Category Archives: Local

Paramedics, police, coastguards and firefighters gather for unveiling of seafront tribute in memory of lost comrades

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Emergency services personnell gathered on Blackpool Promenade today along with MP Paul Maynard and deputy Mayor Paula Burdess for the unveiling of a one-of-a-kind bench which thanks them for their dedication.

The unveiling of the emergency services bench at Gynn Square - Connie Jarvis, two

The unveiling of the emergency services bench at Gynn Square – Connie Jarvis, two

The black bench was installed at Gynn Square this morning. It features silhouette images of various emergency services personnell – including a police dog – along with the words ‘in the line of duty, our emergency services who serve, protect and save lives’.

It was donated by paramedic Sharon Riley-Clarke, 54, and is the fourth such tribute bench to be installed in the Fylde coast area.

Two Armed Forces memorial benches were installed on Victoria Road in Cleveleys in 2016 and 2018; one decorated with poppies and bees, and the other, which marked the centenary of the end of the First World War, with soldiers and bi-planes.

The unveiling of the emergency services bench at Gynn Square - deputy Mayor Paula Burdess gives a speechThe unveiling of the emergency services bench at Gynn Square – deputy Mayor Paula Burdess gives a speech

A blue bench reading ‘thank you to all our amazing NHS staff’ was also donated by Sharon and her husband Paul, 57, to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Sharon said: “It was a perfect morning. Lots of retired police officers and ambulance staff turned up, and also family and friends.

“The deputy Mayoress did such a lovely speech about emergency services and how hard we have all worked throughout the pandemic and how we have all pulled together.

The unveiling of the emergency services bench at Gynn SquareThe unveiling of the emergency services bench at Gynn Square

“We are all really thrilled with the bench and what it means. It’s a memorial bench as well as a thank you, because lives have been lost, whether during the pandemic or before, it’s a tribute to all those who have died in the line of duty.”

At least 11 new mobile phone masts planned for Blackpool – as residents protest against 18m pole in conservation area

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Plans to install an 18 metre tall mobile phone mast in a Blackpool conservation area have angered residents – with one labelling the equipment ‘street furniture from hell’.

 

The bid to place the pole on Whitegate Drive is one of 11 applications submitted to Blackpool Council since June for new mobile phone masts.

Phone mast would block views of Blackpool Tower

The masts will range from 12 metres to 20 metres in height with cabinets housing equipment at their base, and are part of a national government drive to boost advanced 5G mobile phone and internet coverage.

Residents and councillors protesting at the proposed site for a mast on Whitegate Drive

Residents and councillors protesting at the proposed site for a mast on Whitegate Drive

But community groups claim the Whitegate Drive proposal will be an eyesore, and are warning other residents in the town about the spread of the new masts.

Dave Blacker, chairman of the Talbot ward PACT (police and community together), said: “It is street furniture from hell – it is ugly.

“The residents and PACT members are up in arms and horrified this could be put up in a conservation area. We’re not saying we don’t want these masts in Blackpool, but they have to think about where they are putting them.”

If it gets the go ahead, the mast will be right outside the Dinners Ready diner owned by Jennifer Duffy.

She said: “I’ve been here 25 years. This is a conservation area which meant I wasn’t allowed by the council to put shutters up – but this mast and the boxes with it will be a real eyesore.

“I’m also worried about it for health reasons, and because it will affect my business as it is right next to where I put my outdoor seating.”

Talbot ward councillors Mark Smith and Jane Hugo are also calling for a rethink.

Coun Smith said: “The cabinets and boxes are huge and it’s just not in keeping with the area. We think it should be sited in a more discreet location that will not impact directly on residents.

“We’re not against progress, but not at this location.”

The Whitegate Drive application is one of a number of sites CK Hutchison has applied for permission to use for its company Three UK, based in Reading, which is the fourth-largest mobile network operator in the UK.

A Three spokesperson said: “Access to 5G has a vital role to play in boosting local economies, helping residents and businesses get faster and more reliable network coverage.

“This is why we’re working with the local council in Blackpool to roll out the UK’s fastest 5G network so that we can keep everyone connected both now and in the future.

“While we try to keep mast sites as unobtrusive as possible, they do need to be situated near to where people will be using the service and, in many cases, in precise locations to ensure the widest breadth of coverage.

“We carry out extensive searches and surveys to evaluate all the options. We then choose the option most likely to gain planning approval from the local council.

“This will include showing we have minimised the impact on residents and the locality.”

