Fylde coast MPs reaction to the post-pandemic Autumn Budget

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Fylde coast MPs have given their verdict on the Budget unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak


Blackpool North and Cleveleys’ Conservative MP, Paul Maynard, said many of the Chancellor’s policies would help the coast’s visitor economy and support tourism businesses for the next year as they recover from the hit delivered by the coronavirus lockdowns.

He said: “This week’s Budget took place against the backdrop of some of the most exceptional economic circumstances since World War Two.

“Nonetheless, the Government has focused on providing financial support to the NHS – some 44 per cent of all government spending goes on the NHS, compared with 27 per cent back in 2010.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget offers a year’s relief for hospitality and tourism businesses

“With further investment in regional economies such as ours, the business rate holidays and a 12 month extension of VAT cuts for our local hospitality sector businesses are all designed to give our visitor economy the very best chance it has to maximise the high number of visitors we see right now.”

Conservative MP for Fylde, Mark Menzies, said it was a budget about supporting jobs and helping people back to work.

He said: “I’m pleased to see reform to business rates which will help ensure the system is fairer and will make it easier for companies to invest in improvements. This will undoubtedly support regeneration on our high streets.

“Support for the hospitality sector is particularly vital and I’m pleased the Chancellor has recognised the importance of shops, hotels, pubs, restaurants which are so important to Fylde’s economy.

“When Small Business Rates Relief is taken into account this is a tax cut worth £7bn.

“In addition, the simplification of alcohol duty and rate relief on draught beers and ciders will help local pubs which are still recovering from the impact of the pandemic.

“I welcome £20bn of investment to support research and development which will help our high-tech employers in Fylde deliver new innovations.

“There is help too for hard working people, with fuel duty frozen and changes to Universal Credit which will almost immediately put money in the pockets of the lowest earners.”

But Lancaster and Fleetwood’s Labour MP, Cat Smith, said the Government should have done more to tackle the immediate problems which will affect most households this winter with gas prices rocketing, inflation set to rise further and tax rises imminent as well as the loss of the £20 uplift to people on Universal Credit.

She said: “It’s going to be a tough winter, with rising costs, inflation and empty supermarket shelves. People are feeling the pinch. Revelations from yesterday’s Budget that households will pay £3,000 more tax by 2026/27 than when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister are staggering.

“The increase in the national minimum wage is a positive step, but the Government needs to go further and faster. With costs rising, taxes going up, and the Universal Credit cut starting to bite, it’s give with one hand and take with the other.

“There are three big problems with this budget. Firstly, the Conservatives have no plan to tackle the growing cost of living crisis, secondly, they have no plan to remove the enormous tax burden they have placed on working people and businesses and finally they have no plan for growth, which is crucial to boosting our economy.

“Labour has a plan to ease the pressure on households and businesses right now. We’d abolish VAT on domestic energy bills for 6 months to help people get through the winter months, and we’d cut Business Rates next year.”

Conservative MP for Blackpool South Scott Benton said: “The Budget prioritises helping working families and vulnerable households with the cost of living, including through a significant tax cut for low-income families by reducing the Universal Credit taper rate from 63 per cent to 55 per cent, a 6.6 per cent increase in the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour – giving a £1,000 pay rise to 2 million of the lowest paid – lifting pay restraints for public sector workers, a freeze in fuel duty for the twelfth consecutive year, and a freeze in alcohol duty – alongside radical reform to make the system simpler, fairer and healthier.”

He said businesses would also benefit from the 50 per cent cut in business rates next year for 90 per cent of retail, hospitality and leisure and the freeze of all rates and a doubling of creative industries tax reliefs for the UK’s world-leading theatres, orchestras, museums and galleries.”



Business is Peachy for Blackpool photographer turned vintage clothes retailer

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A Blackpool photographer found an alternative focus in lockdown and launched an online business that puts vintage clothes in the frame.


Jennifer Hilton, who launched her photography business eight years ago, has now seen her clothing site, The Peachy Club, do so well that she is aiming to take a presence on the high street.

Jennifer, 37, originally trained as a performer and worked in the West End up until 2014 when she left We Will Rock You to return to her roots and focus on professional photography.

Last October as the second lockdown struck, she started a new side venture to keep herself busy, with the vintage online clothing store, sourcing vintage and pre-loved luxury coats.

