Blackpool pupils condemn racist abuse towards England players after Euro 2020 final

Youngsters at a resort school penned messages of support for three England footballers racially abused after missing penalties during the Euro 2020 defeat to Italy.

 

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka were subjected to vile remarks online after Sunday’s loss – but have been swamped by messages of kindness, love, and tolerance in the days since.

Pupils at Westcliff Primary Academy, in Crawford Avenue, Bispham, were among those spending time writing cards and well-wishes.

“I’m sorry people are being unkind,” Year One youngster Libby said. “I think you are all amazing.”

Year Five pupils Ben, Jaxson, Oliver, Lily and Ella with their letters of support to England players who were racially abused after the Euro 2020 final.Year Five pupils Ben, Jaxson, Oliver, Lily and Ella with their letters of support to England players who were racially abused after the Euro 2020 final.

Her classmate Flynn Wright added: “Well done for playing your best and getting into the final. Thank you for everything you have done for our country.”

Year Six children Eszme and Daniel wrote to Arsenal’s Saka: “You had trained hard for getting this far and you don’t deserve all this abuse, all for your skin colour. The Euros have brought this country together and people should stop trying to break your spirits and make you quit football.

“To be only 19 years old and get into the Euros is a massive achievement and you should be proud.”

Yesterday, Sean Bullen, former headteacher at Millfield in Thornton and now director of education at the Fylde Coast Academy Trust, which runs schools across the Fylde coast, said: “As a teacher of 31 years I can categorically state that racism in schools is much less of an issue than it was previously.

Year Six pupils Niamh, Jess and Amber.Year Six pupils Niamh, Jess and Amber.

“Equally I also recognise there will always be more we can do.”

A petition to permanently ban racists from football matches passed a million signatures in just two days.

A trio of campaigners, who call themselves The Three Hijabis due to their heritage and dress, have seen their petition go viral.

“We feel validated in our resistance to racism and that what we have been able to articulate is the sentiment that is held nationwide,” one, Huda Jaward, said.

Year One pupils Libby and Flynn with their letters of support for England players.Year One pupils Libby and Flynn with their letters of support for England players.

Decision will speed up £300m Blackpool Central leisure development

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Another step towards the £300m Blackpool Central leisure development has been taken after councillors agreed further powers to enable land to be used for the first phase.

 

The executive has approved a recommendation to appropriate for planning purposes a parcel of land to the rear of the former King Edward Apartments within the Blackpool Central Site on Central Car Park.

Plans submitted for £300m new Blackpool leisure destination

The land is needed to create a safe working space around the site earmarked for a new multi storey car park as part of the enabling phase of the scheme.

Artist's impression of Blackpool CentralArtist’s impression of Blackpool Central

It is proposed to build the car park closer to the former King Edward Apartments than previously anticipated.

Alan Cavill, director of communications and regeneration at the council, told a meeting of the executive: “This is a process we need to put in place to ensure no delay to the project commencing and so we can get this fantastic project underway.

“We already own the land but people have rights of access and we need to remove those, but it doesn’t take away their rights without compensation.

“When discussing it with the developer, they would like this to be enacted more quickly. The land sits right next to where the car park would be and is needed during construction.”

A hybrid planning application for the scheme was submitted by developers Nikal Ltd and Media Invest Entertainment last month.

It is seeking full permission for the multi storey car park and to convert properties on Central Drive into a heritage zone, and outline permission for the rest of the development which will include leisure areas, retail and hotels.

 

How a Blackpool engineering firm helped an ex-offender get his career up and running

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A Blackpool firm has helped a former offender get up and running in a career as an electrician.

 

Building services engineering firm Ameon has taken part in the C2W, Custody to Work, rehabilitation scheme to offer apprenticeship training to a former Kirkham Prison inmate.

Rob Parker, 33, was imprisoned for drugs related offences in 2018, but is now working on a major North West construction contract with the Whitehills based firm.

He is now just three years away from qualifying as an electrician and is training to run the Manchester Marathon for Ameon’s nominated charity Brian House Children’s Hospice.

Ameon principal contract manager, Dave Scott, left, with new electrical apprentice, Rob ParkerAmeon principal contract manager, Dave Scott, left, with new electrical apprentice, Rob Parker

Rob said : “My darkest days were when on bail awaiting trial, because I couldn’t look beyond that point in time. Then when sentenced, it was as though a light came on and I knew that I could make amends to my mum and dad for the hurt and shame I’d caused them. I could see beyond prison and I knew also that I could make a contribution to society, if I had an opportunity.

“Clearly, drugs offences are very serious and I accepted my sentence as justified but I didn’t want it to define my life, which is why I viewed my release as the first step on the road back.

That road was opened by the C2W scheme and by Ameon, who took a chance on me. And it’s a chance I do not intend to squander.”