Earlier this year the council won a planning battle with Hutchison after it had sought to put a 15 metre tall phone mast in King Street, close to the Town Centre Conservation Area.

The council refused planning permission, which was upheld on appeal, because the mast would have harmed views of Blackpool Tower.

Some new masts have already been installed, including near B&M Bargains on Whitegate Drive.

But masts do not always need full planning permission as applicants may only need to seek ‘telecommunications prior approval’. This means the application is covered by national policy because it is deemed to be part of vital infrastructure.

With 11 submissions in the pipeline, Mr Blacker warned other communities could see masts “landing on their doorsteps”.

The applications, submitted mainly by either Hutchison or Preston based IX Wireless Ltd, for masts and cabinets since June are for:

Pathway to the side of 476 Lytham Road and Broadway

Pathway on Dinmore Avenue, opposite Progress Court

Side of 20 Huntley Avenue and Wilford Street

Side of 113 Powell Avenue and Pickmere Avenue

Side of 479 Central Drive

Pavement adjacent to 31 Whitegate Drive

Adjacent to Layton Library, Talbot Road

Site at 182 Park Road

Path opposite 81 and 83 Shaftsbury Avenue

Site opposite 230 to 250 Bristol Avenue

Site opposite front of 78 Westfield Road

In addition, Planning permission has been approved for an 18 metre mast on land next to the Number 4 and Free Masons Hotel on Layton Road.

Fundraisers walking from Bridlington to Blackpool for mental health amenity

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A group of fundraisers are walking 138 miles from Bridlington to Blackpool to raise money and awareness for a men’s mental health charity on the Fylde coast.

The group took the coach to Bridlington to begin the walk back to Blackpool

The group took the coach to Bridlington to begin the walk back to Blackpool

And the walkers are supporting a new project called Elliot’s Place, a support space for young men struggling with their mental health.

It will be based at the home of the Empowerment Charity, in Bispham Road, Bispham, and is being named in memory of Elliot Taylor (inset), who tragically took his own life after battling with his mental health.

The sponsored walk has been organised by South Shore man Joe Darnell, 24, who has raised funds for mental health projects previously, and Millie Taylor, Elliot’s sister.

The fundraisers on Bridlington beachThe fundraisers on Bridlington beach

Among those joining them in the walk, which will include several overnight stops, are Elliot’s mum Catherine and another relative, Lily Taylor.

The group set off by coach from Blackpool to the Yorkshire coast early on Wednesday morning and they and are due to arrive home on Saturday.

Catherine said: “I definitely wanted to go on the walk to show my support for it.

“If we can help another young man and help prevent another family suffering, every step will be worth it – and it’s a long way!”

Elliot Taylor took his own life and is the inspiration behind Elliot's Place in BisphamElliot Taylor took his own life and is the inspiration behind Elliot’s Place in Bispham

Millie said: “Elliot’s Place will be a safe space where men can feel comfortable to talk to each other about their thoughts, feelings and emotions without any stigmas attached.

“We’d just like to thank Birkhouse Bed & Breakfast (York), Hampsthwaite Memorial Hall (Harrogate) and Read & Simonstone Village Hall (Burnley) for giving us a place to stay each night.”

Joe said: “Mental health awareness is a big thing now and there are men taking their lives because they feel they have no one to talk to.

“We all want to see Elliot’s Place up and running.”

All funds raised will go towards the forthcoming project, which will offer onsite counselling, peer-support and group activities.

For more information about Elliot’s Place visit www.empowermentcharity.org.uk/elliots-place/

To donate to the fund, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/millietaylor1?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_c&fbclid=IwAR137cVcO5EhWqsIljXq-tVzA4CqeNvGEOkUqZuaz1vBJgdKnlH03qKTakAFinally, big thanks to Birkhouse Bed & Breakfast (York), Hampsthwaite Memorial Hall (Harrogate) and Read & Simonstone Village Hall (Burnley) for giving us a place to stay each night!

At least 11 new mobile phone masts planned for Blackpool – as residents protest against 18m pole in conservation area

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Plans to install an 18 metre tall mobile phone mast in a Blackpool conservation area have angered residents – with one labelling the equipment ‘street furniture from hell’.

 

The bid to place the pole on Whitegate Drive is one of 11 applications submitted to Blackpool Council since June for new mobile phone masts.

Phone mast would block views of Blackpool Tower

The masts will range from 12 metres to 20 metres in height with cabinets housing equipment at their base, and are part of a national government drive to boost advanced 5G mobile phone and internet coverage.

