Keir Starmer says skilled jobs and a conference return are among his hopes for Blackpool

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Labour leader Keir Starmer kicked off a summer out on the road with calls for skilled jobs to revitalise Blackpool during a walkabout in the resort.

 

He said while it was important to power up the hospitality industry in the immediate aftermath of the Covid pandemic, high quality jobs were key to the long term prosperity of the town.

Mr Starmer, who met tourism workers during a tour of the Winter Gardens, said: “They are much looking forward to November when the conference centre will open and there is a real hope that will be a boost to the economy here, and obviously they are very pleased to see people here this summer.

“But I think there’s a bigger issue beyond hospitality and that is a plan for high quality jobs in Blackpool

Keir Starmer talks to council officials on the Comedy CarpetKeir Starmer talks to council officials on the Comedy Carpet

“I was at St Mary’s School this morning with 16, 17 and 18-year-olds and when I asked them if they think they will have to leave Blackpool for the jobs they want to do, they all put their hands up.”

Mr Starmer was at the start of a three-day visit to Blackpool as part of a series of road trips between now and the autumn to discuss Labour’s ideas with local communities.

These include a ‘Jobs Promise’ to ensure every young person away from work for six months is offered a quality education, training or employment opportunity.

Labour wants the government to put unspent funds from its apprenticeship levy towards a wage subsidy that it says could create 85,000 new apprenticeships for young people aged between 16 and 24 this year.

Labour leader Keir Starmer during his visit to BlackpoolLabour leader Keir Starmer during his visit to Blackpool

Mr Starmer said “instead of a politician coming to Blackpool for an afternoon”, he was spending three days setting out his proposals to people.

He added: “So it’s a different way of doing politics. I’m not here with a speech, I’m not here to preach, I’ve come here with new ideas that I’m sharing with different groups in Blackpool over a three-day period, trying out ideas for what the future is after the pandemic.

“But making it clear place matters.”

As well as meeting with pupils from St Mary’s Catholic Academy, he also chatted to youngsters from South Shore Academy, and visited UR Potential community interest company on Central Drive.

There was time for a fish and chip lunch at Harry Ramsden’s, a walk across the Comedy Carpet and a stroll alongside holidaymakers on North Pier.

Blackpool Council also took the opportunity to showcase progress at its £28m new conference centre being built at the Winter Gardens, prompting strong hopes Labour could bring its main conference back to the resort.

Mr Starmer said: “I would love to bring our conference back here and that’s been very much discussed while I have been here.

“Obviously I have been to see the conference facilities and it is state-of-the-art, it looks fantastic and I can envisage what it’s going to look like.

“So we’ll have discussions and there are things to be worked out, but I would love to bring the Labour conference back to Blackpool.”

But he did not back calls by Blackpool South Conservative MP Scott Benton to resurrect the super-casino plan as part of the resort’s economic future.

The Labour boss said his talks with residents suggested “they don’t see a super casino as the silver bullet” towards prosperity.

He said: “They would much rather have a properly structured plan for Blackpool that allows them to survive year on year.”

This he added would mean “so when I next ask in schools in Blackpool, can you get the job you want here in Blackpool, the answer will be yes.”

Proposals being debated by Labour with communities this summer are –

A £15bn Children’s Recovery Plan – including breakfast clubs and small group tutoring to help children catch up, mental health support in schools and an extension of free school meals.

A Jobs Promise to ensure every young person away from work for six months is offered a quality education, training or employment opportunity.

Proposals to ‘Make, Buy and Sell More in Britain’ – to help bring the jobs of the future to towns like Blackpool.

 

£10,000 grant is cause for Celebrations at Lytham card shop

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The expansion of a Fylde business has been boosted by a £10,000 grant.

 

The ARG Vacant Premises Grant, available via Fylde Council is a fund dedicated to boosting town centres across the borough.

It enables businesses locating to, or expanding into, vacant town centre premises to apply to receive 50 per cent of the set-up, shop fit, refit or branding costs at a value of up to £10,000.

