First asylum seekers arrive at Blackpool’s Metropole Hotel overnight

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

Scott Benton MP for Blackpool South has slammed the move as a ‘ridiculous decision’

 

The Grand Metropole Hotel on Sunday night (September 26)
The Grand Metropole Hotel on Sunday night (September 26) (Image: Bpl Bible/LancsLive)

The first asylum seekers have arrived at a prominent Blackpool hotel overnight after weeks of discussions surrounding their placement.

Late last night (September 26) and in the early hours of this morning (September 27), asylum seekers were pictured alighting a bus next to the seafront Metropole Hotel and heading into the building with their luggage.

ADVERTISING

The move comes despite outrage from resort bosses over the decision to house more than 300 men, women and children at the hotel on Princess Parade, just off the Promenade.

It is believed that more asylum seekers will continue to arrive throughout Monday and into the week.

The placement has gone ahead despite protestations from Blackpool Council and both of Blackpool’s MPs, Scott Benton and Paul Maynard.

Earlier this month, the council paused proceedings by issuing a notice to Britannia Hotels, which owns the Metropole.

In a statement, council leader Coun Lynn Williams, said: “We have served notice on Britannia Hotels advising that if they close the hotel and use it for the purpose of housing asylum-seekers they will need planning permission for a change of use of the building.”

However, despite lengthy discussions with the Home Office and Serco, the company in charge of housing asylum seekers, the plans have now been put into action.

Scott Benton, MP for Blackpool South, has once again expressed his ‘disappointment’ over the move, calling it a ‘ridiculous decision’.

“I’m extremely disappointed that this placement of asylum seekers is going ahead. Placing a large number of people in a building which is not fit for purpose, at a time when public services in the resort are already under pressure, is a ridiculous decision.

“I’ve made my strong feelings on this issue clear to both government ministers and the council and I will continue to do so. Whilst many towns and cities across England already have, or have had, a placement of asylum seekers, so in this respect Blackpool is not unique, the use of this sub standard accommodation; the hotel’s location in our central holiday area; and the impact upon our local public services when they are already under pressure are all strong reasons why I don’t think this placement is acceptable.

“I would strongly urge the Council to do everything they can to challenge this placement and to examine whether it is permissible on planning grounds.”

Coun Williams previously slammed the decision, calling it ‘wholly inappropriate’ and ‘ill-conceived’.

“This is a closure of a large hotel and conversion to a hostel and that requires planning consent,” she said.

“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.”

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, also shared his concerns, adding: ““Any suggestion that plans are going ahead is deeply concerning. I will continue to urge ministers to seek alternatives, reduce numbers or anything to lessen the impact on the town’s essential services.

“I also hope the Council carry through their plans to enforce planning rules with regards to the Metropole Hotel which Ministers were clear would halt these proposals. SERCO may have a contract with Britannia Hotels, but that does mean either should ride roughshod over the people of Blackpool.”

Coun Lynn Williams has also expressed her disappointment with the Home Office and Serco.

LancsLive contacted the Home Office who declined to comment.

 

 

Kids crying and station rammed as last train out of Blackpool cancelled after fireworks

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

Blackpool Council warned that the popular event was likely to lead to increased congestion

 

A busy Blackpool North station last night
A busy Blackpool North station last night (Image: Mark Scowcroft)

Kids were left in tears in ‘disgusting’ scenes at a Blackpool train station late Saturday evening (September 25).

Thousands had flocked to Blackpool to take in the World Firework Championships as Ireland aimed to follow up the Russian display from a fortnight ago.

Blackpool Council warned that the popular event was likely to lead to increased congestion for people travelling in and out of the town by car.

However, those who aimed to get the last train out of the resort from Blackpool North were left distraught when the last service of the day was cancelled.

Northern Rail apologised in a statement in response to a complaint. They said: “I’m very sorry for the crowding that you experienced at Blackpool North station yesterday evening and the cancellation to the last service of the day.”

The cancellation of the final train of the day led to hundreds of people rushing to the station to catch the earlier train.

There was confusion after many boarded a train, only to be told that train was also cancelled, before then being told to re-board the train later.

A busy Blackpool North station last night
A busy Blackpool North station last night (Image: Mark Scowcroft)

Mark Scowcroft, who was in Blackpool that evening having travelled from Kirkham, told LancsLive: “We arrived at the station, rammed with what I can only guess was hundreds of people.

“The doors to the platform were closed, hardly anyone was wearing masks, no ventilation, complaints of people overheating and nobody exactly sure what was happening.

“We were waiting until 10.40pm until we all were squeezed through one door to get into the platform 4 and then eventually onto the packed train!

