Blackpool school shuts until next month after Covid outbreak

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

Layton Primary School will shut after today and not reopen until July 6


A primary school has been forced to temporarily close after an outbreak of Covid-19 cases among pupils and staff.

Layton Primary School in Blackpool will shut after the end of today (June 28) and not reopen until next Tuesday (July 6).

Headteacher Jonathan Clucas said the decision has ‘not been taken lightly’ and follows a ‘considerable period of discussion’ with school leaders.

The building on Meyler Avenue will undergo a deep clean in preparation of next week’s return and e-vouchers will be provided for parents of children entitled to free school meals.

The latest Public Health England figures show Blackpool has recorded a further 57 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period.

In a letter to parents, Mr Clucas wrote: “I am writing to inform you that due to a number of Covid cases in school and the subsequent self-isolation of several members of staff and children, we have taken the decision to close Layton Primary School at the end of the school day today – Monday 28th June until Tuesday 6th July.

“School will undergo a deep clean whilst closed. Children will return to school on Tuesday 6th July.

“The decision to close has not been taken lightly and has been made after a considerable period of discussion with Paul Turner, Assistant Director – Education, SEND and Early Years.

“We will revert to home learning in the interim period. Children will be provided with work from class teachers via the usual means. Those families entitled to Free School Meals will receive an e-voucher.

“Schools are not immune to the rise in cases. We are taking as many precautions as we are able; however, there will inevitably be cases in school as restrictions in society ease and people mix, albeit in small numbers. This impacts on staffing levels and, in turn, health and safety.

“Operationally, on this occasion, with key staff isolating, it is currently not viable for the school to remain open. We all must remain cautious at this time.

“I do hope that you all understand that our highest priority is the safety of our children and that you are able to understand that whilst we are sure this decision may inconvenience all of us, it has been made for the correct reasons.

“Thank you for your understanding.”

James Nesbitt pictured filming new Netflix series in Blackpool (SPOILER ALERT)

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Films crews returned to Blackpool today (Wednesday, June 30) to shoot scenes for a new Netflix series starring James Nesbitt.


Taking centre stage on the beach near Central Pier was actor James Nesbitt, in the role ofa homicide detective, as 'armed police' surroundeda suspect with their guns drawnTaking centre stage on the beach near Central Pier was actor James Nesbitt, in the role ofa homicide detective, as ‘armed police’ surroundeda suspect with their guns drawn

The Cold Feet star was spotted filming climactic scenes for a new 8-part thriller, Stay Close, on the beach near Central Pier.

The series, based on Harlan Coben’s bestselling novel of the same name, previously visited the resort to shoot scenes on the Promenade in March.

This morning, bystanders watching from the Prom were gripped by the tense drama unfolding on the beach as cameras rolled.

Cold Feet star James Nesbitt was spotted filming climactic scenes for anew 8-part Netflix thriller,Stay Close, on the beach near Central Pier today (Wednesday, June 30)

Cold Feet star James Nesbitt was spotted filming climactic scenes for anew 8-part Netflix thriller,Stay Close, on the beach near Central Pier today (Wednesday, June 30)


Taking centre stage on the seafront was James Nesbitt, in the role of a homicide detective, as ‘armed police’ frantically surrounded a suspect with guns drawn.

As the tense stand-off unfolded, an actor playing what appears to be the series’ villain was detained by armed officers under orders from Detective Broome – played by Nesbitt – who has been investigating a missing person’s cold case.

Filming for the climactic scene has now wrapped up and the show’s Manchester-based production company has not said whether filming will resume in the resort after today.

Cast, crew and extras watchedfrom the steps on the beach near Central Pier as the tense drama unfolded and cameras rolledCast, crew and extras watchedfrom the steps on the beach near Central Pier as the tense drama unfolded and cameras rolled

What’s Stay Close about?

RED, the same production team behind Channel 4’s ‘It’s a Sin’ and Netflix hit ‘The Stranger’, has been commissioned by the streaming giant to create the new show.

