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Blackpool FC release statement after Bez Lubala is cleared of rape allegations

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool FC say they had no prior knowledge of the allegations facing Bez Lubala prior to signing him from Crawley Town.

The forward was today found not guilty of raping an 18-year-old girl following a trial in a Brighton court.The allegation relates back to an incident in September 2019 while he played for Crawley.

The 24-year-old would sign for the Seasiders a year later, with the club unaware of the allegations made against him at the time.

“Blackpool Football Club notes the jury reached a verdict of not guilty in relation to the allegation against Beryly Lubala,” the club said in a statement.

“This has been an extremely difficult time for all involved.

“The alleged offence is one that the club had no prior knowledge of when Beryly signed for Blackpool in September 2020.

“The club would like to make clear that it would not knowingly sign a footballer, nor employ any individual, who is subject to a police Investigation of this gravity.

Lubala has been found not guilty by a jury in Brighton

Lubala has been found not guilty by a jury in Brighton

“The club will be making no further comment at this stage.”

During the trial, Lubala told the jury he was immediately suspended by Blackpool for two weeks after informing them he was due in court.

Lubala also said Blackpool took him to court as they wanted to terminate his contract for being “dishonest” and not disclosing he had been interviewed by police before signing.

He told the court he was able to beat the case with the help of the FA and he is still in a contract with Blackpool – but with strict conditions.

Julia Smart QC, defending Lubala, said there is still an ongoing dispute between Crawley Town and Blackpool, who say his former team should have informed them about the allegations.

Speaking after today’s verdict, Lubala said he wished to put the “episode” behind him and focus on his family, future and football career.


Police cordon off roads in Cleveleys town centre due to ongoing public disorder incident on Nutter Road

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Police are urging people to keep clear of the area.

Police are currently dealing with an ongoing public order incident on Nutter Road in Cleveleys, meaning that numerous roads in the area have been cordoned off.

In a statement posted to both Facebook and Twitter at 3:30 pm, Wyre Police confirmed that road closures are currently in place on Nutter Road itself and Rough Lea Road.

They added that whilst there are numerous patrols in the area, they believe here is “no risk to the wider public”.

Wyre Police confirmed that there is an ongoing police incident on Nutter Road, Cleveleys.

Wyre Police confirmed that there is an ongoing police incident on Nutter Road, Cleveleys.

Speaking to the Gazette an hour later, a police spokesperson said: “We were called at 1.07pm today (January 26) to a public order incident in Nutter Road, Thornton Cleveleys. Officers remain at the scene. The public are asked to avoid the area.”

According to reports, and footage posted online, the incident involves somebody throwing furniture out of a building, and both the fire service and armed riot police are in attendance.

More information to follow.


Blackpool Victoria Hospital slammed and told to improve with staff feeling unsupported and not valued

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

The hospital’s trust has been served a warning notice ordering it to significant improvements


Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Blackpool Victoria Hospital (Image: James Maloney / LancsLive)

Leaders at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been ordered to make improvements after health watchdog inspectors descended on Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) identified some improvements upon its surprise visit in September and October but assessed its urgent and emergency care as the worse possible rating of ‘inadequate’.

It also evaluated the trust’s ‘responsiveness’ as inadequate, while its leadership rating moved up from from inadequate to requires improvement. Surgical care and critical care remained rated as requires improvement, while medical care moved up from inadequate to requires improvement.

The CQC carried out the unannounced inspection of services including urgent and emergency care, medical care, critical care and surgical care due to continuing concerns about quality and safety. An inspection of the well-led domain of the trust overall was also carried out.

As a result, the trust remains rated as requires improvement overall and for being safe and effective.

The low rating for emergency care was given in part as a result of poor infection control and staff shortages.

The report states: “The design, maintenance and use of facilities, premises and equipment did not keep people safe. Staff did not always assess, monitor or manage risks to people who used the services. Opportunities to prevent or minimise harm were missed. Substantial or frequent staff shortages increased risks to people who used the service.”

It continues: “Leaders were not always visible in the department and did not always have a clear understanding of the risks, issues and challenges in the service. They did not always act in a timely manner to address them […]. Staff did not always feel respected, supported and valued.”

Due to the issues found during the inspection, the trust was issued with a warning notice requiring it to take action to ensure significant improvements are made with regards to assessing and managing risks to patients who are waiting to receive care and treatment.

It has also been order to improve its systems and processes to make sure incidents are dealt with appropriately so lessons can be learnt to prevent them happening again.

Ann Ford, CQC’s deputy chief inspector for the north, said: “When we inspected the trust, there had been a number of new appointments to the leadership team. We found planned improvements were underway, however these were not fully embedded to ensure sustained improvement.

