Residents flooding Blackpool A&E after frustrations trying to see a gp

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The concerns were raised at a meeting of Blackpool Council’s Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee


Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Not being able to get through to their GP is leaving Blackpool residents feeling ‘isolated’ and ‘frustrated’, medical chiefs in the town have been warned.

Many residents are converging on A&E if they cannot get an appointment at their local surgery – adding to pressures at the Emergency Department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

But GPs are struggling to meet demand – with an increase in calls to surgeries and difficulty recruiting new doctors adding to the existing challenges they face.

The concerns were raised at a meeting of Blackpool Council’s Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee when councillors quizzed health bosses about what was being done to address the situation.

Committee chairman Coun Adrian Hutton said: “People are isolated, sitting at home and not feeling well and they are trying to get hold of someone and it is so frustrating.”

Coun Maxine Callow said she had been contacted by many elderly constituents who were struggling to see a doctor.

She said: “Older people are ringing their GP and being told they are 19th in the queue.

“They are already feeling very depressed because of other issues, such as going to the supermarket and the shelves are sparse.”

Dr Neil Hartley-Smith, executive clinical director for Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) told the committee his surgery – Bloomfield Medical Centre – had seen an increase in calls for appointments this year.

He said during a typical Monday morning in summer 2019, his surgery would receive around 100 calls from patients seeking an appointment that day.

But this year the number of calls has increased by between 25 and 30 per cent.

Dr Hartley-Smith said: “It is challenging at the moment getting through to surgeries and getting appointments, and this is because surgeries are much busier than they were.”

He said doctors and nurses were having to cope with additional demand on top of “all the people who need their chronic diseases managing, or the dressings that need doing or the vaccinations, and health checks that still need doing on adults with learning difficulties and on children.”

However he said steps were being taken to resolve this issue with NHS England having just published a paper “with some measures that might be taken to improve access to primary care”.

These include increasing funding for urgent care centres, and better monitoring of surgeries to ensure they are not relying too heavily on the NHS 111 helpline.

Dr Hartley-Smith said the “pendulum was swinging back” towards more face-to-face appointments with GPS, although telephone consultations remained beneficial for some patients.

He said: “For some people it may be more convenient to have a telephone conversation with their GP before seeing them.

“For example the GP may be able to arrange some tests so when they see the patient they are more informed, to give an answer there and then.

“But there are some cases where you need to see someone face-to-face. You cannot examine an abdomen over the telephone, you have to put your hand on it.

“The rebalancing needs to happen. The pendulum may have swung too far but I think it’s coming back.

“We never stopped seeing patients face-to-face but levels are now over 50 or 60 per cent and that’s the right thing.”

However he admitted recruitment of new doctors and nurses was one of the biggest challenges.

He said: “Traditionally GP services have had difficulty recruiting GPs to the Fylde coast. We are not as attractive as the likes of the big cities.

“If I was to locate my surgery in the middle of Manchester, I could recruit 10 GPs just like that and as many nurses as I needed.

“Whereas in Blackpool we struggle and that was recognised by NHS England a few years back. Extra investment was put in at that time.

“Unfortunately that did not have the desired effect of bringing people in. In order to make that recruitment more successful we need to make ourselves more attractive and start looking at the roles we can change.”

It is hoped a new £8m surgery in Adelaide Street in Blackpool town centre, which got the go ahead last month will help in the recruitment of GPs by offering the latest facilities including training facilities.

Councillors also raised fears more people were going to A&E if they could not get a GP appointment, and said this could be made worse by the fact there are GPs available at the hospital.

But Dr Hartley-Smith said this had always happened, but new measures were being put in place to get “the most appropriate clinician seeing these patients as they arrive.”

At the end of October a new Emergency Department Streamer Scheme will replace the former reception ” to enhance more effective triage” and deflect patients away from A&E, thus reducing pressure on the department.

Changes were also being made to hospital patient discharge processes in order to include district nurses in the decision-making process.

Dr Hartley-Smith said: “This means it is not just the hospital saying someone should be discharged, but also the district nurses who know the social situation of a patient.

“They know if there are wrap-around services or family support available, because if that’s not available a patient can be readmitted sometimes in hours and that’s traumatic for them.”

Neglect from Blackpool Vic medics led to death of newborn baby starved of oxygen for 42 minutes, court rules

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A newborn baby who died of a catastrophic brain injury after being starved of oxygen for more than 40 minutes would still be alive today if Blackpool Victoria Hospital medics had given him proper care.

Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Finnley Morris was grossly neglected by staff when they failed to give him oxygen in an effective and timely manner after he was born ‘floppy, with no signs of breathing’ at 00.22am on October 1 2020. It was later determined he had suffered a hypoxic brain injury due to cord compression around the time of his birth.

Throughout an inquest at Blackpool town hall this week, the court heard how medics immediately tried to revive the newborn by applying ventilation breaths and chest compressions – but his airway was not secured and his heart rate remained low.

He was not intubated until 1.04am, by which time he had suffered an unsurvivable injury due to lack of oxygen. He was transferred to Royal Preston Hospital, where he died four days later.

Handing down a narrative conclusion to the case, coroner Alan Wilson said: “Finnley’s airway doesn’t appear to have been secured in a timely manner, which can be regarded as satisfying the requirement for breach of medical attention. It was believed the airway was secure and it was not, and this child was without sufficient oxygen and his heart rate below 60 beats per minute for a much longer period of time until intubation… This was not fully appreciated until it was too late.”

When paediatric consultant Dr Sunitha Peiris arrived at the scene 30 minutes after Finnley was born, she was shocked to find the baby – who she said was ‘floppy, with no signs of spontaneous breathing’ – had not already been intubated by medics, who were applying ventilation breaths and chest compressions.

She decided to intubate the baby, but could not find her reading glasses, which a nurse said delayed the process by ‘a matter of minutes’.

The registrar, Dr Suriya Dhulipala, volunteered to intubate Finnley instead. She said: “I immediately volunteered because I was confident I could do it.”

There was then a delay of approximately three minutes, as a clamp was missing from a tube on the resuscitaire, a device used to aid the resuscitation of newborn babies.

Dr Peiris said that she ‘did think about putting the tube in without the clamp’, but decided not to.

Ms Beel said: “Do you think that was the right decision?”

Dr Peiris replied: “Maybe not.”

Following the first intubation by Dr Dhulipala 42 minutes after birth, Finnley’s condition did not improve.

Nurse Hayley Knighton said: “I didn’t feel I could see the chest rising when they did the ventilation breaths. I think I said two or three times that I couldn’t see the chest movement.

“There was feeling, I think, from the doctors that the tube was in place and from what I could see I wasn’t sure that was the case.”

Eventually, the tube had to be removed and replaced by Dr Peiris. Further time was wasted as medics tried to locate a fresh tube, with Dr Peiris eventually deciding to reuse the same tube after a new one could not promptly be found.

Ultimately though, it was determined that these later delays had no impact on Finnley’s death, as by the time Dr Peiris arrived at the scene, his condition had already become unsurvivable.

Mr Wilson went on to say that, had Finnley received oxygen sooner, he would have survived. He said: “In the absence of this, a severe injury was sustainedand his condition became unsurvivable.”

He also raised issue with the lack of leadership during the attempts to resuscitate Finnley, following evidence from several witnesses, including trainee GP Samuel Esiere, midwife Rachel Sellers, and nurses Jacoba Eastwood and Hayley Knighton.

He said: “There was no leadership until the consultatn arrived.

“The registrar was placed in a difficult position… it does seem to me that this was effectively her first shift and she had not worked in this area for 12 months, which may have been underappreciated.”



“We swore to our little man we would fight for justice”: Heartbroken dad of Finnley Morris speaks out

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The father of Finnley Morris, the tragic newborn who suffered a serious brain injury due to being starved of oxygen, said doctors involved in his son’s care would ‘never be forgiven’ after


Finnley Morris was born in a poor condition, ‘floppy, with no signs of breathing’, at 00.22am on October 1 2020. He suffered a hypoxic brain injury, and died four days later of severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, where the nerve cells in the brain die as a result of a lack of blood supply and oxygen.

Today, coroner Alan Wilson ruled that Finnley would not have died had he not been neglected by doctors, who failed to effectively give him oxygen until it was too late.

Finnley was born at the Vic on October 1 2020

Finnley was born at the Vic on October 1 2020

Finnley’s dad Adam Morris said: “The past 12 months have been hell for me and my wife. Our son Finnley never stood a chance of surviving, due to an unforgivable catalogue of errors that should never have occurred. The fact that Blackpool Victoria Hospital have admitted the causation of his passing by not following procedures and breach of duty, is a small mercy in what has been an unimaginably difficult year. Though the level of neglect that Finnley suffered will never be forgiven and they will always be held accountable for the unnecessary loss of our first child.