Prior to filming commencing earlier this year, James Nesbitt said: “The team at RED are a northern powerhouse of world-class TV. They are a benchmark for quality drama, and I’m thrilled to be part of such a great production.

“The scripts drew me in from the get-go and I am looking forward to starting filming.”

As the tense scenesunfolded, an actor playing what appears to be the series' villainwas detained by armed officers under orders from Detective Broome - played by Nesbitt - who has been investigating a missing person's cold caseAs the tense scenesunfolded, an actor playing what appears to be the series’ villainwas detained by armed officers under orders from Detective Broome – played by Nesbitt – who has been investigating a missing person’s cold case

The series also stars Richard Armitage, who featured in last year’s Harlan Coben/Netflix adaptation The Stranger, as well as actress Cush Jumbo, best known for her starring role in the legal drama series The Good Wife.

Production company Red, said: “With trademark thrills, gripping suspense, and a crime to solve, Stay Close questions how much you really know someone. Three people living comfortable lives each conceal dark secrets that even the closest to them would never suspect.

“Megan (Jumbo), a working mother of three; Ray (Armitage), the once promising documentary photographer, now stuck in a dead-end job pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids, and Broome (Nesbitt), a detective who’s unable to let go of a missing person’s cold case.

“Lorraine (Parish), an old friend from Megan’s past, delivers some shocking news which will impact on all three characters.

Taking centre stage on the seafrontwas James Nesbitt, in the role ofa homicide detective, as 'armed police' frantically surroundeda suspectwith their guns drawnTaking centre stage on the seafrontwas James Nesbitt, in the role ofa homicide detective, as ‘armed police’ frantically surroundeda suspectwith their guns drawn

“As the past comes back to haunt them, threatening to ruin their lives and the lives of those around them, what will be their next move?”

Netflix and Red are yet to reveal further details but writer Coben has been sharing his excitement with fans for the show on Twitter.

He said: “I am so happy and excited to Stay Close (pun intended) with Danny Brocklehurst (producer), Nicola Shindler and Richard Fee — the same team that made The Stranger, Safe and The Five.

“And talk about a dream-come-true cast – Cush Jumbo, an incendiary and awesome talent; Jimmy Nesbitt, a legendary actor I always wanted to collaborate with; and wow, Richard Armitage back again.

“Netflix has been a wonderful home, and from what I’ve seen so far, Stay Close will be our most gripping and binge-able series yet.”

Stay Close is the latest Netflix project for Harlan Coben and part of his five-year deal with the streaming service to adapt 14 of his bestselling books into film and TV dramas.

The stripy deckchairs that were part of Blackpool’s holiday memories

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The humble deckchair.


Their stripy, hammock style seat and the concentration needed to put one up, is as much a part of the seaside experience as fish and chips and buckets and spades.

Yet they were removed from the seafront in Blackpool several years ago.

At the time, the new, sleek promenade with its integrated Spanish-style steps were the preferred option for seating – meaning the iconic deckchairs were surplus to requirement.

But now they are set to make a come back. They will soon be seen blowing in the breeze before being snapped up for a nap in the sunshine, just like old times, as our photos show.

Ticket ballot still open for Blackpool Illuminations 2021 switch-on ceremony in Tower Ballroom

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool Tower’s world-famous ballroom will host the Illuminations switch-on concert for the first time this year.


Following the success of last year’s virtually streamed ceremony, broadcast to more than 225,000 people, Switch On bosses said viewers far and wide will once again be able to tune in from home.

But for 2021, 1,000 tickets will also be made available, via a ballot, with registration open until Friday, July 30.

The resort’s tourism chief, Coun Gillian Campbell, said: “While we would love to be able to bring back a full-scale concert with thousands of people partying on the headland, there are still too many uncertainties over the logistics of being able to do that in a safe and controlled way.

Blackpool Tower's world-famous ballroom will host the Illuminations switch-on concert this year.Blackpool Tower’s world-famous ballroom will host the Illuminations switch-on concert this year.

“We are fortunate that we have a world class ballroom which is currently undergoing a £1m renovation and which will provide a truly fitting stage for the 2021 Switch-On concert.”