“I recognise the enormous pressure NHS services are under across the country, especially in the urgent and emergency department, however it is vital that senior leaders are visible and have good oversight to manage and mitigate emerging challenges and risks, and we found that this visibility and oversight was lacking. Due to this, in the emergency department the trust wasn’t always aware of the risks to patients and consequently was not acting promptly to address them.

“We also found issues with waiting times in medical and surgical care, staff raised concerns that patients were coming to harm while on the waiting list for significant lengths of time, and we weren’t assured that patients’ conditions had been reviewed or prioritised appropriately.

“It was disappointing to see that not all staff felt respected or valued at such a challenging time with a lack of support relating to equality, diversity and inclusion. The trust must make it a priority to improve this to make sure it is an inclusive organisation for everyone. The trust was working towards an open culture where people could raise concerns without fear, however at the time of the inspection not all staff felt they could do this

Blackpool Victoria Hospital's urgency and emergency care was rated 'inadequate'
Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s urgency and emergency care was rated ‘inadequate’ (Image: James Maloney/LancsLive)

“Additionally, it wasn’t always easy for patients to make complaints and when the trust did investigate them, learning wasn’t always shared with staff to prevent them from happening again. Although we did find concerns across the trust, we also found that the staff we met were focused on the needs of patients, and there were pockets of outstanding care.

“Following this inspection, we wrote to the trust requesting assurance about identified patient safety risks. The trust has provided an action plan to address our urgent concerns and we continue to monitor them closely and will return to check on their progress to ensure patients are receiving safe care.”

Trish Armstrong-Child, Chief Executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, took up the role in September as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) arrived at Blackpool Victoria Hospital to begin their inspection of core services.

Reacting to the report, she said: “Overall, the CQC rating for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust remains as Requires Improvement. The trust recognises and acknowledges the areas highlighted for action and will work with the CQC and colleagues and stakeholders across the wider health and social care system to improve.

“The trust continues to aspire to becoming an outstanding organisation and improving our ratings across every domain, including caring which is rated good across all settings and a positive reflection of the dedication of colleagues.

“It’s clear progress has been made since the last inspection in 2019, but there is also much more to do. Over the coming days, weeks and months we will collectively focus on these issues together, as a team, for the benefit of all our patients and residents across our local communities.”



Bez Lubala trial: Blackpool forward cleared of rape allegations by jury in Brighton

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool FC forward Beryly ‘Bez’ Lubala said he was keen to get back to playing football after he was cleared of rape by a jury in Brighton.


The forward thanked his legal team after a jury took less than two hours to find him not guilty.

Speaking after the verdict, the player said: “I am delighted with the verdict and I would like to thank Jesus Christ my Lord and saviour.

“Thank you to my family and friends for standing by me through what has been an incredibly difficult period of my life.

Bez Lubala has been cleared by a jury in Brighton

Bez Lubala has been cleared by a jury in Brighton

“I would also like to thank the jury, and the judge Her Honour Shani Barnes for their time.

“Finally, I would like to thank Julia Smart QC, and my solicitor Iqbal Ahmed for their hard work and support.

“Now that a jury has found me to be innocent of all charges I wish to put this episode behind me and focus on my family, my future, and my career as a footballer.”

There were excited gasps from his family and friend in the public gallery when the jury foreperson confirmed their not guilty verdict.

As the news hit home, some of his family could be heard sobbing quietly.

Her Honour Judge Shani Barnes said: “Thank you all for staying so calm, I know that was hard for you.”

The judge told the jury: “This one took on a whole new level of pressure.

“People’s lives were on hold.

“You are free to go back to your lives and Mr Lubala is free to go back to his.”

Blackpool FC have been approached for comment



Fire service deal with a Bispham fire involving garden furniture

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Firefighters made the area safe in under an hour.

Today, (January 26), one fire engine from Blackpool attended a commercial building fire on Red Bank Road in Bispham, at 14:04 pm

The incident involved garden furniture and a small lean-to at the rear of a commercial property.

A lean- to is a roofed building sharing one wall with a larger building, such as a garage or a shed.

A Blackpool fire engine was today called to a commercial building fire in Bispham.

A Blackpool fire engine was today called to a commercial building fire in Bispham.

Firefighters used Milwaukee tools and a thermal imaging camera to make the scene safe.

They were in attendance for approximately forty-five minutes.



Kirkham’s £3.2m county cash hope

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A proposed £3.2m cash injection to complete regeneration works in Kirkham town centre has been welcomed by Fylde’s MP and council leader.


