THE Labour leader for Redcar has said the £750,000 funding for the town is welcome but Coatham has been shortchanged.

Carl Quartermain, Labour leader for Redcar said: "The regeneration of Coatham is long overdue. Labour committed £20m to the area in February 2019 - £10m for the Regent Cinema and £10m for a 40-bed hotel alongside indoor leisure facilities.

"One of the first acts of the Independent led administration was to cut this second £10m from the budget and instead look for government handouts to fund the regeneration of Redcar and the private sector to build the hotel, both very risky in the current economic climate.

“Whilst the £750,000 on offer is welcome it is just a fraction of what Coatham expected and nowhere near enough to make the real difference we had envisaged. I sincerely hope it is the precursor to the speculative £25m Town Deal bid the government have encouraged Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council to submit by January 2021, following the consultation with the public. Redcar desperately needs that funding in order to continue the High Street revitalisation programme, which has funded and supported hotels, guest houses, retail and hospitality sector businesses since 2015 under the last Labour Administration but is coming to an end in March 2021."

On Friday (October 2) it was announced that work has started on The Regent cinema transformation by GT3 Architects.

Cllr Quartermain said: “I have said for a number of years that Redcar, indeed the whole borough, doesn’t hold enough bed spaces to support the visitor economy. A new hotel has been on the cards for years and would compliment the excellent accommodation offers we already have. It is also pleasing to see the caravan park in Redcar expanding with confidence and in readiness for when we can get back to normality. But these are uncertain times.

“Visitor accommodation businesses will need to consider how they will operate out of season, as well as what impact the Covid-19 virus will have over the coming seasons. I am concerned that without the additional leisure facilities that we had budgeted for and whilst we are unsure of the future, additional accommodation may be seen as putting the cart before the horse, so to speak.

“While I fully support the need to move forward and smarten up our seafront (and I have made a lot of noise to that effect over many years), we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we have lost a skatepark (RKade) and that social gathering area for our local youth and we still do not have a major attraction to draw in families to stay longer. Redcar has needed to focus more on the visitor economy for decades as the industry sector declined and so in this vein we have been playing catch up for years. Quite simply we need more to offer residents and visitors. Crazy golf and a park is welcome but something more ambitious and unique is really needed.

“The realisation of the new Regent Cinema is long overdue and we look forward to seeing the end result and to watching movies in Redcar again but in itself it isn’t enough to occupy our youth and families or to fill up accommodation. We still have a long way to go and this injection of funding is a great start but if the Town Deal money being dangled comes to fruition, along with the excellent suggestions put forward by the public, I believe we can at last uplift and promote the High Street, sea front and Esplanade to the standard we all expect for our fabulous coastal town."