Jennifer Hilton, left, taking photographs for her The Peachy Club vintage clothing business

Jennifer Hilton, left, taking photographs for her The Peachy Club vintage clothing business

Jennifer, who still sings live, performing with the soul/funk band Touch the Pearl, said: “So many people have turned their hand to something new to navigate through lockdown and that is how The Peachy Club started.

“I have always been interested in vintage fashion, shopping in vintage shops and for pre-loved clothing all my life.

“I started my photography business in London and carried on after moving back home when I also had my twins, Tilly and Beau (aged six).

“With my love of fashion photography, it all fitted together well and has really taken off.

The business specialises in second-hand and vintage clothing sold online

The business specialises in second-hand and vintage clothing sold online

“I am now looking to get a studio in St Annes for both businesses.”

With platforms online with Estsy and Depop, a boutique on Asos Marketplace, along with her own website, she said customers come from all over the world and she has been shipping orders to Japan, Canada, Switzerland, the US and Australia.

The former Collegiate student and graduate of Phil Winstons Theatre works in Blackpool, said: “It is mainly coats. Everyone loves a sheepskin coat in America believe it or not!

“I work with an amazing model Scarlett, who is local, for the fashion photographs.

Jennifer Hilton, who has combined her photography business with her love of fashion

Jennifer Hilton, who has combined her photography business with her love of fashion

“I am launching a competition on November 1 to mark one year of The Peachy Club with some lovely people who are collaborating with me.

“It is for a £100 gift voucher from the Peachy Club, a piece of jewellery from the very talented Tanicia Hayton who is based at the Cartford Inn, and Pampas Studio UK of Lytham who are giving a Christmas Wreath.

“It is on Peachy Club’s Instagram page as that is going to be an important channel for businesses in the future.”

Blackpool pop-up shop was a success for Fylde business women
She says that coats have been the big seller

She says that coats have been the big seller

Award-winning Blackpool construction firm goes into administration after being hit by a raft of pandemic problems

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Building work is set to continue on the extension to the Hampton by Hilton hotel on South Promenade, despite the resort-based firm behind it going into administration.


Award-winning Create Construction ran into trouble this month putting 50 jobs at risk, as a raft of post-pandemic issues hit its cashflow.

The 16-year-old firm is part of the Create Group, but the other businesses in that organisation are not said to be affected.

It has overseen the building of a raft of high profile buildings including multi-million pounds student flats schemes across the north and Hampton by Hilton hotels.

Staff from Create Construction topping out a the Hampton By Hilton hotel they built in Manchester in 2019

Staff from Create Construction topping out a the Hampton By Hilton hotel they built in Manchester in 2019

Paul Mathison, chief executive, said after exhausting all other options they were heartbroken to have to put the Whitehills-based company into administration.

He said: “The pandemic has severely affected both our clients and our supply chain’s ability to meet their contractual arrangements.

“An overrun in projects in both time and budget, a number of supply chain failures and delays to a secured pipeline of projects, has ultimately made the company unviable.

“The pandemic has effected every area of our business, from delays in pipeline projects achieving planning approval and concluding funding, to access being restricted or denied into completed operational student accommodation buildings to allow us to complete 12 months defects works and to release significant retention monies owed to our supply chain.

Paul Mathison

Paul Mathison

“Having set the business up in 2006, we have worked hard to build our reputation in a competitive sector and we are proud of the fabulous schemes that we have delivered over the years.

“The construction industry continues to be hit hard as a result of the pandemic, with significant rising costs and limited resources available. As a consequence, we have seen the failure of some reputable and established companies like ourselves.”

Chris Ratten and Lindsey Cooper of RSM UK Restructuring Advisory LLP were appointed as joint administrators. Mr Ratten said: “Create Construction Limited has recently encountered a number of issues that have led to significant cash flow pressures.

“The business has been adversely impacted by increasing costs of building supplies and subcontract labour. We are now working closely with the company’s customers and subcontractors to ensure current projects are reassigned.

“It is hoped many of Create Construction’s on-site roles will transfer to other companies to ensure the continuation of ongoing construction projects.”

The building of the £20m Hampton by Hilton in Blackpool involved some lending from Blackpool Council.

Alan Cavill, Blackpool Council Director of Communications and Regeneration, said: “It is very sad to hear that a local company has had to go into administration. However, the council’s agreements in respect of the Hampton by Hilton (existing and the extension) are with Create Developments Ltd a completely separate company with a different Director make up.

