Police reveal new digital image of man wanted in relation to Blackpool sexual assault

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Lancashire Police have released a digital Evo-Fit image of a man they are trying to trace in relation to a sexual assault in Blackpool in June.

 

Detectives investigating the sexual assault of a woman in Blackpool have this afternoon, September 14, released an Evo-fit image of a man they want to identify as part of their investigations.

Police were called around 1 am on Sunday, June 27, after a woman in her 20s reported being assaulted by a man close to the Queens Promenade area.

The woman fought the man off before running away from the scene.

Detectives investigating the incident have now released an Evo-fit image of a man they want to speak to as part of their enquiries.

Det Con Joseph Ghigi, of Blackpool CID, said: “We are appealing for information to identify this man.

“I would encourage anyone reading this appeal to take a good look at the man pictured. I believe someone will know who it is.

“If you can help with our investigation, or know the man pictured, please come forward immediately.”

Police have today released this digital image

Police have today released this digital image

Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or email 3812@lancashire.police.uk quoting log 0121 of June 27.

Alternatively call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The assault happened close to Queen's Promenade in Blackpool

The assault happened close to Queen’s Promenade in Blackpool

Chorley youngster’s teeth knocked out by St Annes thug at sweet shop

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A 14-year-old boy was left with permanent injuries to his teeth after being attacked as he and his friends bought sweets.

 

Niall Tommony, 18, of Clifton Drive North, Lytham St Annes, launched the vicious attack on the youngster in N S S News on Wigan Road, Clayton-le-Woods.

Preston Crown Court heard on October 10 last year, at around 4pm the boy and a few friends were planning to go to the cinema and had gone into the shop for some snacks.

Prosecuting, David Clarke said Tommony, who was unknown to him, walked into the shop and asked for his name, and before the boy could reply he was punched very hard in his teeth.

NSS News, Wigan Road (Google)

NSS News, Wigan Road (Google)

At the time he had sweets in his mouth, which he spat out, and he could see blood straight away.

Tommony, who is around 6ft tall and wearing a long black overcoat, walked off.

A member of staff told police he had heard him ask if the boy had been “chatting something about him on the estate” and had threatened to slit his throat if “he said anything else”.

The boy had to have dental treatment, including a second tooth taken out, and ended up with a small denture.

In a victim statement the schoolboy described he had been in such pain with a loose tooth he begged for it to be removed, and needed to take painkiller medication.

he has been left suffering anxiety and felt “very self conscious about smiling and laughing”.

Leyland man Jordan Gittins admits wounding neighbour as men hurled bricks and ro…

In an interview Tommony claimed he acted after having trouble with a group of boys and had felt threatened when he heard someone slam a bike down.

He admits wounding.

Defending, Lucy Wright said: “He accepts he did totally the wrong thing.”

Imposing eight months suspended for 18 months, £1,000 compensation and unpaid work, Judge Simon Medland QC said: “Some 11 months ago you thumped a lad who lived where you lived.

“He was only 14 but you were 17 and 7 months. You are tall and he was a young looking 14-year-old, who had not done a thing to you to deserve any sort of violence or aggression.

“He was an innocent bystander and you hit him hard enough to knock out two of his teeth. That caused him pain, upset and injury and he’s had to undergo treatment.”

He accepted the offence had happened when Tommony was “much younger and deeply immature”.

 

 

£76,000 upgrade for Fylde’s CCTV cameras

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Fylde Council is set to spend £76,000 on improving CCTV coverage in town centres across the borough in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour.

 

At a recent meeting of the Environment, Health and Housing Committee, members agreed to approve the replacement of the strategic town centre cameras in St Annes, Lytham and Kirkham in principle, subject to Capital budgetary provision being confirmed through the 2022/23 budget process.

It is envisaged that four rapid redeployable cameras – designed to deliver live and recorded high‐definition images via 4G mobile transmission– will also replace the two mobile CCTV vans currently used.