“You put your trust and life in the hands of doctors who are supposed to be heavily trained in their field. You expect them to be fully up to date with training and remember the fundamental basics of life support and airway management. You most certainly do not expect them to place your newborn baby at fatal risk by not providing adequate oxygen for over 50 minutes, failing to perform care due to staff getting lost on route to theatre, missing equipment that couldn’t be located but was there all along, and failing to provide effective leadership during the resuscitation, mainly in the hands of Dr Surya Satya Kumari Dhuliapa (the registrar). These failings ultimately cost our son his life.

“There were other errors, including when Dr Sunitha Peiris arrived and forgot her glasses which meant that she could not intubate Finnley immediately.

“We know we are not the first to endure this wrong, it happens far too often and with minimal consequence to those who are responsible. Due to our experience we now have no confidence in being treated at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

“The effect of our loss will forever be felt throughout our lives. Instead of celebrating birthdays and milestones with our son, we are forced to do so at his graveside. A way in which no parent should have to. Finnley was a beautiful baby, who my wife and I will be forever proud of. Despite the suffering he was subjected to he continued to fight to the end. We swore to our little man that we would fight for his justice and can feel proud that we have done so, following the conclusion of the case. However, our fight will continue to ensure those responsible will never get an opportunity to cause such devastation again.”

Victoria Beel, principal lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who represented Mr and Mrs Morris, said: “It is very concerning that mistakes during such a basic requirement of securing a new born baby’s airway can happen. Finnley was needlessly without adequate oxygen for 50 minutes, which was unsurvivable. Despite a continuous conversation at cabinet level about the need to improve our record on maternity outcomes, we are still seeing the senseless and avoidable loss of babies at a devastating rate.

“I have been touched by the dignified way in which Mr and Mrs Morris have fought for justice on behalf of their son Finnley. I hope the conclusion of the Coroner today finding that Finnley’s death was contributed to by neglect, will contribute to raising standards in neonatal resuscitation.”



Blackpool v Preston North End: Team news, predicted line-up and pre-match quotes from Neil Critchley

Home | Blackpool Gazette

After eight long years, West Lancashire rivals Blackpool and Preston North End finally renew acquaintances tomorrow.


You have to go all the way back to 2010 for the last time the two sides met one another in a league fixture.

The Seasiders haven’t beaten the Lilywhites since 2009, while their last home win came back in 1997.

But Neil Critchley’s men will be confident of consigning those figures to the history books following their remarkable comeback victory against Reading in midweek.

It means Pool, who moved back up to 12th in the Championship, have won five of their last eight games.

Preston, meanwhile, tasted victory for the first time since the end of August on Wednesday night when they overcame high-flying Coventry City 2-1.

Frankie McAvoy’s side sit 18th, three points adrift of the Seasiders.

Tomorrow will be Neil Critchley's first experience of the derby

Tomorrow will be Neil Critchley’s first experience of the derby

It goes without saying tomorrow’s encounter at Bloomfield Road is a sellout, with a ferocious atmosphere to be expected.

Team news

There’s an outside chance both Dujon Sterling and Kevin Stewart could come into contention for Blackpool’s derby against Preston tomorrow.

Sterling has missed Blackpool’s last two games through illness, while Stewart was absent at Reading on Wednesday night as a result of the knock he took to his ankle against Nottingham Forest last weekend.

While the Seasiders have no fresh injury concerns from their remarkable comeback win against Reading in midweek, they could be handed a boost or two for the big one on Saturday with Sterling and Stewart possibly coming back into contention.

Neil Critchley also hasn’t ruled out throwing Owen Dale in from the start after the winger’s dream debut off the bench on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old, who has only just recovered from a foot problem, scored and grabbed an assist within nine minutes of entering the fray.

Elsewhere, the Seasiders will still be without Chris Maxwell (quad), Reece James (foot), Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward (achilles), CJ Hamilton (foot) and Shayne Lavery (hamstring).

Daniel Gretarsson could be back available having suffered mild concussion with Iceland during the recent international break.

Preston, meanwhile, could have Ali McCann and Sean Maguire back available for selection after the duo missed the club’s midweek win against Coventry City.

Neil Critchley’s pre-match comments

“I think the Nottingham Forest game last week, there were nearly 28,000 there and there was a fantastic atmosphere, so you can draw from those experiences.

“How we handled it, how we could handle it better, you have to remember you’re playing a game of football.

“The atmosphere is one thing, the occasion is one thing, but what happens on the pitch is the most important thing.

“We have to remain focused on our job. Yes, we need to bring passion and intensity, it’s a derby game so you know you have to bring certain qualities.

