Blackpool Illuminations set for huge upgrade as part of landmark Town Deal

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Appraisal of the schemes has now been completed and submitted to the Department of Levelling Up, Homes and Communities


Fireworks as the illuminations are turned on
Fireworks as the illuminations are turned on (Image: Blackpool Council)

A £13m upgrade of Blackpool Illuminations which will see new light features built and the continued extension of the display until January is among the first three schemes set to receive funding from the resort’s £39.5m Town Deal.

Since the award of funding was announced in October last year, town hall chiefs have been compiling business cases for seven schemes which are each due to receive a share of the cash.

The first three submissions cover plans for a £13.2m upgrade of the Illuminations which includes £4..5m from the Town Deal; £500,000 from the Town Deal for a Youth Hub, and £7.5m from the Town Deal towards infrastructure at the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.

Appraisal of the schemes has now been completed and submitted to the Department of Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (formerly the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) with the council expected to receive the funding by the end of the year.

A report setting out the Blackpool Illuminations submission says: “The overall aim of the project is to rejuvenate the Blackpool Illuminations as a means to attract an increasing number of visitors to the town in the autumn and winter period, and extending the traditional Illuminations season by two months, from the current September to November season until January.

“This will be done by designing and creating a number of new centrepiece attractions over a five-year period and improving the lighting infrastructure and provision of essential equipment needed to deliver the illuminations in an efficient and sustainable manner.

“This project will support the famous Blackpool illuminations through modernisation and innovation.”

This year sees the Illuminations extended until January for the first time in its history, after last year’s proposed extended display was curtailed by lockdown.

The lackpool Youth Hub aims “to support young people in the town to access jobs and training” by supporting the transition from school into employments.

It is hoped to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for young jobseekers aged 16 to 24 within a vacant town centre unit in the Bickerstaffe House council offices.

The project will run from April next year until September 2023, but it is hoped to begin a pilot scheme earlier if a bid for £444,000 from the Community Renewal Fund is successful.

Town deal funding of £7..5m is earmarked towards the £18m cost of new roads and infrastructure at the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.

Proposals include a new access point for traffic from the east of the site, with changes to Common Edge Road.

This will improve traffic flow and open up additional development space for new businesses.

The other four projects in the Town deal are £8m towards the relocation of the courts building to enable later phases of the Blackpool Central leisure development; £9m towards the development of a multiversity in the town centre; £5.5m for the Southern Quarter/Revoe community sports village, and £4.5m for The EDGE incubator business hub at Stanley Buildings on Church Street.

These are due to be submitted to the government in November, with payment of funds due next March.

Man City star Kevin De Bruyne spends day at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne has been spotted at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.


The 30-year-old striker appears to have been spending his day off from club duties at the amusement park, following his club’s Champions Leagure victory against Club Brugge on Tuesday.

It’s understood the player was was attracting lots of attention and it’s believed security were helping him around the park at times.

A photo of De Bruyne on the Blue Flyer, part of the park’s Nickelodeon Land, was also circulated on social media.

A photo of Kevin De Bruyne on the Blue Flyer  was circulated on social media.

A photo of Kevin De Bruyne on the Blue Flyer was circulated on social media.

Both he and his Manchester City teammates will setting their sight on this weekend’s Premier League clash against Brighton.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach was contacted for comment.


Blackpool Tower Children’s Ballet is inspiration for new children’s mystery thriller

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Children’s author Susan Brownrigg sought inspiration from the seaside when she penned her latest book.


But not just any seaside resort. She remembered Blackpool and its Tower from childhood holidays and the town’s rich entertainment history was to provide her with ample inspiration.

She had already written one thriller for children entitled Gracie Fairshaw and The Mysterious Guest which was based in the resort, set against a backdrop of the 1935 Blackpool illuminations.

Published last year the book featured lead character Gracie who had arrived in Blackpool when her family moved into The Majestic boarding house.

Susan pictured on Blackpool beach with her three books
Susan pictured on Blackpool beach with her three books

Now the second book in the Gracie Fairshaw series, Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower, has been published by Preston basedUCLan Publishing and it features Blackpool Tower’s professional Children’s Ballet which delighted audiences for decades.

