Santa hat suspect wanted by police after officer was assaulted at Poulton station

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A man is wanted after an officer was assaulted at Poulton train station over Christmas.


The officer was attacked just after 11pm on Thursday, December 16, suffering cuts and scratches to his face and arms.

“A police officer was attending an incident at the station,” said a spokesman for British Transport Police. “And as he walked down the stairs, a man got in his way and took hold of the officer and began pushing him.

“After a short while the man let go of the officer and ran out the station.

Police have released CCTV images of a suspect wearing a Santa hat after an officer was assaulted at Poulton train station on December 16

Police have released CCTV images of a suspect wearing a Santa hat after an officer was assaulted at Poulton train station on December 16

“As a result of the incident, the officer suffered scratches and cuts to his arm and face.”

Two CCTV images of a suspect wearing a Santa hat have been released and police are appealing to the public to help identify him.

A spokesman for the force added: “Officers believe the man in the CCTV image may have information which could help their investigation.
Police are asking the public to help identify the man in the CCTV image after an officer was assaulted at Poulton train station on December 16
Police are asking the public to help identify the man in the CCTV image after an officer was assaulted at Poulton train station on December 16

“If you recognise him, or have any information, please contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 666 of 16/12/21.

“Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”



Fylde coast hospitality trade hoping for better fortunes as 2022 dawns

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Uncertainty over the Covid situation meant a miserable end to 2021 for hospitality business operators – and left them hoping of a far better new year.


The Prime Minister’s decision to leave it to individuals to decide whether to partake in parties and meals rather than bring in official restrictions, left many restaurants, cafes and bars facing severely reduced attendances and consequently takings.

Veil Kirk, owner-chef of the Anatolia Sea View restaurant in St Annes, reckoned he was around 60 per cent down on usual taking for the key period up to Christmas and New Year – and feels the support package pledged by the Government will make little difference to what continues to be a very worrying situation.

“I’ve never known anything like it in 30 years in the business,” said Veli. “At least during lockdown we knew where we stood, furlough was in place and a big help in being able to keep staff and we could look forward to better times when the pandemic was over.

Veli Kirk in his St Annes restaurant

Veli Kirk in his St Annes restaurant

“But those brighter days are just a memory now as we faced cancellations and a drastic reduction in business in what is traditionally our busiest time of year.

“The Government support offered is welcome, but it will make little difference. Calculated on rateable value, the most we would get is £4,000 and that wouldn’t cover half a month’s wages.”

The new package of support for business announced by the Chancellor includes new one-off grants of up to £6,000 for eligible businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors, administered by local councils.

Coun Karen Buckley, leader of Fylde Council, said: “Fylde Council will be proud to provide crucial support to our local business owners.”



Blackpool pubs and hotels expecting influx from Scotland on New Year’s Eve T

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The seaside town is expecting train and busloads of Scots fleeing hardline rules on Hogmanay parties


Blackpool pubs and hotels are anticipating a wave of Scots guests for New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The seaside town is expecting busloads of Glaswegians fleeing hardline rules on Hogmanay parties.

When the first lockdown lifted, Blackpool was a popular destination for people looking to enjoy themselves with less severe Covid-19 restrictions.

The Sutcliffe Hotel, also in Blackpool, is expecting around 35 Scots to visit.

Owner Michael Topping, 61, said: “We’re focused on trying to make it as covid safe as possible.

“We have had a few cancellations but we’ve got 35 coming in from Scotland.

“They’re getting the bus down.

“Most of them are aged 30 upwards, the majority are in their 50s.

“Most of them have been before.”

The Ruskin Hotel in Blackpool said several Glaswegians had booked for New Year.

A worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “We’ve got a few Glaswegians coming in but not a massive amount.”

Kelly Humphries, 50, landlady of the Mitre pub in Blackpool, said the town saw an influx of Scots seeking to escape tougher restrictions at the end of the first lockdown – and she thought the same may happen at New Year’s Eve.

