These are the latest changes to the roadworks on the A585 near Blackpool for November

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The latest changes to the ongoing roadworks on the A585 north of Blackpool will see road closures which may cause drivers some delays.

 

From Monday until November 28, one lane will be closed on Amounderness Way eastbound at Skippool Roundabout.

Also one lane will be closed on the approach to roundabout northbound on Breck Road from Poulton-le-Fylde.

However, both lanes will be open on the approach to the roundabout on the westbound of Mains Lane.

Work At Skippool on the A585 improvements

Work At Skippool on the A585 improvements

Drivers are warned to be on the lookout for heavy vehicles crossing at Lodge Lane and at Mains Lane, there remain narrow lanes in use while utilities work is ongoing.

Temporary two-way lights during off-peak times will be in use and narrow lanes in place for utility works on the eastbound carriageway at Garstang New Road.

There are no changes to the current road arrangements at Garstang Road East, Windy Harbour Junction and Skippool Bridge.

A spokesman for Kier Highways, which is carrying out the work designed to cut congestion on the busy road between Fleetwood and Kirkham on behalf of National Highways said: “Please leave extra time for your journey – delays are expected.”

 

 

Dancing on Ice star Dan Whiston to open Blackpool’s Christmas ice rink in front of the Tower this week – here’s when and where

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool’s new ice skating rink in front of the Tower this Christmas will be opened by Dancing on Ice star Dan Whiston.

 

The resort entertainer will be joined by 17 young cast members from the Mary Poppins On Ice musical, who will perform during an hour-long event which starts at 4.30pm on Friday.

Three-time Dancing on Ice champ Dan, 44, will launch a Christmas spectacular, which also includes fake snowfall, log cabins, a magical forest, festive light projection shows, and Christmas tram rides along the Golden Mile.

The ice rink will be free, with sessions lasting 40 minutes with 10 minutes either side for people to change their skates.

The ice rink and Blackpool's Christmas offering was being set up on Sunday, November 14, 2021 (Picture: Dan Martino for The Gazette)

The ice rink and Blackpool’s Christmas offering was being set up on Sunday, November 14, 2021 (Picture: Dan Martino for The Gazette)

Booking isn’t needed – people can just turn up and enjoy the attraction, which will be open from Thursday-Sunday from November 19 until December 17 and then daily until January 3.

A designated changing facility and skate aids will be available, with the 40 metre-long rink able to accommodate 160 skaters per session.

The opening hours are as follows, though they are subject to change and weather dependent.

Fri 19 Nov 5pm-9pm

Dan will be joined by 17 young cast members from the musical Mary Poppins On Ice, who will perform (Picture: VisitBlackpool)

Dan will be joined by 17 young cast members from the musical Mary Poppins On Ice, who will perform (Picture: VisitBlackpool)

Sat 20 Nov 12pm-9pm

Sun 21 Nov 12pm-6pm

Mon 22 Nov Closed

Tue 23 Nov Closed

Dancing on Ice champ Dan Whiston will launch the Christmas season in Blackpool (Picture: VisitBlackpool)

Dancing on Ice champ Dan Whiston will launch the Christmas season in Blackpool (Picture: VisitBlackpool)