“People were squashing each other to fit into the carriages. We were all like this for ten minutes until over the tannoy they flatly said this service had been cancelled and to leave the train. We all then piled back into the main concourse of the station only to find the staff didn’t know anything about what was going on.”

At that point many people decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle and started to flag down taxis.

Mark said: “Then about 15 minutes later, a staff member shouted at the top of his voice ‘everyone back on the train.’

“From that point people surged towards the one door to the platform. It was mayhem.. Kids were crying and parents with prams were having to try and get the staff to open the other doors.

“Eventually we all got back on, squashed again like sardines.”

The train eventually delivered Mark home to Kirkham before continuing on to Manchester via. Preston.

Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said: “I want to apologise to those who experienced the difficult conditions at Blackpool North and anyone whose journey was disrupted on Saturday evening.

“As a result several incidents, some involving the emergency services, at locations across the north west on Saturday night we were unable to get all of our trains and crew where they needed to be. Sadly we were left with no option other than to cancel some services.

“We worked hard to keep customers on the move and, for those at Blackpool North, were able to source additional staff to run a previously cancelled service.”

Chris added: “The complexity of the incidents on Saturday evening created really difficult operating conditions, but we accept we fell short of the expectations of our customers and our own standards and, again, I apologise to all who were affected by the disruption.”

 

 

Blackpool FC fan named and charged after Bloomfield Road incident

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

Blackpool FC faced Barnsley on Saturday but the fixture had a sour taste with away coach buses target by ‘missile throwers’

 

The home of Blackpool FC, Bloomfield Road
The home of Blackpool FC, Bloomfield Road (Image: Getty Images)

A Blackpool FC season ticket holder has been charged with carrying a weapon in a public place following the club’s match with Barnsley this weekend.

On Saturday (September 25) The Seasiders faced off against Barnsley at Bloomfield Road, winning the match 1-0 thanks to a Shayne Lavery goal.

But the fixture was marred outside of the stadium with objects alleged to have been thrown at coaches meant for Barnsley supporters visiting for the fixture.

Following this, one season ticket holder – Callum Ross, 29, of Ash Street – has been arrested and charged.

He faces a charge of possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

Ross has been bailed until October 26 when he is due at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.

A brief statement to LancsLive from the force said: “Callum Ross, 29, of Ash Street, Blackpool, was charged with possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

“He has been bailed to appear at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on October 26.”

Taking to social media, the official Seasiders Police account appealed for further information on ‘missile throwers’ following ‘disorder at the away coaches this weekend’.

It also said the club had been contacted in regards to Ross being charged and his status as a season ticket holder.

 

 

Fury as concerns are ‘ignored’ and asylum seekers are ‘put up in prominent Blackpool hotel’

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The decision to place hundreds of asylum seekers in a Blackpool hotel has gone ahead, ignoring concerns made by the council and resort MPs.

 

It is believed the first asylum seekers moved into the Metropole Hotel on the Promenade overnight following weeks of discussions and disagreements between the Home Office, the council and the hotel’s owner Britannia Hotels.

It is understood that 141 asylum seekers, believed to be mainly women and girls, have already been placed in the hotel with more to arrive.

The asylum seekers arrived just hours before the council was due in court to apply for an injunction banning them from being housed at the Metropole, The Gazette understands.

Asylum seekers have moved into the Metropole Hotel on the Promenade

Asylum seekers have moved into the Metropole Hotel on the Promenade

Now they’re in there, though, town hall lawyers face a much tougher task.

It follows on from the leader of Blackpool Council, Coun Lynn Williams, advising that the decision to go ahead with the placement was being blocked.

She said: “We have served notice on Britannia Hotels advising that if they close the hotel and use it for the purpose of housing asylum-seekers they will need planning permission for a change of use of the building.”

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton said he hopes the council can challenge the decision.

He said: “I’m extremely disappointed that this placement of asylum seekers has occurred. Placing a large number of people in a building which is not fit for purpose, at a time when public services in the resort are already under pressure, is a ridiculous decision.

“I’ve made my strong feelings on this issue clear to both government ministers and the council and I will continue to do so.

“Whilst many towns and cities across England already have, or have had, a placement of asylum seekers, so in this respect Blackpool is not unique, the use of this sub-standard accommodation; the hotel’s location in our central holiday area; and the impact upon our local public services when they are already under pressure are all strong reasons why I don’t think this placement is acceptable at all.

“I would strongly urge the Council to do everything they can to challenge this placement and to examine whether it is permissible on planning grounds.