Kelly said: “We will probably see that on New Year’s Eve.

“It’s hard for us to say because we don’t do bookings.

“There could be some last minute, at the end of the first lockdown there were a few people who traveled down from Scotland because the restrictions weren’t as bad as there.

“Whether it will be the same we don’t know.”




Blackpool Britannia Grand Hotel guest’s anger over ‘worst Christmas ever’ for £165 per person

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Guests said their food over the three night stay was ‘lukewarm’


Grand Hotel Blackpool, owned by Britannia Hotels
Grand Hotel Blackpool, owned by Britannia Hotels (Image: Google)

Guests who stayed at Blackpool’s Grand Hotel over the weekend said they had the ‘worst Christmas ever’.

Christmas can be a stressful period for many, and as Blackpool is lit up, it would seem the perfect place to sit back and relax over the festive holiday.

The Grand Hotel in Blackpool, owned by Britannia, offered two packages for the Christmas period. One package was priced at £320 per person for four nights of accommodation with breakfast and dinner, as well as lunch on Christmas Day and entertainment every evening.

The second was the ‘Blackpool Twixmas Breaks’ package, which offered three nights’ accommodation, dinner and breakfast, as well as daily evening entertainment where available. Offering food, drink and entertainment for £165 per person.

The hotel, which is rated at 3.5 bubbles out of five on TripAdvisor, has a range of reviews, with 1,400 excellent, 1,531 very good and 797 terrible. It is the most highly rated of the four Britannia Hotels in Blackpool – with the Norbreck Castle gaining only two and the Savoy with 2.5. The Metropole Hotel has been temporarily taken off TripAdvisor as it is currently housing asylum seekers and not open to guests.

One guest who said they bought the Grand Hotel’s three-night Christmas package claimed to have had a terrible stay over Christmas at the seafront hotel.

On Tripadvisor, user Christopher A, left a three-star review on December 28, rating the hotel as ‘average’ but titling it as the ‘Worst Christmas ever’.

He wrote: “We arrived Christmas Eve for a 3 night Christmas package. We were first given a room on the 7th floor which was not suitable for my partner who is disabled, so they moved us to the 2nd floor.

“The room was adequate, however, the bathroom tidy was very grubby and the actual wet room needed a good scrubbing.”

Christopher then described his package-inclusive meals which were served on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – as well as the entertainment.

He said: “Christmas Eve night the meal was lukewarm and the loin of pork was dry. Christmas day was not much better..

“The entertainment was very hit and miss…We must not forget the quiz that seemed to go on for hours. It was like being in a rest home, nearly all went to bed after The Queen.

“Overall we will not recommend this hotel and will definitely not be staying for Christmas again.”

Another guest, who left a review on December 24, described their stay as a ‘nightmare from hell’.

They said: “Right, where do I begin. We drove 6 hours to Blackpool to check in at the grand hotel, we had 3 rooms booked for our family stay.

“We arrived at the hotel where we was greater (sic) by someone very tired and had very lack of interest in helping us.

“Anyways we now get our keys to out rooms and go to our rooms. Only to find more dust in the rooms than I actually have seen at a council tip, there was plastic over the smoke alarms in 1 room, there was a fag but under my children’s bed along with a used screen protector and stickers from items of clothes, there was fag burns in the window ledge and still stains on the toilet where someone had been for anumber 2. It looked like someone wiped there fecies up the wall.”

The guest said that they had previously enquired about Christmas dinner but that it was fully booked.

According to them, they were refunded for their entire stay bar the one night they chose to stay.

The Grand Hotel is owned by Britannia group, who also own the Norbreck Castle Hotel and The Grand Metropole Hotel.

Britannia did not reply to our request for comment.

The Grand Hotel was formerly the Blackpool Hilton Hotel and is found on North Promenade Seafront.

