Essex coastal problems 'need support'

MANY people living in coastal areas of Essex are suffering from deprivation, a lack of skills and poor transport, it has been claimed. The allegation has been made by representatives from the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA), who have now called for major investment to help regenerate poorer towns in the county.

MANY people living in coastal areas of Essex are suffering from deprivation, a lack of skills and poor transport, it has been claimed.

The allegation has been made by representatives from the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA), who have now called for major investment to help regenerate poorer towns in the county.

The assembly's Europe and International Affairs panel is hoping the European Commission will be able to assist places such as Clacton and Jaywick - which both suffer from high levels of unemployment and are among the most deprived areas in the region.

Along with concerns about poverty, the panel has also said many coastal areas will need more support to help with the impact of global warming.


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It said low lying areas were facing rising sea levels and coastal erosion, with an estimated £8billion investment needed for sea defences on the east coast.

Latest estimates from the UK Climate Impacts Programme suggest that the east coast could see further rises in relative sea levels of 40cm by 2050, putting more than 400,000 homes at risk.

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Last night Teresa Stephenson, the secretary of the Clacton Chamber of Trade and Tourism, said money was needed for Jaywick.

She said: “In Jaywick there is poor housing, lack of skills and a lot of houses are very much run down.

“Clacton is okay for buses, taxis and trains, but I think the investment is needed as far as bringing new businesses into the town.

“There are new shops opening, but we do need the independent shops to stay and need one or two bigger companies to come in and give people a reason to shop in the town.”

She said money was currently being invested through the Government's Safer, Stronger Communities Fund, showing how other major initiatives could make a real difference to people's lives.

The EERA panel has called for more European support for -

n Regeneration of coastal towns in Essex.

n Improvements to the accessibility of local services and rail infrastructure upgrades.

n Research into and investment in new technology to tackle coastal erosion and flooding.

n The development of regional centres of excellence to provide research and expert knowledge in maritime affairs.

n Investment in renewable energy technology.

But Mike Bateson, executive manager for regeneration at Tendring District Council, said getting European funding was a complicated process.

He said Harwich, Clacton, Walton and Jaywick all stood to benefit from funding although he said the process was still at an early stage.

“We will be actively trying to tap into this funding and developing projects that fit the criteria,” he said.

Celia Cameron, the East of England Development Agency board member and co-chairwoman on the panel, said: “We want to ensure that the economies in the coastal areas can continue to grow and that the people living there have a good quality of life with access to public transport, skills, jobs and local services.”

The response to the European Commission's Maritime Green Paper consultation was this week handed to John Richardson, who is in charge of Fisheries and Maritime Policy and head of the Commission's Maritime Task Force.

The consultation period finishes at the end of June and the European Commission will release their own response to all the submissions in October.

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