£2m CCTV plan unveiled to make Blackpool safer
Monitoring of Fylde's CCTV cameras

Monitoring of Fylde’s CCTV cameras

Coun Tommy Threlfall, chairman of the committee which met to discuss the plans, said: “Community safety is greatly important to us. Having effective CCTV across the borough’s town centres and hot spots is imperative to keeping our residents and visitors safe.”

The Council currently controls 15 static CCTV cameras in town centre locations. There are eight cameras in St Annes, four in Lytham and three in Kirkham.

The cameras are maintained under an agreement with Blackpool Council and operated and monitored through an arrangement with Wyre Council.

Recent figures from Lancashire Constabulary and the partnerships officer at Wyre Council, who oversees the Fylde CCTV operations, showed 2,133 incidents were recorded in St Annes town centre alone between autumn 2019 and winter 2020.

CCTV coverage at St Annes' main town centre junction

CCTV coverage at St Annes’ main town centre junction

These were classified by the police as including 198 nuisance incidents, 47 suspicious circumstances, 177 concern for safety incidents and 143 incidents of theft.

Lytham data showed 547 incidents were recorded, with Kirkham recording 677, all including nuisance, suspicious circumstances and theft.

Coun Threlfall added: “It is clear from the number of incidents recorded throughout 2019 – 2020 that CCTV is a necessity in not only tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, but in helping the police to bring those responsible to justice.

“We are fully committed at the council to always striving to improve services which benefit the borough and help to keep it safe. The new CCTV provision looks to do just this.”

The Budget Working Group has recommended that funding for replacing the present town centre cameras be included in the budget for 2022/23.

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Two arrested after Blackpool cannabis farm worth £950k raided by police

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Two Albanian nationals were arrested for the production of cannabis and immigration offences after a ‘fortified’ grow farm was raided in Blackpool yesterday.

 

Officers from the Blackpool Central Neighbourhood team, alongside the Taskforce and council officials arrested two people for the production of cannabis following a raid at a premises yesterday, September 13.

Lancashire constabulary executed a drugs warrant based on the community information on Coronation Street, Blackpool and removed 950 plants.

The premises was reported to be ‘heavily fortified’ but entry was eventually gained and a large Cannabis setup was located.

950 plants were seized by police yesterday

950 plants were seized by police yesterday

Two Albanian nationals, Frrok Zefi, 42 and Aldi Gjetani, 27, were then arrested for the production of cannabis and for immigration offences, and will appear before Lancashire Magistrates court tomorrow.

The premises has been placed under a prohibition order by the council.

Electricity Northwest were also in attendance, as the premises had been connected illegally to the mains electric supply on Hull Road, Blackpool.

This resulted in the mains electric being disconnected for one side of Hull Road in order to fix it.

Two were arrested and will appear at Magistrates court tomorrow

Two were arrested and will appear at Magistrates court tomorrow

A spokesperson added: “In total, around 950 plants were removed with an estimated street value of around £950,000. The photos show the extent of the Cannabis setup, the reinforcement on the door and the electrical connections, which are a significant fire risk.

“Other photos show the living quarters which are basic and have no windows or ventilation within.

“Frrok Zefi and Aldi Gjetani, 27, of no fixed address have been charged with production of Cannabis and remanded to Lancashire Magistrates Court on September 15.

Anyone who wants to report concerns in their area to the local Neighbourhood teams is encouraged to sign up to Lancashire Talking or via Crimestoppers.

 

Closure of Blackpool lap dancing clubs will put sex workers ‘at risk’

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Proposals to close down Blackpool’s lap dancing clubs will put sex workers in danger, operators of the venues have warned.

 

It is feared dancers will “be forced underground” to work behind closed doors in hotel rooms and at unregulated venues with higher risks of sexual assault and exploitation.

Blackpool looks to phase out lap dancing clubs

Blackpool Council announced in January this year it planned to phase out lap dancing clubs in order to enhance its reputation as a family resort.