“The hotel trades well and all agreements with the council are being upheld.

“The extension has already started so the adjacent site is no longer a car park. The client for this work is Create Developments. They are making arrangements to transfer the contract to a new company from Create Construction. The council has not had direct dealings with Create Construction.”

‘No impact’ on public safety as Coastguard volunteers quit in protest at ‘iron-fisted rule including media blackout’ as Southampton-based spokesman tells of ‘incident’ at nonexistent ‘Blackpool Pier’

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Coastguard bosses insist there will be no impact on safety after the departure of five experienced volunteers with 60 years’ service.


The Blackpool and Lytham life-saving team has been reduced by around half – with just six people left – because of the resignations, which came in protest at the perceived way the emergency service is now being run.

A recruitment drive will be launched to get numbers up by next summer, with the Coastguard teams in Fleetwood, which has 16 people, and Knott End, which has nine, being asked to help with call-outs in Blackpool, St Annes, and Lytham.

Motorcyclist in his 20s suffers “severe injuries” in Bispham Prom van crash
A major nine-hour search was launched off the coast off Blackpool, after a pile of fishing gear was found behind the Sandcastle water park at around 2.45pm on Thursday, January 2, 2020 (Picture: Fleetwood Coastguard)

A major nine-hour search was launched off the coast off Blackpool, after a pile of fishing gear was found behind the Sandcastle water park at around 2.45pm on Thursday, January 2, 2020 (Picture: Fleetwood Coastguard)

It follows another record-breaking year on the Fylde coast, with hundreds of emergency calls being lodged.

One rescuer said there won’t be any delays over the quieter winter, but said there could have been had the departures come over the busy summer holidays.

“We actively recruit for replacement volunters when people step down from the role because of the value we place upon having full teams in every location,” a spokesman said.

“However, there is no impact on public safety as our coastguards serve alongside our other responders such as the search and rescue helicopters and the RNLI and independent lifeboats.

“In addition, our teams in the North West of England and in Wales have always worked together in partnership and will continue to do so, supporting each other in responses to emergency situations at the coast in a number of locations.”

Volunteers are said to be frustrated at what they feel is iron-fisted enforcement of policies.

One source said teams have been ordered to keep details of call-outs secret for 24 hours – only releasing details if there is a “public safety message” and if the Coastguard is the “lead agency”, which means the police and ambulance services will be expected to release information about jobs they lead, including when there are injuries and falls and searches for missing people, which make up the vast majority of local call-outs.

That, it is felt locally, is essentially a media blackout and sparked the closure of Coastguard social media pages up and down the country.

While a spokesman based in Southampton insisted “rescue teams are not banned from using social media or speaking to the media”, he failed to release details of an emergency on Thursday afternoon, other than to say there had been “an incident north of Blackpool Pier”, despite the resort having three piers.

He refused to say what the “incident” actually involved.

“We are called out for life and death situations, sometimes in very sensitive circumstances and it would be inappropriate for some details to be released,” he said.

“Sometimes we are asked by our partner agencies not to release information either in interview to the media or on social media because it could cause distress to family and friends of those at the heart of those incidents.

“We are sure that the communities we are a part of and that we serve will understand why that would be so.

“We are here to search and rescue, not cause hurt to those who we have done all we can to assist.”


Blackpool motorcyclist seriously injured after attempted police stop on main road in the resort

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A motorcyclist was left seriously injured following a crash in Blackpool after police had attempted to stop him.


The incident happened on Friday morning (29th October) at around 10.50am as the rider – a 24-year-old man from Blackpool – was travelling along the A584 Queen’s Promenade.

The biker was in collision with an Iveco Daily box van at the junction of Montpelier Avenue.

He suffered serious head, arm and internal injuries and was later taken to Royal Preston Hospital for treatment. Police are appealing for witnesses and anybody with dashcam footage to come forward.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident which happened at around 10.50am on Friday 29th October

Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident which happened at around 10.50am on Friday 29th October

The driver of the van – a man in his 70s – was not injured.

Lancashire Police say that “due to the circumstances around the collision”, the force’s Professional Standards Department and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) have both been made aware of the incident.

Sgt Craig Booth, of Lancashire Police’s Tactical Operations, said: “Our thoughts are with the casualty and his family. As you can imagine, this is a serious incident which has affected all involved.