Lancashire County Council’s cabinet is being asked to approve the spending when it meets on Thursday, January 20.

The funding will ensure the completion of the Kirkham Futures masterplan for the town.

More than £10m is already being spent, funded through the Future High Streets Fund and Heritage Action Zone scheme. The additional money from County Hall will take the total available for the scheme to more than £13m.

Kirkham town centre

Kirkham town centre

Mr Menzies said: “I know how important it is that we deliver this project in its entirety.

“Kirkham is an historic market town with a unique high street offer.

“There are so many brilliant, independent traders in the town and this investment will help bring more people into shops, bars, cafes and restaurants.”

The funding will help ensure a number of schemes outside the town’s heritage zone – focused on the Market Square – can go ahead, including projects to improve the look of Poulton Street and to address flooding issues.

Mr Menzies said: “I know business owners were disappointed when some projects missed out on funding.

“That is why I have, alongside County Coun Stewart Jones, been pressing Lancashire County Council to stand by its promises to fund the completion of the project.

“I am looking forward to seeing the transformation of Kirkham over the coming months thanks to this commitment.”

Funding to support a project that will transform Kirkham Futures will deliver major improvements to the public realm in the town centre, the refurbishment of shop fronts and the regeneration of empty high street properties. It will also support community, health and wellbeing programmes, as well as arts and cultural activities.

County Coun Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic development and growth at the county council, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to support projects which will provide a major investment in Kirkham, bringing a significant economic benefit while also assisting with the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re working in partnership to make this project happen for local people and also visitors to the town.”

Fylde Council has also successfully received funding from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund and High Street Heritage Action Zone fund.

Coun Karen Buckley, leader of Fylde Council, said: “Our bid to the Government’s Future High Street Fund was costed at £9.5m. We were awarded £6.3m, which was still a very good result, especially given that Fylde Council’s was the only successful bid in Lancashire.

“The gap of £3.2m being filled by Lancashire County Council puts us right back on track to deliver the Kirkham Futures scheme.

“I’m grateful to Cabinet Member, County Coun Aidy Riggott, for meeting with me and to the officers of both councils who are working together on the project.”



Microwave extinguished after going up in flames inside Blackpool home

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A microwave caught fire inside a home in Blackpool.

Two fire engines from Blackpool attended the scene in Hoyle Close at around 4.15pm on Tuesday (January 25).

Firefighters wearing two breathing apparatus used two hose reels to extinguish the flames.

Crews then used a positive pressure ventilation unit to clear the property of smoke.

Two fire engines from Blackpool extinguished a microwave that had caught fire in Hoyle Close

Two fire engines from Blackpool extinguished a microwave that had caught fire in Hoyle Close

Firefighters were in attendance for approximately 30 minutes.

Cooking Safely

More than half of accidental fires in the home are started by cooking, according to the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

Here are a few things you can do to make cooking as safe as possible:

– Avoid leaving saucepan handles sticking out – children can grab them, or you might knock it off the hob.

– Be wary of loose-fitting clothing when cooking on the hob.

– Make sure tea towels and dishcloths are kept away from any heat sources.

– Make sure the oven or hob is off after you are finished.

– Do not leave cooking unattended. If you must leave the room, turn the hob off.

– Keep all cooking appliances clean and in good working order.

– Do not use grills or ovens as storage space when not cooking.

– If you have been drinking or using drugs, consider ordering food to be delivered rather than cooking for yourself.

For more safety tips, visit the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service website by clicking HERE.


Oliver Sarkic’s contract cancelled by mutual consent exactly a year to the day he made his last Blackpool last appearance

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Oliver Sarkic has become the latest player to leave Blackpool during the January transfer window.

The 24-year-old’s contract at Bloomfield Road has been cancelled by mutual consent, freeing him up to join another club.

It comes after a similar situation with Teddy Howe, which allowed the defender to sign for National League side Barnet.Sarkic departs the Fylde coast without making a single appearance under Neil Critchley in the last 12 months.

In fact, his last cameo for the Seasiders came exactly a year ago to the day, coming on as an 88th-minute substitute during the 5-0 thrashing of Wigan Athletic on January 26, 2021.

The forward, a free transfer from Burton Albion in the summer of 2020, made just 10 appearances for the club, failing to register a goal.

He spent a brief spell on loan with Mansfield Town last season, making four appearances before his stay was cut short as a result of injury.

It’s anticipated that Joe Nuttall will be the next player to head through the exit door, with a move to League Two side Scunthorpe United close to being finalised. It was expected the striker’s switch would be completed today, but we’re still awaiting official confirmation.

