Go ahead for £8m new Blackpool GP surgery

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An £8m new health centre will be built in Blackpool town centre after council chiefs agreed to fund the proposals.


The scheme, which got planning permission in February 2019, will see a three-storey medical centre constructed on Adelaide Street to replace the Adelaide Street Surgery and South King Street Surgery.

The new facilities will serve around 20,000 patients in one of the most deprived areas of the resort where many residents end up in A&E when their health reaches crisis point.

The council will fund the investment through borrowing and has agreed a 32 year lease with the NHS.

An artist's impression of the proposed surgery

An artist’s impression of the proposed surgery

Steve Thompson, director of resources at Blackpool Council, told a meeting of the executive that the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) could not own assets.

He said: “So we have worked with them towards building this £8m scheme.”

A report to the executive, which agreed the recommendations, says it will serve an area with “some of the most deprived populations with extremely complex health needs.”

More space is needed to treat patients who are “amongst the highest users of A&E services across the Fylde Coast.”

The report adds: “A significant number of patients come into the area transiently and suffer with isolation, loneliness, mental health, drug and alcohol issues.

“It is an area with health inequalities where people suffer from premature death in comparison to other towns in the United Kingdom.”

Part of the site was previously occupied by the former Comrades Club which has been demolished.

The three-storey facility will have a ground-floor pharmacy, GP consulting rooms, treatment rooms, facilities for trainee consultants, staff offices, and change and meeting rooms.

It is also hoped it will help in the recruitment of GPs by offering better facilities.

The report says: “One of the aims of this project is to make this new building into an area of educational excellence for upcoming doctors, providing teaching and training for students and trainees for years to come.”



Blackpool estate residents’ joy as flooded path is improved after 25 years

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Residents at Grange Park are delighted that workmen have tackled a footpath which has faced flooding for the past 25 years.


People using the path between Horsebridge Road and Ravenswood Road at Grange Park after periods of heavy rain have often been forced to wade through deep puddles and mud to get to local shops.

The problem has been a regular source of complaint but now workmen have been at the site to carry out improvements.

Grange resident Terry Bennett said: “The footpath from Horsebridge Road to Ravenswood Road and then on to Dobson Road, is the link from the estate to the shops, to those at Normoss that we no longer have here on Grange.

Grange Park residents welcome work carried out on a footpath prone to flooding

Grange Park residents welcome work carried out on a footpath prone to flooding

“These include a family butchers, a Chinese takeaway. a chip shop, a hairdressers, a pub and, most importantly, access to a Post Office without having to cross a main arterial road.

“There are a lot of elderly and infirm people here who need to use it. Yet unbelievably, after over 25 years of complaining about this flooded footpath and seeing mums with wet feet pushing their buggies through the water, while also carrying a toddler, we have been constantly ignored.

“After heavy rain you just couldn’t use the path. The water level went right over your shoes and the ground around it was too soft to walk over.”

Now workmen have put concrete fences along the route and raised the level of the path to keep it above any flooding.
Grange resident Terry Bennett with his photograph of the flooding which he says people have been putting up with for 25 years

Grange resident Terry Bennett with his photograph of the flooding which he says people have been putting up with for 25 years

Mr Bennett added: “It is fantastic to see that someone has come along to try to deal with it. The next step is to get Wyre to put lights on the Tarmac area next to the field to make it safe to use in the Winter evenings. Let’s hope that won’t be another 25 years.”

How the path looked after heavy rain

How the path looked after heavy rain

How it looks now

How it looks now

Starmer’s pledge on pay would ‘help low paid workers’ in Blackpool

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Proposals by Labour to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour have been welcomed in Blackpool.


In a speech to the TUC conference, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also pledged to improve workers’ rights to sick pay.

He told the congress: “Labour would immediately increase the minimum wage to at least £10 an hour.

“For a carer on the minimum wage that’s an immediate pay rise of £2,500 a year.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir added: “A job you can raise a family on must offer a solid foundation on which you can build your life, not worrying about how many hours you’ll be given the next week or how you’ll pay the bills if you fall ill.

