WHAT’S in a name? Quite a lot according to traders in Lytham who have been asking for their town’s monicker to be put on roads signs for the past 30 years.
The reason? Even this week, one cafe owner was visited by a woman who thought she’d been visiting Lytham for countless years – but in fact had never ventured outside St Annes on her stays.
Robert Silverwood of the Lowther Pavilion Cafe, and Lytham Action Group, said: “It’s happened countless times. People come in and tell us they had no idea Lytham was separate – because all of the road signs mention Lytham St Annes, and tend to take you to St Annes.
“All those years ago when the postcodes merged, they must have thought it was their birthday in St Annes.
“It’s tough out there for everyone. People think Lytham is such an affluent place but we have shopkeepers and businesses struggling like everywhere else.
“Signs pointing people to Lytham would be a great help. We have asked and asked and asked.”
And he’s got a point. Drive from the end of the M55 and you’re directed to Lytham St Annes and you are easily led into St Annes town centre. Drive along the A584 from Freckleton and it lets you pass by Lytham Green with hardly a mention of the coastal gem’s town centre just one street back.
Those requests, however, this week look set to have been answered.
And the Open Golf Championships in 2012 at Royal Lytham St Annes Golf Club – there’s that hybrid name again – are a big factor for the changes.
County Coun Tim Ashton, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We will very shortly be talking to traders and local representatives in Lytham and St Annes about proposals to improve signage in the area.
“Significant progress has been made on this issue in recent months and the first step has been to complete a wide-ranging audit of all existing signs so we can identify which are redundant and most in need of replacement, which we should keep, and how we can get the biggest impact from any new spending.
“It is not a straightforward issue as signs have no one owner and are not coordinated – I agree that this piecemeal approach has led to many becoming untidy, redundant and unsuitable, and the situation needs to be improved to promote tourism and economic development.
“We are currently working out the cost of a number of possible options to provide better signage in time for the return of the Open Golf Championship in 2012 and expect to be able to share these proposals during April.”
Part of the problem is the various agencies that can put signs up, and the seemingly uncoordinated manner in which they do so.
There’s the white and brown tourist signs, black and white and green road signs, parking signs, and privately-owned and boundary signs.
And the situation is not alien to other business people on the Fylde coast.
For Poulton’s army of shopkeepers and service providers have made a rallying call for Wyre Council to give their town the signage they believe it deserves.
Extra signs directing traffic into the Wyre market town will be installed after a full five years of rallying calls to Lancashire County Council.
Local councillors and residents have long campaigned for the roadside pointers as they believe many tourists miss the picturesque town and head straight into Blackpool centre along Garstang Road.
At a Poulton Area Forum meeting on Wednesday night, Coun Barry Birch said after years of fighting, Lancashire County Council had finally caved in.
He said: “I think we should claim this a victory as we have been fighting for more tourism signs into Poulton for a long time.
“For some reason the County Council’s highways department was reluctant to allow us any extra signs, but we have finally got the thumbs up.
“So I can say to you we are finally getting better signs to bring people into our wonderful town centre.”
Coun Birch said the next issue was what icon would be appropriate to display on the sign.
He said: “They have talked about having a flower painted on the sign but there may be a problem with that because it suggests we have a garden.
“Obviously we would argue Poulton is a garden when the crocuses come out at St Chad’s in the spring and the glorious flower boxes in the summer. But we haven’t technically got a public garden so more consideration will be needed on what our symbol is.”
So now they’ve got the signs, how long to decide on a symbol?