Sarkic failed to score a goal during his time at Bloomfield Road

Sarkic failed to score a goal during his time at Bloomfield Road

Former Seasider Liam Feeney has also joined the Iron today, agreeing a permanent switch from Tranmere Rovers.

In other transfer news, Blackpool are closing to sealing the signature of Charlton Athletic winger Charlie Kirk as a replacement for Demetri Mitchell.


Blackpool Central progress as funding secured for multi-storey car park

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

‘This is an important step forward and builds momentum behind Blackpool Central’


An artist's impression of the car park on Seasiders Way
An artist’s impression of the car park on Seasiders Way

Progress has been made with Blackpool Central plans as funding has been secured for a new multi-storey car park.

Construction of the car park, which will have space for 1,306 vehicles, will start in early 2022.

It is set to take around 16 months to complete.

After gaining detailed planning consent in October 2021, the developer, Nikal, has signed up the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) to fund the delivery of car park.

As part of the deal, Blackpool Council has agreed an underlease of the MSCP and will operate the car park once built.

Nikal has also selected construction and development company, Ballast Nedam, to build the MSCP with construction expected to start in early 2022 and take around 16 months to complete.

This is the latest development in the £300m Blackpool Central leisure development.

It will see the former Central station being transformed into three indoor theme parks, a 200-room hotel plus bars, restaurants and outdoor entertainment space.

Full permission was granted to convert and upgrade buildings on Central Drive including the King Edward cinema, King Edward pub and King Edward apartments into holiday accommodation, restaurants and bars as part of a new heritage quarter.

The former Central Station closed in 1964 and has since been used as a car park. Previous attempts to develop the site, including planning applications in 2001 and 2006 had failed.

The Heritage Quarter is set to be built by spring 2024, with further phases not operational until spring or summer 2025, and the full development expected to take 10 years to complete.

Richard Fee, chief executive officer at Nikal, said: “This is an important step forward and builds momentum behind Blackpool Central.

“We look forward to breaking ground on this crucial first phase, which will kickstart one of the UK’s most important regeneration projects.”



Council poised to buy Blackpool hotel site

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Councillors are being asked to consider the acquisition of a site in Blackpool earmarked for a new hotel alongside the Winter Gardens.

Documents related to the proposal are being kept secret by town hall officials, but the agenda for the next meeting of the executive lists an item “acquisition of land bounded by Alfred Street, Adelaide Street and Leopold Grove”.

Planning permission was granted last June for the construction of a five storey hotel on the land which is currently used as a car park, with the site being marketed for sale with a £3m price tag.

Four different hotel schemes have been brought forward for the land since 2010, but none have progressed.

An artist's impression of the hotel planned for land between Alfred Street, Adelaide Street and Leopold Grove

An artist’s impression of the hotel planned for land between Alfred Street, Adelaide Street and Leopold Grove

However a hotel next door to the Winter Gardens is seen as a key asset for the new £28m conference centre on Leopold Grove due to open this spring.

The hotel plans include an enclosed bridge linking the second floor with the conference centre, a cafe and bar on the ground floor and a double level car park with 94 spaces.

It would occupy half of the site, including a landscaped garden separating it from the car park opening onto Alfred Street, and it would be designed in an art deco style.

A council report at the time planning approval was granted said: “An additional large hotel on the edge of the town centre would support town centre businesses such as shops, eateries and tourism and leisure facilities, as well as providing good quality hotel accommodation opposite the new conference centre.

“The development would be one of many regeneration projects in Blackpool and will assist in re-branding the town centre, strengthening it as a cultural, leisure and business destination for residents and visitors and this weighs notably in favour of the scheme.”


Domestic violence victims to get more support in Blackpool

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A new four year strategy to support victims of domestic abuse is set to be adopted by Blackpool Council.

The action plan builds on previous work to protect people and is in response to further statutory requirements introduced by the government.

The latest proposals, which are due to be agreed by the council’s executive on Monday (January 24), include providing housing support but say the victim should not always be the one forced to leave the family home.

Partners from different agencies will work together more closely, one example being that domestic abuse can often be uncovered from the impact it has on children in schools.

Blackpool Council is set to adopt a strategy to support sufferers of domestic violence

Blackpool Council is set to adopt a strategy to support sufferers of domestic violence

Deprivation also plays a part in Blackpool, with sufferers sometimes unable to leave an abusive relationship due to their poor financial situation.

Coun Jo Farrell, cabinet member for adult social care and health, says in her introduction to the new strategy: “We know that we have work to do to improve our services so that people in Blackpool who are at risk of, or are being abused receive the support they require.

“We want to encourage people to ask for help and report abuse at the earliest opportunity before it escalates and causes more harm.”