Residents and councillors protesting at the proposed site for a mast on Whitegate DriveResidents and councillors protesting at the proposed site for a mast on Whitegate Drive

But community groups claim the Whitegate Drive proposal will be an eyesore, and are warning other residents in the town about the spread of the new masts.

Dave Blacker, chairman of the Talbot ward PACT (police and community together), said: “It is street furniture from hell – it is ugly.

“The residents and PACT members are up in arms and horrified this could be put up in a conservation area. We’re not saying we don’t want these masts in Blackpool, but they have to think about where they are putting them.”

If it gets the go ahead, the mast will be right outside the Dinners Ready diner owned by Jennifer Duffy.

She said: “I’ve been here 25 years. This is a conservation area which meant I wasn’t allowed by the council to put shutters up – but this mast and the boxes with it will be a real eyesore.

“I’m also worried about it for health reasons, and because it will affect my business as it is right next to where I put my outdoor seating.”

Talbot ward councillors Mark Smith and Jane Hugo are also calling for a rethink.

Coun Smith said: “The cabinets and boxes are huge and it’s just not in keeping with the area. We think it should be sited in a more discreet location that will not impact directly on residents.

“We’re not against progress, but not at this location.”

The Whitegate Drive application is one of a number of sites CK Hutchison has applied for permission to use for its company Three UK, based in Reading, which is the fourth-largest mobile network operator in the UK.

A Three spokesperson said: “Access to 5G has a vital role to play in boosting local economies, helping residents and businesses get faster and more reliable network coverage.

“This is why we’re working with the local council in Blackpool to roll out the UK’s fastest 5G network so that we can keep everyone connected both now and in the future.

“While we try to keep mast sites as unobtrusive as possible, they do need to be situated near to where people will be using the service and, in many cases, in precise locations to ensure the widest breadth of coverage.

“We carry out extensive searches and surveys to evaluate all the options. We then choose the option most likely to gain planning approval from the local council.

“This will include showing we have minimised the impact on residents and the locality.”

Earlier this year the council won a planning battle with Hutchison after it had sought to put a 15 metre tall phone mast in King Street, close to the Town Centre Conservation Area.

The council refused planning permission, which was upheld on appeal, because the mast would have harmed views of Blackpool Tower.

Some new masts have already been installed, including near B&M Bargains on Whitegate Drive.

But masts do not always need full planning permission as applicants may only need to seek ‘telecommunications prior approval’. This means the application is covered by national policy because it is deemed to be part of vital infrastructure.

With 11 submissions in the pipeline, Mr Blacker warned other communities could see masts “landing on their doorsteps”.

The applications, submitted mainly by either Hutchison or Preston based IX Wireless Ltd, for masts and cabinets since June are for:

Pathway to the side of 476 Lytham Road and Broadway

Pathway on Dinmore Avenue, opposite Progress Court

Side of 20 Huntley Avenue and Wilford Street

Side of 113 Powell Avenue and Pickmere Avenue

Side of 479 Central Drive

Pavement adjacent to 31 Whitegate Drive

Adjacent to Layton Library, Talbot Road

Site at 182 Park Road

Path opposite 81 and 83 Shaftsbury Avenue

Site opposite 230 to 250 Bristol Avenue

Site opposite front of 78 Westfield Road

In addition, Planning permission has been approved for an 18 metre mast on land next to the Number 4 and Free Masons Hotel on Layton Road.

Universal Credit cuts will affect thousands of Blackpool and Fylde coast children

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Thousands of Blackpool and Fylde coast children will be affected by the cut to Universal Credit (UC) payments from next month, figures suggest.

 

There were more than 1.8 million households containing around 3.4 million children claiming the benefit as of May 2021, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

In Blackpool there are up to 9,000 claimants, 10 per cent of the working population and the third highest in England and Wales.

A temporary £20 a week uplift, introduced to help claimants weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic and described as a “lifeline”, is to be phased out from late September.

Thousands of children will be affected by Universal Credit cutsThousands of children will be affected by Universal Credit cuts

Olivia, from South Shore, is a part-time working single mum to two-year-old Alfie and four-year-old Kacey, and she said that prior to the £20-a-week increase, she was finding it ‘increasingly difficulty’ to make her money stretch to cover her bills.

She said: “Even though £20 does and may not seem a lot to other people, it was such a huge help for me and the children.

“It really is a lifeline and the £20 means I can provide Alifie and Kacey with food for the week.

