Seaside towns in the UK are struggling because of poor access to high-quality broadband connections, according to a report from the House of Lords.
The House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns argued that coastal communities and tourist hotspots are being neglected, and more needs to be done to ensure they have access to reliable, superfast broadband connections.
The committee has been looking into ways seaside towns, many of which were booming and vibrant holiday destinations in the 19th and early 20th centuries, can re-attract visitors and residents after decades of decline. Other factors that are hindering their development include a lack of education and transport links, according to the report.
“For too long, seaside towns have been neglected,” said Lord Bassam of Brighton, chairman of the committee. “They suffer from issues rooted in the decline of their core industries, most notably domestic tourism, but also in fishing, shipbuilding and port activity, and from their location at the ‘end of the line’. The potential impact of Brexit on these towns, particularly the hospitality sector, also remains an open question.
“A single solution to their economic and social challenges doesn’t exist. What is needed is a package of strategic initiatives and interventions where national and local government work together to address issues such as transport, housing, post-school education and high-speed broadband.
“Places like Brighton and Bournemouth have shown that ‘the seaside’ can successfully reinvent itself. The Committee is confident that if our recommendations are pursued seaside towns can once again become prosperous and desirable places to live in and visit.”
There was no statistical evidence in the report to back up their findings. However, the authors of the report spoke with councils up and down the country, many of whom said ministers were overlooking their seaside communities in favour of urban areas.
A spokesperson for North Norfolk District Council said: “Many visitors to the area expect such infrastructure to be available and are frustrated by poor coverage and capacity across much of the District. This is increasingly placing our economy, but particularly tourism businesses and accommodation providers, at a commercial disadvantage, which could have long-term implications for the area.”
The report claims that access to superfast broadband will improve the desirability of coastal communities for new businesses and will allow residents to work flexibly from home without having to commute to larger urban areas. It is argued that hospitality and tourism businesses, such as hotels, are particularly affected by the lack of access to reliable broadband.
The report said: “It was suggested that investment in mobile and broadband infrastructure in coastal communities lagged considerably behind that being made in urban areas and that this was worsening the economic disadvantages already being felt in these communities.”
Another report by estate agents Knight Frank suggested that poor broadband connections in seaside towns was having a detrimental effect on their economies, as prospective buyers are being put off by the slow internet speeds.
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