HC Deb 03 July 2001 vol 371 cc134-6
6. Mr. Gordon Marsden (Blackpool, South)

What plans he has for a joint approach with other Government Departments to promote local regeneration strategies based on tourism. [656]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Ms Sally Keeble)

Regeneration strategies are being developed at regional and local level to boost tourism. Blackpool is a good example, and I am delighted to see that in round 6 of the single regeneration budget, Blackpool was awarded £20 million for the improvement of its tourism facilities. As president of the British Resorts Association, my hon. Friend is aware of the close co-operation between Government Departments and other agencies on tourism. I am sure that he will use his position to promote the successful regeneration of British seaside towns.

Mr. Marsden

In welcoming my hon. Friend to her post and congratulating her on that appointment, I also pay tribute to the work of her Department and its predecessor, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, in respect of the money invested in SRB and other structural funding. Will the Department recognise the important involvement of other Departments in that process and the vital contribution that tourism makes to regional regeneration, not least via regional airports and a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises? In that regeneration process, will the Department take particular account of the needs of seaside and coastal towns, which, by their very nature, have a periphery of only 180 degrees?

Ms Keeble

My hon. Friend may be aware of the tourism summit in March this year. That was a good example of inter-departmental co-operation and many issues that arose there are being taken forward, including access of seaside resorts in terms of various Government policies and funding, planning for leisure and tourism, and matters affecting the Home Office, such as the licensing and gambling reviews.

Mr. Mike Hancock (Portsmouth, South)

In considering single regeneration and its interaction with tourism, will the Government now consider allowing regeneration expenditure to be targeted outside the parameters currently set for the affected areas? Some attractions that need enlivenment and investment are situated outside the existing boundaries and cannot currently receive the resources. In the coastal strip that I represent, the money needs to be spread further.

Ms Keeble

I take the hon. Gentleman's point about the need for money to be spread flexibly. The Government are committed in our regeneration strategy to taking on board the views of the local community and to ensuring that the regeneration money is spent where it will have maximum impact and meet the requirements of the different communities.

Mr. Derek Foster (Bishop Auckland)

I welcome my hon. Friend to her new post. Can she imagine the devastation caused by 44 cases of foot and mouth and the culling out of 240 farms in my constituency, and the effect that it has had on tourism? Will she consider closely the contribution that tourism can make to regeneration in the towns of Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle? Substantial amounts will be needed to market those areas, so I would be glad of a positive response.

Ms Keeble

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his best wishes. The tourism summit that I mentioned earlier considered the impact of foot and mouth on tourism. I have visited his constituency and seen a number of farms in the various beauty spots in the area, which is well worth visiting and deserves support.

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

The Minister will be aware that Fylde lies next door to Blackpool. The hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Marsden) and I therefore understand the importance of tourism in regenerating the Fylde coast. However, one big problem that tourists face is reaching the Fylde coast by the often overcrowded M6, especially at the weekend. When will her Department give us some news about proposals that would ease congestion on that vital routeway to the north-west?

Ms Keeble

That was ingenious cross-cutting from one section of the Department to another. I am sure that the issues that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned in relation to roads will be taken on board by the Department and that he will receive a response very shortly.

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