8 September 2022
Peter Aldous speaks in debate on the future of coastal communities

Peter Aldous highlights issues where coastal communities lose out and, specifically, calls for more funding for education and local government, and for the enterprise zone to be rebalanced and reallocated land.

Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con)

It is a privilege to serve with you in the Chair, Dr Huq. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Sally-Ann Hart) on securing this debate, and I thank the Backbench Business Committee for granting it.

I represent Waveney, the most easterly constituency in the United Kingdom. Lowestoft, the principal town, was formerly the fishing capital of the southern North sea. Unfortunately, over the last 40 to 50 years, the economy has declined significantly and we have deep pockets of deprivation, which are exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis. However, the community is coming together to support those people who will face real challenges and hardship in the course of the next few months.

I want to emphasise that there is cause for optimism. CEFAS has its headquarters and labs in the town, and they are being refurbished and rebuilt. East Coast College has opened the energy skills centre, ready for the renewables opportunities off our coast. The Gull Wing bridge—the long-awaited third crossing—is under construction, as is the Lowestoft flood defence scheme. We are about to start work on various town deal initiatives. Over the last three years there has been public investment of £250 million in the local town. That is very important, and I sense it is going to bring about meaningful change, with an economy based on renewables, energy and a revived fishing industry, as well as tourism and leisure.

I want briefly to highlight three issues where coastal communities do lose out. They relate to Government funding. The first is education funding. Suffolk is a member of the F40 group—it is not a group to be proud to be a member of—which is made up of the 40 local education authorities that receive the lowest amount of funding from Whitehall. Coastal communities have real educational challenges. That iniquity needs to be addressed. On local government funding, Suffolk, like many coastal communities, is a two-tier county authority. Suffolk receives £310 per head, compared with the £560 per head received by metropolitan areas, and the £729 per head for inner London. Those issues need to be addressed. Similarly, our enterprise zone needs to be rebalanced and reallocated land. I am sure that I will take that up with the Minister in due course.