Opening date confirmed for new B&M in Bispham

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Bispham’s new B&M store has confirmed it will open to shoppers in just two weeks’ time.


The discount retailer will officially open its new store in Holyoke Avenue on Tuesday, October 26.

The opening comes just a month after the new Aldi supermarket next door welcomed its first customers on September 23.

The two stores have divided the 20,000sq ft retail unit formerly occupied by Poundstretcher, which closed in February.

B&M will officially open its new store next to Aldi in Holyoke Avenue on Tuesday, October 26. Pic: James Howarth

B&M will officially open its new store next to Aldi in Holyoke Avenue on Tuesday, October 26. Pic: James Howarth

A B&M spokesman said: “We look forward to welcoming customers to our new B&M in Bispham, Blackpool, where shoppers can complete their weekly shop for the best possible price.

“You can pick up your favourite brands in our selections of food, drink, wine, beer, baby food, pet food and much more besides, without breaking the bank.

“We also stock superb health and beauty products, toys, games, DIY products, homeware, electricals, gifts and seasonal products, so you can fulfil all of your household and lifestyle needs under one roof.

“We’re located very close to Layton Station – just a five minute walk up Bispham Road.

B&M and Aldi have moved into the retail unit formerly occupied by Poundstretcher in Holyoke Avenue, which closed in February 2021. Pic: James Howarth

B&M and Aldi have moved into the retail unit formerly occupied by Poundstretcher in Holyoke Avenue, which closed in February 2021. Pic: James Howarth

“If you’re travelling by car, simply head east along Warbreck Hill Road, then go straight on over the crossroads with Bispham Road and Plymouth Road to follow Holyoake Avenue. You’ll see our turn-off immediately on your right.

“There’s plenty of parking on-site, or you can catch the number 9 bus from Buchanan Street towards Cleveleys, alighting at Holyoake Avenue after about 9 minutes.

“There are also regular trains to the nearby Layton station from various locations, including Blackpool North and Poulton-le-Fylde.”

The Bispham branch will be the fourth B&M to open in Blackpool, with other stores located in Church Street, Whitegate Drive and Vicarage Lane.



Lytham Coastguards’ Facebook page has been closed, Fleetwood looks set to follow

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Coastguard teams based in Fleetwood and Lytham have announced they are closing down their Facebook pages.


The Coastguards at Blackpool

The Coastguards at Blackpool

The surprise announcements have saddened the thousands of followers in Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde who like to read about the teams’ latest lifesaving endeavours.

The Fleetwood branch alone had some 9,000 followers on Facebook who have avidly read about the team’s work in what has been one of its busiest years, with some 300 jobs in 2021.

A post uploaded on the Fleetwood Coastguard Facebook page on Wednesday stated: “After much consideration between the admins, we are sad to announce that, with regret, our Facebook page will no longer be able to bring you details and content of incidents and features that we have previously posted. This is due to factors out of our control.

“We would like to say a big thank you to our 9k plus followers for your support, comments and kindness over the years and especially in this, our busiest year yet, with nearly three hundred incidents attended so far by the volunteers of HM Coastguard Fleetwood during 2021.

“Let us reassure you that HM Coastguard Fleetwood, along with our flank teams and our 999 Emergency colleagues, will continue to help our community, both at sea and along the Fylde Coast beaches 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year come rain or shine.”

Mark Sumner, of Fleetwood Coastguards, said: “We can’t go into detail why, except to say we have to be increasingly careful on what we report, but this will not affect our service.”

Safety advice will continue to be published by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Tonight the Lytham Coastguard Facebook page was no longer available, while the Fleetwood site was still up, although Wednesday’s post had been removed.



27-year life expectancy gap between men living in Blackpool and Chelsea, new report finds

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A new study has found  Blackpool has some of the worst life expectancy rates in England and figures have also declined.


Blackpool has some of the worst life expectancy rates in England

Blackpool has some of the worst life expectancy rates in England

A new study has found Blackpool has some of the worst life expectancy rates in England and figures have also declined.

Imperial College London researchers have found that there is a 27-year gap in life expectancy for a man living in Kensington and Chelsea in London, compared to Blackpool and that from 2002 to 2019, a decline of 0.4 years was recorded for men in a part of the resort, the biggest drop in the country for males.

In comparison, between 2002 and 2019, life expectancy increases of nine years or more were seen for men and women in some parts of central and north London.

