Fewer Fylde coast diabetic patients are having to undergo amputations thanks to improvements in their medical care.

Home | Blackpool Gazette

In 2014/15 more than twice the number of amputations than the national average took place at Blackpool Victoria Hospital with 147 in total between 2015 and 2018.

Nationally 176 people lose a leg each week due to diabetes, a meeting of Blackpool’s hospital trust board was told. But 85 per cent of amputations can be avoided.

Improvements in Blackpool mean the number of amputations due to diabetes reduced by 57 per cent to 18 in 2020 from 42 in 2019 thanks to the condition being better managed by medics including from the podiatry team.

Podiatrists at Blackpool Victoria Hospital are offering better treatment to diabetics

Podiatrists at Blackpool Victoria Hospital are offering better treatment to diabetics

The improvements have also led to a 70 per cent reduction since 2014 in the amount of time these type of patients need to stay in hospital.

The details were shared with members of the Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Trust Board by senior podiatrists Debbie Wilfred and Lesley Russell.

Dr Jim Gardner, medical director at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, said uncontrolled diabetes could lead to blockage of blood vessels and ultimately amputation.

He warned: “Poorly managed diabetes can lead to a lot of health problems.”

But joint working between different hospital teams had helped improve the situation.

Dr Gardner added: “This requires input from the whole of the health economy to succeed – GP colleagues, diabetic clinics and public health in terms of a lot of messaging and also case finding.

“It’s a whole team effort and some of the diabetologists are trialling different community models of diabetic care.”

 

Blackpool hotel room with ‘dirty mugs and drip-marks on walls’ that cost £250 for one night

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

“We’d paid £250 for a room I wouldn’t even pay a tenner for,” Tracy said

 

Dirty mugs Tracy says she found in her room
Dirty mugs Tracy says she found in her room

A woman was left gobsmacked to discover she had paid £250 for a ‘disgusting’ hotel room with ‘filthy mugs, no toilet paper and drip marks running down the walls’.

Tracy Linney had booked for herself, her partner and their two friends tickets to see Dirty Dancing at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool last Saturday (August 28).

Not realising how busy the resort’s hotels would be Mrs Linney realised there was little choice when it came to booking somewhere to stay the night.

She could only find one room for four people at The Driftwood Hotel in Woodfield Road via Booking.com.

“We just said it’s just somewhere for us to put our head down for the night so we weren’t expecting luxury but for £250 we thought it would be fairly decent,” Mrs Linney, from Bedlington in the North East, said.

“When we got there they said the room wouldn’t be ready until 2.30pm so we went out for a bit and then came back at about 4pm.

“The guy asked if we could go back in half an hour but we said no because we had to go out to the show.”

The TV in Tracy's room
The TV in Tracy’s room (Image: Tracy Linney)

Tracy said that a few minutes after this exchange, a member of staff “took us out of the hotel and to the hotel next door”, the Wishing Well Hotel, “which he said was owned by the same people”.

“As we made our way up the stairs I knew it was going to be a disaster just by the look of the stairs,” she said.

When Mrs Linney got inside her room at the Wishing Well Hotel, she quickly realised it was a far cry from the room she had expected to be staying in based on the pictures on the Driftwood’s Booking.com page.

“The mugs were filthy inside, there was dust everywhere, the walls had disgusting drip marks on them, the drawers were damaged and rotten and it was just filthy throughout,” the 50-year-old said.

Drip marks down the wall in Tracy's room
Drip marks down the wall in Tracy’s room (Image: Tracy Linney)

“We were utterly gobsmacked.

“We’d paid £250 for a room I wouldn’t even pay a tenner for.”

On the hotel’s page the Driftwood is described as a three-star hotel. Overall, based on 108 reviews, the hotel has an average score of 5.3 out of 10.

The hotel Mrs Linney stayed at is The Driftwood Hotel in Woodfield Road and not the hotel of the same name in Cocker Street, Blackpool, which is run by Tracey Applin and has a Booking.com score of 9.2.

A spokeswoman for Booking.com said Mrs Linney has since been given a full refund.

