After more than 18 months of silence Blackpool’s Stanley Park bandstand is set to ring out with the sound of music again – but only if a choir can be found to perform.
The Friends of Stanley Park want to hold a Christmas Carol concert in December to raise money for the NHS.
Now they are appealing for a choir to come forward to volunteer to lead the singing at the event which is scheduled for 1pm on Sunday December 19 at the council-owned park.
Nigel Patterson, chairman of the Friends of Stanley Park, said: “We’re planning a sing-a-long event and have hired a machine to display the words but all we need is a choir to lead the proceedings.
Nigel Patterson and Phil Robinson from the Friends of Stanley Park at the bandstand
“As people weren’t able to celebrate Christmas properly last year due to Covid, we felt it would be nice to do something locally and this will be a family event in the park.
“There will be a collection on the day and we will also set up a Just Giving page, so it will also be a thankyou to our local hospital for everything they have done for us.”
The event will also mark the first one back at the bandstand since lockdown caused all concerts there to be cancelled.
Nigel said the Friends group has now got the go ahead for a full schedule to return next year at the venue, which before the pandemic regularly attracted large audiences to it Sunday afternoon concerts.
He said: “The bandstand will be back next year as a Covid friendly venue and we have sorted this out with the council and got approval.
Money raised from the carol concert, which is expected to be up to 90 minutes long, will go to Blackpool Victoria Hospital Blue Skies appeal.
Representatives of any choir which wants to volunteer should contact Nigel on 07721 446038.
New owner Paul insists that he has just taken over the hotel in the last couple of weeks and acknowledges that some work is still needed
A Blackpool hotel owner has refuted a negative review and pictures posted online which compared one room to a “murder scene”.
On Friday October 29 a review was left by 36-year-old Vicky Ford, an administrator from Manchester who came to stay at the New Oxford Hotel on Albert Road last week.
Her mum Noreen had reportedly booked four rooms from October 27 to 29 for her daughter, grandchildren and two friends and their children.
Vicky told LancsLive: “We did read a couple of bad reviews however we weren’t expecting a five star hotel or anything as it was just a couple of days away in Blackpool but this was falling to pieces.
“We were all absolutely horrified at our rooms when we got to them.”
New owner Paul insists that he just taken over the hotel in the last couple of weeks and does acknowledge that some work is still needed. However he can’t understand some aspects of the latest negative review.
He said: “The hotel is in the process of being renovated and aspects such as the carpet and various other things are in the process of being replaced.
“We had plenty of double, twin and single rooms available on those dates so we would have happily have moved them into those. We actually own another hotel on the promenade which they could have even have been moved to.
“The complaints weren’t logged with us at the time so we can’t do anything about it if we don’t know about it but everything goes in our maintenance book.
Vicky added: “The window in my mum’s friend’s hotel room wouldn’t close. I had my two children in with me and the plug lead for the kettle was too small to reach the plug socket so I had to keep the kids away while I boiled the kettle on the floor.
“There was a soggy toilet roll on the window sill because it was all damp and there was no hot water coming from the sink.
“The kettle in my friend’s room was on a massive tray on a small shelf so it could fall off.
“The shower door was broken and there were dents in the walls and doors, not to mention red marks which looked liked what can only be described as a murder scene.
“It’s only that the carpet was so old I presumed nobody had been killed there.
“The PA testing was out of date on the electrics in our room and my friend took pictures of stains where there’d been a leak in the ceiling.
“The shower door also came off when I tried to close it.”
Vicky also claims that when they went to explore the rest of the hotel she discovered further causes for concern such as a mirror held together with masking tape, threadbare carpets, binbags left in front of the fire escape and food still on tables in the dining area at around midnight.
She said: “We didn’t approach them about the issues as we had children with us didn’t want to cause drama while we were there.
“When we said we were disappointed about the bar and no entertainment as advertised however the woman we spoke to just went on about free tickets for Elf she had got because cast members were staying.”