“My understanding is that 141 asylum seekers – mainly women and girls – have been placed into the Metropole so far and we are expecting this number to increase.

“I will be working with all of our local public service providers to try and minimise the impact of this settlement to local residents.”

Blackpool Council has been approached for comment on the decision.

Both the Home Office and Britannia Hotels have also been contacted for comment.

 

 

Blackpool Council leader blasts Home Office for breaking agreement on moving asylum seekers into resort hotel

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The leader of Blackpool Council has criticised the Home Office for breaking an agreement with town hall officials about moving asylum seekers into a resort hotel.

 

Coun Lynn Williams said the council is now reviewing its legal position on the decision to house hundreds of asylum seekers in the Metropole Hotel, who were allegedly moved in secretly last night.

Coun Williams has criticised the Home Office, the Metropole’s owner Britiannia Hotel Group and the private public services firm Serco for breaking an agreement with the council after it was seeking an injuncitve case at court to prevent the asylum seekers being put there.

She said: “We have strongly and repeatedly expressed to the Britannia Hotel Group, Serco and the Home Office, that the proposed use of this accommodation requires planning consent which is not in place. That view has not changed. We also remain of the firm view that this hotel, in this location, is wholly unsuitable for the purpose of accommodating and supporting asylum seekers.

The Metropole Hotel has been used to house asylum seekers despite Blackpool Council fighting against the decision

The Metropole Hotel has been used to house asylum seekers despite Blackpool Council fighting against the decision

“On Wednesday last week we were assured by the Home Office and Serco that we would be informed in advance of any arrivals, and that nobody would be placed in the hotel before Monday at the earliest. This assurance was given at the explicit request of local health leaders, who have repeatedly evidenced the unprecedented level of demand facing local health services.

“It is therefore extremely disappointing that the Home Office and Serco chose to break this agreement and place people over the weekend without notifying local services. This is no way for central government departments and their contractors to behave, and seriously undermines our trust in them.

“We are further disappointed that this has taken place after we informed all parties that as Britannia was not accepting of our position, we were seeking injunctive action that would prevent the proposed use. This would have been heard in court today and I am saddened that they have acted in a way that smacks of a deliberate move to frustrate the justice system.

“We will be working with our partners to ensure that the appropriate support is in place for the very vulnerable families and children who have arrived with us here in Blackpool. Their placement at the Metropole is not of their choosing and I hope our community will show compassion and understanding for the time that they are here.

“In the meantime, and in the light of the changed circumstances, we are reviewing our legal position and will take appropriate action if we are able to do so.”

The decision follows weeks of discussion and disagreements between the parties and the move has also been criticised by resort MPs Scott Benton and Paul Maynard.

Mr Benton, MP for Blackpool South said: “I’m extremely disappointed that this placement of asylum seekers has occurred. Placing a large number of people in a building which is not fit for purpose, at a time when public services in the resort are already under pressure, is a ridiculous decision.

I’ve made my strong feelings on this issue clear to both government ministers and the council and I will continue to do so. Whilst many towns and cities across England already have, or have had, a placement of asylum seekers, so in this respect Blackpool is not unique, the use of this sub-standard accommodation; the hotel’s location in our central holiday area; and the impact upon our local public services when they are already under pressure are all strong reasons why I don’t think this placement is acceptable at all.

I would strongly urge the Council to do everything they can to challenge this placement and to examine whether it is permissible on planning grounds.

My understanding is that 141 asylum seekers – mainly women and girls – have been placed into the Metropole so far and we are expecting this number to increase.

I will be working with all of our local public service providers to try and minimise the impact of this settlement to local residents.”

 

 

Man drove car at ex who broke up with him after holiday to Blackpool

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

‘You reacted to the breakdown of your relationship in a way with a significant degree of emotional immaturity’

 

Mark Salisbury outside Manchester Crown Court (Image: Manchester Evening News)

A man drove his car at his ex-partner who ended their relationship after a holiday to Blackpool.

Mark Salisbury, 41, had been in an on-off relationship with the woman.

And despite reconciling in November 2019, she described that he was behaving in a ‘jealous and controlling’ fashion and claims she ‘felt isolated from my friends’.

Manchester Crown Court heard how she has split up with him after returning from a break away in Blackpool.

However, Salisbury, of Moston, began bombarding the woman with messages across a number of different social media platforms, MEN reports.

He also threatened to take his own life, prosecutor Duncan Wilcock said.

“Several times she messaged him asking him to leave her alone,” he told the court.

“He then began making references to a previous relationship she’d had with a black male, and used racially offensive language to describe her relationship with that man.”

