions with a number of local businesses and service providers. Major themes raised during the discussion included:

Culture-led regeneration within Margate had helped to change the social and economic life of the town, and brought a new level of energy and engagement. It was suggested that initial commitment from the public sector had helped to trigger significant private sector investment and engagement.

As an example, Kent County Council and Thanet District Council had remained committed to the Turner project after some initial setbacks and, having seen the project through, had played an important role in then encouraging a number of creative and arts-based business to develop in the town.

In a similar manner, the restoration and re-opening of Dreamland had also required long-term commitment, and resilience in the face of challenges. These projects could only be delivered in partnership, and with an appropriate vision to guide that partnership.

The Margate Task Force was seen as a very positive development by a number of local service providers; the project had delivered major improvements to multi-agency working, and a greater level of integrated support to people in need locally. Earlier interventions could help to offset more costly interventions further down the line.

Growth in the visitor economy also brought challenges including, for example, issues around litter and environmental management. Such issues had an impact on local residents, and needed to be resourced and managed appropriately by the local authorities.

High speed train links to London had helped to change the image of Margate and encouraged the growth of the creative sector. There were, however, issues regarding the retention of young people within the district once they finished education.

As a result, many visitor economy businesses had a reliance on workers from overseas, and there were concerns as to the potential impact of Brexit upon this workforce.

Seasonality was also an issue in this regard; developing a 52 weeks per year visitor offer was important in delivering the right sort of employment opportunities to retain people locally. This was challenging; many hotels had issues with occupancy in winter months.

The attraction of multi-national businesses might help to address this. Proximity to London was an advantage in this regard, and Locate in Kent was undertaking work to promote a number of business parks in the wider area.

The Chamber of Commerce noted that the public sector sought to engage effectively with the business community but felt that smaller businesses in particular sometimes struggled to see the value in such engagement. For the business community, progress on significant public sector projects was often felt to be “too slow”, and there were associated frustrations regarding the time taken for planning approvals and, where appropriate, public funding decisions.

Canterbury Christchurch University was actively promoting courses in the arts and digital sectors, and engaging with local people, and as such were seeking to equip local people with the skills required to work in those sectors that growing locally.

East Kent College was actively training students for work in the hospitality sector; a working hotel had been developed on campus, which was trading on a commercial basis. There was still a view, though, that local youngsters were keen to “get out to London” when the opportunity arose.

Note on visit to Skegness, Wednesday 10 October 2018


On Wednesday 10 October the Committee visited Skegness. The Committee met with representatives of East Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire County Council, the Environment Agency, Skegness Town Council, The Coastal Destination Business Improvement District, The Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Skills Reach Ltd, Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture and representatives from Butlins, and attended a public forum event arranged by the Select Committee Engagement team.

The following Members of the Committee attended the visit:

Lord Bassam of Brighton (Chairman), Baroness Bakewell, the Bishop of Lincoln, Lord McNally, Lord Mawson and Lord Shutt of Greetland,

This note provides a summary of the key points raised during the course of the visit.

Introduction from East Lindsey Council

The Committee was met by representatives from East Lindsey District Council (ELDC) for an introductory session. The team meeting the Committee comprised: Cllr Craig Leyland, Leader of the Council; Cllr Steve Kirk, Portfolio Holder for the Coastal Economy; Anne Shorland, Assistant Director—Growth; James Gilbert, Growth and Promotions Service Manager; and Nicola Radford of Lincolnshire County Council and the Coastal Communities Alliance.

Council representatives outlined their key concerns to the Committee. The district had a high proportion of residents aged 65 years and over, making up 28% of the population. This was partly due to the fact that the area was considered a desirable place to retire to and partly because the area had struggled to retain younger people due to a lack of education and employment opportunities (for example, there were no Further Education colleges within East Lindsey which covers c.700sq miles). Council representatives explained that this posed challenges for the labour market and productivity in East Lindsey, where, if the current demographic trends continued, there could be a shortage of working age people to fill the jobs available in the future. The Council also highlighted that the growing retiree population had put pressure on health-related services, and that the NHS had experienced significant difficulties in recruiting staff for the Lincolnshire coast.

The Committee was told, however, that the most significant challenge for the area was maintaining and improving its coastal defences.

