Hundreds of Blackpool pupils team up with Royal Ballet School for creative workshops

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Hundreds of Blackpool pupils team up with Royal Ballet School for creative workshops


The Royal Ballet School’s visit to the Globe Theatre at the Pleasure Beach was met with amazement by 350 Year Three pupils across the resort, from schools including Anchorsholme and Revoe Academies, and Bispham Endowed C of E, Boundary, and Layton Primary Schools.

Teachers, musicians and final-year students from the prestigious dance school held creative workshops for the youngsters, and will spend five weeks working with them in a bid to inspire the next generation of dancers.

It came as part of the Primary Steps Programme, a partnership between the Royal Ballet School and Blackpool Sixth, which has been running in the resort for 16 years.

350 Year Three pupils from five schools across the resort took part in a ballet workshop with the Royal Ballet School. Pic: John Topping/FCAT

350 Year Three pupils from five schools across the resort took part in a ballet workshop with the Royal Ballet School. Pic: John Topping/FCAT

Victoria Collinson, Primary Steps partnership manager, said: “After a year off due to the pandemic we were very excited to welcome Year Three pupils from five Blackpool primary schools in the Globe Theatre at the Pleasure Beach.

“These pupils were given a rare opportunity to see first hand the athleticism and artistry of ballet students.”

At the end of the five-week course, 26 of the pupils will be invited to enhance their knowledge and skills by joining weekly Primary Steps classes, hosted by Blackpool Sixth for up to four years.

Youngsters taking part will receive training from teachers specially approved by The Royal Ballet School, and after the four years, aspiring dancers will be given tips on how to continue their dance training.

And if some pupils decide to continue ballet dancing in future, they could be invited to audition for The Royal Ballet School’s Junior Associate programme.

John Topping from Fylde Coast Academy Trust said: “This creative partnership began some 16 years ago when our superb dance facilities at Bispham High School Arts College became the home for Royal Ballet School Primary Steps with our local family of schools.

“Throughout the years I have been extremely grateful to Amanda Thompson, MD of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, for her commitment and passion in ensuring that this annual Royal Ballet School lecture demonstration is held within the superb Globe Theatre on Pleasure Beach.

“I know that the Year Three youngsters over these years have enjoyed their afternoon out to the Pleasure Beach to witness the highest quality ballet performances from so many talented dance students. I hope we can continue to develop Royal Ballet School Primary Steps within Blackpool primary schools.”



Blackpool offers some of the best chances in country for an outstanding school place

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These figures were calculated by a mortgage brokering firm as secondary school application season nears an end.


With secondary school applications for September 2022 closing in three weeks times, on October 31, new data has revealed that pupils across Blackpool have some of the best chances in the country of securing an outstanding primary or secondary school place.

The research from mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages analysed the number of three and ten year olds in each local area against the number of outstanding primary and secondary schools, based on Ofsted’s latest inspection reports.

Blackpool placed fourth in the overall rankings for having the best access to outstanding schools, with 19 outstanding schools (13 primary and 6 secondary) within five miles of the centre of Blackpool catering for 3,277 pupils aged three and ten-year-olds, which equated to 172.5 pupils per outstanding school.

New research places Blackpool fourth in terms of outstanding school places available per pupil.

New research places Blackpool fourth in terms of outstanding school places available per pupil.

Norwich (111.3 pupils per school), Newcastle (144.7) and Liverpool (163.3) completed the top three, whilst on the other end of the scale, Swindon (2,905 pupils per school), Peterborough (1,536) and Bath (1,333) had the most competitive catchment areas.

Nearby Lancaster placed 19th in the rankings, with 9 outstanding schools (7 primary and 2 secondary) within five miles of the centre of the city catering for 2,972 pupils aged three and ten-year-olds (330.2 pupils per school).

More specifically, Blackpool places fourth for outstanding secondary school places and fifth for primary school places.

As well as providing insight for parents on their chances for September 2022, the research also looked at how an outstanding school catchment area can affect homeowners with experts at Zoopla suggesting it can add an extra £29,000 to a property’s value.

Richard Hayes, CEO and Co-Founder of Mojo Mortgages, said: “While the 2021/22 academic year may have only just begun, for the parents of three and ten year olds across the country, thoughts will already be turning to applications for September next year.

“We all want to give our children the access to the best possible education and a place at an outstanding school is an obvious way to maximise chances of doing this. However, it’s clear that the opportunities to secure a place at one of these schools does vary quite drastically across England.

