John Pugh flies the flag for coastal towns

John Pugh led a debate in Parliament on Coastal Towns and Economic Development recently.

The debate was very well-attended with many other MPs queuing up to sing the praises of or cite the problems of their own local bit of the UK coastline.

John Pugh, Lib Dem MP for Southport, said that it was necessary to raise the voice of the seaside and coast so that it would not be drowned out by the power of lobbying from the cities.

John Pugh MP speaking in the House of Commons
"There is no doubt that cities are crucial for the country's economic development but there are a lot of us on the coast and we don't all working in the traditional bucket and spade industry. We want the attention of government and the funding and recognition that follows that."

John Pugh made a plea for a joined-up approach to seaside towns with all government departments - including Transport and the Treasury - focusing on coastal towns.

"A better rail service or a VAT cut for in-bound tourism (as happens on the continent) would help as much as any specific grant" he said.

John Pugh pointed out that research in Select Committee Report on seaside towns that he had helped commission showed that seaside towns had 'held their own' in terms of employment.

However, research also showed that many resorts along the south coast had fared better than their counterparts in the north.

In explaining this new north/south divide, John Pugh pointed out that one reason is too much emphasis given to city centres when it comes to regional development. He told the House of Commons that over 3 million people lived in coastal towns and that coastal businesses employ more people than the motor industry.

"The north isn't just Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds," he claimed. "Flats in central Manchester are not where most of us live."

"We in the coastal towns can make our own weather and fight our corner but we don't want to be afterthought in terms of government or regional policy."

You can read the full text of John Pugh's House of Commons debate on coastal towns here.