I spoke in parliament last week about the economy and seaside towns. The debate followed a report by Sheffield Hallam University into the effect of the economic recession on seaside towns.
Where regeneration happens, confidence and jobs usually follow. Tourism related jobs have increased in Tynemouth and areas where regeneration has been delivered.
I praised local businesses prepared to invest in what they see as their local town. But regeneration often also needs local government and sometimes central government resources such as Tynemouth Station which required £2m of Sea Change money.
If the economy starts growing again, some of that money should find its way into public spending otherwise the public realm – the police stations, the libraries, the tourism offices, the parks and open spaces will suffer the same decline as happened in the 1980s.
I also made the point that regenerating seaside towns is for the residents as much as for visitors. That’s why the new schools we built were important. So too was the Playhouse which serves residents as well as visitors.
But family incomes are being squeezed, and as long as we have low wages and underemployment then it will be tough to grow businesses in seaside, or other, towns.
Negativity about a coast long remembered from a day trip in the mid ‘70’s is unfair to those who have worked hard and continue to do so.