“But we have to remember what we’re trying to do because that’s what brings you success on the pitch.

“It’s only three points, but these three points mean a little bit more, there’s no doubt about that. I’m not hiding behind that.

“It means a lot and whoever comes out on the right side at the end of the game, those three points will feel a lot sweeter than they normally would.

“Preston are a good team though, an established Championship club with experienced players at this level.

“I believe they’ve only lost one in 10 games and they’ve played some tough teams during that run, so we know it’s a tough game.

“What a game to look forward to though. We’re in good form, they had a win the other night which will give them a lift as well, so it’s set up for a really fantastic day.”

Opposition view

“I’m looking forward to it,” PNE boss Frankie McAvoy said.

“We’ve sold out our allocation and we probably could have done so six times over. That just shows the importance of the game to our supporters.

“On the pitch I’m just hoping calm heads and calm minds are there because sometimes people can get carried away.

“It’s important the players keep focused on the challenge ahead of us.

“As this game has got closer I’ve not been able to get the words of our old kit man Steve Cowell out of my head.

“When Alex Neil and myself came here, Steve would always be telling us that this was the fifth biggest derby in the world!

“Steve has been a Preston fan all his life and we will be doing our utmost to win this game for the fans. It’s a game, it’s three points but we know the significance of it. Preston and Blackpool are only a few miles away from one another.”

Pool’s predicted line-up (4231): Grimshaw, Gabriel, Keogh, Ekpiteta, Husband, Dougall, Wintle, Bowler, Carey, Dale, Yates



Dancers get Fleetwood moving to boost health and wellbeing

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Fleetwood folk inspired by Strictly Come Dancing to get moving can have a go at a new series of community dance sessions.


Running until February, Fleetwood Moves Dance and Health pilot programme is for people of all abilities and is designed to improve the town’s physical and mental health.

The sessions follow on from the successful Let’s Move Micro Summer Festival at Marine Hall in July.

Fleetwood Moves, funded by Arts Council England, begins on October 21 with weekly ballet classes as well as Fleetwood Fusion inclusive sessions and specialist dance and movement classes for people living with Parkinson’s Disease and their friends and family.

Fleetwood Moves brings community dancing sessions to Fleetwood

Fleetwood Moves brings community dancing sessions to Fleetwood

The hour-long sessions on Thursdays take place at Barbara Jackson’s School of Dance at Farmer Parrs Animal World.

The classes begin at 10am with open ballet suitable for all levels aged 18 plus. They are led by professional dancer, Aimee Williamson and cost £4.50.

Fleetwood Fusion at 11.30am is an inclusive class suitable for adults with and without disabilities. Led by LPM Dance’s George Adams and Helen Gould, these sessions are fun, creative and energising, drawing on a range of dance styles and diverse music. Admission is £3.50.

The Dance and Parkinson’s fun specialist sessions are led by LPM’s Helen Gould at 2pm and can be done seated and/or standing. They are priced £3.50 including tea and coffee afterwards.

Helen said: “We are really looking forward to getting Fleetwood moving and are delighted to have the opportunity to work at Barbara Jackson’s studios with such fantastic facilities.” To book visit or visit



Blackpool community centre’s busiest half term holiday

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The Grange Park community centre, @The Grange, has seen huge demand for its services and events in recent weeks and has been featured on TV.


And its series of events for families over the coming October half term have been booked up, according to organisers.

Cath Powell from Groundwork, which co-ordinates work at the centre, said “It has been amazingly busy. Half-term activities were booked up in half an hour.

“We hosted Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health, recently. He did his speech from here. We appeared on Look North West too and our green doctors, who help people reduce energy bills and costs, are due to be on the One Show soon.”

People rallying together a the @The Grange community Centre to do a litter pick. The centre is the hub for community activities and has been really busy since reopening after lockdown

People rallying together a the @The Grange community Centre to do a litter pick. The centre is the hub for community activities and has been really busy since reopening after lockdown

Cath said the centre handed out thousands of food parcels and meals on wheels during the lockdowns but the team were delighted to later reopen fully with weekly activities and the cafe, which has just earned its five star hygiene rating and won a council healthier choice award for using the produce from the community garden there.

The centre is the hub for a range of community events such as parent and toddler groups, a walk and talk group and a craft club as well as Beavers , Cubs and Scouts.

Cath added: “We are arranging a bonfire, for bonfire night, on the field and we have a full on Christmas programme to come.

“All the weekly events are fully attended. It has been crazy busy but that is a good thing.”

