Promenade closed by police at Bispham

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A section of the upper promenade at Bispham has been cordoned off during Sunday, with police officers including Crime Scene Investigation teams seen at the scene.


The prom has been closed to pedestrians between Wolverton Avenue and Duchess Drive with uniformed officers at either end of the cordon.

It is not known at this stage what has prompted the police presence and closure.

The Force Incident Manager told the Gazette on Sunday afternoon he had no knowledge of any incident in that area.

Police at the scene on the promenade at Bispham on Sunday afternoonPolice at the scene on the promenade at Bispham on Sunday afternoon

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The police cordonThe police cordon

Moor Park Primary School pupils fundraising for special garden in memory of school worker

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Pupils and staff at a Bispham primary school are fundraising to create a memorial garden for a teaching support worker who lost her life to Covid.


Moor Park Primary School in Moor Park Avenue hopes to raise at least £4,000 for a new school garden in tribute to Cath Strangwood.

Mrs Strangwood, who was a one-to-one support worker and teaching assistant at Moor Park, died on November 28 last year at the age of 57, in Blackpool Victoria Hospital after a battle with coronavirus.

Her family described her as a “loving and devoted wife, mother and grandma who lit up the room with her contagious laugh.”

Moor Park Primary School in Bispham is raising money for a memorial garden in tribute to Cath Strangwood, who died of Covid last year.Moor Park Primary School in Bispham is raising money for a memorial garden in tribute to Cath Strangwood, who died of Covid last year.

Pupils are set to take part in a sponsored fun-run next week, to raise money for a new garden and outdoor reading area in Cath’s name.

Joanne Magson, headteacher at the school, said: “We’ve identified an area in our junior garden which we’d like to transform into a memorial garden for Mrs Strangwood.

“We got a few donations on the day of her funeral, so we’re going to put any money we received towards the garden.

“The children are currently working on designs for the garden, and we’re going to include Cath’s favourite plants and flowers.
Moor Park Primary School teaching assistant and support worker Cath Strangwood died after contracting Covid last year. Pupils hope to raise money to transform a section of their playground into a memorial garden in tribute to her.Moor Park Primary School teaching assistant and support worker Cath Strangwood died after contracting Covid last year. Pupils hope to raise money to transform a section of their playground into a memorial garden in tribute to her.

“One of the pupils came up with the idea of incorporating an outdoor reading area, and we’d like to put different plants in to attract insects as well.

“We’d like to get a garden designer involved with the process, and we’re hoping it can all be finished by next spring.”

The school is looking for someone to help them with the design of the garden – email them if you can help.Around £1200 has been raised through internal school funding so far – but you can donate towards the school’s next target of £1,000 here.

First look at Blackpool’s new £28m Winter Gardens conference centre

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The countdown is on towards the completion of Blackpool’s £28m new conference and exhibition centre which is due to be handed over to the council in November.


Workers are now on the final stretch of the contract to deliver state-of-the art facilities designed to put the Grade II* listed Winter Gardens back on the conferencing map.

Contractors McLaughlin & Harvey have around 106 people working on site as the deadline for completion approaches.

Pictured is Michael WilliamsPictured is Michael Williams

While it is still a construction site, the scale and detail of what will be delivered to delegates across two main floors plus mezzanine areas is clear.

Visitors arriving through a dedicated entrance on Leopold Grove will be swept upstairs on escalators to vast spaces which can be divided into different sized meeting or exhibition areas.

But an exposed brick wall reminds visitors they are just a step away from the rest of the Victorian Winter Gardens complex.Work is ongoing at the siteWork is ongoing at the site

And it is this aspect of the building – combining Blackpool’s heritage with its desire for progress – that will offer delegates a unique experience and hopefully put the conferencing offer ahead of rivals around the country.

Architects have designed the centre to seamlessly connect with its older neighbour, with access on a single level right through from Leopold Grove to the Empress Ballroom and the Floral Hall, as well as connections to the Opera House.

There will be ground floor capacity for around 430 delegates and first floor capacity for 1,200, bringing the total for the whole Winter Gardens complex to 7,000.

The main meeting space on the first floor can be split into four rooms using fully acoustic sliding walls boasting sound block boards to prevent noise slippage between partitions.

Worker on the siteWorker on the site

But pull back the walls, bring out the tables and chairs stored in rooms behind, and the same space can be transformed for a gala dinner with on-site kitchens.

