Work to extend Blackpool tram tracks to the resort’s North railway station has resumed today – nearly two years after the controversial project was supposed to have been completed.
Construction work began at Talbot Square this morning, and is expected to continue for three weeks.
The £22.8 million project, which will see trams run between the Promenade and Blackpool North railway station, was originally predicted to be completed in July 2019.
In February last year, Blackpool Council said people could expect the completion of the extension by ‘the end of March 2021’.
Tram lines in progress
High Street is set to be closed in early June for approximately 26 weeks, with the tram extension completed by the end of this year.
The new Holiday Inn Hotel is expected to be finished by summer next year.
Blackpool Transport has announced temporary changes to its tram services while development is ongoing.
Starting today, trams will stop running earlier than normal every evening between Mondays and Thursdays, with the last tram leaving Starr Gate to head to Fleetwood at 8pm. The last tram from Fleetwood will leave at 9.03pm.
Morning tram services will start slightly later than normal between Tuesdays and Fridays, with the first tram from Starr Gate to Fleetwood leaving at 6am.
On Monday mornings, Friday evenings and at weekends, the service will run as normal.
Blackpool Transport will also run extra journeys on its service 1 bus from stops close to the tram platforms.
This frightening footage was shot by police officers in an HGV cab, used by Highways England to spot drivers committing motoring offences.
Police officers use the elevated position in an unmarked HGV cab to spot drivers committing motoring offences, such as using mobile phones. The cabs will be patrolling the M6 through the region this week. Pictures courtesy Highways England
Now officers will be using the unmarked HGV cabs to patrol the M6 through the region, using the high-level position of a truckie to capture law-breaking on camera.
More than 21,000 offences have been recorded by officers in the Operation Tramline HGV cabs since the national safety initiative was launched by Highways England in 2015.
The Highways England HGV cabs are now being used as part of a multi-agency Week of Action on the M6, taking place from Monday, May 24 to Sunday, May 30, which aims to reduce the number of incidents on the motorway and highlight the risks of dangerous driving.
Under the banner of Operation Vertebrae, the campaign takes place along the length of the M6, the longest motorway in the country.
Highways England Head of Road Safety, Jeremy Phillips, said: “The Operation Tramline cabs are an important part of our commitment to tackling dangerous driving and those who take unnecessary risks with their own safety and that of others on the road.
“The number of people found using their mobile phone while driving is quite alarming. You are four times more likely to be in a crash if you use your phone and, if caught, face a £200 fine and six points on your licence.
“Through this week of action on the M6 we want to make all of our roads safer by raising awareness and encouraging motorists to consider their driving behaviour.”
The Operation Tramline ‘supercab’ which patrols motorways and major A roads. The HGV cabs will be patrolling the M6 through the region this week
From their elevated viewpoint in the unmarked HGV cabs, police officers are able to spot people driving dangerously – whatever vehicle they may be in.
Astonished Lancs police detain cyclist who caused a crash on M58
Among the incidents witnessed during Operation Tramline was a driver steering a lorry with his knees while eating lunch on his lap and also using his phone in the East Midlands. While in West Mercia, officers saw a driver eating lasagne with a knife and fork while driving along a motorway.
In addition to the supercab patrols, partners taking part in the M6 week of action will be present at motorway services offering advice to drivers such as what to do in a breakdown and ensuring load safety.
Vehicle checks will also be carried out involving the DVSA, Health and Safety Executive and the Home Office.
Six forces are taking part in Operation Vertebrae – Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, Warwickshire Police and Central Motorway Police Group, as well as the North West Commercial Vehicle Unit.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, said: “Operation Tramline is a successful collaboration between the police and Highways England.
“We remain committed to tackling those who take unnecessary risks with their own safety and the safety of others on our roads by allowing themselves to be distracted while driving. The consequences of these actions are often devastating.
“We will continue to work alongside Highways England on Operation Tramline and will prosecute drivers who ignore the risks.”
Schemes underway in Blackpool including a mentoring programme for children aged 11 to 19 who are disadvantaged, vulnerable or at risk of falling out of education
Blackpool is to get nearly £2.1m of additional funding towards boosting educational chances for youngsters in the town.
The resort is one of 12 Opportunity Areas across the country to share £18m of government cash being ploughed into the programme which is being extended into a fifth year.
It brings the full amount Blackpool has received over five years to £10.4m.
Priorities in Blackpool include improving exam results, supporting vulnerable families to cut down on truancy and better career advice for pupils.
Frank Norris, chairman of the Blackpool Education and Improvement Board, said:“The welcome extension of a further year of Opportunity Area support and funding will help provide additional stimulus to deliver our recently published 10-year Education Vision and Strategy for the town.
