COMMUNITY leaders have leapt to the defence of a Blackpool street shamed on national TV.
This week’s episode of the controversial 999: What’s Your Emergency? portrayed Central Drive and the surrounding streets as one of Blackpool’s most deprived areas – rife with booze-fuelled crime.
During the show, broadcast on Channel Four, police were shown observing a number of people withdrawing benefit money from cash machines at midnight, with the suggestion they would be using it to buy alcohol in nearby pubs.
But Lesley Bennett, associate headteacher at Revoe Community Primary School on Grasmere Road, central Blackpool, said the majority of families in the area are striving to do their best.
She said: “The majority of families in our community are striving to be good families and are very supportive of their children.
“The programme didn’t show a balanced view of the area at all.
“The children’s centre is very popular and parents get involved in activities to give them the confidence to get a job.
“The children have high aspirations and want to have the life skills to get a job in the future.”
Julie Moore, 41, of Kent Road, who helps to organise community fun days for residents in the Central Drive area, said: “It was a bit unfair because the programme gave the impression it’s just benefit scroungers around here and that’s not true. There are a lot of hard-working families. There’s a good community spirit.”
People working on the street have given their reaction to the programme, which aired on Monday night.
June Mellor, 35, a shop assistant at Drummers House of Jokes, said she felt the programme was an accurate portrayal of life in central Blackpool.
She said: “It won’t affect my business because we know who we appeal to but I wouldn’t bring my family here for the weekend after seeing that. They’ve done similar programmes in other towns that are just as bad but we can’t make out like it’s not happening.”
And one distraught and tearful woman, who did not want to be named, today told The Gazette she is sick of living there.
She said: “I can’t get out of here quick enough.
“I’ve been broken into, beaten up and robbed within the space of one week. I’ve never lived in a place like this in all of my life.”
Shah Jouhar, 21, of Buy Low Bargains, said: “If people want to spend money on drinking or smoking it’s up to them but there are no problems in this shop.”
The programme has split opinion in the town between those who believe it is unfairly highlighting – and in some cases revelling in – the social problems many towns have, while others believe it is an accurate portrayal of life faced by the emergency services and deprived communities.
Hoteliers have also been unhappy at the timing of its scheduling – coming right in the middle of the Illuminations season.