Motorists queue outside petrol station in Thornton as worker says there’s ‘no diesel’ left

Home | Blackpool Gazette

This was the queue outside the BP petrol station in Fleetwood Road North, Thornton, today after the fuel giant was forced to close down a handful of its forecourts elsewhere.

 

BP said yesterday it had closed several forecourts due to a lack of available fuel after the lorry driver shortage hit deliveries, while a number of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted according to Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites.

Cars were pictured waiting to get onto the forecourt, where a worker stood with a handwritten cardboard sign saying: “No diesel”.

It comes amid reports of panic buying, even after the AA said most forecourts are working as they should – and as the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said motorists should “carry on as normal”.

Motorists queuing outside BP in Fleetwood Road North, Thornton, on Friday, September 24, 2021 (Picture: Dan Martino for The Gazette)

Motorists queuing outside BP in Fleetwood Road North, Thornton, on Friday, September 24, 2021 (Picture: Dan Martino for The Gazette)

There was no suggestion any of those waiting for fuel in Thornton were panic buying, however.

“There is no shortage of fuel and thousands of forecourts are operating normally with just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems,” said AA president Edmund King.

“Fridays and the weekend always tend to be busier on forecourts as drivers either combine filling up with shopping runs, prepare for weekend trips or refuel for the start of the new working week.

“Drivers should not fill up outside their normal routines because, even if the occasional petrol station is temporarily closed, others just down the road will be open.

A worker at BP in Fleetwood Road North, Thornton, holds a sign saying 'No diesel' on Friday, September 24, 2021 (Picture: Dan Martino for The Gazette)

A worker at BP in Fleetwood Road North, Thornton, holds a sign saying ‘No diesel’ on Friday, September 24, 2021 (Picture: Dan Martino for The Gazette)

“It is now clear that there have been occasional delays over recent weeks that have been managed with hardly anyone noticing. This was a manageable problem.”

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds said the UK Government’s handling of Brexit was partly to blame for adding extra pressure on the HGV sector.

The Opposition MP said: “There are shortages of HGV drivers in other countries.

“I have to say, however, that there have been big failures in planning for this situation and the additional red tape that has been created, which was not inevitable, it was not an inevitable result of Brexit in many cases, but that hasn’t been tackled by Government.

“I talk to advanced manufacturers in my patch for example, and they tell me that now they have got to fill in dozens of pages of paperwork and that is quite a tall order for a HGV driver if they have got to be dealing with all of that, as well as getting goods from one place to another.

“So undoubtedly the Government’s method of implementing Brexit has had an impact overall on the system, but there are other factors that are in play here.

“And I think their failure to consider whether they need to ask that Migration Advisory Committee about a different approach to shortage occupations – I really do think they should be engaging with business on this and listening to them.”

Mr Shapps said there were “systemic” problems within the haulage sector that needed addressing and that there was a need to make it a “more attractive industry”.

He said: “Traditionally, this has been – and these are extraordinary figures – a 99 per cent white male profession, average age 55, conditions not great, truck stops not great.

“And the salaries have been supressed over many years by people coming in and driving and being prepared to do that at lower wages.

“So we need to resolve the systemic problems as well and that’s why, as I say, we are doing everything we possible can to open up the capacity and bring more people in.”

He added: “We need to make this a more attractive industry to go into and the solution to that is to have those slightly higher wages and better conditions at truck stops and the like as well.”

Mr Shapps said the wage base for hauliers had been held down by “importing cheap European, often eastern European, labour, undercutting the domestic market and creating more long-term problems”.

But the Transport Secretary said he was “ruling nothing out” in order to fix the haulier shortage but added that he was wary about importing cheap foreign labour.

“We’ve already doubled the spaces (for testing) and we’ve started to see people come into the sector to alleviate this problem, and what I don’t want to do is undermine that in any way as we bring people in, attracted by higher salaries and wages,” he said.

Asked whether he would be prepared to relax the rules on European drivers being able to work in the UK, Mr Shapps said: “I will do whatever is required, if that would help.

“What I don’t want to do, and I’ve been hinting at this, is undercut with, as has happened before, cheaper European drivers and then find our drivers drop out because they are being undercut.

“That doesn’t solve the problem, it just creates a new problem.”