The study, which has been published in The Lancet journal, went through and analysed all deaths in England between 2002 and 2019.

Researchers then worked out the life expectancy for different communities, based on the death records across those areas.

Prof Majid Ezzati, from the university, said: “There has always been an impression in the UK that everyone’s health is improving, even if not at the same pace. These data show that longevity has been getting worse for years in large parts of England.

“Declines in life expectancy used to be rare in wealthy countries like the UK, and happened when there were major adversities like wars and pandemics. For such declines to be seen in ‘normal times’ before the pandemic is alarming, and signals ongoing policy failures to tackle poverty and provide adequate social support and health care.”

He added: “The post-COVID ‘Build Back Better’ agenda can create an opportunity for better health, but it currently does not focus on equity and the resources allocated to ‘levelling up’ agenda are too little to address these concerning trends.

“To level up health, the government must make significant investments in people, communities and health services to first reverse this deterioration of health in so many communities.”

Dr Arif Rajpura, director of Public Health at Blackpool Council, said: “As a local authority, we are wholly committed to improving the life chances of our residents.

“There are multiple aspects that contribute towards low life expectancy in both women and men including, drug and alcohol abuse, low wage, poor housing and deprivation, as well as poor educational attainment.

“All of these elements, added to the coronavirus pandemic, have put a significant strain on our health services.

“Over the past decade, significant cuts have been made when it comes to local authority funding, making it hard for us to narrow the inequality gap. Something Professor Chris Whitty stated in a recent report when he said coastal ‘communities have often been overlooked by governments and the ill-health hidden because their outcomes are merged with wealthier inland areas.’

“Since then, we have carefully considered the report and its recommendations to help people in Blackpool lead healthier lives. We have been in close liaison with the Government and shared our experience to help deliver a better outcome for our town.

“We are constantly taking steps to drive economic regeneration, creating more jobs and making Blackpool a better place to live and work.

“Some of these include project ADDER, a scheme that tackles addiction by bringing police and treatment services together, which aims to reduce drug-related deaths; My Blackpool Home programme helps to improve the standard of homes and neighbourhoods; While programmes such as Blackpool Headstart works towards building community resilience.

“We are also working alongside the NHS and other multiple partners such as Empowerment and Fulfilling Lives to deliver sustained changes to improve residents’ quality of life.”



Six more die at Blackpool Victoria Hospital as medical director Dr Jim Gardner says number of patients being treated for coronavirus has ‘plateaued’ – but resort’s community infection rate rises

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The situation on local Covid wards has “plateaued”, with 56 coronavirus-positive patients within 14 days of their first diagnosis, medical director Dr Jim Gardner said.


Speaking during his weekly briefing on Wednesday, he said 25 were at the Clifton Hospital in St Annes, while 31 were at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, including one who was fighting for their life in the intensive care unit.

A further 25 people remain in hospital but are no longer considered Covid-positive.

Dr Gardner said: “That’s pretty much the same numbers as last week.”

Inside Blackpool Victoria Hospital's Covid Intensive Care Unit (Picture: Chimane Moore)

Inside Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Covid Intensive Care Unit (Picture: Chimane Moore)

Six more people have died within 28 days of a Covid diagnosis, taking the Vic’s pandemic toll to 827, official Government figures showed.

The community infection rate – expressed per 100,000 people – across the Fylde coast rose in the seven days to October 10 compared to the week before, statistics also revealed.

Blackpool’s rate rose from 359.2 to 471.9, Fylde’s went up from 333.7 to 375.6, and Wyre’s increased from 407.7 to 584.6.



Blackpool’s Whitegate Drive Health Centre gets share of £350million

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Blackpool’s Whitegate Drive Health Centre has received a share of £350million for its diagnostic centre in a bid to tackle delays in treatment caused by the pandemic.


The scanner at the Whitegate Drive Health Centre in BlackpoolThe scanner at the Whitegate Drive Health Centre in Blackpool

The scanner at the Whitegate Drive Health Centre in Blackpool

Four new community diagnostic centres have already opened across Lancashire and south Cumbria, working to boost the number of checks, scans, and tests which were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help work through the backlog, Lancashire and south Cumbria has received a share of £350 million funding from the government for the centres at Westmorland General Hospital, Rossendale Primary Health Care Centre, Preston Healthport and Whitegate Drive Health Centre in Blackpool, which act as ‘one-stop shops’ in convenient locations for people who have been waiting for these services.