“We just wanted to try and prevent anyone else’s stay from being ruined. We paid £600 for these rooms and we just put up with it and sought refuge at the hotel across the road at the Ruskin Hotel in the bar in the evenings.
“Some people may not be able to afford that kind of money and have their holidays completely ruined.
“We don’t want that to happen to anyone else.”
The last eight TripAdvisor reviews dating back to August have been rated as ‘Terrible’ however 42 excellent reviews have been left in total out of 65.
A review left by a woman called Shaz in September of this year – before Paul says he took over – said: “This is not suitable accommodation for holiday makers, more like a hostel. On arrival there was no introduction or welcome from man at reception. Was asked for payment which was explained had been done via Booking.com. Made way up threadbare stairs and after a search we found the room which had no door number. The room was dark and claustrophobic facing onto a brick wall and littered flat roof below.
“The curtains and carpet were dirty, stained wallpaper, plastic bag hanging from drawer handle as bin, shabby furniture, no bedside cabinet/lamp, no tv, no kettle, faulty cistern, dirty pan seat, musty smell.
“Felt unsafe due to group of non-residents loitering at entrance and in the reception foyer. Decided we couldn’t stay even if it meant going home again. Explained to reception man the room the room was not expected standard and cistern was faulty. He offered up no solution or apology on handing over the key.
“Meanwhile another passing by resident agreed the hotel was a dump but he had no option, had to stay for the sake of not unsettling his child. Was already late afternoon and unable to find another room we made long journey home, exhausted! Booking.com made contact with hotel but unable to provide refund as we didn’t take photos.
“The limited response from hotel is that they are not responsible for the website photos which belong to the previous owners, so why are they still being displayed! Please book somewhere else and don’t be fooled by the website photos. Wish I’d read recent and accurate Tripadvisor reviews first!!!
A review left on Booking.com in October 2021 acknowledged the new take over: “Bit run down , but the new management are addressing this, look forward to see it when complete. Need card payments back in ASAP though.” and as a plus said: “Staff friendly and fabulous.”
Owner Paul added: “The shower door is lift on and lift off so she must have taken that off. The door lock pictured is actually a laundry cupboard door not a main door and the PA testing – I’m going to make enquiries about as when we took over the rest of them had been done.
“In terms of entertainment we usually put this on the at the weekend and those guests stayed through the week.
“We’ve just had the entire cast of Elf stay here and we have plenty of good reviews on Booking.com so we have plenty of people who have been happy when they’ve stayed here.
“We’ve ordered new windows which includes the one the guest is saying about in one of the rooms.
“As far marks and stains we have only taken over recently and there is still work to be done. If we’d have known about these complaints we would have logged it straight away in our maintenance book.
“The mirror the guest took a picture of has now been replaced. In terms of food left, it depends what time the picture was taken but we always wait for tables to finish before clearing away.
“The photo of the binbags must have been taken at 10am as we put all rubbish their at that time ready to take to the rubbish bins that are located at the bottom by the fire escape.
“This is the reason the liners are there around this time daily.
“Every room in our hotel has hot water so perhaps when she tried to use the tap someone else may have been using theirs at the same time.
“It’s difficult because we are in the process or renovating so to not tell us about the issues you had with your room and then to go around and take photos of the rest of the hotel feels a bit unfair.
“I’m willing to sort this out with the guests directly if they’d be willing.”
Coxswain Andrew McHaffie launched the rescue mission just in time, as if t had been 10 minutes later, there would have been ‘slim chance of survival’
A rescue mission was launched to save a stranded 33ft yacht near Blackpool beach – with the vessel and crew saved minutes before their lives would have been in serious danger.
If it had been minutes later, there would have been a ‘slim chance of survival’ for the vessel and its crew, the RNLI has said.
The incident took place at around 11.43am last Friday (October 29).
After a sudden and violent squall passed through the Irish Sea area, the yacht asked the Holyhead Coastguard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre for help as they were unable to maintain a course or heading in the poor weather.