“To help every customer find the stay that’s right for them, we provide a wide range of properties to suit every budget,” the spokesperson said.

Dirty mugs Tracy says she found in her room
Dirty mugs Tracy says she found in her room (Image: Tracy Linney)

“We have more than 219 million verified reviews from real customers who’ve actually stayed at properties available on our site – we encourage travellers to make full use of these before booking to get an authentic viewpoint and to set realistic expectations in advance of their stay.

“In this instance, we have apologised to the customer for their experience and have provided a full refund. To ensure all guests have a good experience will work with the partner to address how they prepare their property to ensure all future guests have a positive stay.”

LancsLive has made several attempts to contact the Driftwood Hotel directly but received no response.

 

 

Blackpool Victoria Hospital boss gives update on Covid admissions, deaths, booster jabs and vaccines for children

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The number of people in hospital on the Fylde coast with Covid-19 continues to “rise steadily” – with fears voiced about a spike in cases as youngsters head back to school.

 

Dr Jim Gardner, medical director at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and Clifton Hospital in St Annes, said there were 46 Covid-positive patients being treated as of yesterday afternoon, up from 35 the week before.

Speaking during his weekly coronavirus briefing, he said: “Of those, four are in critical care and 42 are on our general wards.”

Another 14 patients remain in hospital but are no longer considered Covid-positive, he said, while six people have died within 28 days of their diagnosis in the past week.

Dr Jim Gardner, medical director at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and Clifton Hospital in St Annes, said there were 46 Covid-positive patients being treated as of yesterday afternoon, up from 35 the week before

Dr Jim Gardner, medical director at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and Clifton Hospital in St Annes, said there were 46 Covid-positive patients being treated as of yesterday afternoon, up from 35 the week before

It takes the Vic’s death toll to 785, Dr Gardner said yesterday (Wednesday, September 1), but the Government’s official figure stands at 793.

The resort’s community infection rate – expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 people – also continues to rise. In the seven days to August 28, the rate in Blackpool stood at 481.3, up from 430.7 the week before.

The rate in Fylde fell from 333.7 to 315.2, official figures showed, while in Wyre it fell from 340.5 to 334.3.

Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Covid cases increase by 172 in 24 hours
Dr Jim Gardner, medical director at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and Clifton Hospital in St Annes, said there were 46 Covid-positive patients being treated as of yesterday afternoon, up from 35 the week before

Dr Jim Gardner, medical director at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and Clifton Hospital in St Annes, said there were 46 Covid-positive patients being treated as of yesterday afternoon, up from 35 the week before

Dr Gardner also said the “precise detail” about children being offered a vaccine “is being worked through”, as political pressure appeared to be ramping up on experts advising on jabs, with the Education Secretary saying today he hoped a decision on jabbing 12 to 15-year-olds will be made “very, very soon”.

Gavin Williams said the NHS is ready to go into schools to deliver jabs to that age group “if we get the get-go” from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Dr Gardner said: “I’m sure if you’re, for example, about to go back to school, you’ll get advice through both the NHS website and also from school about that.”

GPs have also started contacting “particular patient groups”, he added, after the JCVI recommended third doses be given to people with severely weakened immune systems, who are likely to have been unable to mount an immune response from their first two jabs.

Another 14 patients remain in Blackpool Vic but are no longer considered Covid-positive, while six people have died within 28 days of their diagnosis in the past week

Another 14 patients remain in Blackpool Vic but are no longer considered Covid-positive, while six people have died within 28 days of their diagnosis in the past week

That group will cover around half a million people – less than one per cent of the UK population – and the JCVI said the announcement was separate to any decision on a booster programme, which Dr Gardner said “will probably align with the flu [vaccine] programme”.

Meanwhile the medical director of Public Health England (PHE) moved to reassure parents as pupils return to classrooms after the summer holiday, saying schools are not the “drivers” or “hubs” of Covid-19 infection in communities.

Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “There’ll be extra cleaning and hygiene, advice on ventilation (and) the testing is extremely important.”

But Professor Calum Semple said schools are likely to be a “greater part of the problem” when it comes to spread of coronavirus than they previously were, and compared with workplaces where the majority of adults are vaccinated and many continue to work from home.

