Blackpool Victoria Hospital as well as Lytham Hall’s restoration fund are both set to benefit from another successful aspect of the Hall’s biggest and most popular outdoor plays season yet.
The seven performances of the six plays on offer this summer attracted record attendances and will mean a sizeable donation to the Hall fund, the amount of which is yet to be announced.
But the season also traditionally sees raffle tickets on offer at two selected plays and those sold this year yielded £1,250 – another record – to benefit good causes.
The money will be split between Blackpool Victoria NHS Trust, the St. Luke’s Leprosy Hospital in India, the visiting theatre company Illyria and the Lytham Hall Restoration Appeal.
The capacity audience at the performance of HMS Pinafore at the Hall
The raffles took place at the performances of Much Ado About Nothing and HMS Pinafore, which attracted audiences totalling around 1,000, and prizes included tickets for the WonderHall music festival as well as vouchers and good from local businesses, after tea at the Hall and a large cuddly toy.
‘Triumphant’ end to Lytham Hall plays season
“Our Young Meet and Greet team did a wonderful job selling the tickets and handing out the prizes,” said Julian.
“All four charities to benefit have each struggled severely in differing ways during the pandemic and it’s a wonderful amount to raise.”
Meet and Greet team members Michael Daly, Charlotte Mellors and Liberty Doyle with some of the raffle prizes
Ticket-seller Charlotte Mellors,17, who was on the Meet and Greet team throughout the season, said: “The patrons of the open air season and WonderHall promoters Cuffe and Taylor provided a superb range of prizes and it’s brilliant that we could raise so much money for charities in such a short time.
“I really enjoyed being part of the Meet and Greet team – it was hectic at times, but great fun.”
An announcement of the final numbers and figures for what was the 11th open air season, including the amount to be donated to the Hall from the ticket sales, is expected shortly.
When Maddy Prior performs at Fleetwood’s Marine Hall next month with her band Steeleye Span, it will be something of a Fylde coast homecoming for the long-established folk singer.
Maddy Prior is performing in Fleetwood with Steeleye Span
Maddy, who shot to fame with the band in the 1970s, when it had hit singles and albums, grew up on Blackpool’s Grange Park estate until the family left for St Albans when she was aged 11.
Her dad, Allan Prior, worked for the Gazette for a while back in the 1950s and later was the co-creator of police drama Z Cars.
After moving south, she eventually became involved in the folk music scene and was a founder member of Steeleye Span, which is still going strong after 21 studio albums.
The band were among England’s folk rock pioneers, powered by Maddy’s unmistakeable soaring vocals.
The latest tour is a Covid-delayed 50th anniversary celebration of the band’s influential folk rock debut album, Hark the Village Wait, which came out in 1970.
It paved the way for later hit singles Gaudete and All Round My Hat, which saw the band perform on Top of the Pops.
Maddy, 74, who received the MBE in 2001 and now lives near Carlisle, said: “We lived in a prefab house on Draycot Avenue when I was young.
“My dad wrote reviews for The Gazette and we had to buy a TV so he could watch the things he actually wrote about. We were one of the first on the estate to have a TV!
“I also have vivid memories of waiting for buses in the freezing cold bus station at Talbot Square.
“I liked it in Blackpool and when we moved to St Albans, me and the locals had a few issues understanding each other at first.”
Maddy was not a fan of folk music in those days, preferring Elvis Presley and Little Richard.
But later , when she was in her late teens, she became influenced by Bob Dyan and Joan Baez.
Maddy recalls: “We knew some American musicians and when I tried singing American folk they told me I was bad at it and should sing English folk songs!
“And that’s the direction we ended up going in.”
Maddy has vivid memories of singing Gaudete, a 16th century carol, on Top of the Pops.
“I don’t think they’d had someone singing in Latin on the programme before!
“They wanted us to mime, which we weren’t happy about, and we had to prance around carrying candles.”
Remarkably, the song reached number 14 in the British singles charts in 1973, while two years later, the jaunty All Round My Hat reached number 5 and the album of the same name was a big seller as well.
Maddy, who has enjoyed a successful solo career and worked with other acts, including the acoustic Carnival Band with whom she will be performing in Lytham in December, added: “We never wanted to become famous, we just wanted to play the music we loved and make a decent living at it.
“But being on Top of the Pops was a big deal in those days.
“You never really knew if a record would make an impact until you’d heard it on radio, because they’d compress the sound and it would either work or it wouldn’t.”
Maddy is looking forward to return to the Fylde coast and will spend some time seeing her longest-established friends , Marilyn and Dennis, who now live in Pilling.