“For those living in the most competitive areas and hoping to use catchment areas as a means of securing a place it’s important to be realistic about your chances of finding a property in the coming months. Whereas for homeowners in these areas thinking about selling in the near future, this could be a prime opportunity to make your home even more attractive to families before it goes to market.”

Applications for September 2022 entry for secondary school places close on Sunday 31st October 2021, while for primary school places you have until Saturday 15 January 2022.

To find out more about the findings, click here.



Starbucks drive-thru coffee shop to be built in Blackpool Asda car park

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A drive-thru Starbucks coffee shop operating 24 hours a day will be built in the Asda car park on Cherry Treet Road, Marton, following approval from Blackpool Council.


The outlined red area shows where the coffee shop will be built

The outlined red area shows where the coffee shop will be built

Council planners gave the green light to the plans yesterday despite some objections from neighbours on nearby Wasdale Road and Chapel Road, who argued that the drive-thru would be ‘under-used and a waste of resources’, as two similar Starbucks and Costa Coffee shops recently opened at Squire’s Gate Retail Park in South Shore, and another can be found on Preston New Road.

But a statement submitted on behalf of the EG Group, which operates 142 Starbucks restaurants, said: “(The drive-thru) will be engineered to one storey and comprise a modern design which will comprise a positive enhancement to the site and surrounding area. It is proposed that the unit will operate 24 hours a day.

“The proposed development will result in economic benefits in the form of significant job creation in the form of 20 to 30 full-time employment positions.”

Plans submitted for the appearance of the shop

They added: “Given the specifics of the use proposed… it is clear that the unit will primarily draw trade from passing motorists. It is unlikely in the extreme that individuals will alter their shopping patterns to show preference for the unit as opposed to existing options within the town centre, which are more reliant on pass-by trade from pedestrians… It is therefore concluded that the proposed development is not of a scale to result in any adverse impact on existing centres.”

The creation of the restaurant will result in a reduction of 44 bays in the Asda car park, which developers say will not impact on shoppers due to the ‘clear overprovision’ of parking spaces on the site.

Another planning application for a drive-thru coffee shop was submitted to Blackpool Council in August. It proposed the demolition of the old Pizza Hut on Cornelian Way, and the building of a new restaurant at what is known locally as ‘Fat Man’s Corner’.

Building work on the approved Cherry Tree Road drive-thru is expected to begin within the next three years, in accordance with council rules.



Blackpool thug smashed his girlfriend’s head on parked car with their son inside

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Daniel McLaughlin was jailed for just six months due to a delay in bringing him to justice


Daniel McLaughlin
Daniel McLaughlin (Image: Lancashire Police)

A man who “used parked cars as a weapon” as he assaulted his partner in Blackpool has been jailed for six months.

Daniel Scott McLaughlin’s own son was inside one of the vehicles as he smashed the child’s mother’s head against the vehicle in a jealous rage, Preston Crown Court heard.

It was on August 28, 2019, that 28-year-old McLaughlin set upon his partner after hearing her talking about seeing another man.

He poked her in the eye before grabbing her by the back of her neck and hitting her head against a parked car. He then dragged her by the hair before hitting her head against her own car, where their son was sitting.

The woman suffered a broken finger, bruises to her head and knee and a head injury which required glue to fix it.

McLaughlin, of HMP Lancaster Farms, pleaded guilty to ABH.

As a result of the attack, the woman feels she is “a shadow of her former self”. In a victim impact statement she said she does not feel as if her life is her own anymore. She worries about McLaughlin being released from prison and has moved away from the area to avoid him.

She also suffers night terrors and feels incredibly lonely, as McLaughlin frequently told her she was “old and haggard, and no-one else would want her”, the court heard.

At the time of the attack, McLaughlin was on licence for an offence of GBH and was recalled to prison to serve the rest of the four year sentence. Judge Richard Gioserano said the attack was “as bad ABH” which would normally be marked by a sentence of around two and a half years.

However given the time McLaughlin had spent in custody awaiting sentence he felt it necessary to reduce the sentence to just six months.

Judge Gioserano said: “The effect of this on her has been really quite serious – that is clear from the victim personal statement. There has been a serious ongoing physical, psychological and emotional effect upon her.

“You used the parked cars effectively as a weapon. In addition to that, the injuries sustained, inflicted by you, were serious. It is aggravated by the fact it was domestic violence, it was in the street and it was in front of your own child.

“However there is this feature in the case: given the delays in the criminal justice system at the moment, not only on people being charged but also in being brought before the court and their cases being listed for a final hearing, you have spent a year in custody now – and that will not count because you were recalled on prison licence.