 

New mobile phone app aims to revitalise Blackpool’s high streets

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Blackpool company is aiming to revitalise the high street with a new app launching this month.

 

Offigo aims to help businesses face the challenge of bringing people back to their premises after the pandemic with its digital discovery platform which allows businesses to show off what there is on offer in the area.

Chief executive Dave Preston said: “The challenges the high street is facing is not one a single retailer should be fighting alone.

“As someone who has owned many businesses on the high street, I understand how tough it can be at times, so I wanted to create something with a sense of togetherness. By bringing the high street community together digitally, this campaign will help consumers discover all the businesses in their areas and what they offer.

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton with David Preston CEO of Offigo which is launching a new app aiming to revitalise Blackpool's high streets this month

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton with David Preston CEO of Offigo which is launching a new app aiming to revitalise Blackpool’s high streets this month

“Putting it simply, if 100 businesses are promoting reasons to visit the town together, it is a much stronger message than one business vying for the customer’s attention.”

Offigo is a digital discovery platform exclusively for the high street. Using location-based technology, in one click on a phone or QR code scan of a poster, people will be able to collectively find what local shops, bars, restaurants, and more are promoting near to them on their digital device.

He added: “By combining the marketing strength of the brands, with the unique community-based independents, a powerful alliance can be created to increase footfall and spend by giving people daily reasons to visit the high street.”

He said the app would benefit shops, bars and restaurants, hair salons, theatres and gyms .

He added: “People will visit more often if the information is readily available to them, and in the modern day it must be easily accessible on their digital device.”

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton said: “This is a fantastic idea; I really hope businesses in Blackpool get behind this campaign so visitors and residents alike can view what truly great places we have here.

“As a large town with a catchment area of over 300,000, plus the millions of visitors each year, this could really help them choose to eat, drink shop and be entertained in Blackpool all year round.”

To join the campaign, for the September 16 app launch, high street businesses can sign up for free at www.offigo.uk and create their business page. Posters with a unique QR code can be created.

 

Cleveleys Sports Bar temporarily banned from serving booze after opening without licence

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A new sports bar in Cleveleys has been temporarily banned from serving alcohol until it is granted a license by councillors.

 

RJ's Bar owners John Sherwood and Rob Hopkinson with manager Sarah-Jayne Coop. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

RJ’s Bar owners John Sherwood and Rob Hopkinson with manager Sarah-Jayne Coop. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

RJ’s Bar, which opened in the old Pizza Hut on the Prom in Cleveleys, was visited by officials the day after opening without a proper licence on Wednesday – and told to stop selling beer.

The venue now faces a wait to see if councillors agree to grant permission later this month – after owners John Sherwood and Rob Hopkinsons’ bid was hit by objections.

Wyre Council said “a number of objections” had been lodged amid concerns about noise.

Manager Sarah-Jayne Coop said the atmosphere was “buzzing” when the bar first opened the day before a consultation period on its licence bid ended.

Had no objections been received, a licence could have been granted the next day but now the issue must be discussed at a meeting.

The venue can still serve soft drinks and food, but booze is off the menu for the time-being.

“We knew there had been two objections but one was withdrawn,” Sarah-Jayne said.

“We hadn’t heard anything more about the complaint from the council before we opened so we assumed they’d sorted it. I am applying for a temporary events licence and in the meantime we can still serve food and soft drinks.

“We have put absolutely everything into opening this business and have families to support.”

Sarah-Jayne added: “Maybe I did open up wrongly on Wednesday but you’d have thought that, by September 1 when we hadn’t heard anything, the council would have contacted us as a matter of urgency telling us not to open.

“We’ve worked with the licensing police and environmental health and they were fine with the licensing terms, which we changed in order to clear up the complaints.

“The licensing police even came past when we opened and didn’t shut us down – and when they came in on Thursday they knew we were open. We’ve since been told by licensing police that customers can bring their own alcohol into the building with them, and as long as they can prove it wasn’t purchased on-site they can drink it here.”