A smaller convention area on the ground floor can be similairly divided, while break-out rooms offer a glazed outlook for when delegates need to switch-off.

But just as vital as space, is technology and engineers are busy fitting out reams of cable into the specialist IT room where there will also be a control centre for broadcasters.

Broadband fibre connections will be the best available along with state-of-the-art audio visual equipment.

The conference centre at Blackpool's Winter GardensThe conference centre at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens

Behind the scenes, a heavy duty air conditioning system has been installed, while toilets, cloakrooms, kitchens and staff quarters are also taking shape.

An undercover loading bay has been built with capacity for two articulated trucks to enable exhibits and scenery to be unloaded straight into the conference centre or onto the back of the Opera House stage.

Meanwhile a vehicle lift can carry a four tonne fully loaded transit van to the upper floors to unload.

Michael Williams, managing director of the Winter Gardens, says the investment is already attracting conference organisers back to Blackpool.

He said: “We’re on track for November and the finishing trades are now in fitting out things like the cabling.

“It’s an exciting part of the development seeing all the equipment starting to arrive right down to the big ovens and chillers for the kitchen. We’ve also just ordered the 1,700 chairs which will be needed.

“Connectivity with the rest of the Winter Gardens has been key throughout the design and building process.

“That’s why we have left in a feature brick wall to the Empress Ballroom balcony, which has been restored and repointed.

“The idea is people can relate to where they are, to the Empress Ballroom and to that 120-year tradition which is just behind the wall.

“That will be part of the unique selling point for our conference centre.

“We are going to have a 21st century conference centre with all the modern facilities and technology available, but people can walk through to the Empress Ballroom or the other rooms in the Winter Gardens and see the link to that heritage as well.”

Building work began in 2018 and has been disrupted by the Covid pandemic, although lockdown meant gatherings were off limits anyway.

A fresh appetite for conferences, as people have missed meeting, up is expected but lessons have also been learned from the restrictions put in place.

Mr Williams said: “We will be set up to hold hybrid conferences so some delegates could attend remotely from anywhere in the world.

“One thing Covid has taught us is that we have to be able to do things differently.

“If some international guests cannot travel, they can still attend the conference due to the technology we have put in.”

Proposals are also already in place for more investment which could further enhance the setting of the conference centre.

Planning permission was granted in June for a five storey, 160 bedroom hotel on Leopold Grove including an enclosed bridge linking the second floor of the hotel with the new development.

Meanwhile Blackpool Council’s £20m bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund includes new convention space with retail within the Olympia area of the Winter Gardens.

The Conservative Party will host its Spring Forum in the conference centre in 2022, which will be one of the first big events and will be the first time the Conservative Party has hosted a major conference in Blackpool since 2007.

Funding has included £15m from the government’s Growth Deal, £7m from Blackpool Council, and £2.9m from the Coastal Communities Fund (also government funding).

East Pines Park playground gets makeover thanks to £4,000 Swallowdale Children’s Trust and Gazette grant

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A playground was given a colourful makeover thanks to a £4,000 grant from Swallowdale Children’s Trust and The Gazette’s community competition last year.


Samantha and Riley-Jay Hindmarch, Paul Galley and Michelle Backhouse with some of the artwork installed in East Pines Park

Samantha and Riley-Jay Hindmarch, Paul Galley and Michelle Backhouse with some of the artwork installed in East Pines Park

The Friends of East Pines Park in Anchorsholme have resurfaced the park playground with educational pictures after scooping the cash in the giveaway.

Friends secretary Michelle Backhouse said the group was grateful to The Gazette and the Swallowdale Trust for the funds .

She said: “It has transformed our playground and we know this will help educate and inspire young minds for many years to come.

It was funded through a £4,000 grant from Swallowdales giveaway with the Gazette

It was funded through a £4,000 grant from Swallowdales giveaway with the Gazette

“The work includes a world map with global coastal cities on it ranging from Cape Town to Vancouver with Blackpool proudly displayed, along with a solar system featuring all the planets an A to Z caterpillar and a snakes and ladders game.”

Anchorsholme councillor and group chairman Paul Galley said: “Our vision has always been to inspire young people about themselves and Blackpool and we are so grateful to The Gazette and Swallowdale for backing us in our vision.

“As well as inspiring young minds, I was delighted the work was carried out by an Anchorsholme firm as I firmly believe that green spaces can support the Fylde economy.”

