Published: February 10, 2012
Minister raises hopes of economy boost for Burnham-On-Sea

A government minister has today raised hopes that Burnham-On-Sea could benefit from a new £23.7m government fund aimed at boosting the economy of seaside towns across the UK.

During a visit to Highbridge's Oak Tree Arena this morning for a business breakfast, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander (pictured) said Burnham could be one of the towns benefiting from the initiative.

The Coastal Communities Fund has been created to provide struggling coastal communities with money to rejuvenate them.

He told that seaside groups could use the money to start programmes that can deliver skills training, offer apprenticeships to school leavers, create new workspaces or support small-scale transport improvements.

Successful applicants can expect to get a grant of between £50,000 and £2million. Bids are being encouraged from social enterprises, charities, local businesses and local enterprise partnerships.

Mr Alexander said: "Having grown up in a coastal community in Scotland, I am only too aware of the vital role these communities play in the UK. It is fair that we share the Crown Estate's marine revenues equally."

"We have taken half the revenues that the Crown Estate gets from its revenue in offshore marine activities and are making that available for local communities to bid into."

"I would really urge places like Burnham to get involved with it because the fund is specifically targeted at coastal communities where there are problems in the economy. Hopefully it can be a real help in communities like this."

Asked how he sees the money being used in Burnham, he said: "That is not up to me - it is up to local organisations for how they use funds in Burnham."

"I am not going to dictate from Whitehall what should happen in Burnham. Local community organisations and authorities should work out for themselves what they want to see and put together high quality bids. The best bids will get the money."

"We look forward to receiving innovative bids from charities, businesses, social enterprises and local organisations, which support the economic development of the community."

A prospectus setting out the eligibility and suggestions of how to use funds and details of how to bid is available here. Applications will be accepted in April.

Burnham's MP Tessa Munt added she would be "doing everything possible" to ensure funding comes to Burnham.

Mr Alexander met business leaders during the event at the Oak Tree Arena and also visited several businesses in the area.

He also discussed the county's broadband push, recently covered here by, and encouraged businesses to sign up.


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