Wed 24 Nov Closed

Thur 25 Nov 5pm-8pm

Fri 26 Nov 5pm-9pm

Sat 27 Nov 12pm-9pm

Sun 28 Nov 12pm-6pm

Mon 29 Nov Closed

Tue 30 Nov Closed

Wed 1 Dec Closed

Thur 2 Dec 5pm-8pm

Frid 3 Dec 5pm-9pm

Sat 4 Dec 12pm-9pm

Sun 5 Dec 12pm-6pm

Mon 6 Dec Closed

Tue 7 Dec Closed

Wed 8 Dec Closed

Thur 9 Dec 5pm-8pm

Fri 10 Dec 5pm-9pm

Sat 11 Dec 12pm-9pm

Sun 12 Dec 12pm-6pm

Mon 13 Dec Closed

Tue 14 Dec Closed

Wed 15 Dec Closed

Thur 16 Dec 5pm-9pm

Fri 17 Dec 12pm-9pm

Sat 18 Dec 12pm-9pm

Sun 19 Dec 12pm-8pm

Mon 20 Dec 12pm-8pm

Tue 21 Dec 12pm-8pm

Wed 22 Dec 12pm-8pm

Thur 23 Dec 12pm-8pm

Christmas Eve 12pm-5pm

Christmas Day Closed

Boxing Day 12pm-8pm

Mon 27 Dec 12pm-8pm

Tue 28 Dec 12pm-8pm

Wed 29 Dec 12pm-8pm

Thur 30 Dec 12pm-8pm

New Years Eve 12pm-8pm

New Years Day 12pm-8pm

Sun 2 Jan 12pm-8pm

Mon 3 Jan 12pm-8pm

The ‘Christmas by the Sea village’ will remain in place until January 3 as part of the extended Illuminations season, which will see the Lights on over Christmas and New Year for the first time.

Here’s what else is planned:

FAKE SNOW FALL

Regular snowfall will burst out of cannons near the projection unit on the Headland throughout the evening from November 19 until January 3.

MAGICAL FOREST

Alongside the cabins there will be a Christmas tree forest with 35 trees and twinkling lights. Visitors can walk through a 26-metre light tunnel.

LOG CABINS

Visitors will be able to drink hot chocolate, eat warm cookie dough, and sip on mulled wine bought from the log cabins. The lit-up cabins will be on the Headline from November 19 to December 12 on Fridays to Sundays, opening from 6-9pm on Fridays, and 12-9pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

From December 17 to January 3, they will open from Monday-Sunday from 12-9pm.

GIANT ILLUMINATED BAUBLE

The seven-metre bauble will be on the Prom next to the ice rink. It will be made up of 7,000 tiny baubles.

FESTIVE TOWER PROJECTIONS

Several projections will be screened onto the outside of the Tower until January 3, including Astral Dreams, a laser show created by Blackpool-born designer Jack Irving, who is best known for creating wacky theatrical outfits for Lady Gaga.

THEMED TRAMS

‘Magical Express’ tours will see visitors board Christmas-themed heritage trams for afterdark trips through the Lights. Journeys will last 25 minutes and run every half an hour. They will cost £4 for adults and £2 for children. There’s no need to book. The tours will run from 5-8.30pm Fri-Sun and 1-8.30pm Sat and Sun from November 19 to December 12, and 1-8.30pm Mon-Sun from December 17 to January 3.

WINTER GARDENS WONDERLAND

The venue will have indoor and outdoor Bavarian-style chalets, funfair rides, entertainment, and a Santa’s Grotto, as well as food and drink stalls, from November 26 to January 2. It will run by 11am-8.30pm Mon-Thurs, 11am-10pm Fri and Sat, and 11am-5pm Sun.

WHERE TO SEE SANTA

– Winter Gardens, Blackpool, £15, November 26-January 2 excluding Christmas Day, book at blackpoolpromotions.com/santas-grotto-blackpool

– Houndshill Shopping Centre, £5, 10am-4pm, selected dates, book at visitblackpool.com/detail/houndshill-santa-s-grotto-750160

– Pleasure Beach, £15.99, Weds-Sun throughout December and every day in run-up to Christmas eve, book at blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/whats-on/grotto

– Coral Island, £7.99 or £3.99 for children three and under, Sat-Sun 11am-6pm from November 20 to December 19, book at coralisland.co.uk/christmas

– Ribby Hall Village, £22, November 13-December 24, book at ribbyhall.co.uk/eat-drink-play-shop/santas-grotto

LATE NIGHT SHOPPING

The Houndshill will be open until 8pm each Thursday in December, with many other resort shops following suit.

Hot chocolate drinks and shortbreak biscuits will be served in the town centre while stocks last.

