Take-aways, off-licences and b&bs are among the businesses being targeted as part of a crackdown on child exploitation in Blackpool.
A £40,000 pilot scheme has seen a specialist team set up to protect children, including those missing from home, who are vulnerable due to being out on the streets at night and weekends.
Powers have been used including closure orders on two brothels and a crack house, while there have been 87 visits to premises where children were believed to be at risk, with local authority powers of entry used to gain access to some properties.
The three month pilot was set up in May with funding expected to be secured in order to continue with it.
The project is aimed at tackling child exploitation
Jeanette Richards, assistant director of children’s services at Blackpool Council, told councillors the authority was taking a “zero tolerance” stance on the criminal and sexual exploitation of children.
She said: “The nature of that coercive relationship is often hidden from the public eye.
“This is why we have to get out into the community to keep an eye on areas of concern and identify hotspots.”
In a presentation to the tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee, Ms Richards said a town-wide approach had been taken involving workers from the council, police and health services who shared intelligence from the community on a daily basis.
The additional funding had helped to pay for out-of-hours patrols to target the times when vulnerable children were most at risk.
She added: “We have visited parks, piers, take-aways and home addresses and the focus and source of intelligence for these visits is numerous.”
Ms Richards warned the process needed to be relentless because “If we disrupt activity at one take-away, we might see it at another.
“So it is about constant surveillance and taking a zero tolerance approach.”
Action has included the serving of closure notices, civil injunctions, use of licensing powers and 19 community protection warnings.
A council report says: “In terms of problem places, outreach targeted the night time economy, hotels, bed and breakfasts, airbnbs, ‘party’ houses, taxi firms, off licences and take-away shops in which young people are vulnerable to exploitation.
“Creating a visible presence, raising awareness and forming relationships with staff, proprietors and young people.
“These businesses can be the eyes and ears in deprived neighbourhoods and are ideally located to potentially identify concerns regarding child exploitation.”
The report adds “activity has increased around a number of takeaways following intel of young girls potentially being groomed” while “one food establishment was reportedly employing young girls who were sexually harassed by the manager and his friends. ”
Queen Street, which is a focus for Blackpool’s night scene, has also “seen an increase in young people frequenting the area” while other areas of concern are “drug dealing at some hotels; drug criminality and underage young people purchasing rooms.”
Bobby Ball’s widow Yvonne presented the prizes as Lytham In Bloom’s annual presentation evening made its return after being cancelled last year because of the pandemic.
A total of 62 awards in 19 categories all celebrating the owners and operators businesses, pubs, restaurants, cafes and non-commercial properties getting involved in ensuring Lytham looks its best.
Awards were given for notable features in line with the Royal Horticultural Society system of judging, with gold, silver gilt, silver and bronze certificates handed out and a trophy for each category winner.
Around 120 people attended the ceremony at the Clifton Arms Hotel, including Lytham In Bloom committee members and volunteers.
Yvonne Ball (centre right) with Lytham In Bloom officials, volunteers, prizewinners and other guests at the presentation ceremony
Lytham sculpture pays homage to bird life of Ribble estuary
He said: “It was an honour to have Mrs Ball present the prizes.
“All those present embraced the event with enthusiasm and the evening was a thoroughly heart warming occasion. We’re grateful to the management of the Clifton Arms Hotel in providing a sumptuous and welcoming environment, and Lytham In Bloom’s view was that all recipients of awards were winners.
“The standard of floral displays this year was impressive and the efforts made to improve the Lytham environment was greater than ever.
“In the two years of the pandemic, 2020 and 2021, the people of Lytham, residents, visitors and businesses, have appreciated and undoubtedly benefited from the natural beauty which has surrounded them in our town.”
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A Blackpool man who was checked into a Bradford hospital after attempting suicide killed himself just one week after he was discharged.
Garry Mulcahy, 34, was checked into the Lynfield Mount Hospital on May 17 after attempting to hang himself at his Warbreck Drive flat in North Shore.
He was discharged on May 27 after doctors determined his mental health had improved, and he returned to Blackpool. Later that same day, he called his father, Garry Lee,
He continued to experience low mood, anxiety and paranoia for several days. On June 4, he spoke with Mr Lee on the phone and told him he had been suffering from panic attacks and severe paranoia. When Mr Lee later couldn’t get in touch with his son, he went to his flat, which was locked. He got in touch with the landlord, and together they entered the property, where they found Mr Mulcahy hanged.
Police and paramedics were called, and Mr Mulachy was pronounced dead at the scene at around 6.30pm.
An inquest this week heard that Mr Mulcahy had moved to Blackpool from Halifax shortly after being released from a stint in prison, and was struggling to readjust.
