LEIGH is set to benefit from £800,000 of investment over the next three years which is hoped to boost its profile and the fishing community.

The investment will go towards various projects look to secure Leigh’s cockles a “Protected Geographic Identity” and encourage sales of cockles straight from boats.

Cash will also go towards surveys into why certain fish, like Dover Sole, aren’t as prominent as they used to be - and what can be done to rejuvenate the estuary waters.

Fisherman Paul Gilson, 63, from Underwood Gardens, said it had taken a lot of hard work to secure the funding.

He said: “It is quite an achievement and hopefully it will help all parts of the fishery from cockles to fishing and tourism. We have quite a few schemes in the pipeline from looking at Leigh Creek to possible moves with the huge amount of Skate and whether we can access new quotas.

“It all needs to be discussed so nothing has been decided yet. It will benefit the people of Southend and Leigh. We will also be conducting surveys including to look at why Dover Sole isn’t coming here anymore and what we can do about it.”

The funding comes from Thames Estuary Partnership who worked with local partners including the Cultural Engine, Southend Council, Leigh Town Council, Leigh Port Partnership, and the Coastal Community Team to put together a bid to secure funding through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

The fishing industry has been very anti EU, but Mr Gilson wasn’t against taking the cash...He said: “Isn’t it lovely for it to come the other way for a change! We finally get money back to us after all we have given to the EU.”