FOR the past year I have had the privilege of being the chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns.

Our report which was published recently offers a “manifesto” of sorts that I hope will help restore seaside towns and cities to some of their former glory and make them fit for the future. What we don’t want is to see the further decline of our nation’s seaside heritage and its towns become ageing redundant backwaters that no one wants to visit.

So where does Brighton and Hove fit into all this? What can we learn from other places and what can they learn from us?

Firstly Brighton and Hove is a widely admired success story. It is prosperous, fun, dynamic, exciting and a hugely entertaining place to be. Like all towns and cities it has its problems, some worse than others. But its air of tolerance and its diversity and liberal sense of self are things of value and generally acknowledged for what they are, a positive.

The city has gone from being Keith Waterhouse’s place “that looks like it is helping the police with their enquiries” to being one where people come to build a future and make a home. Annually Brighton attracts some 11 million visitors, outside London the second highest nationwide. Given a half decent run of weather and the streets are buzzing and our beach is full.

Back in the Seventies and Eighties it didn’t feel like that. In fact high levels of unemployment, often ten per cent and more coupled with factory closures, HQ relocations and a declining retail sector made the city seem dismal and lost. However, there were other long-term factors at work which when harnessed to a purpose are the clue to its current success.

The opening of a prestigious new Sussex University at Falmer and the creation of Brighton University opposite attract and refresh, bringing a young and dynamic cohort of some 40,000 student each year. They bring money to the local economy and ideas to the city. Coupled with the creation back in the Sixties of the fledgling Brighton Festival they have changed the nature of the place. The visionary building of a conference centre and major music venue – the Brighton Centre – underpinned the change and gave the city a year-round purpose. We have a fully functioning service sector, leisure and knowledge economy.

Brighton and Hove is one of a few cities where more than half the population have a degree level qualification, meaning its workforce is probably perfect for the next economic and digital revolution. For many of the post-war years the city had a slowly declining population. Not so any more.

By 2030 the city will have a population of roughly 300,000, up from 250,000 when the two boroughs merged in 1999. It is a young and well-educated population too, hungry for work and opportunity.

The knowledge economy supports 57,000 jobs across the city and has a rapidly growing ICT and digital sector.

Its business formation rate is phenomenal with 2,100 new enterprises started in 2015 alone, overall there are 2,700 new start-ups compared to 2012. It is partly explained by the fourth fastest ultrafast broadband of all UK cities, helping to make it one of the strongest performing service sector exporters nationally.

This is not say we don’t have our problems. There are low paid jobs, the hospitality sector could do more to train and pay better. Affordable housing is in short supply even with the council embarking on a council house building programme and much privately rented housing is expensive and in poor condition.

Street homelessness, high levels of drug abuse and mental health problems are features of the city none of us wants to see and not enough resource currently exists to meet these problems. One day surely it will crack its long term refuse and recycling problems.

Our seafront needs more capital project money to rebuild its promise east of the Palace Pier along the Madeira Terraces. Of course getting our transport network working better is a major challenge given our geography. Ultimately a linear city like ours will require a bold transport solution.

However we have great strengths. Civic pride and leadership help build what we are today and new generations of leaders are emerging hopefully bringing fresh thinking and new ideas. Where other coastal communities are dependent on a narrowly based economy, Brighton and Hove isn’t. It is capable of meeting new challenges with imagination and ideas. A burgeoning education, arts and culture sector together with the new digital economy will continue to remake the city and enable it to continue as “The PlaceTo Be”.

Steve Bassam is chairman of the House of Lords Seaside Regeneration Select Committee.