Susan,46, a former journalist and sub-editor who has also worked as a heritage guide and is now a part-time library assistant based at Widnes Library said she had waited more than 20 years to become a published author.

Writing stories had been a favourite task at junior school but getting published was a longer haul. She said: “I started taking it more seriously when I was at university that’s when I started trying to write a book, an adult book that time.”

By the time she approached UCLan Publishing she had a clear direction and said: “I knew what stories I wanted to tell and I like history in particular.”
Part of the cover of Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower

Part of the cover of Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower

Leaving school Susan studied for a BTEC in media studies and gained work experiences at newspapers including the Lancashire Evening Post and Wigan Evening Post.She went on to study journalism, film and broadcasting at Cardiff University and then got a job on the Ormskirk Advertiser. She said: “It was really good training. In the current book Gracie becomes a reporter. It made me very nostalgic for my days working on the newsdesk and going out getting stories as a cub reporter, you forget how nervous you were.”

She has also worked in heritage education at Quarry Bank Mill ,Rufford Old Hall, at Tatton Park, as a science presenter at the Catalyst museum in Widnes and most recently as learning and community manager at Norton Priory. She also once worked a summer season at Blackpool Zoo.

Susan chose to give her lead character Gracie a disability – a limb difference, She said: “Her left arm, finishes just past her left elbow. The reason I chose that disability is my great grandfather had some limb difference from a battle in World War I. He got shrapnel in his arm.”

Aware that her own mother copes with disability too, with scoliosis of the spine and ostearthritis, Susan was even more determined to include a character with a disability in her series.

Holiday snap of Susan visiting Blackpool's Pleasure Beach as a child

Holiday snap of Susan visiting Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach as a child

Home for Susan is now Skelmersdale, but she was born and brought up in Platt Bridge, Wigan. She said: “I have memories of going to Blackpool as a kid on days out. If you were really lucky during the holidays mum and dad would take you to the Pleasure Beach. I was definitely a watcher rather than joining in. I particularly liked the Alice in Wonderland ride, the ghost train and the river cave. Then we would get a tram and see the illuminations. I remember going to see the aquarium in the Tower.”

While carrying out research for her writing at the local history centre at Blackpool Library Susan kept seeing adverts for the Children’s Ballet in past copies of the local paper.

In the 1930s the Tower’s attractions included a circus, an aquarium, menagerie, roof gardens and the tower ascent. From 1902 to 1972 the famous Tower Ballroom was home to the professional Children’s Ballet. Girls would queue around the block to audition for a place and hoped for fame and fortune.

Susan attended a celebration for the 125th anniversary of the Tower in 2019. with her mother and a happy coincidence helped add more detail to her research. Her mother started chatting to the organisers telling them about Susan’s first Blackpool based Gracie book and her plans for the second based around the ballet. They were advised two of those attending the celebration, Monica Norris and Mavis Mottershead, had actually been in the Children’s Ballet.

Susan pictured in the Apprentice House at Quarry Bank Mill.

Susan pictured in the Apprentice House at Quarry Bank Mill.

Susan said: “I swopped details with the ladies. Monica has told me a bit more about the ballet and helped bring it to life for me. She’s a Blackpool lady and the book is dedicated to Monica.”

Her book, aimed at eight to12 year olds, is timely for the Christmas gift market as it is set around a Children’s Ballet Christmas spectacular. When the curtain rises it becomes apparent someone is trying to spoil the show. There are accidents, pranks and a poison pen letter. Gracie and friends step in to try to stop the saboteur and save the show.

Susan, who was an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Undiscovered Voices winner in 2016, has also written a pirate adventure story entitled Kintana and Captain’s Curse which was published earlier this year and said: “After 20 years of trying (to get published) it seems to have gone very fast. I need to get writing again now. I’m working on a new Gracie book.”

Susan will be attending a booksigning at Storytellers Inc in Lytham Saint Annes.on November 13.

* Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower by Susan Brownrigg with illustrations by Jenny Czerwonka costs £6.99 and is published by UCLan Publishing.



Sir Cliff Richard spotted at popular Fylde hotel and restaurant after Blackpool show

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Sir Cliff Richard was spotted relaxing in the Fylde countryside after rocking the stage in Blackpool at the weekend.


