This week’s guest column comes from Coun Colin Davie, executive councillor for economic development, environment, strategic planning and tourism at Lincolnshire County Council...
We hear in the national media that the economy is starting to be rebuilt. Locally, businesses are telling us the same - around two thirds of them have told us that they expect to grow over the next 12 months. And this is translating into real local jobs - unemployment, youth unemployment, and long-term unemployment have all fallen in the Skegness area over the past 12 months (by 11 per cent, 18 per cent, and five per cent respectively).
There is still a lot of competition for Skegness and our coast from other parts of our country, and it’s important that we perform at our best to make the most of the opportunities that economic growth brings. Opportunities could include:
l with some wishful thinking, a summer celebrating England’s World Cup victory!
l a renewed interest in the excellent food and drink that we produce locally (as seen by the 2,700+ visitors to the pop-up Select Lincolnshire shop in Hildreds, held recently).
l increasing business opportunities associated with the internet, which is why LCC has facilitated a £300,000 investment into the WiFi pilot scheme in Ingoldmells and Skegness area.
l the significant influx of visitors to Lincolnshire to visit the re-developed Lincoln Castle in 2015, which coincides with the 800th anniversary around Magna Carta and the opening of the new Bomber Command Memorial. The local tourism partnership had a presentation on LCC’s plans a couple of weeks ago, and we are all determined to make sure that the investment works for the whole county. It is expected to deliver an additional £68 million of tourism spend in 2015 and every year thereafter.
Making the most of opportunities doesn’t just mean sitting back and waiting. It means building the connections. We have had significant investment into the Grantham to Skegness railway line and in railway station improvements. We are bidding to government for funding for the Skegness Western Relief Road and to improve the coastal Environment Offer. It is vitally important to establish business strategies and we have helped 71 tourism and retail businesses in the local area to improve their promotion, store displays, etc and my team are keen to help more. It is important we prepare for economic success by ensuring our workforce is supported to build skills, therefore we’re working with colleges and trainers in the area to put on training that directly meets their needs. To date, we have already helped 30 Skegness area businesses.
Coastal Tourism is worth £500 million per year to our economy and we aim to double that within 20 years. It is an area of huge opportunity.