Eden One, one of four lap dancing clubs in Blackpool

Eden One, one of four lap dancing clubs in Blackpool

A proposed new policy would permit only one sex shop to trade, and set a zero limit on lap dancing clubs.

The existing four clubs would be allowed to continue operating, but once those licences lapse for any reason they would not be renewed.

But operators have hit out at the proposals after taking part in consultation.

Ashley Sayers, whose family has operated Eden Two on the Promenade for 14 years, said dancers ranged from single mums to women paying their way through university.

She warned: “The industry will be forced underground and girls will be tempted, if not forced to work in places such as hotels for private bachelor parties where their risk of sexual assault and financial exploitation would be alarmingly high.”

In her submission to the council, she added the regulated clubs provided security including “a buddy system for girls going out for breaks, provided security walk outs to cars or cabs at the end of shifts.”

Ms Sayers said: “I have grave concerns that these proposed changes will change the nature of the industry and take away this safe working environment we have built over the years.

“If the council goes ahead with the proposed reduction to zero and the worst happens and all Blackpool SEVs (sexual entertainment venues) are closed these girls will no longer have these safe and regulated operating environments.”

Steve Smith, manager of Heaven and Sinless lap dancing clubs in the resort. also warned performers would turn to non-licensed venues that “in most instances do not provide security or CCTV for the protection of the public or dancers.”

The National SEV Coalition has also objected warning regulated clubs will be replaced by “ad hoc stripping events” under temporary licences “whilst dancers will potentially have to work at private parties (either in hotel rooms or at the customers’ own properties), work in underground clubs or might have to get into more dangerous forms of sex work.”

The revised policy is due to be considered by the council’s licensing committee on Tuesday, when councillors are recommended to agree the proposals which must then go before the executive for final approval.

 

Bispham resident campaigns to improve road signs and stop speeding around Red Bank Road

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Bispham woman is campaigning for improvements to road signs and traffic calming measures around the Red Bank Road area after her elderly father was hit by a car last weekend.

 

Michelle Beech, 53, of Hesketh Avenue, hand-delivered a petition to hundreds of neighbours and left copies in Bispham cafe Maddisons in a bid to unite them in a fight against speeding motorists in the area.

Her father Vincent O’Toole, 93, was taken to hospital with an arm injury on Saturday evening after a car reversed into him in Warbreck Drive before driving off, while he was crossing the road after going to the shop to do the lottery.

An appeal to find the driver was issued by Lancashire Police.

Michelle's elderly father Vincent was involved in a hit-and-run incident near Warbreck Drive on Saturday, which Michelle said would have been prevented if drivers stopped speeding in the area. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Michelle’s elderly father Vincent was involved in a hit-and-run incident near Warbreck Drive on Saturday, which Michelle said would have been prevented if drivers stopped speeding in the area. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Man in his 90s injured after being struck by car in Bispham hit-and-run

Hesketh Avenue is a one-way street, but Michelle said the “no entry” signs in the road are in such poor condition that motorists ignore the restrictions and drive down the road from the Promenade end, often breaking the speeding limit.

“My home [in Hesketh Avenue] has been a family home for over 20 years, and my husband and I moved in here around seven years ago to take care of my mum who we lost last year, my dad and my brother who is disabled,” Michelle said.

“People in our street have asked and asked and asked for better signs to be put up, someone from Highways came out to see my husband around four years ago, and we just keep being told the signage is sufficient – but no, it’s not. Cars go speeding up and down this road at all hours, it’s supposed to be a one-way street but it’s used like a racetrack all the time.

Michelle Beech is campaigning for traffic calming measures and improved road signage in Hesketh Avenue, and around Warbreck Drive and Red Bank Road in Bispham. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Michelle Beech is campaigning for traffic calming measures and improved road signage in Hesketh Avenue, and around Warbreck Drive and Red Bank Road in Bispham. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

“I visit an elderly neighbour across the road and I daren’t even cross the street, it’s lethal. You can barely see the ‘no entry’ signs on the road and people just ignore them.