She adds: “We know that we need to change the culture and attitudes that tolerate abuse in the home and in relationships.

“We will extend our education programmes in schools and colleges, train our staff to recognise and respond to early signs of harm and challenge poor attitudes that can allow abuse to continue.”

The Domestic Abuse Act, which was adopted last April, has brought in a wider ranging legal definition of offences including emotional, coercive and controlling behaviour and economic abuse as well as physical violence.


Fylde audiologists helping locals to hear again

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Johanna and Abigail launched their Ansdell based hearing-aid shop during the pandemic but love seeing patients improve their quality of life

Two Fylde coast audiologists are celebrating their first year of trading in their Ansdell-based hearing-aid shop.

Johanna Carter, 46, and Abigail Ankers, 45, started seeing patients in their homes in July 2019, before opening Always Ear in December 2020.

Being newly self-employed in the pandemic was hard.

They couldn’t get any financial help, as they had no physical premises at the time.

There were times when they had no income from clients as they had to wait for Government guidelines on safe practice during Covid.

“It cost us money to keep going during most of 2020,” Johanna said.

“Our resilience has been tested at times.”

Johanna and Abi qualified 25 and 23 years ago respectively as audiologists.

Both had fulfilling careers with the NHS, but say there are advantages to setting up their shop on Woodlands Road.

They can stock a wider range of instruments and offer a more tailored service.

Johanna, who lives with her husband and son in Cleveleys, said: “When you help someone to hear again they can live a better quality of life. That’s our motivation.”

Johanna says it’s vital people get regular hearing checks.

If left untreated it can lead to social isolation, anxiety and depression and even paranoia.

Hearing loss may be linked to other serious conditions such as osteoporosis and high blood pressure.

It is also closely linked to brain health.

She added: “The brain needs sensory input to keep it healthy and functioning.

“Over 75s with hearing loss tend to experience up to 40 per cent faster cognitive decline than those with normal hearing.”

Johanna has noticed that people have been more hesitant to get their hearing checked during the pandemic.

But, she says this is part of a wider issue.

“In an ideal world I think 18 to 50-year-olds should get a hearing check every five years. Then every two years over 50.

“In children it would be good to check it every year in primary school then at the start of high school and in the final year.”

She would like hearing checks to be as routine as eye tests, and added: “I would urge people to get their hearing or ears checked if they feel there is a problem whatever their age. ”


Charlton Athletic winger Charlie Kirk due to undergo medical ahead of proposed loan move to Blackpool

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Charlton Athletic winger Charlie Kirk is due to undergo a medical at Blackpool today, it’s understood.

The 24-year-old looks set to finalise an initial loan move to Bloomfield Road, with the Seasiders having the option to buy at a later date.

Blackpool’s interest in Kirk, which was first reported by The Gazette earlier this month, was sparked by the exit of Demetri Mitchell, who recently finalised a move to Scottish side Hibernian.

Kirk has failed to settle at Charlton following his summer move from Crewe Alexandra.

The winger only signed for the Addicks on a four-year deal back in August after the League One side triggered his £500,000 release clause.

But his move to the capital hasn’t gone to plan, with the winger making just 14 appearances in all competitions so far this season.

While the Cheshire-born player has yet to find the back of the net for Charlton, his record at Crewe was an impressive one with 32 goals to his name in 206 appearances.

Blackpool's interest in Kirk was first reported by The Gazette earlier this month

Blackpool’s interest in Kirk was first reported by The Gazette earlier this month

Kirk, who will be well known to Neil Critchley given his Crewe connections, has struggled for game time since Johnnie Jackson took charge as he prefers a wing-back system.

It’s believed personal reasons may also have been a factor in Kirk’s mixed displays.

The winger last started a league game for Charlton at Lincoln City in October, although he has featured more heavily in the cup competitions.

Kirk will become Blackpool’s second capture of the month, following in the footsteps of Rochdale striker Jake Beesley.

The winger’s former Crewe teammate Owen Dale, meanwhile, saw his loan move made permanent as per the terms of his initial agreement.

Jordan Thorniley and Ethan Robson have also returned to Bloomfield Road having been recalled early from their loan spells at Oxford United and MK Dons respectively.

It’s understood the Seasiders still remain in the market for a central midfielder and have until 11pm on Monday night to complete any further business.


Coleen Nolan on Blackpool’s best attractions and the ‘hundreds of family members’ still living in the resort

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

Coleen spoke at length about Blackpool during an interview with new love Michael Jones


Coleen Nolan has opened up all things Blackpool as part of an exclusive interview about life with new love Michael Jones.