Coastal defences and flood risk

The Committee was told that around 30% of the District was identified as being at significant risk of flooding. Along the coast of East Lindsey flood defences were managed through a mixture of hard defences, flood banks and a beach nourishment project. Beach nourishment started in the early 1990s and serviced 20km of open coastline, costing around £6-7 million a year.

Members were told that this work had had a positive effect on the appearance of the beach and had helped to keep residents safe. Council representatives raised concerns around the levels of funding available for future flood defence schemes, suggesting that this was creating uncertainty for future commercial investment; it was suggested that existing funding models did not always reflect realities on the ground. The Council highlighted that having a large area of the district vulnerable to flooding had affected their ability to bring forward new build housing in East Lindsey. Council representatives also informed the Committee that if the beach nourishment project stopped, within 8 years there would be a high risk that that the beach would go back to its clay underlayer. They suggested that the area required additional coastal defences funding, to top up levels available from the statutory Environment Agency funds.

North Sea Observatory, Chapel St Leonards

The Committee visited the North Sea Observatory, a purpose-built marine observatory designed to offer all year-round facilities to visitors. This was part of a broader effort to promote the ‘natural’ coast, to expand the local visitor offer throughout the year and to go beyond relying only the appeal of the ‘bucket and spade’ holiday. The project had been funded by Lincolnshire County Council, the Coastal Communities Fund and Arts Council England. Members were told that the Observatory was attracting a good number of visitors, including 5,000 visitors to an initial art exhibition held in the venue.

Councillors told the Committee that their own budgets for regeneration had been cut by around 80% and that this has made them more ‘partnership focused’ as an authority, having to work harder to find funding streams. Peripherality, access and risk of flooding were all identified as significant challenges to investment. The Committee was told that there were challenges around working with partners at national level—that national objectives, frameworks and guidelines did not always align with local need. The need for recognition of the length of time development projects take, and that those involved need to be able to plan over the long-term and not necessarily make quick returns on investments, were cited as particular issues. This posed particular problems around maintaining public support for a project, and for the bidding processes for funding where there was a sense that only projects that can deliver fast returns are successful. It was pointed out that the North Sea Observatory itself took ten years to complete.

Members asked the Council what they saw as the role of the local authority in regeneration projects. The response was that they saw themselves as ‘enablers’, facilitating between the private sector for investment, the Environment Agency, and other partners. It was suggested that a key role for local authorities was have a vision of what regeneration looks like and to invest their own money into regeneration projects, to encourage others to do the same.

Caravan occupancy

Members were told there was a significant level of caravan occupancy in the area. In East Lindsey there were around 25,000 static caravans located along the coastal strip. While this brought an influx of visitors every year, a number of people resided in caravans as their main homes. This meant they were unrecognised in terms of service planning and delivery, and that they were not paying Council Tax. This ‘hidden population’ was estimated to be around 6-7,000 people. The Council were taking steps to try to identify those who were using the caravans as their main home and were therefore liable to pay Council Tax. There was also a concern around the flooding risk for those in caravans and over the winter period (October-March), caravan occupancy was not permitted.

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency highlighted that, due to the flat topography of the area, flooding that breaches sea defences could travel up to 15 kilometres inland. Members were informed that the District was in the middle of a 6-year settlement of coastal funding. Concerns were again expressed regarding the impact on the area if this funding was in any way reduced; it was noted that agricultural areas that have been flooded usually take around 6-7 years to recover. It was suggested that defending coastal areas from flooding had not yet been sufficiently recognised as a national priority.

Members were told that often, new housing was not allowed to be built on at-risk land in the area. There was a desire expressed by several individuals for the ability to link flooding funding with projects that would support growth, and to make investment in coastal defences deliver more for the district in terms of its tourist offer.


The Committee then held a working lunch discussion, hosted at Butlins, where Members were met by Chris Baron, Resort Director. Butlins received around half a million visitors a year and was the biggest private sector employer in the area. The Committee heard that Butlins played a key role in supporting local employment and skills training, and an important ambition for the company was to offer more people work across 52 weeks of the year.

The difficulty of attracting young people to the hospitality industry was discussed and the need to market the industry as a more attractive career prospect was highlighted. Butlins stated that there was a skills shortage in the area and the pool of available labour was getting smaller. There was also a difficulty associated with recruiting senior managers to work in hospitality in the area, which those present agreed was also an issue in other areas such as education and health.