“There aren’t enough signs in the road, and the speeding around this whole area is horrendous. If the person who’d hit my dad hadn’t been speeding, it wouldn’t have happened.

“I’ve got around four A4 pages full of signatures now for my petition to the council, something needs to be done.”

Bispham councillor Don Clapham said he had received complaints about traffic using the one way section at the seaward end of Hesketh Avenue “for a number of years.”

The 'No Entry' sign painted onto the road at the Promenade end of Hesketh Avenue is ignored by motorists, Michelle said. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

The ‘No Entry’ sign painted onto the road at the Promenade end of Hesketh Avenue is ignored by motorists, Michelle said. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

“The signs are illuminated and signage is good,” Coun Clapham said.

“But still the one way section is ignored by some motorists.

“We have suggested to Highways that Hesketh Avenue could be blocked off and the one way section be used two way to and from the entrance to the Highlands pub. This section is narrower than the rest of Hesketh Avenue.

“As for speeding on Warbreck Drive and Red Bank Road, it has become a major issue on all our roads since the lockdown for Covid.”

Residents have resorted to makeshift signs in a bid to stop motorists driving the wrong way up Hesketh Avenue, which is a one-way street. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Residents have resorted to makeshift signs in a bid to stop motorists driving the wrong way up Hesketh Avenue, which is a one-way street. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Blackpool Council was contacted for comment.

The painted sign is fading and doesn't deter drivers from entering Hesketh Avenue at the Promenade end, but Blackpool Council has informed residents the signage is sufficient, Michelle alleged. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

The painted sign is fading and doesn’t deter drivers from entering Hesketh Avenue at the Promenade end, but Blackpool Council has informed residents the signage is sufficient, Michelle alleged. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

‘We need to level up now’, says health minister Sajid Javid on Blackpool visit

Home | Blackpool Gazette

New  Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has called for an urgent levelling up to improve health and life expectancy in Blackpool.

 

Speaking at the Grange Community Centre, he set out the unique challenges created by the pandemic and described his determination to tackle the ‘social backlog’ that has built up – including by cutting waiting times, reforming social care and improving mental health provision.

Blackpool, which has eight of the 10 most deprived neighbourhoods in England, and where 40 per cent of the neighbourhoods are classed as ‘highly deprived’, the Health and Social Care Secretary laid out his mission to level up the public’s health.

Mr Javid said the global pandemic has also shone a light on the health disparities that exist across the country – evident in varying mortality rates, hospital admissions and vaccine uptake – and reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing these inequalities in order to level up public health.

Sajid Javid in Blackpool

Sajid Javid in Blackpool

Medics speak of new Mental Health Urgent Assessment Centre at Blackpool Victoria…

That was the message from Mr Javid as he visited Blackpool just as the resort shapes up to welcome crowds of visitors in the peak illuminations season.

Mr Javid was in town to take a look at the new mental health urgent assessment centre at Blackpol Victoria Hospital, which opened in May and aims to provide a safe and calm assessment space for patients who appear at A&E with urgent mental health needs, and have no coronavirus symptoms or physical injuries.

He met staff and patients there are then went on to a round table discussion with representatives of mental health charities at the Grange community centre in Grange Park, followed by a speak on mental health and other key health issues.

Sajid Javid making his speech at the Grange Community Centre

Sajid Javid making his speech at the Grange Community Centre

Mr Javid was impressed by the new unit – and told The Gazette he hopes it can be emulated in other parts of the country.

“We all know there have been an increase in health problems during the pandemic, including mental heath, and I wanted to take a look at the new urgent assessment centre, which is dealing with more cases more quickly,” said the Secretary of State.

“I met the doctors and nurses there and even patients, and they couldn’t speak highly enough of it.

“We want to replicate that unit across the country. I think people can learn from what is being achieved in Blackpool – we want to push that idea and use it elsewhere in England.”

