BLACKPOOL’S town hall leader said he would have stopped a controversial TV documentary being filmed in Blackpool – but he did not have the power to do so.
Coun Simon Blackburn made the statement on social networking website Facebook as a debate raged over Channel 4’s 999: What’s Your Emergency?
The show, which highlights the tough job faced by police, ambulance and firefighters is a ratings winner – pulling in around 2.4 million viewers per episode.
However, it has not pleased everyone with those who work in the tourism sector horrified a show which graphically depicts Blackpool’s darker side has been allowed to be shown in the middle of Illuminations season.
Residents took to Blackpool Council’s Facebook page to ask why the programme had been allowed to be filmed. Karl Myhill posted: “(The show) must have needed permission to film with our emergency services within Blackpool. Was the council at all involved with allowing this filming to take place?
“How much detriment is the program causing a struggling resort? Would you as a family watching this programme want to travel to a place of extreme poverty, prostitution on family beaches, violence, high drug use? ”
More than 1,000 people said they “liked” the comment while 266 joined the debate by posting replies.
One of the posters was the council itself, issuing a statement from Coun Blackburn (pictured top right).
He said: “Blackpool Council is fully supportive of the emergency services and this programme certainly highlights the challenging circumstances in which they work.
“The council was not contacted prior to the filming taking place.
“Once we were aware of the programme we met with the production company and raised our concerns, highlighting the damage it could do to us as a tourist destination.
“Unfortunately they didn’t need our permission to film, if they had we wouldn’t have granted it.
“I’m aware many hoteliers and business have written to the production company and I fully sympathise with them.
“The problems shown could be anywhere in the country, unfortunately anyone watching the programme is left in no doubt that it’s Blackpool.”
Business and tourism leaders fear the programme will undo all the good work aimed at transforming the resort’s image.
FULL STORY AND REACTION - SEE FRIDAY’S GAZETTE