Traders’ red light nightmare

Businesses in parts of Blackpool say street workers are making their lives a misery daily (picture posed by model).
Businesses in parts of Blackpool say street workers are making their lives a misery daily (picture posed by model).
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Traders today pleaded for help to free their community from the scourge of prostitution.

Those working in the vicinity of Central Drive and Palatine Road, Blackpool, have described how prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers take over the area at night to ply their seedy trade.

Some business owners claim women high on drugs regularly solicit sex in shops and confront customers, often leaving them intimidated.

Two years ago The Gazette spoke to the sex workers as part of a special investigation into Blackpool unofficial red light areas.

Many women said they were forced into prostitution when they moved to Blackpool as a lack of work had left them with no choice but to sell their bodies.

Traders say the problem has not improved.

Pat Pang, 49, owner of Red Pepper Takeaway on Central Drive, says he is regularly propositioned as he goes about his work.

He said: “A lot of women come in here asking if I want something and it’s embarrassing. Every time I stop my car they ask me if I want sex and they even asked my 20-year-old son one day – it’s 
ridiculous.

“It’s a huge problem and happens every week.”

Mr Pang said prostitutes were having sex with their customers in an alleyway behind his shop.

That problem eased when Blackpool Council installed alleygates.

But prostitutes are now touting for trade outside his business and, he says, the problem shows no signs of going away.

Another businessman, who runs private car parks across the resort, claimed prostitutes get into his car without an invitation when he carries out routine checks of his sites.

The businessman, who declined to be named, says he is becoming disillusioned with how the illegal activity can be tackled.

He added: “I’m pro-legalisation of prostitution if it’s done in the right circumstances. These girls (on Palatine Road) are heroin addicts who will do anything for a tenner.

“It got so bad that I drove on to one of the car parks and one girl jumped into my car.

“When I told her to get out she said ‘what do you expect, it’s a red light district.’

“They are paying their drug dealers which leads to more crime and it needs to be stopped.

“Every man who goes to the cash machine on his own at night gets accosted.

“What decent people would like to live in that area?”

Dave Blacker, chairman of Talbot ward PACT (Police and Communities Together), said the issue was frequently discussed at meetings.

He said: “I do not condone in any shape or form what is going on, but we do not want to drive the whole enterprise underground.

“We need to have a controlled environment where people are being kept safe, rather than operating on street corners.

“A multi-agency approach is being taken to tackle these issues.”

Coun Graham Cain, speaking on behalf of all the councillors in Bloomfield, which he represents, said: “This is not what we want to see on our streets, and we are doing our best in the council to clean the image up and it is important we eradicate this behaviour from our streets.

“But this needs to be dealt with in a managed way as we don’t want to enforce a blanket ban and end up where this behaviour is not being monitored.”

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