Ameon’s principal contract manager, Dave Scott, is the man responsible for Rob’s appointment. He had no hesitation in offering him a job and is in no doubt that he’ll be a success.

He said: “The minute I read Rob’s extremely candid and articulate letter I knew this young man had the intellect to understand his predicament and also the nous to know how to change his circumstances for the future.

“In truth, none of us here knew what to expect of him in the workplace but he’s been a model employee and is really keen to learn. He’s also actually a really nice lad, which is another thing people might find hard to believe, because it’s sometimes difficult for people to see beyond the label.

“Initiatives like C2W are a great help to offenders, and in our case, it has also proved to be a very positive thing for us as an employer. Rob’s appointment proves that everyone is capable of making a positive contribution if they have the chance, so more opportunities like this can only be good for business and society.”

Life’s a beach: Fleetwood Beach Wheelchairs on making Lancastrian sun, sea, and sand accessible again

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One morning in the summer of 2018, Mick Gray was looking out over the Promenade towards the sea from his Fleetwood home when he noticed something.

 

Fleetwood Beach Wheelchairs' volunteers

Fleetwood Beach Wheelchairs’ volunteers

“I saw people on the beach having a nice time, playing, and having picnics,” explains Mick. “Then, sitting on a bench on the Promenade itself, was a child in a wheelchair as dogs and runners and skateboarders and cyclists all went by.

“It just didn’t seem right to me.”

Suddenly grasping the sheer inaccessibility of the beach for disabled people and those who rely on wheelchairs to move around, Mick resolved to do something to rectify the situation.

A member of the public enjoying the beach experienceA member of the public enjoying the beach experience

As a member of the local rotary club, he found support for the idea amongst his fellow club members and so approached Healthier Fleetwood and the council with a plan: Fleetwood Beach Wheelchairs.

Having seen them used elsewhere, he knew the concept was viable and was soon able to put on a demonstration using chairs provided by Adventure Mobility.

For some of the individuals involved, it was the very first time they’d been able to go on a beach in their entire lives.

“Families with a disabled relative would arrive for a day on the beach and the disabled person would have to sit on the Promenade when all the family went off and had a great time,” says volunteer Janet Simpson. “Mick thought ‘there’s got to be some way of getting these people on the beach to enjoy the sand and the sea and have a great time, too’.

FBW's beach-adapted wheelchairsFBW’s beach-adapted wheelchairs

“He found out about beach wheelchairs and, after navigating a lot of red tape, we got up and running,” she adds, with the initiative given the green light in spring 2019 and securing charity status the year after.

“As a retired chartered physiotherapist, I wanted to get involved as a volunteer and it’s practically become a full-time job since then. I absolutely love every minute of it.

“Putting smiles on people’s faces and seeing them making memories together as families gives you a lump in the throat.”

Having been operating since the autumn of 2020, Fleetwood Beach Wheelchairs is run entirely by its 30-odd volunteers and now boasts seven chairs, which are suitable for all ages, sizes, and most levels of physical mobility.

Cat Smith MP paying a visit to Fleetwood Beach WheelchairsCat Smith MP paying a visit to Fleetwood Beach Wheelchairs

Making a real difference to people’s lives, the specially-designed chairs are completely free to hire and allow people the chance to enjoy the beach safely with friends and family.

“We want to get the local schools and colleges involved so kids can have a bit of a field trip down at the beach as part of a group experience if possible,” explains Mick of the charity’s hopes for the future. “I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved. It’s so humbling to see the effect you can have.

“It’s been a long and winding road to get to where we are, but to see the joy that people get is priceless,” he adds, with the chairs even able to be taken into the shallows so as to allow people to have a paddle.

“It’s just the most fulfilling thing. We have kids going onto the beach for the first time, people rekindling memories, and elderly people able to play with their grandchildren.

FBW has chairs for all ages, sizes, and most levels of physical mobilityFBW has chairs for all ages, sizes, and most levels of physical mobility

“It’s so, so nice.”

Always on the lookout for new volunteers and ways to enhance the experience, FBW also provide binoculars and art materials for people looking to enjoy the stunning local scenery and draw.

The service has been a huge hit so far, with people coming down most days to try out the chairs according to Janet, who says it’s fantastic to see FBW so well-loved by the local community.

“It’s such a lovely thing to be a part of and we’re growing all the time,” she explains. “It’s fabulous and totally life-changing for so many people – people who have never thrown a stone in the sea, never had the sand between their toes, or felt the water lapping at their feet.

“It’s just so fulfilling to be involved.”

 

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton sparks backlash with bookies promotion

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A resort MP has come under fire after voicing support for high street betting shops following a request to the culture secretary to review the case for a super casino.

