They are part of over 100 coastal communities across the country taking control of their futures.
The plans lay out practical steps including short term “quick wins”, medium term proposals and more ambitious long term measures, which will help make both towns destinations to live and work in for years to come.
In Minehead, the Coastal Communities Team represents a broad alliance of interested groups and individuals including representatives from county, district and town councils, Chamber of Commerce, Minehead Development Trust, Butlins, West Somerset railway and the Chamber of Commerce as well the tourism trade. Youth and school organisations are also involved along with the voluntary sector.
Cllr Roger Thomas, who chairs the Coastal Communities Team and is a member of both West Somerset and Minehead councils, said: “Minehead is a fabulous seaside resort and we don’t envisage changing that but we can no longer rest on our laurels and past glory and have to work hard to maintain and grow our market share, develop our local businesses and nurture the talent and skills of our people.
“Whilst we are clear about our short-term priorities we are also focused on reaping the benefits of wider opportunities in the longer term including the billions being invested in the new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point and the future potential for tidal energy in the Bay and prospects for collaboration across West Somerset/North Devon and South Wales.”
Minehead Mayor, Cllr Jean Parbrook, said: “The Coastal Community Team has brought so many different groups and individuals together to work in a positive way – for Minehead and with Minehead. There are some exciting ideas coming forward and I am really looking forward to seeing these progress.”
Short term proposals include the launch of Minehead Job Hub last month, the restoration of the popular zig-zag path and business plans for a community swimming pool and the Old Minehead Hospital.
Longer term plans include establishing a community radio station in Minehead, and setting up a tourism training academy locally.
In Watchet the Coastal Community Team, including town and district councils, regeneration organisation Onion Collective CIC, WS Railway, the Conservation Society, Watchet Chamber of Trade, Market House Museum, Boat Owners Association, Theatre Melange and other local businesses and interest groups have also set out plans for economic growth.
The Coastal Community Team has pledged to work collaboratively to:
Build a strong tourism economy with infrastructure support
Develop a vibrant and compelling brand
Create jobs and enterprise
Support retail development
Enhance cultural opportunities
Short term plans have already started and include the launch of new street fairs taking place on the first Sunday of every month from 1 May, a new vibrant brand for Watchet and a programme of signage for directing visitors to tourist attractions in the town are all already in development.
Longer term plans include the improvement of tourism provision from the new Visitor Centre due to open this summer, free WIFI for the town, new coastal walkways, sculpture trails and the East Quay Development.
Chair of the Watchet Coastal Communities Team and Mayor of Watchet Cllr Peter Murphy said: “The Watchet Coastal Communities Team is a dynamic group of committed local people who are actively working hard to see positive change in Watchet. Already many projects have started and it is exciting to see progress happen so quickly.
“Watchet is a wonderful town, rich in potential and our new Economic Plan clearly and comprehensively lays out how we drive forward growth, jobs and prosperity. I am proud to be a part of it. “
Communities Secretary Greg Clark said that work in Minehead and Watchet is “proof coastal communities are ready for economic lift off”.
He added: “Our Great British Coast has enormous economic potential and we are determined to see it thrive all year round – not just in the summer months.
“The huge number of plans submitted, demonstrate the wave of optimism, and wealth of creative and practical ideas to boost economic lift-off. I now want to see their hard work and enthusiasm come to fruition by helping to deliver their ideas through the Coastal Community teams.”
118 Coastal Community Teams were created last year and given a share of £1.18m to help drive forward coastal areas growth.
The local economic plans submitted to Government by the teams cover areas including housing, business opportunities, jobs and skills, health and civic pride. See a full list of Coastal Community Teams here.
Coastal Community Teams are just one of a number of initiatives launched by the government to boost the Great British Coast.
The £120 million Coastal Communities Fund, established in 2012, has money going to projects in every region and country of the United Kingdom. So far it has created nearly 14,000 new jobs and over 10,000 training places.
In addition 77 projects ranging from theatres to piers and lidos to lighthouses, received an addition share of £3 million in December to help restore them to their former glory.
Due to the exceptional quality of the bids received, another £1 million coastal revival funding will be available in 2016 to 2017 for projects that narrowly missed out being selected. Further details will be announced in due course.
For more information about the Government’s work to revive coastal communities contact Patrick Coyne, firstname.lastname@example.org, 030 3444 4326
Debbie Rundle, on behalf of West Somerset Council,01984 635280 or 01823 356407 email email@example.com