A council spokesman said: “We have received a number of objections to the granting of a license and as a result the matter is due to go to the licensing committee on Monday, September 27.”

 

Blackpool boundary review sparks election claim

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool’s Tories are calling for a reduction in the number of councillors serving the town after claiming the current set up favored Labour at the last local elections.

 

Should there be fewer seats in the council chamber?

Should there be fewer seats in the council chamber?

The Conservative group says there is an unequal number of voters in each ward which could be rectified by merging two wards and reducing the number of councillors from the current 42 to 39.

They say this would be enough to run the council efficiently “based on ward sizes, individual councillor committee placements, councillor workloads and other data.”

But Labour believes the resort is currently carved up fairly apart from Stanley ward where new housing developments have recently increased the population.

Currently the wards are under review by the Boundary Commission, an independent body whose role is to make sure councillors represent about the same number of electors.

They also want to ensure the current system helps the council work effectively and reflects community ties and identities.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said: “Currently the wards are not equal in size in regard to elector numbers and that needs to be rectified by either merging two wards into one or other combinations.

“It was quite obvious at the last local elections that the ward districts were not providing an equal political playing field.

“The Conservative candidates in total actually received far more votes than Labour but because of the discrepancy in equal ward votes the Labour group were declared the winners.”

Following the May 2019 elections, Labour retained town hall control after winning 23 of the 42 seats, but the Conservatives received around 200 more votes across the whole borough.

But Coun Ivan Taylor, deputy leader of the Labour group, dismissed Coun Williams’ claims this was affected by the size of the wards.

He said: “The wards haven’t changed a lot in terms of population despite being the same for around 20 years.

“Stanley ward has had a lot of housing development so that is on the big side so we’ll be looking at that, but the rest will only need a small amount of tweaking.

“Ward boundaries can be flexible but they have to reflect the community and have natural boundaries such as a main road.”

People have until November 1 to take part in consultation over possible changes to the ward boundaries.

The commission has a dedicated section on its website where people can give their views: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/29508People can also give their views by e-mail at reviews@lgbce.org.uk, and by post:

The Review Officer (Blackpool)

LGBCE

PO Box 133

Blyth

NE24 9FE

 

One person injured after Blackpool Prom fire next to The Manchester pub

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A fire broke out inside a block of flats next to The Manchester pub on Blackpool Prom last night (Thursday, September 2).

 

Crews from Blackpool, Bispham, South Shore and St Annes were called to the scene after smoke was seen rising from the building’s roof at around 7.15pm.

Six engines attended and firefighters were seen entering the four-storey building wearing breathing apparatus to shield them from the smoke.

One person was found injured and was treated at the scene by paramedics. North West Ambulance Service has been approached for an update on their condition.

The incident drew a crowd of onlookers, with customers from The Manchester pub next door watching the event unfold. Pic: Mark Harper

The incident drew a crowd of onlookers, with customers from The Manchester pub next door watching the event unfold. Pic: Mark Harper

The pavement outside the building was cordoned off whilst fire crews worked at the scene for around two hours.

The fire service said the cause is under joint investigation with Lancashire Police.

A fire service spokesman said: “Six fire engines from Blackpool, Bispham, South Shore and St Annes were called to a domestic property fire on The Promenade, Blackpool.

“Firefighters used two hose reels, four breathing apparatus and a thermal imaging camera to extinguish the fire.

Crews from Blackpool, Bispham, South Shore and St Annes were called to the scene after smoke was seen rising from the roof of the building at around 7.15pm last night (Thursday, September 2). Pic: Mark Harper

Crews from Blackpool, Bispham, South Shore and St Annes were called to the scene after smoke was seen rising from the roof of the building at around 7.15pm last night (Thursday, September 2). Pic: Mark Harper

“One person was treated at the scene by paramedics and the cause of the fire is under investigation.”

During the firefighting, crews punched out a window on the top floor to allow smoke to escape, sending a glass pane smashing to the pavement below.

The fire drew a crowd of onlookers, with passersby and customers from The Manchester pub next door watching the event unfold.