Diana Rosof-Williams, clinical lead for the Lancashire and south Cumbria diagnostic imaging network said: “The community diagnostic centres offer easier, faster, and more direct access to a range of tests including MRIs and CT scans once referred by their GP.

“By bringing services closer to patients’ homes, staff will be able to diagnose a range of conditions including cancer, heart and lung disease more quickly and ensure patients are treated faster.

“Our local teams have already made great progress providing diagnostic scans and tests back up to pre-pandemic levels, and this new investment will help us go even further – while also providing a more convenient option for patients.”

NHS England data shows Blackpool has a higher than average rate of lung diseases.

The centres hope to achieve earlier diagnoses through faster and more direct access to the full range of diagnostics needed to understand symptoms, a reduction in hospital visits to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19, a contribution to the NHS’ ambitions to cut carbon emissions and air pollution by providing multiple tests at one visit – reducing the number of patient journeys.

Community diagnostic centres are one of the recommendations from Professor Sir Mike Richards, the first NHS National Cancer Director, who conducted a review of diagnostic services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, published in 2019.



Blackpool patients left waiting as demand to see GPs soars

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Not being able to get through to their GP is leaving Blackpool residents feeling ‘isolated’ and ‘frustrated’, medical chiefs in the town have been warned.


Many residents are converging on A&E if they cannot get an appointment at their local surgery – adding to pressures at the Emergency Department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

But GPs are struggling to meet demand – with an increase in calls to surgeries and difficulty recruiting new doctors adding to the existing challenges they face.

The concerns were raised at a meeting of Blackpool Council’s Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee when councillors quizzed health bosses about what was being done to address the situation.

People are frustrated at being unable to contact their GP

People are frustrated at being unable to contact their GP

Committee chairman Coun Adrian Hutton said: “People are isolated, sitting at home and not feeling well and they are trying to get hold of someone and it is so frustrating.”

Coun Maxine Callow said she had been contacted by many elderly constituents who were struggling to see a doctor.

She said: “Older people are ringing their GP and being told they are 19th in the queue.

“They are already feeling very depressed because of other issues, such as going to the supermarket and the shelves are sparse.”

Delays put pressure on Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Delays put pressure on Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Dr Neil Hartley-Smith, executive clinical director for Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) told the committee his surgery – Bloomfield Medical Centre – had seen an increase in calls for appointments this year.

He said during a typical Monday morning in summer 2019, his surgery would receive around 100 calls from patients seeking an appointment that day.

But this year the number of calls has increased by between 25 and 30 per cent.

Dr Hartley-Smith said: “It is challenging at the moment getting through to surgeries and getting appointments, and this is because surgeries are much busier than they were.”

He said doctors and nurses were having to cope with additional demand on top of “all the people who need their chronic diseases managing, or the dressings that need doing or the vaccinations, and health checks that still need doing on adults with learning difficulties and on children.”

However he said steps were being taken to resolve this issue with NHS England having just published a paper “with some measures that might be taken to improve access to primary care”.

These include increasing funding for urgent care centres, and better monitoring of surgeries to ensure they are not relying too heavily on the NHS 111 helpline.

Dr Hartley-Smith said the “pendulum was swinging back” towards more face-to-face appointments with GPS, although telephone consultations remained beneficial for some patients.

He said: “For some people it may be more convenient to have a telephone conversation with their GP before seeing them.

“For example the GP may be able to arrange some tests so when they see the patient they are more informed, to give an answer there and then.

“But there are some cases where you need to see someone face-to-face. You cannot examine an abdomen over the telephone, you have to put your hand on it.

“The rebalancing needs to happen. The pendulum may have swung too far but I think it’s coming back.

“We never stopped seeing patients face-to-face but levels are now over 50 or 60 per cent and that’s the right thing.”

However he admitted recruitment of new doctors and nurses was one of the biggest challenges.

He said: “Traditionally GP services have had difficulty recruiting GPs to the Fylde coast. We are not as attractive as the likes of the big cities.

“If I was to locate my surgery in the middle of Manchester, I could recruit 10 GPs just like that and as many nurses as I needed.

“Whereas in Blackpool we struggle and that was recognised by NHS England a few years back. Extra investment was put in at that time.

“Unfortunately that did not have the desired effect of bringing people in. In order to make that recruitment more successful we need to make ourselves more attractive and start looking at the roles we can change.”

