Blackpool is losing its young people to other parts of the UK because of a chronic lack of job opportunities in the town, it has been claimed.
That was the stark view expressed by traders and young people across the resort at a ‘Question Time’ event at Blackpool Town Hall.
Business people, who say they are struggling to survive and claim some streets resemble “Beirut”, now want action taken to halt exodus of young talent.
Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, organised the event which looked at how to get more young people into businesses in the resort.
It also looked at what to do about failing businesses and concerns over the dilapidated state of some streets.
Students from St Mary’s College said they were looking to move away from Blackpool due to the lack of work opportunities. They claimed it was hard to get businesses to come into the school and to gain work experience.
Businesspeople at the event said there was a lot of red tape in relation to work experience and apprenticeships which put some firms off.
Panel members included Geoff Reeves, a small business advisor for Blackpool Council; Claire Smith, a Blackpool landlady for 23 years; Mark Yates, the owner of Brook Collectables on Waterloo Road and John Barnet, the founder of Blackpool’s Radio Wave.
Some participants argued for more job creation schemes while others said young people should start their own businesses.
Amanda Williamson from the Blackpool-based organisation Remember Every Suicide Trauma (REST) claimed life was bleak for many young people in the town.
She said: “They have nothing here for young people. There are very few decent jobs. We need to help them get more skills. Many end up working for nothing.
“They feel there is nowhere to go in their career. It’s hard to survive on benefits. They’re in poverty and they end up on the streets.
“They get involved in drink and drugs. All of this leads to despair. We’re on Bond Street and it’s like Beirut there.
“What the authorities need to do is restore the services they have cut and invest in our young people.”
Participants also agreed high rates put some business people off investing, despite the fact rents could be low.
Mr Marsden said there was no “magic bullet” to deal with the problems of young people leaving the town, the state of the local economy or the poor condition of some buildings.
He said: “It’s about regeneration and not being defeated. It won’t happen overnight.Gradually we will move the goalposts.”
Mr Reeves added: “Young people have to do something that people out there want. Blackpool’s high street is no different from any other in the UK. More people are going online and young people have to think about that.”
He also said firms should get in touch with the economic team at Blackpool Council.