“Labour’s new deal will provide that security by ensuring basic rights for all workers from day one in the job: including holiday pay; protection from unfair dismissal; and guaranteed sick pay.

“We have one of the lowest rates of sick pay in Europe. That’s not good enough, so as well as guaranteeing sick pay Labour’s new deal will increase it as well.”

Ken Cridland, secretary of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Trades Union Council, said the move would help many families on the Fylde coast.

He said: “Blackpool in particular is a low paid area with many working people here on the minimum wage, struggling financially.

“The Government’s present plans to remove the £20 from the universal credit support, which many are on because of their low pay, will hit hard.

“So, a rise in the minimum wage to £10 an hour would really help low paid workers, and help reduce the need for benefit support.

“However, many of these workers are effectively working in the public sector, even if it has been outsourced or privatised.

“Therefore it would also be essential for government to ensure that budgets (e.g. for social care) are robust enough to pay the £10.

“The issue of the UK having one of the lowest sick pay rates in Europe is also a key one and it affects all of us.

“For instance, many believe that it has been one of the drivers in the spread of Covid in poorer areas, as workers could not afford to isolate and so carried on trying to work while ill, spreading the virus.

“Therefore both suggestions at the TUC Conference are very welcome, and we believe would make a really big difference to local people’s lives if the Government took them up.”



Controversial mobile phone mast blocked by Blackpool planners

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Campaigners have won  their fight to prevent a mobile phone mast being put up in a conservation area.


Blackpool Council planners have refused permission for an 18 metre tall pole with equipment cabinets at its base on Whitegate Drive, near to its junction with Leeds Road.

Twenty residents, four councillors and Blackpool South MP Scott Benton had objected to the proposal from CK Hutchison, trading as Three UK, to place the equipment in the Raikes Hall Conservation Area.

Dave Blacker, chairman of the Talbot ward PACT (police and community together) which also supported the campaign, branded it “street furniture from hell”.

Protesters at the site on Whitegate Drive

Protesters at the site on Whitegate Drive

He welcomed the planning decision, and said: “We are grateful to all who have supported our campaign to find a new and hopefully more suitable place for the mast to be placed.

“This has never been about preventing the improvement of phone communications in Blackpool, we all want to receive better signals from our phones, but not at any cost.”

Planners said while they accepted there was a need for additional mobile phone masts in order to boost 5G connectivity, a balance had to be achieved to protect the heritage of the town.

They also said alternative locations for the mast outside the conservation area should be considered.

A report setting out the decision said: “On balance, the installation of the equipment in the proposed location would have a significantly detrimental impact on the character of the street scene and the value of the area

as a heritage asset, and it is not considered that alternative nearby locations have been explored to a satisfactory extent.”

The council’s built heritage manager also objected to the application, saying “the height and appearance cannot be disguised and would introduce an unwelcome modern intrusion into the street scene, which would harm its historic character.”

On submitting its application, Three UK said it tried to keep “mast sites as unobtrusive as possible” but they needed “to be situated near to where people will be using the service”.

Council planners have also refused an application for a 20 metre high mast adjacent to Layton Library on Talbot Road.

In recent months there have been around 25 applications from different companies to install phone masts around Blackpool as part of a national drive to boost advanced 5G mobile phone and internet coverage.

Masts do not always need full planning permission as applicants may only need to seek ‘telecommunications prior approval’. This means the application is covered by national policy because it is deemed to be part of vital infrastructure.

Three UK has the right to appeal the council’s decision.



One-year-old Blackpool girl suffocated after falling into box at the end of her bed

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A baby girl suffocated to death after falling head-first into a box at the end of her bed.


Ellie Rose Siddall

Ellie Rose Siddall

One-year-old Ellie Rose Siddall became wedged upside-down in the fabric box full of clothes and died there sometime between 4pm on February 7 and the early hours February 8 2019.

She was found by her mum, Louise Siddall, at around 8am.

She called 999, but was ‘hysterical’ and handed the phone over to Ellie Rose’s dad, Luke Dowling, who told services that his daughter was dead.