He had been arrested in September 2020 after causing £20,000 worth of criminal damage to a house in Clayton, Bradford, by intentionally flooding it after his landlord moved to have him evicted for not paying rent.
While on bail for the damage, he threw a stone slab through his ex-girlfriend’s window, broke into her house, stole her handbag and car keys and drove off in her car.
Mr Lee said he son was suffering ‘spiritually’ as he believed he had ‘made a mess of his life’.
The court heard the 34-year-old had a history of cocaine and alcohol abuse, and had limited contact with his six-year-old son due to his past criminal activities.
His father said: “The plan was to get Garry stable so we could work with Garry, along with the rest of the members of the family, to get him back to how he should be. Garry had a lot of work to do and he had to do it himself. But he needed stabilising.”
Mr Mulcahy was admitted to Lynfield Mount after appearing at Blackpool A&E with ligature marks on his neck following a reported suicide attempt.
Dr Suresh Bhoskar, a psychiatrist at the hospital, said: “Garry had a significant loss of role of himself both as a father and within the community following his release from prison. On the ward we had seen him to be bright, interactive with others, and with no specific symptoms of paranoia. When discussing his loss he would feel anxious about how he would manage. He talked about support from his brother and father in Blackpool.
“We did not observe any alarming behaviour from him. In fact, we noticed it got to the point where he was quite bored on the ward.”
Mr Mulcahy was discharged on May 27 with seven days worth of pills, which the doctor said were prescribed in small batches to avoid the risk of overdose.
His mum, Christine Mulachy, said: “The day Garry was discahregd from hospital he rang me, very frightened. He said ‘Mum, they’re discharging me today, I’m scared, I’m not ready.”
But Dr Bhoskar said that Mr Mulcahy had wanted to leave.
The day after Mr Mulcahy returned to Blackpool, on May 28, he was visited by two nurses from the mental health team, who found that he was ‘free of suicidal ideation’, and a decision was made not to offer any further support to him.
A later investigation, headed by psychologist Dr James Hoy, found this was a missed opportunity in Mr Mulcahy’s care. Dr Hoy said: “The view was if we look at the context, we have a man who has recently made quite a serious attempt to end his life. He presented at A&E with a burn mark on his neck from a ligature attempt, which is a very serious form of self harm. We knew that he had social difficulties which were all unresolved. He had some time in hospital which may well have been beneficial to him and he had been started on some medication, but only recently, and given these factors and the seriousness of the attempt, the fact that nothing clearly had changed for him, a longer period of time to assess him in the community should have been done.”
He was taken to Blackpool A&E by his father on May 30, where he was given some sleeping pills.
On June 1, he was seen by a GP at the Layton Medican Centre, who prescribed him antidepressants.
Mr Lee said: “I don’t believe this was the correct medication. What we have to appreciate is anti-depressants take a long time to work. Three days, he’s going to show no progress whatsoever.”
Mr Mulcahy continued to communicate with his family, complaining of panic attacks, paranoia, anxiety and poor sleep, until around 11am on June 4, when he last spoke with his father.
Investigating police officers said there were no suspicious circumstances involved in Mr Mulcahy’s death.
Handing down a conclusion of suicide, coroner Alan Wilson said: “One of the consistent themes in this hearing has been the support Garry had from his family, and it is clear for the inquest the concern and affection and everybody had for him.”
Mrs Mulcahy slammed the Bradford hospital for discharging her son just ten days after he was admitted following his suicide attempt.
She said: “The system has killed my son and he’s dead, and they get to walk away scot-free. It will be somebody else’s son or daughter. Somebody else will be here tomorrow.”
The Sandcastle Waterpark food collection event is back, and will have free mince pies and music from a local brass band
The Locals Helping Locals for Christmas appeal returns to the Sandcastle Waterpark on Friday, November 26 and is calling for donations to the Blackpool Food Bank.
The annual event launched in 2014, but was unable to run in 2020 due to Covid.
Hayley Kay, organiser and a presenter at BBC Radio Lancashire, is calling for people to be extra generous, with this Christmas likely to be tough for many more families.
The Sandcastle Waterpark food collection event is back, and will have free mince pies and music from a local brass band
The mother of one says; “I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have to start thinking about what you have to go without over Christmas. The food bank is crucial in our community, especially this year. Most of [the organisers] have got our own children now, and it can be hard to explain to the kids why we’re doing this. One of the little boys loves getting involved, but at first he couldn’t understand the concept of opening the cupboard and not having any food there.”
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Blackpool born Hayley says that she is proud of how generous people are in the resort. “It’s full of kind-hearted people who need very little encouragement to give back to the community. Nobody likes to think of people in their town struggling, so I just want to encourage people to give a bit more this year.”