The Grinchie will be walking about on December 23 from 5-8pm.

SHOWS AND PANTOS

– FriendsFestive, until November 19, Winter Gardens, £32 plus £2.50 booking fee, see sets from the hit American sitcom Friends, book at friendsfestive.co.uk/blackpool-winter-gardens

– Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, December 3 to January 2, Grand Theatre, panto, book at blackpoolgrand.co.uk/event/snow-white-new-2021-22

– Aladdin – The Pantomime, November 25 to December 24, Pleasure Beach’s Globe Theatre, panto, book at blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/shows/aladdin-the-pantomime

– Santa’s Magical Workshop, December 19-24, VIVA Blackpool, help elves find Santa, £20 for children plus £10 adults, book at vivablackpool.com/event/santas-magical-workshop

– Hairspray, December 13 to January 2, Winter Gardens, musical, £17.50, book at visitblackpool.com/detail/hairspray-972760

– The Rocky Horror Show, December 6 to 11, Winter Gardens, theatre, £17.50, book at visitblackpool.com/detail/the-rocky-horror-show-988270

– VIVA Christmas Party Nights, December 2 to 24, VIVA Blackpool, from £17.50, vivablackpool.com/event/viva-christmas-party-spectacular-show

– Winter Wonderland Spectacular Showtime, November 14 to January 2, Ribby Hall Village, £12.50 per person, book at ribbyhall.co.uk/winter-wonderland-spectacular

– Sleeping Beauty, November 20, Grand Theatre, £33.50-£39.50 adults, £25.50 under-18s, ballet, book at blackpoolgrand.co.uk/event/sleeping-beauty-2

– New Year’s Eve Northern Soul and Motown Party, 7.30pm, December 31, Winter Gardens, £15, book at wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/whats-on/new-years-eve-northern-soul-motown-party

– Viva New Year’s Eve Gala Spectacular, 7.30pm, December 31, VIVA Blackpool, £34.50, book at vivablackpool.com/event/viva-new-years-eve-gala-show-2021

– New Year’s Eve Family Party Night, 8pm, December 31, VIVA Blackpool (Festival Suite), £30 including food for adults/OAPS, £15 children with under-fives free, book at vivablackpool.com/event/new-years-eve-family-carnival-party-night/

– Gatsby Christmas Dinner Show, December 3 to December 18, Pleasure Beach’s Paradise Room, from £25, blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/shows/gatsby-christmas-dinner-show

– Grand Christmas Concert, 8-10pm, Monday, December 13, Grand Theatre, £17.50 adults, £13.50 for 18-26 year olds (limited to first 50 tickets), £13.50 under-18s, book atblackpoolgrand.co.uk/event/grand-christmas-concert-2021

– The Winter Ball, 6.30pm, Sunday, December 19, Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens, £45, book at wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/whats-on/the-winter-ball

– The Snow Queen, December 10-13, various times, The Old Electric, production by Community Theatre Company, £5, call 01253 834175

– Jingle with The Jeps, 7pm, Saturday, December 4, Imperial Hotel, £39.95, call 01253 754601

– Kings and Queens New Year’s Eve Special, 6.30pm, December 31, The Showbar on Central Pier, from £20, call 01253 623422

– Saturday Sunday Lunch at the Imperial, 1.30-4.30pm, December 12, Imperial Hotel, £17.50 for adults, £8.75 children aged six-12, call 01253 754612

– Dinner with the Deadbeats, 7pm, December 3, 10, 16, £39.95, Imperial Hotel, 01253 754601

FIREWORK DISPLAY

A free display will be held at around 5pm opposite the Tower on New Year’s Eve.

RIDE THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Similar to the late summer event, the Prom will be shut to traffic from 4-8pm on Sunday, December 5, so cyclists can ride through the Lights.

Participants are asked to decorate their bikes with colourful lights and laterns.

Taking part is free.

Note: The trams will be running; all bikes must have a white light at the front and red at the back; helmets are recommended; children must be with an adult; marshalls and first aiders will on hand, as will bike doctors and support vehicles; and the road will reopen at 8pm.