The Coastguard in turn requested the Lytham St Annes All-weather Lifeboat launch to assess the situation.
The station’s All-weather relief lifeboat was launched with Coxswain Andrew McHaffie in command and headed for the casualty’s position west of Lytham.
The lifeboat found the casualty off shore of Blackpool near the South Shore outfall pipe. The yacht was being forced by wind and sea ever closer to the surf line which would have risked the loss of the vessel and crew.
One crew member had a bruised arm when she had been thrown about by the violent motion of the vessel and could not leave the cabin. The other crew member was steering and tethered in the cockpit and unable to rig a tow line as a result.
Coxswain McHaffie realised the urgent need to get the yacht away from the rapidly approaching surf on the shore line so, despite the heavy seas running, skilfully placed the starboard shoulder of the lifeboat alongside the port side of the yacht, long enough for crew member Andy Hall to leap between the two vessels to assist the two people onboard.
Lifeboat crew member Al Sleet then threw a heaving line perfectly across to Andy Hall who quickly connected a tow line from the lifeboat and checked the man and woman onboard were uninjured apart from the lady’s bruising.
While this was going on the casualty vessel had drifted a mile nearer the shore so it was good timing and excellent seamanship from the Lifeboat Crew to have the yacht under tow at the first attempt.
With no safe mooring being available at Lytham in the poor conditions, the Lytham St Annes lifeboat towed the yacht northwards to the Wyre Estuary.
Meanwhile, the Lytham St Annes Lifeboat headed for home, arriving to be recovered on North Beach near the Thursby Home at 5.15pm.
The volunteer crew and shore crew were then free to set off for their homes or work at around 6.45pm after the dramatic and taxing rescue which had seen them at sea for five hours.
Speaking of the incident, Coxswain Andrew McHaffie later said: “The yacht was being forced by wind and sea towards the Blackpool beach and if we had not managed to connect the tow they would have been in the surf line in about 10 minutes with a slim chance of survival in those conditions.”
Common Bar and Kitchen will serve tacos, burritos, Cuban and sandwiches and much more
Blackpool is set to get a brand new South American restaurant next month – brought to you by the people who own Dirty Blondes, Paradise Coast and Nook Wine Bar.
Common Bar and Kitchen on Edward Street is set to open around mid December after months of renovation work.
Owners Jake Whittington, James Lucas and Andy Shields identified the perfect building for their latest venture around a year ago.
The team have been transforming a former solicitors, which has a tremendous amount of character, and have kept much of its original brickwork on display as well its original beams.
Working with an architect, they spent hours going back and forth to find the right location for everything without compromising on customer experience.
Fitting a full kitchen and three toilets has not proved easy but has now been completed.
Co-owner Jake, 29, said: “We began renovation works around five months ago and this really an amazing space. It’s in a great location too in the Heritage Quarter among many businesses that have benefitted from help from Blackpool council to transform their store fronts.
“There are now two floors and we knocked one floor through so you can see right up to the attic and up to the skylight. We’re also putting in amazing new big windows.
“The bar area is going to be downstairs and the dining area is going to be upstairs.
“All in in all we can accommodate around 50 covers seated.
“We had a lot of interruptions with Nook and Dirty Blondes due to Covid so it’s been nice to get straight to work and we’re working hard to get everything sorted for around mid December when he can hopefully open.”
The team worked on transforming former sandwich shop The Hideaway at the beginning of the year to create Nook Wine Bar on Cheapside which is the town’s smallest wine bar.
Lockdown also provided an opportunity to make over Dirty Blondes on Back Church Street.
After opening in 2019 and becoming a well known staple for giant pizzas and cocktails, the establishment had several stop and starts due to Covid 19 however overcame and adapted quickly.
The tiki-themed Paradise Coast, which was their second project on the same road, opened in October 2020 is still going strong.
The fourth business, Common Bar and Kitchen, is set to serve South American street food such as tacos, burritos, Cuban sandwiches and much more.