“That is your fault because you committed an offence while on licence but someone who offends on licence can still expect to be dealt with in a reasonable amount of time. You should really have been dealt with for this offence many, many months ago, not only facing it a year into your recall period.”



Fleetwood biker tragically killed in Isle of Man crash thirty minutes after reuniting with long lost dad

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A Fleetwood biker was tragically killed in a crash on the Isle of Man – just half an hour after being reunited with his long lost dad.


Paul Cowell on his motorbike, with partner Nicola Clark

Paul Cowell on his motorbike, with partner Nicola Clark

Paul Cowell, 56, of Hathaway Road, was killed instantly when his motorbike collided with a campervan on part of the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course on Monday, September 27.

He had travelled to the island to see his friends, and while he was there he met his father for the first time in 35 years.

His stepson-in-law Danny Reeve, 31, said: “Paul was as happy as larry. He finally got to talk to his dad. Then just a few minutes later, he was killed.”

Paul leaves behind two children, two stepchildren, and four grandchildren

Paul leaves behind two children, two stepchildren, and four grandchildren

Paul, a dad and stepdad, was born on the Isle of Man and later moved to Fleetwood, where he worked as a handyman.

It is believed he was blinded by the sun as he drove uphill at near Guthrie’s Memorial on Mountain Road at around 4.15pm on the day of the tragedy.

He leaves behind his partner of 16 years, Nicola Clark, two children, two step-children, and four grandchildren, including a two-week-old grandson, Lake.

A tiny Isle of Man T-shirt for the newborn was found among Paul’s possessions by police following his death.

His stepdaughter Demi said: “Paul was like a big, friendly giant, a teddy bear. He was generous and would do anything for anyone.

“The whole family is in shock. We’re still at the stage where we don’t quite believe it. It has affected his sons and my mum most of all; they’re finding it really hard at the moment. My mum went over to the Isle of Man to see him – but she couldn’t bring him home.”

The family now hopes to raise £6,000 to bring Paul’s body back to Fleetwood and give him a proper send-off.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to cover the costs of travel and funeral arrangements, and has so far raised £2,860.

Demi said: “It would mean the world to us to get him home. That’s why we have set up the GoFundMe page. We’re all struggling, we’re all trying to think of different ways to raise money. We didn’t expect this. We didn’t expect him to go and visit his family and friends and never come back.

“Paul was the life and soul of the family. He was the man of the house, and the man of the whole street. He was always helping people; he was always there for others.”

Danny said: “It’s not just a big loss for his family, it’s a loss for his friends as well. If you asked Paul to do something he would to it in a heartbeat, and he’d never expect anything in return.

“To have him home would take a huge weight off our shoulders. Everyone dies, but we didn’t expect him to die to early in life and in such a horrible way. Once we get him back and get the funeral out of the way, we can finally start to move on. Now he’s on the Isle of Man, his sons can’t go to see him because they’re not double-jabbed. They’re absolutely distraught.”



Brian London to be honoured with Blackpool Medal

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Blackpool boxing legend Brian London is to be posthumously awarded the Blackpool Medal in recognition of his contribution to the town.


Brian London who died in June

Brian London who died in June

Councillors have unanimously backed calls for the honour to be bestowed on Brian who died on June 23 at the age of 87 following a long illness.

Coun Tony Williams told a meeting of the full council: “I think Brian London has been greatly overlooked in Blackpool in the past for his services to sport and as an entrepreneur.

“He never said a bad word about Blackpool. In all his interviews he talked about Blackpool and promoted Blackpool.

Brian London always promoted Blackpool

Brian London always promoted Blackpool

“I would still like to see a plaque somewhere and I am going to be talking to the heritage people to see if we can get something outside his house, maybe a blue plaque.”

Brian, who was nicknamed the Blackpool Rock, was the British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion from 1958 to 1959 and famously fought Muhammad Ali in 1966 for the world title.

Although born in Hartlepool, he lived in Blackpool from the age of 16 and following his retirement from boxing owned the 007 nightclub.

It has also previously been agreed to award the medal to former councillors Peter Callow and Lily Henderson, who both died last year, and a special meeting of the council will be held to bestow the honours.



Asylum seekers offered vaccines as part of Blackpool health checks

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Medics are screening 270 asylum seekers who are currently living in Blackpool’s Metropole Hotel after being moved there by the Home Office.


Health assessments for the arrivals, who are said to be living in family groups, will include Covid testing and offering vaccinations where required.