Celebrations Cards and Gifts, already well estabished in Kirkham, has doubled its Fylde presence by moving i to the forner Card Market shop in Clifton Street, Lytham – and owner Sarah Mangan is delighted to have had the help of the ARG grant.

Sarah Mangan of Celebrations Cards and Gifts is presented with the grant money by Coun Michael Sayward outside the Lytham shopSarah Mangan of Celebrations Cards and Gifts is presented with the grant money by Coun Michael Sayward outside the Lytham shop

Fylde starter grant boosts town centre

“It was such a boost, and gave me a lot more freedom to do things in the best possible way, rather than compromising due to tighter budget constraints.

“The council has been amazing, and so helpful. Both the grant and the support from the team came at just the right time. I was able to use the money to completely refurbish the shop; from counter and card units, to toilets, shelving and a fresh new frontage.

“Obviously high street retail suffered during the pandemic when all the ‘non-essential’ shops had to close last year.

“We worked hard to adapt, striving to do everything online or over the phone and arranging daily deliveries from the Kirkham store.

“Thankfully, we were able to re-open in time for Christmas, which is the most important time of year for the business.

“The new shop in Lytham is going really well. I’m delighted to be part of the high street here and to play a small part in so many people’s special occasions.

“It’s really lovely to see customers face to face again, and to watch them take their time choosing just the right card or gift for friends and family.”

Coun Michael Sayward presented the money to Sarah and said: “I’m so pleased that the ARG grant was available to help in setting up the Lytham Celebrations store Sarah had been working towards, and I have no doubt she will make a success of it as she’s obviously very committed.

“Not only has Celebrations survived a pandemic, it is thriving and I’m delighted that this valuable support was available for such a deserving local business to expand.”

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Blackpool Tourism businesses team up to Kickstart careers of young unemployed

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Young unemployed people have been given the chance to get a foot on the employment ladder after an event involving five of the resort’s big tourism businesses.

Hazel Hall and her job coach Ash Hails a the Kickstart eventHazel Hall and her job coach Ash Hails a the Kickstart event

Successful applicants will take part in a six-month placement with an employer working 25 hours a week.

The initiative also enables the employer to receive wage and start-up costs.

The jobs fair was held in partnership with Blackpool Council which is acting as a gateway for the scheme, helping local employers access funding.

The council has been supporting a number of businesses on the Fylde coast, including five of the largest employers in the town: Blackpool Zoo, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Merlin Entertainments, The Grand Theatre and the Winter Gardens.
Emma Meehan from MerlinEmma Meehan from Merlin

The jobs fair proved a huge success with over 65 young people being offered placements as a direct result.

Lorraine Townson, customer service leader for Blackpool Jobcentre said: “We were delighted to host our first Kickstart event, connecting local employers and our customers within our Covid safe jobcentre environment.

“The scheme is a fantastic opportunity with a number of vacancies on offer locally for our young people.

“The jobs fair enabled us our Employer Advisers and Work Coaches to promote the scheme face-to-face. Kickstart gives customers on Universal Credit a chance to gain real experience and get their foot on the jobs ladder.

“Seeing young people enter the Jobcentre looking nervous but leaving with a smile knowing they had been an offered a paid opportunity was amazing.”

Emma Meeham from Merlin Entertainments, said: “It was an absolute fantastic day.

“I met so many lovely people and I can’t wait to get all these new starters on board, they are absolutely amazing. It’s been brilliant, busy, so many interviews.”

Hazel Hall, interviewed by The Winter Gardens said: “I’m so thankful for the opportunity, I have been given with the Winter Gardens.”

The future is taking shape writes Andy Mitchell

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The speed at which the new development at the top of Talbot Road in Blackpool is taking shape is heartening.

Talbot gateway phase 2

Talbot gateway phase 2

I’ve passed the old Wilkos site a few times in the past week, and the giant steelwork for the new hotel and offices has been bolted together liked an enormous Meccano set.