During his speech, Mr Javed outlined his vision for tackling the hidden costs of Covid-19 – and said Blackpool has actually bucked the trend in terms of interventions in other key resulting issues, including mental health.

“Whether it’s Blackpool or Bristol, Rochdale or Ruislip, the real message of the pandemic is that health interventions, they can work,” he said.

“We really can make a difference when we work together and we’re all focused on our goals.

“Realising our mission to level up in health means tackling our social backlog—in mental health and public health—with the same spirit and sense of urgency with which we all tackled the pandemic.”

His visit came just days after the Government unveiled its autumn and winter plan to try and ensure the current freedoms can continue

Features of the Government’s ‘Plan A’ include building our defences through pharmaceutical interventions, identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission, and advising people on how to protect themselves and others, with vaccines continuing to be our first line of defence.

All those who were vaccinated during the first phase of the vaccine programme will be offered booster jabs and first jabs for younger age groups have already been rolled out.

Only if that plan is unsuccessful, will ‘Plan B’ be brought into operation, including the return of mandatory face coverings in certain settings.

If that also fails to ward off the spread of the virus, ‘Plan C’ would be lockdown, which Mr Javid termed ‘the worst case scenario’.

Mr Javid told the Gazette it is vital that everyone does their bit to help sure they and others are protected from the virus, especially in crowded settings such as those likely in Blackpool during the Illuminations season.

“This area and the North West has done wonderfully in terms of vaccination levels,” said. “As with the est of the country, of course, we would like to see more take-up but it has been a really good efforts from everyone involved and our thanks to them.

“When it comes to big gatherings, it is important to stress the pandemic is not over yet. We are in a much better place than we were but the message is please, if you are eligible, get vaccinated, if you are feeling unwell and dealing with vulnerable people, get tested.

“Those are our key defences – and if we act cautiously and behave sensibly, we can all still go about our lives and enjoy ourselves.”

The Secretary of State set out what he termed the ‘unique challenges’ created by the pandemic and described his determination to tackle the ‘social backlog’ that has built up – including by cutting waiting times, reforming social care and improving mental health provision.

Mr Javid said the global pandemic has also shone a light on the health disparities that exist across the country – evident in varying mortality rates, hospital admissions and vaccine uptake – and reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing these inequalities in order to level up public health.

“I couldn’t simply be the ‘Minister for Covid’, because we had to turn and face all the other challenges too,” he said..

“Challenges like the backlog. More than five and a half million people are on the waiting list for elective treatment – that is a record high. But the backlog in elective care is only one part of the story. Covid-19 has had many hidden costs.

“Passing the peak of the pandemic has been like a receding tide, revealing the underlying health of our nation. It’s revealed some fractures within. And in many cases, the pandemic has deepened those fractures.

“It’s this Government’s mission to unite and level up across the whole of the UK, to build back better and to build back fairer.”

Mr Javid also set out the steps the Government is taking to tackle mental health as an essential and indispensable part of levelling up health and ensuring we have a safer, carer and more supportive society. He said:

“We’re ending historic injustices by updating our Mental Health Act, ensuring people in acute mental distress are still met with the compassion and choice they deserve. At the same time, we’re looking at those resources that can help everyone.

“We know that one in four people living in deprived areas has a common mental health disorder, so we need to look at everything that’s holding people back from living their very best lives.

“Our long-term plan commits an extra £2.3 billion a year to transforming mental health services by 2023 – expanding them to reach families, communities, workplaces, and schools. And we’re launching brilliant new resources, like Every Mind Matters.”

The Secretary of State highlighted the need for a new approach to public health as although people are living longer than ever before they spend more of these years in poor health.

He spoke about plans for the new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, which formally launches on October 1 to support cross-government efforts to reduce health inequalities and level up public health, ensuring everyone has the chance to live happy and healthy lives.

