According to most measures of social and economic deprivation, coastal destinations are lagging behind their inland counterparts.
Whilst severe poverty is often associated with inner cities, a recent study by EG Radius Data Exchange highlighted that seaside regeneration is vital to saving many coastal towns in the UK.
This case study will focus on Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole (BCP) Council, and their actions during the Covid-19 pandemic to deal with the challenges posed by both Covid-19 and the need for coastal regeneration.
The Major Incident
During the summer of 2020, with millions having been living in lockdown conditions for months, the warm weather brought ‘chaos’. 
Hundreds of thousands of pent-up tourists descended on Bournemouth’s beaches, forcing the council to instigate an emergency response.
With many workers on furlough and particularly sunny weather, local services were left completely overstretched by the massive influx of tourists.
With the increased number of people and limited resources to accommodate them, there was ‘tonnes of rubbish’ left behind on the beach, forcing then Health Secretary, Matt Hancock to threaten to shut the beaches.
As well as the rubbish, there was an increase in anti-social behaviour over the weekend which further stretched local authorities.
Summer Resilience Plan and the Multi Agency Command Centre
To combat the ‘staycation’ summer, BCP Council unveiled their Summer Resilience Plan.
- Delivering 400 extra bins
- Deploying 59 Civil Enforcement Officers
- Hiring 3 Data Analysts for visitor management
- Introducing 2 ‘Park and Ride’ sites
- Installing 71 CCTV cameras
- Deploying 11 Seafront Rangers to patrol
Alongside this, the council developed Beach Checker UK, an app that monitored the busyness of the beaches to let potential day-trippers know which areas were overcrowded.
Fines were introduced for camping out on Bournemouth beach in a further bid to deter overcrowding, with repeat offenders at risk of being prosecuted.
Key local agencies agreed to information sharing as part of the council’s partnership working protocols, which also helped to monitor the situation in real-time.
The success of the plan resulted in the Multi-Agency Command Centre being opened on March 29th 2021, 2021.
There is now constant monitoring of over 70 CCTV cameras from 6 am until 11 pm, with twice-daily intelligence briefings given to all ground staff.
There is a central radio communications channel meaning each team and agency is connected and easily contacted.
The council also revamped its social media content to relay information in a more engaging way to members of the public.
As well as increasing their digital presence, the command centre utilised the best technology on offer from their partners.
McDonald’s collaborated with the council to introduce the use of drones and artificial intelligence technology to scan the beaches for litter.
The data analysts were able to pool the information collected from the partners to predict key busy dates, looking at data such as average temperatures over the past five years, scheduled events, and motorway traffic.
Working with HM Coastguard and the RNLI allowed another perspective to feed information to the command centre, as well as through the police on land.
Bouncing Back Safely
BCP Council has released their vision for the future, with their Covid-19 planning being used as a springboard.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole is the UK’s newest city region, and the council plan revolves around celebrating its prospects, positivity, and pride.
The first key tenet of the plan is to act at scale, with the aim of building 15,000 new homes. There will a mix of affordable housing as well as high-end apartments and houses.
They will also be introducing a £50 million Futures Fund for any investment in the city’s infrastructure.
The council is looking to create 13,000 jobs by attracting £3 billion of investment for the area.
The corporate strategy of the council is centred around being modern, accessible, and accountable, with a particular emphasis on sustainability and providing effective community leadership.
The overarching objectives of the council’s new plan are outlined as follows.
- Ensure sustainability underpins all policies
- Protect and advance understanding of the natural environment
- Develop an eco-friendly and active transport network
- Tackle the climate and ecological emergency
- Promote sustainable resource management
- Maximise access to high quality parks and open spaces
- Revitalise and reinvent the high streets and local centres
- Invest in homes the community needs
- Create a sustainable, vibrant, inclusive economy
- Invest in skills in increase productivity
- Develop sustainable infrastructure
- Support businesses to operate creatively
- Create a 21st century digital infrastructure
- Strengthen the cultural identity of the towns
- Respect and engage the diverse community
- Encourage intergenerational interactions
- Reduce loneliness and isolation
- Ensure communities feel safe
- Empower a thriving voluntary and community sector
- Enable access to high quality education
- Be aspirational for our children in care
- Support parents and guardians to care for their children
- Prevent harm through early intervention
- Support people to live safe and independent lives
- Promote happy, active, healthy lifestyles
- Develop age-friendly communities
- Value and support carers
- Enable people to live well through quality social care
- Tackle homelessness and prevent rough sleeping
- Promote lifelong learning for all
BCP Council Smart Place
The ‘Big Plan’ has been trialled in two areas, Lansdowne and Boscombe.
The council has implemented a ‘Smart Place’ approach, meaning that the local drivers for change have been the key areas to tackle. These consist of:
- Risks to local jobs
- Low local productivity
- Value leaving the local economy
- Major social challenges
- Local authority budgetary challenges
- Traffic and congestion
In Lansdowne, the emphasis was on creating and promoting local businesses, by means of encouraging office moves to the area through lower tax rates.
The council also supported skills attainment and aimed to attract greater private investment, as relying on government grants was proving ‘unreliable’.
In Boscombe, the focus was on digital connectivity. The council utilised the latest technology to improve the digital literacy and capacity of the local workforce.
They also developed new business models to cope with the post-Covid-19 landscape, helping businesses stay afloat and thrive during the pandemic.
The learnings from these case studies are to culminate in a full rollout across Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole in March 2022 and stretch across a five-year plan through to 2027.
The five-year plan is centred around Asset Based Community Development (ABCD).
- Starting where the public are
- Making each design bespoke to each interaction
- Making it fun and engaging
- Utilising the local community to gain their expertise
- Ensuring inclusion and finding out who is missing from the conversation
- Including children and young people in the plans
- Building on the strengths within each community
The main findings from the Smart Place project and the Covid-19 bounce back plan have been that clear leadership and vision needs to come from the top, and have a guiding light, in this case, that refers to the ‘Big Plan’.
Working with partners and incorporating a commercial savviness is also crucial, as relying on government grants can’t be a long-term plan, despite their immediate helpfulness.
Intense planning and prioritisation of sites and interventions need to be balanced with sustainable resourcing, in order to deliver on a long-term strategy.
Areas that will take centre stage in the next five years include housing planning, leisure and tourism, and education and employment.
These will be guided by the principles of putting people and the environment at the heart of all conversations and planning going forward.
Covid-19 caused a revamp of strategies regarding the coastal region, and from the early successes, the BCP council is confident it can foster a vibrant community and sustainable city.
 EC, Radius Data Exchange. 2020. Turning the Tide: Seaside Regeneration.
 Farrant, Graham. 2021. Chief Executive, BCP Council. Turning the Tide on Deprivation: Regenerating Coastal Communities.
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