TOURISM and youth employment are in line for a £400,000 boost from the Isle of Wight Council — but plans to spend cash on building beach huts have been scrapped.
Savings made by the Isle of Wight Council in 2011/12 look set to be invested in schemes to support the local economy, the authority said yesterday (Monday).
Under the proposals, which go before the cabinet and full council next week, £300,000 would be used to extend the current youth employment schemes to a two-year programme.
A council statement said the rest would be used to strengthen the marketing of the Island as a destination, complementing the existing funding of £3 million over nine years to support the work of the newly-established Visit Isle of Wight Ltd.
Council leader, David Pugh, said: "These remain very difficult times for the local authority and we have to ensure that we are in good financial shape to face further budgetary challenges ahead.
"However, the steps we have taken so far to make the council more efficient enables us to release this significant funding to further assist the local economy.
"The feedback we continue to receive from residents indicates that they share this priority, particularly in terms of support for young people.
"The proposals also recognise the importance of tourism and the £100,000 set aside to help market the Island will focus on increasing visitor numbers.
"The proposals respond to the results of the recent budget consultation exercise undertaken by the council which also stressed the importance of stimulating the local economy."
Papers for the meeting revealed however, that Controversial plans to invest council cash in building beach huts have been scrapped however.
The plans were part of a package of one-off initiatives, using part of a £2.3m underspend, in the coming financial year and prompted criticism from some Islanders.They have been ditched following the budget consultation, which found the majority of residents were not in favour.
The council now plans to lease land at seaside resorts for the erection of beach huts by other parties.
The report refers to two "key locations' where land will be made available, however they have not been named.
Other projects are continuing, including plans to hold a celebrate Isle of Wight day, to promote Island produce.
Talks are underway for the day to be held in conjunction with the County Show.
The council is due to hear this autumn if it has been successful in securing government funding for two major schemes.
It hopes to be awarded cash for a Tourist Accommodation Improvement Programme, supported by the Isle of Wight tourist industry, which could lead to major capital investment in Island accommodation.
According to projections submitted as part of the bid, the council said it hoped that if successful the project could create 195 jobs in the construction and tourism industries and safeguard almost 300 others.
This autumn, the council also hopes to hear if it has finally secured funding for the Solent Ocean Energy Centre (SOEC), a tidal energy project in collaboration with Southampton University, which the council hopes could create more than 600 jobs in the Solent area.
The council is also in negotiations with the private sector to secure long term private funding for the project.Both the Tourist Accommodation Improvement Programme and SOEC have been shortlisted for funding as part of the Regional Growth Fund.