Asked whether the military could be drafted in to drive HGVs, the Cabinet minister replied: “I certainly won’t rule anything out at all, we will look at all the various contingency measures.”

BP had to close only five of its petrol forecourts across the country yesterday due a lack of delivery drivers, according to the Transport Secretary.

Asked how many petrol forecourts were impacted this morning, he said: “I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to that at 7am in the morning.

“As of last night, five petrol stations on the BP network out of twelve or thirteen-hundred were affected.

“I’m meeting this morning with Tesco and I’m sure they’ll give me the update for themselves.

“None of the other retailers said they had any closures.”

He added: “The others – Asda, Morrisons and other supermarkets – are saying they have no problems, as have other petrol companies.”

Mr Shapps said a lot of European lorry drivers, who have settled and and pre-settled status, are overseas and the Government was trying to “entice” them back to the UK.

He said: “Critically, they’ve already got the rights to come here and do it.

“Ironically, of course, every time you say, ‘let’s open it up to Europeans, eastern Europeans’ and you undercut the marketplace, this is how we’ve ended up with this systemic long-term problem, because salaries have been reduced to a point where people are saying ‘Well, that job’s not for me’. Part of it is this conditions.”

Questioned if he would have a standby plan to deploy army drivers to deliver fuel, he responded: “Anything that’s reasonable, and probably that’s not the solution in terms of sheer numbers. We’re not in a position where, previously, drivers have just stopped driving.

“We will always look at all the different things which are required.”

 

 

Blackpool Pier incident: Stockport man admits ploughing into group of pedestrians

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A motorist who ploughed into a group of pedestrians at Blackpool’s North Pier has admitted a string of offences.

 

Adam Clarke, 30, Arnfield Road, Stockport, Cheshire, admitted causing grievous bodily harm to a woman, attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to another, and assaulting two others.

He also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving during a brief hearing at Preston Crown Court.

Clarke was charged after a red Peugeot 2008 was driven at a group of people standing on the promenade in the early hours of Saturday July 24.

Balckpool North Pier

Balckpool North Pier

Police were called at 5.25am and found that the vehicle had left the scene.

It was followed at a distance to prevent a pursuit and was eventually abandoned on a residential street.

Horror on the Promenade as Peugeot is ‘deliberately driven into pedestrians’ in …

Clarke has been in custody since his arrest.

Crown Court

Crown Court

The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Robert Altham, adjourned his sentencing until December 2.

(proceeding)

 

 

Blackpool, Preston and Lancaster record the biggest daily rise in Covid cases

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have now seen 41,691 Covid cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

There have now been 165,538 confirmed cases in the Lancashire County Council area since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest government data released today (September 19).

Meanwhile, the total across Lancashire, including Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen, now stands at 212,938.

An aerial photo shows a piece of sand art, depicting the iconic Tower, Pier, and rides of Blackpool in north west England, drawn in the sand on the beach by sand artists 'Sand in your Eye, to promote that the town has re-opened following easing to lockdown restrictions in England on May 17, 2021.
An aerial photo shows a piece of sand art, depicting the iconic Tower, Pier, and rides of Blackpool in north west England, drawn in the sand on the beach by sand artists ‘Sand in your Eye, to promote that the town has re-opened following easing to lockdown restrictions in England on May 17, 2021.

The Prime Minister has gambled on trusting the public’s judgment and the protection offered by vaccines as he scrapped mandatory mask-wearing and lifted social distancing requirements.

The so-called “freedom day” went ahead on July 19.

Officials acknowledged that Covid-19 cases and deaths would continue to increase – albeit at a much lower level than before the vaccination programme – but it was now necessary to find a new way to live with the virus.

Public Health England records cases for each council area. The latest totals for each area in Lancashire are:

Blackburn with Darwen – 27,960 (Up from 27,929) +31

Blackpool – 19,440 (Up from 19,361) +79

Burnley – 15,491 (Up from 15,456) +35

Chorley – 14,344 (Up from 14,287) +57

Fylde – 9,304 (Up from 9,265) +39

Hyndburn – 13,183 (Up from 13,152) +31

Lancaster – 16,510 (Up from 16,431) +79

Pendle – 14,493 (Up from 14,453) +40

Preston – 21,936 (Up from 21,863) +73

Ribble Valley – 8,032 (Up from 7,995) +37

Rossendale – 10,603 (Up from 10,578) +25

South Ribble – 14,235 (Up from 14,193) +42

West Lancs – 14,460 (Up from 14,427) +33

Wyre – 12,947 (Up from 12,889) +58

 

 

Blackpool MP backs drive for more research into dementia

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool North and Cleveleys’ MP has called for more research into dementia after an event at Parliament.