The Switch On will be held on Friday, September 3 and will launch four months of Lights, which will shine until Monday, January 3 – and, for the first time, over Christmas and the New Year.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach welcomes back Evolution of Magic for 2021 and it promis…

The line-up for the show, organised by tourism chiefs and MTV, has yet to be revealed, as has the traditional Switch On star.

Corona Heroes of last year's ceremony switching on the Lights.

Corona Heroes of last year’s ceremony switching on the Lights.

A group of ‘Corona Heroes’ were asked to pull the lever last year.

They included Dr Jason Cupitt, who runs Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Covid intensive care unit.

Blackpool-born singer Rae Morris, dance troupe Diversity, Fleur East, Becky Hill, ex Spice Girl Melanie C, Joey Curry, and Tom Grennan also provided ‘at home’ performances.

Kate Shane, who runs Merlin Entertainment’s resort venues, said: “The ballroom is currently undergoing a huge renovation programme that will bring the magnificent ceiling back to its former glory.

“We look forward to being able to unveil this to a live Switch On audience as well as a global live stream audience.”

To apply for four free tickets per person, click HERE.

Dolly delight as family chat inspires new Blackpool business

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Blackpool mum has launched her own business to let young princesses get totally dolled-up and pampered.


Desiree Khan has opened her USA-inspired business – K Dolls Boutique – an idea inspired by family chats during lockdown.

The new business in Clifton Street is aimed at children, young people and their families and is open from Thursday to Mondays.

It offers time to have some fun finding a new favourite doll in its shop, being pampered in its salon, as well afternoon tea in the K Dolls Café.

Desiree Khan with husband Shabas and children Riley and Keira at the new family business K Dolls Boutique in BlackpoolDesiree Khan with husband Shabas and children Riley and Keira at the new family business K Dolls Boutique in Blackpool

The idea came when Desiree and her family were talking about Blackpool during lockdown and were thinking about what type of business they would like to see start up in the town.

Desiree said: “There is so much to do in Blackpool and were chatting about all our great memories spending precious time as a family together.

“As a bit of fun we bounced around ideas about what type of business we could start that would be a bit different and would be popular. This idea popped to the front.

“I knew that there was something in the suggestion of this type of boutique for children and young people so I did some research.

“There are similar businesses in the USA but I struggled to find anything in the UK and certainly nothing of its kind locally. That got me thinking if it already worked elsewhere it could definitely work in Blackpool.”

Having worked in the childcare industry over 15 years running a childminding business in Blackpool Desiree is now looking forward to running her own business in the town.

She added: “It’s brilliant, that from a bit of family chit- chat that the K Dolls Café concept has turned into a real business and we are all so excited.”

Desiree was supported in her business journey by Blackpool Council’s Get Started team at the Enterprise Centre, Lytham Road.

The Get Started team helped Desiree with advice about taking on premises, lease terms and business location, along with general tips about starting a business.

Coun Mark Smith, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Job Creation, said: “The team were delighted to support Desiree and wish her well.

“Our Get Started team are at hand for anyone else who might have a seed of an idea for a business and new venture that they need help to develop.”


Blackpool couple are going ahead with their wedding despite Covid restrictions

Home | Blackpool GazetteA Blackpool couple will tie the knot today despite a number of Covid-19 restrictions still being in place for weddings.

The happy couple, Julianna So, 34, and Mike Stubbs, 35, will go ahead with their big day which has been set in stone prior to the first lockdown last year, and the pair said nothing will stop their wedding from going ahead.

The pair, who live on Oakleaf Way in Mereside, said they will be exchanging their vows, although they have postponed their reception and evening function until August.

They will both say ‘I do’ today at Staining Golf Club with 60 guests watching them.

Mike Stubbs and Julianna So will tie the knot todayMike Stubbs and Julianna So will tie the knot today

The date and place was their first choice and they had set the date the weekend before Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown on March 23 last year.

Julianna, who is originally from Hong Kong but has lived in the UK for 25 years, said: “We just want to get on it with and have no disruption at all. We are both looking forward to our big day as are all our guests.