According to the Britannia Hotels website it is “perfect for a family holiday to the seaside or a weekend break for couples and offers beautiful views and easy access to popular local attractions such as Blackpool Pleasure Beach”.

It has a health club, fitness centre, pool, sauna, on-site restaurant, and can be hired as a meeting venue for up to 800 people, while you can even get married there.

The top two floors were refurbished in January 2016.



£48k found in Blackpool freezer hidden by chicken nuggets

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The Fraud Investigation Service has recovered £1 billion in assets – the equivalent to funding around 20,000 NHS nurses for a year


£48,000 found in a freezer drawer, hidden among chicken nuggets at a house in Blackpool, as part of a £16m tobacco fraud
£48,000 found in a freezer drawer, hidden among chicken nuggets at a house in Blackpool, as part of a £16m tobacco fraud

Tens of thousands of pounds in cash was found in a Blackpool house freezer drawer hidden among chicken nuggets.

The discovery was made by a specialist HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) fraud squad as part of a £16m tobacco fraud investigation.

It is among the more unusual seizures and confiscations made by the squad since its inception five years ago.

Launched in April 2016, the department’s Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) has now recovered £1 billion in assets from the proceeds of crime and tax offenders – the equivalent to funding around 20,000 NHS nurses for an entire year.

FIS has been proactively pursuing the suspected proceeds of crime using enforcement powers, both criminal and civil, to disrupt the movement of cash and assets.

In the past five years, more than 1,200 seizures of cash and assets have been made while on operational duty

Some of the bigger and varied seizures and confiscations include:

  • £48,000 found in a freezer drawer, hidden among chicken nuggets at a house in Blackpool, as part of a £16m tobacco fraud
  • £750,000 of gold bars seized from a lunchbox at Manchester Airport, which were auctioned off with proceeds going back into the public purse.
  • A £1.7 million confiscation order imposed on a payroll fraudster who had to stump up the cash or face having four years added to his nine-and-a-half year sentence.
  • Gold jewellery and £180,000 cash seized from a safety deposit box in Birmingham as part of a £194,280 tax fraud
  • More than £840,000 in cash was seized at a residential garage in Sydenham, south-east London, after FIS helped dismantle a gang responsible for a £9.5 million tobacco fraud.
  • A convicted fraudster was ordered to hand over poker winnings twice in 2018 and 2019 totalling £99,030 to satisfy an outstanding confiscation order.

Simon York, director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “To reach this £1 billion milestone in five years speaks volumes to the dedication, hard work and skill of FIS to recover the proceeds of crime from those who try to cheat the system.

“Whether it’s cash seizures, confiscation orders or account freezing orders, recovering these assets stops criminals bankrolling their lavish lifestyles and funding further crimes that harm our communities, such as drugs, guns and human trafficking. Crucially, this money goes back into the public purse, helping fund our vital services such as schools and hospitals.

“HMRC deploys cutting-edge technology to investigate unexplained wealth and uncover hidden assets. Last year alone, we recouped more than £218 million from proceeds of crime.

“We are committed to recovering criminal assets and today the message is clear – crime doesn’t pay.”





Doctors welcome surge in north west residents coming forward for first Covid-19 jab

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The NHS in the North West has welcomed a significant increase in people coming forward for their first dose of the Covid vaccine – and urged others to book their jabs in the run up to the New Year.


More than 26,700 people attended first dose appointments in the seven days before Christmas Eve and more than 69,700 people across the region came forward in the first three weeks of December.

Numbers of people asking for first doses have increased since reports of the Omicron variant and the announcement of plans to accelerate Covid-19 booster jabs to protect as many people as possible by the end of the year.

NHS vaccine services have also seen an increase in people coming forward for second doses – more than 95,800 in the first three weeks of December.