Paramedic Brent Kenny described the scene as ‘extremely chaotic’ when he arrived there shortly after 8.05am.

He said: “Mum was outside, she was screaming, she was very, very upset, screaming that her baby had died.”

At an inquest at Blackpool town hall yesterday, the court heard that Ellie Rose had been ‘restless’ the day before her death and had missed two naps, which Miss Siddall put down to a cold and teething pain.

She was given a dose of Calpol and put to bed at either 4pm or 5pm. Her bedroom door was closed, and she was not checked on by anyone until 8am the next day.

Pathologist Dr Alison Armor determined the 13-month-old had been dead for several hours before her body was found, as rigormortis had set in and extensive hypostasis – the pooling of blood in the body – could be seen.

She said: “In this case, the distribution of hypostasis was in an unusual position. It stained most of the head and face. There were numerous haemorrhages identified within the area of the left side of her face, forehead and left cheek… the left part of the neck, left part of the shoulder, and the left part of the chest.”

She added there was almost no hypostasis to be seen in the lower parts of Ellie Rose’s body, which was consistent with the baby being trapped in an upside-down position.

She said the cause of death was positional asphyxia, a form of suffocation which occurs when a person ends up in a position which restricts their breathing.

Mr Kenny, who was the first paramedic to arrive at home on Marton Drive, said: “When I went in, Dad was in the kitchen… I asked dad where the baby was and he said upstairs. I don’t know if that was upset or anger, but it was very short.”

He went upstairs and searched for Ellie Rose before eventually finding her laid on her back on her bed, where she had been placed by Miss Siddall.

He wrapped the baby’s body in a blanket and took her downstairs to the ambulance.

Neither Miss Siddall nor Mr Dowling wanted to accompany their daughter to the hospital.

Mr Kenny said: “The scene was extremely chaotic. I wanted Mum to come to the hospital so we could talk to her. I don’t think it was the case that she didn’t want to come, I think she couldn’t come. It was just too much.

“I went out to the ambulance. Mum was still outside, hysterical. I think Dad was still in the kitchen or that area.

“It was just absolutely manic. I got to the ambulance and placed (Ellie Rose) on a stretcher, where I did an ECG, which was to back up my findings that she was deceased.”

When quizzed by coroner Alan Wilson about whether it was normal for paramedics to have to search the property for Ellie Rose, instead of being informed of her whereabouts by her parents, he said it was unusual. He said: “I felt Dad could have given more assistance. I don’t think Mum would have been capable of it. She was too distressed.”

Both Miss Siddall and Mr Dowling were arrested on suspicion of murder following their daughter’s death due to the apparent bruising on Ellie Rose’s face, but these charges were dropped when further examinations confirmed the marks were caused by hypostasis, and that the baby had no apparent injuries.

Former Lancashire police DCI Eric Halford told the court that there was not sufficient evidence to charge either parent with neglect, as it could not be proved when, during the approximately 14 hours she was left alone, she got into trouble in the box.

Handing down a conclusion of accidental death, Mr Wilson said: “In my opinion, this girl managed to get into a head-down position in that box, and with minimal strength was unable to extracate herself, and subsequently died of positional asphyxia. It’s my view that this little girl had been dead for a number of hours before her body was found.”

He added: “Ellie Rose was found approximately 14 hours after she was last seen. Had she been sleeping in a cot, then she would have been unlikely to get got into the position in which she was found. I form the view she was in an unsafe sleeping environment.

“I also feel that her recent illness was relevant as it contributed to Mum’s thinking that night – as Ellie hadn’t had her usual sleeps – about how long she should really leave this child for before checking on her… Although I don’t feel this can fully explain why this child was left for that length of time.”

Miss Siddall refused to answer the coroner’s questions about why she did not check on her daughter for 14 hours under her rights not to incriminate herself.

Ellie Rose’s father, Mr Dowling, did not attend the inquest. A spokesman for Blackpool’s Voice, Brian Perry, said it was believed he had moved to Ireland and could not be located despite the charity’s efforts. Mr Wilson said the court had received no contact from him.


“Miss Siddall has had a heart-breaking and trying period since her daughter’s sad death.

