Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has welcomed the confirmation from Essex County Council that funding from the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) will benefit the Clacton constituency.

As announced on 23rd March, Essex will receive a grant from the CCF, worth £663,000, to help fund ‘Essex Path to Prosperity’. This scheme, which will cost £925,000 in total, is designed to promote the entire Essex coast as a high-quality visitor destination with a diverse tourism offer. This will include targeted business support and new job opportunities to meet increased visitor numbers and spend. The project will also develop digital interactive tools to promote thematic walking trails, highlight local businesses and sustainable travel options with improved marketing and signage.

Following that announcement, Giles wrote to Essex County Council to determine how this funding would be spent, as the Clacton constituency has been overlooked by similar funding schemes in the past. In his response, Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, set out that this project will create wide-ranging opportunities for Essex, including within the Clacton constituency. The key aspects of the project are listed below, and it is envisaged that most, if not all, of these activities will be delivered in the Clacton constituency:

  • Wide ranging promotional campaign;
  • Design and installation of location centric maps at bus stops, railway stations and certain other locations;
  • Installation of additional public rights of way waymarking infrastructure;
  • Pilot of a peak season hopper bus service to take visitors from key locations, e.g. railway stations to various coastal locations;
  • Delivery of apprenticeships (including a focus on customer service) to target gaps in coastal businesses;
  • Training support for small/seasonal businesses including in Customer Service and Team Leading;
  • Art and photography courses on the coast;
  • Community Rail Partnership promotion to encourage off peak use of branch railway lines, including producing signage, history boards and leaflets, along with organising some themed trains to bring new audiences to the coast;
  • Delivery of an interactive digital tool to enable visitors to create itineraries;
  • Audit of tourism attractions and scoping study.

Speaking about the letter, Giles said:

“I am extremely grateful to Cllr Finch for this response, I am extremely encouraged by what I have read. As I said before, the Clacton constituency has a proud history as a visitor destination, and the potential to be so again. But we have been overlooked by similar funding schemes in the past, and I am delighted that this does not seem to be the case this time.

“The Sunshine Coast makes up about 10% of Essex’s 360-mile coastline and this scheme will attract tourists to our area, which will create the prosperity that we all want to see. I look forward to receiving further updates and will ensure that we get our fair share.”