The world famous pop star turned heads when he was spotted in The Cartford Inn, close to the village of Great Eccleston, after performing for thousands of adoring fans at the Blackpool Opera House on Sunday (October 17).

The spry hit-maker, 81, stayed two nights at the award-winning pub, restaurant and boutique hotel next to the River Wyre, where he happily posed for pictures with star-struck staff.

In a picture shared on its Facebook page, the Inn’s owners Julie and Jeanie Beaume can be seen smiling with Sir Cliff, with a caption saying he “loved the Inn”.

On Sunday, excited fans travelled from all over the country to see Sir Cliff rock the stage with ‘The Great 80 Tour’ at the Winter Gardens.

You can find out what his fans thought of the performance with our review and reaction piece here.

Sir Cliff Richard performs at Blackpool Opera House: here’s what excited fans ha…

Last week, the Cartford Inn was named ‘Best foodie hotel’ by the Sunday Times in the paper’s ‘Best Places to Stay Guide’ for the North of England.

The Cartford Inn shared a picture of Sir Cliff and two staff members on its Facebook page, with the business saying, "Sir Cliff loved the Inn". Pic: The Cartford Inn

The Cartford Inn shared a picture of Sir Cliff and two staff members on its Facebook page, with the business saying, “Sir Cliff loved the Inn”. Pic: The Cartford Inn

You can read our report on the Inn’s prestigious award and our chat with proud owners Julie and Patrick Beaume here.

The Cartford Inn was recently featured in the Sunday Times' Best Places to Stay Guide for the North of England. Pic: Cartford Inn

The Cartford Inn was recently featured in the Sunday Times’ Best Places to Stay Guide for the North of England. Pic: Cartford Inn

Fleetwood Town boss Andy Pilley denies charges of fraud at Preston Crown Court

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Fleetwood Town owner Andy Pilley has made his first appearance in Crown Court to strongly deny allegations of fraud and money laundering charges involving his energy business.


Mr Pilley, 51, of Thornton, is accused of mis-selling energy supply contracts through his firm, Business Energy Solutions (BES), and posting fake customer comments online.

His sister, Michelle Davidson, 48, who also works for BES, faces similar charges following an eight-year investigation by Trading Standards.

This morning at Preston Crown Court, a lawyer indicated that the Fleetwood Town chairman, whose energy business is the club’s main sponsor, would plead not guilty to four charges, should the case not be dismissed in due course.

Fleetwood Town boss Andy Pilley

Fleetwood Town boss Andy Pilley

He stands accused of two counts of running a business with the intention of defrauding creditors or others by allowing the fraudulent mis-selling of energy supply contracts.

He also stands accused of allowing fraudulent mis-selling by sales representatives, and being concerned with the retention of criminal property – specifically the proceeds from the mis-sold contracts.

His trial, which will begin on a date to be announced, with the earliest possible date being October 2022, is expected to last three months.

Ms Davidson, of Holmefield Avenue, Cleveleys, will also stand trial, facing one charge of running a company with the intent to defraud.

Lee Qualter, 51, also of Holmefield Avenue, faces the same charge.

Joel Chapman, 37, of Kingston Road, Willerby, Yorkshire, faces two charges of aiding false representation, and intending a customer to cause a loss or be at risk of loss.

All four defendants will remain on while awaiting trial.

Mr Laidlaw, defending Pilley, Davidson and Chapman, called on Judge Knowles to fix a date for the hearing at the earliest possible opportunity.

He said: “From the perspective of the defendants, this investigation now enters its eighth year. We have people of good character and their reputations are at stake. With one exception, they provide work within the towns where they are employed. A good deal turns upon the decisions that we would hope be made by a judge at some point early next year, and to hear that this case would simply fall to the wayside would be a deeply distressing message to hear.”

Judge Knowles told the defendants: “I’m sorry that I’m not giving you a date for your trial today, or arranged for the applications that you wish to make to stay proceedings or have charges dismissed to be heard. I do understand the distress and anxiety that you feel and no doubt you will have had today fixed in your mind. But me overarching concern is that we get a trial date which will hold at the earliest possible date, and that’s why I’m not giving a trial date today.”



Go ahead for new car park near Blackpool Pleasure Beach

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Buildings which were previously used as accommodation for Blackpool Pleasure Beach workers are set to be bulldozed to make way for a public car park.