The bonfire will be lit at 4.30pm on Friday, November 5.


This is when the roadworks at Skippool Road are set to end

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Motorists in Blackpool will be able to drive along Skippool Road once again from next Monday as roadworks there are due to end.


Work has been carried out along the A585 since May 2020 by Kier on behalf of National Highways’ as part of a £150m bypass project near Poulton-le-Fylde.

National Highways, formerly Highways England, is building a new dual carriageway bypass around Little Singleton and improving junctions at Windy Harbour and Skippool.

The road links Fleetwood with the M55 and the new bypass is designed to help remove a significant congestion bottleneck and support the delivery of new homes and jobs in the area.

Work is continuing on the £50m work to ease traffic along the A585

Work is continuing on the £50m work to ease traffic along the A585

New plastic-free eco shop coming to Fleetwood

The scheme came in for some criticism from residents in the area who questioned whether it would properly solve the historic traffic problems along the length of the A585, but the route was chosen following public consultation and approved by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in April 2020.

Skippool Road was closed on September 13, to allow the road works to develop, but is now scheduled to reopen on Monday, October 25.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard, who was under secretary in the Department for Transport until February of last year, visited the construction site on Friday.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP, Paul Maynard, left, visiting the roadworks along the A585

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP, Paul Maynard, left, visiting the roadworks along the A585

Mr Maynard, who has also served on the Transport Select Committee, was given a tour by the project team who updated him on the scheme, which is due to open to traffic in 2023.

Mr Maynard said: “I campaigned for this relief road before being elected over 11 years ago, so it is great to see the progress being made by National Highways and Kier. This new road will reduce congestion and speed up journey times.

“However, it is not the end of the works needed, in my view, and further sections of the A585 may need looking at in the years to come.

“With work on the Fleetwood to Poulton line, and this new road we are really opening up the North Fylde Coast to inward investment creating quality jobs and developing high level skills.”

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard visiting National Highways and Kier staff at the A585

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard visiting National Highways and Kier staff at the A585

The scheme is still ongoing with National Highways notifying drivers this week that Skippool roundabout will continue to have narrow lanes throughout; Mains Lane will have narrow Lanes to allow utility works to be carried out; while Lodge Lane and Garstang Road East will have temporary traffic lights.

Garstang New Road and Windy Harbour junction will have narrow lanes to allow utility works to progress.

National Highways’ delivery director Stewart Jones said: “We’re making good progress with this scheme and are motivated by the end goal of better safety, reduced congestion and impact on traffic, and the removal of a major bottleneck on the main road to Fleetwood.

“Without these vital improvements it’s likely traffic and congestion would increase and accident numbers would rise.

Jonathan Hornsby, project manager at Kier Highways, said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr Maynard, let him chat to one of our apprentices and provide a tour of the project. Everyone here is committed to ongoing collaboration with local people as we work together to deliver this important improvement.”



Home Office says hotels for asylum seekers ‘must meet health and safety legislation’ after Metropole given food hygiene rating of just 1

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The Home Office has insisted that all hotels used to house asylum seekers coming into the UK ‘must meet relevant health and safety legislation’ after it emerged that the Metropole Hotel received a dismal food hygiene rating of 1 at last inspection.


The Metropole Hotel

The Metropole Hotel

The Britannia-owned hotel on Princess Parade, Blackpool, has been used to house several hundred Afghan asylum seekers since late September.

It was recently given a food hygiene rating of just 1 by Blackpool Council’s food control section following an inspection there on August 26.

They found multiple breaches of food safety and hygiene regulations. The kitchen was dirty, with grime found on the floors, doors, wash basins, stairs and other areas. Food debris was found strewn on the stairs, on the fridge, and inside cutlery drawers.

There was build-up of carbon on the outside of the cooking pans, an accumulation of old dough inside the mixer, and meat residue found on a ‘clean’ meat slicer, putting guests at risk of cross-contamination.

The report also found that various taps in the ladies’ toilets were loose and needed securing, that a gaming machine that was being taken apart for maintenance had not been cordoned off, and that a third floor window had a crack in it and needed replacing.

Today, a Home Office spokesman said: “All the hotels the Home Office uses must meet relevant health and safety legislation and provide their latest health and safety risk assessment” – adding that the kitchens in the Metropole had been reassessed with significant improvements.

They said: “Due to unprecedented demand we have had to use temporary accommodation such as hotels to manage demands on the asylum estate and we encourage all local authorities to volunteer their support and work with us.

