NEGLECTED coastal communities will be the focus of a new parliamentary task group, which has been welcomed by Isle of Wight councillors.

The all-party group was created following a House of Lords report earlier this year, and will be led by the MP for Hartlepool, Mike Hill.

It aims to tackle a lack of investment, poor transport links and problems with year-round employment.

Cllr Wayne Whittle, cabinet member for regeneration and business development, said: "It's good news as we need all the help we can get. I look forward to the group's creation."

The Lords report into seaside towns said: "Although each seaside town has its own challenges, there are some common issues that often characterise coastal communities.

"Their economies, which were already predominantly reliant upon seasonal patterns of trade, have suffered from an ongoing loss of business which has reduced opportunities for entry level jobs, particularly for young people."

Cllr Ian Ward, cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, said: "Seaside towns have long lacked investment and with the change in people's holiday and leisure activities the traditional seaside towns have had to work hard to keep up with a new generation of tourists expectations.

"We have recently seen a revival of visitors staying in the UK, rather than going abroad, and therefore more visitors to seaside towns which is very welcome.

The report also recommended the Department for Transport prioritises improvements to the coastal transport network when it takes decisions on planning and investment.

"Generally, our transport links to and from the Island are good and the ferry journey is often considered part of the Island holiday experience by our visitors. Our Island transport provision is good, with a train service feeding the towns from Ryde and along Sandown Bay.

"The Island’s Bus services are good when they are compared with other rural areas nationally and non-city areas. Of course we would always like more provision but that has to be balanced with the economics of such provision.

"On the Island we make a concerted efforts to attract non-cars users by providing a good and expanding network of cycle ways and footpaths for those tourists who prefer not to drive."