A EURO MP is calling on businesses and residents in Clacton to have their say as part of a survey looking at deprivation in coastal areas.

Alex Mayer, an MEP for the East of Englandm launched the Labour Party’s Coastal Communities Consultation in Clacton Town Square on Saturday.

She said that according to the Social Market Foundation think-tank, coastal towns are lagging behind inland areas, and have some of the worst levels of economic and social deprivation in the country.

Jaywick’s Brooklands area is officially listed as the most deprived area in the country.

She added that the area has also had more than £200,000 in European funding, which is under threat after the Brexit vote.

Mrs Mayer said: “I do like to be beside the seaside, there’s a real nostalgia about our seaside towns, but many local residents feel left behind.

“It might sound like Punch and Judy politics, but the reality is that the Tories put a privileged few before hard-working families.

“I welcome this consultation and encourage as many people in Clacton as possible to take part and ensure Labour has the best possible policies for the area when we return to power.”

But Clacton MP Giles Watling hit back at Mrs Mayer’s comments. He said: “As a former regeneration portfolio holder for Tendring Council, member of the Coastal Communities Group and now MP for Clacton, I am well aware of the issues that face coastal communities.

“Unlike inland communities, we can’t draw a circle around our centre and build economic activity totally around us.

“Tourism is a major factor. Tendring has 36 miles of varied and glorious coastline, we are close to one of the most successful major conurbations of western Europe. We have good and improving connective infrastructure.

“Above all we have a business community with a positive attitude. Jobs are being created and, thanks to a vibrant and forward thinking district council, we have a growing economy.

“Negative thinking and negative comments can only harm our prospects.

“Yes, there is deprivation, but we, as a community, are dealing positively with it.

“The record of the Conservative-led Tendring Council speaks for itself.

“It would appear that Labour is trying to set the clock back and put our proud and thriving coastal community on a retrograde path.”