A number of tram journeys between Starr Gate, Little Bispham and Fleetwood have been cancelled today due to a shortage of drivers.
Blackpool Transport said it has cancelled a number of its evening services as it struggles with an ongoing driver shortage.
This morning, the Council-owned operator tweeted: “Due to a shortage in crews, our tram service will not be able to operate the following trips today.
“We apologise for the inconveniences this may cause.”
But there is some good news for bus users. From today (Monday, November 15), Blackpool Transport said it will increase its service 1, meaning the bus will continue to run between Blackpool and Fleetwood every day of the week going forward.
The poison plot probe at Blackpool Victoria Hospital continues three years after bosses called in police.
Seven hospital workers remain on bail after being arrested and quizzed on suspicion of giving people on the stroke unit prescription-only drugs to keep them sedated at night.
A spin-off investigation – sparked when a post-mortem carried out on stroke unit patient Valerie Kneale revealed she died from bleeding caused by horrific vaginal injuries that had nothing to do with her treatment – saw a medic arrested on suspicion of murder, two rapes, and a sex attack on a colleague.
He remains on bail though, like the seven others, is suspended from work.
Blackpool Victoria Hospital
While one Vic source voiced a belief the long-running probe is expected to come to a head early next year, Lancashire Police said ‘both investigations remain ongoing’ – with ‘no major update’ being offered.
Detectives have remained largely tight-lipped throughout the course of their inquiries, which started in November 2018 after a whistle-blower raised the alarm.
But they believe medics were given widely-used Zopiclone and asked resort coroner Alan Wilson to review eight deaths after ordering a ‘number’ of post-mortems to be done.
One grieving daughter was told to cancel her dad’s funeral so tests could be carried out on his body, and said: “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
Valerie Kneale, 75, was admitted to hospital after a stroke and, after breaking her left falling out of a chair, died four days later on November 16, 2018.
Her death was publicly declared suspicious by the murders squad the following February, when her family said: “We are completely and utterly devastated and heartbroken.
“Val was the most precious wife, mother, and grandmother.”
At the opening of her inquest, Mr Wilson said she died from internal and external bleeding caused by a ‘vaginal laceration or tear’.
Zopiclone, the drug feared to have been given to patients
He adjourned the hearing until the criminal investigation – and other legal proceedings – are complete.
One of the shortest motorways in the UK – on the outskirts of a Lancashire town – could be set to lose its status at the top of the highways hierarchy.
The A601(M), which connects the M6 at junction 35 to the A6 north of Carnforth, would become an “all purpose” route under the plans – a move that it is estimated would save Lancashire County Council £26.9m in maintenance costs over a 30-year period.
Unusually, County Hall is the designated highways authority for the 1.3-mile stretch of road – whereas most motorways are the responsibility of the government agency National Highways.
The A601(M)’s days as a motorway could be numbered (image: Google)
The county council is to issue a so-called “revocation order”, which will require statutory approval from the Transport Secretary, and would open up the route to all classes of vehicle.
If granted, removal of motorway status from the A601(M) – which has two lanes running in each direction – means that the road would no longer have to be maintained to the strict criteria demanded for heavy traffic travelling at high speeds.
A shorter southern section of the motorway, which links the M6 to the B6254 Kellet Road, was downgraded in January 2020 and is now known as the B6601. Prior to that change, the stretch was one of only three motorways in the UK comprising just a single lane in both directions.
The reclassification of the remaining northern section was prompted when an assessment found that the five bridges along its length found that they were in need of significant work to ensure that they could remain in use. Back in 2019, the county council revealed that it could be forced to impose weight restrictions on the mini-motorway – sending heavy goods vehicles on a 21-mile diversion – or even close it altogether.
The authority has since received £15.9m from the government’s Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund – and last year allocated £9.2m from that pot to undertaking the bridge work on the A601(M). As part of the project, the Higher North Road Bridge will be removed altogether and replaced with a new junction.
Cabinet member for highways Charlie Edwards told the cabinet meeting where authorisation was granted to begin the procedure for changing the road’s status that it would lead to “a direct saving with no tangible disbenefit to residents”.
Objections to the proposal can be made by individuals and organisations during the minimum six-week period after publication of a draft revocation order before it is formally made. That could spark a public inquiry into the plans.
The northern section of the A601(M) was originally built as part of the M6 Lancaster Bypass, which opened in 1960. It retained its motorway designation even after the M6 was subsequently extended northwards towards Kendal and eventually Carlisle.