One of the fascinating bits to watch, is the development of the new tram interchange. It’s a complicated set of rails which will form a cross over for trams when they get to the terminus, allowing them to come back down Talbot Road and on to the Promenade again.

For the last few years, passers by looked on bemused, as the tracks disappeared through the front door of the old supermarket building. Of course, it sparked a flurry of local conspiracy theories on social media. I remember one correspondent suggesting that “the Council” (for it is ALWAYS their issue, according to Facebook warriors), had got the direction of the tracks wrong and they’d ended up in Wilkos by mistake!

What we need now more than ever is an exciting, optimistic view of what’s happening to the future of the resort, and get behind it.

The council isn’t responsible for every building or development in town, it is big business looking to invest in the resort. If grant funding is available to Blackpool to develop individual projects, then we should always be welcoming of it. We need every penny that Central Government can throw our way. Grant funding and private investment will redevelop our town.

The next job in Talbot Road will be to put up the overhead wires which will enable our modern light rail tram system to link North Station with the rest of the network. This is expansion in action, and we are here to see it happen.

Heatwave anyone? This is how hot it’s going to get in Blackpool at the weekend

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The jet stream has now moved northwards which will cause settled, hot weather in parts of Britain until the first week of August.

 

Beer gardens and ice cream parlours will be the order of the weekend as the mercury is set to rise, giving us all a fine a sunny few days.

Temperatures will rise to as high as 21C on Friday and Saturday and 20C Sunday.

Friday:

It's going to be a lovely weekend in Blackpool

It’s going to be a lovely weekend in Blackpool

A fine and dry day, after any early fog patches clear.

Plenty of sunshine throughout, with some patchy fair-weather cloud developing into the afternoon.

Feeling very warm in the sunshine. Maximum north west temperature: 26 °C.

READ MORE>>>

Outlook for Saturday to Monday:

Staying dry with plenty of sunshine over the weekend and feeling very warm throughout. Becoming cloudier into Monday, bringing slightly lower temperatures and the risk of an odd shower.

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‘Day of action’ sees Lancashire Police carry out stop checks on Blackpool drivers

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A number of motorists were pulled over on Blackpool’s roads last week in a ‘day of action’ which saw police target those suspected of criminal activity and driving offences.

Lancashire Police said officers stopped a total of 28 vehicles during its 'day of action' in Blackpool, Lancaster and Morecambe in a 'day of action' on Thursday, July 8Lancashire Police said officers stopped a total of 28 vehicles during its ‘day of action’ in Blackpool, Lancaster and Morecambe in a ‘day of action’ on Thursday, July 8

Motorists in the resort were pulled over for stop checks on Thursday, July 8 as part of ‘Op Guardian’ – an ongoing operation to crack down on people using the road network to commit crime.

Lancashire Police said officers stopped and searched a total of 28 vehicles during its ‘day of action’ in Blackpool, Lancaster and Morecambe.

Drivers were not chosen at random, said the force. Instead, each stop check was based on ‘intelligence’ or a reasonable amount of suspicion.

Lancashire Police's Tact Ops squad was involved in the operation, codenamed ‘Op Guardian’, which has been set up to disrupt criminal activity on the county's roads, such as transporting drugs and stolen vehicles.Lancashire Police’s Tact Ops squad was involved in the operation, codenamed ‘Op Guardian’, which has been set up to disrupt criminal activity on the county’s roads, such as transporting drugs and stolen vehicles.

It said the stop searches led to a stolen vehicle being seized and a number of drivers reported for a range of suspected offences.

One person was arrested for failing to appear at court, a quantity of drugs was seized from another vehicle, and several people were reported for summons for offences including driving without insurance.

Lancashire Police said the operation, codenamed ‘Op Guardian’, has been set up to disrupt criminal activity, such as transporting drugs and stolen vehicles.

The force said it plans to hold a ‘day of action’ every month in a different area of the county each time.

