Leader’s blog

Posted on Tuesday 19th July 2022

As I write this blog we are coming to end of a few weeks that have made me very proud to be a Blackpool resident.  

The Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Pride, 40th Anniversary of the Falkland War and Armed Forces Week have all shown what a fantastic, inclusive and welcoming place we live in. It has been so wonderful to see different parts of our community coming together to celebrate. 

These events coincided with an out of town MP making negative comments about Blackpool. These type of comments are unnecessary and ill-informed, particularly at a time when we are working with government to further our regeneration plans.  

On a very positive note I’m delighted with the progress we are making on improving the provision for our young residents. Our children and young people are an absolute priority, how we can support and enable them to be happy and flourish is so important. One of my first decisions as Leader was to ensure that a review of the services available to our children and young people was undertaken. Most importantly, to ask them what they wanted and where they wanted it to be.

I’m really proud of the partnership work that has gone into the review, the outcome of which will form a youth provision development plan for Blackpool. The development plan is due to be published in the coming months. I know that good quality youth provision can enhance and improve young people’s life chances and must be available to all our children and young people.

You may have seen recent conversations about Blackpool Airport. The ongoing discussion about the potential reintroduction of commercial flights from our airport is an interesting one. For me, this is not a political issue, it is purely about financial risk.

I agree that flying in and out of Blackpool to European destinations was a great experience with no queues and rapid arrival and departure in an uncrowded terminal.   I totally understand why people would like the opportunity to do that again, but it is the fact that there were no queues that is the problem. At our peak in 2007, the airport lost £2m and during Balfour Beattie’s 10-year ownership, it lost around £27m.

Airports do lose money and that is offset by parking and retail income. The reality is that we have never had the numbers to enable our airport to get anywhere close to breakeven.

We are competing with the likes of Manchester and Liverpool, both of which have benefited from massive investment and subsidy, and in spite of what has been said recently in the press, no-one expects the government to make that sort of subsidy available to Blackpool.

Similarly, the suggestions that we should follow in the footsteps of other smaller regional airports such as Teesside do not stand up to scrutiny as they are losing significant amounts of money.

If the government was willing to underwrite losses, then absolutely we can look at the reinstatement of European flights. Until then, with aircraft movements currently at their highest level in 20 years with successful operations including helicopters servicing the Irish Sea rigs, pilot training and recent growth in private jet movements, our Airport board will continue to ensure that we attract and create good jobs and contracts for the airport to secure its future, to include ongoing discussions about flights to the Isle of Man.

I am aware of some residents’ concerns over the installation of a network of telecommunication masts and poles across the town.

In the last year, IX Wireless have rolled out an ambitious programme of infrastructure installations. This has included an extensive network of poles that are classed as permitted development and so do not require planning approval from the council, only a small number of masts have been the subjects of applications that needed to be made to the council, but our planning control and considerations are just limited to the siting and appearance of the masts only.

Our officers have to try to balance the government’s commitment to the expansion of a high-quality telecommunications network with the need to safeguard our local environment as far as is reasonably possible.

The council has tried to resist any installations that would have an unacceptable impact upon visually sensitive features such as listed buildings and Conservation Areas and wherever possible have sought to negotiate amendments to schemes to minimise the visual impact of the equipment on the street scene.  There are some  advertisements on the cabinet masts these  do not have advertisement consent and are not considered to be acceptable, we have asked for the advertisements to be removed as soon as is possible.

Finally, I would like to wish everyone a good summer.

Cllr Lynn Williams

Posted on Tuesday 19th July 2022

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