Some support was expressed for the recent changes to the apprenticeships scheme, but some of the challenges of implementing the scheme in East Lindsey, and in tourism more broadly, were particularly emphasised. A concern was raised regarding the loss of locally led training for hospitality and tourism, particularly that which had been offered by Butlins in-house, due to the requirement in the apprenticeship scheme for using providers that are on the register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP). Apprenticeships are meant to run over 12 months which, Members were told, posed difficulties for coastal businesses (a high proportion of which were SMEs) that tended to only be able to offer seasonal work. It was also pointed out that there was a general lack of skills training opportunities, or funding for that training, for people over the age of 25. The potential for employing older people in the hospitality sector was also discussed, given the area’s demographic.

Concerns were raised about the impact on the workforce of leaving the European Union. It was suggested that the impact had already been felt, particularly around the number of workers from Eastern Europe, who were estimated to make up around 20% of the Butlins workforce.

The issue of tourism and VAT was also discussed. It was suggested that cutting the rate of VAT for tourism could generate $4.2 billion over ten years for the Treasury, and that these funds could go towards investment in skills. Butlins stated that it would like to see the rate of VAT cut for accommodation and visitor attractions.


Jason Oxby, Homelessness, Housing and Wellbeing Service Manager at ELDC, outlined some of the issues relating to housing in the district. He stated that around 15,000 people from outside areas were wanting to be housed across Lincolnshire. Members were told that Lincolnshire had around 400 people who were sleeping rough during 2017/18 and that the County Council was seeking to develop a Social Impact Bond (a commissioning tool that can enable organisations to deliver outcomes contracts and make funding for services conditional on achieving results) to help to tackle homelessness in the county. It was also noted that Skegness, unlike other areas visited by the Committee, does not consider the quality of its housing an issue. Houses in Multiple Occupation were present locally (HMOs) but these were generally considered to be of good quality and a useful way of housing single people.

Public forum

The Committee then attended a public forum event organised by the Select Committee Engagement Team. The Engagement Team had invited local interested parties to attend an event to share their experiences of living in a seaside town with Members of the Committee.

Those in attendance included local business owners, residents, members of the Council and school children. The event took the form of a roundtable discussion, structured by four overarching questions. The attendees were divided into groups, with at least one Member in each group. The groups were then asked to discuss the following questions:

The key points raised by the discussion, included:

Most people indicated that living by the sea was the aspect they most enjoyed about living in the town. The sense of community was also highlighted.

Residents expressed some frustrations regarding the impact the tourism industry had on the town, citing the volumes of people that visited in the summer and the difficulties that caused in terms of parking and accessing businesses at the centre of town. Residents also expressed a sense that decision making about the town sometimes appeared to be rooted in what benefits tourists first, with consideration of residents’ needs secondary to this.

Attendees highlighted that a number of health issues were prevalent within local communities, including mental health problems and drug and alcohol dependencies. Some attendees stated that they were concerned that anti-social behaviour in the town, relating to drug and alcohol abuse, was having a detrimental effect on the area’s reputation. It was suggested that the area’s reputation had worsened in recent years.

Transport connectivity was cited as a significant challenge for the area. Attendees stated that there were insufficient rail networks, no Sunday public transport, that the roads were unsafe to cycle on and often very busy with traffic. Local business representatives suggested that limited transport links impacted negatively on their businesses and deterred outside investment.

The remote nature of the area was also highlighted as causing issues for local services such as health services and the police. It was suggested that available funding for services was insufficient to cover the scale of the county, particularly when transport issues made accessing more remote areas difficult.

There was some discussion around the new hotel being built in the area, with some residents and business owners stating that it would help local employment and bring new visitors to the area. Some attendees suggested that more should be done to encourage large employers into the area. Other attendees were concerned about the impact it would have on the established hotel businesses in the area.

Attendees stated that coastal flooding was a significant concern and suggested that the Council should prioritise funding in this area.

There was support for the summer festival that is put on in the town each year and agreement that this type of event helped to foster a sense of community.

Some attendees stated that they were concerned with the provision of utilities in the area, citing problem with water pressure, waste provision and power, which could potentially deter private companies from undertaking development projects.

