Building back Britain and levelling up: to what extent can the challenges facing UK coastal communities be addressed?

The 1.5 hour webinar is now available to watch on YouTube and can be accessed via the link below.

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There has been very recent recognition of the challenges facing UK coastal communities evident by The House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Resorts (2017-19) and the formation of an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coastal Communities (2019). 

The UK government has declared a commitment, through its Industrial Strategy White Paper (HM Government, 2017) and ‘Build Back Better’ (2021), to address inequalities and to level up across the whole of the UK, ensuring that no community is left behind, particularly as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies promise wholesale changes to the way local economic growth is supported, in order to regenerate town centres and high streets, improve local transport links and invest in local culture, while giving communities a stronger voice to take over cherished local assets that might otherwise be lost. 

This will involve the UK government working more directly with local partners and communities across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who are best placed to understand the needs of their local areas and more closely aligned to the local economic geographies to deliver quickly on the ground. However, given there has been limited investigation of the problems experienced in widely varying coastal settlements across different parts of the country, this webinar will consider the extent to which ‘Build back better’ and the ‘levelling up’ agendas can indeed address the challenges facing UK coastal communities.

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About the speaker

Sheela Agarwal is Professor of Business and Associate Head of Plymouth Business School for Research and Innovation at the University of Plymouth. Since completing doctoral research at Exeter University (UK) on the restructuring of English seaside resorts in 1995, Sheela has continued to investigate socio-economic aspects of the UK's seaside towns, focusing in particular on their economic performance and productivity, regeneration and spatial planning, economic linkages between the towns and their hinterlands, the nature and extent of multiple deprivation and social exclusion, in-migration and sense of community, and on aspects of health and quality of life. 

She has wealth of expertise of the socio-economic ecologies of seaside towns, has published numerous journal articles, and co-authored a co-edited text that adopted a global perspective of coastal resorts. She was also awarded a small British Academy grant to examine global-local interactions in seaside resorts, and was Principal Investigator of a €1 million EU-funded MarketTowns project that included coastal towns as case studies. 

More recently her work was cited as evidence in the recent House of Lords Select Committee (2019) on ‘Regenerating Seaside Towns’ chaired by Lord Bassam of Brighton and Baroness Valentine and she has been in discussions with the UK’s Chief Medical Officer regarding the underlying drivers of economic performance of seaside towns, of which health is a particularly important factor.

 

“Levelling Up” and coastal communities

‘Levelling up’ must involve many actors – not just government. But this presentation will concentrate on what government(s) can – and cannot – do itself.

The possibilities will be framed using a “tools of government” approach which focuses on what governments can do.

This will cover four ‘tool sets’: MONEY – getting taxes and spending public money; ORGANISATION – how government(s), including local government, is structured; AUTHORITY – how laws and regulations can be used; and finally KNOWLEDGE – what do we know, and not know, about coastal communities and how can governments find out?

Each of these have unique features in a coastal communities context. And of course any policy mix they can be combined to produce change.

About the speaker

Colin Talbot is Professor of Government (Emeritus) at the University of Manchester, a Research Associate at the Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, and a Senior Research Fellow with the Federal Trust.

Colin has researched, advised and consulted with a wide range of governments and public agencies in the UK and internationally. He’s frequently appeared as an expert witness in Parliament, advised two Select Committees and appeared in the media many times.

On a personal note, Colin was born and brought up in one coastal community (Dover) and spent his secondary school years in another (Barrow).

Speaker: Professor Colin Talbot

Professor of Government (Emeritus) at the University of Manchester, a Research Associate at the Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, and a Senior Research Fellow with the Federal Trust.
 

Coastal communities are lagging behind inland areas, with some of the worst levels of economic and social deprivation in the UK.

With increased resources being allocated for regeneration across the country, what does the government's 'Levelling Up' agenda mean for England's coastal communities?

About the speaker

Nicola Radford is a Senior Regeneration Officer for Lincolnshire County Council.

She is the Executive Officer of the Coastal Communities Alliance, a partnership of mainly local authorities which was formed to raise the profile of the socio-economic challenges facing coastal communities. In 2010 the Coastal Communities Alliance commissioned a detailed report and series of discussion essays into about challenges and opportunities for coastal communities and subsequently produced position papers on coastal regeneration and gave evidence at the recent House of Lords Select Committee into Seaside Towns. The Coastal Communities Alliance has also acted as an informal sounding board to the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government on the design of coastal initiatives like the Coastal Communities Fund and the Coastal Town Teams.

Nicola, with her role in the Coastal Communities Alliance is co-providing the Secretariat for the APPG into Coastal Communities, chaired by Sally-Ann Hart MP, in partnership with the Coastal Partnership Network and the LGA Coastal SIG.

Whilst not "championing" the coast, the remainder of her time is spent co-ordinating the Greater Lincolnshire LEP visitor economy board, advising rural and coastal businesses on attracting grants and overseeing the development of a network of technology Hubs which help businesses adapt to digital technology.

Prior to working at Lincolnshire County Council Nicola was Economic Development Manager at East Lindsey, a coastal district council, and was a formally an external funding manager in North East Lincolnshire.

Speaker: Nicola Radford

Senior Regeneration Officer, Lincolnshire County Council
 

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