“She is receiving support and wishes that the press now leaves her alone to take in the coroner’s findings but above all to now find some comfort in the closure, and now be left alone to grieve properly for her daughter.”



Poulton employee admits stealing thousands from Fleetwood Docks seafood business

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A disgraced former worker at a seafood company has narrowly avoided an immediate jail term after admitting stealing around £14,000 from the firm.


Jamie Neil Smith, 43, of First Avenue, Poulton, admitted the theft from Kendal Fish & Seafoods, which operates from premises on Fleetwood Docks, during a period between October 2017 and July 2018.

During a hearing at at Preston Crown Court he was sentenced to 21 months in jail, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of unpaid work.

Multi-million pound fish park for Fleetwood moves closer

Fleetwood Docks

Fleetwood Docks

Prosecuting, Louise Cowen said the company owner had to put some of his own money in to help the firm because the thefts had put 25 jobs at risk, and they only received £3,000 from their insurance company.

Judge Simon Medland QC said he had shown a “degree of determination or brass neck” by continuing to steal funds even when suspicions had arisen.

He added: ” You abused your position of trust and you began pocketing substantial sums of money.

“The real question is whether it is right or proper to suspend that sentence and I am just about persuaded due to your previous good character and the fact you did eventually plead guilty, that it is a proper discharge of my public function to impose that.”

Smith had originally been charged over £45,000 of funds missing, but the court heard the prosecution concluded he had stolen around £14,000, making a significant difference to his sentence, and accepted he had been due some of the money that had gone missing.



Fleetwood dad punched and strangled 17-year-old daughter in drug-fuelled rage

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A Fleetwood man with a history of domestic abuse punched and strangled his daughter in a drug-fuelled rage just a few hours after a court found him not guilty of beating up another woman.


JAILED: Joseph Langley

JAILED: Joseph Langley

Joseph Langley, 40, was found not guilty of assaulting a woman at Blackpool Magistrates Court on July 23 2020. He then went out drinking to celebrate, before returning to his Walmsley Street home in Fleetwood and attacking his 17-year-old daughter in the early hours of July 24.

The teenager was left with two black eyes, scratches to her neck and bruises to her arms and legs following the brutal 20-minute assault.

Langley, who is also known as Rick, pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm (ABH) to his daughter at a Preston Crown Court hearing on Thursday, September 1.

Langley initially denied attacking his daughter, but changed his plea at the last minute

Langley initially denied attacking his daughter, but changed his plea at the last minute

The court heard that Langley had been out drinking at a local pub on the night of the attack.

He returned home drunk and fell asleep on the sofa where his daughter was playing FIFA on the X-Box.

She told The Gazette: “He came home and he was drunk and on drugs. I’m pretty sure he was on drugs that night. He came home with his mate and had a fight with him, and then he went to sleep on the couch.

“He woke up half an hour later and went upstairs. He came back downstairs and said something about a bag being on the floor, though there wasn’t anything there. He started getting in my face, and then he just started punching me.”

A struggle broke out between the pair, during which Langley beat the girl with cushions and put his hands around her neck, the court heard.

“I was trying to kick him off me. Because he was close, I was managing to push him away with my feet. He just kept coming back at me,” his daughter said.

“He got a cushion from the back of the sofa and started whacking me with that. Then he pulled me up off the chair by my hair and strangled me, and pushed me up against the wall with his hand around my throat. Then it was just more punches, and I don’t know what happened after that.”

Eventually, the girl managed to escape the flat and reported the incident to her mother, who called the police.

Langley initially denied the assault, but changed his plea at the last minute. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

His daughter said she suffered from anxiety and depression which had worsened since the attack at the hands of her father.

“If I think about it, it makes me angry because he tried to make out he didn’t do it at first. It was like he was trying to get away with it,” she said.

“I thought i was really close with him, although I only saw him once every other month. But I looked up to him. I thought he was perfect – but then I realised.

“At first I was struggling with whetherI should carry on seeing him and whether he was really sorry. But I know now that he’s not. I can’t ever forgive him for it.”