“The Home Office has been clear about the use of asylum accommodation in Blackpool and we have been communicative with the Council’s chief executives, and have met with local stakeholders such as police and public health providers as well as officers from the local authority.

“Serco have confirmed that kitchens in the hotel have had significant improvements made and have been reassessed. Britannia have had independent audits conducted on kitchens with high scores provided, with a further audit due next week.”

Britannia Hotels, which owns the Metropole, was approached for comment.



Spruce-up for Lytham’s Clifton Square thanks to Government funding

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Lytham’s central square is receiving a pre-Christmas spruce-up thanks to funding secured to encourage shoppers to return to the high street.


Fylde Council successfully bid for £243,500 from the Government’s Welcome Back Fund which is providing councils across England a share of £56m from the European Regional Development Fund to support the nation’s traders following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The funding, which builds on the £50m Reopening High Street Safely Fund, aims to help local authorities create and promote a safe and welcoming environment for local trade and tourism.

Fylde Council is using the money in a variety of ways including the funding of improvements to town centres, and financially supporting local business groups which are creating a range of events and activities that promote retail, hospitality and the visitor economy.

Andrew Whitaker of Lytham Business Partnership, Fylde Council leader Coun Karen Buckley and contractor Gary Carr in Clifton Square, Lytham

Andrew Whitaker of Lytham Business Partnership, Fylde Council leader Coun Karen Buckley and contractor Gary Carr in Clifton Square, Lytham

Celebration time in Kirkham as £6.3m funding boost confirmed

The Welcome Back Fund is also supporting public realm improvements in St Annes’ main shopping areas, with broken flagstones replaced, planting schemes rejuvenated and a general spring clean of the pavement surfaces.

Coun Karen Buckley, leader of Fylde Council, said after visiting Clifton Square to meet contractor Gary Carr and his team: “Our historic town centres are the heartbeat of our communities and, therefore, it is vitally important we do all we can to ensure they look their very best for both local residents and visitors.

“The funding secured through the Welcome Back Fund allows us to put in place additional measures to make improvements while promoting a safe environment for local trade and tourism.

Contractor Gary Carr painting railings in Clifton Square, Lytham

Contractor Gary Carr painting railings in Clifton Square, Lytham

“It is great to see the work now underway in Clifton Square and very soon in St Annes, where the focus will be on improving the main shopping areas.

“The pandemic hit our high streets and hospitality businesses extremely hard, so it is essential we not only spread the word that our town centres are back and open for business but that we support them in every way we can.”

Andrew Whitaker, executive member of Lytham Business Partnership and proprietor of the Mode hotel on Clifton Square, said: “Clifton Square is important for Lytham – being a focal point of the town and visited by so many thousands of people each year.

“It is absolutely vital the Square is kept in tip top condition as it reflects on the whole town, so it is good to see the Welcome Back Fund being used in such a way.

“Come the Spring, the town will be so vibrant with locals, visitors and outdoor diners and it will be fantastic for them to see the Square in all its glory.”

Together with the town centre improvement works, local business groups will be using the Welcome Back Fund to help promote local towns ahead of Christmas with the hope such activity will help improve the footfall in town centres from locals and visitors.

Kirkham Business Group plans to use £10,000 from the Welcome Back Fund to support its successful shop local Loyalty Card scheme. The town’s public realm is currently subject to major plans as part of a Fylde Council-led £10m regeneration masterplan.

The funding can also be used to create events which attract more people to visit the Fylde coast.

One of the groups involved is the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership who are busy creating new activity trails and artwork which symbolises the importance of rail within the community, historically and into the future.




Covid cases: Fresh ‘wake up call’ as rates jump in Wyre, Fylde and Blackpool

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Lancashire County Council’s public health boss has called on residents to “wake up” and take the basic precautions needed to help stem a steep rise in Covid cases.


Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi made the appeal as the latest figures show that cases across the county’s 14 council areas increased by an average of 20 percent in the space of a week, according to analysis of government data by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Wyre had the highest overall case rate in the week to 15th October, rising by 38 percent compared to the seven-day rolling figure for the district a week earlier. Blackpool was fourth on the same measure, with its case numbers up by 18 percent, while in Fylde confirmed infections went up by 30 percent.

Lancashire as a whole recorded 7,157 positive tests over that period, the latest date for which validated statistics are available.

Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi has issued a clarion call over rising Covid case rates

Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi has issued a clarion call over rising Covid case rates

In the majority of districts Lancashire-wide, case rates were highest in the 10-14-year-old age group, exceeding 2,000 cases per 100,000 of that section of the population in four areas, including Wyre. The rate was above 1,000 in Fylde and Blackpool.