Jay Hindmarch, managing director of Arrowline Limited, which did the work, said both he and his wife grew up playing on the playground.
Samantha Hindmarch used the park growing up and son and Riley-Jay plays in it everyday
Samantha Hindmarch used the park growing up and son and Riley-Jay plays in it everyday

He said: “Our family use it every day and best of all our son Riley-Jay helped choose the solar system which has always been a major point of interest for him, so it’s something my fellow director and wife Samantha and the whole family are really proud of.”

The Gazette’s 2021 £25,000 community giveaway with Swallowdale Children’s Trust is running up to June 30 to give more people the chance to grab a slice of the cash.

The closing date for the competition has been moved to the end of June and schools, community groups, sports clubs, charities and societies are being called on to enter for a chance to win cash for a special cause.

The giveaway helps people under the age of 25 across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre.

Riley-Jay with the new snakes and ladders

Riley-Jay with the new snakes and ladders

It is now in its ninth year and the prize pot this time round will see the total handed out climb to more than £135,000.

To enter, email with Swallowdale in the subject field, or write to Swallowdale Children’s Trust Community Giveaway, The Gazette, 15 Olympic Court, Boardmans Way, Whitehills Business Park, Blackpool, FY4 5GU.

Tell us how much grant you are applying for and how you would spend the money if successful. Add your name, address, name of organisation (if applicable), and a contact telephone number.

The closing date is Wednesday, June 30.

The Lancashire town where sunshine costs £10.35 an hour

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With cheap hotels and plenty of sunshine it’s no wonder crowds flock to this area


Blackpool's beach is warmed in the sunshine
Blackpool’s beach is warmed in the sunshine (Image: Getty Images)

Summer staycations will be on the calendar for most of us this year but have you ever wondered where you can get the cheapest amount of sun from without having to go abroad?

Out of 63 seaside towns in the UK, Blackpool has been found to have the second cheapest cost per hour of sun at only £10.35, just missing the top spot by 80p according to a survey by vouchercloud.

Felixstowe is the cheapest spot at £9.55, while Fleetwood came in at number seven on the list with the cost per hour of sunshine coming in at £11.96.

Another North West seaside location also made the list, with Southport coming in at number 18 at £13.13 per hour of sun.

vouchercloud used Google Hotels and historic Met Office data to calculate the best value hour of sunshine in the UK.

Research showed that the average price of a hotel in Blackpool for one night is £60.75 – with an average of five hours and 56 minutes of sunshine on a typical summers day – working out at £10.35 an hour.

With fantastic attractions day and night, there may be more chances of visiting this seaside town this year as Covid restrictions continue to ease.

People enjoy the sunshine at Blackpool beach,
People enjoy the sunshine at Blackpool beach (Image: PA)

In Blackpool, there’s a huge variety of things to do to keep all ages entertained.

For family days out, or trips with friends, you can enjoy the Sea Life Centre, the Blackpool Circus and Dungeons of course the Pleasure Beach.

But if you’re sticking to a budget this summer, a day on the beach and a walk up the promenade is more than enough to satisfy your sun needs – just remember your sun cream!

And a trip to the seaside isn’t complete without some traditional food.

Pick up some fish and chips, find a huge range of Blackpool rock stalls, grab some freshly made doughnuts and treat yourself to an ice cream to cool you down. But beware of the notorious seagulls.

Whilst visiting Blackpool, a day of sun might not be enough for you so here are five of the cheapest hotels in Blackpool to extend your stay there:

Las Palmas hotel by the sea

This three and a half star TripAdvisor rated hotel is only a three minute walk away from the main promenade so when you’ve had your fill of sun for the day, it won’t take you long to get back to your hotel.

Rooms here start at £20 per night with free internet and a bar.

Stockton Grange hotel

Rated three stars on TripAdvisor. Pet friendly hotel on a budget that bring the best of Blackpool to your doorstep pets

Rooms at this hotel start at £20 per night.

Peek a Booze hotel

Adult only hotel with a cabaret themed bar and nightclub rated four stars on TripAdvisor.

Rooms here cost between £25-£30 each night.

The Marine Hotel

This three star rated hotel is a family friendly small hotel that provides free breakfast and is only a six minute walk from the beach.

Rooms start at £27 per night.

Travelodge Blackpool South Shore

For a cheap night in Blackpool, this Travelodge is rated four stars and provides a mix of value, comfort and convenience, all within a budget friendly setting.

Rooms here start at £28 per night.