“We are appealing for information after the motorcyclist suffered serious injuries and he remains in hospital at this time.
The aftermath of the crash which left a motorcyclist seriously injured close to the junction of Queen's Promenade and Montpelier Avenue on Friday morning

The aftermath of the crash which left a motorcyclist seriously injured close to the junction of Queen’s Promenade and Montpelier Avenue on Friday morning

“We would encourage any witnesses, or anyone with dashboard mounted camera footage which shows what happened, to come forward.

“If you can help police, please get in touch immediately.”

Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or email 4157@lancashire.police.uk quoting log 0386 of October 29.





Witch and professor call for Halloween pardon for executed Lancashire witches

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A Blackpool attraction,  an academic and a witch have joined forced to call for pardons for ten women executed for witchcraft in Lancashire.


Semra Haksever

Semra Haksever

Ahead of Halloween tomorrow, Blackpool Tower Dungeons is calling for the reputation of those killed four centuries ago to be restored.

And they want to stamp out stereotypes attached to modern day witches.

The campaign seeks to right the wrongs committed against women and men accused of being witches.

Semra Haksever

Semra Haksever

The trial of the Lancashire witches in 1612 was England’s biggest peace time witch trial by far, 10 witches were hanged and a number of others were imprisoned.

It all began with a conversation between Alizon Device and a pedlar who entered her village.

The pedlar suffered what we now recognise as a stroke and thought that Alizon had bewitched him.

The local Magistrate, Roger Nowell, began interrogating members of the local community, which led to them accusing rival families, accusing neighbours and even accusing their own family members.

Backing the campaign is Robert Poole; a professor of history at The University of Central Lancashire, expert in the history of the Lancashire witch trials and author of ‘The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster.’

He said: “The Lancashire witches were the victims of a gross miscarriage of justice.

“They were convicted of an impossible crime, by methods that amounted to persecution, on the basis of patently false evidence which they were not able to contest. It’s high time they were given a pardon.

“The whole trial took only two days, the women had been kept in the dungeon of Lancaster Castle in appalling conditions, sometimes for months with no access to lawyers.

“These poor people were then confronted in court with neighbours and in some cases their own family testifying against them.

“In some cases confessions gathered through means of coercion and torture were used as evidence to convict the accused.

“They were just ordinary people caught up in a religious and political persecution by the authorities.”

Semra Haksever, who describes herself as an Eclectic Witch, healer and empath, has also joined forces with The Blackpool Tower Dungeons to fight for an official pardon.

Semra said: “For a long time, there has been a narrative attached to witches that they are these scary women in pointed hats cooking up potions and performing curses.

“It’s about time that those convicted in the Pendle Witch Trials had their names cleared and their legacy upheld.

“For me, I take inspiration from many different ancient traditions – I believe I was born with a unique sense of connection to the metaphysical and the mystical and am passionate about spreading positive energy.

“It’s important that we fight for this pardon in 2021 to recognise how many innocent people have lost their lives. These people were mistreated, victimised, tortured and ultimately murdered by the authorities, it’s important that we honour their spirits.

“We need to demystify what a witch is and challenge the stereotypes, in my community there is no such thing as a ‘bad witch’, our witchcraft that we practice is all about self-empowerment and being in tune with nature, acknowledging the energy that surrounds all of us.

“Being a witch can mean many things, being a feminist, a strong independent woman, a non-conformist, we celebrate freedom and fight against patriarchal conditioning.”

A spokesman for the Dungeon said: “Throughout history, powerful, opinionated and cunning women were handed the title of witch as a mark of supposed shame; punished for religious difference, indifference or the desire to pave their own paths, without male companions.

“The Blackpool Tower Dungeons will fight for a pardon via a Royal Prerogative proposal for the 10 executed Lancashire Witches.”

The Dungeon has launched a parliamentary petition to force the Government to take notice of their campaign.

Kenny Mew, General Manager at The Blackpool Tower Dungeons, said: “Blackpool and its surrounding area is steeped in a rich history and the Lancashire Witches play a huge role in our attraction. We share their stories with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, as our guests scream and laugh their way through Lancashire’s darkest history.

“Now, we want to right those wrongs that were done 409 years ago and fight to clear their names – having Semra on board means we are able to truly educate people on what being a witch means today and how we can move forward to empower, rather than ridicule.

“We need to give the power back to these inspiring women to tell their stories.”