Fylde was also one of only three districts where the case rate was over 1,000 per 100,000 in the 15-19-year-old bracket as well.

The Lancashire County Council and Blackpool Council areas both exceeded the England case rate average of 447.9 in the week to 15th October, at 486.2 and 535.5 respectively.

Against that backdrop Dr. Karunanithi, who is responsible for public health in Wyre and Fylde, urged residents with an outstanding invite for a booster vaccine – or even a first or second jab – to take it up as soon as possible.

However, he warned that jabs alone would not be sufficient preparation for what he predicted will be a “difficult winter” ahead.

Dr. Karunanithi was speaking just before the health secretary, Sajid Javid, announced at a Downing Street briefing on Wednesday afternoon that the government would not yet be enacting its “plan B” for tackling the pandemic, in spite of warning that Covid cases nationally could hit 100,000 per day.

Plan B would see the introduction of vaccine passports for entry to certain settings, the reintroduction of mandatory mask wearing in others and a return to the recommendation for people to work from home where possible.

However, Mr. Javid did reveal that the government had done a deal to purchase 480,000 courses of a drug being trialled at the Royal Preston Hospital, which it is hoped could become the first oral antiviral treatment for Covid.

The hospital is still seeking volunteers who have very recently been diagnosed with the virus to test the tablet “molnupiravir” as part of a nationwide study into the drug’s effectiveness.

Dr. Dennis Hadjiyiannakis, medical director for the Lancashire Clinical Research Facility, held out the prospect earlier this month that it could be the route back to “normal life” after the pandemic. It will require regulatory approval before it can be prescribed, but Mr. Javid said if and when that was received, the NHS would be able to deploy it to the “priority groups…that are most at risk”, including the immunosuppressed.

In the meantime, however, Dr. Karunanithi said that while it was understandable that people would be keen to “get back to normality” after so long living with Covid, there was a need for caution as case rates continue to rise.

“Unfortunately, in Lancashire we currently have very high levels of infection across all of our districts – and it is increasing. This has mainly been in our younger population, causing further disruption to education – but now we are seeing this increase in our 60+ population.

“The NHS is reporting an increase in Covid-19 cases, with hospitals also having to manage a plethora of other issues as it approaches the difficult winter period.

“All of this paints a worrying picture, and it is critical that we approach the coming weeks and months with caution.

“Getting vaccinated is still the best thing people can do to protect themselves, and I strongly encourage anyone who is eligible for a first, second or booster vaccination to get it without delay.

“Vaccinations alone are not enough at this current moment, however, which is why every one of us needs to take personal responsibility by following the national Covid-19 advice.

“That means regular hand washing, wearing face masks in enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don’t usually meet and continuing to test regularly. It also means doing the right thing and self-isolating when you test positive for Covid-19.

“It is vitally important that we wake up and take this collective action now – or risk the current situation spiralling out of control,” Dr. Karunanithi added.

Across the four NHS trusts wholly located within Lancashire, there were 136 people in hospital with Covid on 12th October, the most recent date for which data is available – 22 of whom were being cared for by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals. Those figures are far below the peaks seen during Lancashire’s third Covid wave last winter.


It has been revealed that 150,000 people across Lancashire and South Cumbria have so far had a Covid booster jab – and health bosses believe that the majority of those eligible in the region will have received an invite for theirs by the end of the year.

Health secretary Sajid Javid told a Downing Street briefing on Wednesday that booster vaccines “could not be more important”.

The over-50s, clinically vulnerable, frontline health and social care staff, and over-16s who are either caring for someone at high risk from Covid or living with someone who is vulnerable to infections are all eligible for a booster – once six months have elapsed since their second vaccine.

Nationally, just over four million of around nine million people currently eligible have received the top-up jab.

Jane Scattergood, senior responsible officer for the Lancashire and South Cumbria Vaccination Programme, said: “Demand for the booster has been extremely high, and as soon as eligible people are getting their booster invites they are finding a venue handy for them and booking straight in.

“It means we’re getting through thousands of boosters a day. And coupled with the annual flu vaccination programme in full swing and first and second Covid-19 doses, that’s a lot of jabs.

“With Covid-19 still spreading in our communities, and other winter bugs including flu beginning to circulate, we are making sure that our most vulnerable citizens are protected,” Ms. Scattergood added.

Invites are being sent out to those due a booster, although the health secretary said that people in an eligible category who have not been contacted six months after their second vaccine should come forward.