Jake added: “Although we’re serving South American street food, it’s not going to be ‘themed’ as such. We’re aware that some South American-themed bars can go a bit over the top so we’re just going to have subtle undertones.
“It’s just going to be food that borders on fast food but not too cheap but not breaking the bank either.
“Just wholesome but accessible food and great drinks.
To find out more about Common Bar and Kitchen and follow updates, please visit the Facebook page here.
A pharmacist in training has admitted he ‘missed opportunities’ when he mistook a young mum’s sepsis symptoms for painkiller withdrawals – a diagnosis a court heard he was not qualified to make.
Sarah Dunn, 31, of Boothley Road, died of sepsis at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on April 11 2020, nearly four weeks after having a pregnancy termination.
Yesterday, an inquest heard how the mum of five probably came down with the potentially deadly infection after group A streptococcal bacteria entered her womb during the procedure on March 23.
She saw her GP, Dr Sanjeev Maharaj, at the now-closed Elizabeth Street Surgery on April 1 after experiencing increased vaginal bleeding, which a nurse had warned her about.
Blackpool town hall
But Dr Maharaj said he saw ‘no signs of infection’ at that time.
On April 9, Miss Dunn had a telephone consultation with pharmacist Anthony Lynn, when she complained of abdominal pain, sweating and nausea. He believed this was due to her running out of painkillers, as the mum-of-five was on a medication reduction programme pre-dating her pregnancy termination, which she had been placed on after suffering a broken wrist.
Her medical records, made by Dr Maharaj on April 1, noted the pregnancy termination she had undergone, however, Mr Lynn said he was not aware of this.
Coroner Louise Rae concluded: “That would indicate either you hadn’t read the correspondence on the consultation on April 1, or possibly had scanned it and not absorbed the information. Going into the phone call, your focus was on pain medication.”
She asked: “Had you seen or noted that consultation from April 1 which said that she had had a termination, would that have triggered a differential diagnosis from you?”
Mr Lynn said: “I would have called her in, or even insisted that she come in, and do her ops, and then I would have discussed my findings with the GP and taking advice from the GP thereafter.”
The court heard that Mr Lynn, who was placed at the surgery on work experience, was not qualified to make a diagnostic assessment of Miss Dunn when he spoke to her.
Mr Lynn said the surgery had an ‘open door policy’ where he could approach Dr Maharaj for advice at any time, but did not do so, and instead arranged a telephone appointment for Miss Dunn the following day.
He said: “At the time, I thought it was likely to be withdrawal and I thought it was important enough to get her the first available appointment with the doctor, but not necessarily important enough to knock on his door there and then.”
He added: “In hindsight, I can admit I had a missed opportunity with Sarah. At the time, I thought my reasoning was reasonable.”
Richard Baker, representing Miss Dunn’s family, said: “You are essentially making a diagnostic call. Given that’s a judgement that you were not qualified to make, you should have sought supervision straight away.”
Mr Lynn said: “In hindsight yes, I agree with you.”
Shortly after 2am on April 10, Miss Dunn made a desperate phone call to the NHS 111 service, when she told Dr Nishan Karunasekara that she had not eaten in five days, that she had not passed urine that day, and that she had ‘never felt so ill’. She had an intermittently high temperature and ‘very severe limb pain’.
Dr Karunasekara said: “Infection is always something that I consider, and I consider what is more or less likely. I thought in this case it was less likely because of the information I had at that time.”
He advised Miss Dunn to continue taking painkillers ahead of talking with her GP at her arranged telephone appointment later that morning.
“I could have brought her in to see myself at the organised care centre, but I would have had other cases to deal with. If I had been concerned that she needed emergency treatment, I would have advised that. But we were at that point in the pandemic, and I was mindful of not putting her at additional risk if an infection was less likely,” he said.
He added that he could have arranged an emergency home visit for Miss Dunn – but he was the only GP working that night, and doing so would have left the emergency care centre unmanned.