Blackpool Council has approved an application by the Pleasure Beach to redevelop the site between Balmoral Road and Osborne Road in South Shore as a 31-space pay and display public car park.

Three buildings, which had also previously been used as holiday accommodation, are earmarked for demolition.

Planners, who granted permission using their delegated powers, branded the premises as “unsightly”.

Artists impression of the planned new car park

Artists impression of the planned new car park

A report setting out the decision adds: “The site is on the boundary with an area where there is a significant oversupply of small, poor quality bedsits, flats and HMOs.

“The properties themselves have not been used as holiday accommodation for a long time and are in need of investment and renewal and the applicant has indicated that the expense would result in them not being viable.

“The demolition of at least one of the buildings, on Balmoral Road, would make a positive contribution to the quality of the surrounding environment by removing an unsightly building which negatively impacts on the surrounding environment.

“Number 30 Balmoral is a particularly unsightly former hotel and HMO and its removal can only help the appearance of the area, especially on such a prominent corner.

“The council has a focus on strengthening the resort’s appeal to attract new audiences year-round and a car park would help here.”



Blackpool saw lockdown increase in smoking and drinking

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Levels of alcohol intake and smoking have gone up in Blackpool during the Covid pandemic reflecting national trends, according to public health officials in the town.


National data comparing March 2020 and March 2021 shows a 58.6 per cent increase of people reporting they are drinking at higher-risk levels of 50 units a week for men and 35 units a week for women, when the recommendation is 14 units per week.

Figures from Cancer Research UK indicate England saw a rise in young adults taking up smoking during the first lockdown, with the number of 18 to 34-year-olds who classed themselves as smokers having increased from 21.5 per cent to 26.8 per cent.

There are concerns more young people are taking up smoking

There are concerns more young people are taking up smoking

A meeting of Blackpool Council’s adult social care and health scrutiny committee, heard while local figures were not available, other evidence points to Blackpool falling in line with the national trends.

One snapshot shows the number of people seen by a key alcohol treatment service in the town increased to 269 in February 2021, compared to 227 in April 2020.

A council report said: “Despite clubs, pubs etc closing during national lockdowns, the total amount of alcohol released for sale during the pandemic was still similar to the pre-pandemic years, which suggests people are drinking more at home.”


Liz Petch, public health specialist at Blackpool Council, said there was “anecdotal evidence of more young people taking up smoking in Blackpool.”

She said young people were “highly likely” to smoke if their parents smoked, while many young people “used e-cigarettes where smoking was unacceptable” but switched to regular tobacco elsewhere.

She also warned there was a need to tackle the supply of illicit tobacco in Blackpool.

However a new smoking cessation service is operating in the town, delivered by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals with the aim being to focus resources on the people who need it most.

The report adds: “There is a new focus on young people due to the increase in smoking rates during lock down. ”



Car enthusiasts flock to South Shore for massive Blackpool Illuminations convoy

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Hundreds of car enthusiasts flocked to South Shore as drivers revved their engines and showed off their prized wheels ahead of a spectacular ride along Blackpool Illuminations.


Customised cars packed into the Squire’s Gate retail park car park at around 7pm on Sunday night to take part in a convoy through the famous lights, which was organised by North West car club Extreme BHP.

The event sparked controversy, however, as many local residents said they had not been informed – and were alarmed by the sound of ‘screeching tyres, engines revving and cars backfiring’.

Blackpool Illuminations £13m upgrade included in first Town Deal submission
The event attracted hundredds of fans

The event attracted hundredds of fans

Blackpool council and police said they too had no idea about the gathering, which filled every parking bay in the retail area.

A spokesman for the council said the authority had reported the event to the police, as permission is needed for all large events taking place on public land, including the Promenade.

They said: “We were not advised in advance about this event taking place at the car park which is private land. However, we were subsequently made aware of activity on the Promenade and reported the event to the police.”

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton said he had spoken to the chief superintendent about the event after being contacted by a number of consituents, and was awaiting a response.

Cars gathered at Squire's Gate retail park on Sunday night

Cars gathered at Squire’s Gate retail park on Sunday night

He said: “I’m aware of the concerns of residents following the loud noise and disruption from a gathering of around 80 cars on the Squires Gate Industrial Park (Sunday) night.