It is hoped a new £8m surgery in Adelaide Street in Blackpool town centre, which got the go ahead last month will help in the recruitment of GPs by offering the latest facilities including training facilities.

Councillors also raised fears more people were going to A&E if they could not get a GP appointment, and said this could be made worse by the fact there are GPs available at the hospital.

But Dr Hartley-Smith said this had always happened, but new measures were being put in place to get “the most appropriate clinician seeing these patients as they arrive.”

At the end of October a new Emergency Department Streamer Scheme will replace the former reception ” to enhance more effective triage” and deflect patients away from A&E, thus reducing pressure on the department.

Changes were also being made to hospital patient discharge processes in order to include district nurses in the decision-making process.

Dr Hartley-Smith said: “This means it is not just the hospital saying someone should be discharged, but also the district nurses who know the social situation of a patient.

“They know if there are wrap-around services or family support available, because if that’s not available a patient can be readmitted sometimes in hours and that’s traumatic for them.”



Neglect from Blackpool Vic medics led to death of newborn baby starved of oxygen for 42 minutes, court rules

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A newborn baby who died of a catastrophic brain injury after being starved of oxygen for more than 40 minutes would still be alive today if Blackpool Victoria Hospital medics had given him proper care.


Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Finnley Morris was grossly neglected by staff when they failed to give him oxygen in an effective and timely manner after he was born ‘floppy, with no signs of breathing’ at 00.22am on October 1 2020. It was later determined he had suffered a hypoxic brain injury due to cord compression around the time of his birth.

Throughout an inquest at Blackpool town hall this week, the court heard how medics immediately tried to revive the newborn by applying ventilation breaths and chest compressions – but his airway was not secured and his heart rate remained low.

He was not intubated until 1.04am, by which time he had suffered an unsurvivable injury due to lack of oxygen. He was transferred to Royal Preston Hospital, where he died four days later.

Handing down a narrative conclusion to the case, coroner Alan Wilson said: “Finnley’s airway doesn’t appear to have been secured in a timely manner, which can be regarded as satisfying the requirement for breach of medical attention. It was believed the airway was secure and it was not, and this child was without sufficient oxygen and his heart rate below 60 beats per minute for a much longer period of time until intubation… This was not fully appreciated until it was too late.”

When paediatric consultant Dr Sunitha Peiris arrived at the scene 30 minutes after Finnley was born, she was shocked to find the baby – who she said was ‘floppy, with no signs of spontaneous breathing’ – had not already been intubated by medics, who were applying ventilation breaths and chest compressions.

She decided to intubate the baby, but could not find her reading glasses, which a nurse said delayed the process by ‘a matter of minutes’.

The registrar, Dr Suriya Dhulipala, volunteered to intubate Finnley instead. She said: “I immediately volunteered because I was confident I could do it.”

There was then a delay of approximately three minutes, as a clamp was missing from a tube on the resuscitaire, a device used to aid the resuscitation of newborn babies.

Dr Peiris said that she ‘did think about putting the tube in without the clamp’, but decided not to.

Ms Beel said: “Do you think that was the right decision?”

Dr Peiris replied: “Maybe not.”

Following the first intubation by Dr Dhulipala 42 minutes after birth, Finnley’s condition did not improve.

Nurse Hayley Knighton said: “I didn’t feel I could see the chest rising when they did the ventilation breaths. I think I said two or three times that I couldn’t see the chest movement.

“There was feeling, I think, from the doctors that the tube was in place and from what I could see I wasn’t sure that was the case.”

Eventually, the tube had to be removed and replaced by Dr Peiris. Further time was wasted as medics tried to locate a fresh tube, with Dr Peiris eventually deciding to reuse the same tube after a new one could not promptly be found.

Ultimately though, it was determined that these later delays had no impact on Finnley’s death, as by the time Dr Peiris arrived at the scene, his condition had already become unsurvivable.

Mr Wilson went on to say that, had Finnley received oxygen sooner, he would have survived. He said: “In the absence of this, a severe injury was sustainedand his condition became unsurvivable.”

He also raised issue with the lack of leadership during the attempts to resuscitate Finnley, following evidence from several witnesses, including trainee GP Samuel Esiere, midwife Rachel Sellers, and nurses Jacoba Eastwood and Hayley Knighton.

He said: “There was no leadership until the consultatn arrived.