Maddy and the band will perform at the Fleetwood venue on on Thursday, October 7, from 7.30pm. The box office is on 01253 887693.
Work has been underway to restore the seafront icon
Blackpool’s iconic Mirror Ball is set to return after undergoing a full refurbishment.
Preparations for installing the work back in its original location on the South Promenade will start on Monday (September 13).
It is anticipated that sections of the Mirror Ball will start to be transported back to the site from Tuesday and work will continue into the following week to look to complete this major project.
Blackpool’s Glitter Ball
The artwork was created by artist Michael Trainor and is reputed to be the world’s biggest Mirror Ball being 6m in diameter.
The artist was inspired by and named the work after the 1969 Hollywood film ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They?’ which features a large Mirror Ball.
It was originally installed in 2002 as one of a series of commissioned artworks known as The Great Promenade Show.
The refurbishment project has been undertaken by a range of partners lead by the council’s Property Services Department.
Work to restore Blackpool’s Glitter Ball
The work has involved the structure being completely re-mirrored with the mirrors being supplied by local company Jordans Glass and the tiling undertaken by Mirror Finish North West.
Students and staff from the Blackpool School of Arts as well as local volunteers have all played a part in removing and replacing the 47,000 mirror tiles.
The internal bearings have also been overhauled to ensure it can rotate in full circle once a minute and Garmendale Engineering will be piecing the giant ball back together on site on the South Promenade.
Leader of Blackpool Council, Coun Lynn Williams said: “We are delighted to be able to return the Mirror Ball in all its dazzling glory to the South Promenade as it is much loved by local people and visitors and is an iconic landmark on our seafront.
Work to restore Blackpool’s Glitter Ball
The refurbishment has also included replacing the projectors so visitors to the Illuminations will also be able to see the Mirror Ball lit up at night as part of our wonderful light extravaganza.”
An £8m project to build a hi-tech manufacturing facility at Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone has been handed over to its new occupants.
Preston-based Eric Wright Construction has completed work on the 40,000 sq ft commercial building, which will be the new headquarters for specialist carbon fibre components maker, Multi-ply.
The building, seen as the type of business which could set the tone for the area as a technological centre with high skill, high value jobs, is owned by Blackpool Council as part of the £75m scheme aiming to create 5,000 jobs over its 25 year lifespan.
Multi-ply will relocate 70 staff from its three existing sites in Inskip to the purpose-built factory which it will occupy on a 25-year lease. The new premises will enable Multi-ply to drive forward its expansion plans, expecting to initially create 16 new jobs with up to 100 further staff appointments over the next five years.
The handover of the new Multi-ply carbon fibre factory on Amy Johnson Way. Pictured, left to right, are Stephen Knowles, Rob Green, Coun Mark Smith, Lucas Morgan, Sue Bourne, Peter Bourne, Helen Houghton, Darren Dowdall, Hannah Kirby, Andy Whelan and Rory Dillon.
Founded over 30 years ago by Peter and Sue Bourne, Multi-ply is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of carbon fibre components, particularly items for the medical sector such as parts for mammography machines and scanners.
The business was recently acquired by MedCap AB, a Swedish investment firm which specialises in medical equipment, but the Bournes are remaining in place until the complete transfer to the new site, due to take place in January.
Designed by North West-based architectural, planning and building surveying practice Cassidy and Ashton, the £8m building was delivered on time and to budget by Eric Wright Construction, on behalf of Blackpool Council with Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal funding.
Darren Dowdall, managing director at Multi-ply, who was handed the keys to the building by Stephen Knowles from Eric Wright Construction said: “We are absolutely thrilled to receive the keys to our new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.
Members of the team at Multi-ply who will be moving into the building in January, Hannah Kirby, Lucas Morgan, Darren Dowdall and Helen Houghton.
“This strategic investment has been core to our long-term growth strategy that enables us to rapidly scale our manufacturing capabilities so we can simultaneously expand our rapidly growing customer base.”
“A creative and dynamic collaboration with Eric Wright Construction and Blackpool Council over the last 18 months has resulted in an incredible landmark, ‘NeXus’ with its striking magnitude an extraordinary addition to the Blackpool Enterprise Zone.”
The work began in November last year on a piece of unused land at the east side of the huge enterprise zone. Construction teams had to overcome problems with a high water table, peat and sand below ground.
Stephen Knowles, special projects manager for Eric Wright Construction said: “Despite the challenging working environment over the last twelve months, the team has dug deep to complete this superb new facility as planned, something of which we are extremely proud.