 

To mark World Alzheimer’s Month Paul Maynard joined Alzheimer’s Research UK in Westminster to show his support for dementia research.

The aim was to highlight the importance of the government’s manifesto promise to double funding for dementia research, known as the Dementia Moonshot.

Mr Maynard, inset, met representatives from Alzheimer’s Research UK, the country’s leading dementia research charity, as well as people impacted by the condition.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard is supporting more investment in dementia research

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard is supporting more investment in dementia research

He said: “I was delighted to join Alzheimer’s Research UK to show my support for their work to help find preventions, treatments and, one day, a cure for dementia.

“There are many people living with dementia in Blackpool North and Cleveleys having a devastating impact on them and their families.

“It is vital that we increase investment in dementia research to help make the progress needed to end the fear, harm and heartbreak caused by dementia.”

In the UK nearly one million people are living with the condition, and it is one of the leading causes of death.

The economic cost of dementia to the country is predicted to grow from £24bn in 2014 to £59bn by 2050.

Historic global underinvestment means that while dementia research is making progress, it still lags far behind research into other major conditions.

David Thomas, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, added: “A big thank you to Paul for taking the time to join us and support dementia research during World Alzheimer’s Month.

“Dementia is one of the biggest global health crises we face. In 2019, the government made a manifesto promise to double funding for dementia research to £160m a year and speed up progress in clinical trials. Now is the time to deliver on this pledge.”

 

 

Blackpool Council submits plans to extend dog control and fouling orders

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool Council has proposed to extend protection orders banning dogs from beaches during the summer months as current rules are about to expire.

 

The PSPO consultation will run until October 24

The PSPO consultation will run until October 24

The current dog control and dog fouling PSPO, which was introduced in 2018, prohibits the fouling of land by dogs at any time.

It also bans the walking of dogs in certain areas on a permanent or temporary basis.

Places where dogs are not allowed at any time include children’s play areas, multi-use games areas, ball courts, BMX and skate parks, bowling and golfing greens, the Stanley Park boating lake and ornamental ponds, Marton Mere lake, and the playing areas of all marked sports pitches when in use.

The PSPO also rules that dogs must be kept on-lead on all public roads, on Blackpool Promenade between North and South Pier, in public parks and gardens, in cemeteries and churchyards, car parks, on tram tracks and adjacent footpaths, at the Marton Mere nature reserve, the Cenotaph, the arboretum on Moor Park Avenue, the grassy embankments on South Promenade, and around Starr Gate tram stop. A person in charge of a dog must put it on a lead if requested to do so by an authorising officer, even if the dog is outside one of these lead-only zones.

Failure to comply with the rules may result in a £100 fixed penalty notice.

Blackpool Council is now seeking to renew the PSPO as it is due to expire on November 28. A consultation has been launched, and can be found HERE.As well as offering their opinions on the current restrictions, the survey also asks people to say how big of a problem they think dog fouling and roaming is in Blackpool’s parks and green spaces.

The survey will run until October 24. Paper copies can be obtained from the council’s libraries, front-facing council offices and vet surgeries including Blackpool PDSA Pets Hospital, the Rowan Veterinary Centre Ltd, Robert Jones Veterinary Surgery, Vets4Pets Squires Gate and Vets4Pets Warbreck.