Note on visit to Cornwall, Tuesday 23 October to Wednesday 24th October 2018


On Tuesday 23 October and Wednesday 24th October the Committee visited Cornwall. The Committee met with representatives of Cornwall Council, the Town Council, Cornwall Police, Jubilee Pool, Penzance Town Council, the Tate St Ives and St Ives Town Council.

The following Members of the Committee attended the visit:

Lord Bassam of Brighton (Chairman), Lord Grade of Yarmouth, Lord McNally, Lord Shutt of Greetland and Baroness Valentine.

This note provides a summary of the key points raised during the course of the visit.

Tuesday 23 October

Nansledan development

Members were met by representatives from Cornwall Council and began the visit in Newquay. Members visited the Nansledan development, a 540-acre extension to the coastal town of Newquay. The development was being led by the Duchy of Cornwall, which owns most of the land. Members heard that the aim of the development is to establish a community of more than 4,000 homes, with a high Street, church, school and public spaces. Members were told that around 30% of the new homes under construction at Nansledan are affordable housing for rental or shared ownership by people on the local housing list, and that affordable houses were deliberately interspersed with private housing, with the aim that all housing is built to the same high standard. Members heard that the use of local resources for construction was preferred so as to assist the local economy and reflect local identity.

Introductory discussion

Members met with representatives of Cornwall Council and the Duchy of Cornwall for an introductory discussion. The key issues that were raised, included:

The night time economy. Members were told that Newquay had, for some time, suffered with the negative impact of an expanding night time economy in the area. This had given rise to issues around anti-social behaviour and, it was suggested, impacted adversely on the reputation of the town, which had become associated as a destination for young people celebrating the end of school, and as a resort for stag and hen dos. Members were told that Newquay had been successful in tackling these issues, thanks to partnership work involving the Council, local services and local businesses, and that is had successfully shifted the focus of the local tourism economy towards a more family-friendly offer.

Improving the tourism offer. Members were told that efforts have been made to extend the tourist offer all-year round. This has included supporting developments such as the Tate in St Ives and businesses set up around surfing. Representatives suggested that the area is adversely impacted by the fixed school holidays as this caused a concentration of visitors at certain times of the year.

Digital economy. Members were told that it was felt that there was great potential for the digital economy in Cornwall. Members heard that digital connectivity was of a good standard in Cornwall and that the area had received EU funds for improving digital infrastructure, including rolling out super-fast broadband.

Employment. Members were told that there are high levels of employment in the area but low wages levels, due to the seasonality of many of the businesses operating in Cornwall.

Education. Council representatives told the Committee that the area had benefitted proximity to the University of Falmouth which had helped to stem the outward migration of young people from the area.

Housing. Members were told that, as with many coastal areas, there were challenges in Cornwall around Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Members were told that restrictions have been put on holiday letting due to problems associated with high numbers of tourists

Discussion on operation service delivery challenges in coastal communities

Members then met with individuals who work in local public services, including fire, waste, parking, environment and health representatives. Members heard that the spike in population, caused by the seasonal influx of tourism, puts additional pressure on all public services. Members heard that traffic congestion and parking violations were a particular issue for the town of Newquay during the busy summer months. Representatives from the Newquay fire services also expressed some concerns that, as the trend for holidaymakers had moved towards self-catered holiday accommodation, it was harder to ensure that everyone adheres to safety standards. The rise in self-catering also had an impact for the waste services who highlighted that often visitors in this type of accommodation fail to dispose of waste correctly, and that the area had low recycling rates.

Newquay Safe

Members were told about a key initiative that was put in place to tackle the negative impact of the town’s night time economy, Newquay Safe. The Committee heard that it Newquay Safe was set up in 2009 and involved a partnership of over 20 agencies to tackle issues around the area’s night time economy, following the alcohol-related deaths of two young people. The partnership aimed to help tackle crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour and included work between Cornwall Council, Newquay Town Council, local health services, Coastguard, Devon and Cornwall Police, Visit Cornwall and Newquay Regeneration Forum.

Measures introduced by the partnership included a voluntary Bar Crawl code of Conduct, Challenge 25, which is operated in all pubs and clubs, police powers to confiscate alcohol from anyone they believe may consume it in a public place (Designated Public Place Order), and a two-week scheme to provide alcohol free, under 18 entertainment for students who visit the town after taking their exams.

