Blackpool Transport’s Western Train tram back on track after fundraising efforts

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Blackpool’s much-loved illuminated tram, the Western Train, is finally back on track thanks to generous donations from the public.

 

The Western Train tram was in the process of a full external rewire, body overhaul and repaint in 2019, before the pandemic began.

But as lockdowns came, the vehicle was left to gather dust in the tram workshop in Rigby Road, waiting for its rewiring to be completed.

Blackpool Transport launched a campaign in February to raise the £2,500 needed to buy wires and electrical fittings for the refurb, to enable the beloved tram to take its place back on the tracks under the dazzling lights of the Illuminations.

The Western Train tram is back on track after a campaign to raise £2,500 for its refurb was a success.

The Western Train tram is back on track after a campaign to raise £2,500 for its refurb was a success.

During the launch of the campaign, head of heritage Brian Lyndop said he was concerned the tram would miss yet another season if the money could not be raised in time.

“Ordinarily, we would have the money coming in to do the work on our beautiful, iconic vehicles,” he said.

“Without the help and generous donations from the public, the Western Train is at risk of missing yet another season.”

Fortunately, the campaign was a success – and on Friday September 10 the Western Train made its welcome return to the tracks after almost two years out of action.

A spokesman for Blackpool Transport said: “Earlier this year, Blackpool Transport raised £2,500 to allow for vital rewiring and maintenance works to take place on the famous Western Train Tram.

“Following the successful completion of works the Western Train returned to the rails on Friday September 10, for the first time since 2019.”

The Western Train tram was introduced in 1962, and was modelled on a locomotive from 1960s children’s show Casey Jones, which took the then-popular Western genre and built a series of weekly railway-based dramas.

By 1999, however, it was withdrawn from service due to old age and for some time was under threat of being broken up for scrap.

But thanks to the Lottery Heritage Fund, between 2007 and 2009, the tram was completely rebuilt and fully restored to its authentic 1962 condition externally, while internally, the carriage was returned to its 1928 appearance.

 

 

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

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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

Blackpool Multi Academy Trust CEOs welcome plans to vaccinate 12 to 15-year-olds in resort schools

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Blackpool academy bosses said they welcome the government’s plans to roll out first doses of Covid jabs to resort pupils from Monday.

 

The Blackpool Multi Academy Trust (MAT) Chief Executives group, which represents CEOs of MATs in the resort, said the town’s secondary schools would be working with appropriate health services to facilitate first doses of the Pfizer jab from next week.

The group is made up of CEOs of trusts with more than one academy, who have pledged to work together to find common solutions to the challenges faced by resort schools.

The government announced yesterday that children in England will be able to get their first Pfizer vaccination from Monday, after chief medical officers (CMOs) ruled the jabs would “keep pupils in the classroom.”

The Blackpool Multi Academy Trust (MAT) Chief Executives group said it would be working with health services to facilitate the rollout of Covid jabs for 12 to 15-year-old pupils in resort schools.

The Blackpool Multi Academy Trust (MAT) Chief Executives group said it would be working with health services to facilitate the rollout of Covid jabs for 12 to 15-year-old pupils in resort schools.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the decision to roll out jabs to youngsters aged 12 to 15 took into account the “extremely powerful” evidence on the impact of the pandemic on children’s education, as well as the risks to their mental health from missing school.

Andy Mellor, chairman of the Blackpool Multi Academy Trust CEO group, said: “Blackpool Multi Academy Trust CEOs are aware that it is the intention of the government to offer a dose of the Pfizer vaccine to 12 -15 year olds in secondary schools across the country.

“Take up of the offer of a vaccine will be entirely voluntary

“The Blackpool Multi Academy Trust CEOs welcome any steps that will help to improve the health of the nation and help to keep students at school and avoid disruption to their

education.

“Secondary schools in Blackpool will therefore work with the appropriate health service bodies to facilitate the hosting of the offer of a vaccine to 12 to 15 year old students in the same way that schools work with health agencies in the roll out of the annual flu vaccine in schools and other NHS led activity.

“Any further information about the logistics of the vaccine offer roll out will be released by the health services in Blackpool in due course and is not a matter for Blackpool secondary schools.”

 

Another three-figure increase as Blackpool again records Lancashire’s biggest rise in daily Covid cases

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Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have now seen 41,058 Covid cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

There have now been 163,540 confirmed cases in the Lancashire County Council area since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest government data released today (September 16).

Meanwhile, the total across Lancashire, including Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen, now stands at 210,516.

Covid booster jabs not needed for everyone, says Oxford vaccine creator

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.

How many coronavirus cases are there in Lancashire?