The already-downgraded southern section was constructed by the county council in 1987 and was designed to remove quarry traffic from Carnforth town centre.
The procedure for Blackpool’s match-going supporters will be slightly different this weekend.
Neil Critchley’s side return to action on Saturday after the international break by making the trip to South Wales to face Swansea City.
The Seasiders will be looking to return with a win that could see them move back into the Championship play-offs.
The Welsh government has slightly different legislation for sporting events to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
Under Welsh law, supporters must present a valid NHS Covid pass to gain entry to the stadium.
This is different to England, where there is currently no requirement to show proof of a Covid pass – although that could change.
Supporters will be refused entry to grounds in Wales unless they’re able to provide an NHS Covid Pass or proof of a negative Covid test.
The Seasiders travel to Swansea this weekend
“It is a Welsh Government requirement for any football supporter aged 18 or over travelling to watch their team play Cardiff City, Swansea City or Newport County to present a valid Covid pass as they enter the stadium,” the EFL said in a recent statement.
“Each club has its own dedicated page relating to their Covid pass policies and the EFL urges all supporters planning to attend to familiarise themselves with all the key information in advance of the fixture.”
What do I need to do to gain access to the stadium?
An NHS Covid pass is deemed as one of the following:
– A digital NHS Covid pass
– A paper NHS Covid pass
– A negative Lateral Flow Test (LFT) result within the past 48 hours
If you are fully vaccinated, you can sign up for your NHS Covid pass via a computer, tablet or mobile phone.
To register for the digital pass, you must have photographic ID. If you do not, you must request a paper NHS Covid pass.
Further information about the Covid passes, including how to process a digitial version or request a paper copy, can be found HERE.
Are tickets still available for the game?
Yes. Tickets for the fixture remain on sale, with prices listed below:
– £27.50 for adults
– £15 for seniors (over-65) and full-time students (with valid ID)
– £12.50 for under-18s
– £10 for inder-12s
Wheelchair disabled supporters pay the relevant age rate above. A free personal assistant ticket will be issued if in receipt of higher rate mobility and carer’s allowance.
A place on the club supporters’ coach is priced at £28 per person and departs Bloomfield Road at 8am on the day of the game.
Fylde MP Mark Menzies visited the site of a major gas leak which has closed a key Fylde link road to see for himself the scale of the works and progress on repairs.
Mr Menzies was joined by workers from Cadent at Peel Road where he was shown how engineers intend to repair and replace a damaged gas main. He asked what progress was being made and when the road might re-open as well as seeking reassurances on supplies to homes and businesses in Fylde.
Peel Road, which has been closed since mid-September, provides a direct link to the M55 from Lytham via Ballam Road and Cadent is replacing around 100m of gas main there, works made more complex by nearby high voltage power lines.
Mr Menzies said: “I know people want to see the road open again as soon as possible. But safety has to come first and having seen the site for myself I recognise the challenges Cadent face.
Fylde MP Mark Menzies at the Peel Road site with Cadent representatives
“There are high voltage lines running under the broken pipe to pylons just a few metres away. I can see just how complex a repair this is.
“I know the team tried their very best to keep the road open but when you see for yourself what is going on you realise just why that is not possible.”
Mr Menzies was joined at the site by Cadent’s network supervisor Wayne Wright and streetworks supervisor Chris Taylor.
The MP said: “I asked about the timescale for the works and the need to ensure there is no disruption to supplies.
“I was reassured there should be no issues in keeping gas flowing and that everything is moving as fast as it can.”
Specialist equipment is arriving on site allowing work to progress. Once the flow of gas through the broken section of pipe can be stopped, Cadent will begin the task of replacing old metal mains with new plastic pipes.
Cadent is now hoping to complete the work and restore the road by the end of November.
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Two swans and a goose living on Stanley Park lake have died in a suspected case of bird flu – one week after two cygnets were found dead and another had to be euthanised in Lytham.
The birds were found in Blackpool yesterday and were reported to Blackpool Council and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
This morning, another dead swan was recovered from the lake by a fisherman.
Justin Greenhalgh, of Brambles Wildlife Rescue in South Shore, said: “We went on Friday to Stanley Park and saw one or two swans showing signs of bird flu, however, we couldn’t at this time intervene as the way DEFRA operates makes it quite difficult. They will only attend when there is a report of one deceased, at which point they will come and take it away for autopsy.