“This was an organised gathering and these have happened before but the disruption to residents was far greater than usual. I have contacted the police to discuss how such noise and disruption to residents can be minimised in future.”

But Extreme BHP, which boasts more than 22,000 fans and organises car shows, track events, static meets, drag races and drifting events, all over the North West, defended the gathering.

A spokesman said: “We organised a drive through of the Illuminations, which we organise every year. We have had nothing but positive feedback from all who attended the convoy, our events are public so everyone knows about them… We’ve been running events for 13 years and have done 12 consecutive Illumination convoys. There mustn’t have been any complaints to the police at the time as they didn’t pop down.”

People took to social media to voice their concerns or support for the event.

Emma Dallas-Smith said: “It would’ve been nice to know in advance, as a local resident. My child has learning disabilities she was terrified with all the screeching of tyres, engines revving and cars backfiring. I could’ve prepared her for that had I of known in advance. Not to mention the dog also bring terrified, I could’ve given her, her medication which needs to be taken in advance of noisy events, had I of known this was taking place.”

Paul Nettleton said: “At the end of the day, the venue is too close to residential areas. Creating so much noise especially on a Sunday night when a lot of people have to get up for work the next day is completely thoughtless.”

He added: “A zero tolerance needs to be employed. These drivers just don’t care about the feelings of local residents.”

BHP Extreme member Rick Cross, said: “We all met on the car park to run a convoy through the lights, and then some went back afterwards I believe. Some of our staff team spent around 30 minutes picking up litter once the cars had left for the convoy, the majority of the litter not caused by us. The convoy started leaving at 7.45pm. And the last of it left the car park at 8.30pm. We try our best to make sure everybody behaves themselves, which from what we saw, they did.”

Wayne Wareing said: “It was organised and the cars were all in one place. Would you rather have popping, banging for a few hours or illegal ones with them racing round the streets to stupid o’clock? It’s on once every so often and doesn’t really go on that late. I think let them have their meets. Let them have their fun and keep it off the streets.

“It’s a bunch of people that have spent a lot of money on there cars and want other people to appreciate them. Believe me they wouldn’t want there cars damaging anymore than you not wanting to see it.”



Has anyone in Blackpool seen Monkey?

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A family is desperately trying to recover a child’s much-loved toy which was accidentally left behind while they were staying in Blackpool.


Has anyone seen Monkey?

Has anyone seen Monkey?

They are so keen to get the cuddly monkey back they are even offering a £50 reward.

Monkey, as he is simply called, has accompanied by the Davies family, from Fife in Scotland, all over the world.

They have taken it to Canada, the United States and Greece over the years, and across Britain.

Trams held in Blackpool after car crash in Gynn Square

But after they had been staying in a privately-let house off Talbot Road last week, they returned home on Sunday (October 14) and realised they’d left Monkey behind.

Laura Davies, 36, who was with her husband and two children, says Monkey was her 11 year old son Aidyn’s favourite toy when he was younger and it has been with them on holidays ever since.

Monkey is described as being a ‘pillow toy’ and is around 10 inches tall, dark brown and cream in colour.

Laura said: ” We checked out on the Sunday morning, did the usual check, check and double check.

“Got home to Scotland after tea time and not till later that night we realised we’d left something….we’d left behind my son’s Monkey.

“This monkey is part of the family!

“It’s been everywhere with us over the years. So, as it was late we sent a text to the property owner, no reply that night.

“I tried to call nearer lunch time the following day, no answer. She then text back a message informing us the cleaners have ‘threw him away’!

“Of course I called as I wanted them to try retrieve him from the bins but she then informed us the bin men had been and emptied bins first thing Monday morning!

“To them the monkey isn’t important but it’s so special and sentimental to my son.

“I can’t understand why they wouldn’t of tried to return him, you could tell it was a well loved toy/child’s comforter!

“We have messaged back and forth and now all we know is he got taken away in the rubbish by a private refuge collection company.

“We were hoping that tip companies might read our story and be able to keep an eye out while sorting through the landfill.

“As silly as it sounds we are offering a £50 reward to the person who finds him!”

Anyone able to save Monkey can contact the family by email at