“We have created a step-change in improving the educational outcomes and life chances for Blackpool’s young people and this additional year will enable us to securely embed the progress gained so far.”
Schemes underway in Blackpool as the funding enters its fifth year include a mentoring programme for children aged 11 to 19 who are disadvantaged, vulnerable or at risk of falling out of education.
The project is run by Blackpool Football Club. which also works with Fleetwood Town Football Club to include even more children.
The Blackpool Opportunity Area is also twinned with Lancashire to provide enhanced careers support for young people most at risk of not finding a job or going into further training or education when they leave school.
Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, director of the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub, said collaberation had gone on between school, colleges and employers.
She added: “This has become even more vital, as the pandemic has impacted on young people’s ambitions and their perceptions of the job market. ”
Last year the council agreed a 10-year education strategy put together by the Blackpool School Improvement Board (now Blackpool Education Improvement Board) working in partnership with the Blackpool Opportunity Area Board.
Its aims include improving school readiness among five-year-olds, and extending specialist provision in mainstream schools so more children with complex needs can be taught closer to home.It is also hoped to identify children considered at risk of exclusion at an earlier stage in order to provide the support they need ‘before they reach the point of crisis.’
A pilot scheme is being launched across the county to try and stop the spread of coronavirus variants and get more people tested
Lancashire will receive £2.5 million as part of a ‘trailblazing’ government plan to try and encourage people to get tested for Covid-19 and follow self-isolation rules.
The county is among nine areas of England where a wide range of ‘trailblazing’ tactics will be rolled out in a new pilot scheme.
The government said the pilots involve increased social care support for vulnerable adults, “buddying” services for people needing mental health support and translation assistance for non-English speakers.
People isolating in overcrowded houses in the trial areas will also be offered alternative accommodation.
Government bosses say they hope these will be ‘new, creative ways to help ensure people stick to self-isolation rules with higher prevalence of infection including from new variants.’
The pilots are designed to encourage people ‘most at risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19 to come forward for testing and to self-isolate successfully if they test positive’, the government added.
The areas that will receive funding for these pilots are Lancashire, Blackburn & Darwen, Blackpool; Greater Manchester; Cheshire and Merseyside; Newham; Yorkshire and Humber; Royal Borough of Kingston; Hackney; Peterborough, Fenland and South Holland, and Somerset.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “From the very beginning of this global pandemic, the British public have made tremendous sacrifices and played their part whenever they’re asked – social distancing, self-isolating, getting tested and now finally, getting the jab.
“Variants have the potential to be a trojan horse for our hard won progress and it is more vital than ever that we do what we can to show them the exit door, following the rules and self-isolating when asked.
“We recognise just how challenging self-isolation is for many people and these pilots will help us find the best ways to support people and making it easier for everyone to keep doing their bit.”
The funding announcement comes amid increasing fears about the spread of the B1.617.2 variant, first identified in India.
Last week, the government said more than 3,400 cases have been identified in the UK.
While most cases are currently concentrated in the north west, particularly in Blackburn with Darwen and nearby Bolton, Public Health England said it was seeing “clusters of cases” across the country.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “We are doing everything we can to send this virus into retreat and stifle the spread of new variants, and at the heart of this effort is our collaboration with local authorities.
“COVID-19 is a global disease but it requires local solutions as well as national ones, and I am hugely grateful for the efforts of the local authorities that are going to be involved with these pilots.
“Our partnership with local councils has seen us reach more positive cases of the virus than ever before, many of whom were people who could otherwise have unknowingly spread the virus to their loved ones.”
It comes as the Government announced on Sunday that 60.6 million first and second vaccine doses had been administered since December 8.
The figure includes 37.9 million people who have received a first dose, 72% of the UK population, and 22.6 million have had both (43%).
Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Rapidly targeting local outbreaks and supporting people to self-isolate when required is absolutely crucial to our continuing fight against coronavirus.
“These pilot schemes will provide further insight into what works best in supporting those who test positive and their contacts to do the right thing to protect themselves, their families and their wider communities.
“All councils continue to use their unique local knowledge and connections to reach out to areas where they are most needed, working with government in our joint national effort to stop the spread and keep case rates as low as possible as we look towards a return to our normal way of life.”
Blackpool have announced tickets for their League One play-off final against Lincoln City will go on sale tomorrow (Monday, May 24).
The club has been allocated 3,951 tickets, due to the capacity being limited to 10,000 spectators in accordance with the government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
Lincoln, meanwhile, have been allocated 3,879 tickets plus directors and hospitality.
