£24million coastal grants fund opens

BIDDING has opened on a multi-million pound government fund to help seaside towns like Skegness create new jobs.

The £24million Coastal Communities Fund was officially launched on Thursday by communities secretary Eric Pickles and chief secretary Danny Alexander.

Social enterprises, charities and local enterprise partnerships can now apply for grants of up to £2million to rejuvenate seaside economies by delivering employment opportunities such as apprenticeship schemes, new work spaces or small scale transport improvements.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: “Seaside towns and coastal communities have huge potential for economic growth that we simply can’t afford to waste - this fund can make all the difference to the places we all know and love.”

Mr Pickles first announced the fund last year but until now there were no directions on the types of project funding would be considered for. His support for projects that rejuvenate ‘traditional assets or exploit new emerging industries’ precisely matches the aspirations held locally for the funding when it was first announced.

Mayor of Skegness Coun Steve Kirk would like to see investment in upskilling the local work force to exploit emerging green industries in offshore wind farms and creating a centre of excellence for the town’s traditional hospitality sector.

He said: “There’s a green economy we should be tapping into, we’ve got the offshore wind farms so I think we should look at becoming a centre of excellence for the green economy.

“We should also play to our strengths and look at becoming a skills centre for the hospitality industry - we could be a beacon and other people would come to us for training.”

East Lindsey District Council has also welcomed the potential investment and will support organisations seeking a share of the funding.

Portfolio holder for the economy Coun Craig Leyland said: “I am delighted the government is supporting coastal resorts with a funding package totalling almost £24 million and we need to put forward proposals that benefit our area.

We will be working closely with the local community to seek opportunities to put forward a range of exciting and important projects that help to address the economic issues we face in our district, including the need to boost the economy and extend the season to create more business opportunities and all year round jobs.”