To allow everyday witches to tell their own stories, Blackpool Tower Dungeons are also creating a #imawitch campaign on TikTok from their channel @blackpool_tower_dungeons. The campaign isn’t just for witches, but for women and men to show their solidarity with the cause.

To find the link to the Gov petition and further information on how you can help the campaign and get involved visit:




Blackpool ‘spice zombie’ dragged stranger into alley and started biting his face

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

Lester Downey has been sentenced to six months in a young offenders institute


Lester Downey
(Image: Lancashire Police)

A ‘spice zombie’ dragged a stranger down an alley in Blackpool and started biting his face, after wrongly thinking he had bought cannabis.

Lester Downey, 20, drew blood when he sunk his teeth into his victim’s eyebrow and nose.

He has now been sentenced to six months in a young offenders institute after pleading guilty to causing actual bodily harm.

He has no memory of the attack, he later told a probation officer.

On September 19 2020, Xavier Campbell was walking home down Palatine Road when he saw Downey shouting.

Mr Campbell thought he was shouting at passing cars, but Downey approached him, saying: “Help, I’ve been sold crack.”

As Mr Campbell started to walk away, Downey hit him around the back of his head and dragged him down an alley.

Downey said: “Call 999 or I will kill you,” and bit Mr Campbell on his left eyebrow.

Mr Campbell frantically called the emergency number but Downey bit him again – this time on his nose.

He then apologised to his victim and sat down on the pavement and waited for the emergency services to arrive.

Members of the public came to Mr Campbell’s assistance, bringing tissues to stem the blood coming from his face.

The police arrived a short time later and arrested Downey.

Mr Campbell suffered a swollen nose, swelling to his eyebrow and broken skin.

In a victim impact statement he told Preston Crown Court he now feels very insecure when he is walking alone and does not trust anyone – particularly young people wearing North Face or dark clothing.

He still has physical scars to his face as a result of the attack, and suffers flashbacks.

Julie Taylor, defending, said Downey has stopped taking drugs. She said: “He is totally ashamed of himself and very sorry for his behaviour.”

She said Downey, of Central Drive, Blackpool, has emerging mental health problems which can not be fully diagnosed until he reaches the age of 25.

Judge Mark Brown, sentencing, said: “This was an unprovoked attack and you rightly accept you have no explanation for it.

“It seems you thought you were getting cannabis but in fact you were given spice, and that caused you to behave in this violent way.

“Nonetheless, it was your choice to take drugs and you must take the consequences for your actions.

“You are 20 years old. The time has come when you need to sort your life out once and for all.

“This was a nasty, unprovoked attack, on a member of the public who did not deserve what he received.

“Biting him at the time of the pandemic, in spite of the particular concerns about Covid, was a particularly unpleasant thing to do.”



Disabled Blackpool couple forced to sit on floor after months-long settee row

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

Luke Robert-Evans and Dean Anderton have endured months of ‘deadlock’ after Accrington furniture firm Studio sent them a settee which ‘fell to bits’


Blocked: The old sofa waiting to be collected
Blocked: The old sofa waiting to be collected (Image: Submitted)

A disabled couple from Blackpool were forced to sit on the floor and ask for help getting up because of a long-standing dispute over a new settee.

Luke and his partner Dean ordered a £400 settee from Accrington-based furniture firm Studio last year at the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

However, within a matter of weeks the settee had started to “fall to bits” with the seams coming apart, and after complaining to Studio the couple were offered a new one free of charge.

They were asked to leave the damaged settee outside their home in Tennyson Drive, blocking their door, and were told the new one would be delivered but delays in the old sofa being collected and the new one being delivered meant they had nowhere to sit for a number of days.

Damaged: The sofa from Studio
Damaged: The sofa from Studio (Image: Submitted)

Luke, 28, told LancsLive: “We’ve been in deadlock with Studio’s complaints team to try and get it sorted. Both myself and Dean have a disability and originally Studio wanted to take away the old sofa, refund us, and then once the refund had cleared after 14 days we would be able to buy a new one.

“We only have one sofa so that would have meant us sitting on the floor. We finally managed to speak to someone who would help us who arranged a discount on a new sofa, refunded us for the old one and offered to collect it on the same day the new one was delivered.

“The new sofa was meant to be delivered on a Saturday between 6.45am and 8.45am so we asked some friends to help move the old sofa to a storage area. But then we got a text at 7.30am saying there wasn’t room on the van for our new sofa.