The Blackpool born and raised singer spoke to OK! about life with her new man Michael, who got together after matching on Tinder seven months ago.

Coleen, 56, swore off men when she split from her husband Ray Fensome back in 2018.

But it’s clear to see Michael has stolen her heart, with talk of a potential wedding already on the cards.

“It’s really exciting. It’s something that I genuinely thought would never happen again,” Coleen said.

As part of her interview with OK! Coleen spoke at length about Blackpool and what it still means to her.

Coleen said she is “very” proud to be from the town, adding: “The fact that all my family still lives there is testament to what a great town it is.”

“I just have brilliant memories growing up,” she said when asked about her favourite thing in the seaside resort.

“There was just everything to do regardless of what age you were.

“You’ve got every thing for every age. It’s a really fun place to be.”

Coleen Nolan and her new partner Michael Jones
Coleen Nolan and her new partner Michael Jones (Image: OK!)

Coleen revealed how she is “always” in town for a “family party of some kind” with it only 90 minutes away from where she lives.

“There’s still hundreds of us living in Blackpool,” she said when speaking of the Nolan family.

“I go every couple of months. My favourite place to visit is Stanley Park. It’s just beautiful.

“I think it’s won awards for being the best park in Europe or something. My family love it in there. It’s got a brilliant cafe and a beautiful lake.”

Coleen also spoke up the town’s fish and chips, saying: “I had brilliant fish and chips the other day but I can’t remember where they were from! There are so many good places.”

On her favourite local business, she said “it would have to be the cafe in Stanley Park”.




Luke Garbutt to be sidelined for 10 weeks leaving Blackpool without a recognised left-back

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Luke Garbutt has revealed he’s facing 10 weeks on the sidelines.

The defender suffered a second knee injury of the season during Blackpool’s 1-0 win against Millwall on Saturday, forcing him to hobble during the second-half.

Garbutt has this lunchtime taken to his Instagram page to reveal the bad news, adding he’s suffered a “grade two PCL”.

PCL relates to the posterior cruciate ligament, a ligament in the knee that connects the thigh bone to the back of your shin bone.

Garbutt’s appearance on Saturday was his first start for Blackpool since returning from another knee injury, which kept him on the sidelines for two months.

The 28-year-old’s latest setback leaves the Seasiders without a recognised left-back in their squad, with both Reece James and James Husband sidelined with hamstring injuries.

It’s understood James is closer to returning than Husband, although he’s still in the final stages of his recovery.

Garbutt suffered a knee injury during Saturday's win against Millwall

Garbutt suffered a knee injury during Saturday’s win against Millwall

Speaking about James before the weekend’s game against Millwall, Neil Critchley said: “He’s been doing some running this week, just easy straight-line running.

“It’s been three or four weeks for him now, but he’s steadily improving and progressing. When a player steps back out onto the grass, it’s always a positive sign.

“He won’t be ready for this weekend and we’ll see how long it takes him, but that’s good news for us.”

Following Garbutt’s injury against Millwall, Dujon Sterling moved over to cover at left-back.

It might be a case that the Chelsea loanee might have to fill in there for the next two or three games before either James or Husband return.

Another option, although it’s an unlikely one, is that Jordan Thorniley could cover there following his recall from Oxford United.

While the 25-year-old is a centre-back, he is left footed and could potentially be called upon to fill in at left-back in an emergency, but it would be far from ideal.


This is where you can get a new chicken Big Mac in Lancashire

Home | Blackpool Gazette

McDonald’s has announced plans to launch a chicken Big Mac in the UK.


However, the new burger – which is set to hit restaurants in the coming days – will only be available for a few weeks.

The fast-food giant has confirmed the new burger will feature on menus from 2 February.

The chicken Big Mac is 50p more expensive than a classic Big Mac, but prices vary between branches. The chicken Big Mac also has more calories at 544kcal compared to a Big Mac which is 508.