At around 5.30am on June 15 this year, Salisbury continued sending messages, images and videos indicating that he was going to take his own life.

He then drove to the woman’s address.

“When she saw he had arrived outside her house she contacted the defendant’s parents,” Mr Wilcock said.

“Whilst in her front garden, he revved the engine and drove towards the house at speed.

“She had come out but managed to move out of the way.

“The Vauxhall Zafira he was driving then collided with the complainant’s daughter’s boyfriend’s car, and shunted it into the garden wall.”

Mark Salisbury (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Damage was caused to both cars as well as the wall.

Salisbury’s dad came over to the car and following a brief struggle, he removed a flick knife from the car.

After being taken to hospital for checks, Salisbury was interviewed and told officer’s his plan was to crash his car into her shed, and claimed he hadn’t intended to harm her.

In a victim personal statement, she said she felt like she had been ‘manipulated’ by him and was ‘petrified’.

“I felt isolated from my friends – he took advantage of it,” she said.

“During the incident I felt scared of what he would do.

“I ended the relationship to get away from him, but he continued to message me.”

Salisbury was said to have two previous convictions, none of which were related.

In brief mitigation, his defence lawyer Hana Ahmed said: “He has spent 54 days on a curfew, and has served the equivalent of 70 days in custody.

“He needs assistance.

“He has been complying with the order.”

Sentencing him, the Recorder of Manchester Judge Nicholas Dean QC said: “You reacted to the breakdown of your relationship in a way with a significant degree of emotional immaturity.

“You displayed a sense of self harm, but also a sense of blame towards your partner – she was not to blame, you are.

“You have recognised you need guidance and assistance.”

Salisbury, of Lightbowne Road, was handed a two year community order, ordered to complete the Building Better Relationships programme, 10 days of rehabilitation activity requirements and made the subject of a three months electronically-monitored curfew between 7pm and 7am.

He was also banned from driving for 12 months and banned from contacting his ex-partner under the terms of a restraining order for five years.

 

 

Team GB Olympian opens Bispham Aldi supermarket with Layton Primary School pupils

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A former Team GB gymnast and youngsters from Layton Primary School joined eager shoppers outside Bispham’s new Aldi store this morning for the grand opening.

 

Keen bargain hunters queued outside the new store in Holyoake Avenue for its 8am ribbon cutting ceremony, as the long-awaited supermarket finally opened its doors.

Anticipation has been building since it was announced in August last year that the food giant would be setting up shop in the north of the resort, and residents were out in droves ready to scan the famous middle aisles on the hunt for bargains.

The 20,000sq ft building, which is to be shared with discount retailer B&M Stores, was opened by Scottish gymnast Daniel Purvis, a bronze medal winner who represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics, along with pupils from Layton Primary School.

Long queues formed outside Bispham's new Aldi ahead of its 8am ribbon cutting ceremony.

Long queues formed outside Bispham’s new Aldi ahead of its 8am ribbon cutting ceremony.

Mr Purvis delivered an assembly to the youngsters as as part of Aldi’s initiative, Get Set to Eat Fresh, teaching them the importance of healthy eating.

St Annes pursuit: Blackpool driver drove the wrong way around road junctions at …

He also talked to pupils about his experience of competing as an Olympian and shared his challenging training regime.

He said: “It was great to speak with the children at Layton Primary School about the importance of eating healthily and how it can be fun to plan and prepare meals as a family.

Youngsters at Layton Primary School opened the new Bispham Aldi store with former Team GB athlete Daniel Purvis.

Youngsters at Layton Primary School opened the new Bispham Aldi store with former Team GB athlete Daniel Purvis.

“Hopefully I’ve also managed to inspire the pupils to keep active and try different sports.”

The Holyoake Avenue store will be run by Store Manager James Turek, along with a team of 35 Fylde coast colleagues.

James said: “It’s been a wonderful morning here at the opening of Aldi Bispham. It was lovely to welcome our new customers into store, and I look forward to meeting more of the community in the coming weeks.

Locals couldn't wait to get inside the new Aldi store in Bispham.

Locals couldn’t wait to get inside the new Aldi store in Bispham.

“I’m also thrilled that we’ve been able to support Layton Primary School through our partnership with Team GB.”

Discount retailer B&M Stores is set to move in next door to Aldi “in Autumn,” but an official opening date for the store is yet to be confirmed.

Team GB gymnast Daniel Purvis taught pupils at Layton Primary School about healthy eating and exercise.

Team GB gymnast Daniel Purvis taught pupils at Layton Primary School about healthy eating and exercise.