“Some people probably think that everyone on Universal Credit is not working or it’s just free money to people who don’t deserve it, but I work part-time to earn a living while also looking after my children.

“Everyone’s circumstances are different and to scrap this £20 uplift from people such as me, won’t just hurt me but also Alfie and Kacey. I do fear that I will be once again be scrabbling with pennies to make sure I can provide for my children while also working.

“There is always that fear of heading into debt and borrowing constantly while also being charged massive interest. I’m sure loan companies are very happy that this uplift will be getting scrapped.

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood said the Government need to ‘see sense’ and scrap the plans. She said: “This cut to Universal Credit will hurt families in Fleetwood and right across the Blackpool and Fylde Coast area. It will push more families into poverty.

“Taking £1,000 a year from millions of struggling families, inflicting the biggest overnight cut to social security in modern times, is economically and morally the wrong decision. Yet again this Government have shown they aren’t on the side of working people.

“Conservative MPs continue to miss the point time and again. With record levels of in-work poverty, they are completely ignorant when they say this is a choice between work and social security.

“The Government must see sense, back struggling families and cancel this devastating cut. Labour will do everything possible to fight this cut and replace Universal Credit with a fairer social security system.”

The Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Paul Maynard, said the uplift should remain in place.

He said: “I understand the challenges many individuals and families in Blackpool North and Cleveleys face and how important the Universal Credit uplift has been to them. I have previously made clear to Ministers my view the uplift should remain to support families impacted by the pandemic.

“At the same time, however, I realise the uplift does not work for everyone, particularly those on legacy benefits which is why I have encouraged the Government to explore alternative mechanisms to support the financial resilience of local people.

“This includes the broader use of Local Welfare Assistance Schemes, on which I put forward a 10 Minute Rule Bill and long-term funding for the hugely important holiday activity and food programme.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said it was crucial the Government got its finances back under control.

He said: “From the outset this payment was among an unprecedented number of measures taken by the Government to help people and business through the pandemic and lockdowns.

“As life returns to normal and the issues we faced in the pandemic end, it is crucial the Government gets its finances back into some semblance of order.

“Thankfully the predictions of huge amount of joblessness have been averted by those measures put in place and we are now seeing record levels of vacancies in the jobs market; hopefully a lot of people impacted by Covid and lockdowns will now be able to return to employment.”

Figures published on Tuesday, for the first time show the number of children in households claiming UC in Britain.

Overall, households without children accounted for around 56 percent of households claiming UC in May 2021. Of the households with children, three-quarters contained a youngest child of primary school age or younger.

Almost half (46 percent) had a child under the age of five (850,000 families) and 570,000 families had a youngest child aged 5-10.

Around four in five households had two children or fewer.

It comes as polling for Save the Children found that almost half (47%) of UC claimants do not think they will be able to get by with a budget that is £20 lower a week.

Single parents were the most worried, with 52 percent saying they do not think they can get by on £20 less, the survey of 1,008 UK adults by Opinium found.

Dan Paskins, director of UK Impact at Save the Children, said: “These figures confirm that the Government’s scheduled cut to Universal Credit will affect nearly three-and-a-half million children.

“The £20 increase has been a lifeline for many families. Parents we work with tell us that they’re relying on the extra £20 per week to buy essentials like food and clothes for their children. Without it, we know that many more families will be pushed into the red.

“This is especially worrying since three-quarters of families with children on Universal Credit have a child under ten, and we know that living in poverty as a young child has lifelong impacts.”

Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow child poverty secretary, said the cut will hit the “lowest paid hardest” and hinder economic recovery. He said: “There is near universal opposition to this cut, which will push more children into poverty.

“Time is running out for the Prime Minister to see sense, back struggling families and cancel his cut to Universal Credit.

“Labour would maintain the uplift until we can replace Universal Credit with a fairer social security system.”

 

Rooftop10k among charity challenges for Blackpool firm marking its 25th year in business

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Staff at a Blackpool construction specialist are to celebrate the firm’s 25th year by trying to raise £25,000 to honour our NHS heroes.

 

Employees of building services engineering company, Ameon are to celebrate the company’s milestone year by undertaking 25 fundraising challenges.

They are aiming to raise a minimum of £25,000 under an initiative they have called ‘Ameon 25’ and the firm has agreed to match any funds raised by its employees during the execution of the 25 fundraising activities.