Wednesday 24 October

Discussion with local police service

The Committee held a breakfast discussion with a representative from Cornwall Police. Members were told that the presence of networks which are exploiting children and vulnerable adults to transport drugs, known as ‘county lines’, were a significant problem in the area. Although the issue is not unique to coastal towns, Members were told that this activity is often focused in areas with poor housing stock, and a high level of population transience, including populations with drug and alcohol problems.

Members were also informed of the changing nature of police work. The representative from Cornwall Police suggested that a significant proportion of police work is now focused around dealing with people with mental health issues, often those people who have reached crisis point, rather than on investigating crime. It was suggested that seaside towns often have a higher proportion of vulnerable people, those that have ‘fallen through the gaps’, and that this is putting greater strain on public services, such as the police force. Members were told that there needs to be greater recognition that this is a common challenge for coastal areas. Members were told that tackling poor housing and providing more support services for vulnerable people would be key to tackling some of these issues. Members were also told that low police numbers and a difficulty in recruiting detectives was compounding the pressures felt by police services, both in Cornwall and in other areas of the country.

Jubilee Pool

The Committee then travelled to Penzance, first visiting the Jubilee Pool. Jubilee Pool is an Art Deco lido, operated by Jubilee Pool Penzance Limited, a Community Benefit Society. The saltwater lido was originally opened in 1935. In February 2014, the pool suffered serious structural damage from storms. In August 2014, The Coastal Communities Fund granted Cornwall Council £1.95m as a part of a repair and restoration project totalling £2.94m. Match funding was provided by Cornwall Council, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership’s Regional Growth Fund, Tempus Leisure, Penzance Town Council and The Friends of Jubilee Pool.286 Members were told that it was successfully attracting visitors to the area. Members were informed that, the Friends of Jubilee Pool would continue to develop the offer of the pool, including operating the pool café and undertaking a project to heat part of the pool with natural geothermal energy.

St John’s Hall

The Committee then travelled to St John’s Hall where it met with representatives from Cornwall Council and Penzance Town Council, who made a series of presentations on place-shaping in Penzance and strategic challenges in coastal communities.

Members were told that over the past 3-5 years that there had been much more collaboration between different levels of local government and local organisations through the Penzance Place Shaping Board. The Board provides an interface between Penzance Regeneration Partnership (which itself includes Penzance Town and local Cornwall councillors, Penzance Business Improvement District, Penzance Chamber of Commerce, Penzance & District Tourism Association, Penwith College, Penzance Neighbourhood Plan, Penzance Harbour Steering Group) and Cornwall Council represented by members of Cornwall Council’s senior leadership team from the Transport, Property and Economic Development functions as well as representatives from the Environment Agency. This, the Committee was told, had provided a productive forum for setting a clear strategic vision for the area. Members were told that recent successes had included the development of an ambitious Neighbourhood Plan and the establishment of a Business Improvement District.

Members were told about some of the challenges that the area was facing. Members were told that Penzance had been a prosperous area due to the harbour and the local mining industry, but that the area had declined economically over time. Members heard that average local wages were low but that local house prices were high, partly due to the prevalence of second home ownership. Council representatives highlighted that high business rates were also impacting adversely on local businesses and suggested there was a case for cutting VAT on tourism related activities as a way of supporting businesses within the local tourism economy.

Members also heard that the area has suffered from decades of a lack of investment and has struggled to secure private sector funding. It was suggested that there needs to be greater recognition of this challenge by the Government, and that it needs to do more to incentivise the private sector to invest in poorer coastal areas. Members were told that area had receive funding from the Coastal Communities Fund and had also benefited from EU funds. Concerns were expressed that, post-Brexit, the Shared Prosperity Fund needs to meet the needs of poorer coastal areas. Another concern was the extent to which local areas would get control over how the money is spent.

Council representatives discussed with the Committee their areas of focus for regeneration and recovery, which included protecting and developing the shoreline, and regenerating the town centre. Concerns were raised that, as the funding formula for coastal defences is calculated primarily by how many homes would be protected, it does not account for the range of benefits that might be provided by investing in coastal protection. It was suggested that the funding formula should take into greater account schemes which might also benefit the public realm or the visitor economy.