PARKING OFFER

Three hours’ parking will cost £1 from November 17 to January 3 in all Blackpool Council car parks excluding the Talbot multi-storey and Filey Place using the PayByPhone app.

 

 

These are this week’s cases and convictions from Blackpool Magistrates’ Court – Monday, November 15 to Friday, November 19, 2021

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Here is the latest round-up of cases from Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.

 

We will update this story each day with the latest from Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.

Fleetwood man accused of making a malicious phone call, assault, and threatening behaviour

A Fleetwood man elected to stand trial at Preston Crown Court.

Blackpool Magistrates' Court

Blackpool Magistrates’ Court

Luke Anyon, 26, of Mount Road, is accused of making a malicious phone call, assault, and threatening behaviour.

Appearing in the dock in the resort on Monday (November 15), he was bailed by magistrates until his crown court date on Wednesday, December 15.

Blackpool man accused of stealing handbags from elderly woman

Bernard Elvish Boswell, 37, of Elizabeth Street, Blackpool, appeared in court accused of stealing handbags from elderly women he targeted in supermarkets.

He is also accused of growing £10,000 of cannabis in a town centre flat, possessing cannabis, and stealing £2,500 of electricity.

He was bailed ahead of an appearance at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday, December 15.

Fleetwood woman was three times over the drink-drive limited when she crashed her car

A woman was three times over the legal drink-drive limit when she crashed her car, Blackpool Magistrates’ Court was told.

Melissa Row blew 144 – above the limit of 35 – during a breath test at the side of the road, Deputy District Judge Phil Barnes was told.

Former NHS worker Row, 28, of Blakiston Street, Fleetwood, later tried – but failed – to give the required breath sample at the police station.

She pleaded guilty to failing to provide a specimen when she appeared in the dock on Tuesday (November 16).

Sentencing her, the judge said: “It is quite clear you were intoxicated. The reading was excessively high.”

Steven Townley, defending, said Row was suffering a mental health crisis and had stopped taking her medication at the time of the crash.

Row was given a one-year community punishment with 20 rehabilitation days.

She must wear an alcohol abstinence tag for 90 days, pay £180 costs, and was banned from driving for two years.

Banned driver spotted by eagle-eyed traffic cop

An eagle-eyed traffic cop pulled over a car after spotting smoke spewing from its exhaust – and discovered its driver was banned.

Wesley Kennedy, 34, of Eamont Place, Fleetwood, admitted disqualified driving when he appeared in the dock on Tuesday (November 16).

He was given an eight-week suspended jail sentence, given an eight-week curfew, and told to complete 20 rehabilitation days.

He must also do an extended retest before being allowed to get behind the

wheel again.

Blackpool Magistrates’ Court was told Kennedy, a scrap metal collector, had bought the car to sell on.

 

 

Blackpool Zoo’s new popcorn machine to feed elephants, gorillas and orangutans

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Within an hour over a kilo of the freshly made treat was being delivered to the apes and elephants.

 

Sunny Sandwell from The Fun Experts with Lauren Shields from Blackpool Zoo
Sunny Sandwell from The Fun Experts with Lauren Shields from Blackpool Zoo (Image: Blackpool Zoo)

A new popcorn machine has been introduced into Blackpool Zoo to provide a faster way to deliver the healthy treat to apes and elephants.

When keepers at Blackpool Zoo introduced popcorn into the diet of the animals it soon became apparent that it would take a lot of work to keep up with their mammoth appetites.

It was taking around two days to make a kilo of plain popcorn, which, in turn, takes the animals just seconds to wolf down, so they called out to the Lancashire business community to ask for help.

Preston-based The Fun Experts, a nationwide provider of event equipment, immediately stepped forward to donate a traditional popcorn machine and a starter pack of supplies.

The machine was delivered along with a mini crash course in the art of popcorn making. Within the hour, over a kilo of the freshly made treat was being delivered to the apes and elephants.

