Kevin Foster, Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Torbay, has today welcomed news that the Government will extend the Coastal Communities Fund into 2014-15, but warned the work to improve the bay’s economy could be undone by a Tourist Tax planned by Labour.
The Government has today announced that the Coastal Communities Fund is being extended to 2014-15, a £29m fund which seaside areas, including Torbay, will be invited to bid for. Earlier this year Torbay scooped £1.4m from this fund to help create 350 new jobs following a bid made by the Torbay Development Agency. This money is supporting the development of start-up businesses, social enterprises, an apprenticeship scheme and a new cycle route around Cockington.
The money behind the Coastal Communities Fund comes from the Crown Estates, which own the rights to fish-farms, wind farms, ports and marinas. Successful bidders are given money equivalent to 50% of revenues generated from things like offshore wind and tidal power and ship moorings in the area.
Yet at the same time as this boost for the bay was being unveiled there are warnings that the Labour Party are planning to target local hotels and B&Bs, after Labour Shadow Minister, Sadiq Khan, called for the ‘introduction of a levy on overnight accommodation’, a move echoed by a Labour Select Committee Chairman. This ‘holiday tax’ could add an extra £126 to the cost of a two week stay in a reasonably priced hotel and threaten jobs across Devon’s tourist industry.
Commenting Kevin said: “A recent Centre for Social Justice Report highlighted the challenges facing seaside towns and the news that the Coastal Communities fund will be extended into 2014-15 is a real boost, giving a chance to take forward more job creating schemes. The priority for any new funding has to be supporting the growth of our Town Centres, bringing more skilled jobs into the bay and giving opportunities to the next generation.”
He added: “Holidays in South Devon’s beautiful bay are for relaxing, not taxing. This call for a Holiday Tax misses the fact that the Tourist Industry already contributes a large amount in taxation revenue and should not be viewed as a target for more. The good weather has seen many hard working families flock to the bay this summer for a well-earned break, it says a lot that this success is seen by Labour as a chance for another tax.”