Tesco driver arrested on suspicion of drink driving after delivery van smashes i…

Insp Rob Conolly-Perch, of Lancashire Police, said: “This was the second day of action held as part of Operation Guardian, and on this occasion we based ourselves in the west of the county.

“We understand the impact that criminality has on local communities and we are determined to tackle it.

“We are also aware of how frustrating it is for law-abiding roads users when they know people are driving without insurance, tax, MOT or even a licence.

“Hopefully these days of action show that we are taking these concerns seriously.”

 

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton accepted almost £8,000 in free Wimbledon, Royal Ascot and Euro 2020 tickets from gambling industry

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Resort MP Scott Benton accepted nearly £8,000 worth of freebie sports tickets from the gambling industry before campaigning for a super casino, the register of MPs’ interests revealed.

 

It comes a week after the Blackpool South tory MP asked culture secretary John Whittingdale to review a case for a super casino in Blackpool, and promoted the use of high street betting shops.

The MP register of interests showed Mr Benton accepted £7494.60 in hospitality and free tickets to major sporting events from gambling firms in the country and abroad.

He took hospitality at Royal Ascot, worth £1,400 from from the Betting and Gaming Council, and a ticket and hospitality for Wimbledon worth £1,100 from Gibraltar firm Entain Operations.

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton took almost £8,000 in sports tickets and hospitality from the gambling industry, ahead of calling for a new super casino in Blackpool and promoting high street bookies.Blackpool South MP Scott Benton took almost £8,000 in sports tickets and hospitality from the gambling industry, ahead of calling for a new super casino in Blackpool and promoting high street bookies.

Entain Operations owns multiple gambling sites across the UK, including bookies Ladbrokes and Coral.

Mr Benton also bagged free tickets to Euro 2020 games, including a ticket and hospitality at the England v Denmark semi-final worth £3,457 from Entain Operations, and the same at the England v Czech Republic game worth £1,537.60, from online casino and bingo firm Gamesys Group.

The freebies were all accepted between June 17 and July 7.

Six other tory MPs and two labour MPs also claimed free tickets to sports events from the gambling industry, but none to the same amount as Mr Benton.

The gambling and betting firms hosted the MPs as the government undertakes a review of the Gambling Act, to consider further advertising restrictions.

But Mr Benton came under fire from resort residents, another political party and a gambling addiction group this week in the wake of his betting shop promotion and bid for a super casino.

He argued that a super casino would be a welcomed regeneration project for Blackpool, boosting the town’s tourism and leisure industry and creating jobs.

But Blackpool and Fylde Green Party blasted the proposal, saying Mr Benton was “out of touch” with what his constituents need.

The chairman of a gambling addiction support group also said the MP’s promotion of high street betting to put money back into the Treasury was “inappropriate”.

Gambling problems are on the rise in Blackpool, chairman Terry Kilgariff added, and “anyone who uses these shops on a regular basis is more susceptible to getting a problem with it.”

Meanwhile, Mr Benton’s push for a review of the case for a super casino in Westminster Hall came on July 7 – the same day he received a free ticket from Entain for England’s Euros semi-final clash against Denmark.

He asked: “Will the minister commit himself to reviewing the case for a regional casino during the gambling review and assess the significant positive economic impact that a regional casino could make to a town such as Blackpool, which would be the obvious location to host such a casino?”

Mr Whittingdale said “the legislation is still on the statute book and could therefore be utilised,” if support for the bid was received well by residents, if a suitable operator could be found and if it was supported by Blackpool Council.

But Blackpool Council said this was the first time they had heard about talks of a super casino for “a number of years,” although bosses were happy to enter into discussions.

Mr Benton told the Gazette that although he had not earmarked a site for the super casino yet, he would welcome one in his constituency.

“My discussions at the moment are with operators to see if they would be interested, and if that’s the case then I would put forward a strong case for Blackpool,” he said.

“I would like for it to be in my constituency, there are a huge number of derelict sites and brownfield land around.”

Mr Benton was contacted for comment.