George Louhisalo and Sunny Sandwell from The Fun Experts with Lauren Shields from Blackpool Zoo
George Louhisalo and Sunny Sandwell from The Fun Experts with Lauren Shields from Blackpool Zoo (Image: Blackpool Zoo)

Lauren Shields, large mammal keeper at Blackpool Zoo, said she was delighted with the new popcorn machine.

Lauren said: “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to add healthy options to the menu for our animals and following research and advice we introduced popcorn to our herd of six elephants, six gorillas and four orangutans.

“That meant that we needed to source a cost-effective option to make it, but it soon became apparent that the microwave wasn’t the best solution.

“We explained our predicament to our marketing team and they called The Fun Experts – who immediately agreed to donate a popcorn making machine.

“Not only does it massively cut down the time and electricity it takes to make the popcorn, but because it’s a traditional popcorn making machine, it reminds me of walking down the Promenade in Blackpool on a sunny day.

“Within minutes the entire elephant house smells delicious, which attracted the attention of our herd, as well as a lot of keepers, who were all delighted with our new, more environmentally friendly machine. I would like to thank the Fun Experts for their very kind donation, it will make a massive difference to our days.”

Sunny Sandwell, Director of Fun at the Fun Experts, added: “It was our absolute pleasure to donate one of our popcorn machines to the zoo and we had a wonderful time when we delivered it. The zoo, like The Fun Experts, were particularly hard hit by the pandemic, so it is fantastic to be able to get back to normality and work on projects like this.

“We loved seeing the elephants enjoying their treat too, so that was an added bonus to the day.”

 

 

Today’s tram updates as Blackpool Transport cancels more services to Starr Gate, Bispham and Fleetwood

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A number of tram journeys between Starr Gate, Little Bispham and Fleetwood have been cancelled today (Tuesday, November 16) due to an ongoing shortage of drivers.

 

Blackpool Transport said it has cancelled 12 of its evening services as it struggles with an ongoing driver shortage.

The full list can be found below.

This morning, the Council-owned operator tweeted: “If you’re catching a tram today, there are some cancellations due to staff sickness and shortages so please check ahead.

“Our Service 1 can be used as an alternative from Blackpool – Fleetwood too.”

From yesterday (Monday, November 15), the service 1 route has been extended and now operates between Blackpool town centre and Fleetwood’s Affinity Outlet shopping centre, off Amounderness Way and Dock Street.

Despite the ongoing driver shortage leading to tram cancellations, Blackpool Transport said: “We are able to do this as staffing levels improve and we hope we can continue this service for the foreseeable.”

You can view the updated timetable here.

A number of tram journeys between Starr Gate, Little Bispham and Fleetwood have been cancelled today due to a shortage of drivers, say Blackpool Tranport

A number of tram journeys between Starr Gate, Little Bispham and Fleetwood have been cancelled today due to a shortage of drivers, say Blackpool Tranport

Today’s affected tram services (Tuesday, November 16)

4.15pm – Starr Gate to Fleetwood

5.18pm – Fleetwood to Starr Gate

7.23pm – Starr Gate to Little Bispham

8.00pm – Starr Gate to Fleetwood

8.04pm – Little Bispham to Starr Gate

9.03pm – Fleetwood to Starr Gate

9.08pm – Starr Gate to Little Bispham

9.49pm – Little Bispham to Starr Gate

10.30pm – Starr Gate to Little Bispham

10.50pm – Starr Gate to Little Bispham

11.04pm – Little Bispham to Starr Gate

11.34pm – Little Bispham to Starr Gate

 

 

CCTV appeal after man hospitalised with multiple ‘serious injuries’ after stabbing in Blackpool town centre

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A man was found with multiple serious stab wounds following an attack in Blackpool, prompting a CCTV appeal.

 

Police said they were called to a report a man had been stabbed in Topping Street at around 9.10pm on October 30.

