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LEVELLING UP

Levelling Up in Practice: Clacton Interim Report

Clacton has enormous potential, but is held back by pockets of deep poverty.
Adam Hawksbee, Shivani H Menon
February 7, 2023
Levelling Up in Practice: Clacton Interim Report

“If that’s what levelling up means, putting extra resources in to help people improve their skills and improve their lives, then definitely Clacton is in need of that.”

 

Onward’s final interim report for the Levelling Up in Practice programme examines the challenges and opportunities facing Clacton-on-Sea. 

The Levelling Up White Paper set out the strategy to rebalance the economy at a national scale. It created broad missions to spur policy action until 2030, commitments to devolve power to local leaders, and plans to kickstart a regeneration revolution. But action also needs to come from below.

Our research programme Levelling Up in Practice gives local policymakers the tools to do exactly this. 

Based on quantitative data and qualitative evidence from conversations with local political leaders, businesses, educationalists, community organisers, and members of the public, it seeks to guide policymakers in levelling up the UK’s left-behind places.

Interim evidence and lessons from Clacton.

Our previous interim reports in the Levelling Up in Practice programme have looked at Oldham in Greater Manchester, South Tyneside in the North East,  Walsall in the West Midlands, and Barry in Wales. This research note covers our analysis, findings, and initial recommendations to level up the town of Clacton-on-Sea in Tendring, Essex. These are based on focus groups conducted and meetings with local businesses, local leaders, and community organisations.

The town of Clacton in Essex has enormous potential to deliver on levelling up goals. Its proximity to the freeport in nearby Harwich is expected to generate jobs and incentivise entrepreneurship in industries like logistics and transport. The Clacton Air-Show attracts around 250,000 visitors each year, and the local Pier has long been a staple for domestic tourism. 

 

Yet symptoms of decline are clearly visible.
  • Low productivity: The larger area of Tendring ranks among 2% of the least productive neighbourhoods in the country, with a Gross Value Added per capita almost £10,000 less than the UK average. 
  • High deprivation pockets: Clacton ranks among the top 1% of most deprived neighbourhoods, and nearby Jaywick Sands is the most deprived neighbourhood in England. The town also sees very low economic activity – of around 51%, compared to an English average of 80%.
  • Gaps in education: Tendring sees a significantly high share of pupils attending underperforming schools, coupled with persistent levels of student absenteeism.

 

This interim report sets out some key areas that policymakers in Clacton should focus on to level up the area.
  1. Strengthening the economy: Local leaders should pursue a hyper-local approach to growth that helps Clacton access growth in other parts of Tendring and Essex. One model for better connectivity is employer-led Demand Responsive Transport (DRT).
  2. Improving public services: The local council must prioritise securing the area as a designated Education Investment Area to boost outcomes, alongside other measures such as teacher transfers and the ‘IntoUniversity’ model of mentoring and support.
  3. Restoring a sense of community: Neighbourhood police forces could adopt a hot spots policing effort to tackle antisocial behaviour and other low-level crimes. Local leaders could also make greater use of Section 215 notices to deal with eyesores and revitalise the high street.

To read more of Onward’s levelling up work, please click here.

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