The north west has seen a huge rise in the numbers of people coming forward to receive their first Covid-19 vaccination, as well as a rise in those seeking a booster jab

The north west has seen a huge rise in the numbers of people coming forward to receive their first Covid-19 vaccination, as well as a rise in those seeking a booster jab

The Covid-19 vaccination has been proven to protect against severe illness and hospitalisation. The majority of people that have been hospitalised with Covid-19 recently have been those who are unvaccinated.

Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director of Commissioning at NHS England and Improvement and Senior Responsible Officer for the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme in the North West, said: “Everyone aged 18 and over who has had a second vaccine more than 91 days ago should get their booster.

“The new Omicron variant is spreading extremely quickly and we are seeing more people in hospital with Covid-19 than we have for many weeks. There’s no room for complacency – we’re asking people to have their vaccines as soon as possible and not wait, whether it’s your first, second or booster.”

You can find your nearest walk in site at

There are more than 300 sites across the North West offering first, second and booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, and the national booking system (NBS) is open to all eligible adults to quickly and easily book an appointment online.

Young people aged 12-15 can now book both first and second doses on the NBS too.

Book online at or call 119.



How reading helped this mum from Layton to connect with her autistic son

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Seven year old Logan is now talking and making eye contact, thanks to a love of animal character books


Blackpool residents have been taking part in the Blackpool30 challenge to encourage reading for fun.

It is part of a wider 10 year plan to improve literacy skills in the resort.

Reading is about more than literacy – it leads to better mental health, social skills and is strongly linked to better life outcomes.

The autistic 7-year-old from Layton, Blackpool, has improved his communication skills by sharing his love of animal-themed books

The autistic 7-year-old from Layton, Blackpool, has improved his communication skills by sharing his love of animal-themed books

It also improves confidence.

Danielle Griffin, of Layton, said that reading has really helped her and her partner, Dean Hamilton, to connect with their autistic son.

Seven-year-old Logan wasn’t keen on reading, until he discovered a series of books about animal characters.

Now the couple have filled their house on Laburnum Avenue with books including The Gruffalo, Zoggs and The Hungry Caterpillar.

Ms Logan, 27, who cares for Logan full-time due to his special needs, said the books have really helped his communication.

She said: “The books really get him talking. Even if he doesn’t know the words we are engaging in conversation so much more. He’s even making eye contact, which he normally struggles with”

But it’s not just kids books – they recently read one about sea creatures and wildlife that he found fascinating.

“There were a lot of big words but we were able to talk about what we see in the pictures.

He’s becoming so knowledgeable on animals. He even loves to look through encyclopedias. It’s helped us to share his world. ”

Logan, who attends Park Community Academy on Whitegate Drive is great at maths, but struggles with social skills and often finds it hard to concentrate.

Teachers at the special school nurtured his interest by picking out similar books to ones he was enjoying at the time.

“They saw he loved the characters Kipper And Chip, so picked him a similar book. He was getting the characters mixed up, so they sent him home with a list of names from the book, so now he can read it without getting as confused.”

The Blackpool30 challenge is very relaxed – you don’t have to achieve a goal and it’s open to individuals of all ages.

Schools are also taking part. Some ways they have been encouraging pupils include setting up classroom mini-libraries, giving out free books, and offering prizes to the most active readers.

Jasmine Short, deputy headteacher at Highfurlong school said it’s great to see such a strong focus on the pleasure of reading in the resort.

The school on Blackpool Old Road has a little library in each classroom, and every pupil spends at least 30 minutes on reading and phonics every day. There are also posters around school sharing what staff members are currently reading.

Coun Jim Hobson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care and Schools, said: “Our aim is that everyone who lives in Blackpool is confident at speaking, listens well, enjoys reading and writes with clarity and in detail.

“Reading is a passport to the world, it helps people to enjoy learning and better their career prospects and life chances. It also improves wellbeing and confidence and helps children to connect with their emotions.



Heyhouses-M55 link road: how work is coming along six months on from the long-awaited start

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Six months on from the start of work on the long-awaited Heyhouses-M55 link road, notable progress is being made.


