Calls for 'seaside tsar' to improve fortunes of coastal communities

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A "seaside tsar" should be appointed to help Britain’s forgotten coastal towns fight back from decades of decay, according to new research.

The data, commissioned by the British Hospitality Association (BHA), paints a grim picture of the problems facing many coastal communities such as Sunderland and towns on the Durham coast.

Extensive work has been carried out on Sunderland and Seaham's seafronts in recent years, but research shows coastal communities are lagging behind other areas.

The report BHA says that people living in seaside towns are more likely to be poorly educated, unemployed, unemployable, lacking in ambition, claiming benefits and living in multiple occupation housing.

A separate survey, conducted by the owners of Butlin’s and the BHA, found that more than half of the British public have not visited the British seaside in the past three years, and 65% believe that the British seaside is run-down and in need of investment.

Nine out of the 10 most deprived neighbourhoods in England are seaside communities, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said: “We look forward to the appointment of a seaside tsar.

“Our members, who invest in and operate hospitality and tourism businesses recognise the problems facing many coastal communities but we also know there are fantastic opportunities to boost these places and help revive the Great British Seaside holiday.”

The BHA report says that the collapse of shipbuilding and fishing, the decline of the traditional annual holiday by the seaside, growing drug use, and cutbacks in budgets affecting maintenance of public places, street cleaning, tourism promotion and the provision of education have all contributed to the situation.

Investing in our amazing natural asset

Councillor Mel Speding, cabinet secretary at Sunderland City Council, said: "We very much recognise the importance of seaside regeneration to the success of our city which is why we have invested so heavily in our seafront over recent years.

"Sunderland’s stunning coastline has long attracted visitors in their thousands who come to enjoy fantastic events like the international airshow and the Illuminations and to relax on our beautiful blue flag beaches.

"Since 2010 with the support of grants from the Coastal Communities Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund we have spent more than £10 million on making Roker and Seaburn more attractive for residents and visitors.

"This has included the restoration of the Grade II listed Roker Pier and lighthouse with plans to open the lighthouse and pier tunnel to tours this Autumn, the return of the popular Sunderland Illuminations which last year attracted 300,000 people, the award winning revamp of Seaburn Promenade and Marine Walk and the transformation of the old Seaburn Shelter into a popular seafront restaurant.

"We’re also investing in the restoration of the White Lighthouse at Seaburn, new toilet facilities at Roker and Seaburn and work to maximise the potential of Cliffe Park and Recreation Park to host events and further regeneration is planned to make sure we are making the most of our beautiful seaside."