The Whitehills-based firm has guaranteed £25,000 minimum to be divided between NHS Charities and Brian House Children’s Hospice in Blackpool; although it believes more will be raised.

Steve McCourt from Ameon, who will be taking on a 10k charity challenge... on a rooftopSteve McCourt from Ameon, who will be taking on a 10k charity challenge… on a rooftop

A spokesman said: “Rather than stage a lavish bash, now that restrictions are ending, management and employees decided to dedicate the 25th anniversary to those in frontline jobs who have worked tirelessly to save lives throughout the pandemic.”

Already in the diary are a unique triathlon event to be undertaken by Ameon’s directors; the Manchester marathon, being run by a first-timer; a fire walk, and what is being billed as the

first rooftop 10K, to be run on the dedicated rooftop running track, 150 feet above the traffic in Manchester city centre, at the newly completed Vox apartment development in Cornbrook.

The run is to be undertaken by Ameon’s principal commercial manager, Steve McCourt, who oversaw the completion of the company’s part of the construction contract on the building.

Steve McCourtSteve McCourt

Steve’s run is all the more remarkable because, having broken his back in a fall 25 years ago, it wasn’t clear that he would be ever be able to take on such a challenge or even walk unaided.

However he put his recovery down to the dedicated staff of the NHS and now dedicates his run to them, and others in the service that have helped achieve miracles for countless thousands during the Covid crisis.

Ameon 25 kicks off with the rooftop 10K, in association with Vox, on Saturday, September 11, which will involve 83 laps of the 120-metre long, two-lane track, which boasts the distraction of scenic views across the new Manchester skyline and the Pennines beyond.

 

Blackpool families sought to offer foster care to mums and babies

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Foster carers are being sought in Blackpool – not just for children, but also for new mums and their infants.

 

A campaign to encouraging more people to come forward and apply to become a mother and baby foster carer for Blackpool Council has been launched.

The fostering service is looking for families to provide a safe and supportive environment for a vulnerable mum and baby.

The service said such foster carers will make a real difference to parents and their child and keep families together.

Coun Jim HobsonCoun Jim Hobson

They would be a positive role model and help a struggling new parent establish a healthy routine and a happy bond with their baby. As a specialist role these foster carers get a weekly allowance of up to £750, plus professional and emotional support.

Mother and baby foster carers get training and a full package of support from Blackpool Council with regular carer groups, peer mentors for new carers and an out of hours advice line.

The length of time a foster carer is needed to support a mother and her baby can vary from 20 weeks to a longer period of time.

Coun Jim Hobson, inset, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Our aim is to keep families together where possible which is why we are asking people to come forward and consider becoming a mother and baby foster carer.

“If you have parenting experience to share then your experiences and skills mean that you’ll be able to make a real difference to help support new families. If you think that you could help make a difference to the lives of a new mum and baby, please get in touch with us.”

A series of free drop-in events for people thinking about fostering are taking place throughout the next few months at Blackpool Sports Centre and Parks Art Deco Café in Stanley Park.

The informal events provide potential foster carers with the opportunity to find out everything they need to know, including the chance to ask foster carers as well as the fostering recruitment team any questions they may have.

For more visit www.blackpoolfostering.com or call 01253 420222.

 

Blackpool and St Annes traffic delays following car and motorbike crash

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A crash between a motorcyclist and the driver of a car is causing traffic delays in Blackpool.

 

Blackpool Police are warning motorists to avoid the are around Common Edge Road with the the junction of Queensway and Division Lane.

A police spokesman said the crash happened at around 1.50pm and a car and motorbike were involved.

The spokesman said: “The motorcyclist is believed to have suffered a suspected leg injury but his condition is not believed to be serious and a ambulance has been sent out.

Police are at the scene on QueenswayPolice are at the scene on Queensway

“The crash has happened on Queensway close to a busy Blackpool junction so we are asking motorists to avoid the area currently.”

Motorists are being warned of traffic delaysMotorists are being warned of traffic delay

St Annes Enterprise Partnership changes constitution to step out on its own

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Fylde traders’ organisation which has been closely connected to St Annes Town Council since its launch more than five years ago is striking out on its own.

 

The key step forward for the St Annes Enterprise Partnership, popularly known as STEP, comes following the demise of the Government-backed Coastal Communities Alliance, under which it was founded early in 2016.

Later that year, after initially being established to promote and improve all aspects of the town, it also took on the mantle of the St Annes Chamber of Trade, when that folded, to become the town’s representative organisation for traders.

