We have listened to the pledges... now it’s time for action!
That was the call to Fylde voters today as thousands of people across the coast – one of the UK’s most critical
General Election battlegrounds – headed to the polls.
And it is clear investment in our towns and new jobs remain the main priorities for voters whichever party comes out on top.
Business chiefs on the coast, which has three of the country’s key marginal seats in Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Blackpool South and Lancaster and Fleetwood – have urged people to take to the polls.
They say a majority Government is a must if those in power are to really help the coast’s fortunes.
Whoever you’re going to vote for, do vote. You can’t come whinging if you don’t vote.Mick Grewcock
Voters go to the polls across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre today for national, local and parish polls.
Many see the results in key marginals as too close to call, leading to a last ditch bid for everyone to exercise their voting right.
Blackpool businessman Mick Grewcock said: “Whoever you’re going to vote for, do vote. You can’t come whinging if you don’t vote.
“It’s our right and democracy is what we fought for in the world wars.“
His views were echoed by Laurance Hancock of the Boathouse Youth project who said: “No-one has any right to complain about any government if they don’t vote.”
At the start of the long campaign, The Gazette asked readers what their priorities were – with more investment and jobs coming top of the list.
Blackpool entrepreneur Basil Newby, boss of Funny Girls on Dickson Road, called on any new government to make seaside towns a special case for investment.
He said: “My main concern is Blackpool and I would hope we get a government, whoever it is, that looks at ways of helping all seaside towns.
“I would like the new government to look again at the casino issue and gambling, and if we can still get something for Blackpool which would make it like Las Vegas which was the dream we all had.”
Tony Banks, who owns four hotels in Blackpool including the Royal Carlton, said: “Nobody can predict what is going to happen, but the most important thing is that we have a stable government.
“I think Blackpool is a great place to invest in at the moment but cutting council budgets is not helping.
“For example it means less people are employed in the council’s planning department which means new projects get delayed.”
Steve Pye, who runs training company Addison Academy at Hillhouse, Thornton, said: “We have listened to all these pledges etc, but the key focus is that it’s the business community that creates the wealth and that in turn creates the jobs.
“It’s down to the private sector to take on the mantle of providing jobs for all those good people from the public sector who have unfortunately lost their jobs.
“That’s the way forward in the long term for the economy.
“There has to be a clear majority for whoever gets in and they will be taking on the rising economy and reduction in unemployment.”
Mr Grewcock, who runs the Burbage Lodge apartments, added: “Whoever gets in locally needs to get the confidence back in Blackpool.
“The town is a sleeping giant with huge potential.
“Instead of just building social housing we need to encourage the well off to come and live here to put more money in the local economy.
“And we need more businesses like Victrex at the former ICI site.
“It employs around 700 people and is at the leading edge of the plastics industry.
“Whichever party gets in nationally needs to sort out the road transport problems from the M55 to Fleetwood and Cleveleys and then companies like Victrex and Fleetwood and Cleveleys can really take off.”
Stephen Pierre, of the Galleon Bar and Galleon Coffee House, both in Blackpool, said: “We need a national government with strong characters, and one that is willing to help seaside towns and support small business which are the small cogs that make the big cogs turn.
“I hope we don’t get another coalition because that slows down progress.
“What we need is a government which will encourage investment into places like Blackpool.
“On a local level, I would like to see the next council reform our parking charges so we can offer reduced rates, particularly at weekends, which would bring more people into the town to spend their money.”