Angie Pascoe and Stephen Fenney
Houndshill shopping centre development
It has created an ambitious 2030 vision for the town, setting out an agenda for action to be achieved by that year, including the Town Deal.
Paul says: “That 2030 vision means we are very clear about what we want to achieve. It is about getting the right funding to support the projects.”
“A lot of other towns say ‘there is money there, let’s put together a few schemes and make a bid’.
“Blackpool has a big vision and we have got a strategy. We know where we want to be and we’re coming from it from the view of ‘give us support and we’ll get there’.
“We’ve got more Town Deal money than any other town by a long way. That demonstrates are all trying to do.”
Paul, who is originally from Burnley, is under no illusion when it comes to the challenge of deprivation in Blackpool. He believes the key to tackling it is attracting new businesses, jobs and apprenticeships.
He took up his role when approached because of his fond memories of Blackpool as a youngster. He adds: “I was very impressed by the people I met and the ambition there is for the town. The schemes coming out of the ground show it can deliver.”
Nick Gerrard, growth and prosperity programme director at Blackpool Council, agrees and says progress has been made despite the pandemic, with some large- scale projects gathering pace, including the second phase of the Talbot Gateway regeneration project.
He also describes the levelling up agenda as “a big opportunity” for the town. He adds: “Yes, we are at the wrong end of many tables but it provides opportunities because Blackpool, surely.
“I’ve no doubt our delivery and the partnership we have involving the community, politicians and businesses is a key reason why we’ve got such a large Town Deal settlement.
“We’ve got ambition but we’ve also got a track record of delivery on that ambition. Top civil servants have to trust what you are saying and doing.
“We’re aiming to build on the Town Deal work. To look at things that will accelerate growth.
“People are believing more in Blackpool and the great business and investment story that is going on here. Blackpool is beginning to be taken more seriously outside the town. We want to build on that momentum.”
There have been knockbacks. Blackpool’s £25m bid for Future High Street funding was unsuccessful.
However, two of the ten Lancashire ‘shovel £34m Getting Building fund are in Blackpool, including £5m for the extension of its Houndshill shopping centre.
The council bought Houndshill in for £47.6m in November 2019 as part of its long-term strategy to revitalise the town centre.
As a result of the government funding, in February the council sealed three key deals for the extension, which it believes will help transform the town centre.
They included signing of a 25-year lease for a nine-screen, IMAX-ready multimedia cinema, conference and entertainment centre.
The development will see Tower Cinemas (Blackpool), trading as MMC Cinemas, launch an 850-seat venue, with nine state- of-the-art digital screens, including a giant Premium Large Screen Format IMAX-ready central screen, set to be the largest in the North West.
Flexible seating will allow screens to double as conference venue spaces, designated incubator space for the region’s digital and media start-up businesses, and an e-sports café.
The Houndshill extension will also include two restaurants totalling 3,760 sq ft and the local authority says it is in “advanced negotiations” with leisure operators.
is bullish about Blackpool’s future. He has been developing cinemas in all corners of the globe for 30 years including Australia, South Korea and the Gulf. He also founded The Light Cinemas independent chain in the UK.
He says: “Blackpool has an astonishing heritage as a leisure destination for the North West region and beyond, and this multi-media centre is set to re-cement that reputation.
“Our ambition is for the space to become a hive for creativity in the town, tapping into all of the local developments and opening up new opportunities for the area.”
HERE TO HELP, DAY AND NIGHT
These are difficult times for both employers and employees.
Coronavirus is having a huge impact on people’s lives, with many people facing job insecurity or unemployment.
Rates of suicide increase with higher levels of economic deprivation, with people who are unemployed two to three times more likely to die by suicide than those in employment.
We want you to know that the volunteers at Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre Samaritans continue to be here, to offer support day or night, for anyone who may need us. We listen, we won’t judge or tell you what to do.
We can be contacted by freephone 116123 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Our branch at Edward Street, Blackpool will soon be able to offer webchat.
Talking about how you’re feeling can help put things into perspective and help a person feel more positive about the future.
But we also need your help, too. Due to pandemic restrictions, our shop has had to close and conventional fund-raising activities have ceased for the time being.
As a business, you can support our work through our ‘Pay for a Day’ campaign, sponsoring the branch for a day or longer for just £147.
As well as helping a worthwhile cause, you’ll to include this as ‘your’ day, promoted via opportunities available where possible either on site or at a chosen location.
We are always interested in hearing from potential volunteers, too.
Our branch was established in 1978, please help us continue our vital service.
For more information, contact us on 07961 453342
Charity Registration No. 1170657
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