A new report says entrepreneurs are the key to reviving British seaside towns like Morecambe.
The report by think tank ‘the Centre for Entrepreneurs’ is called ‘From ebb to flow: How entrepreneurs can turn the tide for Britain’s seaside towns’ and profiles coastal towns Hastings, Scarborough, Bournemouth, Littlehampton and Portrush as prime examples of success.
It says seaside towns must develop unique identities, perhaps centred around food, culture or sport, to attract entrepreneurs willing to invest, as well as visitors.
To tackle the educational deficiencies found in many seaside schools, the report calls upon government to launch a Seaside Challenge modelled on the last Labour government’s London Challenge that successfully turned around London’s poor performing schools, and place talented teachers into the most deprived seaside schools.
It also calls on local authorities to match investment in broadband infrastructure with training and awareness campaigns.
The report explores how two brothers are turning a derelict art-deco swimming pool into a vast subterranean skate park in Hastings and how Littlehampton has been transformed into an architectural destination.
“Just as entrepreneurs built seaside towns, we believe that it is the invention and drive of entrepreneurs that can revive them” says Luke Johnson, chairman of the Centre. “Ultimately it is down to each of Britain’s seaside towns - and the collaboration of entrepreneurs, local politicians and residents - to formulate the unique strategy, based on the town’s identity, that will revive fortunes”.
The report also calls for:
Seaside towns to have publicly accessible asset inventories
Seaside towns, and the broader regions in which they are located, to be given greater decision-making autonomy with locally elected mayors offered as a clear option.
Local and national authorities should work together to improve transport links – the planned high-speed rail improvements for Hastings and Margate being positive examples.
Local authorities should also invest in local public transport to better connect businesses, employees, tourists and consumers.
There must be a relentless focus on getting more businesses online and on digital skills training.
The report was authored by Matt Smith and Maximilian Yoshioka of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, with analysis by Matthew Rock. The case studies were authored by Matthew Rock.
Launched in October 2013, the Centre for Entrepreneurs promotes the role of entrepreneurs in creating economic growth and social well-being. It is home to national enterprise campaign, StartUp Britain.
The Centre is an independent, non-profit think tank founded and chaired by Sunday Times columnist and serial entrepreneur, Luke Johnson.