To help make the change as smooth as possible, the Town Council is supporting STEP financially with an initial £3,500 grant and more backing to follow in future years.

The launch of the St Annes Enterprise Partnership in 2016The launch of the St Annes Enterprise Partnership in 2016

Partnership takes a big STEP forward

The switch coincides with the imminent departure of mots recent STEP chairman Colin Ballard, who is leaving the area.

He said: “The Coastal Communities’ Fund no longer exists and that was the umbrella for St Annes Enterprise Partnership.

“At the AGM, I outlined a brief background and explained how STEP was now to become an autonomous group, business orientated and voting a committee accountable to the membership.

“I urged for a positive stance regarding progression for the town and wished them all well.”

St Annes Town Council’s town clerk Kevin Martin said: “STEP has for a number of years been supported by Town Council through the provision of dedicated administrative capacity.

“Until its annual meeting, the STEP board had consisted of several representatives from both Fylde Borough and St Annes Town Councils. More recent meetings had seen council representation making up nearly 60 per cent of those attending.

“Therefore, in looking to assist STEP to become more autonomous, St Annes Town Council has agreed to provide a core grant of £3,500 in the current financial year and given an undertaking for funding in future years.

“Having now approved a new constitution, STEP will have only one councillor on its board from each of the Fylde and St Annes Town Councils. All other board members will have a business interest in the town.

“It is hoped that this new approach will give STEP the freedom to encourage even more business owners to join and thus make STEP a much more business-led organisation.

“The Town Council looks forward to working with STEP in the future to deliver initiatives benefiting residents, businesses, visitors, and the community generally in St Annes.”

 

Blackpool’s council boss reflects on running the town ‘from her kitchen’ during Covid

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The individual chosen to lead Blackpool Council usually operates out of a smart office in Bickerstaffe House with a sweeping view across the resort.

 

But not so Coun Lynn Williams.

Having been elected council leader in July last year, she describes herself as ‘leading from the kitchen’.

It’s a reference to the fact that like many of us for the past year or more, she has been working from home.

Coun Lynn WilliamsCoun Lynn Williams

Taking stock on her first 12 months in the role, she remarks all her time in charge has been during the Covid pandemic.

So when asked what the biggest challenge has been during her first year in office, it’s difficult to know where to start.

She said: “Being the leader effectively from my kitchen presents different challenges, but we have all had that.

“The main challenge has been our Covid response, but also that everything else continued as well.

Plans for new housing include development at Grange ParkPlans for new housing include development at Grange Park

“I’m particularly proud of Children’s Services where we have made significant progress with Ofsted and the children’s commissioner, with the Secretary of State saying our services no longer needed to be run by the children’s commissioner.

“Now coming out of Covid we have to focus on our young people as they have been disproportionately impacted. ”

While multi-million pound regeneration projects are popping up all over the town centre, for Coun Williams it’s also about getting ‘stuff done’ that means a lot of residents.

She said: “One of the reasons I became a councillor is because my eldest daughter said ‘there’s not much going on here’.

“I want to make it better for everyone who lives here – and that means things like cleaner streets and a better environment which is stuff that matters to residents.

“It Stops Here (a movement to create safer environments for women) is really important because I want Blackpool to be safer, and if it’s safe for women and children then it’s a safe place for everyone.

“Good housing is also key to community resilience and kids even do better at school if they live in better housing.

“And we’re on with that. We have plans to deliver new housing. It’s a basic right for people and families to have good housing and I’m determined to provide that.

“I’m also pleased we haven’t waited on our commitment to tackling climate change. We got on and held our climate change conference despite Covid and have made it a high priority.”

But Coun Williams knows tourism is still one of the big jobs at the town hall, and she has taken the step of adding that responsibililty to her own role as leader.

She said: “It’s great to see people coming back to the town and we have been successful in getting our conference centre built and attracting funding through the Town Deal.

“But we can’t rest on our laurels, we have to carry on. It’s really important coming out of Covid that we are still really out there.

“The conference centre will be the biggest change in the town centre in my lifetime.

“Even though we have not had the major political conferences here for a while, people do want to come here and I’m confident we’ll see them return.

“I’m seeing lots of confidence in Blackpool with new businesses opening in the town centre. You only have to look at the Hotel Indigo plan for the former Post Office building on Abingdon Street to see that.

“But it’s not just about regeneration – I want Blackpool to be a great place to live, to improve facilities for young people, have more greener areas.

“I know that’s what people want because it’s important to me too as it’s my home town.”