An estimated further 2,000 tickets will go to sponsors, delegates and official dignitaries.
Blackpool’s fans will be housed in the West end of the stadium for the final, which kicks off at 3pm on Sunday, May 30.
In a statement, the club said: “Tickets will be offered to season ticket holders on a first come, first served basis.
“Based on season ticket holder sales to attend the play-off semi-final, second leg at home to Oxford United, the club hopes and expects that it will be able to satisfy demand from all of its approximate 4,000 season ticket holders, players and staff.
Blackpool take on Lincoln City in the League One play-off final next Sunday
“Tickets will go on sale to current season ticket holders (one per holder) from 1pm on Monday (24 May) until 4pm on Wednesday (26 May). Tickets will be sold from the North Stand side of Wembley round to the South Stand.
“In line with social distancing requirements, a space will be left in between each seat sold.
“We have also taken up the opportunity to purchase 100 hospitality tickets in Club Wembley.
“The Club Wembley tickets will be available for sale to seasonal club partners and corporate clients, all of whom are to be contacted separately.
Tickets will be priced at:
Category 1 – £55 for adults and £27.50 for concessions (seniors 65+ and children 16 years and under)
Category 2 – £45 for adults and £22.50 for concessions (seniors 65+ and children 16 years and under)
Category 3 – £35 for adults and £17.50 for concessions (seniors 65+ and children 16 years and under)
For more information, visit the club’s official website.Fans of both clubs have already raised concerns about the comparatively small allocation, given Wembley has a capacity of 90,000.
The recent FA Cup final between Leicester City and Chelsea was played in front of 22,000 fans as part of a test event, but only 10,000 supporters are permitted to attend the play-off finals.
Earlier today, Lincoln’s chief executive Liam Scully issued an open letter to address concerns about the low ticket allocation.
McDonald’s restaurants across Lancashire will take part in a charity litter pick and everyone’s invited.
Capitol Centre McDonald’s team members with H&S co-director Lisa Dunnington, franchisee supervisor Alex Chattaway, Ronald McDonald House Charity’s Kathryn Tighe and Age Concern’s Abby Waylett.
Team members at the 16 McDonald’s restaurants, which are owned by H&S Restaurants, will litter pick along a 47 mile stretch of the county.
On June 8 litter pickers will walk along a stretch between the Chorley and Fleetwood branches as part of their commitment to keep Lancashire free of rubbish.
Members of the public have been invited to take part in the event which is also part of the Great British Spring Clean – they might even be able to grab a McMuffin before they set out…
The sponsored litter pick will take place from 9 am on June 8
Chorley to get new McDonald’s drive-through
The sponsored event will also raise money for two charities – Ronald McDonald House Charities UK and Age Concern Central Lancashire – with the funds being split equally between the good causes.
Local Franchisee Lisa Dunnington, who runs the branches with her husband Nigel, said they take their responsibility for the local environment ‘extremely seriously’.
“We are committed to playing our part in reducing litter, and whilst the majority of our customers dispose of rubbish responsibly, we recognise that the minority who do not can create problems for residents, local authorities, and local businesses,” Lisa said.
“On June 8 we’ll be cleaning local areas on a route of 47 miles across our restaurants.”
McDonald’s restaurants run by the Dunningtons have carried out three local litter patrols a day since 2006 and have participated in plenty of litter initiatives since then.
Branches of the fast food giant also encourage customers to dispose of their rubbish properly, with clear messaging on packaging and Drive-Thru signage.
Those who would like more information about the litter pick on June 8 can approach their local branch in Chorley, Leyland, Preston or Blackpool.
The fundraising page for Ronald McDonald House Charities UK and Age Concern Central Lancashire can be found at this link.
A local community group is celebrating after being awarded £180,000 over a two-year period in National Lottery funding to support its work stopping reoffending and helping people gain long-term abstinence.
Mulberry Community Project is celebrating after being awarded £180,000 over a two-year period in National Lottery funding
Mulberry Community Project, based in Blackpool, will use the cash to ensure continuity of the work that has been working now for 10 years in the town.
Keith Stevenson, the founder of Mulberry, said: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way.
“Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to continue and expand the work we do that has a massive positive impact on people’s lives. This is important because it helps people regain their lives and families and reunites people after a dark period in their lives.”
It was founded by Keith Stevenson after he realised that there was no support for people coming out of rehabs and prison to help sustain their recovery.
The group now runs support groups for their residents as well as one to counselling, one to one workers and a whole raft of other support resources. Mulberry is also starting up a SMART group and the nearest SMART group is in North Wales.
The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will see Mulberry continue to provide the support that we have built up in the last ten years and to build on this.
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