The road is due to be ready for use in early 2024 and will considerably ease the journey from Lytham and St Annes to the motorway network as it links the Whitehills roundabout, close to the M55 and where work began, to Heyhouses Lane and Blackpool Road at Cypress Point, Ansdell.

The road is being funded thanks to contributions from or managed through the Department for Transport, Highways England, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Getting Building Fund, Lancashire County Council, Fylde Council, and secured from development.

Phil Whalley, Lancashire County Council project manager for the new road, said: “Work on the link road is now progressing in stages, from both the south end of the scheme at Heyhouses Lane and from the north of the scheme at the Whitehills roundabout.

Phil Whalley, Lancashire County Council's project manager for the new road, at the site of the construction works

Phil Whalley, Lancashire County Council’s project manager for the new road, at the site of the construction works

“We then put further stone on top of this to build up the height where there needs to be on an embankment. This is designed to be above the flood levels experienced in the area.

“As the road is being built upon soft, mossy, ground, one of the processes we’re currently carrying out is to stabilise the ground. From the expected finished level of the road we are placing over 1m depth of stone to consolidate the existing soft ground.

“This material can only be placed relatively slowly to avoid any failure in the underlying area. This is then left for around three months or until settlement of the existing ground stops. This process needs to be repeated along the length of the road and will be a major focus of construction for some time to come.

The road is due to be completed by early 2024

The road is due to be completed by early 2024

“We have also completed the environmental screening at the southern end of the scheme so that the winter feeding birds are not disturbed by our works – the screening consists of 2.4m high hoardings along 600m to reduce any impact due to noise or the sight of construction activity taking place.

“We have been able to start cutting some new drainage features such as swales at the side of the road which will also provide new habitat for wildlife when the road is complete.

“Another ecological feature of the new road will be the ‘mammal shelves’ which form part of the new culverts across Moss Sluice and Branch Drain.

“These culverts will be much larger than the existing structures, and will feature shelves which enable small animals to pass along the culvert underneath the road without entering the water, or put themselves at risk by having to cross the road.”

Project manager Phil Whalley is pleased with progress.

Project manager Phil Whalley is pleased with progress.

One family’s mission to recycle crisp packets on the Fylde

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Seven-year-old Alex and his mum Kirstin Hitchins opened their St Anne’s home as a Terracycle drop-off point for this common waste item that can’t be easily recycled


When Seven-year-old Alex started at Clifton Primary in 2019, he was keen to help the environment. But he soon noticed one common item that wasn’t getting recycled.

Crisp packets littered the school, but they were going to landfill. So mum, Kirstin Hitchins, stepped up.

“The rubbish left at the entrance to his nursery upset Alex. He was aware of littering and how we recycled some stuff but not everything. I realised we were going to have to be the change.”

Seven-year-old Alex stood by three boxes of used crisp packets to be recycled through the Terracycle scheme

Seven-year-old Alex stood by three boxes of used crisp packets to be recycled through the Terracycle scheme

So Kirstin opened her home address, 166 Curzon Road, St Annes, as a public recycling point for the foil-lined wrappers.

They cannot be easily recycled by the council, but she found a national scheme to get involved with.

Terracycle has solutions for hard-to-recycle waste products, including water filters, contact lenses, pens, and old cosmetics. Anyone can register their home or business address to become a collection point.

“So now our home address is listed on the Terracycle website as an official collection point. It’s public, so anyone can drop off their crisp packets. Each month I package them all up and Tetracycle collect them to be recycled.

“Monthly I send off the maximum amount of 3 boxes which is about 26kg.”

The empty crisp packets do not need to be cleaned but should not be folded into triangles. The outer packaging for multi packs can also be recycled, but popcorn or sweet wrappers can’t.

Kirstin also helps a local eco-shop, Green and Me, which operates a refilling service for customers.