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Minister for coastal regions needed, UK Government told

Ben Birchall

By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

The Government is being urged to appoint a minister with specific responsibility for Britain’s coastlines.

Maritime UK said the move would help the millions of people who live along the coast, many of whom have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.

A ministerial post would provide much-needed focus on revitalising coastal economies, said the umbrella body for the maritime sector.

On the first day of Seafarers Awareness Week, Maritime UK said a ministerial appointment would oversee expanded funding for projects that support economic development.

Before coronavirus, there were predictions that maritime jobs were set to increase by 15% until 2023, creating 30,000 new positions.

Maritime UK said there was cautious optimism that this growth is still achievable in the medium term.

Maritime UK chairman Harry Theochari said: “A Minister for the Coastal Powerhouse would help turbo-charge the development of our coastal communities.

“Coastal communities have been some of the hardest hit in this crisis, and we need accountability to ensure the ‘left behind’ are not left behind once more.

“Coastal communities can be at the heart of massive new growth opportunities, increased global trade through our ports, new green maritime technologies, moving freight off the road and rail network to coastal and inland shipping, advanced manufacturing, modern shipbuilding and by encouraging more people to get on the water.”

Simon Clarke, the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, said: “When the Prime Minister announced the New Deal, he made it clear that the Government is determined to change the country for the better, uniting and levelling up our regions – including our coastal communities.

“That’s why I have just announced £10 million in new funding for small businesses in tourist destinations – bringing jobs, investment, and financial support to the communities that need it most – and since 2012, we have awarded grants totalling over £229 million to projects delivering sustainable growth and jobs in coastal areas.”