Store manager James Turek and his team of colleagues, who were hired from around the Fylde coast.

Store manager James Turek and his team of colleagues, who were hired from around the Fylde coast.

Blackpool children’s care firm director whose gambling addiction led to firm’s collapse and job losses is jailed

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A children’s care firm director gambled away almost every penny of the company’s funds, leaving just £4 in their accounts.

 

Gambling addict Mark Rogers is starting a three year jail term after causing up to 28 people to lose their jobs.

Firm R2 Care Services Ltd – set up in 2018 to provide care for vulnerable children – went into liquidation as a result of his fraud.

Judge Guy Mathieson, sitting at Preston Crown Court, said: ” The damage you have done can never be righted and can never be repaid.”

Crown Court

Crown Court

Care homes closed and two children also had to be rehomed, with one being particularly distressed, the court heard.

R2 Care Services Ltd was set up with investment from his three co directors, and taxpayer’s cash via local government funding.

Rogers was earning a salary of £40,000 a year, but helped himself to funds to buy himself an Audi, and gambled around £420,000.

Rogers, 41, of Montpelier Avenue, Blackpool, had tried to hide his offending by falsifying bank statements and company spreadsheets

Prosecutors said on April 25 2019 the defendant asked other three defendants to attend a meeting in which he disclosed he had gambled and spent all of the company’s money, leaving only £4 in the company account.

Jail for care home owner who fleeced pensioners out of millions

He showed them online betting transactions on his phone and offered to give them his phone to sell.

He also handed them a pen drive containing evidence of him hiding his offending on paperwork.

The court heard he wagered 420,000 – including £40,000 on one day and suffered £180,000 losses.

Rogers gave a prepared statement to the police admitting he was a gambling addict and apologising to his victims.

He has a previous conviction for obtaining cards in a friend’s name to fund his habit.

His defence lawyer said he relapsed into his addiction following his father’s death and it “snowballed because when he lost he chased the losses”.

Judge Mathieson said: ” What you did in dealing with your company was a sophisticated deceit, committed over a significant period of time.

“The company that had been set up funded by taxpayers through local government funding and investment from the co directors, was to provide accommodation for vulnerable children.

“Those losses could never be repaid – the losses could never be recovered by that company.

“The impact… cannot be underestimated.”

 

 

Covid-19 vaccination booster programme opens in Blackpool

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A pop-up booster jabs site specifically for people who have had two doses of their Covid vaccine is opening in South Shore tomorrow (Friday September 24).

 

The pop-up service for the Covid-19 vaccination booster programme will be available on Blackpool South Car Park at the end of Yeadon Way from tomorrow.

The site will run seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, providing an additional vaccine dose to people who have previously received two doses of a Covid jab to ensure continued protection for those most at risk from the virus.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said that for the 2021 Covid vaccination programme, the following people should be offered a third dose booster:

A pop-up booster jabs site specifically for people who have had two doses of their Covid vaccine is opening in South Shore tomorrow (Friday September 24).

A pop-up booster jabs site specifically for people who have had two doses of their Covid vaccine is opening in South Shore tomorrow (Friday September 24).

– Those living in residential care homes for older adults

– All adults aged 50 years or over

– All those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers

– Adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

The JCVI said the booster dose should be offered no earlier than six months after completion of the first course of vaccination – so checking when you are due your booster before booking an appointment is advised.

Jane Scattergood, Lancashire and South Cumbria Vaccination Programme senior responsible officer, said: “The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme has already prevented 24 million cases and saved more than 112,000 lives across the country.

“As we head into winter we should not drop our guard so I would urge anyone who receives their invitation to come forward and get a booster vaccination.

“Getting a top-up vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this cruel virus.”

Click here to book an appointment.

 

 

Papa John’s worker in Blackpool burgled his own pizza store to nick £3,266 – and £20 in food and drink

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Papa John’s worker carried out his own criminal takeaway.

 

As part of his role as superviser, Adam Hadfield-Bowes had keys to the pizza chain’s branch in Whitegate Drive, Blackpool.

But he took advantage of his position to go in after hours and carry out 63 transactions on his own debit card, Blackpool Magistrates’ Court was told this morning.

Over five months, Hadfield-Bowes pinched £3,266 – plus £20 in food and drink.

Blackpool Magistrates' Court

Blackpool Magistrates’ Court

The defendant, of Maple Avenue, Blackpool, admitted theft by fraud and burglary, with the court told what he had done was a serious breach of trust.

He was bailed and sent for sentencing at Preston Crown Court on Friday, November 12.

Papa John’s is one of the world’s biggest pizza franchises.