BLACKPOOL’S ‘DOG EXCLUSION ZONES’

Bethesda Square, Bispham Bowling Green, Bispham Gardens Play Area, Blackpool Cricket Club, Blackpool Park Golf Club, Blackpool Subscription Bowling Green, Boundary Park Recreational Areas, Briar Field 5-a-side, Carr Road Playing Fields, Cavendish Road recreation ground, Cenotaph, Champagne Avenue Play Area, Claremont Bowling Green, Claremont Park, Corrib Road Playing Field, East Pines Park Play Area, Fleetwood Road Golf Course, George Bancroft Park Play Areas, Halfway House Bowling Green, Hampton Road Bowling Green, Harold Larwood Park, Herons Reach Golf Course, Highfield Road Play Areas, Kincraig 5-a-side, Kincraig Fun Zone, Kincraig lake, Kingscote Park recreational areas

Layton Bowling Green, Layton Institute Bowling Green, Louie Horrocks Play Areas, Mereside Park Play Areas, Moor Park Play Areas, Moor Park Recreational Areas, Norbreck Bowling and Tennis Club, North Shore Golf Course, Raikes Hall Bowling Green, Revoe Park, South Shore Bowling Club, South Shore Lawn Tennis Club, Squires Gate FC, Stanley Park 5-a-side, Stanley Park BMX area, Stanley Park boating lake, Stanley Park playground, Stanley park Skatepark, Stanley Park Sports Areas, Stanley Park track, Vicarage Lane Play Areas, Waterloo Hotel Bowling Green, Watson Road Park

 

 

Man arrested after Fleetwood travel agent robbed two days in a row

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A man has been arrested after a travel agent in Fleetwood was robbed two days in a row.

 

Police were called to reports the World Travel Lounge in Lord Street had been robbed shortly before 10.40am on Tuesday (September 21).

A man had reportedly handed a note to a member of staff which claimed he had a gun before demanding money.

No weapon was seen but the man fled the premises with a “large quantity of cash”, officers said.

The next day (September 22), officers were made aware of a second robbery at the travel agent just before 1.50pm.

This time a man brandishing a knife had allegedly entered the premises before threatening staff and demanding more cash.

Detectives said the two incidents were being treated as linked and a 52-year-old man from Fleetwood was arrested on suspicion of robbery yesterday (September 22).
A man has been arrested after the Fleetwood branch of World Travel Lounge was targeted twice in two days.

A man has been arrested after the Fleetwood branch of World Travel Lounge was targeted twice in two days.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “We realise these incidents will cause a great deal of concern to members of the public and there continue to be increased patrols in the area.”

World Travel Lounge said they will be closed until further notice while more security measures are introduced.

“The incidents were very serious and our focus now is on ensuring our colleagues are safe and well and will allow us the time to introduce even more security measures than we already had,” a spokesman added.

Anyone with information can contact police by calling 101, quoting log number 0698 of September 22.

You can also report any information online at doitonline.lancashire.police.uk.

Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via crimestoppers-uk.org.

Bench set ablaze, safety surfaces ripped up, and trees damaged by vandals at Highfield Park

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Vandals damaged plants, ripped up safety surfaces and set a bench ablaze in a South Shore park at the weekend.

 

The willow dome which was damaged

The willow dome which was damaged

The Friends of Highfield Park group was alerted to the ‘devastation’ at the park off Highfield Road on Saturday, when it was reported there had been some minor damage to a willow dome which the group installed five years ago.

But worse was yet to come, as that night they received further reports of an arson attack that destroyed a bench and left the surrounding grassy area scorched.

Karen Pennington, who is the secretary and treasurer of the Friends group, said: “At approximately 10pm on Saturday night, a group of youngsters, possibly as young as 13 or 14-years-old, decided to set fire to one of the picnic benches that have been on the park for seven years.

The remains of the torched bench at Highfield Park

The remains of the torched bench at Highfield Park

“According to others, a group had tried earlier in the day but when seen they cleared off and obviously came back when they couldn’t be seen. There have been numerous reports of a group of youths running off the park, down Highfield Road towards Tesco, while a distressed young girl in a white dress was seen running from the park followed by three youths on bikes, all screaming after her.

“Whoever set fire to the inflammable picnic bench obviously had some sort of accelerant to light such a fire. Somebody must have seen whoever was responsible and the youths must have gone home smelling of smoke or indeed accelerant on their clothes, so someone in the community must know something.

“Someone rang the fire brigade just after 10pm as far as we know, but it’s a shame somebody didn’t also ring the police.”

Fleetwood woman stabbed her brother after he helped her with a problem with her …

Karen said: “Apparently some young children, who were with their parents, decided to attack the safety surface under the climbing frame – something that they have probably seen others doing previously – but their parents sat by and ignored the damage until a passer-by pointed it out to them as the rubber crumb was strewn across the play area.”