“We put the deposit down for the wedding the Saturday before the Prime Minister made his lockdown announcement and while we were aware of the coronavirus, we didn’t think anything of it in regards to it disrupting our plans 15 months later.

“We count ourselves very lucky that we can still tie the knot on our chosen day. We have had friends who have had to postpone and I know four people who were due to get married last year and they have had to reschedule three or four times now.
A reception party and evening meal have been postponed until August for the couple
A reception party and evening meal have been postponed until August for the couple

“However we both knew throughout all of this that no matter if there was going to be restrictions or not, whether we were going to get married at the golf club or at the registry office, we were still going to tie the knot on that date.”

The couple met in 2016 when Julianna started her new job as an administrator at Simpsons Skoda in Preston, where Mike was a IT manager.

Mike, who has lived in an around Blackpool all his life, has now started his own IT business but Julianna still works at the car dealership.

Julianna revealed how Mike never really properly proposed to her.

The pair said they wanted to marry no matter what the restrictions were

The pair said they wanted to marry no matter what the restrictions were

She said: “He bought me an engagement ring as my birthday present last January and just gave it to me as a present.

“He gave it to me in a box but the month beforehand Mike’s nan and grandad did let slip at the Christmas meal about how lovely my random piece of jewellery, which was my ring that I was just wearing.

“So they kind of gave the game away that they knew Mike was getting an engagement ring for me.”

With the wedding going ahead today, with the 60 guests socially distance, the pair have rescheduled their reception and evening function to August 21.

Mike said: “We’ve planned a lovely meal and a massive party in the evening but the most important thing we have always said was exchanging our vows and actually being married.

“So the party and everything else is a celebration afterwards and we could have that at anytime.

“ We did have to plan everything as if there was no restrictions and it was only up to the June 14, when it was announced that June 21 restrictions were not getting lifted, we just have to move the party and everything else to another date.

Julianna added: “The venue was saying to us that as there was no restrictions in place, they were saying we can’t reschedule at the moment even though it is a week before the announcement. We had to kind of plan it as if we were going to go ahead with it.

“It was very stressful, because we have to ring all the different suppliers and trying to find a date that everyone was able to accommodate.

“Luckily enough we got our rescheduled date but we’re having to pay extra costs.

“For example the caterers can do the meal for us but because they have other bookings already they don’t have all the equipment and crockery available so they’re having to hire extra ones from elsewhere and we’re having to pay for it.”

Mike said that another aspect about pushing ahead with their arranged date was getting all the guests together for the first time in 18 months.

He said: “It will be the first time in so long that grandparents are going to get to see the majority of their families together and it will also be the first time that my nieces and nephews will meet each other and my grandparents the first time they will see all their great grandchildren together so everyone is excited about it.”

Julianna explained how some of her relatives from Hong Kong are not able to make the wedding due to travel restrictions but she will have her mum there for the ceremony.

Afterwards, the couple are planning a weekend together at Ream Hills Holiday Park in Weeton before making plans for a proper honeymoon abroad in the future.

What are the guidelines for weddings?

Delays to “Freedom Day” on June 21 meant weddings must continue to follow social distancing rules, with minor changes – so what will ceremonies look like now for people like Julianna and Mike?

What are the main changes in a nutshell?

The 30-people cap on weddings was lifted on June 21, but venues are now being asked to limit numbers based on space and to enforce social distancing measures.

What are the new rules on numbers?

Guestlist limits will be determined by “how many people a venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place”, according to the Government website.

Venue staff, bands, photographers and anyone else involved in the wedding must be included in the headcount, as well as guests of all ages. Organisers are required to complete a risk assessment or face up to a £10,000 fine.

The risk assessment should be carried out by the organiser and someone who can carry out the practical steps needed to enforce social distancing rules, which could include the couple themselves, according to the guidance.

What about weddings held in your own home or garden?

Weddings held inside private homes or “enclosed spaces” which are not formal venues are limited to six people or two households.

Only “deathbed weddings” – cases where one partner is seriously ill and not expected to recover – are exempt from this rule, and can host up to 30 people.