The food collection event is being held at the Sandcastle Waterpark on Friday, November 26, between 4-7pm. There will be music from the Revoe community choir and the Blackpool Music Service brass band. Free hot chocolate and mince pies will also be available, along with free parking at the venue.
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins OBE was spotted filming in Bispham.
The 41-year-old, who shot to fame while singing at London’s Westminster Cathedral in honour of Pope John Paul II’s silver jubilee in 2003, was snapped in front of the Jesus tableau on the Prom in Bispham yesterday during filming for Songs of Praise’s Hallowe’en show.
She posed beside the famous lever used to flick the switch on the Illuminations and smiled for photographs.
Katherine uploaded a snap of herself in front of the Tower to the picture sharing social media site Instagram alongside the words: “Fresh sea air and fish and chips, what more can a girl ask of a Monday?!”
Opera singer Katherine Jenkins filmed Songs of Praise’s All Hallows Eve episode in front of the religious tableau at Bispham on Monday, October 11, 2021 (Picture: Dave Nelson)
And she said being inside the Tower Ballroom reminded her of her Dancing With The Stars days.
She wrote: “Bringing back memories of my own ballroom dancing days!” and said she missed dancing judge – and this year’s Switch On star – Shirley Ballas.
A new eco shop offering household essentials while avoiding plastic waste is set to open in Fleetwood.
Tracy Earnshaw, Jess Earnshaw and Amanda Cross (left to right) at the new Tram Weight shop, to open later this month
The Tram Weigh will open its doors on Monday October 25 from premises at 50b North Albert Street in Fleetwood.
Customers will be able to buy products such as liquid soap, shampoo, laundry liquid, dog shampoo, ketchup, herbs and spices by simply bringing in their own bottles to be filled up, rather than buying new bottles which will later go in the bin.
There will also be plastic-free essentials such as washing-up sponges, bin liners and dog poo bags, all at affordable prices.
Shop owner Amanda Cross, 43, who is originally from Fleetwood but now lives in the Adlington area of central Lancashire, says she was inspired to open her own shop because she said similar eco outlets simply charged too much.
The mum-of-three said: “I wanted to shop at these eco-minded places but I just couldn’t afford it.
“I went to one place to fill up with shampoo and they were charging me £9.
“I can’t afford that – these shops are aimed at middle class people with big wages, selling high end products which are out of the reach of people like me.
“That’s why I decided to open my own shop – at affordable prices!”
Her first eco-themed shop, the Rail Weigh on Railway in in Adlington, opened last year and has proved a huge success.
Both shops come under her ‘ Little Pink Shop With The Big Green Mission’.
She said: “Our mission is pretty simple – to reduce plastic and all the harm that we now know it is causing.
“Recycling was a good idea in theory but it doesn’t really work effectively enough.
“The only way to stop all this plastic packaging causing chaos to our eco system is to stop buying it, day after day.”
Amanda says not only are her shops much cheaper than many other eco shops, with prices more on a par with lower end supermarkets, but some items are much cheaper than those sold conventionally.
As an example, she says that while Schwartz parsley would on average cost £1.70 to buy in the supermarket, her shops can refill it for just. 6p.
The Fleetwood shop will be run by Fleetwood woman Tracy Earnshaw and daughter Jess Earnshaw and will be open seven days a week with late evening openings for Christmas shoppers.
Garstang library will close from today (Tuesday October 12) until next year as work is carried out to make the building more planet-friendly.
Renovation work at the library in Windsor Road is set to reduce CO2 emissions by eight tonnes per year.
Lights will also be upgraded to LED bulbs, an air source heat pump will be installed to replace dated electric heating, and solar panels will be fitted to the roof.
Lancashire County Council said the library would not be reopening until “early January 2022,” but books can be returned to any other Lancashire Library, renewed in person, by phone, or online while it is closed.
Garstang Library will be closed until January 2022 as work begins to make the building more environmentally-friendly.
Book-lovers will need to travel to either Poulton library in Blackpool Old Road or Lancaster library in Market Street if they want to check out books in person.
Fines for overdue loans from Garstang library will be waived while the buildings are shut, and all books are being renewed automatically until January 17.
County Coun Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, but these are major improvements and the work can only be done safely while the buildings are closed to the public.
“People can use our excellent online library services, or a nearby alternative, while the work is completed. This Government-funded scheme will help us to improve Garstang and other libraries and make them more environmentally friendly. ”
County Coun Shaun Turner, cabinet member for environment and climate change, added: “Reducing our carbon footprint is absolutely crucial. We’re working hard to do all we can to reduce energy usage in our buildings and projects like the Garstang Library improvements are a key part of our plans.
“Making investments like this in our existing buildings and ensuring any future ones are greener will really have a positive impact on climate change as well as helping us to achieve carbon net zero.”