THE challenges facing Yorkshire’s coastal communities are, in many respects, emblematic of this county’s wider political battles over fairer funding from the Government.
Though resorts have worked tirelessly, and still do so, to enhance their tourism appeal to holiday-makers and day-trippers, the economic and social challenges are profound in some resorts.
Not only do coastal towns need to do more to exploit Yorkshire’s hard-earned status as one of the world’s premier visitor locations, but more private sector investment is criticial if local economies are to be less dependent on fluctuations in the tourism industry.
And the most important, as The Yorkshire Post begins a special week-long series, is transport access – and, specifically, the need to upgrade the A64 which remains one of the country’s most notorious bottlenecks at peak holiday times.
It speaks volumes that residents, businesses and campaigners have already been waiting for 30 years – longer than it will take to build HS2 – for work to begin on improvements that will be truly transformative to the wider economy. Cabinet ministers in the South East would not have tolerated this so why should Yorkshire?
Yet, while the Government has increased transport spending in the North, work on the A64 to date has been piecemeal and there are no assurances that this scheme, coupled with wider improvements to mitigate against congestion when visitors do finally reach the coast, is treated – and regarded – as a long-overdue national priority that will benefit Great Britain plc in the longer-term if working-age residents are become less dependent on benefits.
This comes back to the failure of past and present governments to recognise that the challenges facing resorts around Britain’s coastlines are different to the needs of other urban areas, not least because of an ageing population coupled with insufficient opportunities for younger people who can turn, as a result, to social vices like drugs with tragic consequences.
Tokenism by Ministers masks hidden pockets of deprivation and there needs, moving forward, to be a much clear policy focus – one which links transport and inward investment to the future health and wellbeing of resorts as well as their ability to attract more visitors. Now who is up for the job before the coast is left hung out to dry?