The town’s director of public health Dr Arif Rajpura told a meeting of the full council the vaccine van was being used to deliver Covid jabs from the Metropole car park.

Updating councillors on the latest Covid situation in Blackpool, he warned of “a bumpy winter ahead” as the NHS dealt with all the usual winter pressures as well as a backlog of patients and potential spikes in Covid.

Asylum seekers are being accommodated in the Metropole Hotel

Asylum seekers are being accommodated in the Metropole Hotel

He said: “We’ll have Covid cases rising at times, we’ll have flu, other viruses and all the other things winter brings.

“The health and social care system is already under pressure so it’s really important to keep up with measures like hand washing, getting the vaccine and social distancing.

“Do that and get to April and maybe we can look forward to a post-pandemic world.”

While 92 per cent of over 60s in Blackpool are now double-jabbed, just under half of 16 and 17-year-olds have had the vaccine.

By September 26, the vaccine van had delivered 8,118 doses, with many of these reaching those who have been hesitant to have the vaccine.



Fylde’s long-awaited M55 link road ‘progressing well’

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Work is progressing well on the M55 to Heyhouses Link Road according to highways bosses.


A little more than three months on from the start of work, there’s some way to go before the new link from Ansdell to the motorway network at Peel is completed and open to traffic, which is likely to be early 2024.

But the road structure is already being beginning to emerge after work started at the end of June.

Construction has begun at the existing Whitehills roundabout to the north, with base foundations having been laid for the first 1.4km towards where it will eventually meet Heyhouses Lane near Cypress Point.

The new road taking shaping alongside the old moss road

The new road taking shaping alongside the old moss road

New pictures show work is underway on M55 link road

That has so far involved the laying of 21,000 square metres of high strength geotextile with 11,000 tonnes of stone on top to form a drainage layer.

This compacts the peaty ground on the alignment of the road, helping to stabilise it in readiness for the construction of the upper layers, and is also used by the construction team for access.

Equipment has also been installed to monitor the ground as it settles, along with pipework as part of the drainage system for the road and archaeologists and ecologists are working with the construction team to oversee the removal of vegetation and topsoil.

The contractors hard at work

The contractors hard at work

Further work has taken place to install ducting so high voltage overhead powerlines can be diverted below ground.

County Coun Charlie Edwards, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We have a series of professional and dedicated teams on site making good progress with this vital project.”

Coun Karen Buckley, leader of Fylde Council, said: “Residents have waited so long for this road I’ve lost count of the times I heard people say ‘it will never be built’.

“But now promises are coming good and construction is underway. This link to the M55 will make all the difference for commuters and will greatly enhance access to Fylde for tourists and visitors.

Drainage is a key part of the construction process

Drainage is a key part of the construction process

“I can’t wait for its completion.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “I have fought hard for this new road which will bring enormous benefits for people living in Lytham and St Annes and will help unlock the economic potential of our communities. I am pleased to see no time is being wasted and the teams on site are making good progress.

“After dealing with so many issues and challenges it is fantastic to see work is going well.”

The road is being funded thanks to contributions from or managed through the Department for Transport, Highways England, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Lancashire County Council, Fylde Council, and secured from development.

Getting the foundations in place

Getting the foundations in place

Debbie Francis, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “The LEP invested in this scheme to not only provide an important transport link but also improve access to the nearby Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone and unlock vital local jobs and homes on the Fylde.

“While there is still a way to go before the road is open, it is brilliant to see progress and the scheme beginning to take shape.”

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This is the aftermath following a BMW driver crashing into a Poulton house

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This was the scene of destruction after the driver of a BMW crashed into a house in Poulton yesterday


The driver was taken to hospital with “major-trauma related injuries” after their car smashed into a home in Staining Old Road, at the junction with High Cross Road and Normoss Road, at around 1am on Monday (October 4).

Police, firefighters and paramedics were sent to the house – which has suffered extensive damage in the collision.

The property has since been boarded up and the owners appear to have had to move out following the crash.

The BMW crashed into the house at around 1am on Monday

The BMW crashed into the house at around 1am on Monday

BMW driver hospitalised with ‘major injuries’ after colliding into home in Poult…

They were then handed into the care of paramedics before being taken to hospital for treatment.

A spokesman for North West Ambulance Service said: “We took a man in his 30s to hospital with major-trauma related injuries.”

Firefighters remained at the scene for around one hour and 40 minutes while they made the area safe.

The house was left structurally unstable and has been boarded up

The house was left structurally unstable and has been boarded up

The road was also closed while emergency services attended but it has since reopened.

A police cordon was also established around the property.