Damaged: How the sofa appeared when it was delivered
Damaged: How the sofa appeared when it was delivered (Image: Submitted)

“Then they said it would be delivered on the Monday which meant on Saturday and Sunday we had to sit on the floor and because of our disabilities we had to help each other stand up from the floor.

“When they arrived to pick up the old sofa there wasn’t room for it on that van. So then that sofa remained outside our house all night and we couldn’t get in or out of the house through that door.”

LancsLive contacted Studio, who promised to look into it and get back to us, but they have not sent a comment.

Luke and Dean have since vowed that they will “never again” buy anything from Studio.

“It’s just been a never-ending saga and if it wasn’t so stressful it would be laughable,” Luke added.



QPR boss Mark Warburton full of compliments for Blackpool following pulsating clash in front of the TV cameras

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QPR boss Mark Warburton was full of compliments for Blackpool following tonight’s pulsating encounter in front of the TV cameras.


The Seaidsers produced an utterly relentless display from start to finish and were on the front foot from the first minute to the last.

They cruelly went behind in the first-half when QPR’s Chris Willock curled a sublime effort into the far corner in off the frame.

That followed some early drama, when the Seasiders had a goal wrongly chalked off for offside, while Jordan Gabriel was also denied a penalty.

Neil Critchley’s men kept their discipline though and got their just deserts at the start of the second-half, when Gary Madine levelled from the penalty spot.

The home side produced after after attack in a bid to win the game late on, showing impressive levels of energy. But that all-important winner eluded them.

Warburton, though, was disappointed to let his side’s lead slip.

QPR boss Mark Warburton watches on alongside Neil Critchley

QPR boss Mark Warburton watches on alongside Neil Critchley

“The truth is we’re in the dressing room having a heated discussion because we’re disappointed to lose two points to that type of goal,” he said.

“But we’re human and it’s a mistake that has cost us.

“It’s a tough place to come here. I’ve no doubt a lot of teams will find it difficult getting points here.

“The crowd is magnificent with the atmosphere they create and you’ve got to deal with that.

“I think you should never underestimate promoted teams, because they know how to win, they have a unity and a togetherness and they have a real purpose about how they play.

“They take risks too and throw bodies forward, so you have to defend that and deal with it.”

The biggest talking point of the game came after just six minutes, when Kenny Dougall’s header was ruled out for offside after Gary Madine got a touch to the ball.

But replays showed the ball was already over the line before Madine got the final touch, which left Pool boss Neil Critchley furious.

Warburton, though, disagrees, adding: “I’ve just been told it’s already over the line, but it’s offside, it’s as simple as that.

“Listen, we’ve had enough really poor decisions this season, so let’s just say it evens itself out.”



Blackpool schools to be watched to make sure Covid money spent properly

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

Councillors called for an emphasis to be placed on improving and maintaining literacy standards.


Blackpool Council
Blackpool Council

The way schools spend their Covid catch-up funding will be monitored in order to ensure resources are used in the best way to help Blackpool pupils emerge from the Covid pandemic.

All schools in the resort have been eligible for the Catch-up Premium from the Department for Education (DFE) of £80 per pupil, and £240 per pupil for special schools and pupil referral units (PRU).

There will also be a recovery premium allocated for the school year 2021/2022, with the rates being £145 per pupil for mainstream schools and £290 per pupil for PRU and special schools.

Schools and academies must publish details on their websites of how the money is spent.

Members of the council’s children and young people’s scrutiny committee have agreed to carry out a comprehensive examination of the information to monitor how it is spent.

At a recent meeting of the committee, councillors called for an emphasis to be placed on improving and maintaining literacy standards.

Coun David Owen said: “I would like to see a lot of this additional expenditure spent on very basic stuff which is getting children leaving primary school able to read.

“It is at the very heart and soul of preparing them for life.”

Committee chairman Coun Paul Burdess also called for schools to focus on children who are struggling to read.

She suggested some of the catch-up funding could be used to purchase more books or bring in specialist reading assistants, and added it was clear the committee “would like to see how this money was being spent.”

It was agreed to carry out a detailed review of how the funding is used by all schools in Blackpool in order to provide a consistent approach across the town.

This will include examining the information published by the schools and inviting representatives from all maintained schools to justify their use of the funding.

Information already published on school websites shows it being directed towards additional staff, small group tuition, the purchase of additional technology such as laptop computers and enhanced pastoral care.