The Government has suggested that ceremonies held in private gardens may be able to host more people than those inside homes.

People planning to host their own weddings must complete a risk assessment to determine the number of attendees and follow Government guidance, which will be provided in the coming days.

What is still not allowed at weddings?

Communal singing, dancing and stand-up drinks receptions.

Dancing is advised against due to the increased risk of transmission, except the couple’s ‘first dance’.

What does this mean for post-wedding parties and evening events?

The Government guidance is for “wedding ceremonies” and “receptions”, so it is unclear what the rules are for after parties and related events.



Urgent warning over batch of super high purity pills in Blackpool

The pill contains higher amounts of MDMA than other versions


Blue 'Punisher' pills previously discovered at a music festival
Blue ‘Punisher’ pills previously discovered at a music festival (Image: Parklife)

A warning has been issued by police after reports of a batch of high strength ecstasy pills in Blackpool.

Police received information that high-strength pills known as ‘Punishers’ could now be in circulation.

The pill usually contains higher amounts of MDMA than other types of pills and can cause severe side effects.

A spokesperson for police said: “While no deaths have been reported linked to the drug, in recent years the tablet has led to a number of people falling ill and requiring hospital treatment.

“Our advice would be for users to seek immediate medical attention if they notice any different symptoms or start to feel unwell following taking these tablets.

“Lancashire Constabulary takes a proactive response into tackling the issue of drugs in the county. If you have information about this drug, or any drug-related activity, please come forward and contact us on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Young Inspectors checking up on Blackpool children’s homes

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Young people who have grown up in care are helping ensure the next generation get the best experience from the places they call home.


Supported living accommodation in Blackpool is being visited by young people who have experienced the care system themselves as part of an innovative Young Inspectors scheme to monitor quality.

So far four volunteers have been recruited to the council-run programme, with another five waiting to join.

They are all aged over 16 and have experienced living in care themselves.

Young Inspectors are visiting children's homes on behalf of the councilYoung Inspectors are visiting children’s homes on behalf of the council

Their role is to visit children’s homes and speak to the young people living there as well as the staff, using their own experiences to help them assess the quality.

Two of the young inspectors joined a meeting of the council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee to tell them how the scheme was working.

Councillors heard this included visiting homes, chatting to the children and the staff and following up any problems that were raised.

The committee was told: “What it shows is, it’s possible to do well in life and being a young person growing up in care doesn’t stop you doing anything you want.”

A report to the committee added: “A Young Inspector is a volunteer aged 16 plus who has experienced living in supported accommodation and has been or is one of our children.

“Young Inspectors support the quality monitoring of accommodation by visiting the homes where our children live , speaking to young people living there and assessing how safe and how well cared for our children are.

“They get a feel for how welcoming and homely the homes are and used their own experiences to help them assess the quality.”

All the young inspectors are fully trained in consultation skills, questioning skills , confidentiality and basic safeguarding, and are supported by the council’s commissioning team.

Mum disgusted after being given parking ticket while her son went into shock in Blackpool

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

Gemma said she was only away from her car for minutes, looking after her diabetic son when she was given the penalty charge.


Gemma and her husband took their boys to Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool and parked at on site car park
Gemma and her husband took their boys to Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool and parked at on site car park

A mum has been left ‘disgusted’ after she was reportedly issued with a penalty charge notice as her disabled child fell suddenly ill.

Gemma Leary, 36, from Liverpool, brought her family for a two-night-stay in Blackpool at the end of May where she and husband John Leary, 39 took their 10-year-old twin boys to Sandcastle Water Park.

The twins, Lewis and Ryan, both have autism and Ryan also has type one diabetes meaning he has to wear a pump on his stomach that connects to a cannula providing insulin.

When arriving at the park, the parents said they decided to pay for a full day knowing that his pump would usually have to be replaced multiple times when going swimming.

Throughout the day, Gemma drove Ryan back and forth from the water park to their hotel to change his pump but on their last trip back, when the family were getting ready to leave, Ryan started feeling low due to low blood sugar levels.

Gemma said: “I would normally have walked (to the hotel) but because he’s diabetic, if he walks, he drops really fast.

