MD of Butlins warns of seaside degeneration and youth unemployment

“In her first speech as prime minister, Theresa May set out her goals to tackle the social injustices faced by many, including the working-class young. One to add to the list is that of young people who come from our coastal and seaside towns.

The UK’s coastline is 7,700 miles (12,400km) long and contributes hugely to our cultural wellbeing. Some 250 million visits are made to the coast each year but it is an inconvenient fact that if you come from our seaside towns you are more likely to be poorly educated, unemployed, unemployable, lacking in ambition, claiming benefits and living in multiple-occupation housing.

This is largely down to the long-term decline of fishing, agriculture and tourism — the industries that traditionally supported coastal communities. Tourism could arrest that decline if government helped to create the environment to allow businesses to do so. Although tourism is the UK’s sixth largest export earner and employs nearly 10 per cent of the working population, it could do better.

A recent survey found that more than half of the British public have not visited the seaside in the past three years, 30 per cent have not visited as an adult and 65 per cent believe the seaside is run down and in need of investment.

This is why the British Hospitality Association has come up with a plan to revive these communities. The first step is to appoint a seaside tsar, someone to co-ordinate government and local authority spending. This person, who needs to be strong enough to make a real difference, would oversee the creation of coastal enterprise zones to bring in investment and encourage businesses to move to the coast.

The second initiative is to create a tax environment that encourages people to visit and coastal businesses to invest in themselves. The obvious incentive for visitors is a reduction in tourism VAT — on accommodation and visitor attractions. UK visitors are taxed harder than almost everyone else in Europe for simply going on holiday. Our tourism VAT rate is a punitive 20 per cent while the average in Europe is half that.

If Mrs May is serious about rebalancing the economy, tourism is one industry that can deliver export growth by creating a seaside that is worth going back to.”

Dermot King is managing director of Butlins and chairman of the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign

EDDC – Exmouth: searching questions about relationship with former ” preferred partner”

“Dear East Devon District Council,

I make this request under the FOI Act and Environmental regs

We have learned from local press reports that EDDC has ended the status of Moirai Capital Investments as preferred partner in relation to the regeneration of Exmouth.

Has council made any payments to Moirai, or any agent on their behalf (JLL?) and if so, what are the details.

What meetings have been held with Moirai or any of it’s agents and what officer time or other costs have been incurred. Full details please , to include dates, place of meeting and officers/members meeting.

Is it correct that EDDC has been taking councillors (and any others e.g regeneration panel members) to view Moirai’s Swindon operation? Full details please.

When did EDDC decide to end it’s preferred partner relationship with Moirai and why? please supply full reasons and dates with copies of reports and decisions .

Please explain what has changed, other than the passage of time, that necessitates a rethink on regeneration proposals.

Please ensure that the fullest details are given in response together with copies of all relevant paperwork, emails etc.”

How to fail better in public services – be more honest and avoid superficial solutions

“The government must stop reaching for superficial solutions when explaining the failure of public services, according to an Institute for Government report released today.

In Failing Well, the Institute of Government analyses why organisations fail and makes recommendations on how to minimise the impact if and when things go wrong.

The report points to a raft of high-profile public service failures, such as Rotherham child services and Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

Within these and other examples, the institute found that cultures of denial, weak accountability and dysfunctional mechanisms for identifying failure “inhibited an effective response”.

It concluded that warning signs are often missed and that politicians routinely use “stock responses” to explain failures instead of seeking the root cause of the problem. …

… it was shown that the turnaround in performance [in case studies] was thanks to more honest reporting cultures, strong peer involvement, reinvigorated leadership and a shared ownership of failure. The tendency to restructure or lay blame, which is a standard organisational response to failure, was avoided. …

… “Failure is an ever-present threat in our public services – and the risks are increasing. Yet there are good and bad ways of responding to failure. Politicians too often use a superficial set of tools – restructuring a service or parceling out blame.

“But this won’t solve the problem: leadership, collaboration and transparency will,” she added. “Those overseeing turnarounds also need to hold their nerve and accept that performance can dip further as recovery begins.”

Wainhomes Axminster: EDDC considers legal action to recover

Serious problems in Axminster, according to this week’s View from Axminster:


where the newspaper reveals that EDDC is considering taking legal action to recover more than £650,000 from Wainhomes, developer at Millbrook Meadows off Chard Road. The money is due under a Section 106 agreement to cover infrastructure, new school places, sports facilities, play areas, sewerage network and public art. In addition there are safety concerns about fencing and subsidence.

In an editorial on page 3 of the newspaper it is also noted that there are serious concerns about the quality of new housing in Axminster and an anecdotal story of a house under construction having been pulled down overnight.

Wainhomes have been at the centre of a number of controversies, not least in nearby Feniton, where required flood defences were not constructed and planning conditions not met when a new housing estate was built in the village and where the company attempted to build many more houses than those originally sought.

Yet another headache for the new Axminster Regeneration Board, headed by Councillor Moulding.