Three swans have died in Stanley Park, and three at Cypress Point. Picture by Brambles Wildlife Rescue
“On Saturday we went back after having reports from members of the public who found a cygnet in a bad condition. I then contacted Blackpool Council and relayed everything to them and there was a discussion then to possibly cordon the lake off, however at that point we had not had an official case.
“Unfortunately, leading from there, on Sunday afternoon one swan was found out in the middle of the lake deceased, and also a Canada goose was found deceased at the lakeside.
“Blackpool Council have been very proactive and sent out the environmental team to recover the bodies.”
A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “Three swans have died over the weekend and have been removed from the Stanley Park. Although it is not confirmed we suspect it be avian flu due to the symptoms they were displaying beforehand.
A dead swan found at Cypress Point. Picture by Brambles Wildlife Rescue
“As a precautionary measure we have cordoned off the lake and put signage in place. We have also notified DEFRA.”
A bird flu prevention zone was declared across Great Britain last week to stop the spread of the disease following outbreaks in Scotland and Wales.
The potentially deadly virus, which rarely affects humans, was confirmed at a farm in Salwick on the outskirts of Preston on Saturday. A temporary surveillance zone was set up spanning 10km in every direction from the farm, reaching Bamber Bridge, Lytham, Catterall and Much Hoole, South Ribble.
All birds at the farm will be culled to prevent further spread of the disease.
The cygnet found in Staining. Picture by Bailey Lister
7, a swan was found dead on the Japanese Pond at Cypress Point, Lytham, and another was found on the main pond nearby a day later. A third swan was taken to the Veterinary Health Centre on Greenways, where it was euthanised.
Meanwhile, another cygnet with a suspected case of bird flu was euthanised after being picked up from the pond near the Four Seasons Eatery in Staining on Friday.
Bailey Lister, who runs Hugo’s Small Animal Sanctuary on Smithy Lane, said: “A concerned customer called us on Friday, around 2.30pm. We went down, retreived the swan from the water and then took it to the Veterinary Health Centre, where it was euthanised.
“The swan was spinning around in circles, practically drowning herself, and couldn’t keep her head above the water. The neck was twisting, which is a telltale sign of bird flu.
“After it was euthanised, it was sent off to DEFRA for post-mortem.
“We have not had any reported of suspected bird flu in the area since then, but because of the severity of this case and how close it is to our rescuem we’ve had to make the decision not to take any birds in until DEFRA deems it safe, because we have to protect the birds we already have.
“It’s heartbreaking because we were called out to a crow yesterday with a broken wing, which had to be euthanised. Your brain tells you one thing but your heart tells you another. We want to take in these animals, but we can’t.”
Blackpool Council recently updated the way it responds to outbreaks of animal disease following the deaths of nine swans in the resort from bird flu last November.
The affected birds all lived at Stanley Park, with council officers cordoning off the lake following the outbreak.
In February this year, the lake was cordoned off for nearly two weeks after a further case of suspected bird flu in another swan.
An internal audit found the controls in place for dealing with an animal health outbreak were ‘inadequate’. A report to the council’s audit committee said “a number of material risks” were identified and there was “significant improvement required.”
It added: “Particular focus is around the need to have an up to date contingency plan, which factors in wider stakeholders and a requirement to ensuring roles and responsibilities are defined and that staff are appropriately trained.”
In response to the criticism, town hall managers said they “will ensure that a contingency plan for managing exotic and notifiable disease is developed as a matter of urgency.”
John Blackledge, director of community and environmental services at the council, told the meeting officers had responded well to the Avian flu outbreak in Stanley Park.
But the incident had highlighted the need to update the skills and knowlege of staff, with five members of staff having now had specialist training covering areas such as notification, types of disease, cordoning areas off and use of protective equipment.
SIGNS OF BIRD FLU
– Sudden death
– Lack of coordination
– Soft-shelled or misshapen eggs
– Lack of energy and appetite
– Nasal discharge
– Decreased egg production
– Coughing, sneezing
If you see a dead bird, or suspect a bird is suffering from bird flu, call the DEFRA helpline on 03459 33 55 77, Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm.
Local MP Paul Maynard defended working for a cash machine firm, saying the money he was paid went to two good causes in the resort.
The Conservative politician, who represents Blackpool North and Cleveleys, spoke after being listed as one of 34 MPs being paid for consultancy or advisory work.
They include Owen Paterson, who was found by the Standards Committee to have engaged in ‘egregious’ lobbying on behalf of two companies that paid him a combined total of more than £100,000 per year.
There are no rules against MPs being paid for advising external businesses, provided they record it in their register of interests, but they must not lobby the Government on behalf of those businesses.
