Devon MP backs calls to support coastal communities

No this Conservative MP is not Simon Jupp (he’s focussed on the hospitality sector). – Owl

Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com 

Calls have been made for the reintroduction of the Coastal Communities Fund. During a debate on Coastal Communities on September 8, Selaine Saxby MP called for the reinstatement of the dedicated Coastal Communities Fund and in the Minister’s response, referring to the ‘alphabet soup’ of funding streams and the fact the Coastal Communities Fund has now closed she stated:

Minister, Lia Nici, said: “With regard to other funding streams and the success of the Coastal Communities Fund, it is right that we now focus our regeneration efforts around coastal communities through our larger and more expansive programmes as part of a more joined-up approach to levelling up. As we have heard from many Members today, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is not the only Department touched by coastal communities.

“There are also the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport—the list goes on—but I will go back into the Department and make sure that we are talking across all Departments to ensure that we get those benefits that Members are looking for.”

The Coastal Community Fund has helped support both the Ilfracombe Water Sports Centre and the North Devon Leisure Centre.

The debate gave MPs opportunities to emphsise the importance of coastal communities and how they need bespoke support.

Sally Ann Hart MP for Hastings and Rye and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Coastal Communities said: “Coastal communities are integral to the UK’s environmental, social and economic wellbeing. The covid-19 pandemic profoundly impacted on our coastal communities, exposing and exacerbating long-standing social and economic structural challenges, which need an urgent and co-ordinated response for there to be a sustainable recovery.

“Coastal communities are also the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with erosion and flooding posing an ever greater threat to both the built and natural environments.”

Selaine Saxby MP said: “Full-time workers in North Devon currently earn £13.29 per hour, while the south-west average is £14.67 and the Great Britain average is £15.65. Our property prices have shot up by over 22%. We are the second fastest growing property price area in the country, but our house building rate has not grown that much and the vast majority of what is being sold is going in the form of second homes or holiday lets.

“If this continues, we will no longer have coastal communities; we will have winter ghost towns. We need urgent intervention through the Levelling-Up White Paper to tackle the issue.

“Our beautiful area has seen a surge in short-term holiday lets and the second homes market. I very much hope that recommendations of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport consultation on holiday lets registration goes ahead. I also hope that there are opportunities in the Minister’s Department to impose planning restrictions to reduce the number of holiday lets that come to market. When new properties are built, a change of use should be required if they are to become a short-term holiday let. Communities such as mine need homes for people to live and work in. We love our tourists and we would never want to stop them coming, but our housing market has got completely out of balance.”

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