Mr Javid said: “The genius of universal healthcare is just that: it’s universal. So as Secretary of State, I’m determined everyone gets access to the health and care they need – especially the kind of preventive action that will stop them from becoming ill in the first place. That’s another way we ensure, not just a healthier society, but a fairer society too.”

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‘No alternative’ but to use Blackpool Britannia Metropole hotel as asylum seeker shelter

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

Blackpool Council is fighting plans to use the Metropole Hotel to house asylum seekers

 

Metropole Hotel, Blackpool
Metropole Hotel, Blackpool (Image: LancsLive)

Bosses at the firm tasked with housing asylum seekers in the UK have revealed why they have “no alternative” but to house people in a Blackpool hotel.

Last week Blackpool Council put a halt to plans to house asylum seekers in the Metropole Hotel on the Promenade and warned bosses at Britannia Hotels, which owns the venue, that planning permission would be required in order to house asylum seekers at the hotel.

The hotel was set to act as a temporary home for 324 asylum seekers but the council said permission would be needed to use the hotel as a house in multiple occupation.

Council leader Lynn Williams said the local authority had no choice but to take action and issue the warning after she claimed the Home Office refused to give out information about the conditions asylum seekers would be living in.

The Home Office has revealed that the UK offered protection, in the form of asylum, humanitarian protection, alternative forms of leave and resettlement, to 10,725 people (including their dependants) in the year ending June 2021.

The number of people offered asylum in the year ending June 2021 decreased by 37 per cent from the previous year. This fall is due to fewer initial decisions being made on asylum applications (13,929 decisions compared with 18,239 in the previous year), as well as the pause to resettlement activity between March and November 2020, both impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Serco, which provides accommodation for asylum seekers on behalf of the Government, said that using hotels to house asylum seekers was a “last resort”.

Jenni Halliday, Serco’s Contract Director for Asylum Accommodation Services, told LancsLive: “With the significant increases in the number of people arriving in the UK we have been faced with no alternative but to temporarily accommodate some asylum seekers in hotels.

“These hotels are only used as a last resort but as a provider of accommodation services on behalf of the Home Office we have a responsibility to find accommodation for the asylum seekers that are being placed in our care.

“The Serco team is working extremely hard to move people into dispersed social housing as rapidly as possible.”

Blackpool Council leader Cllr Williams said the Home Office and Serco had been unable to allay concerns from the council, police, fire and ambulance authorities.

She said last week: “Our concerns escalated following further meetings with the Home Office and Serco.

“We are not to be provided with any of the risk assessments that have been undertaken despite asking repeatedly for them to allay these concerns. Yesterday we gave notice to the Metropole and its owners that using the Metropole to house asylum seekers constitutes to a material change of use and planning permission is required before they proceed.

“If they do proceed we will issue a temporary stop notice immediately, which means if they continue to provide accommodation that is unlawful. This is a closure of a large hotel and conversion to a hostel and that requires planning consent.

“The government knows the problems we have here with HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and hostels and the impact on Blackpool, and yet we are expected to accept a very large HMO in the centre of Blackpool which is one of the most deprived areas of the country.”

Britannia Metropole Hotel in Blackpool
Britannia Metropole Hotel in Blackpool

Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service has now provided a response to LancsLive about their concerns.

Blackpool Council said there was no update on the issue while Lancashire Police confirmed that the issue was being council-led.

Mark Hutton, Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service’s head of prevention and protection, area manager, said: “Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has been working with partner organisations since becoming aware of the plans to home asylum seekers in the Metropole Hotel, Blackpool.

“As the enforcing authority for the Fire Safety Order, the service uses nationally recognised guidance, enforcement management and assessment tools when undertaking fire safety inspections.

“The service cannot discuss such matters publicly until the threshold for enforcement action has been reached and the requirement to provide a public register of the enforcement has been met.

“Fire safety standards at the Metropole Hotel, and every hotel in the resort, have been and are regularly reviewed. Appropriate action will be taken if, and when, required.”