Paul Maynard, Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP, said his fee for consultancy work was given to good causes
According to the register, Mr Maynard was paid £6,250 for 32 hours’ work for Link Scheme, which runs a network of ATMs, with the cash going straight to charity.
He said: “I sit on Link’s consumer council, which holds them to account for the work they do on access to cash, which I have a longstanding policy interest in.
“Link pays the money direct to local charities and I derive no financial benefit myself.
“Diminishing access to cash hits the poorest and most vulnerable here on the Fylde coast, and my role on the council has helped inform my campaign on promoting access to cash and wider financial services, and indeed, other poverty-related issues.”
A spokesman for one of the charitable causes confirmed the donation to The Gazette.
Mr Maynard has spoken in Parliament about access to cash – and openly declared his role on Link’s consumer council.
In a debate last month, he was described by Labour MP for Pontypridd, Alex Davies-Jones as ‘particularly vocal’ in his support for free-to-use cash machines.
And Mr Maynard said the issue ‘has probably been my favourite subject in my time in Parliament’, adding: “[MPs] have described at some length how the use of cash is important to the most vulnerable in our society.”
Mr Paterson, who is employed by diagnostics company Randox and sausage-maker Lynn’s Country Foods, is one of two MPs to be paid more than £100,000 for consultancy or advisory work.
He resigned last week in what he said was a ‘painful decision’.
He added: “I acted at all times in the interests of public health and safety.”
The highest paid is former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell, who receives £182,600 per year for 32.5 days working for firms including investment companies Investec, SouthBridge and Kingsley Capital Partners, along with accountants Ernst & Young and consultants Montrose Associates.
Other MPs paid more than £100,000 per year for consulting work include former cabinet minister Chris Grayling, who is paid £100,000 annually by Hutchison Ports Europe, and Chief Whip Julian Smith, who receives a total of £144,000 per year from three companies.
Mark Garnier, a former international trade minister, earned more than his £81,932 annual parliamentary salary for consultancy work. He is paid £90,000 by two companies in the space sector – Laser Light Communications and Shetland Space Centre.
Some MPs also operate their own consultancy firms. Sir Bob Neill is the sole director of RJMN Ltd, which advanced him an interest-free loan of £68,000 in the 2019/20 financial year, according to its most recent accounts.
Mark Pritchard also owns a consultancy firm, Mark Pritchard Advisory Ltd, which made profits of £27,299 in the 2020/21 financial year and paid dividends of £13,000.
A lifeboat from Blackpool was called to search for a person spotted in the sea near the Metropole Hotel at around 3.05am today.
It was called off after the person was found safe ‘elsewhere’, an RNLI spokesman said.
Police also attended, as did the Coastguard, which said the service – recently hit by a number of resignations of disgruntled volunteers upset by how it is now being run – no longer comments ‘on incidents which have involved a concern for welfare’.
Plans to create a Youth Hub in Blackpool town centre to help young people into jobs and training have been given another financial boost.
The scheme has been awarded £452,700 from the government’s Community Renewal Fund which comes on top of £500,000 allocated to it in Blackpool’s Town Deal.
The total funding of nearly £1m will be used to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for young jobseekers aged 16 to 24 within a vacant town centre unit in the Bickerstaffe House council offices.
The project will run until September 2023 and is among four schemes in the town to share a total of £778,638 from the Community Renewal Fund.
The Youth Hub will be in Bickerstaffe House
However the council, which submitted its bid in July, had asked for £2.8m in total for 12 projects including to support regeneration plans for Waterloo in South Shore and Claremont in North Shore.
Other projects to secure funding include Piloting Placed-based Innovation Catalysts which has been allocated £184,190 towards bringing together local expertise to stimulate regeneration.
A feasability study into the role of digital museums has been awarded £13,607 towards examining how digital archives can become a focus for civic pride and strengthen community cohesion.
A Ready for Work initiative to promote skills has also received £128,141.
The schemes are among 500 projects nationally set to benefit from a £220m injection of cash as part of the Community Renewal Fund.
Blackpool South Scott Benton said: “I welcome this new funding, which will help communities like Blackpool. This goes to show the government is keeping its promises to Level Up across the UK.”
But bids for £165,000 to deliver a feasability study into the “regeneration of the deprived Waterloo ward, determining local needs, the priorities for intervention and potential solutions”, and around £250,000 towards developing ideas for an ‘Our Clarement’ masterplan focused on the development of Egerton Square, are among those which have missed out.
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