During the firefighting, crews punched out a window on the top floor to allow thick smoke to escape, sending a glass pane smashing to the pavement below. Pic: Mark Harper

During the firefighting, crews punched out a window on the top floor to allow thick smoke to escape, sending a glass pane smashing to the pavement below. Pic: Mark Harper

 

Six engines attended and firefighters were seen entering the building wearing breathing apparatus to shield them from the smoke. Pic: Mark Harper

Six engines attended and firefighters were seen entering the building wearing breathing apparatus to shield them from the smoke. Pic: Mark Harper

UK’s only ghost hunting tram tour to return to Blackpool Promenade next week

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

Ghost hunter and author Stephen Mercer will tell tram riders spooky and scary stories from Blackpool’s dark past

 

The tram that trundles the tracks on Blackpool's Ghost Hunting Tours
The tram that trundles the tracks on Blackpool’s Ghost Hunting Tours (Image: Blackpool Heritage)

As the nights begin to draw in and Halloween approaches, the UK’s only ghost hunting tram is set to return to Blackpool’s Promenade this month featuring spooky tales about ghouls from the Fylde coast.

Departing from the historic North Pier, a 90-year-old tram will take passengers down the coast towards Little Bispham and into the dark heart of Blackpool’s history.

The ghost tram will then travel to Starr Gate before the final leg of the tour ends back at North Pier.

In a ghastly union, Blackpool Heritage Tours and Supernatural Events have come together to bring you the spooky experience from September 10 right into the darks night of November.

Supernatural Events have teamed up with Blackpool Heritage Trams to bring back the UK's only ghost hunting tram
Supernatural Events have teamed up with Blackpool Heritage Trams to bring back the UK’s only ghost hunting tram (Image: Blackpool Heritage)

Under the thrall of Victorian ghost hunter Stephen Mercer, your ‘Host with the Ghost’ will regale you with haunting tales and spooky stories for around 75 minutes.

Now into its fourth year, each tour will start at 7pm and can be boarded from the North Pier and Tower Heritage Tram Tours stop.

Despite the spectral subject matter, our story teller assures us the experience is family friendly and will include lots of non paranormal facts about Blackpool’s unique history.

Supernatural Events founder and Haunted Blackpool author Stephen Mercer told LancsLive: “I describe my tales as history, heritage and hauntings. People have asked me ‘why Blackpool? Why not have the tours somewhere like York, Edinburgh, or London?’

“Well Blackpool doesn’t need to be old, it just needs to have ghosts. The town has such a wonderful and unique history dating back to the Victorian era when it became a popular holiday destination.

Victorian Ghost Hunter Stephen Mercer
Victorian Ghost Hunter Stephen Mercer (Image: Supernatual Events)

“The buildings have such spectacular tales however I have to say that out of all them Blackpool Winter Gardens may be the most haunted.

“Not everything that goes bump in the night is paranormal however and I do like to root my stories in fact. If there is an explanation I will give it as it can be just as interesting as the paranormal.

“I like to back up with fact, truth, dates and names. I still try to research even if something hasn’t been written down and will state if it is myth, rumour or not recorded.

“I also tell of tales of serial killers and murders too that people may not be aware of.

Supernatural Events ghost walks
Supernatural Events ghost walks (Image: Supernatural Events)

“I definitely have the gift of the gab and I like to bring lots of humour into my stories. I’m from Northern Ireland and I often joke with people to say I’ve definitely kissed the Blarney Stone!”

“I don’t like to take things too seriously, particularly as there will be young people on the the tours and it’s about having fun.

“Having said that I still do like to provide the right atmosphere so I will be dressed in Victorian garb with my top hat and bag and there will be a few spooky items such as Victorian dolls that may appear randomly…”

“I will also be fully utilising both decks of the tram and stairwells.”

Stephen mid spooky tale
Stephen mid spooky tale (Image: Supernatural Events)

The host mixes up his stories and provides new information to visitors each time who come back to hear tales they may not have heard before.

After arriving in Blackpool 27 years ago, Stephen never wanted to leave and cemented his life as a seasider by taking a job at Blackpool Grand Theatre as a PR and Marketing Manager following his background in journalism.