Handover of new Multi-ply carbon fibre factory on Amy Johnson Way.
“We have a longstanding relationship with Blackpool, having delivered in excess of £130m of construction projects in the town in the last decade and we are absolutely delighted to add this superb new facility to our list of major commercial, community and infrastructure projects.”
Coun Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Job Creation said: “This new building is the latest addition to Blackpool’s Enterprise Zone, a strategically important site for the town and we are delighted to welcome Multi-ply to its new headquarters.
“This sets the tone for the enterprise zone in the future, and companies like this should provide good quality jobs for the students and young workers of the future in Blackpool, to help keep our best talent in the area.”
Rob Green, head of the enterprise zone for Blackpool Council said: “This is a flagship for the enterprise zone it sets a new standard for quality of development and the nature of businesses we are trying to establish here. It is hi-tech company grown form local roots which is going to expand here.
“I think we will see more hi-tech companies coming in over the next ten years. We want a diversification of offer in Blackpool and wee can encourage local talent to stay here and invest here. We have a big pipeline of enquiry at the moment, particularly around the data sector on the back of the Aqua Comms Atlantic cable and a couple of other big developments in early discussions.”
Town hall planners have taken action to protect trees in Blackpool from the threat of being chopped down.
Members of the council’s planning committee approved two tree preservation orders after objections had been submitted.
The Blackburn Diocese had objected to a tree preservation order made by the council in June covering seven trees on All Hallows Road in Bispham which are part of the setting for All Hallows Church.
They said the sycamores were “of moderate quality” with one having ” a habitual tendency to be infested with greenfly will make the rear garden in summer uncomfortable to use.”
The council is making use of tree preservation orders
However the council’s parks development officer said the trees “have significant amenity value and contribute positively towards the character and appearance of the streetscene and the setting of All Hallows Church.”
They blamed the standard of pruning for the sycamores not currently being at their best and said they had “potential to be high amenity trees” and their position “should not cause an issue and allow the property owners to enjoy their garden.”
A tree preservation order for five trees on Stockydale Road in Marton was also approved despite an objection from the householder.
Committee chairman Coun David Owen said: “We all love trees and are trying to plant more, so we shouldn’t be pulling them down and should be protecting them more.”
The council has recently launched a drive to improve tree coverage in Blackpool with a target of planting 10,000 new trees in the town by 2030.
It’s green and blue infrastructure strategy has also strengthened measures to protect existing trees.
Work is expected to begin later this year to build 131 new homes at Grange Park after the £20m scheme was given the go ahead by planners.
It is hoped the development of 96 affordable houses, five bungalows and 30 sheltered apartments will help reduce waiting lists for affordable rented housing in Blackpool.
Thirty eco-friendly homes and a new cycle path, partially funded by the European Regional Development Funds, are also proposed for the site.
Claire Parker, chartered town planner at architects Cassidy and Ashton, told a meeting of the council’s planning committee: “Currently a number of homes on Grange Park are under-occupied.
Artists impression of new homes
“So by introducing alternative smaller house types within the estate, this will allow residents to move into more suitable accommodation for their needs within the area where they already live and have connections.”
This would then release larger homes for families in need of accommodation.
Planning committee chairman Coun David Owen said: “There will be a lot of families out there very pleased indead that the waiting list will come down as a result of this development.”
Sheltered accommodation approved as part of the scheme will represent the first fully accessable and adaptable units on their type within the council’s housing stock.
Artists impression of new homes
Amenities will also be provided as part of the development including an orchard, community green spaces, play area and a pocket park for use by all residents on Grange Park.
A total of 53 two and three storey houses will be built on land accessed from Chepstow Road and Gateside Drive which was previously occupied by Christ the King Church and the Chepstow Road shops, which were bulldozed in 2018.
A second site, accessed from Dinmore Avenue, is set to see the construction of 78 homes including two and three storey houses, bungalows and sheltered housing.
The former Grange Park Primary School previously stood on the land before being demolished in 2014 when it was replaced by Boundary Primary School.
Council deputy leader Coun Ivan Tayor said: “The development will have a real focus on the environment tying in the current climate change project that is under way.
“Particular focus has been given to creating community green open spaces, a meadow grassland as well as improved cycle and walkways.”
Blackpool dad shames ‘lazy’ dog owners with eye-catching poster on poo-plagued playing fields
Dave Boyle, whose 10-year-old son plays for a grassroots junior football team at Fishers Field, attached the poster to fencing next to the Fishers Field football pitches in Highfield Road on Monday (September 6). Pic: Stephen Nightingale
Dave Boyle, whose 10-year-old son plays for a grassroots junior football team at Fishers Field, attached the poster to fencing next to the football pitches in Highfield Road on Monday (September 6).