The Tate, St Ives

The Committee completed its visit by visiting St Ives. Members visited the Tate St Ives. The Tate St Ives opened in 1993 and included exhibits from British artists with links to the St Ives area. It also runs a number of learning programmes and events for local school children and others in the community. Members were told that the Tate St Ives had received funding for an expansion in 2015, doubling the size of the gallery. It has been successfully attracting large visitor numbers, around 240,000 a year.

Second homes

In St Ives, the Committee also met with representatives from Cornwall Council and St Ives Town Council. The Committee heard about the negative impact that second homes can have on coastal areas, including that it can raise local house prices and that second home properties are often left empty for most of the year, meaning the local economy does not benefit as it would from more permanent residents. Members were told that in 2016, St Ives held a referendum on its neighbourhood plan which resulted in the banning of the sale of future new-build houses and flats to second homers. This has since been replicated in St Minver (including Rock) and the Rame peninsula.

Note on visit to Scarborough, Wednesday 12 and 13 December 2018


On Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 December the Committee visited Scarborough. The Committee met with representatives of Scarborough Borough Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, North Yorkshire County Council and York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The following Members of the Committee attended the visit:

Lord Bassam of Brighton (Chairman), the Bishop of Lincoln and Lord Shutt of Greetland.

This note provides a summary of the key points raised during the course of the visit.

Introduction from Scarborough Borough Council

The introductory session was led by Jim Dillon, Chief Executive of Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) at the Scarborough University Technical College. Others present at the introductory session were: Cllr Derek Bastiman, Leader of SBC; Cllr Helen Mallory, Deputy Leader of SBC; Richard Bradley, Commercial Director at SBC; Alex Richards, Acting Regeneration Services Manager at SBC; John Burroughs, Housing Strategy and Development Officer at SBC; Liz Philpot, Growth Programmes and Policy Manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council; Judith Kirk, Assistant Director Education and Skills at North Yorkshire County Council; Richard Benstead, Programme Director, North Yorkshire Coast Opportunities Area at North Yorkshire County Council; and Mike Proctor, Chief Executive of York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Members were first shown a short film outlining a number of projects undertaken in the area. These included the development of luxury holiday flats on the North Bay; the Alpamare water park; the open-air theatre and the education campus, which included the University Technical College. Council representatives informed the Committee that there had been significant private investment in the area and in the public realm, citing the success of the luxury holiday flats, built on the site of the corner café, which had been developed at the time of the recession but had continued to be profitable. Members were informed that the area had two enterprise zones and the borough was also the site of Woodsmith Mine, a deep potash and polyhalite mine located near in Whitby. Council representatives also highlighted that while there had been significant redevelopment of some sites, other heritage sites like the Peasholm Park, had been preserved.

Skills and employment

A major development in the area had been the University Technical College (UTC), which opened in 2016. The UTC offers students aged 14-18 technically oriented courses of study (around 60% academic / 40% practical), combining National Curriculum requirements such as GCSEs and A Levels with technical and vocational elements. It was sponsored by a number of partners including McCain, Unison, Flamingo Land, GCHQ and the University of Hull. On the neighbouring site the Coventry University Scarborough Campus which also opened in 2016 offers a range of courses, with intake every six weeks and the opportunity for condensed learning, which Council representatives suggested offered flexibility, particularly to those employed in seasonal work and adult learners with family and work commitments. Members received a presentation by two students who had taken part in the F1 in Schools Success programme. This international competition for school children saw the students having to design and manufacture a miniature car out of the official F1 model block using computer aided design software and tools.

Members asked whether the development of the UTC and Coventry University Scarborough Campus had helped to stem the migration of young people from the area. Council representatives stated that they believed the UTC had given young people in the area more of a reason to stay and that student numbers had increased from 20 in its first year, to 240 in 2018. The role of the UTC in meeting local skills needs was also highlighted, for example, in relation to the potash mine, which was expected to generate up to 4,000 jobs.

Members were also told about the development of a ‘skills village’ in the area. This was aimed at taking children out of school to give them experience of vocational work, with the opportunity to take part in apprenticeships later on. This project received support from the Coastal Communities Fund and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Members were also told that there are high insolvency rates for under 25-year-olds, which they attributed to high start-up rates for businesses. There was also some discussion of the high use of agency staff in the area, which Council representatives suggested was driving down wages and working conditions.