“I thought it would be easier to have a base for the day and go back and forth hence why i paid for the full day instead of taking the three hours free disabled parking.”

During her rush to help Ryan during a hypoglycaemic shock, Gemma parked back in the disabled bay she had been in the whole day but said she had not been able to pick up her blue badge which fell into the foot well of her car.

Within minutes of leaving the car, a traffic warden arrived and issued Gemma with a PCN despite Gemma reportedly explaining her situation and showing the warden her badge.

Gemma said: “I said sorry my son’s just been having a hypo, I’ll get it for you so I got it for her and showed her, she checked it and checked if the right person was on it.

“She said to me I’ll take a picture of it and note it but I’ve already issued it so you’re going to have to challenge it.”

After speaking with the warden, Gemma said she was sure that challenging this penalty wouldn’t be an issue, but in doing so, claims she has found it to be the complete opposite.

“It was hard work and no one gets back to you at all,” she said “I eventually got an email saying they know that the lady has seen the valid badge but they’re not willing to overturn it which I think is disgusting, absolutely disgusting.

“I understand that you’ve got to put your blue badge on display which I had done throughout the day because I’m sure that the wardens would have been around all day, it was just unfortunate that it fell.”

When providing evidence towards appealing the PCN, Gemma had included images of her ticket for the day, her blue badge and images from her son’s glucose tracker, proving he had suffered a hypoglycemic shock.

Despite this the council then contacted Gemma to ask her to repay the reduced fine of £35 from £70.

A letter from the council, seen by LancsLive, says: “I am writing to confirm that I have received your challenge in relation to the above Penalty Charge Notice. After careful consideration of the circumstances, unfortunately it has been decided the reasons given are not grounds for the cancellation of the charge.

“In this instance, the PCN was correctly issued. The civil enforcement officer observed your vehicle parking in a designated disabled bay without a disabled blue badge and time clock clearly displayed in the vehicle.

“Disabled bays are for the sole use of disabled badge holders to enable easy access to local facilities. For the disabled concession to apply, it is essential (and a legal requirement) that the badge is displayed so that all the details on the front of the badge (the side with the hologram) and the time clock set to display the time of arrival (if required), are clearly visible from the outside of the vehicle in accordance with the blue badge scheme handbook.

“Although you showed the disabled badge to the officer who has confirmed that the badge holder was present, unless the badge is displayed at the time of parking a concession cannot be given.”

A Blackpool Council spokesperson said: “Although the penalty charge notice was issued correctly at the time we understand that circumstances led to the valid blue badge not being on display and the notice will be cancelled.”

Blackpool Houndshill Shopping Centre talks with retailer over Debenhams store takeover at ‘advanced stage’

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Negotiations are at an “advanced stage” with a retailer interested in taking over the former Debenhams department store in Blackpool town centre’s Houndshill Shopping Centre.


Last month, The Gazette revealed how council bosses were in talks with a major brand to takeover the department store, which closed its doors on May 8.

Officials are remaining tight-lipped on what firm it may be, but one council source said it’s a “big name”.

Following the closure of Debenhams a council spokesman said: “We have obviously been aware of the impending closure of the Debenhams store within the Houndshill for some time.

The Debenhams store closed in MayThe Debenhams store closed in May

“During that period, we have been working closely with our agents to identify suitable alternative anchor tenants for the unit.

“We are currently in negotiations with a retailer to take the whole unit and we hope to be able to make an announcement in the near future.”

Following a request from The Gazette, an authority spokesman said on Thursday that talks with the retailer are “at an advanced stage” but no further update or fixed timescale for an announcement were provided.

Debenhams opened in 2008 and was the flagship store for the Houndshill.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Marks and Spencer (M&S) confirmed that it was planning 30 further store closures as part of a shake-up of 110 of its shops, with the majority of sites set for relocation.

M&S said the impact of the pandemic has provided it with an opportunity to purchase new locations, with the group currently targeting six new stores in former Debenhams units.

It didn’t reveal if one of the stores it is targeting is the former Debenhams unit.