 

Blackpool South’s MP Scott Benton voiced his support for high street betting shops and met with an industry bigwig after leading the charge to revive efforts to build a ‘super casino’ in the resort.

The Tory politician posed at William Hill in South Shore with Brigid Simmonds, chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council, who said “having a flutter is clearly an important part of the social fabric of Blackpool”, which is one of the most deprived towns in the country.

Mr Benton, himself the chairman of a cross-party Parliamentary group on betting and gaming, was filmed saying bookies are “a key driving force to get people out on their high streets, spending money in shops and local business as well”.

Gambling puts cash into the Government’s coffers, he said, which he claimed funds “vital public services”.

But his comments were condemned by Terry Kilgariff, a former gambling addict from Wesham who now battles to help others as chairman of Gambling Harms North West Alliance.

He said: “I think it’s inappropriate because anyone who uses these shops on a regular basis is more susceptible to getting a problem with it. Gambling is meant to be a recreational activity.

“There are 400,000 problem gamblers in Britain but it doesn’t just affect those people. It also affects the other 4.3 million around those who are suffering. One in 15 people know someone who has a gambling problem.
Scott Benton, MP for Blackpool South, has been met with anger from the Green party and the chairman of a Gambling Addiction organisation after publicly promoting the use of betting shops in Blackpool. Pic: JPI MediaScott Benton, MP for Blackpool South, has been met with anger from the Green party and the chairman of a Gambling Addiction organisation after publicly promoting the use of betting shops in Blackpool. Pic: JPI Media

“People don’t show the signs and symptoms like they would with a drug or alcohol addiction. If you’re an alcoholic, you could go and spend around £70 in the pub in a day – but a gambling addict could potentially ruin their family’s lives for the next 10 years.”

Mr Kilgariff – who previously worked as a manager of a betting shop – also confirmed that in his experience, both as a manager and a former addict, bookies accept bets in large sums of money without challenging punters.

Last April, many betting shops and gambling sites were forced to remove their adverts on TV and radio.

The move came after Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris told Parliament the pandemic had been “absolutely disastrous” for people suffering from gambling addiction.

Terry Kilgariff, chairman of Gambling Harms North West Alliance, said Mr Benton's promotion of high street bookies was "inappropriate."Terry Kilgariff, chairman of Gambling Harms North West Alliance, said Mr Benton’s promotion of high street bookies was “inappropriate.”

The Betting and Gaming Council followed up by announcing that all advertising from their members had been removed from broadcast media for at least six weeks.

But Mr Benton said it was down to each individual how they chose to spend their money, and “the majority of people enjoy having a gamble”.

“We live in a free and liberal society. The vast majority of people enjoy having a gamble and 99.5 per cent of people do so safely,” he said.

“The rates of problem gamblers in the UK are falling and have been for a number of years, and the betting industry, whether it be online or visiting betting shops, already has a range of measures in place.

“Putting money on a bet is no different from going to a pub to enjoy a few drinks, or other activities including retail and leisure. We shouldn’t look at it any differently.

“Hundreds of people locally are employed by betting shops, and they are a crucial part of the high street.”

Earlier this year, it emerged that the Labour-run Blackpool Council wanted to cut the number of bookies in the town because of the “temptation places like this puts in front of people”.

The Blackpool and Fylde Green Party said in a tweeted response to Mr Benton’s video: “You’re even more out of touch than could have been imagined, Scott.

“Do you have any idea about the place you represent? The issues we face? The reality of our lives? Promoting gambling in our deprived town verges on the criminal. You are a disgrace as an MP and a human being.”

As revealed yesterday, Mr Benton has urged culture secretary John Whittingdale to grant the town a licence for a super casino, which would have had 1,250 unlimited jackpot fruit machines – a battle originally lost in 2007 despite being backed by local councillors, MPs and The Gazette – which saw a petition containing 11,000 signatures handed in to Downing Street.

Gordon Marsden, who was Blackpool South’s Labour MP at the time, spoke of his disappointment after Manchester was picked to host the super casino in a scheme later scrapped altogether.

Mr Marsden, who lost his seat to Mr Benton in 2019, said times had changed, and a balance between regenerating the town and protecting the vulnerable would need to be found.

Blackpool Transport bosses ‘recommend’ passengers still wear facemasks on buses and trams after social distancing rules are eased

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Blackpool Transport bosses are still advising passengers to wear facemasks on buses and trams in the resort after the easing of Government coronavirus restrictions comes into force on Monday (July 19).

 

As rules on social distancing are eased, more seats will be available on Blackpool Transport buses and trams, but face coverings remain as a recommendation for customers.

Changes to government restrictions mean that social distancing rules no longer apply on public transport, although travellers are urged to still consider the risks of close contact with others.

