Ben Murray & Tim Morris

We need to reimagine the UK’s coastal communities into a coastal powerhouse

The British public vote for Brexit sent shockwaves around major cities throughout the globe. However, in many of our coastal communities in the UK, the result came as no surprise at all. Indeed, out of the top five areas to vote leave in the country, every single one was a coastal town or city. Compare this with the top 5 spots to vote remain in England, Scotland and Wales, where no coastal constituency features on the list.

For many of these coastal communities, people feel left out and left behind. Traditional industries have often departed and whilst some new sectors such as renewable energy have arrived many of the lost jobs and investment have not been replaced. A report commissioned by the BBC found the mean salary in Scarborough in 2016 was £19,925, nearly a third less than the national average, while data from the Office for National Statistics showed that in 2016 economic output per person was 26% lower in coastal communities than non-coastal communities. Across a range of economic and social indicators we are seeing a widening gap between many coastal communities and their inland counterparts. In the face of such change and challenge it is perhaps not surprising that coastal communities voted for change.

For the United Kingdom, these coastal communities have long served as the historical heartbeat of the nation and, despite a long and varied history, the UK has always had one constant. It has been inextricably tied to the seas that surround it.

As an island nation, the sea has always been a provider of prosperity and partnership, and there’s never been a more important time to unleash the sector and transform the fortunes of our coastal communities. Maritime UK figures estimate that the sector supports £40 billion in value to the UK economy in 2015 and supports a million jobs across the UK.

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