England

How seaside towns are fighting back

The first street market in Penzance Image copyright Penzance BID
Image caption Penzance has received money to buy stalls to set up a monthly Saturday market

Seaside towns across England "have been neglected for too long", according to a parliamentary report. But many coastal communities are working hard to tackle their own issues. Here's a look at some of the creative solutions making an impact in some of the far-flung edges of the land.

The report by the House of Lords found young people in seaside towns were being "let down and left behind" by a lack of post-16 education and employment.

Image copyright De La Warr Pavilion
Image caption More than 120 people found work since jobs fairs started at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill

But Sally Ann Lycett got in touch to tell us that this bleak outlook did not match up to her view of Bexhill-on-Sea on the coast of East Sussex.

She sent us photos from "flagship cultural and social hub" the De La Warr Pavilion as it hosted its fourth community-led jobs fair.

Director of the venue Stewart Drew said some seaside towns had been "reinventing themselves for decades".

"Bexhill is a tight, entrepreneurial community with a strong heart and sense of civic pride," he said.

Over 120 people have taken up employed positions and hundreds more introduced to new possibilities since the jobs fair started four years ago, he said.

Image copyright Sally Ann Lycett
Image caption The fourth jobs fair at the De La Warr Pavilion

The report said limited access to further and higher education was "severely curtailing opportunities and denting aspirations" for young people in some coastal areas.

Dr Paul Phillips, principal of Weston College, in Weston-super-Mare, said he "wholeheartedly disagreed" with the House of Lords report.

"We see our role as creating brighter futures, and this is supported by our academic results over the last 12 months," he said.

"Thirty-one per cent of our HE (higher education) students achieved first-class honours degrees, we have a 99% pass rate in academic and vocational studies, plus we are bucking the national trend in areas such as apprenticeships and traineeships."

Image copyright Weston College
Image caption Paul Phillips with top performing A-level students at Weston College

Weston College has four campuses, including one dedicated to higher education, in partnership with the University of the West of England, Bristol and Bath Spa University.

A new construction training centre will open imminently and a new campus dedicated to health and active living will open in September.

Image copyright Weston College
Image caption Weston College is running an employer-led scheme to create opportunities for 600 students in six months

Jess Morris, BID (business improvement district) manager in Penzance, Cornwall, said she was part of the group that met members of the parliamentary select committee on their tour of the seaside.

"They spent about three hours here and we showed them some of the challenges we face and talked about our five-year place shaping plan," she said.

"Our seawater lido has been refurbished over the last five years after it was nearly destroyed in a storm in 2014.

"It's undergoing work to create the only geothermal pool in the country."

It was part crowd-funded by 1,500 people who bought shares in the pool, she said.

Image copyright Penzance BID
Image caption A computer-generated image of what the pool will look like after its refurbishment

Penzance held its first monthly Saturday street market after receiving a grant to buy stalls, and new planters have been placed along the promenade, she said.

"If coastal towns are proactive and work together, the opportunities are there for the taking."

Image copyright Penzance BID
Image caption New planters are brightening up the promenade in Penzance

This story was inspired by feedback from readers of Seaside towns 'desperate for reinvention'

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