A man in his 30s was found with “serious chest and arm injuries” after emergency services rushed to the scene.

He was later taken to hospital for treatment.

Detectives believe the man had earlier been attacked in Church Street, close to the William Hill betting shop, following an investigation.

CCTV enquiries have identified four people officers would like to question in connection with the offence.

Moor Park rape suspect released as detectives make further enquiries

DC Mark Whittle, of Blackpool CID, said: “We want to identify these individuals after a man suffered serious injuries following an assault in Blackpool.

Detectives investigating a stabbing in Blackpool which left a man with serious injuries are appealing for information to identify these four men (Credit: Lancashire Police)

Detectives investigating a stabbing in Blackpool which left a man with serious injuries are appealing for information to identify these four men (Credit: Lancashire Police)

“We would ask people to look at the footage carefully.

“I am sure someone will know who these men are.”

Anyone with information can contact police by calling 101 or emailing 6988@lancashire.police.uk, quoting log number 1456 of October 30.

Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.

 

 

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard says his fee for consultancy work goes to good causes after he’s named on list beside Owen Paterson

Home | Blackpool Gazette

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

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.”

Spokesmen for the charitable causes confirmed the donations 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.

 

 

New partnership will support Blackpool arts scene

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Blackpool Cultural Partnership is to be set up in the town to help the  arts sector recover from the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.

 

Initiatives already underway include a project to open a creative hub on Topping Street in the town centre, while opportunities to provide studios where artists can live and work are being explored.

The council has agreed to support the establishment of the partnership, but it will be run independently.

It follows an inquiry into Blackpool’s arts and cultural scene by members of the council’s tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee.

Blackpool's art scene ranges from the Grand Theatre to amateur creatives

Blackpool’s art scene ranges from the Grand Theatre to amateur creatives

A survey as part of the town’s Heritage Action Zone programme in March this year found “a wealth of creative talent currently working in Blackpool, from amateur enthusiasts and community groups to professional artists and creative businesses.”

In total £2.3m was received by organisations in Blackpool from the government’s Cultural Recovery Fund in response to the pandemic, while £300,000 had been paid out to 73 cultural-led businesses by the council’s Business Recovery Fund.

Coun Kath Benson, cabinet member for community engagement, aspiration and community assets, told a meeting of the council’s executive: “Culture and art are not something we always associate with Blackpool, but we have a wealth of talent which we should be extremely proud of.”

Arts Council England has recently announced Blackpool is one of 15 priority places in the north of England where it wants to develop new opportunities

for investment, as part of the publication of its three-year delivery Plan for 2021 – 2024.

It is hoped setting up the Cultural Partnership will play a key role “in developing a vision and maximising investment in the sector.”

 

 

 

Political literacy: why county MP Cat Smith says schools should be teaching it.

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Lancashire MP says the school curriculum needs a shake-up – so youngsters learn political literacy.

 

Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood and shadow minister for young people and democracy,says much needs to be done to ensure young people understand more about the political system at every level before they leave school.

This knowledge will, she said, help them throughout their lives – whatever their political persuasion.

Calling for bursaries to enable current citizenship teachers to increase their expertise and confidence in teaching the subject and for it to be part of all teacher training courses, she said: “I think political literacy is very poor in our country. I would like to see it improved. You meet people of all opinions who don’t understand how politics works.”

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith

Political literacy applies she said so that people know what to do if they see a pothole, who to report it to, who will pay to mend it and who makes the decision when to mend it. It applies too to debates on global warming and who has the power to change things right through to who decides if a country will go to war? Such literacy is also, she said necessary to understand how to hold politicians to account…an issue currently at the forefront of MPs’ minds following the Government’s conduct in the wake of the report on the behaviour of former MP Owen Paterson.

Cat said: “The vast majority of politicians are doing their best to make their community and our country a better place to live. The events of last week were so disheartening… I am so frustrated and upset about events last week.”