The poster says: “Want to start YOGA? Start by bending over and picking up your dog s**t. Known as the downward dog position.”
The eye-catching sign – which features a cartoon dog in the act – is sponsored by Dave’s business Misty to Clear, a local window and door repair service.
He says the idea for the provocative poster came after he and other parents grew frustrated with the amount of dog poo found on the pitch.
“My son plays for a local team and I sponsor them, and I’m just fed up of the coaches having to pick poo up before every training session and match,” said Dave.
“They have to check the grass before every game to make sure it is safe for the kids, and there is always at least 5 or 6 mounds of dog poo they have to bag up and bin.
“It’s just not on. They are meant to put cones and nets up and coach the kids. They shouldn’t have to be spending their time cleaning up after lazy dog owners. Things need to change.”
The poster has received a mostly positive response from the community, with many applauding Dave for taking action on an issue that has maddened those who use the field.
Local football coach Stephen Nightingale, whose son also plays at Fishers Field, welcomed Dave’s initiative and said it has helped draw attention to an issue which has plagued the playing fields for some time.
He said: “My son plays with his football team here and the coaches have to go around cleaning up dog muck every week before they can play.
“It’s only a matter of time before a child is blinded. That’s our main concern. I honestly know a man who lost his sight because he got dog muck on his boots and cleaned it off, but he rubbed his eyes before he had a chance to wash his hands.
“He’s living with that now for the rest of his life. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare and its not something we should have to worry about every time our kids come here to play.
“The poster is great and Dave has come up with a playful way to address the problem, but it is a serious concern.
“We really want to get the message across that it’s simply not OK to let your dog do their business on the pitches and just leave the muck for others to deal with.
“I’m a dog owner myself and I know 98% of dog walkers are absolutely brilliant and wouldn’t dream of leaving their dog’s mess on the field.
“But it’s that small minority who are either bone idle or just plain ignorant. And they are spoiling Fishers Field for everyone else.”
Have your say on plans to strengthen rules to control dogs in four Fylde locatio…
Stephen added that Blackpool Council have been “great” and have worked with local grassroots football teams to address the issue.
“To be fair to Blackpool Council, they’ve been great. They’ve put up 40 signs on the fencing around the field warning dog walkers that they can be fined for not picking up.
“They’ve even sent the dog warden out on occasion to patrol the field as a deterrent. But their hands are now tied. I think ideally, we’d like the field closed off to dog walkers during the season when teams are playing sports.
“But they told me the only way to make this a reality is by filling in a survey on the council’s website which can influence what measures the Council take.
“I would urge everyone who is fed up with the dog mess to fill in the survey before the October 31 deadline and then we’ll see what action the Council can take.”
The survey Stephen is referring to is part of the Public Spaces Protection Order Consultation 2021 on Dogs and can be found on the Blackpool Council website here.
Taxi fares in Blackpool are set to increase by an average of five per cent as part of a package of measures which it is also hoped will help attract more drivers to the trade.
Councillors agreed to a request from the Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operators Association (BLTOA) for changes which also include bringing forward the times when more expensive night time fares come into effect.
Taxi plea as shortage of drivers puts pressure on Blackpool nightscene
It means the average fare for a two mile journey before 9pm (tariff one) will increase to £6 from £5.80 which is in line with national averages.
Taxi fares rise is agreed
Late evening fares (tariff two) will kick in an hour earlier at 9pm instead of 10pm, while the early hours tariff (tariff three), which includes a 60p supplement on the fare, will start from midnight instead of 1am.
The effect of the overall changes, which were approved by the council’s public protection sub-committee, is an average increase is 5.29 per cent. The changes will now be advertised before being implemented.
A council report said higher late night fares were “payable to drivers for working anti-social hours” so the measure would “help ensure taxi availability”.
The report adds: “The taxi trade has reported a shortage of drivers recently particularly during the evening/night and it is hoped these measures will help to assist in bridging that gap.
“BLTOA has stated in their submission that there have been complaints that there are insufficient drivers late at night and in the early hours of the morning.
“Following informal discussions with private hire operators and BLTOA the licensing service would support those concerns.”
It was reported last month some taxi operators in the town had half the usual number of drivers available to work after 8pm on a Saturday night.
The lack of cabbies has been blamed on drivers finding alternative jobs during the Covid pandemic and not returning to the industry.