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

Blackburn with Darwen – 27,809 (Up from 27,765) +44

Blackpool – 19,167 (Up from 19,053) +114

Burnley – 15,361 (Up from 15,306) +55

Chorley – 14,160 (Up from 14,095) +65

Fylde – 9,162 (Up from 9,114) +48

Hyndburn – 13,067 (Up from 13,019) +48

Lancaster – 16,232 (Up from 16,152) +80

Pendle – 14,379 (Up from 14,329) +50

Preston – 21,672 (Up from 21,583) +89

Ribble Valley – 7,898 (Up from 7,864) +34

Rossendale – 10,496 (Up from 10,465) +31

South Ribble – 14,088 (Up from 14,031) +57

West Lancs – 14,296 (Up from 14,250) +46

Wyre – 12,729 (Up from 12,649) +80

 

 

Armed police scrambled and youngsters locked inside classrooms after intruders burst into Blackpool school to threaten staff and pupils

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Armed police swooped on a North Shore school after two teenagers burst in to threaten pupils and staff.

 

Youngsters at Unity Academy, an all-through school in Warbreck Hill Road for both primary and secondary-aged children, were kept in class and doors locked after the two lads got inside at around 10.35am today.

Headteacher Stephen Cooke said the incident lasted around 20 minutes – with no pupils hurt and the majority unaware anything was even happening.

He said: “The situation was brought to a calm resolution with the support of both Unity staff and police officers.

Stephen Cooke, headteacher at Unity Academy in Warbreck Hill Road, North Shore, said the school was put in a 'partial lockdown' after two teens burst in at around 10.30am on Thursday, September 16, 2021

Stephen Cooke, headteacher at Unity Academy in Warbreck Hill Road, North Shore, said the school was put in a ‘partial lockdown’ after two teens burst in at around 10.30am on Thursday, September 16, 2021

“The normal running of the school day was not affected.”

Parents were alerted to the incident, added Mr Cooke, who thanked his staff and the police but said he couldn’t comment further “due to ongoing police involvement.”

Three years ago, the nearby Westminster Primary Academy was also forced into lockdown when a gunman wandered through Cromwell Road.

Both Westminster, in Claremont Road, and Unity are run by the Fylde Coast Academy Trust (FCAT).

Spokesman John Topping said the lads are believed to have scaled a fence before getting into the school and into a “small corridor”.

He said staff dialled 999 and challenged the pair, who were unable to get any farther.

Two ceiling tiles were damaged, he said, while he said senior teachers would now be looking to fit more magnetic locks – which require fobs to open – to further bolster security.

“All FCAT schools have a robust security policy in place,” he said, with staff taking part in regular drills.

Lancashire Police said two boys, aged 15 and 13, were arrested on suspicion of public order offences.

The 15-year-old was also arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

“It was reported two boys had entered the school, running around and making threats to students and staff,” the force said.

“No pupils were injured during the incident.”

 

 

Contemporary Blackpool Indian restaurant, Michael’s, is to close its doors

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A well-known Blackpool curry house is set to close, blaming the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic on business.

 

Michael’s Indian Restaurant in Whitegate Drive will shut its doors from midnight on Sunday, September 26.

However, the management said that its sister restaurant in Fleetwood Road North, Thornton, would continue to trade and would extend its delivery service across the Blackpool area.

The popular eaterie opened on Whitegate Drive in 2012 on the site of the former Shaw’s Depository.

Inside Michael's Indian Restaurant in Whitegate Drive

Inside Michael’s Indian Restaurant in Whitegate Drive

The management team kept the familiar Shaw’s sign on the brickwork outside the building but completely revamped the interior to create a spacious restaurant with impressive chandeliers and a contemporary bar in the main restaurant area, with an impressive wooden staircase up to a mezzanine floor.

It made the news in 2015 after a vandal smashed in the doors amid a late-night spree of destruction along Whitegate Drive.

A statement on the company’s website from the management said: “After much consideration and deliberation, with all the adverse effects of Covid-19, Brexit and present general circumstances, we have made the decision to close our Blackpool branch.

“We have plans for a new and very different venture at the Whitegate Drive site which we are very excited about.

Michael's occupied the old Shaw's Depository building and opened in 2012

Michael’s occupied the old Shaw’s Depository building and opened in 2012

“We would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all our customers for their support, loyalty and friendship, we appreciate you all.

“Our Thornton branch will extend its delivery service to Layton, Grange Park, Staining and Newton areas after Sunday, September 26.”

 

 

Funeral directors worker from Blackpool sacked over comments made to female colleagues

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A funeral worker made inappropriate remarks to female colleagues – including while one was holding the body of a stillborn, an employment tribunal was told.

 

Mike Hartley was sacked by D Hollowell and Sons despite his protestations – and went on to take legal action against the firm claiming wrongful dismissal and gender discrimination.

But judges ruled that, although the parlour’s investigation into his conduct was flawed, he would have still been fired had it been carried out properly.

And they rejected his argument that his job would have been safe if he was a woman.

Mike Hartley was employed by Blackpool funeral directors D Hollowell and Sons

Mike Hartley was employed by Blackpool funeral directors D Hollowell and Sons

Mr Hartley, a former NHS HR manager, began working at D Hollowell and Sons as a driver and pallbearer in July 2017 before being promoted a year later to client liaison and HR boss.