To book a booster, available at a range of sites across the county, Lancashire residents should visit or phone 119.

Meanwhile, across England, just 15 percent of 12-15-year-olds have so far received the single jab that they began to be offered last month.


In the week to 15th October, this is how many Covid cases were identified per council area, followed, in brackets, by the case rate per 100,000 people and the percentage change in that measure compared to the previous rolling seven-day period.

BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN – 410 (299.9, up 12.2 percent)

BLACKPOOL – 741 (535.5, up 18.4 percent)

BURNLEY – 293 (327.9, up 8.5 percent)

CHORLEY – 777 (653.7, up 19.4 percent)

FYLDE – 375 (461.8, up 30.7 percent)

HYNDBURN – 318 (391.9, up 12.8 percent)

LANCASTER – 576 (388.9, up 3.2 percent)

PENDLE – 339 (367.9, up 13.4 percent)

PRESTON – 638 (442.6, up 40.5 percent)

RIBBLE VALLEY – 335 (540.1, up 6.0 percent)

ROSSENDALE – 328 (459.2, up 12.7 percent)

SOUTH RIBBLE – 631 (568.0, up 41.5 percent)

WEST LANCASHIRE – 545 (476.0, up 25.3 percent)

WYRE – 811 (717.3, up 38.2 percent)




Sir Cliff Richard performs at Blackpool Opera House: here’s what excited fans had to say

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Excited fans travelled from all over the country to see Sir Cliff Richard rock the stage at Blackpool Opera House.


The world famous pop star brought The Great 80 Tour to Blackpool on Sunday (October 17) – a tour which was due to coincide with Sir Cliff’s 80th birthday.

After being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, fans from all over the country were delighted to finally see the now 81-year-old in action at Blackpool Opera House.

For 86-year-old Thelma Bradbury, from Sandbach, it was her second time watching Sir Cliff Richard performing live.

Christine Melling (pictured left) and Thelma Bradbury (pictured right) had travelled from Sandbach to watch Sir Cliff Richard performing live at Blackpool Opera House.

Christine Melling (pictured left) and Thelma Bradbury (pictured right) had travelled from Sandbach to watch Sir Cliff Richard performing live at Blackpool Opera House.

She said: “I’ve been a fan since he first came in, so it’s been many years.

“I last saw him in Manchester, but I’ve watched him a lot on the TV performing at the Palladium.

When asked what song she wanted him to play, she added: “I like all of his music to be honest, I really do.”

John, 71, and Jeanette Sigley, 70, had travelled from Macclesfield to experience one of Cliff’s shows for the first time.

John, 71, and Jeanette Sigley, 70, had travelled from Macclesfield to experience one of Cliff's shows for the first time.

John, 71, and Jeanette Sigley, 70, had travelled from Macclesfield to experience one of Cliff’s shows for the first time.

“We’ve been fans for years,” Jeanette said.

“We should have come last year but it was cancelled so we’re really looking forward to it.

“I’m hoping he plays a rock and roll song like Move It, Living Doll, Summer Holiday and one off his new album.”

Blackpool Pleasure Beach ranks among Britain’s most popular ‘haunted tourist att…
Jim and Jill Noakes, from Leigh-on-Sea, said they been fans since the 50s and have seen Sir Cliff Richard perform nearly every year.

Jim and Jill Noakes, from Leigh-on-Sea, said they been fans since the 50s and have seen Sir Cliff Richard perform nearly every year.

Sir Cliff has enjoyed 14 UK Number 1 singles such as 1959’s Living Doll, 1961’s The Young Ones, 1979’s We Don’t Talk Anymore, 1988’s Mistletoe and Wine and 1990’s Saviour’s Day.

Selling over 250 million albums worldwide, he is also the only singer to have had a Number 1 single in the UK in five consecutive decades.

Sir Cliff will perform 13 shows in total for The Great 80 Tour, including four sold out shows at Royal Albert Hall.

Speaking about the tour, he said: “To have the opportunity to reach an even wider audience in cinemas, and especially for those international fans still unable to travel to the tour venues, is a little nerve wracking, but hugely exciting!

Susan Clark, from Cumbria, and Janet Cushing, from Preston, said they have been fans of Sir Cliff Richard since they were very young.

Susan Clark, from Cumbria, and Janet Cushing, from Preston, said they have been fans of Sir Cliff Richard since they were very young.

“I shall begin the tour aged 80 and will be 81 when the show is in cinemas – what a great way to celebrate.”