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton said he was ‘very sorry’ to see the damage done to the park, and urged anyone with information to come forward.

The vandalism comes at a particularly difficult time for the Friends group, as Karen and her husband, chairman Gary Pennington, are due to stand down from their leading roles as they are suffering ‘long Covid’ 11 months after being diagnosed with the virus.

Karen said: “Who knows what the future holds for the Friends group. There has been some interest from another local organisation, but the group definitely needs more people who care about the park to attend their annual general meeting.”

The meeting will take place at 7pm on Tuesday, September 28, at The Hub.

Karen and Gary said: ““Obviously this is not how we wanted to leave the group and at such an upsetting time. Over our 15 years with the hard-working committee, we have all raised over £150,000. We have held numerous community fun days, made numerous improvements, and held many free activities and sports sessions. It is very sad that, after all the Friends work, this has happened, affecting the whole Highfield community.”

 

 

Fleetwood woman stabbed her brother after he helped her with a problem with her pet fish

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A mentally ill woman stabbed her brother in the shoulder and chest before harming herself during a subsequent police standoff.

 

Ann Marie Bradwell, 42, of Southfleet Avenue, Fleetwood, admits causing Kevin Bradwell grievous bodily harm with a small blunt flick knife.

Jack Troup, prosecuting, said the defendant, known as Annie, had asked him to come round to help her with an issue with her fish.

Afterwards they sat on the sofa watching television, before she got up and went into the kitchen for around 15 minutes.

Southfleet Avenue, Fleetwood, (Google)

Southfleet Avenue, Fleetwood, (Google)

He added: ” As he entered he asked Annie ‘What are you doing in here?’ to which she replied ‘Never mind, get out.’

The court heard she grabbed his shoulders with both hands with an aggressive look on her face so he pushed her away.

Accused woman attends court after Fleetwood stabbing

After being struck, Mr Bradwell said: ‘I can’t believe you’ve done that, I can’t believe you’ve stabbed me.’

The defendant tried to stab him again and he pushed her to the ground, saying: “What have you done that for?”

Mr Bradwell managed to get into the garden but was followed and struck again with the knife.

He managed to get to his mothers’ where an ambulance was called.

Medics at Blackpool Victoria Hospital found him to have three wounds on the left of his chest, upper arm and left shoulder, which were stitched and glued.

Officers attended her home and when she saw them through her kitchen window she shouted something and made a stabbing motion 10 times towards her own stomach, then ran upstairs.

Some of her friends arrived and reached her by phone, and officers were able to try to negotiate with her to come outside.

The defendant said she had self harmed with the knife and refused to let them in.

Concerns grew she had begun to harm herself again and officers decided to force entry.

When officers detained her in an upstairs bedroom she had multiple wounds to her upper chest, upper right thigh and scratches to her lower abdomen, and she was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital.

The court heard Mr Bradwell did not wish to give a victim statement or apply for a restraining order because he did not wish to cause upset to their family dynamics.

Defending, Julie Taylor said she had served the equivalent of a 12 month sentence as she had been on remand for the last six months.

She added: “She has very little recollection about the events of the day in question, probably a combination of her mental stability at the time and the fact she had self medicated with alcohol when in company with her brother.

“She has responded well in custody to the limited treatment there.”

“Of course she is incredibly sorry for her actions that day.

“One can see from her behaviour after the event that she was clearly unell, and she was going through a very very difficult phase in her life…the loss of her other brother which at the time she was blaming this brother for.”

Recorder Joanne Woodward imposed a two year community order with a six month mental health treatment requirement, and a rehabilitation activity requirement.

She said: ” I accept that you were, at that stage, likely to have been in crisis by reason of your mental health disorders, but the evidence is quite clear that is exacerbated by substance and alcohol misuse and therefore, although it provides an explanation it provides no excuse for your behaviour – behaviour I’m satisfied there is a risk of repetition of, unless you engage with the services offered to you and you restrict your substance misuse.”

 

 

New Blackpool Aldi opens doors to customers for first time

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The new supermarket openedo n Holyoake Avenue in Bispham

 

New Aldi in Bispham
New Aldi in Bispham

A brand new Aldi store opened in Bispham yesterday morning (September 23).

The store opened at 8am with Team GB Olympic Gymnastics hero Daniel Purvis cutting the ribbon alongside pupils from Layton Primary School.