In December 2019, a new female colleague lodged a complaint with the company about his behaviour.

The next day, another female colleague complained and said she had been at the firm’s branch in Lytham Road, South Shore, because a dead baby’s parents wanted to sit with her when she asked Mr Hartley to look under the Moses basket for something.

She alleged: “Baby M was in the basket at the time and as I lifted her up, he asked me ‘What am I looking up, your skirt?’”

She also accused him of calling her “Rachel Boobies”.

Mr Hartley was suspended on full pay while a company probe was opened.

An HR firm was brought in and heard a number of other allegations, including that he accused the new worker of “fluttering her eyelashes at him”, which he denied, and joked about a white mark on another colleague’s clothes being bodily fluids, which he said he had no memory of and also denied.

Mr Hartley, described by another colleague as a “lad’s lad” who liked “banter”, denied misconduct and passed his behaviour off as bad jokes and friendliness.

He argued the complaints against him had been automatically believed because they were made by women and suggested a witch hunt – accusing the firm of being “influenced by the ‘me too’ movement”.

He said he actually said: “Don’t worry, I’m not looking up your skirt”, and meant to say “Rachibobs”.

Mr Hartley was sacked, with the skirt remark deemed misconduct, and unsuccessfully appealed.

He went to an employment tribunal after his appeal to his former bosses was heard by an ex-police officer turned private eye who is married to an employee of D Hollowell and Sons and in business with the firm.

The judges ruled that, despite Mr Hartley’s dismissal being “procedurally unfair”, “there is no remedy as the claimant would have been dismissed anyway” if the appeal had been heard independently.

Gender played no part, they also concluded, added: “Accordingly, the claimant’s claims of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination fail and are dismissed.”

While the judges said there was “insufficient evidence” to uphold the worker’s claims of the ‘white mark’ comment, they said it was “overwhelmingly the case that the claimant had made the ‘Rachie boobies’ comment and had made inappropriate and disgusting comments to [the worker with the stillborn] in distressing circumstances”.

 

 

New Costa Coffee shop and drive-thru opens at South Shore retail park

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A new drive-thru Costa Coffee shop will open at Squire’s Gate retail park in South Shore, more than a year after Blackpool Council approved the building plans.

 

The new Costa at Squire's Gate retail park

The new Costa at Squire’s Gate retail park

The shop, next to Halfords at the retail park off Amy Johnson Way, was given the green light by council bosses in March 2020, not long after two other new developments were approved nearby.

Part of the Morrisons car park was flattened and transformed into a new retail area with a drive-thru Starbucks and a Nandos restaurant earlier this year.

The new Costa at Squire's Gate retail park

The new Costa at Squire’s Gate retail park

The development, by LS Retail Warehousing Limited, also includes a revised car park for Costa customers, an outdoor seating area, new pedestrian footpaths and crossings, kerb alterations, and stainless steel bollards.

A spokesman for the company said the new shop was intended to complement the primary retail function of the existing retail park, serving those attending the park to shop at the nearby Aldi, Morrisons, Pets at Home, Dunelm, Iceland, Halfords and Currys PC World stores.

They said: “The complementary nature of the ‘drive-thru’ operation is identical to that of the Costa Coffee outlets in St Annes and Blackpool town centres. That store serves existing users of the centre, rather than acting as a key attractor to the town centre.”

 

 

Blackpool’s former Whippet Inn is to reopen as Sherlock’s bar

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One of the best known nightspots from Blackpool’s famous pink pound attractions is to reopen later this year

 

The Whippet Inn, in Queen Street, was one of the gay-friendly bars owned by Basil Newby and it is now set to reopen in November as Sherlock’s bar

Together with Funny Girls, the Flying Handbag, Buzz Bar and Flamingos, it passed into the hands of Blackburn pubs firm Thwaites in 2018 when the company behind it went into administration.

Now the bar is to have a makeover thanks to the people behind a former LGBT bar in Birmingham, which closed down during the pandemic.

The former Whippet Inn bar on Queen Street

The former Whippet Inn bar on Queen Street

Eden Bar in the heart of Birmingham‘s gay village had its last day of trading on the October 24, with the owners saying it had become unsustainable during the pandemic due to Government restrictions.

The Queen Street bar was purchased by business partners Garry Prentice and Cal Eden from Thwaites in 2019 and Sherlock’s was first announced in January last year but work has been delayed due to the pandemic.

It is set to have its opening weekend from Friday, November 5 with cabaret artist and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Danny Beard set to perform with a “special mystery guest”.

The three-storey building benefits from being a part of Blackpool’s lucrative main bar circuit and is surrounded by venues such as Walkabout and the Slug & Lettuce.

The bar will reopen in November as Sherlock's

The bar will reopen in November as Sherlock’s

Called Faye’s Cafe bar in the 1990s, it was also formerly known as Roxy’s and it has bars at the side and rear in the ground floor main area, with a bar on the first floor and a balcony area.