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Could Morecambe be set for a cash windfall?

John Freeman
A new fund to help support much loved seaside towns like Morecambe create new jobs and prosperity was launched today by Government Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.

The £23.7million Coastal Communities Fund has been created to provide struggling coastal communities all across the country with money to support new opportunities that can make their town prosper.

Today a variety of organisations are being invited to apply for the funding, first announced by the Chief Secretary, to diversify and transform seaside economies by allowing them to rejuvenate traditional assets or exploit new emerging industries.

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 £2 million. Mr Pickles said he would especially like to see quality bids come in from social enterprises, charities, local businesses or local enterprise partnerships.

"Seaside towns and coastal communities have huge potential for economic growth that we simply can't afford to waste - this fund can make all the difference to these places we all know and love," said Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

"This is a great opportunity for long overlooked seaside towns, large and small, to grab a chance to grow through imaginative and innovative projects that create, skilled workers, and provide year round jobs that build stronger local economies."

"Having grown up in a coastal community in Scotland, I am only too aware of the vital role these communities play in the UK," added Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander. "It is fair that we share the Crown Estate's marine revenues equally and I am delighted to launch the Coastal Communities fund prospectus today.

"We look forward to receiving innovative bids from charities, businesses, social enterprises and local organisations, which support the economic development of the community."
The Fund will be financed by the Government from revenues from the Crown Estate's marine assets. It will be UK wide, with funding allocated to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on the basis of revenue generated by these marine assets. The Fund will be delivered by the Big Lottery Fund's 'BIG Fund'.

• A prospectus setting out eligibility, suggestions of how to use funds and details of how to bid was published today: Applications will be accepted in April.