“Infection was low on the list of differential diagnosis,” he said. “If it was higher, I would have arranged a face to face review in possibly a clinical setting, but I had toconsider the other factors as well, about the limited availability of A&E at that time.”
Following the phonecall, Miss Dunn continued to deteriorate, and an ambulance was called just before 8am. She was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where she died the following day.
A HSIB investigation carried out after the death of Miss Dunn found that allied healthcare professionals were not adequately supervised at Elizabeth Street Surgery.
Mr Lynn, however, said: “At the time I felt I was being supervised appropriately.”
Richard Smith, representing Dr Maharaj, argued that a further CQC report highlighting failures at the surgery was ‘irrelevant’ to the coroner’s investigation as it had been published in May 2021, more than a year after Miss Dunn’s death, and pushed for the evidence to be thrown out.
He said: “By the time of this report Dr Maharaj was already handing over the contract for the Elizabeth Street Surgery. We have heard no evidence about the circumstances in which he came to do that. There has been no evidence as to whether there had been any changes in the time intervening. In my opinion the CQC report is irrelevant to this inquest.”
But Mr Baker said: “I would say there is a clear link between the HSIB report and the CQC report. One resonates very closely with the other. If the issues were unrelated, then I would agree what happens later is irrelevant. But in this case, what happens later is very relevant. What was being observed by the HSIB is clearly reflected by the CQC.”
Ms Rae ruled she would allow the CQC report to be taken into evidence.
Mr Baker said: “The practice was unable to demonstrate they had taken any action to improve to local and national averages. Systems of communication were not effective and the practice was unable to demonstrate that allied professionals were appropriately supervised.
“The report says that the practice could not demonstrate that there was an effective system of supervision for allied health professionals to ensure they were working within their competencies… There was additional evidence that the practice was unable to demonstrate evidence of clinical governance or leadership.”
A care home in Cleveleys could be converted into apartments if planners give the project the go ahead this week.
Proposals have been lodged with Wyre planers to change the Movern Care Home into apartments
Applicant Raj Shah, the owner of the Morvern Care Home on the corner of South Promenade and Coronation Road, is proposing a change of use of the care home to create 29 self-contained residential apartments.
The 60-bed care home has been closed since last year but Mr Shah had intended to reopen it and run it in conjunction with a new build nursing home earmarked for Coronation Road.
Mr Shah had applied to build the new, three storey 35-bed home on a site currently occupied by a much smaller bungalow, having reduced the size of the home from an earlier 44-bed design.
However, both the 44-bed scheme and the smaller 35-bed project rejected by planners over size and scale and for being deemed inappropriate for the local street scene.
In total, three similar projects were rejected by Wyre’s planning committee.
Now the applicant intends to turn the nearby Morvern into apartments, with proposals to now demolish the bungalow on Coronation Road to use as a car park for the new homes, creating 24 spaces
In December last year the Morvern was issued with a prohibition notice and ordered to close immediately by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, amid serious safety concerns.
Earlier this year the Movern had its registration stripped by the health and social care watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, after it was rated inadequate.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) officials rated Morvern Care Centre in Thornton-Cleveleys Inadequate and put it in special measures late in 2020 following a full inspection.
The CQC then temporarily suspended Morvern’s registration in December amid safety fears for the residents after a visit from the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, who deemed the Promenade building unsafe.
The change of use application goes before Wyre’s planning committee on Wednesday this week (November 3).
The 29 units will comprise 19 two-bed bed apartments and 10 one-bed apartments.
Planning officers are recommending the scheme for approval, subject to conditions and a S106 agreement to secure £130,000 financial contributions towards green Infrastructure and affordable housing.
Papers stated: “At the time of compiling this report there have been two letters of objection received, three letters which neither support nor object and three letters of support for the application.
“The primary reasons for objection are loss of care home and services for the elderly and that the proposal will have a depressing effect on the surrounding area.
“The primary reasons for support are clearing up an untidy and run down site and that redevelopment will enhance the area.”
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