The Committee heard that the borough received around 7.8 million visitors a year and that Scarborough was the most visited area outside of London. It was suggested that government sometimes did not recognise the value that tourism can bring to the economy, and that it was not always regarded as an ‘industry’ by decision makers. Transport connectivity was highlighted as a barrier for the visitor economy, with particular reference to the A64 route.

Coastal defences

The Committee also heard about the impact of coastal erosion on the area. The Council outlined the key issues including that the area has a legacy of ageing coastal defences (around 19.8 km of defences in the borough). Coastal landslide risk combined with coastal erosion were leading to property and infrastructure loss and the Council had estimated that, in undefended areas over the next 100 years, around 155 households could be lost. The Council informed the Members that since 2011, £34 million has been invested in coastal defences in the borough and that £2 million had been directly spent on coastal protection assets, safeguarding around 1,200 households from coastal erosion.

There were some concerns expressed over the amount of funding available for coastal defences, which Council representatives suggested had been reduced by around 50%. Concerns were also raised over the role played by utility companies in the funding of coastal defences. It was highlighted that utility companies do not currently have an obligation to fund coastal defences, even if coastal erosion or flooding could impact on their services. It was suggested that that there should be a requirement on these companies to contribute to costs.


Members were also told that the Council has rolled out selective licensing to try to tackle some of the problems related to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the area. This approach was aimed at raising housing values and ensuring that businesses were not deterred from investing in the area due to poorly managed HMOs. Council representatives told the Committee that there was a shortage of affordable housing in the area and that they had seen a rise in homelessness locally.

Tour of the local area

Members then visited some local areas of interest, accompanied by Council representatives.

Scarborough Open Air Theatre

The Theatre, which had been opened in the 1930’s, had declined during the 1970s, closing in 1986. It had then undergone a major refurbishment and reopened in May 2010. It had hosted 12 major music events and in September 2017, music promoters Live Nation signed a ten-year deal with the Council to bring concerts to the venue for the next ten years.

Water park

Members then visited the Alpamare Scarborough water park, which was part of the redevelopment of the North Bay area and had received funding from the Borough Council. The park had a principal focus upon the visitor economy, but also offered promotions and discounted rates aimed at serving the local community. Council representatives told the Committee there were also plans to develop a ‘glamping’ site nearby and that the Council had recently purchased the Travelodge nearby, all with the aim of improving the visitor offer of the area.

Summary discussion

Members then visited Whitby for the conclusion of the visit and a summary discussion, over lunch hosted by the Borough Council, of the issues raised during the day. Those present were asked what key points they would like to raise in relation to the Committee’s inquiry. The responses included:

Transport. Council representatives told Committee Members that the transport infrastructure is not adequate and effectively cuts them off from West Yorkshire. It was suggested that the Department for Transport does not recognise the potential benefits of improving transport infrastructure to facilitate ‘leisure’ travel. It was also suggested that businesses are impacted by poor transport links to the area (although there has been some success in retaining McCain in the area).

Heath services. Members were told that Scarborough Hospital falls into a particular category, that of “unavoidably small hospitals”, which are often situated in remote areas of the country (usually, but not always, coastal locations). They can have potentially higher costs as they serve a relatively small population, and other hospitals are too far away to safely serve the needs of the local population. Hospitals of this size sometimes have issues with recruiting sufficient staff. There are also safety standards, set by the Royal Colleges, that demand a certain number of patients are treated in one particular place (for example, in maternity units), that smaller hospitals struggle to meet.

Education. The importance of early years education was stressed, and Council representatives called for more responsibility for improving education to be devolved locally.

Ambition and employment. The need to foster ambition in the local population was raised, with the acknowledgment that the area needs to be able to offer a decent lifestyle, as well as employment. It was noted that the area has low unemployment, at around 1.25%

Adult education. Council representatives highlighted that although there were job opportunities presented by industries such as the potash mine and offshore wind, there were difficulties finding employees in the local area with the right technical skills and qualifications. It was suggested that greater focus on adult education would help to support more local people to meet the requirements of these jobs, and provide more of a reason for young people to stay to work and live in the area.

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