She continued: “Why is COP (26) important? How do I elect (politicians) How do I fire them as well? …Political literacy is that fundamental understanding of how our political and democratic systems operate at every level….I see this as an MP. People recognise a problem – but they don’t know how to fix it.”

Cat is a co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Political Literacy which is campaigning for better citizenship education “so that young people regardless of background, can play an informed, active role as citizens in our democracy.”

Last week the Political Literacy Parliamentary Group teamed up with the Unviersity of Sheffield and social enterprise ShoutOut UK to publish a report by Dr James Weinberg of the University of Sheffield. In a foreword tot eh report Cat wrote: “This report comes at a time when many Western democracies are seeing declining voting rates amongst younger voters. We’ve got a real problem in England engaging young people in voting and the democratic process. I know that quite often young people tell me one of the barriers they feel is their limited knowledge about politics.”

Cat said the report had shown that while a majority of teachers felt they had a responsibility to teach political literacy, only one per cent felt fully prepared to do so :”Quite clearly more needs to be done in supporting teachers to deliver that education with confidence.”

She said she would also extend political literacy to include media literacy too, so that people can have a clearer understanding of the trustworthiness of the information they are consuming. She said: “That goes hand in glove with political literacy..”

There is she said a need to: “make sure our classrooms become that safe space where they (pupils) can explore and develop these skills to be able to analyse media and understand political issues.”

They also needed to acquire analytic skills.

Such education should begin at primary school and Cat said when making school visits she pitches her information according to the age group.

Growing up as a teenager in Barrow in Furness Cat says she absolutely had no political literacy. But later, while a student, as a member of the Methodist Youth Network she became interested in issues of international and global debt. She said: “I think I would have definitely benefited if it had been part of my curriculum at school.”

* The Missing link. An updated evaluation of the provision, practice and politics and democratic education in English secondary schools.” by Dr James Weinberg of the Unviersity of Sheffield is based on a survey of 3,300 secondary school teachers and parents of more than 1,500 secondary pupils.

 

 

Blackpool facing £38m in further cuts to town hall spending

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool Council is predicting further savings of £38m will be needed over the next five years prompting warnings more services could be cut.

 

More town hall jobs could also be lost as the council faces even tougher challenges to balance its books.

The forecast is on top of £20m of cuts which had to be made in the current budget which is already £6.5m in the red, of which £3.9m is from the impact of Covid.

More than three quarters of council spending (77 per cent) is on social care for adults and children, while financial pressures imposed since 2011 add up to a total budget gap of £1.4bn.

Town hall spending is coming under more pressure

Town hall spending is coming under more pressure

This includes reductions in the revenue support grant from government, pay rises for staff and the effect of inflation.

The figures were presented to a meeting of the council’s executive which agreed a new five year financial strategy up until 2026/27.

A report by director of resources Steve Thompson said councils were facing “uncharted territory” in the face of increasing financial pressures and demand for services.

His report adds: “Along this journey further services will have to be reprioritised and inevitably some jobs lost, which will not go unnoticed by the residents of Blackpool, the businesses that operate here and the visitors who come to stay.”

He warned the council must work with the public, its partners, the voluntary and the private sector “to minimise the impact of the cuts on the people who need and depend upon our services.”

In a further report he says each year it is becoming more and more difficult to make efficiency savings and set the budget without more government cash.

The means “with 77 per cent of the revenue budget now earmarked for social care (adults and children) more radical, fundamental, transformational

and sustainable solutions will become necessary by 2027 if compensating government funding is not provided.”

However Mr Thompson told councillors the council’s wholly owned companies which include The Winter Gardens, Blackpool Transport and the Sandcastle Waterpark, are performing better.

At the start of the financial year in April, losses of £5.6m were predicted as the companies continued to recover from the impacts of lockdown – but that figure has reduced to a predicted deficit of £2.3m.

This year’s budget saw the loss of 40 council jobs and an increase in council tax of 4.99 per cent with cuts of £20m.

Protecting the most vulnerable residents was prioritised, with £10m invested in adult and children’s social care.