Towns like Hastings and St Leonards ‘suffer from neglect’, says House of Lords report

Hastings File: Fishing boats pictured around the Fishermen's Beach area. SUS-190124-130420001
Hastings File: Fishing boats pictured around the Fishermen's Beach area. SUS-190124-130420001

Many seaside towns and coastal communities, such as Hastings and St Leonards, are in desperate need of improvements to transport, housing and broadband, says a new report.

Better access to further and higher education for young people is also needed, the report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns said.

Lord Bassam of Brighton, chairman of the committee, said: “For too long, seaside towns have been neglected. They suffer from issues rooted in the decline of their core industries, most notably domestic tourism, but also in fishing, shipbuilding and port activity. The potential impact of Brexit on these towns also remains an open question.

“What is needed is a package of strategic initiatives and interventions where national and local government work together to address issues such as transport, housing, post-school education and high-speed broadband.”

Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “The report isn’t really news - it’s been known for a long time that many seaside towns have suffered from high levels of deprivation. And for many years, I’ve been making this point about Hastings.

“Significant economic and physical regeneration has taken place in recent years, with the cultural and creative sectors playing an important part, and the seafront in particular transformed and revitalised.

“But Hastings still suffers from poor transport links, poor educational attainment, poor health outcomes, high unemployment, and a lack of the kinds of skills that employers need. In some parts of town, economic and social deprivation remain a damaging problem, with intergenerational worklessness and poor health blighting communities.

“We need serious investment over the longer term in Hastings to address this, not just one-off time-limited special projects that rarely do more than scrape the surface of these deep-seated problems. And we need strategic, properly planned improvements to the transport infrastructure.

“So the report doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t know already about seaside towns. But it does help to highlight the problems many seaside town have faced for a long time, and haven’t gone away.

“While ‘reinventing’ the local economy is a way forward, we need planned, long-term investment to break the cycle of deprivation in our poorest communities, and create the right conditions to generate a thriving economy that benefits all our citizens.”

Hastings and Rye MP, Amber Rudd said: “I welcome the work carried out by Lord Bassam with the House of Lords Select Committee on regenerating seaside towns which highlights the unique issues they face.

“I will be making the case for additional funding for Hastings and Rye to improve education, transport, and jobs in our towns.

“I have recently written to the Chancellor to ask for Hastings to be included in the Stronger Towns Fund and I will continue to represent our towns to the best of my ability.”

In other news:

Firefighters called to bushes alight in Hastings.

Big wheel rises on Hastings seafront.

Hastings Beatles Day in pictures.