ADVERTISING

The store is the new Aldi to open in and around Bispham and will be run by Store Manager James Turek, along with a team of 35 colleagues.

Team GB bronze medallist Daniel Purvis gave away complimentary bags of fresh fruit and vegetables from Aldi’s Super 6 range to the first 30 customers in the queue, before delivering an assembly for pupils at Layton Primary School as part of the supermarket’s initiative, Get Set to Eat Fresh.

The bronze medallist from the London Olympic Games in 2012 focused on the benefits of eating healthy food and the importance of exercise.

Aldi offered pupils at the local primary school the opportunity to win a £20 gift voucher to spend at the new store. Children at Layton Primary School were tasked with creating a poster to show what healthy eating means to them. Daniel Purvis announced the winner, Charlie Westwater, during the assembly and he was presented with their £20 voucher.

Store Manager James Turek said: “It’s been a wonderful morning here at the opening of Aldi Bispham. It was lovely to welcome our new customers into store, and I look forward to meeting more of the community in the coming weeks. I’m also thrilled that we’ve been able to support Layton Primary School through our partnership with Team GB.”

Aldi opening in Bispham
Aldi opening in Bispham

Team GB hero Daniel Purvis added: “I’ve had a fantastic time opening the new Aldi store here in Bispham. It was an honour to officially open the store and welcome customers inside for the first time

“It was great to speak with the children at Layton Primary School about the importance of eating healthily and how it can be fun to plan and prepare meals as a family. Hopefully I’ve also managed to inspire the pupils to keep active and try different sports.”

The new Aldi store is calling on local charities and food banks in Bispham to register with Neighbourly, a community engagement platform that links businesses to charitable organisations in the local community.

Local charities that register will be able to collect surplus food and perishable products, such as fruit, vegetables and baked goods, up to seven days a week.

 

 

Fleetwood Town owner Andy Pilley accused of fraud and money laundering and appears in court in Blackpool

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Fleetwood Town’s owner and chairman Andy Pilley appeared before Blackpool Magistrates’ Court this morning after being charged with fraud and money laundering offences allegedly involving his energy firm.

 

The 51-year-old’s sister, who also works for Business Energy Solutions (BES), faces similar charges, which followed an eight-year investigation by Trading Standards.

Prosecutor Denise Breen-Lawton told the court the “victims” of his alleged “multi-million pound fraud” were “small businesses”.

Mr Pilley, of Thornton, who has guided Fleetwood from obscurity into League One, runs BES, which is the club’s main sponsor.

Fleetwood Town's owner and chairman Andy Pilley arrives at Blackpool Magistrates' Court on the morning of Wednesday, September 22, 2021. He is charged with fraud and money laundering offences linked to his energy firm (Picture: Kelvin Stuttard for JPIMedia)

Fleetwood Town’s owner and chairman Andy Pilley arrives at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on the morning of Wednesday, September 22, 2021. He is charged with fraud and money laundering offences linked to his energy firm (Picture: Kelvin Stuttard for JPIMedia)

He is accused of running a business with the intention of defrauding creditors or others by allowing the fraudulent mis-selling of energy supply contracts.

He is further charged with money laundering, allowing fraudulent mis-selling by sales representatives, and being concerned with the retention of criminal property – specifically the proceeds from the mis-sold contracts.

Mr Pilley, who strongly denied any wrongdoing, faces a final charge of fraud relating to allegations he fabricated content about his own company’s successes on websites like MoneySavingExpert.com, Inspired Energy, and EnergiSave.

Lee Qualter, 51, of Holmefield Avenue, Cleveleys, faces one allegation of running a company with the intent to defraud.

Mr Pilley’s sister Michelle Davidson, 48, also of Holmefield Avenue, faces the same charge.

A fourth defendant, Joel Chapman, 37, of Kingston Road, Willerby, Yorkshire, is accused of aiding false representation by coercing staff to dupe customers.

He is also charged with intending a customer to cause a loss or be at risk of loss.

Prosecutors successfully applied for the case, which is expected to last for three months, to be heard at Preston Crown Court.

Mr Pilley, Mr Chapman, and Ms Davidson gave no indication of a plea.

Mr Qualter pleaded not guilty.

All were bailed to appear at the higher court on Wednesday, October 20.