The relaxation of social distancing means that capacity on buses will double in some cases, making it easier for customers to travel and use the bus in Blackpool.

Blackpool Transport bosses are still recommending passengers wear facemasks on buses and trams after Government social distancing rules are eased on Monday, July 19, 2021Blackpool Transport bosses are still recommending passengers wear facemasks on buses and trams after Government social distancing rules are eased on Monday, July 19, 2021

Trams will also see a similar change with all seats being made available for use, in addition to the recent increase in frequency which sees trams running up to every seven minutes in peak times. Staff will remain in place at the busiest tram platforms to help to manage the number of customers allowed on each tram.

Blackpool cycle lane planned for St Walburgas Road would cost taxpayer over £310…

James Carney, finance and commercial director at Blackpool Transport said: “The automatic and regular ventilation of buses and trams that happens when the vehicles open their doors, plus our continued enhanced cleaning regime will minimize risks when travelling on public transport. We are recommending that customers continue to wear a face covering because it adds another protective layer for themselves and others.

“Our team members will also continue to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where they are not behind a protective screen to continue to do their bit to keep everyone as safe as possible. We urge everyone travelling by bus or tram in Blackpool to do the same unless they are exempt.”

You can find the latest changes and guidance at www.blackpooltransport.com

 

Cleveleys man arrested on suspicion of drink driving after Tesco delivery van smashes into cars in Lytham

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A 47-year-old man has been arrested after a Tesco delivery van crashed into a number of cars in Lytham.

 

Police say they were alerted to a Tesco van that had crashed into multiple cars in Agnew Street, Lytham at around 3.15pm.

Officers were immediately tasked with tracking down the van which was soon spotted three miles away in Ballam Road, where the driver was stopped outside Peel Hall Business Park.

Lancashire Police said a 47-year-old man from Cleveleys has been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving. He remains in custody this morning (Thursday, July 15).

Police make an arrest at the scene in Peel Road, Lytham yesterday (Wednesday, July 14). Pic credit: Jason EastwoodPolice make an arrest at the scene in Peel Road, Lytham yesterday (Wednesday, July 14). Pic credit: Jason Eastwood

The force said the van is not believed to have been stolen.

A police spokesman said: “We were called around 3.15pm yesterday (Wednesday, July 14) to a report a delivery van had been involved in a collision with a number of vehicles close to Agnew Street, Lytham.

“Following a search of the area a man was later detained by police in Peel Road in connection with the incident.

“A 47-year-old man from Cleveleys was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving and is in custody.”

Tesco has been approached for comment.

 

Blackpool Gateway Academy pupils all scream for ice cream after a challenging academic year during Covid pandemic

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A Blackpool academy treated its pupils to an on-site ice cream van this week as a reward for their achievements and tolerance during a difficult year for schools.

 

Blackpool Gateway Academy in Seymour Road was granted a £400 sponsorship from Preston-based education recruitment firm Vision for Education, which saw an ice cream van park up in the playground.

Children across all year groups were given the opportunity to spend time in the sun with their favourite ice creams as recognition of their achievements working remotely and in school during the pandemic.

Emma Frankland, deputy headteacher, said: “Gateway has not only also undergone the challenges faced by the pandemic with bubble closures and isolation periods – as every school has – but has also undergone a rapid and rigorous school improvement journey.

Pupils with Lewis Smillie from Vision for Education with their ice creams. Pic: Fylde Coast Academy Trust.Pupils with Lewis Smillie from Vision for Education with their ice creams. Pic: Fylde Coast Academy Trust.

“The team here at Gateway has been fantastic, everyone has pulled together to ensure the best possible learning and wellbeing experiences for all children, whether via remote learning or being physically in the classroom despite these difficult times.

“Everyone in the Gateway community was greatly appreciative of the kind gesture donated by Vision for Education. It was a lovely way to round off a very challenging but positive year.”

Lewis Smillie, from Vision for Education’s Preston branch, added: “We’re passionate about making a difference in education – proudly putting children and young people at the heart of everything we do.

“We actively work with local schools to offer educational and creative incentives and competitions which encourage and motivate pupils to read more and develop their skills, help improve attendance and promote positive behaviour.”

Pupils and teachers with Lewis Smillie from Vision for Education, which funded the ice cream van, enjoying ice creams. Pic: Fylde Coast Academy Trust.Pupils and teachers with Lewis Smillie from Vision for Education, which funded the ice cream van, enjoying ice creams. Pic: Fylde Coast Academy Trust.

Pupils and teachers with Lewis Smillie from Vision for Education, which funded the ice cream van, enjoying ice creams. Pic: Fylde Coast Academy Trust.Pupils and teachers with Lewis Smillie from Vision for Education, which funded the ice cream van, enjoying ice creams. Pic: Fylde Coast Academy Trust.