North Somerset boasts top coastal economy in the South
PUBLISHED: 12:30 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:16 08 September 2017
North Somerset is 'bucking the trend' of Britain's seaside communities, with the district ranking as the top-performing coastal economy in the South.
The Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank published a report for the BBC this week, which found the economic gap between coastal and non-coastal places has widened, in addition to discrepancies in health, education and employment.
The Government in turn announced on Monday it will be making a £40million cash injection to seaside areas across Britain from the Coastal Communities Fund with the hope of closing the economic gap.
But the SMF found North Somerset ranked fifth among local authorities in economic output from 1997-2015, making it the only coastal area south of Lancashire to feature in the top 10.
And business bosses and councillors believe that, unlike in many coastal towns, Weston and North Somerset’s ‘outlook is really positive’ – with a ‘boom’ in the skilled jobs market.
Gemma Day, of Dowlas UK which runs Weston Gateway Business Park, believes Weston is ‘bucking the trend’ and is optimistic for the town’s future.
She said: “Weston has seen significant investment both in the town centre and at the enterprise area at junction 21. The Winter Gardens looks amazing and will attract some high-profile events along with providing a much-needed conference space.
“Students have access to phenomenal facilities which will enable the university centre to expand. This will then provide a much-needed skill to the area in both the high-tech and construction sectors which are both areas which are seeing a boom in the local economy.
“Junction 21 is also attracting new brands with the recent approval of the first four-star hotel, along with new enterprises at The Hive.“The outlook for Weston is really positive, but we need to ensure we don’t lose momentum.”
Elfan Ap Rees, deputy leader of North Somerset Council, believes the district ‘punches above its weight regionally and nationally’.
He said: “This is great news for North Somerset and testament to the huge amount of work that’s been undertaken in recent years to strengthen our local economy.
“This news will give further confidence to businesses that this is the right place for them to be if they want their business to grow.”