Lights friends back cost of Switch-On

Madness singer Suggs performing during the Switch-On weekend.  Below: Shirley Hunt.
Madness singer Suggs performing during the Switch-On weekend. Below: Shirley Hunt.
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Volunteers tasked with raising money for Blackpool’s famous Illuminations today backed paid-for Switch-On events to carry on.

Shirley Hunt, an ambassador for the Friends of Blackpool Illuminations, supported the pay-to-view event, despite figures released on Wednesday revealing it made a loss of more than £372,000.

Shirley Hunt

Shirley Hunt

She said: “It has been very difficult for Marketing Blackpool to stage this event but I still think charging is the way forward. It was over-priced but if we had Gary Barlow from the beginning there wouldn’t have been an issue.

“They were let down by one thing or another but if they get it right, a concert is the way to go, but they need a huge star.”

Resort businessmen today called for changes to be made for next year.

Peter Swann, owner of The Sands Venue, on Blackpool Promenade, said: “The most important message we need to get out there is we want to make the Illuminations the biggest event we can.

“The more local businesses and entertainers we get involved the more successful it can be. It’s quite clear the Illuminations weren’t a success with regards to footfall and I always thought getting people into Blackpool was the key.

“It would be really nice if Marketing Blackpool or whoever is doing it could sit down with us to build something that’s affordable for everyone.

“Next to me is Viva, Wetherspoons and a lot of food and drink outlets, so it would be nice for people to sit down and make a plan.”

Joey Blower, aka Mike Simmons, is an entertainer on the resort’s North Pier and former Switch-On compere. He said: “I’m happy enough to put a proposal together and put an event together.

“I would work with the council and other like-minded people who are interested in working as a group.

“Anyone should be able to come to the Switch-On and have a good time. Segregating an area for the public and VIPs is ridiculous and the people of Blackpool should benefit from it. There would be a cost involved but it wouldn’t lose £300,000.”

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