He then went on to a similar role at Blackpool’s North Pier however his love of “Myth, Mystery, Murder and The Macabre” found its way into his working life.

His ghosts tours at Blackpool Grand Theatre to raise funds for its charity became so popular that they extended from two hours to six hours and into full blown paranormal investigations that went on into the early hours.

He is now the founder of Supernatural Events providing ghost hunts, walks, tours and investigations.

He has also published a terrifying collection of true-life tales in his book Haunted Blackpool.

Author Stephen Mercer giving the history of a Blackpool building
Author Stephen Mercer giving the history of a Blackpool building (Image: Supernatural Events)

After the ghost hunting tram tours were cancelled last year due to the pandemic, Stephen is terribly excited to get back to his partnership with Blackpool heritage.

He added: “My job of being a Victorian ghost hunter on a historic tram is absolutely a dream come true. I wouldn’t call myself a performer but a story teller, and telling these tales in this setting is amazing.

“As we run the events on the tram we can cover a lot more ground than you could on a walking tour and people love being on a heritage tram.

“It is truly the only ghost hunting tram in the UK too so it’s truly a unique experience.

“I think people think the Blackpool Heritage is just part of Blackpool Transport however it’s actually a charity.

“The conductors give their free time for what they do and it’s wonderful to see passengers interacting with them, asking them questions, discussing history and buying souvenirs.

“I can’t wait to trundle the tracks again as eerie autumn comes in!”

Supernatural Events spooky seance
Supernatural Events spooky seance (Image: Supernatural Events)

Ticket prices are £12 per adult and £6 for Children (Under 16).

Tour dates are as follows: September 10, 17, October 24 , 1, 8 , 15, and October 31 Halloween Special, which will include three tours 5pm, 6.30pm and 8pm), as well as November 5, 12, and 19.

To find out more about Blackpool’s Famous Ghost Hunting Tram Tours, please visit Blackpool Heritage’s website here.

 

Blackpool Vic rape and murder suspect bailed for a fourth time

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A former Blackpool Vic staff member who was arrested on suspicion of murder and rape has been bailed for a fourth time.

 

The former healthcare professional was arrested on March 3, 2021 and taken into custody on suspicion of murdering stroke patient Valerie Kneale two years ago, as well as two alleged rapes and an alleged sex attack on a Vic colleague

The former healthcare professional was arrested on March 3, 2021 and taken into custody on suspicion of murdering stroke patient Valerie Kneale two years ago, as well as two alleged rapes and an alleged sex attack on a Vic colleague

The unnamed healthcare professional was arrested on March 3 and taken into custody on suspicion of murdering stroke patient Valerie Kneale two years ago.

He had also been suspected of two alleged rapes and an alleged sex attack on a Vic colleague when he was initially bailed to March 31.

Since then, he has been ‘rebailed’ three times in six months as detectives continue to investigate the allegations against him.

Today (Friday, September 3), the man was due to answer his latest bail but Lancashire Police say an extra 7 weeks’ bail has been granted.

The man will now remain on bail until Thursday, October 21. He remains suspended by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

When bail was granted for the first time in March, Det Ch Insp Jill Johnston said the allegations against him were “complicated and sensitive” and the force was “committed to investigating thoroughly”.

Why was the medic arrested?

The man was arrested by police after post-mortem examinations were conducted as part of investigations into suspected poisoning of patients on the stroke unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

One of the post-mortem examinations investigated the death of Valerie Kneale, 75, from Blackpool, who had died from bleeding caused by a “non-medical-related internal injury”.

Following this, Lancashire Police launched a separate murder investigation, which it said was not linked to the ongoing investigation into allegations of poisoning and neglect.

As a result of this investigation, information related to other allegations of serious sexual assaults against two patients has been received, as well as the sexual assault of a healthcare professional working on the stroke unit.

On March 3, the healthcare professional was arrested on suspicion of murder, two offences of rape and one offence of sexual assault.

He was initially bailed to March 31 before his bail was extended to June 3 and again to September 3, 2021.

He has now been bailed for a fourth time until October 21.