The new chicken Big Mac

The new chicken Big Mac

So here’s where you can get one in Lancashire …

McDonald’s – 174 Friargate, Preston

McDonald’s – Fishergate Shopping Centre, Preston

McDonald’s – Pedders Way, Ashton-on-Ribble, Preston

McDonald’s – Capitol Centre, Retail Park, Preston

McDonald’s – Deepdale Retail Park, Preston

McDonald’s – Clifford Street, Chorley

McDonald’s – Churchill Way, Leyland

McDonald’s – Ribble Valley Enterprise Park, Clitheroe

McDonald’s – Daisyfield Street, Darwen

McDonald’s – Lidun Park Industrial Estate, Lytham

McDonald’s – Haslingden Road, Rossendale

McDonald’s – Cherry Tree Road, Marton, Blackpool

McDonald’s – Amy Johnson Way, Squires Gate, Blackpool

McDonald’s – Leisure Park, Rigby Road, Blackpool

McDonald’s – The Edith Centre, Bank Hey Street, Blackpool

McDonald’s – The Promenade, Blackpool

McDonald’s – St James’s Street, Burnley

McDonald’s – Burnham Gate, Burnley

McDonald’s – Princess Way, Burnley

McDonald’s – North Valley Retail Park, Colne

McDonald’s – Cheapside, Lancaster

McDonald’s – Caton Rd, Lancaster

McDonald’s – Sunnyfield, Morecombe Road, Morecambe

McDonald’s – Freeport Shopping Village, Anchorage Road, Fleetwood



Fight for South Shore flat block first proposed 14 years ago continues as fresh plans submitted to Blackpool Council

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Huge and controversial plans to flatten three ‘eyesore’ hotels on South Promenade and replace them with a block of flats have been brought to Blackpool Council once again.


The multi-million pound plan to demolish the Kimberley, Waldorf and Henderson Hotels dates back all the way to 2008, and has been the subject of heated debate over the years.

Blackpool Council’s planning committee refused to approve the scheme on three separate occasions. In 2016, when developers wanted the proposed five to seven-storey flat block to contain 99 modern apartments, they ruled the proposed 84 parking spaces were not enough, and would negatively impact people living in the area.

Nearby residents repeatedly objected to the proposals, saying the height of the building would leave their properties overshadowed.

Artist's impression of the proposed flat block submitted to Blackpool Council

Artist’s impression of the proposed flat block submitted to Blackpool Council

However, revised plans cutting the number of apartments from 99 to 88 and increasing parking to one space per flat were unanimously approved by councillors in May 2017, bringing nine years of arguments to an apparent end.

Now the debate is set to continue, as NSP Propery Ltd has submitted a fresh planning application reducing the number of apartments further, from 88 to 63, as the larger project was deemed to be unviable.

A statement submitted to the council by Dave Shepherd of St Annes-based Shepherd Planning said: “The site is the site of the three following hotels… The Waldorf, The Henderson and The Kimberley. This site has been an eyesore for a number of years since the closure of two of the hotels, and the closure of the third is imminent. The dereliction causes visual harm to the area and to its remaining inhabitants.”

He added: “Two (of the hotels) have ceased trading a number of years ago and the third is in imminent danger of closing due to poor occupancy rates and a generally unattractive setting for hotel residents to stay in. The terrace of buildings itself has fallen into a state of dereliction and are visually detrimental to the area.”

If approved, the new block will contain 58 two-bedroom flats, four three-bedrooms, and one four-bedroom.

Accessible entrance to tbe building will be provided from the rear, and there will be lift access to the upper floors. A car park with disabled and general spaces, a cycle parking area, and electric charging points will be installed behind the building, with enough spaces to cover all apartments.

Mr Shepherd said: “The application proposal is in a sustainable and accessible location… Whilst not housing aimed at any specific group, it is suitable for elderly people and some people suffering from a disability.

“The site’s location offers a very realistic alternative to the use of the motor car. It is near to public transport routes, near to schools, shops, and other urban facilities, and would allow walking and cycling as alternatives to the use of the motor car.”

A new flood risk assessment, carried out in line with the new planning application, found the development was at a low flood risk from all flood sources except tidal, where the risk varied from low to medium.

Meanwhile, a transport statement found that the site ‘should not have a material impact in terms of highway operation and safety’, adding: “In fact, the evidence would suggest that safe and suitable access to the site can be achieved for all users.”



Hearts enquire about Everton’s former Blackpool striker Ellis Simms following Armand Gnanduillet’s exit

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Scottish side Hearts are reportedly interested in a move for former Blackpool striker Ellis Simms.


Robbie Neilson’s side are in the market for a forward during the final days of the January transfer window following the recent departure of another ex-Blackpool player, Armand Gnanduillet.

The Frenchman was allowed to return to his homeland following an unsuccessful spell north of the border, joining second tier side Le Mans.

According to The Gazette’s sister paper, the Edinburgh News, Hearts are now considering a loan swoop for Everton’s Simms. Hearts have made an enquiry and talks are expected to continue over the coming days.

The 21-year-old is part of the under-23 squad at Goodison Park and it’s understood the Oldham-born man is available for a loan move this month.

The Seasiders were keen to bring Simms back to Bloomfield Road in January, but Jake Beesley’s arrival from Rochdale now means a move seems unlikely.

Neil Critchley’s side were previously confident of sealing a return for Simms during the summer, only for the striker to undergo surgery on his groin.