“The registrar was placed in a difficult position… it does seem to me that this was effectively her first shift and she had not worked in this area for 12 months, which may have been underappreciated.”



Blackpool loans company secures £225m finance for expansion

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Blackpool-based consumer loans firm, Oplo, has completed its first securitisation as the business targets continued growth supporting the UK’s ‘new mainstream’ lending market.


The £225m securitisation follows a series of investor roadshows in September.

Alex Mollart, Oplo founder and chief executive, said: “Oplo is on a mission to become the UK’s largest lender to the UK’s growing ‘new mainstream’ market of consumers looking for a fair way to borrow and flexible and affordable credit.

“Our first ever securitisation will play a key part in driving our ambitious growth plans over the next few years as we look to support even more hard-working consumers with new products and services.”

The Oplo offices in Blackpool near the airport

The Oplo offices in Blackpool near the airport

Oplo said it has built a strong and growing consumer lending business, becoming one of the UK’s leading specialist consumer lenders offering personal, home and car finance loans to borrowers in the growing ‘new mainstream’ market.

Since its launch in 2009, the Blackpool firm has lent over £800m, with over £400m of assets currently under management.

This first securitisation will underpin and accelerate Oplo’s ambitious growth plans as the firm aims to become the largest consumer lender of its type in the UK, leading the way in providing flexible and fair finance for the ‘new mainstream’ market.

Recent analysis by Oplo has identified up to 26 million customers from traditional prime and near prime segments in the ‘new mainstream’ consumer lending market, including up to seven million conventionally prime customers unable to access mainstream finance from traditional lenders or choosing to use new digital lenders and alongside the UK’s growing ‘near-prime’ market which Oplo estimates now covers up to 19m consumers.



Talented Fylde coast teens performing play in Fleetwood twice today after pandemic delays

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A cast of talented young actors who have seen their show delayed three times by the pandemic have finally been able to stage it – and will be on stage this afternoon and this evening.


(Left to right) Phoebe Coulon, Emma Binns, Katie Pennington, Beth Cartmell, Charlotte Goodson, Phoebe Mason, Amelia Zubrzycki, Jessica Grimshaw, Alice Hurt

(Left to right) Phoebe Coulon, Emma Binns, Katie Pennington, Beth Cartmell, Charlotte Goodson, Phoebe Mason, Amelia Zubrzycki, Jessica Grimshaw, Alice Hurt

The Cou-Cou Theatre are performing ‘Daisy Pull it Off’, an hilarious parody of wholesome adventure stories about life in a 1920s girls’ English boarding school.

The play is being staged at the Marine Hall, Fleetwood, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm and tickets are still available for both performances on the non-professional production..

Sophie and Nikita Coulon, sisters from Blackpool and founders of Cou-Cou, are thrilled to be finally putting on the play.

Charlotte Goodson and Jessica Grimshaw in Daisy Pulls it Off

Charlotte Goodson and Jessica Grimshaw in Daisy Pulls it Off

Nikita, 33, of Seventh Avenue, South Shore, Blackpool, said: “This production has been in the making for for two years.

“Like many, the pandemic has affected our journey to the stage, but this wonderful cast are ready and raring to finally head into the spotlight!

“This group of teens and young adults have worked extremely hard and faced many challenges over the last two years.

“During that time a couple of members left and we had to re-cast the roles.

“We were supposed to perform it last year, first in April, then the July and then the October.

“At one point we were trying to rehearse over Zoom and it was sometimes tough to believe we could actually put the show on.

“I think when our actors finally saw the props and how things were progressing, it encouraged them and we finally pulled it off!

In the play, energetic Daisy Meredith, a girl from a poor background, is forced to face and overcome snobbish prejudice and schoolgirl pranks from the wealthier girls.

She and her best friend, zany Trixie Martin, search for the missing treasure that could save the fortunes of the exclusive Grangewood School for Young Ladies.

Daisy is played by Charlotte Goodson and Trixie is played by Jessica Grimshaw, while Phoebe Coulon plays Clare Beaumont and Rowan Keane plays both Mr Scoblowski and Mr Thompson.

Rowan is aged 22 and a veteran of local shows, while the rest of the talented cast is aged from 13 to 18.

The play is by Denise Deegan, based on Winifred Norling’s 1939 novel ‘The Testing of Tansy’.

The ticket office is open all day, with wheelchair seats available. Phone (01253) 887693.

Adult tickets cost £10, concessions/Children £8.