Simms helped fire Blackpool to promotion last season

Simms helped fire Blackpool to promotion last season

It followed the injury he picked up on the eve of Blackpool’s play-off final win against Lincoln City back in May.

Simms enjoyed a prolific spell at Blackpool during the second half of last season, scoring 10 times in 19 starts to help fire Neil Critchley’s side to promotion.

The powerful forward made his Everton debut last month against Chelsea and is keen to play more regular first-team football.

A regular goalscorer for Everton’s academy side in Premier League 2, Simms recently signed a new long-term contract to keep him on Merseyside until 2024.

With injuries to the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, Simms has been a regular in Everton’s match day squads in the past couple of months.

Should Simms make the move to Hearts, he will link up with former Seasiders Taylor Moore and Ben Woodburn, who are currently on loan at Tyncecastle from Bristol City and Liverpool respectively.

Andy Halliday is also a part of their squad.



Buy a wrist band in Blackpool to help fight cancer

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People in Blackpool are being urged to show support on World Cancer Day for everyone affected by the disease.


Cancer Research UK is calling on the public to donate or wear one of the charity’s Unity Bands with pride on Friday, February 4 – which also marks its 20th anniversary.

Every year, around 44,900 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West.

The bands are available from the charity’s shops in Talbot Road, Blackpool; Victoria Road West, Thornton Cleveleys; The Square in St Anne’s; and Lytham’s Market Square. They are also available online at

Cancer Research UK's Unity Bands are now for sale

Cancer Research UK’s Unity Bands are now for sale

Available in three different colours – pink, navy and blue – it can be worn in memory of a loved one, to celebrate people who’ve overcome cancer or in support of those going through treatment.

Marked on February 4, World Cancer Day is an international initiative, uniting people across the globe to take action against the disease.

For Cancer Research UK the awareness day takes on extra significance this year, as it celebrates its 20th birthday and pays tribute to its supporters for the part they have played in funding cutting-edge research.

Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Lancashire, said: “This past year proves, more than any other, the value of investing in science and medical research. Thanks to our supporters, we’ve achieved so much. Every day we see the benefits of research we’ve previously funded being realised, helping people live longer and healthier lives. ”


Blackpool boss Neil Critchley explains why ‘certain players’ were given the chance to redeem themselves against Millwall

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Neil Critchley has explained why he wanted to give certain players the chance to redeem themselves during Blackpool’s win against Millwall.

Pool’s head coach largely named an unchanged side from Blackpool’s last outing, which was the dreadful 2-1 defeat to League Two side Hartlepool United in the FA Cup.

The only two players to drop out were James Husband and Keshi Anderson, who suffered hamstring injuries during that encounter.

It meant Critchley kept faith with the likes of Dujon Sterling, CJ Hamilton and Shayne Lavery, who were particularly poor in Blackpool’s third round tie.

But the trio repaid Critchley’s faith, all producing superb displays during Saturday’s 1-0 victory against Millwall.

Sterling was the standout performer on the day, while Hamilton was heavily involved in the winning goal which was put away by Lavery.

When asked if it was a conscious decision to keep faith with the players that struggled against Hartlepool, Critchley told The Gazette: “I felt some players at this moment in time need to feel my support and need to feel the trust of the coach.

Dujon Sterling repaid Neil Critchley's faith with an outstanding display on Saturday

Dujon Sterling repaid Neil Critchley’s faith with an outstanding display on Saturday

“After a defeat like that in the FA Cup, the easy thing to do would be to make wholesale changes. But I have to look at the game and the bigger picture.

“There wasn’t a lot wrong for the majority of the Hartlepool game and if you play that game another 10 times, I think we’d win quite a few of them.

“But we didn’t win the game and we didn’t deserve to win the game because of the 15 to 20 minutes where we didn’t compete.

“Some of the players got another opportunity against Millwall to put that right and they’ve gone and done that.”

While the defeat in the FA Cup will have come as a major disappointment, the Seasiders have started 2022 well with back-to-back league wins.

But Critchley, whose side head to league leaders Fulham on Saturday, knew how imperative it was to issue a response to the Hartlepool setback.

“It was vital and it was something we stressed to the players in the build-up to the game,” he added.

“We wanted to redeem ourselves (against Barnsley) last week but that was taken out of our hands. We got the chance to do it in front of our own supporters instead.

“This is a big victory for us. Any win in this division is so hard fought, it’s so tough to win games. You have to work extremely hard for anything you get and we had to do that against an established Championship team in Millwall.

“The support was fantastic and they were right behind us. It’s always a great feeling when you send our fans home happy.”